Chapter 04 - Development and the World War 1909 - 1918

"The Center of the Niagara Frontier Industrial District"


Development and the World War 1909 - 1918


Sometimes a mother is heard to say, "My daughter is growing so fast that it keeps me busy lengthening her dresses", but that was before the days of "Bobbing" either hair or skirts. So rapid was the development of the village that the administration was extremely busy. Permits to erect new homes, and an increasing number of bills to audit each week marked the proceedings. New streets were laid out and old ones lengthened. A special election was held in November 1909 on the question of spending $1700 for an automatic fire alarm system, $400 for a chemical fire engine, and $100 for an extension ladder. Each proposition was carried at the polls. On April 18, 1910, the Board took a recess to witness a demonstration of the chemical fire extinguisher purchased from the La France Chemical Fire Extinguisher at a cost of $425. The exhibition and the engine both proved to be a great success.

At a special election held July 16, a proposition to purchase the vacated Union School Building for $9500 to be used as a Village Hall was unanimously carried. The building is still in use and marks the civic center of the Village. Up to this time the Board meetings were held in the Fire Hall. It was felt that a long step had been taken in advance. On November 25, 1910, Myron A. Phelps, the first Village President, and one of the original settlers and most influential citizens, died and was buried in Elmlawn Cemetery. For seven years previous to his demise he occupied the position of Sergeant-at-arms in the State Capital, Albany.


One of the first actions taken by the newly organized Village Board on March 27, 1911, was in reference to the frequent accidents occurring at the double grade crossing on Delaware Avenue over the tracks of the D. L. &. W. R. R. and Erie Railroad. The death of a young lad at that place had recently occurred. In the strongest language possible the matter was laid before the Public Service Commission. Two years later (1913) the present subways were completed and, as is always the case, the public wondered how the old order of things was endured so long. It is to Kenmore that the credit belongs for the improvement.


On June 3, 1912, the Buffalo General Electric Company was granted permission to operate for distribution of electricity for light, heat, and power in Kenmore. Its use soon became general and "gas mantles" became obsolete. There was however, another kind of "gas" that came into general use at this time, and people began to "step on it". Repeated warnings were issued against "speeding" through the village.

The great American amusement of politics was carried on with much zeal by rival factions at this time, and the Village Hail was freely granted both sides for "Rallies" which drew capacity crowds. Whatever the result of the election the Village continued to grow. The differences more particularly concerned administrative policy than anything else. It is to Kenmore's credit that the people were deeply interested in the problems of self-government. They got out to vote and kept posted in civic affairs.


The "Greater Kenmore" party which had been in power for several years made a great effort to retain leadership, priding themselves on the condition of the village under their administration. For two years the "Kenmore Echo", the organ of the party, was published by W. G. Ruddle at the "The Printery" on West Hazeltine Avenue. With the victory resting upon the "Good Government" banners the paper ceased publication.


It does not seem credible that in the year 1913 a proposition was carried at the polls to purchase the triangle plot of land in front of the Village Hall for the paltry sum of $55. Or at least that portion of it which was not included in the original site of the Public School Building, now the Village Hall, and lying between Old Delaware Road and Delaware Avenue. This beautiful plot of land now adorned with the captured cannon, old fire bell in its kiosk, and World War Memorial could not be purchased now for a hundred times that sum. It is comparable only to the purchase of Manhattan Island by the Dutch from the Indians for "The value of sixty guilders", about twenty-four dollars gold.


For several years the Kenmore Civic Association was very active in village improvement. "Civic Week" was celebrated each year with a program of events intended to advertise, advance, and improve the Village as a desirable place for homes. The churches, schools, fire department and other organizations were all enlisted to provide entertainment and public exercises. The celebration was always a success. Buttons with "K. C. A. - Boost, Build, Boom Kenmore" were worn.  "Stickers" for the backs of letters, and an illustrated booklet "Kenmore, Buffalo's Home Suburb" were distributed and mailed to other places,


The "Kenmore News" owned and edited by Ray D. French, was the official paper of the village, and Town of Tonawanda in 1912, and was published on the first Thursday of each month. Mr. French was the cashier of the State Bank of Kenmore at the opening of that institution. The "News" was bought by the "Kenmore Record". Mr. French moved to California and died in Los Angeles, November 27, 1922. His life motto was "For Others".


In the "Kenmore Echo" of March 17, 1913 (note the date) appeared an advertisement of a "Family Liquor Store, W. W. Mang, Proprietor", in which was offered "Meadville Rye, 25 cents per bottle"; "California Port Wine, 25 cents per bottle"; "Duffy's Malt Whiskey, 85 cents per bottle"; "Delivered at your Door". S. Varga charged 85 cents for "Men's Sewed Soles"; Haircuts were 25 cents, and shaving 10 cents. Such were pre-war prices.

