BIG FLATS, NEW YORK
1822 - 1972
In 1830 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was organized. A church building was erected above the bridge west of the town on the Corning Road largely financed and sponsored by John Minier and family. Capt. George Gardner contributed the land and Trinity Church of New York $800.
Rev. Edward T. Gilbert the pastor of the Methodist Class probably became discouraged with the growth of the Methodist Society as he joined the Episcopal Clergy and was the first pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Previous to the organization, in 1829, Bis-Hobart of the Protestant Episcopal Church Western New York Diocese had visited Big Flats and Christian Minier, Sr.
In about 1842 0r 43, by removals and other causes, it was discontinued except for occasional services and in 1851 the church was sold to the Baptists.
In 1861, Bishop DeLancey visited the society and gave an order for incorporation. Lauren A. Tuttle was chosen Senior Warden; Archibald H. Gates, Junior Warden; William Woodwar, William A. Tuttle, John Haggerty, Andrew J. Bennett, Abram D. Huey, Ogden T. Tuttle, Joddiah Stowe and A. B. Steele, Vestrymen.
Lauren A. Tuttle contributed $3,000 toward erection of St. John’s Church, built on the corner of Main St. and Miller St. for a cost of $6,000. It was a Gothic architecture and stood until 1930 when it was torn down.
There is record of a Roman Catholic Church in 1881. This is about the time that the D.L. & W. Railroad was being built and there were many Irish laborers. This church was in the house that our present Park Commissioner, Walt Jacobus, lives in on Church St.
HISTORY OF MT. SAVIOR MONASTERY
January, 1951 – Founding group of four monk-priests, with financial help from 5 friends, purchased the 3 adjacent farms on Madigan Road, namely, the Hofbauer, Schurstedt (formerly Keller), and Harding (formerly Madigan) farms.
March 29, 1951 – Two of the aforesaid monks arrived to get the Schurstedt house ready for occupation.
In Mid-April, work was begun by Mr. Mitchell, of Elmira, the contractor, to make alterations and additions to the Hofbauer farmhouse.
May 10, 1951 – The founding group, viz. Frs. Damasus Wizen, Gregory Borgstedt, Placid Cormey and Bernard Burns, began community monastic life together in the Schurstedt house.
Interested young men began to arrive, having read publicity articles in Catholic newspapers. By summer, there were probably 10 or 12 youths.
July 5, 1951 – The Hofbauer house was ready for occupation as our temporary monastery, and we moved in, vacating the Schurstedt house to be used as a guest-house.
August 6, 1951 – Feast of the Transfiguration, the patronal feast of Mt. Savior. Bishop James Kearney of Rochester came and blessed the monastery building, also, the site where the chapel would be constructed later.
January 8, 1952 – We purchased six assorted dairy cows and three Black Angus heifers, as the beginning of our dairy farm enterprise.
June 20, 1952 – Work was begun on the chapel, designed by the architect, J. Sanford Shanley, of New York City. The workmen were supervised by a retired engineer, Mr. Robert Hoppen, of Elmira.
August 16, 1953 – Fr. Damasus Wizen blessed the new chapel. The crypt, or basement, was not finished yet; it was blessed on October 4.
May 25, 1954 – Excavation work was begun for the foundations for the new temporary monastery building, which would become later the men’s guest-house. It will contain the refectory, kitchen, laundry, boiler-room, and upstairs, a library-room and 15 cells for monks. The building is called St. Joseph’s.
August 19, 1956 – St. Joseph’s building, now finished, was blessed by Fr. Damasus and occupied by the community.
April, 1959 – The new dairy-barn construction was begun by Fusare and Picarazzi, contractors, and finished by them on December 1.
September 11, 1959 – The Sigler (formerly Ames Hemenway) house and land was purchased.
July 15, 1960 – Bro. Christopher Claas died.
July, 1961 – The Sigler house was opened as St. Gertrude’s guest-house for lady guests. Mr. and Mrs. Maximilian Albrecht are in charge.
March 25, 1962 – Welliver Construction Company began the new workshop building, which was finished and ready for use on June 17.
June 18, 1962 – The work of enlarging the chapel was begun by Welliver Construction Company. The alterations were finished by December 21. In the meantime, the garage-repair-shop section of the workshop building was used as a temporary chapel.
May 16, 1963 – Work on the construction of the permanent monastery buildings was begun by Welliver Construction Company. The architect is the firm of Hirsch and Cassetti, of Elmira.
April 29, 1963 – The August Neilitz farm building and land were purchased.
June 24, 1964 – The monastery of Christ of the Desert was founded in the Chama Canyon, Abiquin, New Mexico, by monks of Mount Savior.
September 13-14, 1964 – the permanent monastery buildings were finished and were opened to the public for inspection. Blessed by Bp. Kearney.
August 27, 1968 – Bro. Laurence Duffy died.
August 18, 1969 – Fr. Damasus Winzen asked permission to resign from the office of Prior.
October 29, 1969 – Fr. Martin Boler was elected as the new Prior.
June 25 or 26, 1971 – Fr. Damasus Winzen died.
BIG FLATS WESLEYAN CHURCH
The Big Flats Wesleyan Church came into being due to three, loosely-related, concerns. The first was not known to the people starting the church until well after the work was started. That first concern was that a group of inter-denominational Christians that stood on the present sight of the Church, about three years before its beginning, and prayed that God would open up some place for the Big Flats Elementary school children to have Release-time religious classes.
The second concern was that of the Wesleyan denomination with the rapid-growing Big Flats Area. The group with its Central N. Y. District office in Elmira, N. Y. had looked for property but had finally had to lay aside plans to start a work in Big Flats due to three factors: Property not available, a Pastor not available, and a shortage of funds at that time.
Early in 1967 Rev. William Woughter, pastor in Canisteo, N. Y., felt that God spoke directly to his heart asking him to go to Big Flats. Two days later pastor Woughter learned that God had also spoken to his wife. Both were from the Elmira area and were eager to answer this call.
The property of Harold (Shorty) Bush, deceased, had become available about that time and work actually began in April 1967. The foundation of the first building (Parsonage-Chapel) was done by volunteers from all over the area. The Shell of the building was constructed by McKinney Assoc. of Elmira and the interior, including all heating, electric, and plumbing was done by volunteer labor. Pastor Woughter and family moved into the parsonage in October 1967.
During April of 1968 afternoon Bible-study services were started with an attendance of about 30. Then in Sept. of that same year the first morning Worship services and Sunday school was started. Fifty-seven people attended the first Sunday school session and a few more came in for the Worship service.
The group was officially organized and the building dedicated on May 25, 1969. There were 44 charter members.
The community will well remember the steady growth from then on. This growth was greater than had been anticipated so the church began to use old school buses to house the growing Sunday school. The time came when they were also crowded and two classes were held in the Peterson basement, next door. The new church had a robust missionary outreach from the first. Evening Services and Prayer meetings were soon started, as were choirs and Missionary society.
In July 1970 work started on the new church. The shell of the new church was constructed by Houghton Construction of Elmira and as before all work on the inside was done by donated labor. Al Peterson of 547 Maple St., Big Flats and Pastor Woughter led the group with several hundred hours of donated labor.
The first service in the new church building was held Feb. 14, 1971. The finishing touches were completed later that year. A large pipe organ is still being installed. Sometime in the future an educational building will complete the present building.
CHRISTIAN AND MISSIONARY ALLIANCE CHURCH
The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church at 1550 Sing Sing Road was dedicated im March of 1965. Previous to this, the services were conducted at 3807 Barnes Hill Road, the home that now serves as the Parsonage.
The first Pastor was Rev. Knowland Brisco who directed the building of the church. Rev. J. Dallas Willis followed and was with the church two years before resigning to become Business Manager of Nyack Missionary College. In 1967, Rev. Albert Webster, the present minister came to the Big Flats Church.
There were 23 charter members and in January of 1970 the church was incorporated. It is a part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance (CMA) with district officers in Rome, N.Y. and international offices in New York City.
The church property was purchased from Norris Barnes who was a charter member and is an elder as well as the present Sunday School Superintendent.
AMERICAN BAPTIST COMMUNITY CHURCH
The Community Church got its start when the Chemung Baptist Association passed, in April, 1964, a resolution to explore the possibility of beginning a new church in the Big Flats area. Approval was given by the Chemung County and Southern Tier Council of Churches’ Church Planning Committees.
The Rev. Artemas Goodwin, organizing minister, began surveying the community January 3, 1966, and the first services were held in Morrison’s Restaurant’s Community Room on May 1, 1966. The Congregation outgrew the restaurant’s Community Room and in October, 1966 they moved to the Masonic Hall. The Rev. Walter Griffith became the first full-time minister of the church on February 1, 1967.
In November, 1968 construction began for the church building on Sing Sing Road, and the congregation moved into its new building on September 7, 1969.
The congregation has had an active program of community involvement and service in the community and to groups in the community. In various ways it has joined hands with the Big Flats Woman’s Club, the Jaycees, the Senior Citizens Group, the Recovery Group, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and others to make Big Flats an even better place in which to live.
The Unitarian Fellowship was founded in the spring of 1955. They held their first meeting in 1956. Meetings were Sunday evenings at the Elmira Y.M.C.A. during 1956 and 1957 with some meetings in the Corning Public Library.
In the fall of 1957, the fellowship reorganized and started the church school with meetings held in the Jewish Federation Building in Elmira. The Fellowship subsequently rented a farmhouse in Big Flats for the next three years. When this farmhouse was sold, they rented the old Big Flats Methodist Church for 1962-63. From here, they moved to the Grange Hall in Horseheads in the fall of 1963 till the spring of 1966.
Ground was broken for their new building located of Sing Sing Road on Route 17 on May 16, 1965. The Fellowship moved in in Sept. of 1966.
The official dedication was Oct. 30, 1966, with Rev. Ralph Helverson from Cambridge, Mass. officiating. There are approximately 35 families in the Fellowship.
GRANGE DAY (FORRUNNER OF COMMUNITY DAYS)
About 1948 when Harry Beebe was master of the Grange, (a very active town group) it was decided the young people really needed an entertaining activity. So with Matt Welles permission, Church St. was the scene of a Grange sponsored Block Dance. Wire was borrowed from the CC Camp (Federal Nursery) and the Presbyterian Church let them use their electricity for lights; Mrs. Beebe and four other women from the Grange cooked 32 lbs. of hot dogs and 30 lbs. of hamburg on a 2 ft. wide charcoal grill perched on a church table and Grange Day (a one night affair) was initiated.
The evening’s profit was $30.00.
The second year, stores were asked to give prizes and a pet show became a daytime activity as Grange Day was enlarged.
First prize was $3.00.
Grange Day continued till in 1953 the Grange sponsored an event they called "Community Day." This has caused some confusion but the year 1954 was actually the First Community Day sponsored by the Community Day Committee.
In 1954, the first year of Community Day sponsored by the Community Day Committee, there was no central treasury and each organization kept the money they made. This, however, was most unsatisfactory because an organization such as the Grange who did most of the preparatory work made no money.
Hereafter there was a central treasury and in 1955 with the proceeds, the Community Day Committee purchased 4 acres of park land from the Hungerford Corp.
This was to become the Community Park and from hereon, Community Day(s) activities would be held there rather than on the Matt Welles property on Church St.
The Parade has been a feature since the first community Day celebration. The Cake Booth has been one of the longest run, most profitable ideas. The carnival became a part of Community Days in 1962.
The only Community Day celebration that had a theme up until Banzai Big Flats in 1971, was 1958. The theme was "Welcome Corning Glass" and opened with a tour of the new Big Flats plant.
Community Day(s) incorporated in the year 1957.
Highlights of Community Day(s) Past
1954 – First Annual – a 1 day affair featuring "Cute Baby" contest – crowd est. 1000
1957 – 1 day – highlighted Horse Shows – crowd est. 3500
1958 – 1 day – only one with theme till 1971 – Theme: "Welcome Corning Glass" – Features: free babysitting – Alfred: Ag. Tech Institute Drama Club presents – scenes from 4 plays – Community Park Pavilion erected for use by Park Commission, Rotary Club and men of the community. – First Queen Contest.
1959 – Crop Dusting Display – crowd est. 7000
1960 – 3 days: features: Schweizer Air Show – Girl Scout Troop 23 made headlines by enlisting Marine Recruiter to drill them for the Parade.
1963 – 2 days – crowd est. 10,000
1964 – 3 days – Thurs. was Midway only – Highlight: "Ping Pong Ball Rain" – An airplane flew above town dropping balls that could be turned in the same day for a free ride – crowd est. 12,000
1971 – Theme: Banzai Big Flats – 4 days – crowd est. 15,000 – First Indoor Queens Pageant
1972 = Sesquicentennial Year – Theme: Double Diamond Jubilee
Community Day(s) Queens
1959 – Nancy Benjamin
1959 – Suzanne Farr
1960 – Barbara Hanson
1961 – Karen Kapral
1962 – Sandra Butler
1963 – Bonnifer Smith
1964 – Roxy Reeve
1965 – Penny Smith
1966 – Christine Graves
1967 – Theo Madsen
1968 – Jodelle Judge
1969 – Kathleen Kelley
1970 – Gretchen Kane
1971 – Robin Registro
WEST HILL COMMUNITY CLUB
Previous to the onset of the idea to build a meeting place, members of the community were meeting at the Carr’s Corners School every Sunday for Sunday School. An original committee chaired by Charles Mansfield and consisting of Ralph and Goldie Crain, William G. and Elizabeth Storch, Grace and Charles Rutty, Raymond and Priscilla Fish, Byron and Ina Vanderhoff and Eva Mansfield, as near as can be remembered, met at the Carr’s Corners School. At this meeting they decided to build a building. The question then arose what type building should it be? Ralph Crain had constructed a log cabin for the then Attorney Richard Heller in the woods off Halderman Hollow so a committee went to look at this cabin. It was then decided to build a log cabin. To help them, Attorney Heller loaned them books he had on the construction of log cabins.
Some members donated money, others gave material and/or labor.
At a meeting held at the William G. Storch farm, two sites were suggested for the building. One was across from the Storch farm and the other was on the Ernest Stowe property. It was decided to build on the Stowe property and the land was leased for 99 years for a dollar a year.
The cellar was dug with horses and slip scrapers. As the cellar was completed it was discovered a spring had been uncovered in one corner of the cellar. This was the water supply until a well was drilled some years later. The drilled well was sulpher, and a flowing well, which it still is. An electric line was strung from the William Storch farm to provide current during construction. Cinder blocks for the cellar wall were purchased from the block company on McCann/s Blvd., Elmira Heights, with some blocks being donated by the company. As near as can be recalled by surviving Charter Members, logs were furnished by the following: Frank Wigsten, Thomas Rhodes, Ernest Stowe, Carl Steffen, William G. Storch, Erie Vaughan, Henry Hartman, Byron Vanderhoff, Ralph Crain, and Francis Britenbaker. Some logs were taken to the saw mill of Fred Storch to provide rough lumber where needed. After completion the building was wired for electricity by Willis Bennett.
To raise money to help pay for building expenses, Rev. Rudolph Viewig offered the use of the kitchen facilities and dining room of the German Evangelical Church, now First United Church of Christ, for chicken suppers to be put on by the women of the community. Most of the community members were constituents of the German Church. Pancake suppers were also put on at the Jamesway Manufacturing Company building on the corner of Fifth and Madison Avenue.
The official opening was July 4, 1933 with a picnic dinner followed by a square dance that extended well into the night. Music was furnished by "Woodhull’s Olde Tyme Masters." From then on dances were held every Friday night from 9 to 1 with music furnished by Woodhull’s for about two years, until the crowd outgrew the cabin. Other orchestras were engaged after that but none had the following of Woodhull’s.
On April 20 & 21, 1951 a Minstrel Show was staged and played to a packed house. It was repeated on request at the old TAE High School. Due to the success of this, it was decided to build a stage on the building. So, the members once again rallied their forces and with Ray DeLaMarter supervising, the ceiling of the dance hall was raised and a stage added. This was in 1953.
The cabin now is being maintained by public suppers and rentals. It is mainly being used regularly by the West Hill Home Bureau, Chemung Valley Grange, West Hill Trojans 4-H Club and our own monthly meetings.
Charter Members were: Albert & Myrtle Storch, Ralph & Goldie Crain, Ernest & Alice Stowe, William G. & Elizabeth Storch, Carl & Maude steffen, Thomas & Irene Rhodes, Charles & Eva Mansfield, Welling & Grace Storch, Ralph & Carol Reynolds, Willis & Ruth Bennett, Erie & Marie Vaughan, Fritz & Lucie Storch, Byron & Ina Vanderhoff, Milton & Virginia Vanderhoff, henry & Lena Hartman, Harry & Louise Ketchum, Raymond & Priscilla Fish, Charles & Grace Rutty, Raymond & Muriel Rinebold, Murray & Waitie Watts, Raymond & Lillian DeLaMarter, Grant & Emily Stowe, Francis & Stella Britenbaker, Joseph Hartman and Mrs. Grace VanValkner.
Presidents (as near as can be remembered included: Charles Mansfield, Raymond Fish, William G. Storch, Ray Rinebold, Albert Storch, Raymond DeLaMarter, Welling Storch, Milton Vanderhoff, Kenneth Forbes, Robert Rutty, Albert Hanford, Elizabeth Storch, Ruth Bennett, Jack Wilkens, Ralph Reynolds and John Storch.
THE BIG FLATS FIRE DISTRICT AND THE BIG FLATS FIRE DEPARTMENT
By Fred Voight
It was some time in the late 1920’s that the town of Big Flats felt the need of its own fire protection. For years Big Flats had had many devastating fires that on four occasions were right in the heart of the town. For many years the cities and villages had ordinances which permitted them to form their own Fire Departments and Fire Districts, while the small unincorporated or ever larger unincorporated towns seemed to lack authority to go ahead and organize their own fire district, Fire Department and Fire Company.
I, myself, in person, consulted the Chemung County attorney and discovered that somewhere in the New York State statutes towns could organize Fire Districts. As you may know, now, we have 4 in the town of Big Flats. I found out, that in order to obtain a fire district, the matter first had to be brought up before the Big Flats Town Board. This was done, and permission was granted to have a Fire District with a 3 mile limit. Further I found, with the aid of the county attorney, who drew up all necessary papers, that it had to be submitted to the Chemung County Board of Supervisors. This was done and was unanimously approved by the Chemung County Board.
What was needed next was to lay out this Fire District. At that time, we had in this town, a brilliant young man who by his own efforts and with the aid of correspondence school courses became a full fledged surveyor and engineer. The man mentioned was Mr. Glenn Bates, Senior. Mr. Bates efficiently laid out this whole three limit fire district and with myself obtained the necessary number of signatures on the petition which was submitted to our local Big Flats Town Board. They, in turn, submitted it to the Chemung County Board of Supervisors. This was accepted by the Chemung County Board and then we proceeded to go about and organize the Big Flats Fire District, No. 1. Our first fire meeting was held over the rooms of the old Post Office, or rather the Drug Store, and I believe that Dr. Wakelee had a Post Office here also in combination with his Drug Store.
I recall that I put up the name that was first brought up for a President of the Big Flats Fire Company. It was that of William Randall who was the first President of the company. Later, I myself was elected and will say that we had the backing of the leading men of the town, including Charles Lowe and Mathias Welles besides myself and Mr. Glenn Bates, Sr.
After forming this company it was discovered that some fire equipment was needed. So, Fire Commissioners were elected and Israel Farr was the first president of the newly organized fire company. In order to put the Fire District on a business basis, it was found that it was necessary to purchase a fire engine, and in this process the insurance rates went down from $1.10 to 65 cents which is about our present rate. So, the Fire Commissioners, in a body, all went to Penn Yan, myself included, and looked over a 500 gallon water capacity fire truck equipped also with fire extinguishers. This was purchased from the Penn Yan Fire Department for $500.00. Subscriptions were taken from the Big Flats citizens who bought it and they paid $50.00 each. This way the town was in no way involved. For years this was in operation and on the morning of Jan. 2, 1931, with this old machine, they did a good job when our house burned. The fire started in the lean-to section, the old doctor’s office section of the house and followed the sides of the building, went into the attic and burned off the roof. This evidently saved the town. The Corning Fire Department, our old Big Flats friends, also sent fire equipment down.
After the 3 mile limit fire company, which was probably in 1927, there were certain politicians, for some unknown reason but their own, (Those same ones who were on the town board at that time who previously approved of this Big Flats, N. Y. No. 1 Fire District) who took this before the Chemung County Board and rescinded the 3 mile limit fire district. In order to obtain additional information about the early history of the Big Flats Fire District No. 1, a visit was made to the Town Clerk’s office. Previous to the ratification of the Fire District, it was necessary to circulate a petition all over the whole area of the proposed 3 mile limit fire district and in turn present it to the Big Flats Town Board. After this was done the records show that Marvin Olcott presented this petition before the board and it was passed and ratified by a majority of the board members on June 24, 1927. In due course of time it was presented to the Chemung County Board of Supervisors and was ratified by them.
For some reason known to the Big Flats Town Board, a short time after the Big Flats Fire District was established, it seems that they acquired a voting majority of the board and had the previous resolutions that established the Big Flats Fire District No. 1 repealed and had the Chemung County Board repeal and rescind the previous acts thus taking it off the books and making it null and void.
As the result of this act on the part of the board, Mr. Glenn Bates, Sr. was elected the new Big Flats Supervisor. Things started over again and a new petition was circulated for a one mile limit for Fire District No. 1, Big Flats. Glenn Bates, Sr. was in office only a short time when he suffered an accident on the railroad crossing near Cazenovia. As a result of this accident he passed away. The petition had not had time to be presented to the new board on his expiration of office. Glenn had again made up the boundaries for this one mile limit, during his term as Supervisor and was working on it at the time of his death in 1928, which at the time seemed a fatal thing to the fire company.
Lars Peterson was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Mr. Bates as Supervisor. He served several terms, until at his own request did not run for office again. After Lars Peterson was appointed, the Big Flats Board ratified the resolution to have a new Big Flats Fire District No. 1 on Dec. 28, 1929. In due time this was submitted to the Chemung County Board who also ratified it. Lars Peterson was enthusiastic as the Town of Big Flats Supervisor and readily, with the aid of the Fire Commissions, formed the new Big Flats Fire Company No. 1. commissioners appointed or named were: Matt Wells, Henry Minier, Sr., Israel Farr, Fred Voight and Ray Schultz. Israel Farr was elected the first Fire Chief. Later the fire engine was moved to the quarters of the former Elmira, Corning & Waverly building, now the home of the Big Flats American Legion. In the year of 1938 the Fire District purchased the second fire engine new from the American LaFrance Company. Now after these many years they have succeeded to return to the 3 mile limit which is in force to this date.
BIG FLATS VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY LADIES DISTRICT NO. 1
The newly organized auxiliary held their first meeting in July of 1971 and election of officers that September.
Frances Decker was elected the first president with Pauline Frost as vice-president, Marilea VanNordstrand, secretary and Marlene Moore, treasurer. They meet the third Tuesday at the fire station.
Charter members were: Iolani Ruhmel, Pauline Frost, Sandra Burt, Helen Canfield, Eldora Gould, Marion Richards, Lee West, Helen VanOrder, Jennie Comfort, Frances Decker, Marlene Moore, Loretta Welles, Alice Ayers, Janet Saunders and Marilea VanNordstrand.
BIG FLATS VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
After many disastrous fires and futile bucket brigades, a few interested citizens in 1926 decided Big Flats needed a volunteer fire department. They met on Jan. 23, 1916 to organize. There were 25 charter members. This meeting was held in the Red Men’s Hall, located on the second floor of Wakelee’s Drug Store and Post Office. At this meeting the following officers were chosen: Fire Chief, Charles Lowe; Secretary-Treasurer, Marvin Olcott; Ass’t Chief, Rev. D. S. Haynes. It is interesting to note that the first fire alarm was the Methodist Church bell.
On March 2, 1926, Glen Bates, Sr., Town Supervisor, was appointed to establish a Fire District. At the same meeting Fred Voight was appointed Chairman of a Committee to circulate petitions for formation of said Fire District. On Dec. 7, 1926 the first equipment for this Fire Company was made. Two ladders were purchased and placed on the right side of Wakelee’s Drug Store. On May 10, 1927 a soda and acid truck was purchased second hand from Penn Yan for $850.
By 1929 the Fire District was approved and the following fire commissioners elected: Charles Lowe, John Bates, Dr. E. H. Wakelee, Marvin Olcott, Warren Markle and Matt Welles, Sec.; Lars Peterson, town supervisor, placed the Big Flats Fire District No. 1 on the assessment rolls of 1930 – the tax budget being $263.50 which the fire district received Feb. 10, 1930.
The next major purchase of equipment was in 1937 when the Fire District bought an American LaFrance Ford Pumper at the price of $3975. This is still in working condition and being used.
For many years the meetings were held in the Red Men’s Hall. When the street car company disbanded, Matt Welles bought the company building in Big Flats and fixed a meeting place for the firemen. They met here until the present property was acquired and a cinder block building was built to house the equipment. This building had a meeting place on the second floor. Over the years this has been enlarged and many improvements made until we have the present fine Fire Station.
From the original 25 charter members the present company now includes 88 active members. Many of the present firemen have been trained by Leslie Frost who founded the first Lantern Boys in 1957. These boys start training in fire practices at age 16 and join the Fire Department at age 18. At present there are 8 members training.
The Big Flats Fire Department No. 1 now has the following equipment: 1937 Pumper, 1960 Pumper, 1966-4 wheel drive Brush and Grass truck, 2 tanker and one squad car.
The following have served as Fire Chiefs: Charles Lowe, Fred White, Israel Farr, Ray Schultz, Miles Hilton, Walter Losey, Jr., LeRoy Peterson and Leslie Frost.
HISTORY OF THE GOLDEN GLOW VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY AND BIG FLATS FIRE DISTRICT 2
The Golden Glow Volunteer Fire Company started to organize in 1949 with meetings at Tom Shafer’s house and the Hendy Creek School House. The Hendy Creek School House was eventually purchased for the Fire Company, and many, many people were involved in the organization, some of them being Attorney Jim Personius, Walt Kelly, Reformatiory Superintendent, Leroy Weaver, and George Sullivan of Horseheads.
Funds were raised by door to door soliciatation. The pledges were approximately $42.00 per dwelling. These were used for collateral as well as some property of individual residents. Two lots were donated by Mr. Perry of Golden Glow that would later be used for the Fire Station site.
The Fire Company was chartered in 1950 and incor0porated in 1951. Attorney James Personius incorporated the Fire Company. The first commissioners were: Dr. Burt Voorhees, Henry Shelansky, George Wenzel, Tom Williams and Tom Shafer.
The Fire Company’s first President was Tom Shafer; Vice-President, Gordon VanAtta; Secretary, John Carpenter, Jr.; and Treasurer, Robert Harris.
The Fire Chiefs have been: 1951-56 – First Chief, William Burgey; 1956-57 – Ralph Reese; 1958-61 – Charles Woodruff; 1962-70 – Howard Mosher and 1971-73 – Robert Swithers.
The Presidents of the Fire Company over the years were: 1951 – Tom Shafer; 1952 – John Carpenter, Jr.; 1953-54 – Ralph Reese; 1955-66 – Charles Woodruff; 1957-63 – Leo Bennett; 1964-65 – John Dickinson; 1966-67 – Leo Bennett – Oct. ’67 Leo died – John Fitzgerald; 1968 – William Burgey; 1969-71 – Milton Schuck; 1972 – Richard R. "Bud" Williams.
About 1949 a 1926 American LaFrance Hook and Ladder (used only for salvage and equipment) was purchased. The pump taken from this is still in use.
A 1946 Chevy Chassis was used to build the original truck in Ralph Reese’s garage which is now painted gold and used for brush fires. This "home made" truck pumps 75 gallons per minutes.
The next step was building the Fire Hall (58’ x 28’). It is a two-story building of cinder block construction located on Shad-Knoll Drive in Golden Glow Heights. The first meeting was held in the new hall Oct. 9, 1951.
In 1963 the first new truck was purchased. It was a Ward LaFrance 750 gallon a minute pump, 750 Gal Tank delivered Oct. 11, 1964. In 1968 the second new truck was purchased. It was a Ward LaFrance Tanker, 275 Gallon per minute, 1000 Gallon Tank.
Then the Golden Glow Volunteer Fire Company bought the school house on Harris Hill Road, tore it down, and constructed Fire House No. 2 – a 3-Bay Station. Fire District No. 2 origanally had 175 dwellings in the district. Now there are in excess of 540 dwellings in the district.
The present Fire Commissioners are: Chairman Myron Sozanski and John Pierce. Secretary, John Saxon, Daniel Post and John LeMent III. Treasurer, Mrs. June Swithers.
GOLDEN GLOW FIRE AUXILIARY
The Golden Glow Auxiliary was started Jan. 17, 1951.
The First officers were: President, Mrs. Helen Brisco; Vice President, Mrs. Jo Harris; Secretary, Mrs. Betty Hoagland and Treasurer, Mrs. Mary Wenzel.
In the beginning meetings were held every other month at the Hendy Creek School House.
Current officers are: President, Mrs. June Swithers; Vice President, Mrs. Betsy Eckert; Secretary, Miss Sandra Golden; Treasurer, Miss Cheryl Smith; Chaplain, Mrs. Marsha Thomas.
Meetings are held the second Monday at Golden Glow Fire House.
WEST HILL FIRE DISTRICT 3
It all began with a fire – causing the loss of barn and valuable horses on the farm of Douglas Dalrymple. As a result of this the people had several meetings in Carrs Corner School house and a larger meeting in the West Elmira School house. A meeting of all residents was set up for the purpose of forming a Fire District and the Town Board of Big Flats and the Town Board of Elmira conducted a meeting held Oct. 12, 1960 in the Community Cabin on West Hill Road. At this time all the factors regarding a district were presented and by unanimous vote of residents, the Town Board was asked to form a District. At a joint meeting Tuesday, Dec.13, 1960 – of both Town Boards – the district was set up. Approval was then obtained from the N.Y. State Comptroller so that the formation could be approved for action.
The joint boards appointed as Fire Commissioners to serve until Dec. 31, 1961 (by which time an election would be held) the following: Ervin W. Whittaker, Robert O. Reed, Raymond DeLaMarter, Albert Storch, and Herbert Harvey and as treasurer, Herbert W. Moore.
The Fire District was recognized by the N. Y. State Fire Underwriters as of Oct. 4, 1961 – listing the district as Class "C".
WEST HILL FIRE DEPARTMENT, INC.
Through the donated work of residents of the District and some from out of the District and by supervision of Ray DeLaMarter a building was erected on land donated to the Fire Co. by Harry Stowe.
A Fire Engine Pumper was purchased from American LaFrance and a Tank truck was purchased from a local oil company. These together with the necessary hose were the first equipment purchased for the District.
Donations for the building included: Fuel oil tank from Albert Storch, furnace from local Oil Co., safe for records from Trinity Church, time in laying walls by Union members, materials from different firms, and help from many people.
Fire chiefs include: Fred J. Buck, Jack Wilkins, Ray DeLaMarter and Bob Moshier.