History Around Town!


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Tools used to build the woody cars.

Waterloo Wagon Company

The Waterloo Wagon Company began its manufacturing operations on October 30, 1882 and enjoyed more than three decades of success producing horse-drawn wagons. It may have been the first company to produce station wagons – so called because they transported people and cargo between train stations.

Painting depicting Samuel Bear on horseback.

Samuel Bear

Samuel Bear – at just 22 years old – became the first permanent white settler in what is today Waterloo when he built a home, and a grist mill, on what was then territory of the Cayuga tribe.

Flyer for an event a Maple Grove Speedway.

Maple Grove Speedway

Maple Grove Fairgrounds has hosted the Seneca County Fair since the Seneca County Agricultural Society purchased the property in 1882. It also hosted horse racing and automobile racing in the early 20th century. And from 1953 until 1977, stock car racing returned to the fairgrounds, which took on the name Maple Grove Speedway.

Equal Rights Ticket for Lockwood & Stow for Presidential election.

Belva Lockwood

Several women throughout history have sought to lead the country by running for President. And one of them had a parade in her honor in Waterloo and later visited the village as part of her campaign. Belva Lockwood, a candidate of the Equal Rights Party, became the first woman to run for President twice when she campaigned in 1884 and 1888.’

Photo of the old firehouse.

Waterloo Fire Department

The building that now houses a popular eatery in the village of Waterloo was once home to the Waterloo Fire Department. The fire department opened its headquarters – in what was then also the village hall – in 1920, after the village’s seven fire companies consolidated themselves into a single department

Scissors and comb used for milling wool.

Waterloo Woolen Mill

The Waterloo Woolen Manufacturing Company was incorporated on May 10, 1836 – with the mill being constructed on the property of what is now Evans Chemetics. Residents of the village – and farmers from the surrounding country – invested money in the company, not only to organize a manufacturing enterprise in Waterloo but also to establish a place where locally grown wool could be sold in a good market.

Sign from the Waterloo Organ Co.

Waterloo Organ Company

Along with the Evans Chemetics complex that once housed the Waterloo Woolen Manufacturing Company, the only remaining building of the Waterloo Organ Company – more popularly known as the former Moore’s Furniture property – represents the activities that made Waterloo known as a small but important industrial center.

Picture of embalmed man.

George “Bill” Bailey

What do you know about Waterloo’s George Bailey – who came to be nicknamed Bill after the popular song of the same name – the man whose funeral took place 72 years after his death?

Stain glass from a library window.

Waterloo Library & Historical Society

Welcome to the Waterloo Library and Historical Society (WLHS) located in historic Waterloo New York; the birthplace of Memorial Day! Our library was founded in 1875 and is one of New York State’s oldest libraries operating under its original charter.

Memorial day logo plaque.

National Memorial Day Museum

The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves.