In Years Past

In 1913, at day-break a big force of Binghamton city employees began to search for the dead entombed beneath the smoldering ruins of the Overall factory of the Binghamton Clothing Company. Not until the tangled mass of brick and steel had been removed would the full extent of the previous day’s holocaust be known. A conservative estimate placed the number of dead at more than 50. About 125 employees, mostly women and girls, were trapped within the burning walls. Of these, 41 were known to have escaped. Mayor Irving said he would issue a proclamation calling upon the citizens of Binghamton for a day to be set apart for the funeral of the victims. As many of the bodies were unrecognizable, a pubic funeral would be conducted and the unknown dead would be buried in a plot upon which a shaft would be erected.

  • A fatality which would cause widespread regret and sadness in many quarters occurred near Stockton when Matthew S. Moore of Fredonia was killed by a big motor truck engaged in the work of construction on the Brockton-Stockton state road. The young man, only about 17 years old, was working as an inspector on this project. He was a student at the Fredonia Normal School. He was on his way to work riding a bicycle and holding on to the truck, allowing it to pull him along. He was found lying in the road when the driver of the truck stopped his machine. Matthew was one of the best known and most popular young men of his age and circle in Fredonia and his family was prominent socially and in many ways, his father being a leading attorney.

In 1938, a youthful camper was in a hospital in Gowanda in serious condition after a fall from a cliff in a blinding rainstorm the previous night. Walter Stoll, 18, of Kenmore, N.Y., who was found unconscious at the base of a precipitous escarpment in Zoar Valley along Cattaraugus Creek, was carried up the side of the cliff in an improvised rope stretcher by police and volunteer rescuers. Dr. Norris Frank of Collins Center, who figured in the spectacular rescue, said Stoll suffered a fractured skull, multiple contusions and shock from exposure. Stoll and Bruce Upton, 16, also of Kenmore, had been camping nearby and had hiked into the Zoar Valley. The youths were climbing a sheer escarpment when, about 70 feet above the floor of the ravine, Stoll lost his balance and fell.

With a rainfall of 3.2 inches overnight, establishing a record for precipitation at the city weather bureau, Jamestown and the Chautauqua region checked possible damage following one of the most severe summer storms that ever swept the area. Raging for hours, the elements combined hail and electrical flashes with a torrential downpour so great that at its height, streets were awash from curb to curb, stalling autos that were unable to make progress through the madly rushing water. Traffic was practically at a standstill with visibility poor. The Jamestown Telephone Corp. reported its service crippled throughout the region, telephones in a number of villages being out of order through the night.

In 1963, tiny Martha Jean Verrett, who would be 2 in October, was home apparently none the worse for her experience after being lost in the pitch black night for almost six hours. The blue-eyed blonde was found at 4:30 a.m. calmly sitting in a hay field, about a half mile from the farm home of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Johnston, of the Gerry Levant Road. She had been the object of a dramatic search by more than 100 volunteer firemen, police and neighbors after the child was reported missing at 9:40 p.m. Early in the search there were fears the child might have been kidnapped or fallen into a 10-foot deep pond on the Johnston farm. The child was found by Lewis Lavigne of Falconer, who decided to continue searching although the official hunt had been suspended until dawn.

Police were seeking the identity of a man swept over the Horseshoe Falls before about 100 horrified sightseers at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Witnesses told police the man, about 35 to 40 years of age and wearing a light blue shirt and dark trousers, apparently waded into the upper rapids. He entered the water just above Terrapin Point. Police found nothing on the shore to identify the man. No body had yet been recovered.

In 1988, an 11th-hour $6 million proposal to save Jamestown General Hospital had been put forward by Donald Abercrombie, president of Development Resource Associates of Tennessee and members of the Coalition to Save JGH. The proposal was to establish a non-profit corporation separate from the City of Jamestown. “The coalition engaged me to see whether there was a basis for them to make a proposal,” Abercrombie told The Post-Journal. “My firm has done that on a rush basis over the past couple of weeks.” Abercrombie said his firm found indications that “with certain changes in operations, the hospital could be a viable entity.”

Many politicians, policemen and observers around the country were saying that President Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” and the “Just Say No” campaign were not working, that we were losing the war. Locally, law enforcement agencies said it was an ongoing battle against illegal drugs and they were doing the best they could with the resources available. According to Chautauqua County District Attorney John T. Ward Jr., “I think we are fortunate because the Drug Enforcement Agency in Buffalo has worked and set up a narcotics task force in the county. The task force has been very successful in targeting, arresting and convicting dealers in the county.”