Ed Adamczyk

Historian 

phone icon (716) 873-5744 (April-October)
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Office Hours

April 24 - October
Alternate Sundays
1:30pm - 4:00pm

or by appointment 

map icon100 Knoche Road
      Tonawanda, NY  14150 

Historical Society Museum

Image of Tonawanda Historical Society Museum

The Historical Society Museum is the oldest building in town. The Historical Society Museum was erected in 1849 as a German evangelical church, serving a rural congregation until 1967. 

The building and cemetery (dating back to 1847) were acquired by the Town of Tonawanda in 1970, and opened as a museum in our nation's bicentennial year. The Town of Tonawanda annually appoints a town historian to oversee and maintain the rich history of the town. John Percy has been the town historian since 1973 and has provided a vital link to the Historical Society. On January 2, 2015, the town appointed Ed Adamczyk as the new Town Historian.
The Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization and owns and manages the artifacts of the museum. 

For questions or comments, please view a list of our contacts.

2015 Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society Officers

  • Betty Berg, President
  • Jeannette Smith, Vice President
  • Bob Battaglia, Treasurer
  • Graham Miller, Secretary

Image of Tonawanda Historical Society from alternate anglePreserving Our Town's History
One of the oldest standing buildings in the Town of Tonawanda today is the home of the Town of Tonawanda and Village of Kenmore Historical Society on Knoche Road just east of Elmwood Avenue. 

Built in 1849
The former St. Peter’s Church was erected in 1849 from bricks made of clay from the Ives Pond area. The bell for the steeple was presented to St. Peter’s by the Salem Church in 1934 in anticipation of the congregation’s 105th anniversary. 

The Town of Tonawanda acquired the church and surrounding property in 1970. The Historical Society, revived in 1973, designed and built the displays inside the historical building and the grand opening celebration was held in 1976 as part of the town’s Bicentennial Year celebration. 

Maintaining the Church's Theme
The front of the church sanctuary has maintained a church theme with the pulpit and pews. Original pewter communion service pieces and an old German Bible add to the atmosphere of the building. Changing displays attempt to educate visitors to the significance of such features of local life as farming, aviation, real estate and daily life of years past. 

Researching the Past
A computer database, books, maps, photographs and news clippings are available for research. The newly renovated historical building is normally open Sundays from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. 

Contact Us
For more information or to join the Kenmore Town of Tonawanda Historical Society call (716) 873-5774.

Historical Resources

The Erie Barge Canal
The Erie Canal has played a significant role in the development of western New York.
 The Erie Barge Canal

How Western New York Gave Wings to the World
Read the story of aviation in our community.
 How Western New York Gave Wings to the World

Palmer's Views
Presented here are 59 (of a total collection of about 150) photographs, drawings and maps published in 1910. Historic events and scenes are depicted from in and around Buffalo and the Tonawandas.
 Palmer's Views

1836-1936 Town Centennial
In 1936, the Town of Tonawanda celebrated its first 100 years. View the entire 48-page Centennial program brochure. See if you can recognize any of the many participants and advertisers in this gala affair.
 1836-1936 Town Centennial

Resources
Here are the organizations and people you may contact for further information. Any questions, contributions or offers to volunteer would be most welcome.

Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society
100 Knoche Rd. 
Tonawanda, NY 14150-6820

Graham Millar
President

Marilyn Brown
Vice President

Town of Tonawanda Historian
Ed Adamczyk             

Village of Kenmore Historian
Ed Adamczyk

Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
25 Nottingham Ct.
Buffalo, NY 14216-3199
Ph: (716) 873-9644

Cynthia Conides
Acting Executive Director

Public Hours
Wednesday - Saturday
10:00 am -5:00 pm

Research Library
Wednesday - Saturday
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

 

Community Historic Events
Here are some of the significant events in our community's past:
  • 1800: Joseph Ellicott, appointed as resident land agent for the Holland Land Company, began his land sales to settlers in the future Town of Tonawanda and surrounding areas.
  • 1805: Alexander Logan, John King and John Hershey settled in the northeast part of the town.
  • December 19-30, 1813: Fort Niagara was captured by the British and Manchester (now Niagara Falls), Black Rock and Buffalo burned.
  • June 1825: Major Mordecai Manual Noah, editor of a prominent New York City journal, purchased 2,550 acres of land on Grand Island to establish a refuge for Jews of all nations. He called the settlement "Ararat," but failed to carry his plan to fruition.
  • April 16, 1836: New York State legislature organized the Town of Tonawanda which was comprised of the present-day towns of Tonawanda, Grand Island and the present City of Tonawanda.
  • September 18, 1899: Village of Kenmore was incorporated within the Town of Tonawanda.
 
More Information
For questions or comments, please view a list of our contacts.

Tonawanda Historical Cemeteries
Several historically significant cemeteries lie within our boundaries. Four of them were thoroughly researched and documented for the Town of Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society in 1982, by a local eagle scout. The names listed in our Cemetery Repository are largely due to the efforts of Daniel E. Wortman (JASM, Troop 652). Search our cemeteries to find those buried in local cemeteries.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Elmlawn Cemetery

Location
Elmlawn Cemetary
3939 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14217 - View Map

About the Cemetery
(The following is from local historian Dr. Frederick S. Parkhurst's pamphlet, Cemeteries, Town of Tonawanda, New York, Publication No. 4, Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society, 1932.)

This parcel of land - 166 acres - was the original "Shell Farm". It is located on the east side of old Delaware Road at the junction of Delaware Avenue. The south line of the farm was Shell Road - now Belmont Avenue. On this property, situated just east of the present barns and sheds, within the present cemetery was the old "Shell burying ground." When the farm passed into the hands of Judge George A. Lewis the plot remained undisturbed. With graves still on the property, the Buffalo Burial Park Association Inc., could not get a clear title. The bodies were removed to the Faling Cemetery on Delaware Road temporarily and when Elmlawn was ready to receive bodies they were moved back again. The markers bear the record - John Shell -1795 – 1863; Catherine - 1834 -1885; Warner - 1845-1865; Sophia Van Allen - 1830-1865; John P. Shell - 1834-1909; Alice - M. - 1844 – 1877; Benson - 1870-1876; Lewis - 1874-1928.

The first interment in Elmlawn was made on May 23, 1902, and now (1932) there are 12,500 buried there. James Coleman has been the superintendent since January 15, 1919. The old frame building, once the summer home of Judge Lewis, and afterward the office and home of Mr. Coleman, was removed to the west side of Delaware Avenue near the corner of Knoche Road, (1932) where, after being inhabited for more than a hundred years as an ancient landmark, it is still doing duty. A beautiful new office and residence of Indiana limestone was erected in 1931-1932 at a cost of $18,000. It was completed and occupied March 1, 1932. A fine mortuary chapel occupies a commanding site in the grounds and $40,000 has been expended in draining and beautifying the cemetery and ample space for interments is provided for many years to come.

 


Faling Cemetery*

Location
Delaware Rd. and Willowbreeze Rd.
569 Delaware Rd
Tonawanda, NY 14223 View Map

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Search our cemeteries to find those buried in local cemeteries.

About the Cemetery 
(The following is from John Percy's book, Tonawanda, The Way It Was, Partner's Press, 1979.)

Photo Gallery

Along the east side of old Delaware Road, at the corner of Willowbreeze, is located one of the oldest burial grounds in the area. This plot was established just north of the Richard Faling farmhouse on the 58-acre plot he settled about 1815 with his wife Catherine. The Falings and the Zimmermans to the north were the earliest families to settle along the old Indian trail that would become Delaware Road. When an infant daughter, Mary Ann Faling, died at six weeks of age in 1816, the plot was established. Because no minister was available to officiate at the funeral, her own mother conducted the simple rites. Other interments were made over the remainder of the 19th century. 

Time has left its mark on the gravestones but enough can be seen on some of the remaining markers to give the visitor an idea of the history of that portion of the township during its pioneer era. The first historian of the Town of Tonawanda, Dr. Frederick S. Parkhurst, did much research on the history of the old cemetery about a half century ago. He discovered one old grave with a partly illegible German inscription which reads in part - "B. 1786 D. 1816." 

Notable Graves
One particularly notable pioneer buried in the Faling Cemetery was Adam W. Zimmerman who died on August 30, 1839 at the age of 53. Another Zimmerman, Emeline, wife of pioneer Jeremiah Faling, died on September 4, 1886. The graves of Jeremiah and David Faling are marked with impressive columns. Numerous other markers indicate how numerous the Falings once were in the township. Many of the Falings used an Anglicized form of the German name, which accounts for the appearance of "Failing" on many old town maps. 

Four veterans of the War of 1812 are buried here: William Zimmerman, 1796-1871; Jacob Zimmerman, 1783-1826; Peter Zimmerman, who died in 1854; Richard Faling died August 27, 1868. A Civil War veteran, Frederick Bleyle, who was born in 1806, died in 1890 and is buried here. 

Other pioneer families represented in the cemetery include Martin, Shell, Cherry, Dimberger and Wire. Probably Jacob Wire was the earliest born of those interred in this cemetery. The former supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda was born four years prior to our Declaration of Independence and lived to the age of 85. 

Cemetery Maintenance
This cemetery, sometimes known also as the Zimmerman Cemetery, reached its zenith toward the end of the 19th century. After Elmlawn Cemetery opened in 1901, many families had graves removed there. Today many of the old headstones in the historic Faling Cemetery are indecipherable due to weathering and the fact that many of them lay prostrate in the soil for so many years. In recent years, the Town of Tonawanda has maintained the cemetery as it is charged to do so by New York State law. 

The present historical marker was placed there in 1971 in conjunction with the celebration of the Erie County Sesquicentennial. A dedication ceremony was held in June of that year and attended by Robert J. Faling, a direct descendant of Richard and Catherine Faling, Town Supervisor Carlton Cruickshank, Town Historian George Batterson and Village Historian John Percy. The old burial ground was re-dedicated on August 1, 1976 by the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society as one of a series of observances of our nation's Bicentennial throughout the Town of Tonawanda.

 


Mount Olivet Cemetery

Location
4000 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14217 View Map

About the Cemetery
(The following is from local historian Dr. Frederick S. Parkhurst's pamphlet, Cemeteries, Town of Tonawanda, New York, Publication No. 4, Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society, 1932.)

Mount Olivet Cemetery is situated on the west side of Delaware Avenue, just north of the junction of Delaware Road and Delaware Avenue and opposite Elmlawn Cemetery. It was established in 1912 and originally contained twenty-eight acres. An additional tract extending west to Elmwood Avenue and Military Road was purchased later which more than doubles the acreage. 

The grounds contain a beautiful elm grove, part of the original woods of the Knoche farm. A beautiful chapel was erected in 1931 at a cost of $32,000. Over 5,000 burials have been made since 1912. George R. Smith is the superintendent and was appointed in 1918. While there are many Roman Catholic cemeteries in Buffalo and vicinity, Mount Olivet being accessible easily by way of Delaware Avenue and located in a section of the town which will be thickly settled in years to come will attract lot owners by its well drained grounds and rural beauty.

 


North Bush Cemetery

Location
Englewood Ave. and Belmont Ave.
Tonawanda, NY 14223 View Map

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 Search our cemeteries to find those buried in local cemeteries. 

About the Cemetery
(The following is from Town Historian Frederick S. Parkhurst in the early part of this century.)

No records exist to show whether this burial ground was established before St. Christopher's; but the probabilities are that the latter takes precedence. A full description of the founding by the Venerable John N. Neumann of "North Bush Chapel" and an illustration of the boulder-bronze marker is to be found in "History of the Town of Tonawanda 1805 - 1930" by Frederick S. Parkhurst, Local Historian, member of the New York State Historical Association, page 20. That the venerable prelate had a mission here when the town was organized in 1886 and previously is well known. Probably burials were made there in that early day, but the headstones - some in the German script have succumbed to the gnawing tooth of time. 

The graves are located on the east and north side of the present church erected about 1850. When Highland Avenue was improved, skeletons were exhumed and buried in a common grave by the side of the church. One of the old gravestones in good condition is that of Frank Mang who was born in 1826. No burials are made here at this date. The church property is in excellent condition and has recent]y been beautified by the present incumbent, the Rev. Charles A. Klauder. The church is already becoming a shrine and is visited by tourists in large numbers.

 


Salem Cemetery

Location
Military Rd.
Tonawanda, NY 14150 View Map

About the Cemetery
(The following is from local historian Dr. Frederick S. Parkhurst's pamphlet, Cemeteries, Town of Tonawanda, New York, Publication No. 4, Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society, 1932.)

Salem Cemetery on Military Road is now within the city limits of Tonawanda and therefore outside the boundaries of our historical jurisdiction. 

It may be said, however, that it was at one time in the Town of Tonawanda and contains the remains of many early settlers, especially those of German extraction. The grounds are well kept and interments are still made there (as of 1932, ed.).

 


St. Christopher's Cemetery

Location
2660 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Tonawanda, NY 14150

About the Cemetery
(The following is from local historian Dr. Frederick S. Parkhurst's pamphlet, Cemeteries, Town of Tonawanda, New York, Publication No. 4, Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society, 1932.) 

On the south side of St. Christopher's Church, on the old Niagara Falls Boulevard and immediately adjoining is an old burial ground, probably the oldest in the Town of Tonawanda. This plot is unenclosed and covered with vines and weeds, with here and there a scrubby tree. Not a headstone is left standing. Some are embedded in the accumulated turf of decades past. Here lie the remains brought thither from Niagara Falls, Lockport and Tonawanda. One broken and half-buried marker bears the inscription "Germaine Vincent, Born 1784." Forgotten graves. None are left to tell from whence they came or were they rich or poor. 

Tradition says that one or more Indians lie buried here; for there were many straggling Iroquois families living around Tonawanda Creek when the Town of Tonawanda was organized. Some of them were converted to the Christian faith by itinerant missionaries, in what was then Niagara County, and may have gone to the happy hunting grounds from the town of Tonawanda. Many bodies have been removed. 

Now that improved roads, the erection of St. Christopher's Shrine and the sub-division of land has taken place, it is conjectural as to what will be done with this old cemetery. Either it should be enclosed and appropriately marked - for the graves can only be discovered by search - or the remaining bodies should be removed to a distinct location. No burials have been made in recent years in this cemetery. One stone embedded deep in the turf reads - "Rosine Barbara Mischler, Jan. '75."

 


St. Peter's German Cemetery

Location
100 Knoche Rd.
Tonawanda, NY 14150 View Map

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About the Cemetery
(The following is from Frederick S. Parkhurst, Town Historian in the early part of this century.)

One of the oldest cemeteries, one that bears the marks of quiet surroundings, a place where "Grey's Elegy in a Country Churchyard" might have been written, is located on the south side of Knoche Road between Delaware Avenue and Elmwood Avenue. The old brick church built in 1849 is surrounded with graves and the entire property enclosed with an iron fence. 

Burials are still made here and probably will be for many years to come, as the grandchildren of the first settlers in the town reside on adjoining land. An earlier building stood on the site of the present structure in 1830 and burials were made about it at that time. The property contains about an acre of ground and is under the care of the trustees of the church. 

One of the oldest graves is that of Martin Zimmerman who was born April 20, 1785 and died in 1847. Two soldiers lie buried here: "August Schinamann, Co. K 6th U. S. Cavalry," and "Wm. Kopf, 44 N. Y." each decorated with a flag. A boulder-bronze marker stands at the entrance of the church which is fully described in "History of the Town of Tonawanda 1805-1930," published by Local Historian, Frederick S. Parkhurst, Ph.D. It is sincerely to be hoped that the name "Knoche Road" will never be changed, for it honors the name of Philip B. and his wife Katherine, early settlers who lie buried here and were born in 1814.

 


Werkley Cemetery

Location
Eggert Rd. (one block north of Sheridan Dr.)
2390 Eggert Rd.
Tonawanda, NY 14150 View Map

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About the Cemetery
(The following is from John Percy's book, Tonawanda, The Way It Was, Partner's Press, 1979.)

On the south side of Eggert Road, just north of its intersection with Sheridan Drive, is a cemetery dating back to the mid-19th century marked "St. John's." This burial plot was originally given to the membership of St. John's Evangelical congregation by Jacob Werkley about 1839 or 1840. The Werkley family farms were adjacent to and across the road from the cemetery. An arched gateway, painted white, with the name Werkley Cemetery in block letters, stood over the entrance for many years, but like the pioneer farmers buried there, it has long ago mouldered to dust. 

Notable Graves
Though the cemetery association was not organized until 1850, it appears the earliest burial was in 1839. One of the oldest markers is that of Jacob Fries, whose farm lay to the north of the cemetery, and who was buried there in 1875. Two veterans of the Mexican War lie in the enclosure; Heinrich Jacket, born November 11, 1819, died February 5,1853, and an unknown soldier in the next row to the northwest of Jacket's grave. Both graves were decorated for many years by Scott Post, G.A.R., Tonawanda, N.Y. 

Cemetery Deterioration and Restoration
The St. John's congregation intended to build a church in the vicinity of the cemetery but never accomplished their goal. Most of them drifted into either the Tonawanda or Eggertsville Evangelical churches and the cemetery was left by itself sometime after the original plot was enlarged. Several pretentious monuments that had once been erected on the additional land were later removed to what were thought to be more permanent cemeteries. There remain about 125 graves, though only about three dozen markers can still be seen. As time marched on and the original settlers passed away, some of the farms were sold and others sub-divided for modern development. The cemetery association ceased to operate and the grounds were left to individual interest. The fence and arched gate decayed away and the plot became overgrown with shrubs and weeds. 

When the old Guideboard Road (now Eggert Rd.) was widened early in the 20th century, several remains were exhumed and re-interred in a common grave. Eventually, under the leadership of the first town historian, Dr. Parkhurst, the town re-surveyed, restored and enclosed with an iron fence the burial ground we see today. The present marker was unveiled and the cemetery dedicated as an historic site on May 24, 1936. Rededication as part of the town's Bicentennial program took place on Sunday, October 3, 1976 under the auspices of the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society.

eberhardtAbout Images of America: Kenmore, New York
Over 200 photographs grace the pages of this timely work. 1999 is the centennial year for the Village of Kenmore. Historians John Percy and Graham Millar have done a superb job of collecting and presenting these images as a tribute to the people who call Kenmore home.

The book's chapters include:

  • The Infant Settlement
  • The Young Village
  • Years of Growth
  • Times of Challenge
  • The Mature Village
  • Vanished Kenmore

This book may be purchased at the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society at 100 Knoche Road in Tonawanda or through Barnes and Noble.

Introduction from Images of America: Kenmore, New York*
Louis Phillip Adolph Eberhardt had a dream. His dream was of a clean, quiet community of upscale homes on tree-lined streets, a place whose residents could enjoy life free from the grime and noise of the large industrial city – Buffalo – where most of the breadwinners of Western New York's most populous county were employed. The time was the late 19th century, and American cities like Buffalo were beginning to move away from the old phenomenon of the "walking city," where all but the most affluent lived within walking distance of where they earned their livelihoods. 

Growing public transportation systems were making something new possible – commuters. By 1883, the New York Central Railroad had begun passenger service on the Belt Line, which encircled the city. For a fare of 5 cents, one could ride any of the 13 trains that ran daily in each direction. The running time from downtown to the Delaware Avenue station was about 20 minutes. The distance from that station to the northern city line at Town Line Road – later to be renamed Kenmore Avenue – was a little over a mile. 

Since the best way to make a dream come true is to work at it, L.P.A., as he came to be known, set out to do just that. Previously, he had invested in land in North Buffalo. In 1888 he purchased former farmland in the Town of Tonawanda, immediately north of the city line. To make clear his commitment to a new community, he had his own home built there, on Delaware Avenue. When that house burned down in 1894, he moved to one of the two imposing sandstone mansions across the street, one built for himself and one built for his brother. Previously, in 1889, another home, belonging to Myron Phelps, had also been built on the west side of Delaware...

Overview
The Historical Society provides local links to a growing number of websites of value to anyone interested in the history of our community and its surrounding regions. Included with each link are the category and region (in bold), and a brief description of what's found there.

Overview
Listed in Our Literary Heritage are published books, pamphlets, articles and accounts that describe our community's history in detail. No attempt has been made to produce an exhaustive list. Any inquiries regarding any of the items may be directed to our contacts below or emailed to the historian. 
 
Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society
100 Knoche Rd. 
Tonawanda, NY 14150-6820

Graham Millar
President

Marilyn Brown
Vice President

Town of Tonawanda Historian
Ed Adamczyk             

Village of Kenmore Historian
Ed Adamczyk

Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
25 Nottingham Ct.
Buffalo, NY 14216-3199
Ph: (716) 873-9644

Cynthia Conides
Acting Executive Director

Public Hours
Wednesday - Saturday
10:00 am -5:00 pm

Research Library
Wednesday - Saturday
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Note: Much of the following is borrowed from the extensive bibliography of Robert W. Silsby's book, Settlement to Suburb, A History of the Town of Tonawanda 1607-1986, (Tonawanda, 1997). Other titles are added as we become aware of them.