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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Dear Old New York " Journal of Anna Maude Van Hoose's visit to New York October - November 1901

Anna Maude Van Hoose
October-November 1901[1]
with annotations and commentary by

In October, 1901, 16-year-old Anna Maude Van Hoose visited New York with her grandmother, Mary Ellen Scorse Bacon. Anna Maude had just graduated from high school in May, in Shreveport, Louisiana, and this trip may have been a present from her grandmother. It was also a gift her grandmother gave to herself, having lost her husband -- Niles, Michigan lawyer Edward Bacon -- in April. The two visited libraries, historical locations, and restaurants and attended church services, concerts, and Broadway shows. They read, and commented on, books of the day, and Anna Maude, a music student, evaluated the music that she heard. Two months after their visit, Anna Maude began studies at the Chicago Musical College, and eventually had a long career as a professional musician. This short journal is a wonderful microcosm of their lives together -- two women with a zest for life, who saw everything there was to see, persevering through headaches, toothaches, and other -aches, and falling in love with "Dear Old New York" in the process.

* * * * * *

Mary Ellen Bacon
Anna Maude Van Hoose
New York City
October 14th 1901

If at first you don't succeed (in writing), try, try again

Yours truly, Would be Good

Thursday Morning October [17], 1901

We have been one day and two nights in New York and are both as tired as two creatures can possibly be but we wouldn't give up sightseeing for that. Our first night and day we spent at the St Denis at 11th Ave and Broadway. The house is very old and has but one elevator in the whole building. It was quite different from the Palmer.[2] The restaurant was lovely and we had some fine meals there. It seems to be a place where people of our circumstances go to refresh themselves. Yesterday we spent in hunting a boarding place. We first visited the Margaret Louise House which was on 16th St, but only women who work for their living are allowed to reside there and then only for four weeks can they stay-but any woman can have hot meals for 25 and 35 cts. Next we visited the Journal office and received information concerning a living place but we took the place that Aunt Mary[3] referred us to in the morning and where we are now. We are staying with a German family and they seem nice good people- a mother and her two sons. We have a large front room on the first floor but this is just for the present after while we can have a back room which I think will be more pleasant for we can have the sun in the morning. Yesterday we passed Fifth Ave and saw the Vanderbilt mansions and the great cathedral.[4] We ate dinner at the St. Dennis [sic] after going to Tiffany's great [illegible] store on Broadway and then we came home and went to bed. Our "home" is on East 23rd Street.

About Buffalo

We spent Saturday morning at Niagara Falls and in the afternoon we went to the "Pan" as they call it.[5] In Buffalo we were with a nice German family and they made us very comfortable. The exposition was very interesting but Grandma[6] said that one couldn't compare it with the World's Fair.[7] We spent our afternoon on the Midway and had dinner at the German Village, where they had a German band of 45 people. We had a regular German meal and I ate very slowly so as to enjoy the music which was wonderful to me. In the evening we went to the Temple of Music which was grand. There we heard Innes band. The temple was so very crowded that we were afraid that something might happen.[8] Sunday we had dinner at the Vienna Cafe and we went to St. Paul's in the afternoon.[9] There they had splendid music and we enjoyed it very much. Monday we did nothing much but walk and read in the Public Library about New York.

Thursday night [October 17]

Today we had a very bad day. We went to the Roman Catholic Free Circulating Library and spent part of the morning and then it was raining and we both felt very tired and sickish so we came home. In the evening we walked down to 43d st. west to see a flat we had seen advertised and that made us very hungry for supper. The flat was lovely but we fear it is rather too expensive for us and tomorrow we will look for more. I have been searching the papers and have found some good places advertised. We walked down 5th Ave for quite a distance this afternoon and saw all the "swells" out in their carriages. Such wonderful sights as one sees every day in this great city!

Friday Night [October 18]

Went to Battery Park today and the Aquarium, it was very interesting. We took lunch at the Business Woman's Club on the 14th story of 108 Fulton St. The dinner there was very poor but plentiful; the recreation room is much better and there the view from the windows is splendid. The view in the dining room is just as good. One can see East River and Brooklyn Bridge and also the new bridge. In going to the park this morning we took the wrong car and had a very long ride across the old part of the city which was very interesting; it reminded me of the pictures of New York that I've seen in the "Funny World."[10] About noon we heard services in old Trinity Church but they did not have all the choir boys nor did they play the pipe organ. The Church is very large and beautifully decorated; one thing that attracted my attention was the piece above the altar, it represented the five Marys at the Cross; it was illuminated by hidden lights and the figures I think were marble and almost life sized. As we went into church we noticed the graveyard around it, and a few of the graves, one person was killed in the War of 1812. The services were very high church-shamefully so-just the same as Catholics, as Grandpa told Kitty, "The smoke's the only difference."[11] After services we walked down Wall Street and saw the U. S. Treasury and A. Belmont's Office[12] and afterwards the City Hall. At the Battery, which we visited last of all before lunch, I saw the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor and for the first time in my life got a whiff of sea air. It was very windy today and colder than we have had this season, which made it rather disagreeable. The afternoon we spent in hunting flats but found nothing to suit us. We came home early and had dinner at six and here we are now. We have a piano in the room and I have been enjoying a little dreaming. Today we saw the highest building on Park Row-34 stories-across the street (Broadway) was the Post Office.

Saturday Oct. 19

Today we were moved into the room upstairs which is smaller and cozier than the parlor room. We went to Central Park today and took in the menagerie. We saw Cornelius Vanderbilt's house on 58th St. I think I said that we saw it before, but I was mistaken; it is a magnificent house but all the Vanderbilt houses are closed and we have no chance to see "My Lodge." In the park this morning we saw much style,- the tandems and carriages and also those on horseback. I was very anxious to take a ride around the place in a 25 ct wagon but-some other day.

We had lunch at Cooper and Siegel's[13] big building, which was very good -- a piece of pie and some ice cream. This afternoon we attended a pianola[14] and [illegible] recital at the Aeolian Co's Building 18. 23 St which was very fine, I suppose but - I don't care for the pianola it is too mechanical. Mr Richard Arnold played the violin "twice." We were going to hear James R. Hackett[15] in "Don Caesar's Return"[16] but I was disappointed. Of course I was a fool to look forward to it- it's the first time in a long time but it shall never happen again. I have always wanted to see him and now I don't think I ever shall have a chance again because Grandma although she has never seen the play, does not care to. I took no dinner and have wept a good deal. Rolls and coffee for breakfast, pie and ice cream for luncheon and no dinner! I surely will grow slimmer at that pace. I will have to keep close to my old rule "Never believe and never be disappointed." Some may say that I'm bitter but I've been taught by hateful experiences. We looked again today for some flats and found one lovely room third floor on Lexington Ave for $6 per month. We will look tomorrow, if it comes at a three room flat on lower R St not far away, on the next street some poor people (perhaps the Salvation Army) are singing; they have sung "I have sighed to rest me in the silent grave,"[17] it is not my wish perhaps but suits my temperament this evening. Yes i am blue "rather." Tomorrow we expect Aunt Mary and Mabel[18] here tomorrow after church-but I expect nothing! I am tired and sleepy and I think I shall try to drop off into slumbers of bygone happy days.

Monday October 21

When we came home last night we were both so tired that we retired without putting down our daily adventures-at least I did; so I will try and tell you tonight, dear journal. Sunday we attended services at St. Thomas on 5th Ave. The minister is Mr. Stires from Grace Church Chicago. We sat up in the gallery and could see beautifully. The church is very large and there was quite a number of people there; the music was grand; there were two large organs and I could not see how large a choir for they were hidden. The soloist, a woman, sang beautifully. The services were very low church and Grandma said that it was very refreshing to her after such a long time of seeing nothing but the "rear view" of the minister.[19] In the evening we walked over to 43rd Street and engaged our dear little flat and we expect to go into it on Wednesday morning.

