Col. Delevan S. Miller Continues His Series, Remembering Paddock Arcade of 1881
The following, Paddock Arcade of 1881, is a continuation of Col. Delevan S. Miller’s article about downtown Watertown, published in the Sept. 22, 1906, Watertown Daily Times. The first part, detailing from The Baptist Church to the north side of Public Square and down both sides of Court Street to the American Corner, can be read here.
When the writer came to Watertown the Arcade was flanked on either side by a bookstore, the one on the right conducted by Hanford & Waterman, the one on the left by Sterling & Mosher.
I served my apprenticeship in the stationary business with Mr. Hanford, who succeeded to Mr. Waterman’s interest. It was a pleasant business. Mr. Hanford was a pleasant man to work for and I rejoice that our relations have always been as I trust they ever may be, friendly and intimate.
Entering the Arcade the first tenant on the right was Charley Weidner. Possibly some did not like his business, but I never heard of any body who did not like him. The better they knew him the better they liked him, and some of his warmest friends were men who never stepped inside his place of business. He had a most pleasant way of greeting acquaintances on the street. It was “Good Morning Neighbor.” He made a very comical figure when he donned his duck hunting uniform which he always did early the morning of the first day that the season opened.
At Brookside he is sleeping beneath the green sod, and flowers blossom over his grave each summer, and will as long as water runs and grass grows, for a fund was left in trust by one of nature’s nobleman, the proceeds of which are to provide extra care for the resting place of one who died far from the land of his birth and his kin. The name of the tenderhearted donor I will not mention, but I think a majority of the readers can guess it.
In the old days it was one of the sights in the city, and when anybody came to town they would go and see the famous Arcade just as they now do the Flower Memorial Library or the City Park.
It is related that once upon a time a young couple who were about to be married, and who resided away up back of Barnes Corners, were planning their wedding trip and were undecided where to go until, the bride-to-be suggested to her lover that a trip to Watertown would be nice. “I’ve always wanted to see the Arcade,” she said. “We’ll drive down and get a nice dinner at the Crowner House, see the Arcade, and get back home by milking time.”
Politicians used to gather there hand in hand to the amusement of Tom Angus, Johnny Schram and other of the old boys. Great crows used to congregate at the postoffice when the mails were due for there were no carriers 25 years ago and everybody went for their mail.
The general appearance of the Arcade has changed but little, but as we turn the pages of our memory we find that the relentless hand of death has been busy among the old tenants since the ‘80s.
John L. Baker & Son, Insurance Agents, have both crossed the river. Mr. Baker senior died early in the ’80s and the business was continued by the son, Frank L. Baker, until his death in the 90s.
There was no more popular young man in the city than Frank Baker. He was a member of old Co. C. under Capt. J. R. Miller and succeeded “Tom” Kearns as First Sergeant when he was commissioned Lieutenant.
Thomas C. Chittenden’s place next to Baker’s in the Arcade. He carried on a general insurance and ticket agency business and dealt in cigars, tobacco and sporting goods. Mr. Chittenden stood high in the Masonic order and did business “on the square.” People did not wait until his death to say good things of him, for he was such a true gentleman and so kind of heart that all who came in contact with him, loved him.
The news room whcih has been conducted so many years by Mr. Treadwell was run by Tom Angus 25 years ago. He is remembered as a unique character by those who used to patronize his place.
Watertown did not have any government buildings in the ‘80s and Uncle Sam’s postal business was conducted in the Arcade taking in the space now occupied by the Watertown News Co., Smith’s barber shop and the cigar store.
William G. Williams was the popular postmaster 25 years ago and is numbered among the dead. Mr. Bruce Martin who was his assistant, has continued in that capacity for more than 30 years except for a brief interruption when the “Outs were in.” Although he wasn’t a resident of the Arcade David Ehrlicher passed back and forth through that famous thoroughfare so many years that it almost seemed as if he was one. His place was at 8 Arcade Street where he was in business a quarter of a century or more.
Mr. Ehrlicher has been prominent in political circles and it is needless to record the fact that he is of the Democratic Faith. Of his popularity with his neighbors and fellow citizens much might be said but we will respect his modesty and forbear.
Kelly & Clare were then publishing the Morning Despatch on Arcade Street next to Khritcther’s place. The Despatch is gone but not forgotten. Charley Clare has prospered and is as genial as ever and “Donnie” Kelly has a warm place in the hearts of his old acquaintances.
The Times counting room was then in the end of the Arcade where the public telephone has been located so many years. Charlie, Johnnie, Schram, Fred Nugent and others of the boys used to organize a scrubbing brigade every Saturday night, after the crowds had dispersed and wash out the old Arcade so that it would be sweet and clean Sabbath morning, after which the boys had to set up a midnight lunch for the “scrubbers.”
“Gene” LaRue kept the Arcade restaurant in those days and was succeeded a few years ago by John Pendergast. Adam Bros.’ music store was prominent in the Arcade for many years and like many of the old-time merchants the proprietors depended on good goods and a reputation for fair and square dealing to bring them trade. They retired from business many years ago and death has separated the brothers for a time. Cadwell & Howard carried on a millinery establishment in the old Arcade for a long time.
“Clint” Gilbert conducted a grocery for several years on the south side of the Arcade in the ’80s.
Dr. Ernest Meyer of Turkish bath fame runs a first class barber shop in the Aracde from way back up to within a few years.
In those days about the only place that a man could get a bath was at Bragger’s shop on Anthony Street, and as Joe was bothered at times to get up steam a fellow had occasionally to take his water pretty cool.
Mr. and Mrs. Traver carried on the millinery and fancy good business in the Arcade for a long term of years.
Hart’s photograph gallery has been a land mark upstairs in the Aracde from away back and is now conducted by Charles Hart. The late ex-Mayor William Hart was associated with his brother 25 years ago. “Will,” as everybody called him, was very popular as attested by the size of his majority when he was a candidate for Mayor on the Democratic ticket. I recall that Mayor Hart, Will Cole and Michael J. Hardiman used to march in the first set of “fours” when we were comrades in the old “Flower Phalanx” in the Cleveland campaign of 1884.
Dr. H. H. Deane is located at the same office as he was 25 years ago.
The genial Dr. Willard, health officer of the city is in Dr. Johnson’s old office.
Probably no one was better known in the Arcade for the last quarter of a century than Mayor James Dolan, the pension Agent. The agency was established after the war by Edgar A. North and Mr. Dolan who was a clerk for Mr. North succeeded to the business some time in the ‘80s. L. B. Dewey has continued the business since Mayor Dolan’s death.
Dr. S. M. Robinson practiced dentistry in the Arcade over 40 years. Dr. DeLancy Amstrong succeeded to his business several years ago.
Frederick Emerson’s insurance office was in the Arcade for years and associated with him 25 years ago was L. D. Morgan.
Dr. J. M. Crawe was also a familiar figure in the Arcade for years and it is hardly necessary to add was a physician of recognized ability. He served as a surgeon in the army during the war and at the battle of Chancellorsville preferred to stay with his wounded men and be captured rather than leave them.
Another “Doctor of the old school” who had his office in the Arcade for many years was Dr. S. C. Knickerbocker, a good physician, a warm friend, a true gentleman. His memory is tenderly cherished by all who were brought into close contact with him.
Sterling & Mosher had a rear entrance to their store from the Arcade in the room now occupied by the Postal Telegraph Company.
Mr. John C. Sterling commenced business in 1849 in the store now occupied by ex-Mayor Cahill. In the ’60s, H. B. Mosher was admitted as a partner. In 1864 the firm purchased the bookstore of G. R. Hanford and continued both for several years, Mr. Mosher conducting one and Mr. Sterling the other.
The writer was in the employ of Mr. Sterling for upwards of two years and can only say of him what everybody knows that he was a most lovable man. His life was pure and sweet as that of a little child.
As I think of him coming to his store each day there comes to my mind the words of an old poem: “Build a little fence of trust—
Fill the space with loving work,
And therein stay;
Look not through the sheltering house,
God will help those bear what comes,
Of joy or sorrow.”