Trivia by town
"7 Sutherland Sisters' Hair and Scalp Cleaner"; thirteenth President Millard Fillmore
Sutherland Sisters image by Joe Mabel
The “cocktail” was supposedly invented in Lewiston by Hustler’s Tavern owner Catherine Hustler in the early 1800s. According to the Historical Association of Lewiston, it came to be “when she stirred a ‘gin mixture’ with the tail feather of a stuffed cockerel (a young male of the domestic fowl.) She said it ‘warms both soul and body and is fit to be put in a vessel of diamonds.’”
The superintendent of Isle View Park in Tonawanda for two years in the late sixties was a big man with a big heart. Really big—8’7” big. Medical records show John F. Carroll weighed 9 lbs. 5 oz. at birth. By seventeen, he had grown to 6’9”, and continued to grow. The diagnosis was Acromegalic Gigantism, and the “Buffalo giant” (a.k.a. “Big Red”) went on to a very interesting life, one not entirely tied to his height. In addition to his Isle View job he ran for supervisor in 1955 and 1957, and ran for alderman while confined to a hospital bed. (At right, he is seen recovering from a broken hip while shaking the hands of his opponent for supervisor in ’57, David J. Moran.) Carroll passed away in August 1969.
The Seven Sutherland Sisters went from a poor farm in Cambria to Broadway, and even Hollywood. As Spree contributor Brandon Stickney describes in a new book, The Amazing Seven Sutherland Sisters: A Biography of America’s First Celebrity Models (Niagara County Historical Society, 2012), the siblings known for having the world’s longest hair first took to the stage in the 1880s and became superstars, even making millions of dollars marketing a namesake hair tonic.
While many of us still consider Orchard Park’s Ralph Wilson Stadium to be “Rich Stadium,” Wilson originally wanted the 80,000-seater to be named Buffalo Bills Stadium. As Bob Rich explains in his memoir The Right Angle, the team’s owner was not pleased that Erie County sold the naming rights, and says that “like Mr. Wilson, neither of the two area newspapers were calling the stadium by its rightful name,” using “One Bills Drive,” instead.
The country’s thirteenth President, Millard Fillmore, was the only practicing lawyer in East Aurora while living there from 1826 to 1830. The Millard Fillmore House can be found on Shearer Avenue. The cofounder of the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Historical Society, he was also a dreamboat—allegedly. It’s said that during a visit to the U.K. in 1855, Queen Victoria “pronounced him the handsomest man she had ever seen.” Another disputed bit of Fillmore-iana is his supposed last words, after being served soup: “The nourishment is palatable.”
William Kemmler of Buffalo was the first man to die in the electric chair. He was convicted in 1889 for murdering his common law wife, Tillie Ziegler, with a hatchet. The electric chair, invented in Buffalo in 1890 by Harold Brown, was believed to possess adequate voltage, having been tested on a horse the previous day. But Kemmler’s death lasted over eight minutes, resulting in the body catching fire and its veins rupturing. The autopsy described Kemmler as “cooked beef.”
Now that the former Cloister restaurant (last occupied by Business First) at Virginia and Delaware has been demolished, there is a brief window to get a good look at one of the last remnants of Mark Twain’s actual Buffalo residence before a new structure rises and the c. 1864 building is once again obscured. The Twain house was demolished after a fire in 1963, but its small carriage house remains. Twain only lived here one year, from 1870 to 1871.