Sketch of Holyoke
by George H. Allyn, page 9

      Blake & Johonnot had come to be numbered among the druggists, also Brown Brothers, at the corner of High and Hampden streets, opposite J.E. Morrill. Mrs. Honora Manning was doing splendidly in millinery and dry goods, while John O'Connell, John O'Donnell, Dennis Higgins, Doyle & Finn, and Thomas Dillon were all doing finely.
      The Water Power Company had long looked with envious eyes at the property on Depot Hill owned by Uncle Sam Ely. It was their intention to purchase it, grade it down, and make it conform to their adjoining holdings. But Uncle Sam was a peculiar man in his likes and dislikes and in his ideas. H.P. Terry wished to buy a lot of him in the early 60's, and Mr. Ely decided to sell him one for $100. Later Mr. Ely told Mr. Terry he couldn't conscientiously make the sale, for he couldn't in common honesty charge later purchasers any higher price. Rufus Mosher had prospered in the livery and grain business, and, forming a partnership with Grosvenor B. Bowers. bought the Samuel Ely holdings for $40,000. This settled the grade question, for no one but the Water Power Company would stand the expense.
      The venture was a profitable one, and later on Mosher bought out Bowers. Ward One built up with great rapidity, and included a large portion of the French population that were crowding rapidly in, and some of whom were already becoming prominent. The brothers Prew, Gilbert Potvin, Peter Monat, Isaac Perry, the Moquins, Menards, and others, were showing thrift and push. A church had been built on Cabot street, in 1869, which was the scene of a terrible tragedy on May 27, 1875, when fire caught the altar draperies, and seventy-one persons perished. Our present fire chief, J.T. Lynch, displayed splendid heroism, standing at the door of the blazing furnace like church, and dragging out people from the heart of the flames.
      Holyoke was proud of him then, and is today.
      One of the earlier business blocks in Ward One was built on Lyman street by William Ruddy, afterwards mayor, and another was owned by M.J. Teahan.
      W.A. Miller bought a tract of land on West street, put in an avenue known to this day as "Miller avenue," and built a number of double brick cottages. These had a basement and two floors above for each tenement, and the Ward One people (or Depot Hill, as we styled them before the town became a city) used to call them "womankillers," because of the necessity of the housewives going from floor to floor to do their work.
      Curtis Moore and J. D. Hardy built on Depot Hill in 1872.

1912 Holyoke Civic Leaders
Top row, left to right: —George Bassett, C.H. Knight, A.J. Williams, John Emerson Charles Herrick, L.C. Dam, James Bigelow.
Bottom row, left to right:— John Evans, Isaac Berry, A.C. Pratt, Levi Lamb, Q.W. Lovering, Fred Davis.

      Union street was building up from Lyman to Fountain street, and detached brick cottages had been built on Newton street, and were a little later built in adjoining sections on Newton place.
      After the destruction of the Exchange block, Parsons Hall, on Race street, was built, and many a rip-roaring old-time show was given there. Political meetings were also held there.
      The Holyoke House (as the Hamilton was then called) was extremely prosperous under the management of E.M. Belden.
      Former proprietors whose names we recall had been Messrs. Ross, Brown, Leavitt; we believe there were several others, but under Belden's management, with Charles Mayo as clerk, its greatest prosperity obtained. Munsell & Sears had a grocery store where L. Sears Co. now are, and later Mr. Munsell went into the shoe business on Main street. In the early 80's he made an assignment, but the assignee was able to pay every bill, dollar for dollar with interest, a most surprising experience considering the average run of failures, but exemplifying Mr. Munsell's sterling integrity. Richards & Thayer did a flourishing grocery business at South Holyoke.
      The Whiting Paper Company's business had gone ahead with such tremendous strides that the big No.2 mill on Dwight street had been built. The Holyoke Warp Company had been organized, and the Excelsior Paper Mill was building.
      Edwin Whitney and George W. Philbrick ran Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield express routes, using two-horse teams, and making one trip a day each way. The Allyns and Perkins controlled the meat business until Seymour E. Gates "butted in," and so much of a gentlemen's agreement was there then that William Nash, who used to wholesale the western cattle for some time, refused to sell to Mr. Gates, who had to pick his beef up around the country. In the early 70's there was a slaughter house near the present Wheelock house on Pleasant street, this being the J.F. Allyn & Co. abattoir. Near the corner of Lincoln and, Taylor streets was the E. Perkins & Co. house, and over in Oakdale, near the junction of Oak and Hampshire streets, was the A. & S.B. Allyn house.
      Mr. Nash used to drive the western cattle to the respective slaughter houses mounted on a wiry old mare, and they were about as fierce to a footman as so many tigers. L. & W. Perkins exhibited one pair of horns with a spread of five feet from tip to tip. Much of this beef was butchered in the afternoon and sold for consumption next day, and naturally was very fresh and very tough.
      One yellow tiger-like steer escaped from the Perkins' slaughter house and was later shot on Blandford mountain.
      About 1874 Nash & Perkins (William Nash and Levi Perkins) formed a partnership and built a mammoth abattoir down on the river bank in Ward One, in which a tremendous business was carried on till the Brightwood plant was built, in the late 80's, though the firm became Nash, Holmes & Co., in 1879, Mr. Perkins withdrawing a few years later, and going into the pork business. The Ward One abattoir was not wholly abandoned till 1890. John M. Carlon, the present beef inspector, was one of the most expert of the Nash & Perkins butchers and fully killed each bullock with a single bullet from a 32 calibre Stevens' rifle an improvement over the old fashioned pole-axe method.
      It was inevitable that strong-hearted and strong-minded men like the pioneers of those early days should disagree, but when it came to pulling for Holyoke's welfare they were a unit. S.S. Chase, agent of the Water Power Company, and Timothy Merrick, of the Merrick Thread Company, were frequently opposed.
      They lived on opposite corners of Chestnut and Suffolk streets in 1869, and one morning early are said to have got into a fierce altercation. The four or five delighted eyewitnesses each gave different versions of the repartee, none perhaps correct, but one had it that Mr. Merrick said: "Chase, I don't say you are a liar, but you talk like some of the most splendid liars I ever knew."

| People & Organizations | Allyn's Sketch of Holyoke |
| Selected Advertisments | Churches | Surname Index |

© Laurel O'Donnell 1996 - 2005, all rights reserved
This document may be downloaded for personal non-commercial use only
and should not be reproduced or distributed without permission.