Toward the close of the year 1916 an appeal was made to the U. S. Post Office authorities for the free delivery of mail in the village which was granted a few months later, the carriers starting from Station H, Main Street, Buffalo.


The estimated village tax in 1915 was $25,761.09. The proposition for removal of ashes, garbage and rubbish $1200. The Village Board was composed of Matthew D. Young, President; Trustees, F. D. Booth, W. B. Smith, A. E. Seipp, C. J. J. Seaman; Treasurer, R. A. Toms; Collector, Andrew S. Walker; Sup't Public Works, Fred Ebling; Chief of Police, Albert F. Pallow; Clerk, E, W. Johnson. As a study in comparative prices, "bids for 25 tons of coal delivered at the Fire Hall were received at $6.25 and $6.30 per ton".


The first issue of the "Kenmore Record" appeared as a four page weekly on February 3, 1916, A. L. Brainard editor and proprietor. Mr. Brainard was considered one of the best newspaper reporters in Buffalo. The "Record" filled the want of the growing Kenmore field at once and soon outgrew its infant clothes appearing in larger form. In size it has kept pace with the growth of the village. In politics it is independent. In the year 1922, William B. Smith bought a half interest in the Kenmore Record which was incorporated in the same year. W. B. Smith was elected president and A. L. Brainard treasurer. The first issue in the new plant was an eight page paper with a circulation of one thousand; it is now printing a sixteen page paper and has a circulation of twenty-seven hundred. The special features are of great interest to all classes of readers. It is now printed in its own plant at 11 LaSalle Avenue.


The Silver Jubilee of the Methodist Episcopal Church was celebrated in February 1916 while the Rev. Fred'k S. Parkhurst Ph.D. was pastor. Extensive interior improvements were made during the summer. Dr. Parkhurst retired from the active ministry in October 1916, having served the church four years, and became a permanent resident in the Village taking up general insurance work and writing. He was appointed Local Historian of Kenmore and Tonawanda by the State University in 1919.


One of the last, and perhaps the greatest achievements of the Kenmore Civic Association was the founding of the Kenmore Public Library. It was a noteworthy achievement and a lasting monument of what can be accomplished by united, persevering effort. The Library was opened on July 4, 1916 in the Village Hall with public exercises. Eleven hundred books donated at the start. On April 7, 1924, after being a dependent tenant in the Village Hall, with the exception of a year in the "Y. W.", the Trustees purchased the property in Mang Avenue, which was opened for library purposes on May 17. At a special taxpayers vote on July 7, the sum of $6000 was appropriated and the library became the property of the Village. The transfer was signed by the Village authorities on January 3, 1925. An inventory included 2659 books valued at $1,315, furniture $500, building $8000, cash in bank $578.30, Total ^10.393.30, for which the taxpayers paid $6000. The Library is now in a growing and flourishing condition.


In order that there should be no "East" and "West" side in Kenmore, the streets so designated were re-named. On the east side of Delaware Avenue; East Tremaine Avenue, and East LaSalle Avenue, were re-named respectively Parkwood Avenue, and Euclid Avenue. There are no "Streets" in Kenmore. All thoroughfares are either Avenues, Roads, or Boulevards. Thus we escape being a "Main Street" town.

Mr. J. B. Rickert long identified as a prominent citizen and builder, died February 12, 1916.

During the summer an addition of twelve rooms was made to the High School at a cost of $46,000.

Rev. C. W. Winchester, D, D., a retired Methodist Episcopal clergyman died March 24, 1916. He was distinguished as an author and lecturer, and was a property owner in the Village for many years.

Village President Young appointed April 8 as "Tag Day" to raise funds for the destitute in the War Zone. The Fred B. Eberhardt home on Delaware Avenue was sold to the Wheel Chair Home for $17,400 and was occupied on May 1.

Mrs. Frances E. A. Zimmerman, widow of James B. Zimmerman, one of Erie County's most popular residents and Supervisor of Tonawanda, died on May 13. Mrs. Zimmerman was an old resident and greatly beloved by a wide circle of friends. She was active in church and temperance work. Both at this time, and at the death of Mr. Zimmerman which occurred May 18, 1894, a gloom of sadness was thrown over the entire village. Mr. Zimmerman was an ardent Democrat in politics, and during his lifetime held various official positions in Erie County. He was a Free Mason, and an ardent worker and liberal supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

SOURCE:  History of Kenmore Erie County, New York; 1926; Frederick S. Parkhurst, Ph.D. Local Historian