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Buffalo's East Side and the Livestock Industry

INTRODUCTION

Excerpted from the upcoming book on Buffalo's East Side by Fred Jablonski All Material Copyright 1976-2001 all rights reserved.

1976. America’s Bicentennial is a time to pause and reflect on the people and events that founded our Nation and City!

This year, as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of our country, many of us reflect with pride on what great strides our country and city have achieved. Progress has been its own reward in the past and the incentive for the future.

This Bicentennial year seems appropriate to consider certain phases of its early days in reference to our present situation, Buffalo in 1846, as it contributes to Buffalo 1976.

Reviewing these memories, we are reminded of the courage and sacrifice and dedication of our pioneers in Buffalo. This spirit is alive today in all who cherish the freedom our forefathers struggled and died for.

The story of the rapid rise and progress of the livestock industry in Buffalo, is reason to be proud of our past! We can take pride in being one of the truly great cities, the city of good neighbors. An earnest effort has been made to make this work historically accurate to prove this fact.

So much that concerns the past in Buffalo, New York was enacted right in the neighborhood where I have lived for the past sixteen years at 224 Metcalfe Street.

A chronological succession of facts in which one may trace Buffalo’s development and growth from a collection of historical facts to the present day in 1976 is presented.

NEW YORK CENTRAL IN 1863

In 1863 when it was evident that Buffalo was to be the recognized eastern livestock market, the New York Central Stock Yards were located at East Buffalo: east of Fillmore, north of William Street where many acres of sheds and pens were built.

The facilities of course could not compare with the modern type. Unloading chutes were unknown and cattle were jumped from the railroad cars. Crude as these yards were, when compared with the present day facilities, however, they offered a centralized point where the marketing livestock was concentrated, where stock was handled properly and where buyers could procure all of their purchases without visiting several markets.

The history of the Buffalo Stockyards is a part of the progress and development of the livestock industry in the United States and Canada. The then New York Central and Hudson River Railroad with its subsidiaries, the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and the Big Four Railroads served America’s most rapidly developing agricultural territory. This gave an ever increasing freight traffic to be handled eastward.

As facilities were developed to handle the traffic, the livestock division was not overlooked. Every feature was developed to insure the permanent location of the leading eastern market at Buffalo.

 

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THE INDUSTRY THAT BUILT

THE CHURCH

To build the new church, Rev. Daniel O’Brien raised funds from
neighborhood industry as well as residents. This included cattle ranchers, commission men, buyers, brokers and industry foremen like W. D. Buckley, whose name appears on the church stained glass window. Mr. Buckley was a supervisor at New England Dressed Meat and Wool Company located at the corner of Babcock and Howard Streets, as the map indicates.

Although many of these people were not of Father O’Brien’s faith, they seemed to esteem it a privilege to have a place of worship within the busy stockyard district.

The city directory for 1899 indicates the chapel of Precious Blood, with services conducted by Rev. Daniel O’Brien from the Visitation Church.94

The January 1891 records show Rev. Daniel O’Brien covering both Visitation and Precious Blood.95 This goes along with oral history statements that on alternate Sundays or every third Sunday of each month, Fr. O’Brien conducted services for the German and Irish Catholics at St. Bartholomew’s Chapel on Howard Street. On holy days, like Christmas and Easter, Fr. O’Brien was invited to use the third floor hall of the Stock Exchange building to hold services for the many ranchers and commission men present.96

This is how Precious Blood Church began. The church building was all paid for in cash since no bill or record indicates how much it cost to build the church! The Catholic Diocese also searched but could not find any record. This is a situation in which we have to rely on oral history to give us the facts of how the new church was brought about.

BROADWAY MARKET: RETAIL MEAT

OUTLET FOR THOUSANDS

The Broadway Market began in 1878 just as the Polish migration increased into East Buffalo. To this day the Broadway Market is patronized by the large body of thrifty citizens of Buffalo’s "Little Poland".

Daily the Broadway Market attracts a mighty throng of shoppers intent on furnishing their tables from the great variety of foodstuffs available. Its busiest day is Saturday when the market is crowded from early morning until late at night with housewives buying for their Sunday dinners.

The Broadway Market has not only brought prosperity to itself but also to that great business district radiating from the intersections of Broadway and Fillmore. For many years the Broadway Market has been one of the most colorful spots in East Buffalo, playing a major role in this section of the city, often called "Little Poland".17 Old timers remember Polish women, shawls over their heads, threading their way through a maze of horse drawn wagons and buggies to bargain at the crowded stalls. Vegetables were displayed in bushel baskets. Loaves of fresh bread and baked goods, meats, fish, poultry were displayed. Even squealing piglets were dangled temptingly before shoppers eyes.

"Baby Carriages", grandma used to say, "served a dual purpose of perambulators for the young and marketing carts.

Back in the horse and wagon days, everything was done the hard way.

Farmers and butchers had to get up early in the morning to get to their market stall. Many still remember the bitter cold winter days they endured. The memories were not always pleasant, but it provided a way of making a living.

As the market became increasingly crowded in the 1930’s, the clamor for a new market started. Sixty stall tenants asked city to replace or modernize the Broadway Market. The members of the recently formed Broadway Market Merchants Association went on record favoring the construction of a parking ramp over the new structure.18

 

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This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be dupicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com