As the Finger Lakes Times looks back on 125 years of reporting the news to the citizens of Geneva, I thought I would let Times readers know about some of the Geneva events covered by the paper.

The Geneva Daily Times, forerunner of the Finger Lakes Times started printing in 1895 (check out Geneva Daily Times, May 28, 1895 on the New York Historic Newspapers site). It had the opportunity to report on the formation of the Political Equality Club, the organization of Summit Foundry, the establishment of Vance Boiler Works and the James F. Carney Bottling Works, all in 1897. It also had the opportunity to report on the change of Geneva from a village to an incorporated city in 1898.

Between 1900 and 1910 the city and the newspaper were witnesses to the organization of Geneva Cutlery (1900), American Can Co. (1901), the Geneva Chamber of Commerce (1902), Empire Coke Co. (1903), and Fay and Bowen Engine Co. (1904). The Times also was there when the trolley line to Rochester opened in 1904. In 1906 The Geneva Daily Times covered the Geneva Centennial Celebration and the establishment of the Elks Club and William Smith College. In 1907 the Allegretti Mfg. Co. was organized and in 1909 United States Lens also was organized. 1910 saw the founding of the Geneva Savings Bank, a very important Geneva institution.

1912 saw our city connected to the Barge Canal System, and Dr. Wm. Brooks discovered his 27th comet from his observatory in Geneva. Between 1913 and 1914 Geneva City Hall was constructed and the New York Central Iron Works Block, the Geneva Brewing Co., Geneva Glass Co. and Nester Malthouse all burned. In 1916 our local Company B went to guard the Texas border against Pancho Villa and then in 1917-18 they were sent to fight in World War I, returning in 1919.

In 1920 the population of the city was recorded as 15,362.

In 1921 Geneva experienced an outbreak of small pox with 30 people contracting it. Some of the events tied to that published in the Geneva Daily Times included: “Jan. 24 — Reported to the city. State Board of Health that a case of small pox existed north of the city”; “Feb. 17 — Common Council gave Health Officer C. W. Grove authority to incur any necessary expense to stamp out small pox epidemic”; and “April 7 — Bills audited by the Common Council showed that the total cost of the small pox epidemic was $1,411.73.”

Between 1919 and 1932 several fraternal/social organizations were founded in Geneva including the Geneva Rotary Club (1919), the Geneva League of Women Voters (1919), the Geneva Kiwanis Club (1921), the Geneva Zonta Club (1929), and the Geneva VFW Post (1932).

In 1939 the Veterans Memorial Fountain with the Our Lady of Peace statue in the center was dedicated, and on an economic note, parking meters were installed in the downtown business section.

The 1940s were the growth years for military presence in Geneva due to World War II. 1941 saw the construction of the Seneca Army Depot, a munitions storage and disposal facility, and in 1942 the Sampson Naval Base was established on the east side of Seneca Lake to train sailors for the Navy. Thousands of construction workers, base and depot employees, and their families swelled Geneva’s population, changing the city from mostly owner-occupied housing to one with many more renters and landlords. The local economy boomed.

At the end of the war, Sampson Naval Base was turned into Sampson College for a brief time (1946-49) to accommodate the servicemen and women returning home and going to college on the G.I. Bill. Later the base was reincarnated as Sampson Air Force Base to train airmen during the Korean War.

Local radio station WGVA began operations in 1947, and by 1950 the population of the city was 17,144 people. With our increased population there were several religious churches and organizations founded between 1940 and 1951. They included in 1940 the Geneva Jewish Community Council, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, in 1949 Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church and the Greater Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ, and in 1951 St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church and Temple Beth-El.

So much has happened in the Geneva area before our village incorporation in 1806 and after the approximately 60-year time period I have written about here. For 125 years the Finger Lakes Times has covered our progress, publishing as the Geneva Daily Times, later the Geneva Times and now the FLT, providing us with the news of Geneva and thee surrounding counties and leaving a written history.

Karen Osburn is the Geneva city historian and Geneva Historical Society archivist.

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