Update July 24, 2021

I am sorry that I have been negligent in my duty to update this web page. We have no set hours that our museum is opened this summer. If you would like to visit, please feel free to email us at historicalsocietyofelba@yahoo.com and one of our members should be able to arrange a visit for you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


These photos were sent to us by Audrey Blount. They belonged to her father, Carroll Johnson, long-time Elba resident and teacher.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Historical Society of Elba Roast Beef Dinner

Thursday, October 17, 2019 at the Elba Rec Hall. Takeouts available beginning at 4:30 with Dine-in service beginning at 5:00. Adults – $10, Ages 6-12 – $4.50, 5 and under – Free.

Basket Raffle drawing will begin at 6:00 pm. A large variety of baskets, including flowers, produce and gift certificates.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the Desk of President Earl Roth June 2019

`                                               FROM THE DESK OF

                                                                                                EARL ROTH

Historian –Town of Elba

Historian – Village of Elba                                         EROTH@ROCHESTER.RR.COM

President – Historical Society of Elba

Master – Elba Grange #783                                        June 4, 2019    2019-3

I have added many new e-mail addresses as a result of Elba’s alumni dinner – hope all will enjoy.


June’s monthly dinner meeting will be at Chap’s Diner on June20th.  Our guest speaker will be Dr. Richard Laub.  He will speak about the Byron dig which was located on the Hiscock farm.  Although, the dig has not been active for several years, artifacts discovered in prior years are still being studied.


Our museum opened Memorial Day.  The Historical Society worked together with the Elba Betterment Committee and other groups in order to provide recognition of our deceased and living veterans.

This past weekend, Elba Central School held its annual Alumni Dinner.  As in the past, The Historical Society furnished yearbooks for the years 1936-1985 for alumni to review & remember.  The Class of 1964 (celebrating 55years) visited our museum.  Larry Bateman just completed 56 years as their Senior Class president and was elected to serve another five years.

Thursday (June 8th) evening at 7:00 P.M., the Historical Society will be holding their monthly meeting at the Museum, any & all are welcome.  PLEASE REMEMBER TO PAY YOUR ANNUAL DUES.


In this issue, we will travel our famous Rte. 98 and we will make note of certain landmarks.  In the mid 1920’s, NYS numbered this route “74” and in 1930 it was renumbered and became Route 98.

Today, Route 98 runs south to north (from the Penn. state line north to Point Breeze at Lake Ontario).  For purposes of my newsletter, I will covering the area from the NYS Thruway bridge north into Barre.  Not all of it lies in the Town of Elba, but those sections outside the Township is part of the Elba Central School District and thus qualifies for inclusion.

Page 2

The location of Route 98 from Batavia to the hamlet of Pine Hill (The Village of Elba was incorporated in 1884), remains the same since the County of Genesee was formed in 1803.

Stop A>           Just north of the Thruway bridge, on the west side of the highway, lies the Federal Detention Center, motels and sundry other businesses. This location was the site of George’s Dairy’s retail store.  Seventy years ago you could have brought your own jug in and purchased milk that was produced on their farm.  That farm being four miles further north on Route 98.   After the George family retired, that farm was purchased by the Webster family and is currently owned by Torrey Farms, Inc.

Stop B>           Next, lies the Saile farm.  In the mid 1900’s, the Saile’s were noted farmers with Walter Saile being active in the Centralization of the Elba rural schools and served on the first “Board of Education”

Stop C>           The next farm on the west side of the road, currently belongs to Gordon  Offhaus.  At this point, the road has a severe dip.  This hill was known as “Flint Hill” because on the East side was an outcropping of flint and Indians would travel & collect for the making of arrowheads and other tools.

Along this stretch of highway, on the east side, were located several farms that have since been commercialized.  Dealers for farm equipment, construction equipment, and trucks are now present, along with warehouses, an airport, and other businesses.

Stop D>           Next is the intersection of 98 and the Batavia-Elba Townline Roads, locally known as Daws Corners. It is believed that the first settlement in Elba happened here in 1801.  Later in the 1800’s, it was the site for one of the largest nurseries in the United States (Bogue Nurseries).  From here, trees were shipped all over the United States.  This crossroad served local residents and farmers, at various times a blacksmith shop, general stores, gas stations, post office and a rural school house were located here. A local cemetery remains active to this day.

            Just west of the intersection on the south side of the road, where a house was recently demolished, Jack Ahl would manufacture cinder blocks.  In the 1940’s, Mr. Ahl would haul coal cinders from Buffalo, form the blocks and then cure them in a kiln.  These blocks would be used locally in the construction of onion storage buildings, Roy Henry’s combined residence/business, Our Lady of Fatima Church, and other structures.

Stop E>           From Daws Corners to the Village of Elba, not much has changed over the last 200 years, vegetables, grains and dairy products continue to be produced from this rich farmland.  However, at the edge of the Village, where the O’Connor family raised racehorses, now stand The Firemen’s Recreation Hall and a empty M & T Bank.  The buildings that once lined the tracks of The West Shore RR still remain although the tracks were removed 70 years ago.  All of those structures are utilized for purposes other than their initial use.

Having run out of room, my next issue will take us thru the Village and than north to the Town of Barre.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 2019 Newsletter

The following is the newsletter from our president and town historian, Earl Roth.


Historian –Town of Elba
Historian – Village of Elba
President – Historical Society of Elba
Master – Elba Grange #783 May 2, 2019 2019-1


Welcome back to my readers. Now that I have completed my responsibilities to the clients of my tax practice, I will resume my newsletters.


The first meeting of 2019 was held on April 18th at Chap’s Diner in Elba. This marks the beginning of our 126th year, as the Elba Grange was organized in 1893. Our May meeting will be held on May 15th with Ned Dale (Elba’s new school Superintendant) as our guest speaker.


The first meeting was held April 4th with installation of officers and finalizing their 2019 schedule, including The October “Roast Beef Dinner” and Memorial Day ceremonies. The museum will open on May 27th in conjunction with Memorial Day ceremonies at the cemetery in cooperation with The Elba Betterment Committee, The Elba Volunteer Fire Department and the Ladies’ Auxiliary.

The Historical society would like to thank Maureen Torrey-Marshall and Peter Warn for their generous cash donations.

Our Historical Society and Museum could not exist without the financial support of The Town OF Elba and all of our other benefactors. However, in addition to money, The Historical Society and Museum is in need of people. Many of our older members are no longer able to physically help us or even able to attend meetings. WE MUST HAVE FRESH BODIES & IDEAS.

We have the following needs:
To re side the Griffin house
To complete our planned addition
To plan & organize new displays for the public
To help maintain our buildings & grounds

I look forward to someone stepping up and offering their time and skills.
Page 2


We recently received a question regarding “The Point” and its history. With the help of June Rowcliffe and The 1995 175th Anniversary publication, I hope that I will have succeeded in making all of my readers more informed.
June Rowcliffe and her husband (Howard) purchased the property in 1980. At that time the buildings consisted of ten houses that were leased out (June is currently living in the one remaining), the office (no longer there), two long barns (which the Rowcliffes used for a nursery and collectible business – only one remains) and a residence which still remains.

We can not be sure where the name “The Point” came from or when it was first used. It may have been a descriptive term that describes the acute angle (north east corner) formed by the intersection of Watson Road and Oak Orchard Road.

Looking at old maps, it appears that “The Point” was originally part of the Edwin Parker farm of some 78 acres. In February 1913, The Stickney family sold five acres to the Western New York Farms Company. In July 1913, the offices were complete and the WNY Farms Co. moved from The Village of Elba to the “farm village”. In January 1914, a celebration for 200 employees and dignitaries were held in a newly completed 130 x 45 foot machinery barn which had a new concrete floor installed for the occasion.

A single well furnished water for all of the buildings through their own water system.

The large house was constructed for use of WNY Farms Co.’s managers’, while the ten tenant houses were constructed for use by other employees. With the draining of the swamp and clearing of the trees, housing was in great shortage and Company owned housing became a necessity. The farm village, “The Point”, fulfilled social needs as well, dinners, card parties, dancing and club suppers were held for the benefit of its residents.

After WNY Farms sold off its ownership in the muck land to individual farmers, the need for company housing ended. However, the tenant houses were still in demand. In the years following World War II, many newly married couples made “The Point” their homes and started their families there.

Older residents may also remember the ever flowing spring that was on the east side of Oak Orchard road just north of the house now occupied by Dan Coughlin and family. At some time in the past, some one had installed pipe from which the water would flow. It was said to be some of the best drinking water around with individuals coming from miles around, in order to bottle it and take home.











Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ECS 2018-2019 Basketball Season

The entire Elba community is proud of all that our Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball teams have accomplished this season.

March 9, 2019 – Elba Varsity Girls Basketball suffers loss to Franklinville 49-32 in the Far West Regional Championship game at Buff State College thus ending their road to another State Championship.  

March 5, 2019 – Elba Varsity Girls Basketball beats Filmore in the Class D Section V champion (D1 vs D2) 48 – 29 to send the Lady Lancers on to the Far West Regional Championship game.

March 1, 2019 – Elba Varsity Girls Basketball wins their third consecutive Section V championship March 1 at Letchworth with a score of  54-42 over Whitesville

February 27, 2019 – Elba Varsity Girls Basketball  defeated Romulus in the Section V Class D2 semifinal playoff game to lead the Elba Lady Lancers to a 46-30 win.

February 26, 2019 – Elba Varsity Boys Basketball  lost to Belfast at Mount Morris on Tuesday night in the Class D2 Section V semifinal 44-40.

February 23, 2019 – Elba Varsity Boys Basketball defeats Bradford for Section V title by a score of 70-30.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Sorry for the lack of activity on this site.  We will be starting up again for the summer season beginning with our April general membership meeting.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quaker Rock

Did you ever wonder where that big rock next to the Village of Elba office came from, why it is there and how it got there? Now you know. I was doing some work at the museum today and found this article from a Rochester newspaper dated Wednesday, July 6, 1966.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the desk of our president, Earl Roth – Town of Elba Historian


Historian –Town of Elba
Historian – Village of Elba EROTH@ROCHESTER.RR.COM
President – Historical Society of Elba
Master – Elba Grange #783 July 25, 2018 2018-7

Greetings – If anyone has a particular topic on Elba or its history that they would like additional information on, I would be happy to cooperate.


On July 19th, The Elba Grange was fortunate to have as guest speakers, two young farmers from South Africa. They are currently working for Craig Yunker and CY Farms of Elba. They are participating in an international program that allows young farmers to travel to other countries and work for other farmers in order to gain experience and knowledge of different farming practices and management techniques.

Jacques Marais is from Bothaville (Free State province), South Africa, which is located near the Vaal & Vals Rivers. His family has a farm of several thousand acres that produce corn and other field crops. They employ approximately 40 individuals and furnish not only employment, but also housing and some education for those individuals and their families. Jacques is fluent in several languages including German, French, English as well as several dialects of local native languages. Gaining the respect of employees is very important and an important part of that is to learn their native language. Racially, the area is approximately 5% white and there has been instances where the locals will overrun a farm and kill the owners and steal their property.

Jacques did mention that because of the soil types that are farmed, that stones & rocks do not exist. No rock picking!!! While our local farmers complain about the number of deer that invade their fields; it pales in comparison to the local animals that Jacques’ family has to contend with, which range from elephants to bands of monkeys .

Juon DuPlessis is from Nelspruit, which is the capital of Mpumalanga province, located in the Valley of the Crocodile River and is near Kruger National Park. Because of its climate, the area is big in citrus & tropical fruits, macadamia nuts and forestry products. Juon’s family has several hundred acres of macadamia nut trees.

Differences in agricultural practices and equipment exist, but much of that relates to the fact that the US farmers are using larger equipment (12 row planters versus 24 row planters) and that US farmers are more progressive in using modern technology (GPS, drones, etc.).

Page 2


Our next meeting will be August 2nd at seven P.M. at our museum. All are welcome.
All, members & non-members are always welcome to join us.


Recently, July 8th, Elba lost one of its landmarks, The Stumbling Inn (The Elba Hotel), to fire. Because of the sizable demolition and cleanup costs, the community has organized a benefit event to be held at the Elba Fire Department Recreation Hall on September 30th from noon till 7:00 P.M. Jim & Steve Goff, owners, have been active supporters of the Elba community and its activities in their thirty-nine years of ownership.

I have included below a brief history of that landmark as put together by Scott Benz (former town & village historian) in Elba’s 175th anniversary book.

Elba’s first hotel was founded in 1815 by Stephen Harmon on the same site as the Stumbling. Pine Hill was still five years away from being separated from Batavia and becoming the Town of Elba. Elba was a convenient stop for travelers going between Batavia and Albion (Erie Canal) and the lake port located at what now is known as Point Breeze.

In September 1874, the building, now owned by Wm. Moreau was destroyed by fire. A, new two story hotel was constructed and open for business on July 25, 1875. On April 23, 1878, Wm. Moreau sold the business to John and Anna Swartz of Hazelton, Pa. John Swartz was a Civil War veteran who had lost a leg in the war. John eventually died in 1887 due to war related wounds. His widow, Anna, would continue the business until her death in 1895.

With the arrival of the West Shore Railroad and its passengers, Anna expanded the building. The second floor ballroom was converted to additional rooms and a third floor was added for a new ballroom with a “spring” dance floor. A porch was extended over the sidewalk so that customers could step directly from their carriage to the cover of the veranda and not get wet. Each arrival of a train at the depot would be greeted by a team of horses from the in order to provide transportation to the Hotel

Although Anna died in 1895, the Swartz family would continue to operate the Hotel until 1932, when it was purchased by Jackson Filkins. The Hotel had a variety of owners until it was purchased in 1979 by Jim & Steve Goff.

In the 1920’s, the ballroom with its famous “spring” floor served as home for Elba’s high school basketball and volleyball players. The Hotel throughout its life was known for its food and entertainment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stumblin’ Inn

A piece of Elba history is gone forever and the village landscape has been changed forever. About 9:00 am on Sunday, July 8, 2018, a fire broke out and destroyed the historic Stumblin’ Inn.

The following article is taken from the Town of Elba history book compiled by the 175th Anniversary Committee.  1995

Elba Hotel

Built in 1874 after fire destroyed the original structure. Currently the Stumblin’ Inn.


As every little hamlet in the country grew and expanded with the emergence of our nation, it became necessary for the foundling towns to provide lodging for the ever western bound populace.  Elba was just such a town.  As pioneers, settlers, and peddlers traveled the Old Buffalo Road taking them far from the congested areas of Albany towards the new frontier, a frequent stop was Batavia.  With Elba situated on the way through to the lakes and the Erie Canal, many passengers took advantage of our forefathers hospitality and rested from the weariness of the road at one of our taverns or hotels.

Elba’s first hotel was established in 1815, by Stephen Harmon, located at the present site of the Stumblin’ Inn on the southwest corner of Main and Mechanic Streets.  Early information on the hotel is sketchy at best.  In 1845, William Case became the landlord and he was succeeded by a man named McClane after 1850.  Silas Hawes then took over the operation, succeeded by Mr. Norton, then John King and H.D. Matson.  Later, Mr. Matson had a partner, Alexander Milliken, in 1860 and 61.  Not much is known of Mr. Matson except that in March of 1868 he slid out of Pine Hill in the dead of night leaving behind many friends and creditors to mourn his disappearance, quite a number of dollars worth.

William Moreau then acquired ownership to the building, but in September 1874, a devastating fire that raged through our business district, destroyed the hotel.  The good citizenry of Elba had managed to save some of his furniture and by October of that year had subscribed some $400-$500 to aid in the rebuilding of the hotel.  William, or “Billy” as he was known, cleared away the debris and in early spring of 1875, the new Hotel emerged as its majestic self under the skillful work of Brockway & Ritter.  By May, she was receiving her first coat of paint and in July, the last coat of plaster was set.  She reopened on July 23, 1875 with such accomodations as any traveler could hope for in those days for a first-class hotel.

In four years, Billy and his wife Parmelia, were ready to sell their new establishment when a one-legged Civil War veteran from Hazelton, PA made his way to Elba.  John Adam Swartz with his wife Anna, bought the two story structure on April 23, 1878, to be known as the Swartz Hotel.

The Swartz’s relocated in Elba to embark on their new life with their three children, Lizzie, John Adam Jr. and George W in 1878.  Elba was pleased to gain the new gentlemanly proprietor who saw to it that his hotel was not a place for roughs and rowdyism.  In June of 1879, they were again blessed with a son, Charles John.  Under the management of the Swartz’s, the hotel continually underwent changes to increase its capacity for entertaining as well as for guests.  But in June of 1886, landlord Swartz had an attack of severe hemorrhaging of the stomach and bowels, a condition that had been created by his old war wounds.  During the next year, this problem would reoccur often until it proved fatal on June 8, 1887.  With his eldest son, John Jr, barely 16, Anna had to take on the responsibilities of managing a hotel and raising her family of four.

