June 1989

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Ruby Cottage

and the Stocum House


Hammondsport Herald, July 12, 1893

Last Monday evening, while the HERALD man was standing on the dock at the foot of Shethar Street, looking out over the placid waters of beautiful Lake Keuka and wondering why the whole mass of tired humanity could not lay aside the burdens and cares of life for the next three months and spend the heated interim at some of her many beautiful retreats, he was awakened from his twilight reveries by the shrill whistle of the beautiful little steam yacht which glides so gracefully and swiftly and many times a day, between her landings in this place and the charming summer home of her owner Major John Stocum. We looked so wistfully in the direction of the major and his pretty little yacht that he took pity on our apparent forlorn condition and courteously invited us aboard—an invitation we were not in the least backward in accepting. After a hearty hand-shake with the sturdy old war-horse, the lines were cast off, the signal rung to the engineer and we were soon gliding merrily over the lake at a speed which only too soon brought us to our journey’s end.

Stocum’s landing is but a trifle over a mile from Hammondsport and is one of the prettiest places on the west-side. There is a beautiful carriageway from this place to the point, and all the passenger steamers make regular landings here, the fine dock making it possible for them to land at all seasons of the year. What was a few years since a rough, unsightly plot of ground, covered with a dense growth of trees and underbrush, is now a veritable paradise. Trees have been set at proper distances, and beautiful flowers and plants, from .the Soldier’s Home conservatories, fill in the space between. The first place for us to visit was Ruby Cottage—named in honor of the major’s daughter. This is a commodious, three-story building, with deep verandas extending entirely around the building, from the upper one of which may be had a view unsurpassed in this locality. The interior of the cottage is finished in natural woods and is furnished with all modern conviences. In this building, presided over by Mrs. E. A. Dill of Elmira, and a competent corps of assistants, are located the dining-room, kitchen, music and sitting-rooms, also several elegantly furnished dormitories. The cellars are in the rear of this building and are reached from a rear door of the kitchen. Just north of Ruby Cottage is the Stocum House. Here is the bar-room, the general rendezvous of those who wish to indulge in the sport of fishing. The proprietor always has on hand a complete fishing outfit and those piscatorially inclined can be rigged out in complete paraphernalia at a moment’s notice.

But we are warned by the whistle of our little steamer that “time’s up,” and are soon aboard and gliding homeward. The hour has been pleasantly spent, and to those who desire a few days of rest and recreation, we would heartily recommend them to the care of Major Stocum. At Ruby Cottage one may find all the conveniences of a pleasant home. The cuisine is under the immediate supervision of Mrs. Dill, and is supplied with all the delicacies of the season. A number of guests are expected within a few days and the outlook for a successful season is encouraging.

More about Ruby Cottage


Dick Sherer

Dick Sherer, Steuben County Historian, found the story above in the old Hammondsport Herald files.
Along with this account he provided additional information about the history of Ruby Cottage.

Major John Stocum purchased a cottage site along the west shore of Keuka Lake from Mr. S. C. Haight in 1889. By April, 1890, work had started on a three-story hotel which was to have wide porches on each level. Next to it he had built a smaller house called “Stocum House.” Guests were brought to the hotel from Hammondsport by Stocum’s steam yacht, the Sally Beekman.

In August, 1893, one of the regular summer guests of the hotel, Mrs. Harriet R. Myers of Elmira, bought the resort intending to make it her permanent home. The Stocum House became the “Eagle Eye Hotel.”

In August, 1895, however, the Hammondsport Herald reported that Capt. John Stocum (his rank seemed to fluctuate in the newspaper accounts) sold his summer hotel property, The Stocum House and Ruby Cottage to Simeon Rathbone of Elmira.

Mr. Rathbone, who used the property as a private residence, called the place “Snug Harbor”, the name it is still known by.

Since 1918 the property has had several owners and has been used as a restaurant. This last year it changed hands again. Major Stocum’s building has been handsomely restored and elegantly furnished. On May 14th it opened again as Snug Harbor Restaurant.

Here is one of the stories connected with the site:

Although it could almost be a legend, by now it is assumed to be a fact, that early in the last century the wigwam of ‘Goodbody’, one of the last Indian chiefs of this region, was located on this point. A beautiful white woman is said to have occupied the wigwam with him.

“Brom’ Norton, known as the ‘Pioneer Dude,’ who fell from grace because of his love of the spirits, was also taken into ’Goodbody's’ family, but he made love to the white lady, which kindled the wrath of the Indian Chief who did away with the ‘Dude’. It is believed that his body is buried on the point. ‘Goodbody’ soon left the area and was never afterward heard of.

This point with its spacious building, beautiful grounds and even the grave of “the Pioneer Dude’ has been used for many purposes and owned by many people in its long and varied history, but today it is known to us as the one and only ‘Snug Harbor.’

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