Before the electric refrigerator…

Before the dawn of the electric refrigerator, the ice box kept things cold. Needless to say, there was a need to harvest and store ice. Iceboxes date back to the days of ice harvesting, which had hit an industrial high that ran from the mid-19th century to the 1930s, just before the refrigerator was introduced into the home. What is an icebox? Iceboxes had hollow walls lined with tin or zinc and packed with various insulating materials such as cork, sawdust, straw or seaweed. A large block of ice was held in a tray or compartment near the top of the box. Cold air circulated down and around storage compartments in the lower section.  The user had to replenish the melted ice, normally by obtaining More Info »

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Niagara Woodworking was in the news!

What can you add to this old newspaper clipping about Niagara Woodworking? Let us know by commenting below and we will add it to the story! The caption dates this at 1909 and says: “The makers of house trim, sash and doors. It was located on Kelly Ave. and is presently occupied by Barden and Robeson Corp. Lower photo shows workers from left, Art Webber, Art Vale, Frank Owens, Tim Riordan, and Bill Mahar. Photos are through the courtesy of Tim Riordan.” “

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Happy New Year

The office of the Village Historian is once again open and ready for your visit. I am now located in the board room at the Village Hall on Main Street and I am busy getting things back into order. My hours will continue to be on Tuesday and Thursday from 10-3 or by appointment.  I hope to have a new display cabinet for some artifacts that are part of the Historian’s collection as well as plenty of reading material for you to enjoy. I am always ready to listen and record the memories that you have of Middleport and would like to preserve for future generations. 

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Banking in Middleport

In today’s fast paced society, we think little about the ease with which we can deposit or withdraw our savings and do daily transactions with our money.  Many people spend little time in a brick and mortar building since now most of our dealings can be done over the computer or from our car as we use the drive through window or ATM machine. Early residents of Middleport were fortunate to have two private banks available, one owned by Linus S. Freeman and the other by Charles B. Taylor.  Harvey Hoag would later take over the banking from Mr. Taylor and ran the bank in connection with his drug store. In 1908 the First National Bank was formed with capital totaling $25,000.  The Community Trust More Info »

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Middleport’s connection across the pond!

As Published October 14, 2014 in the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal This article entitled “Middleport Connection” was published on the front page of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, and the paper has given their permission for it to be reproduced here. Article written by Michael Canfield Back in January, Village of Middleport Historian Christa Lutz received an email from an English man who was interested in learning about the village. The man, who hails from Burslem, England, is employed by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, an initiative working to rehabilitate historic sites around England. As it turns out, there is a Middleport in England. It is a suburb of Burslem and is situated on a canal, like its American counterpart. “He wondered how we were alike More Info »

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One and Only Blastfurnace

The community of Middleport has been home to many different businesses throughout the years.  Gin mills were very common and old maps show we had plenty of them to keep residents and canal workers well supplied.  We also had several nice hotels which gave travelers a place to rest when passing through. There were plenty of stores to supply everything that canal travelers could possibly need. However, records show that we have had only one blast furnace withing our community.  John Van Brocklin opened his business in 1840 at the site where the building still stands today on Vernon Street near the corner of State. This building has been the home to several other businesses and even was used as for classrooms when the school More Info »

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Train Travel comes to Middleport

The opening of the canal in 1825 was responsible for much of the growth of this little village of Middleport, New York.  It wasn’t much longer before the first train came chugging through Middleport, again changing how people were able to transport goods and families to the west. The first train came through  in June of 1852 and by 1853 some 11 trains were traveling through or community per day.  By 1888 there was a train every hour all day long and that put a serious dent into the commerce on the canal. The Hotel Rich had a livery service from the station to the hotel for anyone who needed a place to stay.  Middleport became well known for the hospitality it showed to travelers More Info »

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Ernest Freeman, Inventor

Local business man and inventor Ernest B. Freeman invented a gas spraying device in his machine shop which  earned a patent on July 12, 1904.  It won national acclaim when the machine won a gold medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and soon, with the support of local investors, Mr. Freeman established the Niagara Sprayer Co.  His invention was able to spray CO2 over a liquid contained in the tank onto the numerous fruit trees around Western New York.  The invention met with some difficulties because of the high cost of shipping the liquids and Mr. Freeman sold his company to C.P. Hugo Schoellkopf.   Alfred Halland, a chemist on his staff , had produced a dry fusion method which allowed cheaper shipping to far More Info »

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Levi Cole , business man and murderer

The name Levi Cole was associated with a log house/tavern in the early days of our history. Mr. Cole moved his business to the corner of what is now Main and State Street when he heard of the planned building of the canal.  He also became known as being responsible for the first documented homicide in our community. After a heated bar room brawl in his establishment which then  spread to the street outside, Mr. Cole struck one of the men with a club killing  him and seriously wounding  another.  He was protected by some local residents until the law could take him away and he was sent to the State Prison for a short time. The attached photo is of an invitation to Mr. More Info »

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