North Tonawanda, NY - 12-5

Good news, readers of the American Treasure Tour blog!  We are doing something a little different today.  Rather than concentrate on an element of popular culture actually in the tour, we are going to talk about a place that has directly impacted our collection.  I am referring to the town of North Tonawanda, in upstate New York.  In fact, it is about as "upstate" as you can get without being in Canada.  North Tonawanda is just outside of Buffalo, and it is on the Erie Canal, which made transportation to and from the town very easy.  Its nickname of "The Lumber City" may best explain why it became a center for band organ and nickelodeon production at the end of the 19th century.

Wurlitzer Factory.jpeg

The Herschell-Spillman Company set up shop in the town to exploit the oak forests for production of their carousels.  In retrospect, it seems a natural progression that other companies would follow to produce band organs and nickelodeons.  The deKleist Company, Artizan, and ultimately Wurlitzer all came to town and produced their machines well into the twentieth century, and making mechanical music for everyone to enjoy.


Here's a delightfully obscure question, such that it seems unlikely many residents of North Tonawanda could even answer.  But this is multiple choice, with no penalty for being wrong, so we will throw caution to the wind and ask anyway:  from what Native American tribe does the word "tonawanda" come, meaning "swift running water"?

a)  Iroquois

b)  Seneca

c)  Miami

d)  Wampanoag

e)  Cherokee

Answer below.


JQ Adams.jpg

John Quincy Adams, fifth President of the United States (and the first president to ever have his image recorded in a photograph) took his post-presidential seat in the House of Representatives on this date in 1831, two years after Andrew Jackson beat him in his effort at re-election.  The dour-looking Adams spent the remainder of his life in the House, the only former president to do so.  He passed away in the House chamber in 1848, ending a distinguished if somewhat controversial career in politics.

December 5th, 1933 was an extremely important date for drinkers in the United States, since this was the day that Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, which overturned the 18th Amendment.  The prohibition of alcohol officially ended.


Little Richard.jpg

Richard Wayne Penniman was born this day in 1932.  Working under the nickname Little Richard, Penniman has had a significant impact on musical culture beginning with his popular song "Tutti Frutti," released in 1955.  Since then, he has been a guiding light for rock 'n roll, soul, and funk music, and can be accredited with inspiring performers in virtually every other genre of music.  Happy birthday, Little Richard!

And I'd like to give my love to everybody, and let them know that the grass may look greener on the other side, but believe me, it's just as hard to cut. - Little Richard

Answer:  b)  Seneca.  (The town of Seneca Falls, not too far from North Tonawanda in New York, is where the first Women's Rights Convention occurred in the United States, in 1848.)