June 1988

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Fred Amsbury's Photographs

of Finger Lakes' Scenes

Review by Bill Treichler

In honor of the Society's publishing a new booklet, Caught in Time—A View of the 1890s, sixty-three photographs taken on glass-plate negatives by Fred G. Amsbury in the years from 1895 to 1899, the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society entertained Alice Amsbury Litzenberger and Louise Amsbury Forte, Fred G. Amsbury's daughters, at a reception on Sunday, May twenty-second, at the Oliver House in Penn Yan.

Fred Amsbury was born in 1870. He first worked as a printer and then joined his father, Edwin, and his brother, George, in the family business selling furnaces, stoves and ranges, and tinware and guttering. He became a skillful tinsmith and later established his own business.

His brother George moved to Rochester to work for Eastman Kodak. This gave Fred access to the photographic supplies he needed. He even rode his bicycle from Penn Yan to Rochester to get them.

Fred caught scenes at Penn Yan, Dresden and other Finger Lakes places: locomotives crossing bridges and emerging from underpasses, the pump at the power house, shops and buildings in Penn Yan, parades and picnics, ice harvesting on the lake, the falls at Seneca Mills frozen over and the same view in the summer—life as it went on just before the turn of the century.

The photographs have been reproduced for the first time through the efforts of Mr. Patsy Condella who learned of their existence and arranged a loan of the glass-plate negatives from Mr. and Mrs. Lester C. Francisco. Barry Milliman of Keuka Lake Enterprises did the printing. You may obtain your own copy of Caught in Time for $5.00 at the Oliver House.

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