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Mark Simonson

March 16, 2013

Area isolated during historic March 1888 snowstorm


“The ladies of the Buckley shirt factory participated in a grand sleigh ride at the close of work yesterday,” it was reported on March 14. The factory was once located on Broad Street. “Mr. Buckley engaged the large sleigh…which will accommodate twenty, ostensibly for the purpose of conveying the ladies to and from the factory.” The sleigh got stuck in a drift, and while the driver worked to get the team of horses free, a resident invited the ladies into her home to stay warm and dry. They seemed to take it all in good nature.

Still, in what residents thought of as “an age of electricity and rapid transit,” they apparently missed their mail and other newspapers from metropolitan areas, much as we might miss our smartphones, email and Internet connections today.

“The scene at the Post Office to-day when the mail from New York came in, was one of indescribable hilarity, intersperced (sic) with a jubilee song and dance; all the male persons of the village filled the house. The party lasted about one hour, when all returned home, well satisfied that no such scene had been enacted in Oneonta in many years.” At that time the post office was in the Central Hotel, where 189 Main St. is today.

Residents who lived outside of the village were obviously very happy when the big snowfall had greatly melted by the weekend, so they could break out of isolation and come to the village to shop and socialize.

“Saturday was a busy day in Oneonta,” it was reported on March 22. “An idea of the number of people in from out of town may be gathered from the statement that at noon there were in the Susquehanna House stables 100 transient horses, in the Windsor stables, 71, Central 44, and Hathaway House 28—245 in all.” These were all hotels in the area of today’s downtown business district.

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