By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette — Generations of Niagara area residents have strong links to Oakwood Cemetery where countless family members and friends are buried.
The story of that landmark site and how it was established is recounted in the current issue of Western New York Heritage, the illustrated history magazine. Michelle Ann Kratts, professional genealogist and local history specialist at the Lewiston Public Library, is author of the meticulously researched article.
With fascinating photos and sketches, Kratts traces the story of Oakwood from the early 1850s, when the Old Burying Ground (as it was known) had to be relocated as part of the New York Central Railroad Co. plan to reroute its lines through the downtown area. As Kratts notes, the railroad paid the Town of Niagara Falls $400 and covered the full expenses for removing all the bodies to the new site.
In case you haven’t heard, Oakwood has undergone some major changes within the past couple of years, the moves designed to restore its historical significance.
The effort has been spearheaded by administrator Larry Steele, a retired electric company owner and long active member and officer of the Friends of Local History at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Other staffers at Oakwood include Tim Baxter, director of operations, and John Wilson, chief of the grounds crew. Pete Ames, a researcher and authority on local history, also has provided valuable insight about the permanent residents.
THE DOWNTURN: Brennan’s Irish Pub, Main Street, Youngstown, shut down over the weekend, idling a number of employees just before the holiday season. A sign on the front door states “Closed for the Season” but local residents vividly remember that a previous such notice was effective for nearly three years.
In another blow to the Youngstown community, the Heritage Auto Inc., 201 Lockport St., closed a few weeks ago, the only place in the village to have cars repaired or inspected.
On a more positive note, the new Dory Trading Post on Main Street appears to be drawing increased interest from its wide range of collector items, crafts, art works and unique gifts. Local residents may even save travel time for their Christmas shopping. Co-owners Aaron Dey and Miss Jane are excited about the prospects for the fledgling enterprise.
VALID POINT? A reader who also is an avid sports fan asks why Niagara County Community College apparently is on a mission to recruit basketball players. A glance at coach Bill Beilein’s roster shows that most of his players now are from the New York City area and others have arrived from as far away as Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“Isn’t the purpose of a community college to provide an inexpensive education for area students who can not afford the more costly institutions of higher learning?” the reader asks. It not the first time I’ve heard from readers questioning whether that’s the best use of taxpayer funds.
HELPING HANDS DEPT.: Can you spare a few hours for a worthy cause? Volunteers are needed to assist with gift wrapping in the Opportunities Unlimited booth inside the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, Military Road. The both is staffed during all the mall hours. Proceeds from the fundraiser will support programs and services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities in Niagara County.
For more information, contact Cindy Hyde (297-6400, ext. 335) or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPECIAL NOTE: Sister Anthony, OSF, a resident at Stella Niagara Education Park who assists with numerous tasks at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Youngstown, is a patient at Our Lady of Peace nursing home. She suffered a hip fracture in a recent fall. A source familiar with the nun’s kitchen skills described her as “a marvelous cook.” Her many friends wish her a speedy recovery.
TRIVIA QUIZ: (Answer to Thursday question) Speaker of the House John McCormack, D-Mass., would have assumed the presidency in November 1963 if Vice President Lyndon Johnson also had been slain with JFK that day.
QUOTE FOR LIFE: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” — Satchel Paige, the legendary black baseball pitcher.Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.