Anna Swartz proved to be a wise and progressive businesswoman.  When the long-awaited West Shore railroad finally stretched its tracks into Elba, it brought passengers daily.  Anna realized its benefits and in 1893, she had the old second floor ballroom converted into additional rooms and added a third story, a new ballroom with the famous spring dance floor under a mansard roof.  Eighty-two couples participated in the festivities of her Grand Opening and danced to the excellent music of Barber’s Orchestra.  The newly remodeled hotel now boasted of two second floor suites with plush interior and thick cushioned red carpets where private parties were to be held.  Shrimp salad was a feature of every special occasion and to preserve the quiet serenity of the dining room, waitresses were required to don soft-soled bedroom slippers.

Anna also involved her sons in the business.  She provided a double express wagon and team and had them meet every train at the depot to chauffeur the guests back and forth.  At the time, part of the porch roof extended over the sidewalk so that guests could step directly from carriages to the cover of the veranda. Friday and Saturday evenings brought the town alive as dancers flocked into Elba when the fiddles and banjos started their toes a tapping.

Anna joined her husband in his final resting place in 1895 and with that, John Jr. took over the management and eventually purchased the interests of his sister and two brothers.  George Swartz became a traveling salesman for a bicycle company but later enlisted in the 65th Regiment and was stationed at Camp Alger, Virginia.  After his release from the Army, he operated and Inn in Batavia known as “The Kirk” at 55 Main Street.  Eventually, he moved to San Francisco, CA where he died.

John Jr. married Evelyn M. Strouts, the daughter of William and Mary (Bang) Strouts of Elba and together they continued the family business.  Under their management, the hotel enjoyed and enviable reputation.  But on March 11, 1914, John was stricken with an attack of paralysis in Cole’s store that rendered his left side useless.  He was hurriedly taken to his hotel and medical aid was summoned, but it was of no avail.  He remained conscious a little over an hour and then lapsed into a coma, from which he never rallied.  So widely known was the Swartz name throughout Western New York, that people from nearly every town in Genesee County as well as Orleans and Erie Counties were in attendance at his funeral.  The accomodations of the hotel were taxed to the utmost to care for the number in attendance and many had to stand outside during the funeral service despite the bad weather.

Just as Anna had done before her, it was now Evelyn’s turn to operate the hotel.  With the coming  of Prohibition in the 1920’s, the Elba Hotel took on a new role in the community as the ballroom floor sprang to a different beat, the bounce of basketballs.  For many years the outline of the basketball court could still be seen on the third floor where Elba High School students, with no gym of their own, played basketball and volleyball and even held their Halloween parties,  Soft drinks were the only beverage sold.

The Hotel was purchased in December of 1932 by Jackson L. Filkins and the ballroom hummed again to the tunes of Hubert and Louie Griffin and other music makers.  Nine years later, he sold to Jay and Emma Hale and moved to a farm on the Watson Road.  But after one long year of country solitude, bachelor Filkins had had enough and was grateful to repurchase the business in 1942.

It was during his tenure as proprietor that workmen, excavating to install a septic tank in the “clothes yard” directly behind the hotel, unearthed a human skeleton with a single telltale hole piercing its skull.  They dug no further, though someone suggested there might be an ancient graveyard and townspeople were left to speculate whether their eerie visitor had been a pioneer, escaped slave, or even an  Indian.  The skull glared accusingly at curious citizens for a few years and then disappeared, some say shipped to a Buffalo museum.

Charles and Frank Zambito purchased the hotel in 1949 and operated it until 1955, when Tom and Marty Greer became the owners.  Later, Pete and Nancy Markowski ran the hotel, calling it “The Other Place.”  In August of 1979, the present owners, Jim and Steve Goff acquired the property, and the name became “The Stumblin’ Inn.”

Gone now is the front porch and wide veranda, the once famous spring dance floor and the third floor with its Mansard roof, but Jim and Steve are slowly, through their hard work, trying to upgrade the old proud structure and regain its stature in the community.

An interesting note on John Swartz, the father of our Hotel keeper, is that he was a Captain of the Washington Guards and was attached to the Union Guards in the 2nd Brigade of the 8th Division.  His certificate still remains in the hands of the family and is dated May 13, 1844.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment