CONTABLEVILLE NY in postcards
by Larry Myers
Small communities in Lewis, Oneida, and nearby upstate New York counties are particularly fortunate that many of them have an excellent historical record in pictures from the early 1900s, thanks to a photographer named H.M. Beach. Most of the images from these postcards of Constableville, N.Y., were made by Beach in the early 1900s.
If you were to stand on a nearby hill and look down on the village, you’d think that it might be just an insignificant tiny hamlet among the trees. But it indeed, it was a charming and delightful rural community which, to this day, hasn’t lost its unique, small-town charm. Perhaps the Schwenk Bros. Hotel was the main destination for out-of-towners. It was the local watering hole, as this picture indicates. The sign on the left post reads, “Woodcock Whiskey”, and the gentleman seated with the dog in front of him, actually has a bottle to his lips. Here’s another view taken from farther back that shows there was also a “watering hole” for the horses in the middle of the street. A view taken right from the horse trough shows some of the buildings down the street, in this 1909 picture, as does this later view which shows some early automobiles. A more modern view of the same hotel, now called the Hotel Parquet, is shown here from a postcard that was mailed in 1949. Here’s an interior view, I’m guessing it’s also from the 1940's.
A main street shot captures the 1909 version of the shopping mall. This is the local “Quick Stop” Store next to the outskirts of town. Holden Bros. Drug Store also sold groceries and stationery. Pictured here is the parking lot for one of the stores. I understand that Constableville had two cheese factories. Here is one of them. As we look down this street, we can see 3 people crossing a bridge. I think Mr. Beach and the 3 people changed places, because now we’re at the bridge looking back the other way and we can see the people on the walkway.
If you look hard through the leaves, you may be able to see the school. I think that building just beyond it might be the Methodist Church. Here’s another view of the same school with less cover from leaves. And let’s take one more shot while the classes are in recess. That was the grade school; this is the High School! The band’s not here, but the bandstand is. Here’s the Methodist Church we talked about earlier. And this is the Catholic Church, taken from behind the bandstand.Let’s look at houses for a while. This is a view of James and Carrie Miner’s house. Carrie writes on the back, in 1911, that a relative is in St. Luke’s Hospital, and that she spends most of her time in the “buggy.” Pictured here are people who live in the octagonal house. P.R. Smith and his family live here. A view down Factory St. We begin to see why the village was almost hidden by trees in this view along West Main Street. The people in the buggy turn around and look back as their picture is taken. Another tree-lined row of houses. Here’s the milk tanker headed for market. The Cottage close-up. You had to go outside to enjoy the air conditioning as these folks from the parochial residence did. Want to buy a wagon? Here’s the dealer’s house. Anna writes John, on this postcard, that they started haying on the second Monday in July. Finally, a look at pleasant homes in this pleasant village.
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