by Fred Schrock


Buffalo Bills Boogie: You’ve Lost That Winning Feeling

Recently I rediscovered my old Buffalo Bills Boogie cassettes, song parodies played the week before each Bills game on oldies station 104.1 WHTT-FM. Here are the songs I have; maybe you can help me find more. Coincidentally, one track is “You’ve Lost that Winning Feeling” from the 1993 season opener versus the New England Patriots.  (The Bills won at home, 38-14).

Cassette cover from the 1992 edition. Tapes and CDs were sold at Dunn Tire locations and supported local charities.

For anyone meeting up with friends before kickoff, you can turn these tapes into a game.  For example, take a drink anytime a player is mentioned who is in the Hall of Fame.  Take another drink whenever the singer references “Oldies 104” and personalities like Danny Neaverth.  Also below are the final scores of each game and what song is parodied (except for one I just can’t recall).  Unless that team relocated or did not exist twenty years ago you will find a song for each team Buffalo will play in 2013.

I only own tapes from 1991 and 1992, the Bills’ second and third Super Bowl years.  Someone named Matt Mavi uploaded the years I have to YouTube in addition to the 1993 song above.  (Thanks!)  Another blogger named Tim Minneci posted earlier files dubbed right from radio broadcasts.   Once I read there were recordings made from 1988 through 1994 but I can’t confirm it.  If you know anything about these or other parodies, please leave a comment!  The closest modern equivalent to these songs would have to be the weekly Let’s Go Bills Rap.

Buffalo Bills Boogie 1991 (Intro)

Buffalo is Going to London Town (Eagles-Preseason)
Parody of “I Feel Fine” by The Beatles; Won 17–13

Go Bills (Dolphins)
Parody of “Good Lovin'” by The Young Rascals; Won 35-31

Please Mr. Bubby (Steelers)
Parody of “Mr. Custer” by Larry Verne; Won 52-34

We’re Gonna Beat the Jets (Jets)
Parody of “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits; Won 23-20

Return to Tampa (Buccaneers)
Parody of “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley; Won 17-10

Beatin’ the Bears (Chicago)
Parody of “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James and the Shondells; Won 35-20

Kansas City Here We Come (Chiefs)
Parody of “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison; Lost 33-6

The Bills Went On a Tear (Colts)
Parody of “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles; Won 42-6

Blowin’ Away Cincinnati (Bengals)
Parody of “Working My Way Back to You” by The Four Seasons; Won 35-16

Rock New England (Patriots)
Parody of “Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim; Won 22-17

We’ll Beat You (Packers)
Parody of “She Loves You” by The Beatles; Won 34-24

Buff-Buffalo (Miami)
Parody of “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys; Won 41-27 (See photo at end of post)

Blowin’ Out New England Again (Patriots)
Parody of “Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; Lost 16-13

Rock & Roll the Jets (Jets)
Parody of “At the Hop” by Danny & The Juniors; Won 24-13

See Ya Later L.A. Raiders (Raiders)
Parody of “See You Later Alligator” by Bill Haley & The Comets; Won 30-27

Indy Colts (Colts)
Parody of “Charlie Brown” by The Coasters; Won 35-7

Ain’t No Cure For the Buffalo Bills (Lions)
Parody of “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran; Lost 17-14

Buffalo Bills Boogie 1992 (Intro)

Football Season In Buffalo (Rams)
Parody of “No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry; Won 40-7

Goodness Gracious, Bills Are On Fire (49ers)
Parody of “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis; Won 34-31.  Fun fact: The first game in NFL history without a punt by either team.

Beat The Colts (Colts)
Parody of “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” by Danny and the Juniors; Won 38-0

Roll Over New England (Patriots)
Parody of “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry; Won 41-7

Put The Whammy On Miami (Dolphins)
Parody of “Woolly Bully” by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs; Lost 37-10

Beat L.A. (Raiders)
Parody of “Gloria” by Them; Lost 20-3

Beat’em Up Buffalo (Jets)
Parody of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations; Won 24-20

Beatin’ New England (Patriots)
***What song does this parody? I can’t remember!*** Won 16-7

Taking Care Of Pittsburgh (Steelers)
Parody of “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive; Won 28-30

Beat Up Miami (Dolphins)
Parody of “Wake Up Little Suzie” by The Everly Brothers; Won 26-20

Beat Atlanta (Falcons)
Parody of “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five; Won 41-14

The Buffalo Bills (Colts)
Parody of “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and The Starlighters; Lost 16-13

Blowin’ Out The Jets (Jets)
Parody of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; Lost 24-17

Right Here In Buffalo (Broncos)
Parody of “Runaway” by Del Shannon; Won 27-17

Battle Of New Orleans (Saints)
Parody of “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton; Won 20-16

Take The Team Plane To Houston (Oilers)
Parody of “Last Train to Clarksville” by The Monkees; Lost 27-3.
Fun Fact: Backup quarterback Frank Reich would take over for an injured Jim Kelly. The Bills would play the Oilers one week later in what simply became known as “The Comeback,” winning 41-38 in overtime.

Where is he now?

Bonus Boogies (1988? 1989?)

Linebacker Cornelius Bennett had a forced fumble, sack, and a touchdown on a Monday night game against the Dolphins in 1991, so McDonald’s created a sandwich. Click the photo for more info.

50 Ways to Beat Seattle
Beat Miami
Beat New England
Beat the New York Jets
Green Bay
Let’s Beat Cincinnati
Let’s Go Buffalo
Super Bowl
Taking Care of Pittsburgh
We Are Going to the Top

The Oldest Building in Erie County . . . is Moving?

Sometime this September, a 200-year-old log cabin will be picked up and transported four miles to a “new” historic site.

According to an article by John Conlin in the Winter 2003 issue of Western New York Heritage, the oldest surviving building in Erie County is the Gipple Log Cabin built by a frontier settler named Asa Woodward in Lancaster c. 1803.  The Hull Family Home and Farmstead plans to place it on its property for interpretive use.  Rev. Walter Kern took this photo of the cabin in 1974:
This structure represents the very earliest history of organized settlement in Western New York.  Asa (or Amos, depending on the source) and  James Woodward bought this plot of land directly from the Holland Land Company in November 1803 (Lot 6. Section 12 of Town 11 in Range 6 to be precise).  A year would pass before Warren Hull bought the property where the cabin will soon move.

Some refer to the Gipple Log Cabin as the Bowman-Gipple Cabin.  Benjamin Bowman was another early settler and a mill operator; the hamlet of Bowmansville in Lancaster is named after him as well.  Like many frontier settlers such a cabin would be a “starter home” that could be assembled quickly before the first winter set in.  Subsequent years of land-clearing would allow families to add additions or build more permanent homes.  The Gipple family, while not the original landowners and who probably did not use the cabin as a residence, probably lived on this land the longest.  A cursory look at census records shows Clement Gipple owning the farm as early as 1910.  Clement’s mother Ella was a Bowman.  His son Russell remained on the land as an adult; both men passed away in the 1970s.

Russell Gipple c.1917 and c.1949. Sister Edith and wife Hazel are also pictured. All images from

A couple years ago I went out with a camera to get a better look.  The Gipple Cabin can be found at the southwest corner of the intersection of Harris Hill Road and Wehrle Drive in Lancaster.  It now exists at the very corner of an expanding office development whose parking lot ends only a few yards from the front door.  What is left of the building has been threatened with demolition several times in the past few years.  According to locals, previous efforts to manage or restore the former home–even to visit it–were prevented by owners.

Long story short, the cabin is in horrible shape.  It is held up by force of habit and could hardly be considered a building anymore.  I highly recommend checking out this 360-degree view of the interior where sunlight can be seen from every side.  Here is my photo of the home taken thirty-five years after Rev. Kern:

Exploring the 1803 Gipple Log Cabin from Jafafa Hots on VimeoMore photos here.

Of course there are serious questions about the ability to move such a compromised structure, harming the building’s historicity through relocation, and even why the land should be given up for suburban sprawl.  Considering its ragged state, however, moving the Gipple Cabin to a place where it can be safely appreciated by the general public is a whole lot better than the inevitable alternative.  Perhaps it will be moved and kept at its current state; perhaps it will be restored and become a visitor draw like the c.1820 Goodrich-Landow Log Cabin at the Clarence Historical Society.  To keep up to date with developments, please visit the Hull Family Home’s Facebook page.

Hull House volunteers clear debris to access the Gipple Cabin.

Below are some other photos I posted on the former Buffalo Tours blog in 2009.  You can see the cabin predates Bowman’s 1808 saw mill by the axe-cut logs.  The no-nails construction is original but the many alterations–some haphazard–to repair walls and supports extend over the centuries.  Window and stovepipe holes can be found, temporary roof patches dangle from the ceiling, and vegetation hides the rest.

UPDATE: I received a note on 8/30/13 from Hull House Foundation President Gary Costello about their progress: “We have cleared the vegetation over-growth, documented the structure and ‘tagged’ the logs; will visit it with several knowledgeable architects to further ‘diagnose’ it; then dissemble and move to the Hull House site; seek funding to rebuild and develop a plan for its placement on the HH site and for its interpretation. A great addition to the Hull Family Home & Farmstead!”

The Market Arcade: Buffalo’s Past Reborn

Note: With news that the Market Arcade is for sale by the City of Buffalo, I thought it a good time to post this article I originally published in the now-defunct Buffalo Downtowner.

One of the feature buildings in downtown Buffalo is probably better known to vacationers than Buffalo natives.  The Market Arcade at 617 Main Street is home to Visit Buffalo Niagara and its Visitor Center.  Overshadowed by Shea’s and other gems in the historic Theater District, it is just as historic and architecturally significant.*  The stories surrounding the building play out as a microcosm of Buffalo’s past.

A gift from a long-closed jewelry store on the second floor. Note the writing on the box. (Click to enlarge.)

While post-Civil War America boomed economically, the nation’s switch from guns to plowshares pushed people farther westward.  Buffalo served as a gateway to the western frontier in its role as a hub for rail transportation and inland shipping.  This is when Buffalo experienced its greatest growth spurt: the population grew from 150,000 people in 1880 to 350,000 by 1900, making Buffalo (for a very short time) the eighth-largest metropolis in the United States.  By 1890 Americans had effectively populated the West to the point that the US Census Bureau could no longer draw a frontier border on a map.  Interestingly, the 1890 census was calculated by what is considered the first computer, invented by Buffalo native Herman Hollerith.  The company he founded is known today as IBM.

At Chicago’s World Colombian Exposition of 1893, which was supposed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, historian Frederick Jackson Turner declared the frontier closed.  Downtown Buffalo rebuilt itself as a commercial and financial center during this period.  Residential neighborhoods shifted to the area’s outskirts, creating what is now considered a modern American cityscape.  Many of our most famous downtown buildings, including the Ellicott Square building (by Chicago’s D. H. Burnham & Co., involved in building the Chicago Exposition), the Guaranty Building (by the Chicago firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan), and the gold-domed Buffalo Savings Bank (by the local firm of Green and Wicks) were erected between the 1890 census and the Pan-Am year of 1901.

The Market Arcade, known for a while as the Palace Arcade, was designed by Green and Wicks in 1892.  At one entrance, Main Street was a bustling business district of Civil War-era structures with numerous small storefronts.  At the other, Washington Street bordered the busy Chippewa Market (also known as the Washington Market).  Though a parking lot today, the open-air farmers’ market accommodated dozens of stands and hundreds of urban customers at a time.  The largest retail market west of the Hudson River, it was known as the “Belly of Buffalo.”  Much like Buffalo was a gateway between the eastern and western halves of America, the Market Arcade was a pass-through for local commercial traffic on these two streets.

Instead of looking toward Chicago for ideas, however, property owner and oil tycoon GB Marshall asked architects EB Green and WS Wicks to contemplate European arcades.  Though built before 1820, the Burlington Arcade in London resembles a modern shopping center.  With its bright but narrow interior and floor-to-ceiling windows for shops on both sides, the Burlington Arcade connects Burlington Gardens to Picadilly and bears a striking resemblance to Green and Wicks’ building in Buffalo.  Indeed, the Market Arcade is Buffalo’s first mall.

The multi-leveled convergences of commerce and office space were similarly used in Naples, Italy for the Galleria Umberto I, completed just one year earlier.  The Market Arcade’s floor is covered in terrazzo tiles and the exterior composed of yellow Roman brick, which is longer than regular bricks and emphasizes horizontality.  Frank Lloyd Wright utilized this quality of Roman brick when building the Darwin Martin House and other Prairie Style homes.  Large Roman numerals top the building’s identical facades.  Corinthian Vermont marble pillars at both entrances and egg and dart molding also demonstrate Italian Renaissance Revival flourishes.

Some of the best features of the Market Arcade are both practical and aesthetic.  Built before electric lighting, the frosted glass skylight makes the atrium seem like an outdoor alley.  Overpasses on the second and third levels and sections of the floors encase glass blocks, bringing natural light all the way into the basement.  Large glass panes, rare at the time of construction, are perfect for window shopping.  The long, straight passageway resembles a tiny street but also provides excellent ventilation in summer without the use of air conditioning.

Green and Wicks’ use of terra cotta is probably the most stunning feature of the Market Arcade.  Visitors are greeted by two bison heads located above the Roman arches.  They keep watch over Main and Washington streets and are detailed to the last hair.  While seemingly extravagant today, terra cotta (Latin for “baked earth”) was originally a cheap substitute for carved sculpture.  The terra cotta forms of the Market Arcade—the garlands, crowning acroteria, and rosettes—can be replaced at a cost 80 percent cheaper than stone.

The material is also fireproof, an important selling point for storekeepers in the late 19th century.  Between the formation of the modern Buffalo Fire Department in 1880 and the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, eighteen firefighters died in the line of duty.  Entire city blocks would burn at a time.  One of the most famous city fires occurred on Ascension Day, 1888.  A gas line ignited, blowing the roof off of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and setting small fires throughout the city.  Today, many skyscrapers still enclose their steel beams in terra cotta to avoid buckling under intense heat.

A 1974 city directory shows numerous vacancies in 617 Main St. (click to enlarge)

By the 1970s the Chippewa Market had long closed down (though yesterday’s Buffalo News suggests it is still open) and Main Streets across America lost customers to suburban strip malls.  Business in the Arcade followed suit and the building was shuttered; the city acquired it in a bankruptcy proceeding in 1979.  By the mid-1980s, enough interest led to an $8.3 million restoration.  One of the leaders of this renovation, Dennis Powers, is memorialized on a plaque next to the building’s new elevators.  The Allentown-based firm of Hamilton Houston Lownie, which converted the St. Mary of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church to the King Urban Life Center at about the same time, completed the restoration in 1995.  Visiting both landmarks, one can see the vibrant splashes of reds, purples, greens and oranges that became the firm’s calling card.

Mid-’90s restoration photo from

Today, the building boasts the CEPA Gallery and the headquarters of Shakespeare in Delaware Park, as well as several small businesses.  Many visitors still freely walk through this impressive building to access the Metro Rail or catch shows at Shea’s Performing Arts Center or the Irish Classical Theatre.

*Official documents pertaining to the designation of the Theater District as a historic district use the -er spelling for “theater.”  However, area theaters now market the overlapping entertainment district known as the Theatre District using -re.  For more background, check out this very interesting Artvoice article by Anthony Chase.

Fire in Black Rock

When I saw fire trucks roll down the street the other day I could tell the emergency was somewhere close, but it was a shame to find out what burned.  Seeing the this photo in The Buffalo News made me cringe.  What caught fire was the John Esser House, an Italianate home built circa 1887.

You can see the intricate jigsaw work on the gable and fenestration.  Fire also exposed the original clapboard hidden away by vinyl siding.  Below is what it looked like before.  If it hasn’t happened already, it is scheduled for an emergency demolition.

John Esser House, 81 Amherst Street, in a photo from several years ago.

The building is/was located in an especially historic part of an historic neighborhood.  Just half a block away at Market Square are new plaques commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Burning of Black Rock during the War of 1812.  The building to the east is St. John’s United Church of Christ, a congregation founded by German immigrants back in 1847.  (Coincidentally, the church sanctuary caught fire in the 1970s.)  To the west is the Jacob Smith House and Tavern, dating back to the 1830s.  Across the street is what used to be the St. Francis Xavier Church and School, now known as the Buffalo Religious Arts Center.  I highly recommend touring their museum.  And just two doors away, somewhat ironically, sits the former Engine #15 Firehouse.  It was built in 1912 but closed decades ago.  Converted into an apartment, for a time the building was the residence of the famous poet Robert Creeley.

Pardon the pun, but John Esser had a banner year in 1887.  At the time he built this home he was Erie County Treasurer as well as President of the Black Rock Business Men’s Association.  That same year, H. C. Zimmerman sold out to his partners Esser, Frederick Ogden, and Henry Shuttleworth of the Banner Milling Company, who expanded their operations by buying the Erie Mill.  A few months later he would create the Black Rock Land Company, the first development company in the area.  Esser Ave., Angus St., Roesch Ave., and Ullman St. in Riverside are named after him and his Land Co. investors, with the exception of John Hertel.

Luckily no one was hurt and fire did not spread to any neighbors.  I feel bad for the people displaced by the blaze and would rather not post more photos of their misery.  When I visited a few hours ago the roof was completely gone, the entire back of the building charred, and the smell of smoke still hanging in the air.  But the demolition of this home does seem to erase the deep imprint the Esser name left on Black Rock.  The aforementioned St. Xavier’s, closed several years ago, featured an ornately carved, wooden lectern dedicated by the Esser family.  (Note: I have not confirmed any direct connection to John Esser himself.)  Very recently, the Key Bank at the corner of Amherst and Dearborn moved out.  That building can trace its history back to the Black Rock Savings & Loan, founded in 1892 by–you guessed it–the Black Rock Business Men’s Association.

The corner of Amherst and Dearborn Streets circa 2012 and 1912, respectively. This building was constructed in the 1870s. The 2012 photo is from

Within four blocks you had the Erie Canal, a mill, a tavern, two churches, a school, a market, and a locally supported bank that funded it all.  John Esser had his hand in much of that.  Here’s another sad irony: a photo of John Esser as a director of the Erie Fire Insurance Company.  He is at the top row, second from right.  Click for a larger version.

Taken from The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. by way of

Appleton Fryer, 1927-2013

Tony will be sorely missed.  He helped save the Coit House from demolition and formed the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier–now Preservation Buffalo Niagara–back in the 1960s.  He used to come by the old office often just to say hello.

Read more about him at The Buffalo News.

His death notice and guestbook can be found here.

The Sum of All Villainies: Research

Note: This is the second of two posts enhancing my upcoming article in Western New York Heritage magazine, to be published in the Summer 2013 issue.

B.T. Roberts’ tiny Buffalo home, while covered in vinyl, is still occupied on the West Side after 150 years. (Thanks to Chris Brown for pointing it out to me.)

In researching this project, the most difficult problem with sources was the lack of quality. Besides an abundance of texts by Methodist ministers and bishops who used documents as soap boxes for a particular side, or bureaucratically heavy official minutes, almost nothing existed. Matters worsened when discussing regional topics, such as the excommunication of Benjamin Titus Roberts, and small sects, such as the Wesleyan Connection. As far as I know, there exists today not one history devoted to the following events concerning Methodism in Upstate New York that a church body did not commission or write itself. Historiographically, the goal of this paper is to present, for the first time, a discussion of Methodist slavery politics as it pertained to a particular area of the United States, free of denominational rhetoric or proselytizing.

Still used today, the first works on the subject of difficulties in the Genesee region were yoked to the Church. Written by a former Genesee Conference Secretary, F. W. Conable’s History of the Genesee Annual Conference remains the best official account of the events surrounding the General Conference of 1860. As an official history, however, it is the infertile seed of a disappointing family tree. Edited by Bishop Matthew Simpson, 1878’s Cyclopedia of Methodism drew greatly from the details of Conable’s work. Simpson failed to acknowledge the value of Free Methodist reformers, describing the creation of the organization as if it were a sect of fundamentalist outsiders whose leaders “encouraged a spirit of wild fanaticism.” In the one-page article “Free Methodism,” the massive Cyclopedia devoted about one-third of its one hundred line text to the reasons behind the Churches’ split.

On its title page the 1838 edition of the “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge” purports “an impartial account of the principal Christian denominations that have existed in the world from the birth of Christ to the present day, with their doctrines, religious rites and ceremonies, as well as those of the Jews, Mohammedans, and heathen nations.”

Firstly, Simpson insinuated that the leaders’ actions were unusual and corrupted, with reasons foreign from the author’s beliefs and point of view. The early Free Methodists “professed themselves to be moved by the Holy Spirit, and believed it was their duty to bear open testimony against what they alleged to be the sins of the church” (emphasis added). This description tried to place doubts on the veracity of the Free Methodists’ beliefs. Secondly, Simpson made the blanket statement that these leaders’ complaints were “of the decline of spirituality in the church.” Absolutely no mention of abolition or the slave issue exists in the entire entry, let alone any hint of problems with the episcopacy. The author did mention “various church trials” and that “two of the leaders were expelled,” but failed to mention the names of the leaders. He named B. T. Roberts later, but only as the Church’s first superintendent and founder of The Earnest Christian. Roberts took offense at the Simpson article, so much so that he wrote the Bishop personally. The Free Methodist founder included this correspondence, the Cyclopedia entry, and other commentary in his 1879 book Why Another Sect.  In it, he argued fifteen separate complaints he held against the published tenets of “Nazaritism” and ideas of “wild fanaticism” as written by the Bishop.

Though consisting of much one-sided information, many previous religious historians considered the Cyclopedia of Methodism an authoritative account of the Methodist Episcopal Church decades after its compilation. Histories of the entire Methodist organization, such as Dr. James M. Buckley’s History of Methodism in the United States, relied heavily on the Cyclopedia. Histories by Free Methodist members or sympathizers provided better information. The first official Free Methodist account by Rev. Elias Bowen, one of the original Susquehanna Circuit pastors from 1816 to 1817, looked at numerous sources including the Buffalo Christian Advocate and the Northern Independent, Conable’s minutes, and Roberts’ writings for a more balanced and total depiction of the story. In some places the author copied entire newspaper articles and speeches into the main part of the text. This writing style may not be very literary, but at least it possessed specific, concrete facts and acknowledged the differing points of view of Church members. Two other important Free Methodist histories followed using similar sources and historiographical technique: the Free Methodist Church published Bishop Wilson T. Hogue’s History of the Free Methodist Church of North America and Bishop Leslie Ray Marston’s From Age to Age: A Living Witness during its golden and centennial anniversaries, respectively. Hogue devoted fully half of his two volume History to the denomination’s formation in much the same style as Bowen. As expected he found Roberts’ works most accurate, forming most of his perspective. Hogue’s criticism of Conable and his followers was harsh and defensive of the Free Methodist sect:

Published in 1918, “Daybreak in the Dark Continent” appears to reflect similar impressions of “heathen nations” as the “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.”

It is equally difficult to conceive of how such honored men as the two last named authors [Simpson and Buckley] could have been betrayed into giving general currency to such unauthorized, inaccurate and harmful statements. . . . The most charitable view that can be taken of their action in this matter is to attribute it to prejudice on their part. But even this is a reflection upon their credibility as historians.

he Western New York Heritage article is a careful synthesis of these and other unstable sources. Though most of the information used showed bias, misinterpretation of facts, quotes, or opinions are entirely mine. It is the author’s hope to enlighten the casual reader as well as those with a working knowledge of the topic.

The Sum of All Villainies: Credits

This is the first of two posts enhancing my upcoming article in Western New York Heritage magazine, to be published in the Summer 2013 issue. Original research took place beginning in 2001 and was updated in 2012. Though the article lists only my name as an author to this project, if not for the efforts of a score of others—including Matthew Biddle, who edited the most recent version—there would be no completed product.

At Canisius College, thesis advisor Dr. Bruce Dierenfield contributed the greatest amount of input, as well as the most important. Dr. Larry Jones and Dr. Robert Butler, of the History Honors and All-College Honors programs respectively, were also an influential source of guidance.

The aid of a number of United Methodist and Free Methodist Church members helped as well, especially in the earliest stages of research. Thanks must go to archivist Kate McGinn at the Free Methodist Church’s Marston Historical Center in Indianapolis, as well as Marston assistant archivist Dr. R. D. Simpson and Howard Snyder of Asbury Theological Seminary, who offered their expertise. Charles H. Canon III of Roberts Wesleyan College also helped provide access to Free Methodist rare book rooms and special collections. The research assistants at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society and the Special Collections Department of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library deserve a nod of gratitude as well.

Reverends Jacob Denny and Matt Stengel at the Historical Archives of the United Methodist Church’s former Western New York Conference went to great lengths to find and deliver the rarest of the documents used in this paper. Reverend Rick Rouse of the Akron Free Methodist Church allowed temporary use of his own materials, as did Margaret Schrock and the late Catherine and Charles Taylor. Special thanks must be given to Jerry Schrock for phone numbers, fact verification and special arrangements, and Jeffery Gross for his assistance in editing the final draft.

It is ironic that I must thank an unknown person at the Akron Free Methodist Church who, about twenty years ago, gathered the oldest and rarest texts in that church’s library and left them in boxes on the curb. If not for this author’s fascination for history at a young age and his parents’ acceptance of their son’s pack rat behavior, those books and their history would now lie, wasted, in a landfill.

Just a few church histories thrown out by the Akron Free Methodist Church in the 1990s.

The last shall be first. Most importantly, I wrote this thesis with the late Rev. Thurber Thayer in mind. Though he passed away several years ago, he possessed a gracious soul and possessed a wealth of knowledge about Genesee Methodism; the texts rescued from the trash were originally donated from his personal library. Rev. Thayer’s devotion to his Church and his God will not be forgotten by those who met him. While an amateur attempt, this project was the best way I could think of memorializing him.

LBJ in Buffalo, 1966

Over years of leading tours on Buffalo’s waterfront, I heard one story that stuck in my mind.  I may have heard it from a ship hand on the Edward Cotter but can’t be sure.  It was about how President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird visited Buffalo and at one point in the visit were taken on a boat.  During the ride, someone dipped a bucket into the Buffalo River.  Dumping from nearby factories made pollution so bad the river was “dead” by the 1960s; the water was devoid of life and the oxygen to support it.  So when Lady Bird was asked to stir the bucket’s contents with a stick, she was unable to as it was completely full of sludge.  Shortly after, LBJ signed new pollution controls into law.

That always seemed like too good a story to believe 100 percent until I bought the below photo for sale.  I was asked not to post the original online, but here is a version with a watermark.  It’s a unique photo of a sitting president, with or without Buffalo City Hall in the background. Come to visit sometime and I’ll show you the original:

The Associated Press caption reads:

BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 19–RIDING ON LAKE ERIE–President and Mrs. Johnson (center) and others cruise on Lake Erie Friday as the President discusses water pollution. They’re aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Ojibwa. Another Coast Guard vessel and the skyline of Buffalo is in the rear. 1966

The Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to make a comprehensive study the effects of river pollution on wildlife throughout the United States.

Everywhere A Sign

If you are like me you tend to notice errors in historical signs.  I don’t just mean misused apostrophes and spelling mistakes, but signs with inaccurate dates or facts.  Up until a few years ago my favorite local sign was the plaque under Buffalo’s own copy of Michelangelo’s David.  Not only did it mess up the artist’s birth and death years, it credited the sculptor as “Michel Angelo.”  You know, of the artistic Angelo family.

Our attempt to be classy and erudite took another hit.  (Building an expressway between David and a bust of Mozart was the first blow.)  Local Italians were not too impressed, either.  They complained to local government and a new, corrected plaque now adorns the pedestal.

My search continued for a new favorite and frustrating local sign.  Frontrunners have not been permanent displays.  A Buffalo History Museum exhibit on US Presidents declared that John Kerry won the popular vote but not the electoral college over George W. Bush in 2008.  How soon we forget!

A more recent showcase at the Buffalo Central Library focused on book publishing as art.  One book, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth incorrectly captioned the main character as “Billy Corrigan.”  I assume the person who typed that caption was my age, subconsciously thinking about Smashing Pumpkins lead singer and guitarist Billy Corgan, who is also bald and thinks he’s the smartest kid on earth.

These errors aren’t big or embarrassing; this blog post probably has much worse.  And the exhibits were very well done, educational, and entertaining if not 100 percent perfect.

Last week, however, I walked along the waterfront and remembered one sign that always bothered me.  It isn’t historically or grammatically incorrect.  It doesn’t suffer from a committee mentality, either, where the text and images are tortured to irrelevance and too much space lists donors and sponsors.

The sign is not this sign, but located right next to it:

And below is the sign in question.  The “You Are Here” mark is on the leftmost end of the map.  You can click on it for a larger image:

The sign’s subject is the grain elevator industry which first began on that spot in the 1840s.  It even diagrams how a grain elevator works on the inside.  But here is what surrounds the sign.  Where are all the elevators?  While the sign mentions that many elevators are demolished or inaccessible, it also lists the very spot as a “Viewing Opportunity for Listed Attractions.”

So over here–on the visitor’s right–should be a bunch of grain elevators to look at, right?  That is, until the visitor realizes the map is upside-down in relation to their location.  Lake Erie is to the west, not the Buffalo River.  Only one grain elevator is really in the vicinity, but not close.

Several years ago the waterfront was not well developed and tourist-friendly locations were sparse.  The Industrial Heritage Committee made an informative sign, it’s just on the wrong side of the river.  Imagine not being from the area and visualizing this after navigating the spaghetti system of roadways leading to the Erie Canal Harbor.  And since the average person will not see the river terminate from that vantage point, they may consider the map as-is and travel the wrong way.  Speaking from experience, most locals don’t know the difference between the Buffalo River and the City Ship Canal.  They’re disoriented, too.

I suggest moving the sign somewhere else–perhaps somewhere near the Ohio Street Bridge–with the sign looking north instead of south and with a quick edit to “You Are Here.”  With all the new interest in Silo City it’s bound to get some fresh readers.

P.S.: For more maps of Buffalo’s grain elevators, as well as some legal-or-otherwise travel tips, visit Buffalo History Works’ Grain Elevators: How to See Them.

Stars Along Scajaquada

Last Saturday the Black Rock-Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance organized a War of 1812-themed block party just steps from the site of the Battle of Scajaquada Creek.  A number of other groups, including the Black Rock Historical Society, the Buffalo Maritime Center, and a host of reenactors took part in the event.  Several hundred people took in the historical lectures, buggy rides, and live music, too.  Here are a few photos from the event.  (Some of the many “stars” along the creek are seen in the tree above.)

Local researchers Chris Andrle, Doug Kohler, and John Percy gave presentations.  There was even a live blacksmithing demonstration among all the other activities.

Above all other Buffalo neighborhoods, Black Rock has been defined by its involvement in the War of 1812.  The village, then independent, was burned right before the more infamous attack on what is downtown Buffalo.  The shore near Scajaquada Creek, which itself was a naval shipyard during the war, was the site of numerous crossings into and out of Canada.  The remains of the HMS Detroit still sit at the bottom of the Niagara River only a stone’s throw from Squaw Island.  Residents continue to find bullets, arrowheads, and other artifacts buried on their properties.

Lately the community has used this unique past in their renaissance, especially in the commercial area near the intersection of Grant and Amherst.  Scores of fifteen-star American flags are now displayed up and down streets and a new 1812-themed mural was recently dedicated where Amherst meets Thompson.  Several historic plaques were put up at the corner of Amherst and Niagara, historically known as Market Square, in the past year.  A Binational Heritage Peace Garden opened on nearby Dearborn Street.  Market Square and several other important properties were added to the National Register of Historic Places in late 2011.

Be sure to visit the neighborhood this December for the 200th commemoration of the Burning of Buffalo.  As part of the festivities, locals will build and light a massive bonfire on Squaw Island with a twin bonfire visible on the Canadian side.  But until then, the next big community event will the Discover Amherst Street parade on Saturday, June 15th.  See below for details.