Emporium Businesses, Homes, Schools-Riley Murray as told to Frances Murray
In the days before electric refrigeration, the railroads had to use ice for their refrigerators in the Pullman dining cars, as well as pack ice in the refrigerated railway express cars for their perishable products, so a trestle was built so the ice could be placed in the top of the express cars. The ice was brought in from Lime Lake. The railroad ran on both sides of the trestle and the men would push the ice in carts, or buggies as they were called, up the trestles and dump the ice down in the top of the refrigerator cars. Some of the ice would spill onto the ground and after the trains pulled out, the kids used to take their wagons, go to the trestle and fill up with ice that had fallen beneath the trestle, take it home to their own ice box or some would sell the ice cheap. This trestle was built east of Quaker State gas station. Some of the railroad tracks can still be seen today.
Do you remember when E. H. Hick, on duty at the Pennsylvania Railroad tower, threw the wrong lever and caused a wreck at that ramp into the railroad depot? Riley Murray ran the wrecker at that roundhouse. New roundhouse was built in 1918. The cars, the wall was pushed in, but not one pane of glass was even cracked. You can see the dent in the brick wall by the window today.
Across the railroad tracks on Broad Street is the Cottage Hotel. It was owned and run by Mr. and Mrs. Doug Petty. The Commercial on Broad street was run by several different people, but for the past 75 years or more, owned and ran by Mr. and Mrs. Butler, these later years by their third daughter, Mrs. Bea Bear.
On Hemlock Street, where Murrays Service is located was a block works where Fred Bliss made concrete blocks, later John Thomas made it into a garage. On Third Street was a machine shop and small foundry run by Allen Randolph and Nick Boar where Kautz Plumbing is now. On Third Street was the Emporium Supply Co., run by Strayer and Rentz. Pop Strayer was well known in them days. He owned and lived in the house now occupied by the Kenneth Signor family on East Allegany Avenue. Mr. Rentz built and lived in the house that Jim Klees lives in on 4th Street.
There was a grocery store on 4th Street. Later on it became a laundry owned and run by Floyd Hilliker. Later Hilliker ran the Hilliker and Murray Garage. Now it’s the Keystone Garage. On the corner was Justice of the Peace Larabee’s home. Next to Larabee’s home was a dressmaker shop. Dr. Smith married the dressmaker after his first wife died. A left-handed shoemaker by the name of Yonkie was on the other side. Schless Green house was next to the dressmaker shop. Across the street was Maz Glasl, Sr shoe and repair shop. I bought the shoes I was married in from Mr. Glasl. On the other side of the Schless Green house was Annie and Pat MaHanney’s candy store. (Mike Dolan’s sister and brother-in-law)
Pete Beatty ran a cigar store on 4th Street where the Sears Roebuck store is now. It was known as the Smith Building which was built in 1908. Don Minard ran a store on the corner of 4th and Broad; years later the First National Bank was built there. Murray Overhiser ran the store where the Cabin Kitchen now stands. Theatorium opened on Broad Street about 1906. Moved to 4th Street in 1907 where Skip Kibe is. Closed in 1929.
The Opera House. I’m not sure, but I think the Farrells first built it as a skating rink, with level plank floors. Was made into a picture show place. In 1915 and was run by Thomas Andrew and brother-in-law John Vail until their sons took over. The water trough was in the middle of 4th and Broad Streets. No idea when placed there, but was removed in 1910 when the street was paved. There was hitching posts all up and down the streets. The drinking fountain was put in about 1915.
First place in town to have electric lights was where the coffee shop is now. At that time it was a saloon run by Dan McDonald. Mr. Kraft owned a bottling works located on Broad Street where the Motor Coil parking lot. Later on it was used as an ice plant where they made 50 pound cakes of ice.
Mr. and Mrs. John Parsons owned and ran a store where Mrs. Ben Erskins now lives. He built a new home on his vacant lot next to the store. They never lived in the home, as they disagreed on furniture. She wanted all new ones. So, after the death of Parsons, the home was sold to Charlie Rishell. After the death of Mr. and Mrs. Rishell, the home was sold to the Presbyterian Church for a manse.
Mrs. Ben Erskine’s house was built by Mr. Dodson who ran the drug store, known as the French Pharmacy, on the corner of 4th Street where the A & P store is now. Mr. Dodson was the father of Mrs. Neil Coppersmith, Sr. Verne Heilman, son of Dr. Heilman ran a hardware store next door to Judge La Barr combination furniture and funeral parlor. Later it was run by Mr La Barr’s son-in-law, Charles Rishell. After Rishell’s death, Neil Coppersmith took over the entire building. It is now a furniture and appliance store. Across the street from where Carl Kelly has his insurance office was once the office of Dr. Gallaher’s optical parlor. He was also a Justice of the Peace. Frank Munday had a harness shop where the laundrymat is now.
Leckner ran a shoe store where the Silco store is now. After Mr. Leckner’s death, the store was run by his daughter and his son-in-law, John McUlchay. Next to the Leckner store, Charles Carmello ran a store. These have all been replaced by Silco. An Adams Express office was located in what is now Phil’s shoe store. John Logan was manager of the office. His daughter married Guy Felt of the Guy and Mary Felt nursing home. John Day ran a grocery store where the liquor store is now. There were no electric ice boxes or such, but Mr. Day kept his vegetables fresh by using a cold water sprinkling system. Next door to Mr. Day’s store was once a grocery store run by Alex McDougall. John Day built the house on 5th Street where the George Rishell now resides. Before that house was built, the Presbyterian Church was built on that lot.
Balcom and Lloyd ran a general store where Jasper Harris & Sons is now. The Cameron County Press-Independent printing office was in the upstairs over the store. The Press moved in 1910 to what was known as the Climax Powder office, but is known now as the Emporium Water Building. John Blinzer ran a barbershop on the corner of 4th and Broad. Jimmy Quinn was one of the barbers. Mr. & Mrs. John Blinzer ran the first 5 and 10 cent store in Emporium in the Metzer Building where McCorys is now.
Emporium Independent, right.
On Broad Street where Johnson garage is, Fred Logan had his livery stable, sold hay, grain and feed. Later on he built a new building to become Logan Garage which was destroyed by fire in 1928. The fire was caused when Billie McDonald ran into the gas pump while driving the Borough roller. The garage was rebuilt at once. Next to Logan’s Garage was a blacksmith shop run by Joe Fisher.
Across the street where the Post Office is, there used to be a miniature golf course, built and run by Jack Norton, who was the electric engineer for the Emporium power plant. Jack tore up the golf course after a few years and the grounds were used by carnivals that came to Emporium. The ground was owned by the Warner Hotel, later sold for the Post Office building.
See by the Echo that Joe Olivetti has bought the house on East Allegany and now has torn it down. That house was built by the St. Charles Hotel which Olivetti also bought and tore down. Seems as though the idea in Emporium is to tear down and rebuild instead of restoring the old homes that could have easily been restored. They were built when homes were meant to last.
Seeing the house torn down (1973) brought back a few memories that had almost been forgotten. That house was built by Charles Fay, who also built the St. Charles Hotel, but my memories are of another family who lived in that house; Blane Monroe, his wife, and two daughters. Mrs. Monroe was the former Jeannette Porter, daughter of the famous author, Gene Stratton Porter. The Monroe family lived in Emporium for several years. They hired my sister, Roberta, as nursemaid for their daughters. When they returned to Philadelphia, they took my sister back with them. She lived in their home until the girls no longer needed her services. Mrs. Monroe later left her husband, went to California, where she married a man by the name of Meekem. Mrs. Meekem took up writing herself, and after the death of her mother, Gene Stratton Porter, Mrs. Meekem finished writing several books her mother had started working on at the time of her death.
The first house built where the Coppersmith funeral home is located-who built it I don’t know-but a family by the name of Newton lived there. When the house was torn down, as a small boy I got the big bell that was on the front door. It was an extra large bell as Mrs. Newton was hard of hearing. Joe Kaye built his house on the Newton lot. Years later two wings of the house burned, but Mr. Kaye never rebuilt them, but lived in the house as we know it today.
The Rhinehul’s house on Broad Street was built by Mr. Garrity. It’s been there as long as I can remember. Dr. Bryan and his family lived there. One of the Bryan girls was a schoolteacher. She taught in the Emporium school. I don’t remember her name. I think it was Nina.
Fred Julian built the house next to Garritys. Julian also built the Climax Powder Co. Dr. D. Johnston moved into his home in 1914. His family still lives there now in 1972. Next to the Julian home on 5th and Broad Streets was the home built by J.P. Felt who owned the flour and feed mill. After J.P.’s death, his son, dentist Dr. Leon Felt, lived there with his first wife, the former Carolyn McQuay in 1912 or 1913. Divorced.
B.W. Green, a lawyer, built the home on 6th Street now owned by Tom Tompkins. Mr. Green had his law office on the corner of 4th Street and Broad, where the Emporium Trust Co. is as of today. James Creighton built his home on the west side of B.W. Green. Thad Moore built his home next to Creighton. Next Creighton was Bill Grose’s home. It was torn down later to build the Climax house in1903. Bill Wyman lived in the Climax house for years. Next Dynamite Smith House. Max Balcom’s father lived in the house on the corner of Maple and 6th. Next Gould house corner of Maple and 6th. Joe Kaye built the house Mrs. Mark Orr lives in now. Corner 5th and Maple, Pete Beatty house, is now owned by Mrs. Violet Hammersly.
The Weidenberger house on West 6th was built by Lynn Cravens. Dr, Heilman built the house on 4th Street across from what is now known as the Sylvania Club. But that was the home of Henry Achu who had it built for their residence. Two of the oldest houses left standing today, 1966, is the Swartwood home, occupied now by their daughter, Helen, and her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lloyd and the Harry Andrews homes both located on the east end of town.
Emporium had a horse-drawn bus used to meet all the trains at both depots. Dave Hayes owned the bus and horses. He ran the livery stable which was right behind the present Post Office. The fire department had a long ladder and I remember when the Henry Achu home burned, some of the fireman were riding to the fire on the bus, and, as the fireman swung the corner of 4th and Broad Street, the ladder swung to the side and swept the fireman off the bus. That was in 1912.
The early fire department begun in 1893 consisted of hand drawn hose carts with a firehouse called a Hamilton hose house in where Pat Lewis has his store. They had a gas whistle mounted on a pole by the hose house. The Mountaineers were located on Broad Street where the Borough building is now. Their gas whistle was on the corner of 4th and Broad where the bank is. The Citizens hose house was on Locust street. In what was later the Sons of Italy Lodge room, back of what is now Joe Olivetti’s store, the gas whistle was on a pole by the East End Post Office. The first fire truck was bought in 1916, an American LaFrance truck. Later on another truck was bought. As the town grew so did the addition of more fire equipment.
A lot of old-timers will recall where the Macabee Lodge was located. Today the sign is still on the outside of the building. It was also known as the Metzer Building. (Riley Murray) The Lady Macabees had their Lodge there, too. Now the Ladies Lodge is know as the North American Benefit Association. I joined the Lodge 50 years ago when it was known as the Women’s Benefit Association. Run entirely by women, the first president was a woman from Warren, PA. It is now the leading women’s fraternal organization in Canada. (Frances Murray)
The McGinnis Steel Mill was located on Cameron Road: east of the present Press Metal. The steel mill went from Emporium to Corry, PA. A cheese factory was located where Ed Horning now lives. The milk plant (no pasteurized, raw milk was the kind sold at the time) built in Plank Road Hollow. Later turned into a home now owned by Ruby Broker.
The Gus Haupt and Charles Zarps blacksmith shop was located in the vicinity of what is now the fire house and city hall. Zarps shod oxen, for which special shoes had to be made. Later John Narby and Augustus Zarps ran shops in the West End, while Charles Zarps had his in the East End.
Mankey Furniture factory was located on Pine Street, east of the football field—made all kinds of furniture. It was working 1894, as my brother worked there at that time. It closed about 1900.
Dr. Bardwell, Dr. Falk, and Dr. Fullmer all had offices and lived in the house where Dr. Hackett is now. Dr. Leon Felt, dentist, had his office where the Lathrop Dental Office is located.
Grist Mills-The only flour mill was owned by J.P. Felt where they had one bin for flour, but sold two kinds out of it. It was called Felt’s Best. Mr. Hausler ran a feed mill, ground only feed. Later Mr. Battin ran it and the last one to run it was Ted Rogers that I remember.
Plank Road (now used as a shooting club), Rich Valley, West Creek, Sizerville, Whitmore Hill, Bradytown, Canoe Run, Huntley, Cameron Mason Hill, Sages Farm. The first high school built on 6th Street was built in 1893, finally torn down in 1974.
First known orchestra in Emporium was composed of John Coy, first fiddle, Clark Harrington, second fiddle and Elaine Coy, bass fiddle, and was called Coy’s Orchestra in 1871.
Jack Wiley and Cyrus Sage and Braynard Mathews operated a saw mill just below Sages farm.
Some of the private homes had sidewalks made of flagstone, others had wooden plank walks. The concrete walks were put in a few at a time, as it ws hand mixed. Fred bliss did most of the concrete work in Emporium.
Magazines were many. Saturday Evening Post. Liberty. Harpers Weekly. A lot of westerns. Women’s Home Companion. Comfort.
There was about five houses built on what is now the airport. I presume there is a lot of men who remember Cora Brooks, who lived on what was known as Cooks farm, up Rich Valley way.
Alex Mason took the last big log raft down the Driftwood Branch. He also took the last raft down the Sinnemahonig River. It was rafted near Wright Mason farm in 1915.
Parsons Dry Cleaning shop used to be the Emporium Library.
Another building has an old time sign outside the third floor--the Smith Building.
Mike Tulis came to Emporium to work on the railroad when it was first being put through.