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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Hotel Pierce to Cornerstone Credit Union

The corner of Main and State Street in Middleport started with its first hotel in 1825 when Horace Pierce built what was then known as the Pierce House.  In 1883 it burned to the ground and the property was purchased by Asa Rich, who replaced it with a brick structure known as the Hotel Rich. Mr. Rich kept a team of horses and a wagon at the train depot so that customers could be brought to his hotel in style.   It had several more owners until it was purchased by George Fenton who renamed it the Fenton Hotel. This beautiful structure met its demise in 1966 when it was torn down to make way for a gas station.  The clock from the hotel was More Info »

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Early Settlers head for WNY

After Batavia was made the county seat in 1802, the Holland Land Company, comprised of 6 different Dutch banking houses, opened this area to settlers with prices of $2.50 per acre of land.  Some of the early names in our area were James Lyman, James Williams, John Griswold and of course Asher Freeman. Mr. Freeman bought some 500 acres of land and built a home which was the only one between Batavia and Slayton Settlement.  Because he was one of the principal land owners, Freeman’s Corners became a name used for a period of time. Some of the other names for our early community were Barlow’s Corners, Taylor’s Corners and Ewing’s Corners as well as Peeneyville, Pucker and Tea Pot Hollow.

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Our Early Settlers

Many of our early settlers made their way across New York State from Vermont along the Great Central Trail, known to us today as Buffalo Road and Route 5.  The early trails were only 12-18 inches wide and were gradually widened to about 10 feet to allow for the passage of wagons.  The Holland Land Purchase, which comprised most of the land west of the Genesee, was the gate that opened this area to settlement.  The land sold by agents for the Holland Land Company went for $2.50 per acre.  By 1809 Ridge Road was considered one of the best roads in New York State.  A coach line had even been established to take travelers from Canandaigua to Lewiston.

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Middleport Industrial Chart 1881

The art in this industrial chart produced in 1881 was attributed to two artists, Philleo who sketched the bodies and other figures  and Pollard who was responsible for the faces.  W.F. Pollard and Company were responsible for cartoons and commercial advertising in the local Middleport Times and the Middleport Mail who fought for newspaper supremacy within  the village. W.F Pollard and business partner Arthur Whittaker set out for points west around 1893, finally settling in Spokane, Washington where they did some of the first advertising for two daily and 4 weekly newspapers.  Their business  was eventually sold to the Spokane “Spokesman Review” where Pollard remained as an employee while Whittaker returned to Middleport. An original of this chart can be viewed at the office of More Info »

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Park Inn mystery solved

Some time ago, a question came up about the location of the old trolley station here in Middleport. We learned of the location of a Park Inn on the corner of Main and the park owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dreher. It is located on the insurance maps of 1911 on the corner of Main and Park Ave and with some luck, Jesse Bieber shared this postcard with me which we believe  is the Park Inn.  If anyone has any other pictures or information about this establishment, we would love to hear from you.

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Union Free School Fire of 1910

Early Middleport was often the scene of devastating fires but none as sad as the early morning fire of February 23, 1910.  Firemen were called to the south side of Park Avenue near Vernon Street to the building that housed the Union Free School, which had been established in 1891 to ensure “educating our children at home and not at some of the neighboring towns.”  Additions to the original 1870 building were built in 1893 and again in 1898 to house the growing school population and ranking the school #8, one of the best in New York State. The first volunteers to arrive at the fire found the cistern frozen and no water handy to spray on the building.  A call was made to Medina More Info »

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On the job in Middleport

Recollected by Bill Shaw, long-time Middleport resident We worked on Saturdays too in those days. Someone realized that I didn’t have my working papers. I got sent to old Doc Wilmont. He gave them to me and I went right back to work in the machine shop. In 1925, I began working at Niagara Sprayer as an adult in the sales department. I got a job there because I had helped out on the Niagara Sprayer farm. George Thompson, who was President of Niagara Sprayer, ran for the Governor of New York State on the Prohibition Ticket. He was an officer in the power and light company in Lockport too. After Bill O’Shaunessey burnt his legs on steam, he asked me to run the Basket More Info »

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Dr. Kent Williams, Middleport family doctor

The August 17, 1975 edition of the Niagara Gazette shared with its readers the details of “Dr. Kent D. Williams Day” as the Middleport community prepared to say farewell to a beloved resident.  After 39 years of “healing bodies and soothing minds”, Dr. Williams and his wife Emily were getting ready to retire to Florida due to health reasons. He was a general practitioner who loved his work and practiced both day and night, at his office or in the patient’s home for $8 per call. Almost every long time Middleport resident has warm and loving memories of this dedicated family doctor.  His daughter, Susan Williams Brown, kindly has donated her father’s items back to the Village of Middleport and they can be seen on More Info »

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