Posted tagged ‘Fairport’

Illuminating Carl W. Peters

August 31, 2016
Carl W. Peters mural, "Fairport", on display at the Fairport Historical Museum.  Photo courtesy of Keith Boas.

Carl W. Peters mural, “Fairport”, on display at the Fairport Historical Museum. Photo courtesy of Keith Boas.

On June 21, 2016, Illuminated History held its fifth annual cemetery tour in which actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum.  Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

Carl W. Peters was a renowned artist.  Born in Rochester, New York, he moved to Fairport as a child.  Carl’s love of art was apparent at an early age, and it was a passion that would last his entire life.  His “Fairport” scene, on permanent exhibit at the Fairport Historical Museum, is just one of many murals that were commissioned to him around the city of Rochester.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts are based on in depth historical research, although some creative license may have been taken.  Carl W. Peters was portrayed by Craig Caplan.

Evening, folks.  I’m not quite sure why I’m here this evening.  My family wasn’t influential like the DeLands or industrious like Mr. Parce.  You see, I’m just an artist.  My name is Carl Peters.

Since I’ve been invited to tell my story, I suppose I should get to it.  I was born in Rochester November 14, 1897, the eldest child of Frederick and Louise Meyers Peters.  We moved to Fairport when I was 11 and bought a place on Jefferson Avenue, at the corner of Sandy Hill. 

After we moved here, my passion for painting went into overdrive as people started to take notice of my work.  I designed some post cards for the Stecher [pronounced STEK’-er] Lithographic Company and also some covers for McClure’s and other magazines.  In 1917, the Fairport Herald printed a story about me winning the best poster contest to advertise the pure food show to be held in Convention Hall, Rochester. 

Carl W. Peters, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Carl W. Peters, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

That was nice and all, but I didn’t paint for the awards.  I painted because I had a love for it.  Best thing in the world to make a living at a job you love.

The Great War came along just as my career was heating up.  I joined up with the 15th Cavalry and spent a year overseas.  I was fortunate to be assigned to the Camouflage Corps as a designer.  I’d like to think I saved a few lives with my camouflage painting, despite the fact that I wasn’t on the front lines.  It’s pretty ironic, though.  I had always wanted to paint in France.  It just never occurred to me that I would be painting camouflage on military equipment!  By the way, I did get furlough in the fall of 1918 and managed to get some nice sketches done while in Paris.

After the war, I settled in New York City for awhile, and then moved on to Massachusetts in 1925.  Winters were spent painting in the Rochester area, and summers in Massachusetts.  I’d built a new studio at my place in Fairport, and it was exhilarating to be out in the snow looking for bursts of color in an otherwise white landscape.  Most of my paintings have a pop of red in them somewhere.  It just helps bring the paintings to life.

My first marriage didn’t work out, but it gave me two beautiful daughters.  My second marriage, to Blanche Peaslee, lasted over thirty years.  You see, Blanche was also an artist and she understood my need to paint.

Since I’ve been old enough to hold a brush, I’ve painted every day.  I’d still paint if I could hold a paintbrush.  This

Carl W. Peters self-portrait.  On loan to the Fairport Historical Museum by a private collector.

Carl W. Peters self-portrait. On loan to the Fairport Historical Museum by a private collector.

otherworldly stuff just isn’t conducive to that.  I’m most known for my landscapes, though I’ve been known to paint a portrait or two.  Your museum actually has a self-portrait that is on loan from a local art collector.  I feel it’s an accurate representation of my face. 

Speaking of my face, there’s a legend that I painted myself into one of the people in the mural upstairs.  In fact, there’s another legend that I painted my face into each of the people in the mural, even the women!  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  I’m just the artist.

Since we’re in this museum building that used to be the library, let’s talk about that mural upstairs.  It’s something I’m very proud of, the fact that I was chosen to paint that mural through the Works Progress Administration, also known as the WPA.  I wanted it to reflect the history of our community, the farmers and the laborers and everyone who worked hard to make Perinton what it is today.  Throughout the city, more of my murals still exist, though the Fairport mural is close to my heart since it represents my hometown.

I died July 7, 1980 at age 82.  I’ve got a nice spot at Mount Pleasant under a large tree.  Hmm…this would be an interesting landscape to paint.  If only I could hold a paintbrush again!

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2016 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminating Deva Ellsworth

June 22, 2015

On June 16, 2015, Illuminated History held its fourth annual cemetery tour in which fifteen actors portrayed eternal residents of three historic Perinton, New York, burying grounds: Egypt Cemetery, Schummers Cemetery and Perinton Center Cemetery.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum.

In this Illuminated History series, the scripts are based on in depth historical research, although some creative license may have been taken.

The first person to be highlighted from this tour is Deva Ellsworth (1894-1925) of the Perinton Center Cemetery, who was portrayed by Denise McLaughlin:

Who here likes music? Any fans of jazz here? Well, I am Deva Ellsworth, and I was a professional musician during the heyday of jazz. Let me tell you my story.

I was born in May of 1894 on a farm on Ayrault Road. Our house was across from Center Cemetery. There is a school there now, which would have been convenient when I was growing up. Instead, my three siblings and I had to walk all the way down to the end of Ayrault, where it connects to the Palmyra Road, to District School #6. It was a long walk in winter, although we enjoyed it the rest of the year. After finishing eighth grade in the District School, I went to high school in East Rochester. I graduated in 1916, during World War I.

Deva Ellsworth, courtesy of the Perinton Town Historian

Deva Ellsworth, courtesy of the Perinton Town Historian

I was a talented musician, and rather unconventional for my day (thank you, Great-grandma Irena, for my independent spirit!). Instead of staying on the farm and finding a husband, I joined the Madame Meyers Ladies’ Band as the coronet soloist. (I played several brass instruments.) Now John Phillip Sousa was the most famous band-leader of that time, and concert bands were a popular form of entertainment all over the country, but neither Sousa’s band, nor any other professional band, would hire women, unless they were either a vocalist or a harp player! Consequently, women formed their own bands. We were well-received and never lacked for playing engagements, I assure you.

Madam Meyers’ band worked in Atlantic City the summer after I graduated. I found that I enjoyed performing and seeing life outside of Fairport. Subsequently, I toured New England and also out west with several bands. Soon after I graduated, however, the United States joined World War I. My brother Elmwood enlisted right away. My sister Ruby and I, not to be outdone in service to our country, both joined the America Ladies’ Military Band, which was led by the famous Helen May Butler, America’s “female Sousa.” There were about fifty women from all over the country in our band, and all of us had brothers in the service. We toured military training camps all over the U.S. to entertain our troops.

We played concerts at camps in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri, to name just a few locations. However, 1918 brought unbelievable devastation: the Spanish Flu, which killed more U.S. serviceman than the fighting in Europe did. Our band often visited camps that were quarantined, and frequently we were playing only a few feet away from the bed of someone who was dying of the flu. One soldier’s last words were, “Please play that last selection again.” Not surprisingly, both Ruby and I caught the flu; her case was more severe than mine. We both survived, thank God. We had both hoped to go to Europe to entertain troops over there, but the war ended before we had the chance.

After the war, Ruby returned to Fairport and settled down. I, however, continued my life as a professional musician. I was in several exclusive women’s groups, including the Ladies’ Eleven Piece Jazz Orchestra. I traveled throughout New England, performing at famous, upscale resorts. I remained a performer all of my short life, working throughout the early 1920s, during the advent of Jazz and the start of Prohibition. It was an exciting time in history, especially for women.

Although I had survived the Spanish flu in 1918, I was never quite as healthy again. I became ill in late 1924, and,

Headstone of Deva Ellsworth, Perinton Center Cemetery

Headstone of Deva Ellsworth, Perinton Center Cemetery

after a lingering illness, died in April of 1925, just 8 days shy of my 30th birthday. I am buried in the family plot in Center Cemetery, across the road from where I grew up. In addition to looking eternally over the beautiful land that was our farm, I can often hear the strains of the Martha Brown band students as they rehearse; I just shake my head when they play Sousa! I am so proud that I got to spend my life working at something I loved, and I got to bring joy to so many people with my music. Who could ask for anything more out of life, however short that life might be?

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2015 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminating Frank Bown

December 20, 2014

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

The fourth Greenvale resident to be featured is Frank Bown.

If any of you lived in Fairport before 1970, you might remember the Bown block, a three-story brick building where the library and Village Landing are now. I’m Frank Bown, and that building was built by my father, George. He ran a carriage factory and blacksmith shop there for many years, and later we sold bicycles and automobiles there. But that was many years ago.

My father George was born in Canada, and came to Penfield when he was twenty-five to learn blacksmithing from his uncle. He moved to Walworth and ran a blacksmith shop there, and met my mother, Mary Jane Foreman. They had nine children, including me. I was the oldest, born in 1857. When I was 4, we moved to Fairport, into a house on South Main Street near the four corners. My father opened his carriage factory, and at first he worked alone. But as it grew, he built several outbuildings, including areas for construction, painting, a sales room, and an office, and eventually employed 14 people, including wood workers, iron workers, and painters. His carriages were known for their strength, durability, and elegance of finish. His carriages were shipped to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other states for both personal and business use. He built lumber wagons, delivery wagons, 3-spring wagons, and both top- and open buggies. His carriages won top prizes at fairs and competitions.

Frank Bown, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Frank Bown, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

In December of 1887, George faced his most serious setback. Most of his enterprise, including our home, was destroyed in a fire. The newly-formed Deland Hose Company was able to save several small portions of the property, but we were devastated to see all those years of work laying a pile of ashes. In 1888, my father bought land closer to the canal from C.J. DeLand, and built the building that would bear his name: the Bown block. He rebuilt his home on the original site, but moved the carriage factory to the new location right by the canal. We had a blacksmith shop, where I worked, a sales room for bicycles, and a carriage shop for carriages and wagons.

The new building housed many other businesses and shops in addition to our own, including a drug store and the library. The Post Office was relocated into the building from West Avenue, and my father served as Postmaster for several years. My father served the village in other ways, as well, including as village trustee, overseer of poor, and school board member. He and my mother were very active in the Raymond Baptist Church. He died in 1904, and my mother followed a few years later.

When my father arrived in Perinton in 1862, my wife Ella Ellsworth’s family had already been here for almost 30 years. Her grandparents, William Ellsworth and Irena Cady, were from two of Perinton’s earliest pioneer families. William and Irena bought a farm on the corner of Turk Hill and Ayrault, where they were very successful farmers. In fact, it is a sheep farm today and is still in the Ellsworth family. Ella’s grandfather ran one of Perinton’s first banks, loaning money to his neighbors at reasonable rates, and keeping people’s important documents, like deeds, in a safe at his house. Her grandmother, Irena, ran a school across from their house, and she was a skilled draftsman, renowned for drawing up plans for mills. She was also a land surveyor, and was a fine shot with a cross-bow, to boot!

Ella and I were married on New Year’s Day in 1880 when I was 22. Ella was very active in our church, the the Raymond Baptist church, and chaired the fund-raising committee for many years. We loved to entertain, and she hosted many special events in our home for our friends and for the church. She also helped me recover from emergency surgery in 1915 when I had appendicitis.

Bown Block in Fairport, New York.  Courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Bown Block in Fairport, New York. Courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

After my father’s death, my brothers and I continued the carriage and bicycle business, but in the nineteen-teens, we also began to sell automobiles. We sold Maxwells, Chalmers, Chryslers, and Chevrolets to the likes of Levi Deland, Martha Brown, and Will O. Greene, the newspaper man, and also provided a fully-equipped garage for servicing of vehicles. Cars needed more attention than wagons or horses, that is for sure! Business was booming in the 1920s. But we had two more fires, in 1920 and again in 1925. Having a blacksmith shop and garage was a recipe for danger, and in the second fire, our entire structure was destroyed, along with several cars that were on the property awaiting repairs. Luckily for us, this time around we had insurance to help rebuild, unlike my poor father. And when we rebuilt in 1926, we said goodbye to the blacksmith shop for good. There had been a smithy on site for almost 60 years, but with the advent of the automobile, there was so little need of it that we decided to forgo that part of the business.

In 1936, Ella and I celebrated 56 years of marriage! It was a special occasion, with our friends joining in to wish us well. In the fall of that year, I passed on at age 78. Ella died 3 years later. We loved our town, and served it well over the years, both the Ellsworths and the Bowns. The next time you drive by Village Landing, think of my father George and me, working over the anvil and producing the finest carriages and wagons available to keep Fairport moving in style.

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminating George C. Taylor and His Oil of Life

September 30, 2014

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

Our second Greenvale resident highlighted is George C. Taylor, as portrayed by Bob Hunt.

