In Years Past

In 1913, John Barrett, a farmer, was murdered and his daughter, Helen Barrett, was knocked unconscious, bound and gagged in their home, near Spraker’s station on the New York Central, six miles east of Fort Plain the previous night. Their assailants escaped and so far eluded searchers who had worked all day with bloodhounds. John Barrett was known to keep some money hidden in the house and this was believed to have been the motive for the crime. This money, some $200 in all, he had hidden so carefully that the burglars did not find it.

After a brave struggle against death, young Nicholas Brill, who was shot Nov. 30, died in the hospital at Dunkirk. The shooting was done accidentally by Charles Ertel of Lord Street, a companion of Brill. They were hunting and in reloading a rifle the discharge penetrated Brill’s abdomen. Ertel was heartbroken over the tragedy. He made a statement to the police and was not held. Several boys corroborated his account. Nicholas was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Brill of Roberts Road and left a sister and four brothers. He was buried this day from Sacred Heart church.

In 1938, Police Chief John J. Warren of Dunkirk called out half of his force the previous afternoon to protect the unloading of a truck of fruits and vegetables brought there by two non-union drivers. Protected to Lackawanna by Buffalo police and from there on to Silver Creek by state troopers, the two operators of the truck were on their own during the final 10 miles to Dunkirk. They drove up to the police station and said that all the way from Silver Creek it was a fight to keep a carload of Buffalo produce truck drivers from forcing them into the ditch. The shipment was unloaded on Lower Main Street while eight police officers, armed with riot guns and under the supervision of Chief Warren, awaited developments. No traffic was permitted on the block where the unloading took place.

Real Swedish cookies were the Christmas week special featured at Billings’ Home Bakery, 106 E. Third St. Knut Billings, who learned the trade in Sweden many years ago, was proprietor. He had been identified with the baking business for 44 years, having begun his apprenticeship when he was 11 years old. He had been engaged in business in Jamestown for the past 16 years, coming to Jamestown from Sweden. All products sold at Billings’ bakery were made in his own shop. The large and assorted line included several different kinds of bread, biscuits, skorpor, rolls, pastry, cakes, cookies and donuts. He also specialized in baking and decorating cakes to order. Orders of a dollar or more would be delivered.

In 1988, a Pan Am jumbo jet apparently exploded in the air over Lockerbie, Scotland, before crashing and killing all 259 people aboard. Investigators focused on terrorist threats to place a bomb on a Pan Am airliner. The wreckage of the Boeing 747 bound for New York with Christmas travelers scattered bodies and wreckage over the countryside and ravaged the village of Lockerbie. News reports said at least 10 people were killed on the ground. The plane smashed into the ground, destroying 40 houses, triggering an explosion at a gas station and engulfing cars in flames. The victims included U.S. servicemen and 38 students from Syracuse University. In Moscow, the U.S. Embassy warned American diplomats that a bomb threat had been made against a Pan Am flight flying from Frankfurt, West Germany to the U.S. sometime in December. The warning left it to the diplomats’ discretion whether to change travel plans.

The Chautauqua County Legislature had taken a first major step toward acquisition of a second airport, voting to appropriate $219,725 from the fund balance to finance operations, maintenance and repairs at Dunkirk Airport. Legislator David J. Sturges, D-Niobe, announced he was supporting the resolution because it provided an opportunity to construct a needed north county Department of Public Works garage on the property. He said water and sewer service was available and locating the building at the airport would eliminate the need to buy another site for the garage.