Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Marriage Woes


—John Babcock with several aliases, a few weeks ago married a girl named Katie Kane at Port Byron. A few days ago it was discovered that he had another wife and a warrant was issued for his arrest, which the officer proceeded to serve. Babcock took a dose of strychnine, but not enough to produce the desired effect. He then took another dose, but the second time overdid the matter and took too much. He threw up the poison and will recover.

Chess Game Played by Telegraph

Here is an interesting newspaper brief that I think many will enjoy:

The Daily Courier, Syracuse, NY, Monday February 4, 1878:

"A game of chess was recently played between a Weedsport and a Port Byron man by means of telegraph. The Port Byron player was victorious."

If anyone has ever heard any oral histories about this chess game, please contact me, I'd love to know who these guys were. Since this game took place in 1878 by telegraph, it was bound to be big news for its day.

Perhaps this is a village or town record?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Historian Update

Starting this December, it will be my pleasure to also serve as your historian for the Town of Mentz. Former historian Mike Riley has communicated with me that he intends to dedicate his interests with the growing needs at Lock 52 Historical Society. Mike also is active with the New York State Canal Society. We thank him for his many years of service as Mentz Historian and wish him well with his future endeavors.

Lock 52 Historical Society

Thursday, December 3, 2009

American Baritone Richard Bonelli

The legendary baritone opera star Richard Bonelli was born George Richard Bunn at Port Byron, NY on Feb. 2, 1889, son of Martin & Ida Bunn. The family would later move to Syracuse, NY where George would soon prefer to be called Richard. The following biography mentions the late Penny Helzer, my predecessor as historian for the village of Port Byron. Here is a wonderful biography of Richard:

Biography of Richard Bonelli by Charles A Hooey

Prior to entering into a singing career, Bonelli was a close friend of David Abbot Jenkins, the father of salt racing:

David Abbot Jenkin & Bonelli

Richard Bonelli received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Music from Syracuse University in 1937. In 1965 he received the American Guild of Musical Artists Merit Award(AGMA).

He also was a movie actor, having a supporting role in the 1935 film "Enter Madame" staring Elissa Landi and Cary Grant:

Enter Madame 1935

He appeared as himself in the 1941 film "There's Magic in Music" staring Allan Jones and Margaret Lindsay:

There's Magic in Music 1941

Richard was twice married, 1st to Pauline Cornelys and 2nd to Mona Chapman Wood. Through the union with his second wife, Richard was the Uncle of actor Robert Stack, star of the television series "The Untouchables" and Host of "Unsolved Mysteries":

Robert Stack Biography

Obituary of Mona Chapman Wood Bonelli

Guide to the Richard Bonelli Collection

Richard Bonelli debuted in Italy as Riccardo Bonelli, making him an international star. He holds two other significant records, being amoung the performances on the day that Opera was first broadcasted by radio on January 13, 1910 and performed on the first TV broadcast of Opera on 3/10/1940:

Radio Broadcast History-1910

First TV Opera Performance 1940

Richard Bonelli died at Los Angeles, California on June 7, 1980. His cremated remains were placed in Niche 32072, Columbarium of Victory, Freedom Mausoleum, in Forest Lawn Glendale, in Los Angeles County, his wife's cremated remains were placed on March 20, 1998.

His parents are buried at Port Byron, NY.