Basic Story Background

Moving Molloy's Money

 

 

 

 

McGrath Genealogy  |  Upperchurch Connections  |       Old Mattydale          |  What's New  |  Contact

 

 

McGrath Genealogy  |  Upperchurch Connections  |       Old Mattydale          |  What's New  |  Contact

 

 

 

 

 

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Persons

The Origin of the Protagonists

 

The real Amidon and Fuller families were chosen as the "adopted" families for the fictional Charlie Amidon and Clyde Fuller because of two actual events that tied them to the area where the story takes place. In 1906 the Amidon family was living on the Frank Matty farm while Edwin Amidon, the head of the family, was employed by Matty. In September 1906, while hauling garbage to feed Matty's pigs Edwin was thrown from the wagon and subsequently died of his injuries. In 1919, Marguerite Fuller, while on her way back to Salina School, after going home for lunch, was struck and killed by a car while exiting the Wolf Street trolley at Spring St. The car was being driven by Theodore Faatz, who had been running the Rural Inn roadhouse on Brewerton Road, since about 1904. It was also called Faatz's Hotel. Only later was it discovered that the real Fuller family had been living on Molloy Road between Albert Wright and James Molloy in 1910. Sometime after 1918 the real Fuller family moved to 311 7th North St, across the street from Crouse-Hinds and a few doors away from Pard Orton's old roadhouse.

 

The Amidon Family

 

The Fuller Family

 

The Campbell Road Kids

 

This group of kids was assembled from the actual children who were living on Campbell Road in 1925. The names of the residents of Campbell Road during 1926 were collected from the almost daily articles in the Syracuse Journal, that described the social happenings in the rapidly growing Mattydale community. Strictly speaking though, Campbell Road is part of the Hinsdale Tract. The NYS Census of 1925 provided the family information and ages. Also found in the pages of the 1926 Journal papers, was enough information to allow the determination of the names of the children's teachers at the rapidly expanding school.

 

The names of the school age children were placed in a table and ordered by their ages. The age range of 7-9 was selected, since children of that age would be free to roam around the neighborhood by themselves during the day. Only one child per family was selected, no siblings. In that way there would be no witnesses that could "tell Mom." After applying those restrictions, the remaining names became the Campbell Road Kids. The gang was composed of seven members, two girls and five boys. They would be known by their actual first names while the last names would be omitted. Each child was examined in the context of their siblings to determine their birth order and use that information in deciding their personality traits. Mary was the oldest of the group, at age 9, and it was assumed that she would be the tallest and so she became, "Tall Mary." She was the middle child in a family of six children. Lost in her family, her height and age advantage gave her some control in this group. Chuck, the leader of the group, was 8 and had three older sisters. He was accustomed to them giving in to him, except when it came to the bathroom. Leona, who went by her last name, Delaney, was the Tomboy. Her year older sister's fancy ways sent her in the opposite direction. Harry, age 8, had only one older sister, he was the brains of the group. There were two 7 year old Bobs. Both had a single younger brother. They became "Bob B." and "Bob D.", using the initials from their last names. As a pair they were referred to as the "Two Bobs." And finally there was Artie. He had two older teen age brothers and he became the "baby" of the group. The neighborhood dog, named Buster, was my neighborhood dog from the late 1950s. No one knew for certain who Buster's owner was or whether his name was actually Buster, even though we called him that. One rumor was that he belonged to Leo Kirsch, but we never knew for certain.

 

Weasel (Elwood Davis)

 

Elwood Davis received the nickname Weasel from Clyde Fuller, due to the fact that he would never give Charlie Amidon his real name, during his communications with him. As a fictional character he was assigned a residence at 415 Bear Street. No family was associated with Davis, he was on his own, with no history, and as it turned out - no future. He started living at the Bear Road location after January 1925. Elwood was named after a road in the Town of Salina, just northeast of the intersection of Buckley Road and 7th North Street. It did not exist in Elwood's day.

 

Sheriff Lewis E. Scriber

 

Lewis Scriber was a former member of the Onondaga County Board of Supervisors. He resided in the Lamsons in the Town of Lysander where he ran a general store along with other businesses. He ran for the office of sheriff in 1924 on the Republican ticket. In September of that year he ran a large newspaper ad to set the record straight and defend his involvement in the bankruptcy of the Baldwinsville Milk Company. [1924-09-15]. In November 1924 Scriber was elected to the office of Sheriff. In May 1925 Scriber appointed Raymond Dear to be one of his deputies. [1925-05-21] The Dear family lived next door to Henry King's barber shop in the 1600 block of North Salina Street. Raymond's aunt, Minnie Dear Drinkwine, was the common law wife of Thomas Brady who had run the old Rose Lawn roadhouse (later the location of the Old Rural Inn) on the Cicero Plank Road and the St. James Hotel at 1628 North Salina Street. 

 

Burglary Targets

Frank Matty

 

The self-proclaimed "Founder of Mattydale" continued on as a School Board Trustee for more than a decade after Amidon and Fuller left for California. Frank died in February 1939. The Mattydale VFD

 had been storing their equipment in the north end of Matty's double barn since 1929. On March 14, 1940 a large section of the barn roof collapsed under a heavy snow fall. In 1940, they moved out of Matty's barn and into their new building at the NW corner of Mitchell and Molloy. The executor of Matty's estate had the barn demolished shortly thereafter since the insurance company had proclaimed it uninsurable. Matty's became an inn for a short time during WWII. In 1947 the McKinley Supermarket was built on the south side of Matty's house and Mr. McKinley lived in Matty's house. The S& S Drug store was built on the north side of Matty's house. The house itself was converted into Gilbeau's Color Bar, a paint store. There was a fire in McKinley's but the structures survived. It is anyone's guess as to whether there are any portions of Matty's old house remaining. Perhaps a basement? 

 

James Molloy

 

James Molloy continued farming until his death due to a heart attack in 1936. His wife Elizabeth had died in 1928. The U.S. Government purchased the Molloy farm, in early 1942, along with a couple dozen other farms, in the Towns of Salina, DeWitt and Cicero, for the construction of the Army Air Base. As a result, Kathie and Mary Molloy were forced to move. After the war the government offer the Molloy house for sale but their were no takers. On July 25, 1954 four barns and the cobblestone house were destroyed by fire. 

 

In 1967, when Mary passed away, the sisters were living on First Street, in the Village of Liverpool. Kathie died in December, 1970. Neither sister ever married and, as their father James Molloy had "warned" in 1926, the Molloy line died out with them.

 

Albert Wright

 

Albert Wright closed down his dairy business, the Evergreen Dairy, in 1926. Except for a small portion of land surrounding the homestead, the was built prior to 1850, all of the Wright farm became part of the Wright Tract. Albert said that he was not leaving his home and that prediction turned out to be true. Albert Wright died in his old house on East Molloy in June 1944, at the age of 92. The house is no longer the property of the Wright family but the house still survives and is occupied.

 

John Kirsch

 

After the destruction his large barn during the early morning hours of August 1, 1927, John Kirsch went into the bottling end of the dairy business. The family had dairy stores in Mattydale and North Syracuse. His herd of cows were sent to a farm in the Town of Onondaga by way of driving the herd through the city of Syracuse. The fictitious dairy dynasty, mentioned by John Kirsch in 1926, became a reality in the form of Kirsch Dairy stores. The homestead of John Kirsch, located on the north side of the dairy stood for almost 70 years. It is now occupied by a Pizza Hut.

 

 

Locations

The 1600 Block of North Salina Street

 

As the story progressed, the paths of more and more characters passed through this block of North Salina Street. Almost all of this was the part of the story that was historically true. Henry King did have a barbershop at 1611 North Salina St. He and his wife Susan lived in the same building. It was Henry's young customer, Charles Amidon, who was fictional. In 1926, A. M. Pollock was operating a grocery store at 1601 North Salina Street, however he never had an employee named Elwood Davis. All the rest actually happened at the time and place given in the story.

 

Henry and Susan King's Roadhouse

 

Susan King, alias Maud Wilson, actually passed away a few years before this story began, but for the sake of a good story I had her hang around a few more years. When Charlie finally tracks her down their meeting takes place at her last residence at 619 Montgomery Street. The Oncenter Convention Center presently occupies that entire block.

 

The First Ward Cemetery

 

In the beginning the burial place of Henry King was not known, but since he had lived and worked in the First Ward since 1900 it seemed likely that he would have been buried in this cemetery when he died in 1919. It was also convenient for Charlie and Clyde to hold a secret meeting in this cemetery so Charlie could see Henry's headstone and realize that Henry's wife Susan King (Maud Wilson) was still alive.

 

In reality Henry was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, which is only a little under two miles further east on Grant Blvd. Susan had buried him on the same lot where she had earlier buried her parents in Section 5. Susan and two of her daughters would also be buried there. There always seemed to be some connection between Susan's family and Frank Matty and somewhat ironically Frank and his wife Minnie are buried in the same cemetery in Section 21 which is adjacent to Section 5. 

 

 

 

View of the former First Ward Cemetery from the northwest, at the corner of LeMoyne and Grant Blvd. (July 2011) This corner is in the upper right hand corner of the cemetery map shown to the right.

 

 

 

The First Ward Cemetery as depicted in a 1924 map. LeMoyne Ave is running horizontally along the top of the map and Grant Blvd. is the vertical street on the right side of the cemetery.

Amidon's Apartment in the Bixby Building

 

 

The fictional Charlie Amidon was renting a front facing apartment on the top floor of this building. On the ground floor, at the far left, was the location of the grocery store where the Weasel worked. Joe Boehm's Barbershop is believed to have been located next to the grocery store. The door between these two shops was the entrance to the stairs leading to the apartments upstairs.

 

Flavin's Pharmacy

 

 

This was the original pharmacy on the north side of the Bixby building. It opened for business in 1926. The pharmacy was known later as the Mattydale Pharmacy and the owners were the sponsors of a Little League team in the Mattydale Baseball League. Later it became the Jolly Roger Restaurant and Bar. The Jolly Roger was later gutted by a fire on July 21, 1978. The structure was repaired and divided into two smaller business. The large anchor that had been the Jolly Roger trade mark is still on the front of the building.

 

William Michaels' Barn

 

This barn was on the property formerly known as Spring Farm that was owned by Benjamin Baum. At a foreclosure sale in the late 1880s, it was purchased by George N. Crouse. After his death, his son, also a G. N. Crouse, held the property with his sister. In the early 1900s the farm was rented to Frank Matty and was purchased by Matty around 1903. In 1905 Matty sold the farm to Peter Michaels. It was Michaels' brother, William, who had the barn rebuilt after it had been damaged in the 1912 tornado. William Michaels later sold some of his farm land, along Brewerton Road near Malden Road to Murnes Cook, who was in place in the summer of 1926.

 

The farm was back in the possession of William's brother, Peter, when a 1932 fire destroyed the large barn at Stop 4 on Brewerton Road, along with cattle and horses. [1932-02-29] According to the paper, "The barn, more than 75 years old and a landmark familiar to Central New York motorists, was completely leveled by the blaze."

 

In the late 1950s only the foundation of the building remained. The local story among the youngest generation was that the foundation was the remains of a Fort McKinley that had been destroyed by Indians on the same day its construction was completed.

 

In the early 1960s the property was purchased for the K-Mart Plaza complex and extensive grading of the property was performed. The barn had been located directly behind the present day Goodyear store at the Sand Road entrance.

 

John Kirsch's Barn

 

 

Along the top of this 1926 aerial photo is seen the southern portion of John Kirsch's farm, along the west side of Brewerton Road. Prominently shown is the large 100' by 40' barn that was built in 1923 for $20,000. At midnight on the evening of Sunday, July 31, 1927 the barn was destroyed by a suspicious fire [1927-08-01]. In the lower right hand corner of this picture a portion of Frank Matty's double barn can be seen. Over the years it was host to many political, school and social functions. Until they had a building of their own the Mattydale Volunteer Fire Department occupied the northern half of the large barn.

 

Golfmore Golf Course

 

Chester Wirt opened the Golfmore Golf Course on August 16, 1926. It was located on the southwest corner of the intersection of East Molloy Road at Townline Road. The course was run by Wirt and his son through the 1934 season. In April 1935, Florence Cowie Molloy, the holder of the mortgage on the Wirt property, foreclosed. The golf course never opened again. Florence probably regained possession of the property, that had belonged to her husband, Thomas Molloy, nephew of James Molloy. During 1941 the area northeast of Mattydale, along with other areas. were studied as a possible location for a deport where Army planes could have maintenance performed. By October the rumor was that the Mattydale site had been selected. The official announcement was supposed to have taken place on December 1, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th sped up the delayed decision.  Florence Cowie Molloy protested the government's offered price and was still protesting in December 1942. Today this land is still owned by the US Government and is occupied by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve.

 

Mary Molloy, neighbor and relative also protested the government's plans [1941-10-30].

 

However, in early 1942 the U.S. Government began the construction of the Army Air Base. The finalization of the condemnation process and the settlement on how much the land was worth continued for years. Gilbert Mautz was originally offered $52,000 in 1942. He finally settled for $85,300 on May 18, 1947.

 

Rural Inn

 

 

This picture of the old Rural Inn is believed to be from the mid 1930s. It is now the site of the Action Skate & Sport building. The wrap around veranda at one time had a railing so that patrons could safely walk around on the roof of the veranda. On the north side of the second floor, which is visible in this view, there is a doorway, which provided access.

 

Pard Orton's Place

 

The Edwin Amidon family was originally from the Town of Onondaga. It was a large family and there is even an Amidon Road in that town, that was named after a member of the family. Pard Orton, at one time, prior to 1880, ran a hotel in the Town of Onondaga. Perhaps that was why the fictional Charlie Amidon felt an attraction to Pard Orton's old place for holding his meetings with Clyde Fuller.

This link will lead to the Pard Orton story.

 

Adam Eller's Place

 

Lighted Top Inn

 

The Lighted Top Inn had a bad reputation. It was located on the old LeMoyne Ave., the old State Road from the salt manufacturing days of the Village of Salina. In 1926 it was out there by itself between Young Ave. on the north and Cambridge Ave on the south. The roadhouse was probably shut down in late 1924 after it's owner was arrested on a variety of charges. The Lighted Top Inn doesn't appear in the papers from 1925 to 1933. On June 9, 1933 the Lighted Top Inn was reopened under the new ownership of Ben Metzger. In January 1935 a fire swept the Lighted Top Inn. After that the inn disappeared from the papers once again. In the early 1950s the area south of Young and north of Cambridge was taken for the construction of the NYS Thruway and the Lighted Top Inn was no more.

 

   

In this 1924 map the Lighted Top Inn can be seen on lot #431 of the Syracuse Villa Sites tract. The shaded green area was part of the Harrington tract, which had formerly been part of the George Skiff farm. The pink shaded area was part of the Home Gardens tract, which had formerly been the Thayer farm. The Syracuse Villa Sites tract had been the Daniel Overacre farm.

 

NOTES:

[1924-09-15] - Scriber Political Ad, The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Monday, September 15, 1924.

[1925-05-21] - "Scriber Appoints Dear To Succeed Deputy He Fired," The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Thursday, May 21, 1925.

[1927-08-01] - "Probe Started As Fire Razes Three Barns," The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Monday, August 1, 1927.

[1932-02-29] - "Barn Fire Kills Cows, Horses," The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Monday, February 29, 1932.

[1941-10-30] - "Air Base Site Protested," The Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, NY, Thursday, October 30, 1941