Those Places Thursday: Lockport, Niagara County, New York

My husband’s great-grandfather, Thomas Woods, was born in Lockport, New York on September 25, 1859.

I know very little about his parents, Henry and Sarah Woods.  They were both born in England and must have immigrated sometime in the 1850’s. (That is my guess at least. I don’t have immigration papers on them.)

Sarah remarried to a George Hanscomb in 1860, so Thomas’ father must have died either when his mother was pregnant with him, or else soon after he was born.

I decided to do a little research on the history of Lockport to learn what life might have been like during this time period (1850-1930’s).

Lockport is in Niagara county, and as you can see on the above map, is located just a short distance from Niagara Falls.

I found a book on Google, entitled Lockport: Historic Jewel of the Erie Canal, by Kathleen L. Riley.  It states the following:

In a Souvenir Program Commemorating the Lockport Centennial 1865-1965, former Niagara County historian Clarence O. Lewis wrote of the genesis of the Lockport story: “Any history of Lockport should begin with the digging of the Erie Canal and the construction of the ten combined locks because our city was born of the canal and received its name from that tremendous engineering feat which proved to the skeptics that boats could ‘sail up hill'”

And here is a brief timeline I put together of the history of Lockport and Thomas Woods:

1808 The county of Niagara was established.
1817 Construction started on the Erie Canal in Rome, New York.
1825 The canal was finished and they had a great celebration.
1829 Lockport was incorporated as a village.
1835 Manufacturing had become very important. There were many mills in town. The population of Lockport was over 6,000.
1840 Construction work started to enlarge the canal.
1842 The steamboat arrived on the canal.
1850 The population of Lockport was about 12,000
1851 The first gas street lights were turned on in town.
1852 The Railroad opened.
1854 There was a large fire in town. 26 buildings and ten acres of the village were burned.
1855 The Clinton Street Methodist Church was organized. {this is significant, because Thomas later lived on Clinton Street and his son married the minister’s daughter.}
1859 Thomas Woods is born in Lockport.
1859 Henry Woods must have died sometime around here.
1860 Thomas’ mother, Sarah, married George Hanscomb.
1865 Lockport was incorporated as a city with 4 wards.
1879 The first phone in Lockport was installed.
1892 Thomas Woods was 34 and living with his mother, Sarah Hanscomb.
Abt 1892 Thomas Woods married Mary Spencer
1893 Thomas’ mother, Sarah died.
Abt 1894 Thomas started working at Thompson Flour Mill in Lockport.
1897 An earthquake rocked Lockport
1900 Thomas Woods and his family were living in Lockport.
1910 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1915 Thomas’ son Henry died in a fire in their home.
1918 Thomas’ daughter Florence died from Spanish Flu.
1920 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1929 Thomas retired from the flour mill.
1930 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1934 Thomas Woods died in Lockport.

I used the following sources for many of the timeline dates:
History of Lockport, New York FROM LANDMARKS OF NIAGARA COUNTY, NEW YORK, EDITED BY: WILLIAM POOL, PUBLISHED BY D. MASON AND CO. PUBLISHERS, SYRACUSE, NY 1897
Official Lockport, NYsite

I actually visited Lockport last May to do some research.  I really wish that we had been able to stay longer.  There was so much I wanted to see.  I only hit the library and the historical society.  The courthouse was closed by the time I finished there and then we headed out of town and on to Pennsylvania.  I’ll make it back again someday!

So, even though the Woods family wasn’t involved in building the Erie Canal, it must have been an exciting place to live during this time period – with ships passing by all of the time.  I’m thinking that I may order a book or two to read about this area so that I can glean some further details.  Many of the ones I read online were only available for the first portion of the book, therefore I missed out on the time period I was looking for!

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  • Sheri Fenley - February 18, 2011 - 10:52 am

    OMG! My Delaney family went to Lockport after arriving in the U.S. in 1851. Daniel and Ellen Delaney had their first 3 children there and baptized at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.ReplyCancel

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