Excerpts from
Chronicles of Clarkson
by Hazel Kleinbach — former Historian for the Town of Clarkson

Happenings Gone By

So many stories of interest that have happened years ago, I thought I’d share a few with you in this article. Years ago there were free medicine shows that came to this area, and were of great interest to the towns people. They especially attracted the penny pinchers who were hoping to be able to find sure cures and would avoid having to go to a legitimate doctor and pay his fee.

There were two varieties of the medicine show. One would be announced well in advance and a hall would be rented or a huge tent set up. Then there were the ones that came into town by horse and buggy. There would be bottles of medicine that would almost cure instantly such ailments as cancer, promote growth of hair, something for correction of flat feet and so forth. A number of these bottles can be found at flea markets, but are reproductions of the real thing.

In the early 1900’s there was a man who lived in Clarkson who was a bicycle enthusiast. At that time, there were cinder paths from Clarkson up to Beech Ridge and from Clarkson into Rochester. The man’s avocation was holding bike races. There were five, ten and fifteen mile races. There was always men’s and women’s prizes for the winners of these races. One particular race that this gentlemen arranged caused quite a sensation in the area. He had advertised that the prize for the race would be valuable, aside from the ususal prizes of bicycle lamps, pedals and even brand new bicycles. He also offered gold, silver and bronze handlebars, tire rims and other bicycle accessories.

People from Rochester and surrounding territories read the ad and flocked into Brockport where the race was, to enter it and hopefully win these valuable prizes. The so called valuable items were on display at the A. E. Daly’s Furniture Store, and when word got around that the prizes were in fact, coated with gold, silver and bronze paint, a group of men started searching for the man seeking revenge for his misleading advertisement.

Fortunately for him, he had a friend who rented a barn for his house, buggy and cutter. In the Spring, the cutter was hung from the ceiling and it is there that his friend put him, to hide from the angry group, inside the cutter, suspended from the ceiling. He never got the beating intended for him, and it can be assummed that he probably learned to be more honest in advertising future bicycle races.


There have been many incidences of happenings that occurred in churches in the past years. One coming to mind was when a gentleman by the name of Elisha Carpenter of Brockport was baptized back in the 1890’s. There was a multitude of persons from the Methodist Church in Brockport going to the small stream that crossed the ridge road, west of the West Clarkson Cemetery, where a number were baptized. Such occasions were solemn and very impressive. The group gathered on the bank of the creek and sang, O, How Happy are They Who Their Savior Obey, while the minister, in his flowing robe, led the convert down into the water and performed the solemn rite of baptism by immersion.


Main industries in Clarkson back in the 1800’s were tanneries, blacksmithing,  pot asheries, cobbler shop, dry houses, canning factories, cooper shops, cigar factory tobacco growing and processing newspaper agency, dairy business, milling and of course, many taverns.

Residents and visitors are invited to stop in and view the showcase that is in the Clarkson Town Hall, showing some of the articles produced back then. If you have anything of advertising that can be added for display contact Clarkson Historian Hazel Kleinbach.

Leanna Hale
Town of Clarkson Historian
(585) 637-1130