How’s everyone feeling today? Any coughs, colds, asthma? Stomach problems, kidney problems, liver problems? Cuts, bruises, burns? Chapped hands or lips? Earache? Toothache? Rheumatism? My Taylor’s Oil of Life [hold up bottle] can be used to cure almost any ill! Inside or out, my liniment is good for what ails you…and your horses and cows, too! Good for man or beast! Good for horn distemper, galls, caked bags, cracked teats, botts, and bellyache.

My father, Alonzo Taylor, began making Dr. Taylor’s Pain-annihilating Liniment in Cato, Cayuga County in 1848, when I was a school boy. I’m his son, George C. Taylor, and I worked in the family business from its very beginning. After my schooling was over, I helped run the company, and I took it over in 1861 when my father died. I moved the Taylor Company here to Fairport in 1866. The Civil War years had taken a toll on business, but things rebounded in the late 1860s.

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

In addition to manufacturing my father’s liniment, which I marketed under the name “Taylor’s Oil of Life,” I expanded my company’s offerings to include many fine and useful products, including flavored extracts, laudanum, perfume, blackberry cordial, cough syrup, breath sweeteners, bluing for laundry, and shaving soap. We made many other popular products over the years. My business was very successful, because I was always ahead of the trends and made quality household products people could use.

My decision to move my business to Fairport was a good one. Business became so good, in fact, that I built a new 3-story brick factory with offices on the corner of North Main Street and High Street in 1873. It was called the Taylor block for many years, and that building still stands today. The railroad had a spur that came right to my building, and I shipped my products all over the country. My wife Wealthy, my daughter Lois, and I lived upstairs. I employed many local residents in the manufacture of my wares.

In addition to my own business, my building housed several retail shops on Main Street, including a grocery store, a meat market, and a barber. I also let the Fairport Coronet Band use one of the upper rooms to practice each week. I believed in building up Fairport and helping other businesses thrive. A strong business community makes for a prosperous town, and everyone benefits from that.

I also believed that an informed community, one that is well-versed in the issues of the day, both locally and nationally, is the back-bone of a strong democracy. To that end, I founded Fairport’s first newspaper, The Fairport Herald, in 1871. Of course, the George C. Taylor Company was one of its prime advertisers. Papers need advertising to thrive, and businesses need to advertise! It was a win-win situation for Fairport and the Taylor Company. But I only operated the paper long enough to get it established, then sold it about two years later. It flourished, and the community was the better for having it. Every community should have its own paper!

During the 1870s, my ever-expanding sales strained my facility’s capacity for production, so I had to enlarge my building several times. I needed more commodious facilities to produce all the fine household products my customers had come to expect from the George C. Taylor Company. In 1887, the famous showman Buffalo Bill Cody took his Wild West Show to London for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He sent me the following letter:

Gentlemen, for some time past I have used Taylor’s Oil of Life in our stables with marked success and during our recent ocean trip from New York City to London it was almost indispensible. Kindly forward me 18 large bottles immediately and I will remit upon receipt of invoice.
Yours truly,
W.F. Cody

It was an honor and a pleasure to aid someone so famous as Buffalo Bill. But my life was not only about my work, as rewarding as that was. My wife Wealthy and I were active in town, especially in the temperance movement. We did not drink or smoke, and believed in moderation in all things. I was universally acknowledged as a man of sterling character. Here is a portrait of me in my later years. My beautiful wife Wealthy departed this life in 1905. We had been married 40 years, and I was not used to being alone. So a few years later I remarried, to Miss Minnie Burchaskie of Fairport, in 1907.

Although I never belonged to any of the churches here in the village, I helped regularly with their various charitable causes, and helped

George C. Taylor's headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

George C. Taylor’s headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

promote the general welfare of the town. I used my hard-earned wealth to improve the lives of those in Fairport. In 1908, I was elected president of the village, which was both an honor and a responsibility. I wanted to make the town more conducive to business in general, and to manufacturing in particular. The role of government is to help businesses thrive, and that in turn allows a community’s residents to thrive. I was not able to implement all of my plans, though, as my term was cut short by my death in 1909.

The George C. Taylor Company continued to operate after my death, with products such as vanilla extract, aspirin, shaving cream, shampoo, facial creams, and toothpaste. By the time the company was closed in the 1950s, it had been a fixture in American households for over 100 years, and it all began with Taylor’s Oil of Life.

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History


%d bloggers like this: