LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - MARCH 5, 2023 by Lynne Belluscio Last week I wrote a story about the collection of books by Victor Hugo at the Woodward Memorial Library. The books were part of a large collection of books donated by Cora Woodward - - or so I thought. I began putting the dates on a timeline and I had questions. Cora Woodward died November 9, 1923. The Woodward Memorial Library opened its doors on May 29, 1930, and was built with funds donated by Cora’s children. To make things a little more interesting, I wondered what happened with Cora’s books between the time she died and when they were put on the shelf at the Woodward Memorial Library. And by the way, she was living in Pasadena California when she died and had moved to Pasadena from Buffalo where she was living after her husband died in 1906. The house in LeRoy, known as Hill-Bar, where she had lived with her husband Orator, had been torn down by her son Ernest so he could build his house, Poplar Lane. So, did Ernest pack up his mother’s books and put them in storage? Or did his mother’s books become part of his wife Edith’s collection. Edith collected books too. (I think the Woodward book collection was a traveling library!) So, if you are confused, so am I. I talked with Betsy Halvorsen at the Library to see if she could help, but once I started asking all these questions, she admitted that she assumed that the books were Cora’s, but they could be Edith’s. There is a list of the books and that might solve the questions. In the meantime, the deadline for the Pennysaver is now, and I wanted to talk a bit more about the Victor Hugo books. Since it is Women’s History Month, I thought it might be good to learn a little bit more about one of LeRoy’s famous women. Here is Cora Woodwards timeline with a few other dates. 1859 – August 10 Cora Talmadge Woodward was born in Baldwinsville, NY. Her father was Enos H. Talmadge and her mother was Emily Reid Talmadge. After moving to Pavilion Center the family lived on top of Hendy Hill. 1882 - Cora married Orator Woodward on January 19, 1882. She was 22. It is told that they lived briefly at 27 East Main Street until they could move into the renovated house further down the street which became known as Hill-Bar. On October 20, 1882, her first child, Ernest LeRoy Woodward was born. (Bill Brown in his book, pointed out that this was nine months and one day from the day of their marriage.) 1884 – May 26, her second child, Orator Francis Jr was born 1886 – December 21, her third child, Paul Wilbur was born 1889 – June 13, her first daughter, Eleanor Emily was born 1893 – December 20, her youngest son, Donald was born 1897 – Orator sues the contractor who restored his house on East Main Street for faultywork – andwins the settlement. 1899 – June 29, her youngest child, Helen was born This is the same year that her husband purchases the rights to Jell-O. Orator was a fairly prosperous businessman. He owned the rights to Grain-O a coffee substitute and owned the rights to a variety of patent medicines. Even with his wealth it was told that he did not allow Cora to buy nice clothes. (The LeRoy Historical Society has a purple silk opera cape, embroidered with silver threads in a pattern of spider webs, supposedly owned by Cora.) 1901 – The photo of the Woodward family was taken on the front steps of Hill-Bar 1903 – Ernest marries Edith Hartwell on New Year’s Eve and they move into 53 West Main Street, (now the American Legion) a present from his father. 1904 – Orator Woodward suffers a stroke. 1906 – After traveling to Hot Springs, Arkansas to recuperate from his stroke, Orator Woodward dies, leaving Cora with six children; a large farm to manage; the house, Hill-Bar; and a prosperous, business, Genesee Pure Food Company. His will indicates that control of the company is left to his wife and his brother-in-law, Thomas Larkin. Cora is to manage the company until the youngest child (Helen) becomes 18. 1910 – Paul dies on June 10, of complications from pneumonia. (Letters in the collection of the Historical Society, written by Cora to her son Donald, admonish him not to follow in the footsteps of his brother Paul. The letters show the impact of Paul’s death on his mother.) 1912 – Cora hires noted architect to design the new Municipal building on the corner of Clay Street and West Main. She purchases the property and raises additional money for the bell. Cora purchased the former Kellogg home on the corner of Church Street and East Main and donated it to LeRoy to be used as a community center. 1917 –At some time, Cora leaves LeRoy and moves with Helen to Buffalo. Cora purchases an elegant home on 6 Lincoln Parkway and Helen is presented to Buffalo Society in 1917. 1918 – About this time Cora moved to Pasadena, California, but not before raising money to start the Red Cross in LeRoy and giving donating the pipe organ to the Methodist Church and establishing a fund for the Methodist parsonage. 1921 – Helen marries Joseph Louis Wilsen. 1923 – November 9, 1923, Cora Woodward dies. Her will is worth $3,566,730. Money is left to her children and devoted secretary, Ursala Rogerson Keating. Cora was a devoted member of the Methodist Church, the History of Art Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and had served as president of the Women’s Club. 1955 – Edith Hartwell Woodward, Cora’s daughter-in-law and Ernest Woodward’s wife died. She left $50,000 to the Woodward Memorial Library and “all her books went to the library.” And just for clarification, Edith’s portrait hangs in the back hall of LeRoy House. The photograph of Cora Woodward that is in Bill Brown’s book, “Genesee’s Rich and Famous” is not a photograph of Cora, nor is the image of Cora on the Library’s website. Instead, those images are of a portrait of Jennie Modisette Mathews. (Confused? Yes, so am I.) A Collection of Books – Will the Real Cora Woodward Stand Up