Cousin Mabel was here in the afternoon but Aunt Mary was too sick to come-she had a cold. They expect Aunt Lizzie in about a week.[20]

This morning we went down town; we visited Arnold Constable's big store[21] which is said to be the best in the city, we took lunch above of Child's restaurant-and 14th st which was splendid; in the afternoon we went to Wannamaker's[22] and spent the afternoon there; we were home to dinner and also for the evening. Grandma informed me this morning that I would never see Hackett-she might go herself but I-well could stay away. Then I finally put away the idea of ever seeing him unless he comes to New Orleans.

Thursday Night [October 24]

We are now settled in our flat and I like it very much, but I am sorry to say that Grandma has been a little blue about it. We got our trunks this morning and have been quite busy today.

Tuesday morning we spent in the Lenox Library on Fifth Ave and 70th. It is an immense building and is beautifully built. The art gallery and the curiosities are very interesting and the whole morning had passed before we had any idea of going to lunch. The walk up 5th Ave. to the library was beautiful. In the afternoon we went to the Cooper Union, which is not so handsome as the Lenox and after spending about a half an hour there we went to another Child's and had lunch. Wednesday we came here but had trouble in getting the check cashed and our trunks did not come until late and then we were out, so they came early again this morning. Our four rooms seem very homelike now and I think that we are going to like this much better than boarding. Grandma remarked this morning that she believes that she can sleep late in the morning which was very welcome news to me.

Friday October 25

This morning we "took in" the Brooklyn Bridge and the magnificent views of the city from the highest part of the bridge. (We) saw Printing House Square, Park Row, City Hall, St. Paul's and the Astor House. The last is now much an old fashioned house with very low ceilings and very few luxuries but it is still very aristocratic and high priced. We were lucky enough to hear services at St. Paul's chapel this noon and this afternoon we went inside of Grace Church but there were no services going on there. In Printing House Square, which is at the foot of the approach to Brooklyn Bridge, we saw the World, Sun, Journal, Tribune and Times buildings, the World building, I think, is the handsomest-but the Tribune is also very wonderful. The view from the bridge is superb; we can see way down the river into the bay at the head of which stands the Statue of Liberty: and then one has the chance of seeing the tops of the highest buildings in the city. We saw an ocean liner this morning and ever so many other kinds of boats the like of which I have never seen before. This afternoon we went to Siegel and Coopers; in this building there are two wonderful things:-in the front of the building about the first thing one sees where one enters is a large fountain in the center of which stands a statue of the goddess Liberty, which was seen in the Court of Honor of the Worlds Fair;[23] around this fountain is a little platform on which are little round tables and chairs and where the "weary travellers" can partake of refreshments.[24] The other attraction is the moving stairway;[25] this is a stairway that is constantly moving upwards and is just like an elevator-it is easy enough to get on but the trouble is in getting off. It was quite laughable to watch some people try to get off. I began to get rather nervous when we neared the top but I got off alright. It must be quite new because I don't remember seeing it before when we were there. We came home, two very tired and-I can't say charming looking-people. We made us a good fire which, of course, is now too hot and we are trying to put the evening in. Tomorrow I don't know where we will go. We saw the Mercantile Building but were unsuccessful in obtaining a membership for so short a time as a month.

Monday October 28

Sunday, dear journal, was a lovely day for us. In the morning we went to the Collegiate Church on 8th Ave and 48th St where Rev. Donald Sage Mackay preached. He is a grand speaker and we both enjoyed him very much. But the music there was beautiful- I believe I like it better than any church so far. The organ occupies the entire front of the church and it stands in the gallery where the choir is also; it is an immense organ but it sounds so sweet and smooth and then so grand and rich. We went for a walk on 5th Ave. in the afternoon and tried to find the "Little Church around the Corner" but by mistake we got into a Catholic Church and the services made me very weary indeed; they make such fools of themselves by repeating the same thing over so much.[26] We went out but found the other church just in time to hear the recessional hymn. In the evening again we went to hear Rev. Mackay and the music was much sweeter then than in the morning; the soprano voice was so sweet and so was the contralto.

Today we have had a very pleasant time. This morning we went out to Bronx Park to see the animals; the park itself is beautiful and the day was ideal- I felt as one in a dream as we walked along those beautiful paths and by the sides of ponds and the little brooks and the wind blew the beautifully colored leaves across the way-Oh! I cannot describe it-it was too beautiful. The park is not yet completed and all the animals are not yet there; but when they finish it New York will have something to be very proud of indeed. We spent the afternoon there and then started home. The ride was long and pleasant; we got off at 59th and walked home.

Tonight we have been walking a little but we found ourselves too tired. Tomorrow night we go to Florodora[27] and we are going to rest up for the occasion. Next night we expect to see Irving and Terry in "Madame Sans-Gene."[28] We bought tickets for both this morning first thing.

Wednesday [Oct 30]

Yesterday we were at home all the morning--resting up for the night; but in the afternoon I walked down to about 17th St and back to see about the field glasses which was a lovely walk down B'way. We had dinner at Child's and later went to see "Florodora." O, my dear journal, it was perfectly beautiful! The music was so light and pretty. One song, "In the Shadow of the Palms,"[29] was very sweet and the singer[30] had a magnificent voice. I won't attempt to describe it for I could not succeed if I should do so. The Opera House was decorated very handsomely in red and white; we had seats in the first row in the first gallery. "Tell me Pretty Maiden"[31] was called out about two or three times and I guess it is still as popular as ever. The people in the opera were all so good looking which of course was quite attractive. I shall never forget it and I enjoyed it immensely. The costumes were all very pretty and the scenery also.

I know the tunes will be running through my head all day but I have not piano to play them on so I guess I will know them pretty well when I get a piano.

Grandma and I are going down this afternoon to Wannamakers and then we will go see Mrs. Carleton who is getting up some kind of a musical club and Grandma answered her advertisement and Mrs. Carleton answered for me to call on her this afternoon; she said that she too, was from Louisiana which will be very nice for me maybe she will know some people that I know - I am quite anxious to see her and talk with her.

Friday [Nov 1]

I failed to write yesterday but now I will proceed to write about yesterday, but first of all I must tell about the theater Wednesday night. Irving and Ellen Terry in "Madame Sans Gene,"[32] which of course was very fine but I don't think it was as good as Katherine Kidder's "Sans-Gene."[33] Of course there were fine actors but they were rather out of their sphere. I enjoyed it very much and when we came home I had a headache-I had been so intensely interested in the proceedings. Ellen Terry, it can easily be seen, is an old woman, a grandmother but she can "make up" to look quite young. Grandma says that Irving fairly hissed his words out and could not be understood at all. After the play when we retired I had quite a suffering time of it with the tooth ache but yesterday we called on a dentist nearby and he is going to work on it a little and maybe he can do me some good. I hope so anyway. Yesterday we spent most of the day shopping and we had a little adventure in one of the shops on 14th St. where they didn't intend to let us go without buying something; Grandma walked out and left me in their clutches so I told them that she had the money and I would have to catch up with her-and that's the way I got out. The day before I saw Mrs. Carleton and as she failed to interest me I didn't ask her many questions. She was on the top floor and I went up to her rooms alone as Grandma was too tired to climb the stairs. Last night I had a letter from Mamma and one from Mrs. Lowenthal which was a very pleasant surprise for me and the folks sent me a picture of Grandma Van Hoose[34] and all that good fortune put me in a splendid humor and today I was equally fortunate-I received a letter from Annis and Marge[35] and a Sunday paper from home. I stayed at home all day but Grandma went to be fitted this afternoon for a dress that she is having made at Wanamakers. I finished "Miranda of the Balcony" today and I think it is perfectly beautiful.[36] The hero and heroine suit me exactly. I haven't a fault to find with either. Mrs. Fiske is playing it here now at the "Manhattan" and I would like very much to hear her and see the hero. If he is handsome and has no mustache I think I would like him because the character is so perfect. His "Tale of Love" suits me better than any I have ever read or heard, and it is simply;- "I love you-you Miranda" and yet it is all that's necessary -it expresses everything.-"I love you" is the sweetest of all.[37]

Sunday November 3, 1901

Yesterday was a most eventful day; first and foremost I had my tooth extracted and now I know I am rid of my trouble-for a while, until another turns up. In the afternoon we went out the full length of Amsterdam Ave. and when coming home we got off at 125th St. and walked over to Riverside Drive to see Grant's Tomb. It is beautifully located on a hill from which one can see far up and down the Hudson, the day was almost like a summer day and the sight was one never to be forgotten. We went inside the tomb which was heated and guarded, and every one showed so much respect. We walked for a little way down the drive and then took the 6th Ave. car downtown. We went down to the docks and saw for the first time an ocean liner come in; it was the St. Louis of the American Line and several very noted people were on board.-Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie and Ada Rehan[38] were some of them. It was a wonderful sight indeed and we were allowed to pass inside of the line by such a lovely gentleman who I believe was the superintendent but anyway some "distinguished" person. We had quite a little conversation with him. The reason why we were allowed to pass in without a pass was because we were strangers and because I was from Louisiana. We felt quite honored, I assure you. Anyway the New Yorkers are lovely people to the strangers and I suppose everybody else-I suppose they are like the southerners in that respect.

In the evening we walked down a few blocks and saw the Herald printing offices; we could look down through the windows and see the papers being printed for today. On the street there were great stacks of papers and they were being put into wagons and hauled away. Today we attended St. Bart's-the famous church on [?] and Madison[39], which is generally known as the millionaires' church, there we sat not more than a few yards from that great personage Chauncey Depew.[40] The music was beautiful, the choir consisted of girls and young men-no boys. The church itself was richly decorated, large pillars of polished marble supported the ceiling and the altar was built of marble and inlaid with gold, above this was a slab on which was carved the picture of "the last supper" and still higher and occupying the rest of the wall was a large painting of Christ and the angels. This was a magnificent thing. There were three organs! Today was communion Sunday and so we left before church was out. Very few remained. The rector of this church is David H. Greer, Grandma says that he is very fine.

Monday November 4

Last night we stayed at home but that afternoon we went to the "Church of the Ascension" to hear sung the "Holy City." They did not sing the "Holy City" that I know, but it must have been the other anyway it was beautiful and I enjoyed it very much.

We took dinner at the St. Denis. Ah! There is truly a comfortable hotel and it seemed to me like we had come home. After strolling for a while on 5th Ave. we came home and rested ourselves. Today we made a desperate effort to clean our rooms and just after we had cleaned the janitor came in and said that there was a flat vacant upstairs, with southern exposure and so we went up to look at it and liked it and now here we are moved upstairs. This flat is more pleasant than the other and I think that Grandma will like it better. It is so nice to have the sun shine in our windows; I realize now what city people mean by saying "we have such lovely sunshine." I always thought before that they were rather sentimental. We are now being entertained by some music. I suppose there are some negroes playing in one of the air shafts. That's where they generally go to play for obtaining money. They have now begun to sing but I am not able to find them. There is a violin, a guitar and a voice sublime!

Sunday Nov. 10

I have been very negligent but we haven't been many places this week dear journal. Grandma has been having a suit made at Wannamakers and a waist made by Miss Gates in 14th St. Friday we went to a matinee in Murray Hill Theater, "A Little Tin Soldier" by Hoyt and it was good of course. Yesterday we "joined" the free circulating library in [?] St. which is a fine place. All week I have been reading. We can get books from the Bruce Library which is the same as the other-at the Mechanic's Institute; the latter part of this week. I have been reading Ben Hur and I am afraid, dear journal, that this is why I've neglected you. It is certainly a grand book-I've almost finished it now. This morning we heard Rev. Mr. Minton at the Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church, he is from California and is now on trial. I liked him very much though not so much as I did Mr. Mackay. The music wasn't as good as the other churches and all in all I don't care much for the church.

Aunt Lizzie, I suppose is in town but we have heard nothing more from them since a postcard saying that she was expected last Friday. - We have seen Aunt Mary and Mabel once since we have been here which is now some three weeks. Very pleasant they may be(?)(!)

Monday Nov 11

Last night Grandma and I went to the Methodist Church 76th st between 8th and 9th Aves; they were holding a meeting of the "Womans Home Missionary Society" and the president was Mrs. Clinton B. Fiske who appeared to be quite as sweet and interesting as she is good, but of all the sermons I never heard such a long one as delivered by Bishop Haven's daughter. The church itself was very handsome and the organ was very sweet.

Today we have been at home reading and we were going down to Child's for dinner but the weather was bad and we did not go. I have just finished reading Ben Hur and I shall grow up to love and always respect the book. It is the most wonderful of all the books that I've ever read.

Tomorrow we can get Cable's "Cavalier"[41] which I think we will both enjoy. This morning I had a letter from Tula Butler in which he informs me that he was coming to New York but at the request of his Grandmother he will not come; anyway he was going to be here. Goodness!

Tuesday November 12

The weather has at last turned on us and today it is very gloomy; nevertheless we went out to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park. We saw the different specimens of architecture and the models of the great buildings of Greece and Rome were perfectly beautiful. We saw the model of the Cathedral Notre Dame of Paris and the structure was perfect. We saw the different paintings from centuries past to the present time; the one that interested me most was called "The Storm;"[42] it represented two persons a man and a woman running to escape the fury of the tempest, which could be seen in the distance. The man was tall and dark and the woman was small and a blond, they were both very beautiful.

For the first time I saw a mummy and every so many things that have been obtain from the "ancient" Egyptians. The statue of Bacante which was refused by the Bostonians for their library because it was too nude was perfect and a thing that New York people could be proud of. They are sensible.[43] We saw the obelisk in the park but it was too wet to go up near and examine it.

John Roder's little statues in bronze were of much interest to us and also one of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. We took dinner there in the restaurant which was very unsatisfactory to Grandma and came very near making her sick.

Wednesday [November 13]

In looking over this book I see that I have failed to put down a great event, election day which was on Tuesday November fifth.[44] Grandma and I stayed in the house all day but at night we walked down B'way and such a crowd I never saw and all very good natured, not a word said that lady could not hear. Everybody was cheering and a great many had horns. Moving pictures were thrown on the newspaper buildings and B'way was so crowded that few carriages could cross and the side streets were blocked up with them. We walked, nay pushed, down a few blocks but on account of the crowd we had to come home on the side streets. It reminded me of Christmas at home-rather.[45] Today we remained home all day expecting Aunt Mary or Mable and Aunt Lizzie to pay us a visit. I however went out to the library on t St and on some other errands. They come this afternoon and Aunt Lizzie and Dr. Dobbin[46] are coming here in the morning before they start for Inwood. Grandma said that it almost made her cry to see Aunt Lizzie. She had grown so old and looked so sad. She seems to be very happy out there and we are going to spend all day Friday with them.

We are reading Cable's Cavalier now and Grandma says it's very poor and that she is disappointed in it but I think that it is lovely,-being a southern story, you know.[47]

Thursday 14

Aunt Lizzie and Dr. Dobbin were here to see us in the morning and in the afternoon we had dinner at Child's and then went over to the Murray Hill Hotel where we met them; Dr. Dobbin went to Albany on the evening train and we escorted Aunt Lizzie to the 30th St. station where she boarded the train for Inwood.[48]

Friday [November 15]

Today we spent the day with Aunt Mary and Aunt Lizzie. Inwood is a perfectly lovely little place and Aunt Mary's rooms are very pleasant. From the windows one can get a beautiful view of the river; the homes all around there are perched high on the hills; all are old houses and each one has its story, which makes it very interesting. We had a delightful day but poor Mable was sick and she could not be with us all day.

The ride on the train from the city to Inwood is beautiful. The track skirts the river nearly all the way.

We are thinking of taking the room next to Aunt Lizzie and staying out there with them another month. I think there is a piano out there and that would be a very good chance for me to practice.

I know it will make Grandma very happy because she is very fond of Aunt Lizzie; and she is perfectly lovely so jolly and cheerful it does one good to be with her. I hope our plans will be successful.

Saturday [November 16]

This morning we went down to see Miss Gates, the dressmaker and when we had finished with her or rather, when she finished with us we winded our way among the downtown shops looking at wraps and wrappers; at length when we found ourselves at Wannamaker's Grandma found what she wanted. In the afternoon it was so cold and rather disagreeable so we thought we would go home but it was rather late when we arrived. We went to the Metropole for dinner; it was for the first trial of that hotel and we found that it is as good as the St. Dennis. I am now reading "Lazarre"[49] and the other evening we read "An International Episode."[50]

Sunday 17

This morning we heard Mr. Minot Savage from Boston at the Church of the Messiah. We saw Mr. Robert Lollyer and heard his prayers but he did not speak. The sermon was very fine and so was the music. We had dinner at the Metropole which was very pleasant.

Monday November 18th 1901

Today was my birthday and I hope that I will never start out again this morning [unclear] -- I really wished I would never live to see another birthday and was sorry that I had not gone away before today; nevertheless it turned out better. Aunt Lizzie came and she is so sweet that she almost makes one forget their troubles. She brought me a pretty little bag and a handkerchief inside of it from Aunt Mary. We spent the day downtown and had our dinner at Child's.

I went with her down to the station tonight and when I went back I had quite a little vexation on the Ave., when I got home I found the door locked and Grandma gone, I waited a few minutes and then the janitor unlocked it for me and then Grandma came home. she had been to the library. I am going to try and finish Lazarre tonight.

Thursday we will move out to Aunt Mary's, Aunt Lizzie bore the good news today and they are glad to have us. Today Aunt Lizzie asked me if I felt much older and I replied that I did.

Tuesday November 19

Yesterday was a very cold day, at first we thought it was going to be pleasant but as soon as we got out of doors it began to snow but it snowed very little.

I have been having quite a time with my feet, they are swollen so that I have to wear my old shoes and I can't walk much in them, the cause of it all is that I have been walking so much. I am enjoying my books but I am afraid that I will have to give it up before I finish it because tomorrow we have to move.

Tonight we went to Proctor's Fifth Ave and it was very good. They played "My Friend from India"[51] and there were specialties in between acts.

We had never seen a continuous performance before and we did not know exactly what it was but I supposed it was like at the great "Flying Lady" at our street fair, I should think the actors would drop dead-I don't see how they could stand it! Just think, the play commences at 1 p.m. and lasts till 10. We went about 8 and stayed till it was out-but they must have gone beyond their time for it was nearer 11 when we came out.

Wednesday November 20

Grandma has not been at all well; she was sick last night with dizziness and was very miserable but this morning she got up and after a while she felt a little better. We went down to Wannamakers and there came up to the Broadway Theater in time for the matinee "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast."[52] It was too beautiful to describe-fairy land realized, but they introduced ragtime specialties during the play which was entirely out of place. The crystal palace was beautiful but it wasn't as grand as I expected it to be. When we came out we went down to Child's and then came home and packed up.


Today we were all torn up and in the afternoon at about five we got to Inwood. Of course we couldn't get our trunks till the next day so we had to wait.


Aunt Lizzie and I had a lark today. We went down in the streetcar and came back the same way. I don't think the walk is long at all and the view from Fort George is grand. we are both very happy out now and I think that Grandma is going to get well.


Stayed at home in the morning and in the afternoon Mr. Helfin let me ride on his horse, Frank, at least he gave me a lesson. He is going to let me ride on Frank whenever I want to and Frank is a lovely horse. I am sure I could learn to ride on him very easily. Mr. Helfin and I took a little ride (he is training another horse,) and then we came home. Later, Aunt Mary and I went down to Kingsbridge and purchased a few things.

Sunday 24

This day has been dark and gloomy; we stayed in all day therefore I have nothing much to write. Have finished "When Love Flies out the Window" and did not like it at all. Read nearly all of Sappho today. Of course that's frightful.[!][53]

Monday 25

Finished the dreadful story this morning. Another bad day of it today but Aunt Lizzie and I started to walk and we walked up to "In spite of the devil" in spite of the rain. We did not come to the "jumping off place" because it was raining too hard.

We saw the editor's of Ruck house, it is a cozy little cottage with two little boys running up and down the porch.

We saw the "House of Mercy"[54] and took refuge from the drops in the [powerhouse?] where the postman found us and gave us our mail.

Tuesday 26

Last night we finished the "International Episode" which we have all enjoyed together.

In the night I was awakened out of my slumbers by a crash and when I looked up I saw that the wind had lifted the blind off from one of its hinges and had blown it against the window paine [sic] which of course broke it. The wind was very high and has continued so all day. Mr. Heflin mended the window for us and now we are all right. This morning Aunt Lizzie and I took a walk "in spite of the wind;" we went up and investigated the new trolley line and found that it is progressing very rapidly. We walked up to the little Holyrood Church which stands on rather historical ground and then we took the walk along Fort Washington Ridge where we saw Tweed's Castle and all those other magnificent summer homes. We rested ourselves at the Fort Washington monument which is made in the shape of a wayside seat, and there we met two very interesting little school girls who had taken a day off in order to come and see the monument. When we came to the "Abbey," a summer restaurant, the wind was so strong that it nearly blew us away.

If one could only have seen us when we came home! Hair all blown out and everything. As we were coming home I went down to the little store and I know that I nearly frightened the poor young and surprised clerk to death.

Aunt Lizzie got a letter from Edward[55] this morning in which he informed her that he would come to see her next Sunday if he had money left after buying his clothes. So we are rather expecting him. Aunt Mary read one of Dr. Hales's stories "One Good Turn"[56] which we all enjoyed very much.

Wednesday November 27

This morning Grandma had her spell again, We did intend to go downtown but then as it was so cold we didn't go. Aunt Lizzie has been fixing my cloak today and we are going through a general "fix up" for me because I will soon be going away. I hardly think that I will get to see my cousin because he most likely won't be able to come until Sunday week. It is a very pretty day today but rather cold. We are going to take a walk this afternoon and I am anticipating quite a pleasant time. We have been planning also this morning, about my going to Chicago, which is not far off-Monday.

Grandma and I'll have to go downtown Friday to see about the trains but Grandma is not at all well so maybe I'll have to go down with Aunt Lizzie.

I must say that I am very glad that I am going to commence with my music because if I am not going any where else I might as well be doing something.

I have just been looking back over this book and the writing reminds me of the days when I used to write out my translations in Latin-Happy days gone by?-Never![57] I am trying though to write better and I hope that "someday" I will see the improvement!

This afternoon Aunt Lizzie and I went over to Kingsbridge where we did our Thanksgiving shopping after having found out that they had not received Aunt Mary's order downtown. Just think we had to pay 20 cts to telephone and find out.

Of course we hadn't been home more than five and ten minutes before the turkey and things from downtown came, so we have two turkeys for tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Day- [Thursday, November 28]

Today has opened a beautiful day; the wind has gone down and it is bright and sunny. Everybody can have a pleasant Thanksgiving day.

Last night I got a letter from home and a paper. The latter I've been reading all morning. I am very glad to see that Shreveport at last has a small cafe and I hope that when I go home I can be made to have some pleasant times inside of it. I think that today will be the day of all days to enjoy a ride on the back of Frank.

After Aunt Lizzie and I have had our walk I am going to ask Mr. Heflin what he thinks about it.

Mamma told me in her letter that I did not write often enough. Same old cry! I ought to write to Annis but not until I get to Chicago shall I do it. Nay, nay Pauline![58]

Well our dinner was very fine indeed and Aunt Mary's onion pie was the best I've tasted since I've been in New York. After dinner we all came downstairs and Aunt Mary read aloud.

Friday 29

This day has been very different from yesterday. It has been snowing all day and now the ground is covered. Grandma and I went downtown this morning and bought my ticket for Monday and we did one or two other errands. When we started home we found that we would have to wait so long for the "Dolly Varden"[59] so after much protesting on my part we determined to return by the trolley. Of course I was unwilling on account of Grandma having to climb the steps after they were covered with snow but they were not so bad after all and we rather enjoyed the walk through the snow.

When we got home, of course, we were all wet but soon we had taken off our things and were dry and warm.

Just think I said good by to dear old New York today-forever I suppose! And next week about this time-Ah! how many times I've said those very words- where will I be? In Chicago I guess and most likely "hard at it." The streets today looked so beautiful with the snow covering like a white down and then the gray stone building with trimmings of snow-Ah I hate to leave it all! Yes, I have grown attached to this city, and I did not know it until I have to leave. Well that is the natural way! It is so with everything and as the lover said: "I never knew that I loved thee so till we had to say farewell!" [60] So I say it.

About the author: Nancy Cooper is an adjunct member of the music faculty at the University of Montana. She teaches music theory at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as organ, harpsichord, and class piano; she has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music.


[1] Anna Maude's great niece, Elizabeth Hall, owns this journal, and provided a copy to the author.

[2] The Palmer House, an historic hotel in Chicago.

[3] Mary Hannah Bacon Field, 1833-1912, sister of Anna Maude's grandfather, Edward Bacon 1830-1901.

[4] St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral.

[5] The Pan-American Exposition, which was held from May 1 - Nov. 2, 1901.

[6] Mary Ellen Scorse Bacon, 1837-1911.

[7] A reference to the Chicago World's Fair, officially called "The World's Columbian Exposition" held in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492.

[8] Anna Maude and her grandmother were visiting the Temple of Music just four weeks after President McKinley had been assassinated in that same location.

[9] St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo. The choirmaster kept a ledger, critiquing the services, and concurred with Anna Maude: he reported that "Pro[cessional] Hymn and Re[cessional] excellent. Psal[m] excellent. Can[ticle] excellent. Offer[tory] excellent." Anna Maude and her grandmother were fortune to have attended the afternoon service; that morning, the "Amens and Responses -- for the first time in months -- were sleepy and poor." (This ledger is in the archives of St. Paul's Cathedral, 1901, p 106)

[10] "This Funny World as Puck sees it," a cartoon strip created by Frederick Burr Opper, published as a collection of cartoons in 1891.

[11] The use of incense in Episcopal churches was categorized as "high church," as was the inclusion of bell ringing at the consecration, and genuflecting to the altar. "Low church" congregations frowned on these things, considering them to be "too Catholic." Edward Bacon would have been especially sensitive to "high church" behavior, as he was raised a Presbyterian.

[12] Perhaps referring to August Belmont, American politician, who had an office on Wall Street, and was worth more than ten million dollars at the time of his death.

[13] Department Store made famous in this song by Irving Berlin:

He's getting too darn big for a small town; He ought to be in New York; He has seen a champagne cork; He's even eating with his fork; He knows at least a dozen of "troopers"

He's got a tie from Siegel and Cooper's; and his name stamped on the inside of his hat.

Think-a that, think-a that! Down there on Broadway is the place where he belongs

He knows "Bedelia" and the other latest songs, He's got a watch with an open crystal

And a walking cane with a pistol, He's getting too darn big for a one-horse town.

[14] another name for a player piano

[15] Presumably a very handsome actor!

[16] Written by Victor Mapes, this production appeared at Wallack's Theater on Broadway from 3 Sept 1901-November 1901.

[17] From the opera Il Trovatore, by Giuseppe Verdi.

[18] Mary Hannah Bacon and her daughter, Mabel Field Hastings.

[19] As part of the liturgy in Catholic churches and "high church" Episcopal churches, the priest would face the altar during the service, and since the altar was against the wall in the front of the church, the priest had his back to the congregation for the majority of the service.

[20] Elizabeth Laura Bacon, grandfather Edward Bacon's sister and Anna Maude's great-aunt.

[21] Constable's was located at Broadway and Nineteenth Street from 1869 until 1915. It was considered one of the most prestigious stores in New York, enjoying what was called “carriage trade,” referring to clients who were wealthy enough to own their own carriages. (accessed on 7/16/14)

[22] Another department store, on Broadway and 10th Street, sister store of its more famous Philadelphia location.

[23] Another reference to the Chicago World's Fair; artist Daniel French sculpted "The Republic" for the Fair, where it stood in the Court of Honor.

[24] In addition to this haven for "weary travellers," the 18-acre store, which employed over 3000 people, included a grocery department, barber shop, theatre, telegraph office, art gallery, photo studio, bank, dental office, 350-person restaurant, and a conservatory that sold live plants. This highlight of the "Ladies' Mile Shopping District" was sold the very next year and never regained its reputation. ( (accessed 7/21/14)

[25] Anna Maude was being introduced to an escalator. This was one of the first in New York City; escalators had only arrived in New York City a few years before. ( (accessed 7/21/14)

[26] Anna Maude's anti-Catholic sentiment likely came from her grandfather, Edward, who was Presbyterian; both Anna Maude and her grandmother were Episcopalians, but clearly were "low church."

[27] One of the first successful Broadway musicals of the 20th century; written by Leslie Stuart, it opened on Broadway in 1900 and ran for 552 performances.

[28] Victorien Sardou's play, Madame Sans-Gene.

[29] The shade of the palm," first line, "There is a garden fair."

[30] Mr. Melville Stewart, "...a power in the American operatic world, has a glorious voice, and, strangely enough, is quite intelligent as an actor, an attribute not usual in a baritone." From The Sketch, A Journal of Art and Actuality, Vol. 28, Nov. 1, 1899, p.81.

[31] A double sextet from the musical, arguably the most famous song from Florodora.

[32] New York Times review from the week before (October 29, 1901) praised the performance and its "admirable acting." Ellen Terry was "spontaneity personified...her good nature was infectious" and Henry Irving's "treatment of the part was such as might be expected from a master of the art of acting."

[33] Katherine Kidder began her acting career in Chicago in 1886; her earliest success (after 1894) was in Sardou's Madame Sans-Gene, "of which she obtained exclusive performing rights in the United States and Canada."

[34] Annis Adeline Gregg Van Hoose, Anna Maude's paternal grandmother, who lived in Shreveport, Louisiana.

[35] Annis May Van Hoose, Anna Maude's first cousin; Marge is unknown.

[36] A.E.W. Mason, Miranda of the Balcony. Birmingham: C. Combridge, 1970.

