What's New On Tom's Travel Blog?

Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Auburn, New York. Home to William Seward.

From Buffalo, we moved east to Auburn, New York.  Auburn sits at the northern end of one of the famed "finger lakes."

That image from Wikimedia Commons doesn't show Auburn at the northern end of Owasco lake so we should look at another map.  This map from 1900 shows the town more prominently.

Auburn has many claims to fame.  Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad is one example.  The prison where the assassin of President McKinley was executed is another.  But we are here because of two people named William.

William H. Seward, governor, senator, potential presidential nominee and secretary of state for Abraham Lincoln is one of those people.  (If you have any interest in Abraham Lincoln, read Team of Rivals.  The recent movie "Lincoln" didn't begin to do justice to Lincoln and his cabinet members.)  

The other is William Seward Burroughs, inventor of the first practical adding machine.

The governor Seward home is a museum and provides a very interesting tour.  Unfortuantely, no pictures are allowed inside so all you get from me here are photos of the grounds and exterior.
Auburn-09 Auburn-11
Auburn-10 Auburn-13 Auburn-12

William Seward Burroughs lived in Auburn from 1871 to 1879.  He had been born in Rochester in 1857 while William H. Seward was serving as a popular abolitionist U.S. senator and was named for Seward.  After spending his younger years in Lowell, Michigan, Burroughs moved along with his family to Auburn in 1871.  He attended, but did not graduate from, the local high school.  Following  a couple of other jobs, (or, more likely, moonlighting at a second job for extra money) he ended up clerking at the Cayuga County National Bank shown below.
Auburn-03 Auburn-1

Most Burroughs biographies credit his bank work with inspiring him to create an adding machine to eliminate the drudgery associated with adding long columns of numbers.  His brother James, however, attributes the inspiration to a much earlier point in their life in Auburn.  Either way, he began his quest to build the machine here. 

Auburn was quite a manufacturing and banking center in 1870.  A 1900 guide to the city published by the Auburn Business Mens' Association mentions 350 plants employing 6,000 people.  The guide also lists six banks along a short stretch of Genesee Street compared to only four barber shops in the town.

This picture that I took of Genesee doesn't reveal much of the banking community as most of the old buildings are gone.  But there is one bank building remaining.  A close look at the pictures from 1900 and 2013 shows some extensive remodeling but the outline is still visible.
Auburn-04 Auburn-02

The home where the Burroughs family lived in the 1870s at 3 Adams appears to remain in place.

Burroughs never received much notice in Auburn and perhaps even less in Lowell, Michigan.  This June, 1924, article in the Auburn Citizen notes that he had little local fame.

No comments: