Memories of Rome - Part 2

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Part 2 of a two-part excerpt of an article which appeared in the Daily Sentinel’s Friday evening Feb. 24, 1888 edition with the heading “Recollection of Rome: Danbury news man draws on his memory.” Part 1 appeared in the July 26 edition of the Seven-Day Sentinel, courtesy of City Historian Michael Colangelo Sr.

The Daily Sentinel published a special section on the City of Rome’s 150th anniversary of incorporation on Wednesday, July 29.

Opposite Hyde’s block was the Armstrong block built of brick. This also fronted on the street and on the canal. E. B. & H. S. Armstrong occupied a good part of the streetside with a country store and a tin and stove store. On the corner at Front Street Henry Hayden kept a dry goods store. The canal front was occupied by Harrison Jacobs and E. A. Allen who kept canal supplies. The only other building from Armstrong’s to the railway was a frame building on the corner of front Street owned by Joseph Beecham, and occupied by him at the front with a grocery and liquor store. Joseph was a brother of Rev. Father Beecham, then pastor of St. Peter’s Church.

Above the bridge and below Dominick, James Street has not changed so much as one would suppose. Stanwix Hall stood then where it does now, but was not so extensive. One of the Knoxes had a restaurant in the basement. The corner used to be a favorite location for a well known street character of that day, Bill Seeber. Poor Bill! He was a goodhearted vagabond. Whitesboro Street had one or two liquor saloons and several tenements. The Seymour house was afterward built. I think a man named Edmonds was its first landlord. Across the Black River canal and near to the railway stood a building called the Conlon house. I don’t remember what building connected Stanwix Hall with the Putnam Tavern.

Across the street, near the bridge, stood a building which, on the canal front, was occupied by a market owned by a man named, I think, Clark Morton. Upstairs, on the street front Wm. McPhee had a tailor shop. He was a small man and lame. Near to him A. A. Pavey had a candy and toy store. I saw Mr. Pavey at the Arlington Hotel a year ago last summer. He appeared familiar. A little above him John B. McHarg had a gun store. And next to him was a saloon. I think one of the Knoxes ran it when I was a little fellow, but the first proprietor I remember was William Mulligan. The Grogan brothers now occupy the place. On the corner of Dominick and James Street’s Mudge & Doty had a grocery and dry goods store. Adjoining them on Dominick Street was Pell & Wright’s hardware store. West of that was the Exchange bank and over had the Rome Sentinel office. Opposite stood the American Hotel. In the basement of the Hotel McCarrick & Sons had a fruit store. I don’t remember what sort of structures stood on the street above Hollister’s Lane, but later a block was put up which was called Elm Row. At one time the post office occupied the central portion of it. There were no business places above Liberty Street.

The parks stood where they do now, and so did the Academy and the Courthouse opposite. Way out beyond the buildup portion of the Village quite a jaunt it was then was the village graveyard. It is there yet, but is now quite in the city, and appears to have gone out of business entirely.

The business portion of Dominick Street was confined between James and Washington streets. The public Hall was in that section. It was called Tibbets Hall and was upstairs in the building where Bacon & Pillmore’s dry goods store now stands. Mr. Tibbets assumed the living and tucked up the dead, being an undertaker. On the same side of the street was the” Arcade.” The post office was once in there , afterwards a book and stationery store. Upstairs a Mr. Cheesbrough and sister a private school. Afterward there was a dentistry by a Mr. Perkins on that floor. I had dealings with both of them. Mr. Cheesbrough made me ache at one and the dentist at the other.

Nearby is a dear old landmark. It is the “Checkered store” of G. N. Bissell, and still occupied with the drug business, as it was when I was a child. The drugstore is there yet, and so is the arch one celebrated in a Fourth of July programme. The checkered front was an object of sturdy and a traction to me as a child. The checker has been preserved ever since, so Mr. John G. Bissell of the present drug firm tells me, and I hope that will always remain so.

There was just behind a stove store and a crockery store whose owner I cannot now recall. Near there a Mr. Matteson had a grocery store. Beyond was, along about 1855, a hotel called Tremont House. He used to be occupied by political caucuses. A man named Hager kept it. From this Tavern to the corner of Washington Street was a vacant space, except a blacksmith shop on the corner where Etheridge’s block now is. On the corner above lived a man named Peggs. He was a carriage builder and had his shop by the bank of the canal.

Above him J. M. Orton had a cabinet and coffin shop, and beyond him Mr. Eddy had a blacksmith shop. Mr. Orton and his sons, Albert and Fred, now occupy old Spencer Hall, with a very extensive furniture business.

But to come back and go over on the other side. Near the American Hotel was a drug and paint store, I forget the owner. A little way beyond them Henry Shelly kept, I think, a music store on James Street. But I may be mistaken about this. But I know William Walker had a tailor shop on that side of the street. And just beyond him Elmer brothers had a bakeshop and a confectionery. Many a sweet morsel I have bought there. Near them R. Dunning had a grocery store, and he has one yet. Then there was the Willett house. Just beyond it Dr. Pope had a small brown stone office. Beyond him along in the 40s there stood a low browed tenement house known as the” small pox house,” from the fact that the tenants were once afflicted by that dreaded disease. It burned down when I was a child, and that corner remained for a long time unoccupied.

Tibbits Hall was succeeded by the much more pretentious Spencer Hall. The Messrs. Orton took me into it on the occasion of a recent visit, and while I stood there looking at this stage and galleries I was nearly overcome by a flood of memories. It was there I believe, I first saw the famous Christine minstrels. That was the time when Dan Tucker, Uncle Ned, the Camptown races, Lucy long, and other well-known songs made their appearance. Up at the end of Dominick Street stood the arsenal, and opposite it was the stately residence of that stately relic of the war of 1812-14, Capt. Abeel. On the train the last time I visited Rome, an old gentleman, with whom I fell into conversation, new the Abeel family well, and asked me about them. I believe some of this fine family are still living in Rome.

On the east end of Dominick Street stood “Factory Village,” now called East Rome. It was called factory Village from a dim tradition that a factory was once located there. I never saw it.

The first public school I attended in Rome stood on the corner of Washington and Liberty streets where is now the Episcopal Church. It burned down shortly after and the school occupied quarters in the basement of the Walsh church just above, on Washington Street. I think this building is now offered for sale. The school remained there until the present Liberty Street school was built. I attended there until the beginning of 1860 when I left Rome.

My last residence in Rome was on Steuben Street on ground called the “old Fort.”It was a famous coasting place at that time and the premises were owned by a New Yorker named Barnes.

The Baptist Church stood opposite and is now a double dwelling. Across the Black River canal Bridge began the road that led to Hyde’s woods which was then quite popular for picnic parties.

Rome, above the Erie Canal has changed considerably since I was a boy there. The street trees that were then mere saplings are now fire spreading in their branches, and make a refreshing shade in the summer. The roadways and walks are well-kept, and so are the lawns that border upon them. The broad, straight streets, the abundant shade, and the finally places make Rome the handsomest city I have yet seen. I rejoice in the beauty of my old home. J.M. Bailey.

Above the bridge and below Dominick, James Street has not changed so much as one would suppose. Stanwix Hall stood then where it does now, but was not so extensive. One of the Knoxes had a restaurant in the basement. The corner used to be a favorite location for a well known street character of that day, Bill Seeber. Poor Bill! He was a goodhearted vagabond. Whitesboro Street had one or two liquor saloons and several tenements. The Seymour house was afterward built. I think a man named Edmonds was its first landlord. Across the Black River canal and near to the railway stood a building called the Conlon house. I don’t remember what building connected Stanwix Hall with the Putnam Tavern.

Across the street, near the bridge, stood a building which, on the canal front, was occupied by a market owned by a man named, I think, Clark Morton. Upstairs, on the street front Wm. McPhee had a tailor shop. He was a small man and lame. Near to him A. A. Pavey had a candy and toy store. I saw Mr. Pavey at the Arlington Hotel a year ago last summer. He appeared familiar. A little above him John B. McHarg had a gun store. And next to him was a saloon. I think one of the Knoxes ran it when I was a little fellow, but the first proprietor I remember was William Mulligan. The Grogan brothers now occupy the place. On the corner of Dominick and James Street’s Mudge & Doty had a grocery and dry goods store. Adjoining them on Dominick Street was Pell & Wright’s hardware store. West of that was the Exchange bank and over had the Rome Sentinel office. Opposite stood the American Hotel. In the basement of the Hotel McCarrick & Sons had a fruit store. I don’t remember what sort of structures stood on the street above Hollister’s Lane, but later a block was put up which was called Elm Row. At one time the post office occupied the central portion of it. There were no business places above Liberty Street.

The parks stood where they do now, and so did the Academy and the Courthouse opposite. Way out beyond the buildup portion of the Village quite a jaunt it was then was the village graveyard. It is there yet, but is now quite in the city, and appears to have gone out of business entirely.

The business portion of Dominick Street was confined between James and Washington streets. The public Hall was in that section. It was called Tibbets Hall and was upstairs in the building where Bacon & Pillmore’s dry goods store now stands. Mr. Tibbets assumed the living and tucked up the dead, being an undertaker. On the same side of the street was the” Arcade.” The post office was once in there , afterwards a book and stationery store. Upstairs a Mr. Cheesbrough and sister a private school. Afterward there was a dentistry by a Mr. Perkins on that floor. I had dealings with both of them. Mr. Cheesbrough made me ache at one and the dentist at the other.

Nearby is a dear old landmark. It is the “Checkered store” of G. N. Bissell, and still occupied with the drug business, as it was when I was a child. The drugstore is there yet, and so is the arch one celebrated in a Fourth of July programme. The checkered front was an object of sturdy and a traction to me as a child. The checker has been preserved ever since, so Mr. John G. Bissell of the present drug firm tells me, and I hope that will always remain so.

There was just behind a stove store and a crockery store whose owner I cannot now recall. Near there a Mr. Matteson had a grocery store. Beyond was, along about 1855, a hotel called Tremont House. He used to be occupied by political caucuses. A man named Hager kept it. From this Tavern to the corner of Washington Street was a vacant space, except a blacksmith shop on the corner where Etheridge’s block now is. On the corner above lived a man named Peggs. He was a carriage builder and had his shop by the bank of the canal.

Above him J. M. Orton had a cabinet and coffin shop, and beyond him Mr. Eddy had a blacksmith shop. Mr. Orton and his sons, Albert and Fred, now occupy old Spencer Hall, with a very extensive furniture business.

But to come back and go over on the other side. Near the American Hotel was a drug and paint store, I forget the owner. A little way beyond them Henry Shelly kept, I think, a music store on James Street. But I may be mistaken about this. But I know William Walker had a tailor shop on that side of the street. And just beyond him Elmer brothers had a bakeshop and a confectionery. Many a sweet morsel I have bought there. Near them R. Dunning had a grocery store, and he has one yet. Then there was the Willett house. Just beyond it Dr. Pope had a small brown stone office. Beyond him along in the 40s there stood a low browed tenement house known as the” small pox house,” from the fact that the tenants were once afflicted by that dreaded disease. It burned down when I was a child, and that corner remained for a long time unoccupied.

Tibbits Hall was succeeded by the much more pretentious Spencer Hall. The Messrs. Orton took me into it on the occasion of a recent visit, and while I stood there looking at this stage and galleries I was nearly overcome by a flood of memories. It was there I believe, I first saw the famous Christine minstrels. That was the time when Dan Tucker, Uncle Ned, the Camptown races, Lucy long, and other well-known songs made their appearance. Up at the end of Dominick Street stood the arsenal, and opposite it was the stately residence of that stately relic of the war of 1812-14, Capt. Abeel. On the train the last time I visited Rome, an old gentleman, with whom I fell into conversation, new the Abeel family well, and asked me about them. I believe some of this fine family are still living in Rome.

On the east end of Dominick Street stood “Factory Village,” now called East Rome. It was called factory Village from a dim tradition that a factory was once located there. I never saw it.

The first public school I attended in Rome stood on the corner of Washington and Liberty streets where is now the Episcopal Church. It burned down shortly after and the school occupied quarters in the basement of the Walsh church just above, on Washington Street. I think this building is now offered for sale. The school remained there until the present Liberty Street school was built. I attended there until the beginning of 1860 when I left Rome.

My last residence in Rome was on Steuben Street on ground called the “old Fort.”It was a famous coasting place at that time and the premises were owned by a New Yorker named Barnes.

The Baptist Church stood opposite and is now a double dwelling. Across the Black River canal Bridge began the road that led to Hyde’s woods which was then quite popular for picnic parties.

Rome, above the Erie Canal has changed considerably since I was a boy there. The street trees that were then mere saplings are now fire spreading in their branches, and make a refreshing shade in the summer. The roadways and walks are well-kept, and so are the lawns that border upon them. The broad, straight streets, the abundant shade, and the finally places make Rome the handsomest city I have yet seen. I rejoice in the beauty of my old home. J.M. Bailey.

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