[37] Later in her life, Anna Maude wrote a song that ends "and then I know I'll love you so and it will be the sweetest song of all."

[38] Broadway actress.

[39] St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church.

[40] Chauncey Depew, US Senator from New York at the time.

[41] George Washington Cable, The Cavalier, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901. This novel was a melodrama about a Confederate officer and his lady love, unfortunately married to an evil Yankee sympathizer.

[42] The Storm, Pierre-Auguste Cot, 1880.

[43] Bacchante and Infant Faun, 1893-94, intended for the courtyard of the Boston Public Library, but rejected by the public because of its "drunken indecency." The donor rescinded the offer and offered it to the Metropolitan in 1897. Displayed for many years in the Great Hall, and "enormously popular." (accessed on 7/21/14)

[44] Not a presidential election, but an election for mayor of New York; the winner was Seth Low of the Fusion Party.

[45] "Rather" may be a facetious comment: Shreveport, Louisiana, had a population of 16,000 in 1900; New York City, a population of 3 million.

[46] Aunt Lizzie's husband, Dr. James Dobbin.

[47] Given the glorification of the Southern soldiers, it is no wonder that Grandma thought it was 'poor' -- her husband had been a colonel in the Northern Michigan infantry. One example of such glorification: the words of a young Confederate soldier -- "I was hungry for the gentilities of camp; to be where Shakespeare was part of the baggage, where Pope was quoted, where Coleridge and Byron and Poe were recited...." (Cavalier, p2)

[48] on the south shore of western Long Island, home of some of Anna Maude's relatives.

[49] Mary Hartwell Catherwood, Lazarre, Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill Co., 1901.

[50] Henry James, "An International Episode," The complete stories, 1874-1884. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999.

[51] "A Farcical Comedy in three acts," by Henry A. Du Souchet, 1894.

[52] Opened in the Broadway Theatre on November 4, 1901. Originally produced in London, an announcement in the New York Times, June 18, 1901, p7, stated "[it] will be staged here with all the original scenery, including the famous Crystal Palace scene, and the intricate mechanical effects which attracted attention in London last year."

[53] Leonard Merrick, When Love Flies out the Window. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1901.

[54] Run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy, this was a home for allegedly wayward teenaged girls. (accessed on 7/22/14)

[55] Unknown; could be Edward B. Mitchell, first cousin of Anna Maude's, son of her mother's sister.

[56] Edward Everett Hale, One Good Turn: A Story. Boston: J.S. Smith, 1893. Hale was active in the Chautauqua movement as was Mary Field, who published numerous articles in The Chautauquan, as well as a book, that was published by the Chautauqua movement; Hale wrote a note of condolence to her daughter Mabel upon her death. (See: Mary Hannah Bacon Field, Selections from Poems, San Diego: Printed for private circulation, 1914.)

[57] Happy Days Gone By, by T. Ellwood Garrett and Henry Werner, 1854.

[58] Nay, Nay, Pauline, by Emerson Foote Jr. and Jennings Cox Jr., ca. 1898.

[59] A New York City passenger train that ran from the 30th Street Station to Spuyten Duyvil (accessed on 7/22/14)

[60] unknown.

Keywords: New York, tourist, tourist visit, 16-year-old Anna Maude Van Hoose visited New York as a tourist with her grandmother, tourist journal, historic tourism

The History Of The Methodist Church in Elmira

By , Historian
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved by the author.

Sunday, June 30, 1901, was a great day for the Methodists of Elmira. It was the day of dedication for the “2nd” Hedding Church. According to the Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press (July 1, 1901), “The beautiful auditorium was filled to overflowing with devout people…Bishop C.H. Fowler spoke from the text Psalm 48:12.”[1]

The new Hedding Methodist Episcopal Church was built at the corner of Church and Columbia Streets, next to the original Hedding Church which had been sold to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for $6000 [2] (the building remains the home of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and is the oldest building in the city of Elmira erected as a church and still in use as such).

The newspaper went on to report, “The dedication proper occurred in the evening…a striking feature of the day was that the dedication did not take place until the remaining debt on the edifice, $40,000, was provided for by subscription. It was not until nearly 11 o’clock in the evening that this was accomplished and Bishop Fowler was allowed to dedicate the building and place the pulpit in charge of the beloved pastor Rev. G. E. Campbell…” The article continued noting that the day “Was one to be remembered always by the Methodist people of the city…for the practical Christianity of those people….” [3]

A little over a year later on September 21, 1902, a second Methodist Episcopal Church (Centenary) was dedicated on the Southside of Elmira at the intersection of S. Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The newspaper (September 22, 1902) reported that, “There was an immense congregation present, nearly 2,000 people being in attendance at the ceremony. During the service a total of $13,575 was raised in five year pledges for the church, with the exception of $1500, covering the entire debt of the new church.” Commitment was never in doubt as there were three services that day. “In the evening all other Methodist Churches of the city were closed and the service at Centenary was made a union meeting…the balance of the fund needed was raised after Rev. John Krantz delivered the sermon of the evening…Bishop Mallalieu then dedicated the church.” [4] George Beers, a member of Centenary declared, “A penny a day the mortgage will pay.” [5]

The dedication of these two churches, each with a sanctuary that could seat nearly one thousand people, along with a very active First Methodist Church (the mother church of Methodism in Elmira) and a relatively new Riverside Methodist Church (dedicated in 1896) was a long way from the early days of Methodism, when in 1771, John Wesley (founder of Methodism) told Francis Asbury (the first Methodist Bishop) “I set you loose” in the colonies. [6]

The Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States was organized at a conference held at Lovely Lane Meeting House in Baltimore, Maryland from December 24, 1784 to January 5, 1785. Following Wesley’s instructions, Bishop Asbury sent preachers out on the circuit. The late 18th century saw rapid growth in Central New York as “Opportunities opened to hardy, self-sufficient and courageous Methodist preachers with their effective style of preaching, teaching, praying and singing. Religious services were offered in homes and school houses as numbers increased.”[7] Dr. Alfred P. Coman, in his Reminiscence, stated that, “The Preacher would take the text and expound on it for about 1 to 2 hours. Prayer would follow, then an invitation to step forward (to accept Christ) in a desire to be saved from their sins and flee from the wrath to come. Those who came forward formed a nucleus of a Methodist Class, later on called a charge or church. The marks of Methodism were a warm handclasp, fervent prayer, kneeling, singing Gospel songs, Bible exhortation and testimonies.”[8]

In sparsely populated areas of the United States clergy had to serve more than one congregation at a time. This form of organization has been called a “preaching circuit.” Circuits were common in the early Methodist Church and usually ran about 175 miles, often no more than an Indian path. Junior preacher William Colbert (28 years old) went on a mission from Bishop Asbury. Colbert wrote, “I was so fortunate as to wander into uninhabited wilderness… surrounded by howling wolves, ravenous wolves and greedy bears. Along the way I had but little Indian bread and butter for supper…slept in a filthy cabin and had for breakfast a frozen turnip.” Five year later he wrote, “A man needs a sound constitution and a large stock of patience to travel this circuit.”[9]

On December 16, 1792, Colbert preached at Lough’s (Howe’s) Tavern near the junction of Newtown Creek and the Chemung River in Newtown Village (Elmira). He preached on the text Mathew 5:6, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” His journal states, “Lord give me humility and watchfulness… part of my congregation was drunk.”[10] Colbert was the first Methodist circuit rider to visit our area. A sign on East Water St. marks the site of his visit. Newtown became part of a regular circuit in 1812. “Each pastor was sent out with $49.98 and traveling expense, going though poor, making many rich.” One rider, Jacob Young showed his good humor when he said, “I fear three things, bears, blizzards and Baptists.”[11] Newtown was not an easy charge. In 1805, Rev. Simeon Jones became pastor of the Presbyterian congregation. He described the state of the community, “The Sabbath was desecrated by sports, labor and business, small as the place was, it sustained six taverns and tippling shops and intemperance was almost universal.”[12]

The First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Newtown organized as a corporation in 1819. There was no church building. Services were held in homes of members. Eventually they were held in a log schoolhouse located in a pine grove on Lake Street (site of today’s YWCA) and then in a school house on William Street. “Neighbors complained of the noise—those were the days of the “shouting Methodists”—their lusty “amens” and “hallelujahs” were found offensive. So, the group moved to the Court House; but, the noisy services caused it to be ousted. The sheriff’s wife objected, and she is said to have locked the door on the members.”[13]

Clearly, the Methodists needed their own space. A subscription for a church was organized and a site selected at the corner of Church and State Streets. It was abandoned because it was in the way of the Chemung Canal. A new site was found on Baldwin Street north of the present Elm Chevrolet. According to local church historian Sheldon King, “During construction of the first church building in 1831-32, there occurred what came to be called the “Work Bench Revival.” John Kline Roe, the son of trustee, Isaac Roe, the leader of the first class in 1819 died. Memorial services were held in the uncompleted building. The carpenter’s work bench was used as a pulpit. During the funeral discourse a number of persons were awakened. Work was suspended on the building and a revival started which resulted in 70 new members.” The original wooden building was plain. Under the vigorous leadership of Rev. J. T. Arnold, who served from 1841-43 a new brick church was constructed to the immediate south of the 1831 building. [14]

By the mid-nineteenth century the time for a second Methodist Church had arrived. The city was a center of commerce and transportation. On October 13, 1851 the leadership of First Church decided to establish a Second Methodist Church, mainly for those living west of the Chemung Canal (State Street). Property was purchased on West Church Street just east of Columbia Street (the site of today’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church). A new brick building was built. On October 19, 1852, the name Hedding Methodist Episcopal Church of Elmira was adopted in honor of Bishop Elijah Hedding who had spoken at First Church just prior to his death in April.[15]

Methodism was on the move in Elmira. Members of Hedding and First Churches established a Sunday School in Southport in 1855 (south of the river was referred to as Southport) with a membership of “55 scholars” besides the Bible Class. This was the genesis of Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. Eventually such “mission” efforts would lead to the development of Westside Church (1892) and St. John’s Church (1914).

The growth of Methodism was also occurring in the African American Community of Elmira. “From a meager community of 26 coloreds living in six households praying together in a house on Benjamin St. on Elmira’s Eastside back in 1840, the roots of a mission society aptly named Zion would evolve into the contemporary Frederick Douglass Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church”[16] (the oldest African American Church in Elmira). The origin of this “separate” arm of the Methodist Church in the United States can be traced to events that took place in Philadelphia between 1784-1787. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones became the first African-Americans granted preaching licenses by the Methodist Episcopal Church. They were licensed by St. George’s Church in Philadelphia in 1784. St. George’s Church is the oldest home of Methodist worship in continuous use in America. Three years later, in 1787, protesting racial discrimination, Allen and Jones led most of the black members out of the church and formed the Free African Society. Eventually Allen, in 1794, founded the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal denomination and became its first Bishop. It was the first major religious denomination in the western world that developed because of sociological rather than theological differences. In 1816, the African American Episcopal Church (AME Church) formed.[17]

In 1850, the African Union Methodist Protestant Church in Elmira organized and erected its first building on the northeast corner of Dickinson and Fourth Streets in 1852. With the approach of the Civil War, the number of blacks in the Elmira community increased dramatically. It did so as a result of fugitives or “freedom seekers” fleeing the South for the promise of freedom that Canada provided. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church grew out of the first organization building a church on the opposite corner that opened in 1870.[18] Over time there grew to be two AME Zion Churches in Elmira with the second being the Minnie L. Floyd Church.

Meanwhile, south of the Chemung River, Methodism was percolating. In 1835, a small group of people began holding “meetings” in their homes in the Town of Southport. They were “zealous” and their numbers increased rapidly. In 1840, a church was organized and a small chapel built near Bulkhead. With inspiration from First Church and Hedding and a growing congregation the Southside Methodists purchased property at the intersection of South Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (site of today’s Walgreens). The “South Main Street Methodist Episcopal Church” organized with 16 charter members. By 1884, a new building was needed. A brick church was erected in honor of the Methodists one-hundredth anniversary of their first General Conference, and the name was officially changed to Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church.[19]

On September 8, 1892, to the east of Centenary, at the home of Mrs. James Criddle at 208 Horner Street 29 persons, including the elder of the district, Rev. E. M. Mills D.D. and representatives from First and Centenary Methodist Churches met and formed the Riverside Methodist Episcopal Sunday School. By February of 1893, the group had grown necessitating the purchase of property at the corner of Spaulding and Brand Streets. A chapel was built and dedicated on June 28, 1893. Events moved quickly. On April 24, 1894, Riverside Methodist Episcopal Church legally incorporated, and dedicated a new church building on May 31, 1896. Setting the example for future dedications, on the day of the service, in addition to the money already raised, an additional $5000 was secured so that the church was dedicated free of debt. [20]

The “mission” minded folks of Hedding looked west in the early 1890’s resulting in a Sunday School in an old barn at the corner of First and Foster Streets in 1892. A small chapel replaced the barn and thenceforth became a mission outpost for Hedding. The “outpost” of Methodists grew and a new society was organized in October 1916. It became known as the Westside Methodist Episcopal Church with 45 charter members. Within one year membership had grown to 135 and was self sustaining. Hedding Church deeded all rights to the chapel to the young organization and by 1920, a new building was constructed at a cost of $9,500.[21]

Methodism was on the move in other sections of the city. In 1893, the Baptists constructed a building on Thurston Street. It was sold and known as the Westside Church of Christ. The Methodists took over the building in 1905. In 1908, the Trustees incorporated the church and named it Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church after the birthplace of John Wesley. Representatives from the Methodist Churches met early in the winter of 1913-14, and concluded that work should be started among the growing number of Italians in Elmira. Bishop William Burt appointed Rev. Guiseppe (Joseph) Grana to take charge of the work. A building was purchased at 155 West Sixth Street to be used as a home for the minister, a school and a church. Instruction in English was held three nights a week. Dr. Eli Pittman, District Superintendent at the time concluded his report for 1914 by saying that, “Brother Grana already reports four full members and twelve probationers and we are looking for a great work.” The “Italian Mission” adopted the name St. John’s in 1931.[22]

In 1910, a Free Methodist congregation in Elmira purchased a former gas station and grocery store on Ivy Street. The First Free Methodist Church was incorporated in 1912. The “Free” Methodist Church had originated in Pekin, New York in 1860. They had been expelled from the Methodist Episcopal Church for advocating for “free” churches. They opposed slavery, wanted free pews and wanted the church to be “free” from formalism in its worship among other issues.[23 The name “Methodist” was kept because the founders felt that their misfortunes (expulsion) had come to them because of their adherence to doctrines and standards of Methodism.

The original building was renovated in 1944, under the leadership of the Rev. Clark Snyder at a cost of $13,000. In the mid 1990’s the church and the parsonage at 513 Hart Street were sold to the Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital. Property was purchased at 390 Warnick Street in Elmira. The congregation relocated and became the Hand in Hand Free Methodist Church, opening in 1997.

Over the years, adversity tested the faith and commitment of the Elmira Methodist community. The brick building, which was the home of the First Church closed in April of 1871, and replaced with a beautiful building dedicated on January 1, 1873. The new church had a tower surmounted by a steeple reaching 184 feet from the ground dominating the city skyline. A 2,500 pound bell hung in the tower. The magnificent building was in use somewhat less than 12 years when disaster struck. At two o’clock Thursday morning May 27, 1886, the first fire bell sounded. When discovered the entire building was in flame. From the ashes rose the structure used until the church closed in 1968.[24] Hedding Church faced its own disaster when a “twister” toppled the steeple on Sunday, September 25, 1881. The steeple was not replaced.[25] Fire ravaged Centenary Church in December 1931. The roof and interior of the main part of the building were destroyed. Local funeral directors, and church members Stuart Hagerman and Stephen L. Wilson provided chairs. Elmira College loaned hymnals and services were
held in the gymnasium until the church was restored.[26]

The late 1960’s was a time of consolidation for the Methodist Church. In June of 1968, the Methodist Episcopal Church and the United Brethren Church merged to become the United Methodist Church. That same year First Methodist, St. John’s and Hedding joined to become Christ’s United Methodist Church with its home at the Hedding building. At the time, First Church was sold to what is today Elm Chevrolet and eventually demolished in 1972. St. John’s was sold to the Quakers.

June 22-23, 1972 was devastating for Elmira when Hurricane Agnes unleashed the “Flood of 72” on the city. Christ’s Church’s basement was flooded with water coming within two feet of the sanctuary. Centenary had water one to two feet in the sanctuary with 75% of its member’s homes flooded. Riverside had its parsonage heavily damaged and the sanctuary was partially flooded. Methodist churches did not suffer alone as the flood was ecumenical in its devastation. Recovery was slow. For all the churches, crews of Methodists and work teams from other denominations helped clean up. With Central N.Y. Conference support, loans from the Small Business Administration along with the faith and commitment of their members the buildings were restored. The flood and changing economics within the Elmira area would negatively impact membership in the city churches.

The African-American Methodist Community also experienced changes over time. In 1885, the African Union Methodist Protestant Church became the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1894, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was rededicated as the Frederick Douglas African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. “In 1895, at the death of Frederick Douglass, “Memorial” was officially added to the name of the church commemorating the renowned abolitionist.” The Frederick Douglass Church moved from its site on Fourth and Dickinson Streets in 1951, when the property was purchased by the Elmira Housing Authority for the construction of Jones Court. A new building was constructed at 414 Baldwin Street and became the home of the church until 1995. In that year, under the leadership of the AME Zion, Northeastern Episcopal District presiding prelate, Bishop George W. C. Walker, it merged with the Minnie L. Floyd AME Zion Church located on the corner of Madison Avenue and Second Street, the current site of the Douglass Congregation. [27]

The first decade of the 21st century has been a marked contrast to the opening of the 20th century for the Methodist Churches of Elmira. Beautiful big buildings, opened with large and committed congregations in 1901, and 1902, are now closed with the congregations merged. Centenary and Christ’s (Hedding) Churches had fallen on hard times with shrinking attendance and spiraling maintenance costs. When Centenary discovered that its south wall was pulling away from the roof (with estimated costs for repair over one million dollars) options began to be considered. Christ’s, Centenary and Riverside Churches began “visioning” conversations with a potential goal of merging. When Walgreens made a purchase offer for the Centenary property (the second such offer within four years) it seemed as though a message was being sent. The congregation agreed to sell and “co-habitat” at Christ’s Church with the commitment to build a new building. Merger discussions became more serious.

Centenary UMC was deconsecrated on June 7, 2007 and on March 11, 2007 Christ’s UMC and Centenary UMC merged to form the New Beginnings United Methodist Church. Riverside Church, which had participated in the visioning process voted not to merge. With proceeds from the sale of the Centenary property a new church was built at 330 East Miller Street. It is a modern facility, handicapped accessible, technologically up to date, economically efficient and debt free. Christ’s UMC was deconsecrated on January 17, 2010 and on February 14, 2010 The New Beginnings UMC celebrated its grand opening.

The opening of New Beginnings Church was less auspicious than the openings of Hedding and Centenary Churches, but faithfulness and commitment are no less. There are fewer Methodist Churches in the city today. From a peak of nine churches only four remain: Westside UMC, Riverside UMC, New Beginnings UMC, and the Frederick Douglass Memorial AME Zion Church. Methodists in Elmira no longer have the doors barred because of the noise they make, but they continue to take their work of making disciples seriously.


[1] Elmira Daily Advertiser and Free Press, July 1, 1901.

[2] Sheldon S. King, Christ’s United Methodist Church, Christ’s United Methodist Church, Elmira, N.Y. March 21, 1983.

[3] Elmira Daily Advertiser and Free Press, July 1, 1901.

[4] Elmira Daily Advertiser and Free Press, September 22, 1902.

[5] Centenary United Methodist Church Centennial and 130th Congregational Anniversary Booklet, Centenary UMC: Elmira, N.Y., September 16, 2001.

[6] The Rev. Donald Hoff, The History of Methodism in Webb Mills, January 7, 1992.

[7] Ibid.

[8] The Rev. Donald Hoff, The History of Methodism in Webb Mills, citing: P2. Reminising with Dr. Alfred P. Coman (Methodist of Central N.Y.)Published 1969, Centenial Committee of CNY.

[9] The Rev. Donald Hoff, The History of Methodism in Webb Mills, citing: Journal of William Colbert.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Hoff, The History of Methodism in Webb Mills.

[12] Edward B. Hoffman, First Presbyterian Church of Elmira, The First 200 Years, Donation of Fred Petrie: Elmira, N.Y., 1995

[13] King, Christ’s United Methodist Church.

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

[16] Calvin Brewer, Chemung Co. Historical Journal, Vol. 54 No. 1, September 2008: “Elmira’s First African American Church Finding Faith and Freedom, 1841.” Chemung Co. Historical Society, Elmira, N.Y.


[18] Brewer, “Elmira’s First African American Church Finding Faith and Freedom, 1841.”

[19] Centenary UMC Centennial and 130th Congregational Anniversary Booklet.

[20] Sherrill Van Riper, Riverside United Methodist Church Booklet, Riverside UMC: Elmira, N.Y. 1993.

[21] Directory Westside Methodist Episcopal Church, 1922.

[22] King, Christ’s United Methodist Church.


[24] King, Christ’s United Methodist Church.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Centenary United Methodist Church Centennial and 130th Anniversary Booklet.

[27] Brewer, “Elmira’s First African American Church Finding Faith and Freedom, 1841.”



Brewer, Calvin, “Elmira’s First African American Church: Finding Faith and Freedom 1841”, The Chemung Co. Historical Journal, Vol. 54 No. 1 September, 2008.

Byrne, Thomas, Chemung County: 1890-1975. Elmira, N.Y: Chemung Co. Historical Society, 1976.

Centenary United Methodist Church Centennial and 130th Congregational Anniversary Booklet.

Elmira, N.Y: Centenary Church, September 16th, 2001.

Directory Westside Methodist Episcopal Church, 1922: Elmira, N.Y.

Elmira Daily Advertiser and Free Press, July 1, 1901 and September 22, 1902.

Hoff, The Rev. Donald, unpublished article, The History of Methodism in Webb Mills, January 7, 1992. Used references from The Journal of Rev. William Colbert and Reminiscences with Dr. Alfred Coman.

Hoffman, Edward B. First Presbyterian Church of Elmira, The First 200 Years. Elmira, N.Y: Donation of Fred Petrie, 1995.

King, Sheldon, Christ’s United Methodist Church, Elmira, N.Y: Christ’s United Methodist Church, March 21, 1983.

Van Riper, Sherrill, Riverside United Methodist Church Booklet, Elmira, N.Y: Riverside UMC 1993.