FROM THE DESK OF
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.).
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.