50th Anniversary

of the

First Rural Electrification

Snells Bush, June 30, 1951

This was a letter written to Emma Timmerman from her cousin Corliss Timmerman as to his involvement and knowledge of the First Rural Electification line. Corliss grew up and owned a farm in Snells Bush and later moved to California. He is writing this letter from California. Corliss died 1/12/83. Emma died at age 103 on 8/22/86. Emma and Corliss are cousins to me.

William Timmerman is my great grandfather (father to Clarence) who owned the farm before Clarence. Clarence is my great uncle and it was at his farm that the rural electrification field day was held.

Sarah Timmerman Israel

October 1974

"In answer to your question on rural lighting in Snell Bush. The Farm Power Field Day as it was called, was held June 30, 1951 and was the fifty anniversary of the completion of the first rural electric line in the United States so far as could be determined.

Mr. Beardslee tried to sell electricity to the city of Little Falls for street lights but the common council ridiculed him and laughed at his idea of sending a current through wires all that distance from his power house to the city a distance of about six miles.

Mr. J.A. Sadler of Ingham Mills needed power for the grist mill as a flood on East Canada had damaged his dam which was constructed of wood also the flume needed a lot of work to make it serviceable. In discussing his situation with Guy Beardslee, the two conceived the idea that a electric line for power would serve to the advantage of both. Then Mr. Beardslee tried to obtain rights of way along the creek road which followed the east creek north and came out at Ingham Mills within sight of Sadlers mill but the property owners along the road would have no part of it thought the electricity was to dangerous etc.

Then Mr. Beardslee thought of going west from his power house and hit the Snell Bush road at the Charles Cook place. After contacting all the property owners along the road and down into Ingham Mills and explaining his purpose and offering all those whose farms he passed the use of power in return of a meter charge and the cost of transformers to reduce the current to 220 and also 110 volts for lighting it met with agreement all around. There were four users along the way Charles Cook, William Feeter, my dad (Jeremiah Timmerman), William Timmerman and J .D. Sadler at the other end. All were hooked up for power at the same time and as time passed others saw its advantage and added to the list of patrons of G.R. Beardslee Light and Power Company.

The next year, I believe he sold power in St Johnsville to Engelhardt and Roth, also other concerns. Later in Canajoharie, it was Beech-nut and so the story grew from G.R. Beardslee to St Johnsville Light and Power to Adirondeck Light and Power Co and now Niagara Mohawk Light and Power.

Through the efforts of Ruel Harvey, who married Jesse Wilcox, a Little Falls High School classmate and Leland D. MeCormack, a V.P. of Niagara Mohawk, who Clarence and I both knew in Masonic circles that the 50th anniversary of electric power in rural America was made possible. The Company presented Clarence and I each with histories with photos are finely finished and bound with gold lettering and lithographs. It surely is a fine example and formable of that part of history of our neighborhood.

Am glad that I could furnish you with that information as it was all within my reach."

Evening Times
Monday July 2, 1951

Rural Electrification Field Day Was Watersoaked, But Not Completely Washed Out

Water Water everywhere. It squooshed under your feet when you walked; it drenched you from above. It leaked through the seams of the tents, and it trickled off the umbrella of the person next to you.

No field day could have been wetter than the one Saturday in Snells Bush, celebrating 50 years of rural electrification. Yet it wasn't washed out, for an estimated 1,000 persons waded through the mud to view the exhibits.

The rain started slowly Saturday morning-it hadn't been very long. Then it became a downpour. There was no let-up and no brightening of the skies to indicate it might be clearing.

The Niagara-Mohawk Power Company executives from throughout the state, the lieutenant governor, chairman of the public service commission and other distinguished guests who gathered at The Manor at noon for a luncheon darted through the rain to the dryness of the restaurant, watched with apprehension as the torrent continued.

There was no slackening of the rain as the hour approached for the exercises at the field, and the diners ducked into their cars and headed up the hills toward Snells Bush. Most of them braved the elements, risked getting their cars mired in the soggy fields, and sloshed through the goo to the tent in which the speaking program was to take place.

Some looked at men applying or removing chains while being pelted with rain, and at cars already stuck in the soft ground, and drove right on by, figuring that no speaking program was worth that much trouble, inconvenience and downright discomfort.

The speakers' tent was filled for the program. Most of the speakers wore raincoats or other protective clothing; all looked as uncomfortable as they certainly felt.

Leland D. McCormick, Syracuse vice president of Niagara Mohawk and chairman of the field day introduced Earle Machold, president of Niagara Mohawk. Mr. Machold, in turn, made the introductions of the other speakers.

The address of the Lieutenant Governor Frank C. Moore, Dr W. Myers, dean of the college of Agriculture at Cornell University, and Chairman Benjamin F. Feinberg of the public service commission, were summarized in Saturdays' Times.

In addition to these talks, Mr. Machold introduced Clarence and Corliss Timmerman, on whose farm the celebration was taking place; Assemblyman Leo Lawrence of Herkimer; State Senator Walter Van Wiggeren, Ilion; Sheriff Charles Malsan, Herkimer; and E. W. Stanley, secretary of the New York State Grange.

Clarence Timmerman Picture #1: CLARENCE TIMMERMAN connects the 10-horsepower motor that has been operating equipment on his farm since 1903. The farm, situated on Snells Bush road, was one of the original ___ served by the 50-year-old farm power line.

Governor MoorePicture #2: THE FACE OF LT. GOVERNOR MOORE seems to reflect the discomfort he and others were experiencing as they addressed the rain-soaked gathering. Water from leaks in the tent frequently dropped onto the speakers.

Catherine BurnsPicture #3: CATHERINE BURNS, Mohawk, was one of those who braved the downpour to visit the exhibits. She looks over a model of an old-fashioned horse treadmill, loaned for the occasion by the Farmer's Museum at Cooperstown.

Bert KlockPicture #4: BERT KLOCK, 87 year old town of St. Johnsville farm resident, examines an exhibit of modern farm wiring, one of the displays at the golden anniversary of the first farm electric line.

This article was graciously contributed by Sarah Timmerman Israel, who is active in the Snell-Zimmerman-Timmerman Reunion. The SZT site is at www.sginet.com/szt/ Sarah is personally descended from or linked to many of the area Palatine families, including the surnames Timmerman, Zimmerman, Snell, Petrie, Bellinger, Herkimer, Garlock, Shoemaker, Feeters-Vedder, Veeder, Kilts, Broat, Keller, Heller, Goodell, Failing, Casler, Klock, Getman, Markell, Loucks, Schuyler, and Walrath.

Back to Town of Manheim Section

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb

Back to New York State GenWeb

Created 2/28/01
Copyright © 2001 Sarah Timmerman Israel
Copyright © 1974 Corliss Timmerman
Copyright © 1951 Herkimer Evening Times
All Rights Reserved.