Peter Jablonski - Table of Contents

Unearthing the Privy at the Stock Exchange Hotel
By Peter Jablonski

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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East Buffalo Stockyards

East Buffalo Stockyards

Cattle - East Side Stockyards

Dold Meat Packing Co.

Laub tannery employees in front of a pile of hides

Livestock Exchange Building

Danahy Packing Co.

Map - Stockyard Exchange Hotel

Stockyard Exchange Hotel - 2004 photo

Monte in pit

Monte in pit

Jacob holds up lamp he unearthed

Monte, Fred Jablonski, Peter Jablonski;
Central Railroad Terminal in background

Monte, Fred Jablonski, Peter Jablonski

Author Peter Jablonski holds up squat he unearthed


Adam Co. Buffalo bottle

Fred Kuemfel Squat Soda

Six "Lyman Pharmacies Buffalo, NY" bottles were found at the site

As I began unearthing the privy, the time capsule of the past my mind began to drift some 127 years earlier. I could hear the sound of the steam locomotive's brakes screeching to a halt. I could smell the burning of coal and see the smoke billowing from the smokestack of the locomotive. I could hear the
sound of cattle car doors sliding open, cows mooing, the clickety clack of hooves against the wooden ramps leading from the cattle car to the boardwalk leading to their pens at the East Buffalo NewYork Central Railroad Stockyards.

I could envision the drovers yelling and prodding swine down the streets as they drove the pigs to the slaughterhouse down the street to Danahy Meatpacking a few blocks away and the odor that accompanied their presence. The sound of commission agents screaming their bids for theirpurchase of livestock at the daily auction.

Stock Exchange Hotel and the East Buffalo Livestock Yards

I was not just digging any privy. I was digging into a privy in the only remaining structure having to do with the East Buffalo Stockyards. This was a privy of the Stock Exchange Hotel. I lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and just saw it as a old house. My dad, however, had written a book on the history of our neighborhood and he encouraged me to try digging at the site of this hotel.

The hotel began its operation in 1877 and was located opposite the East Buffalo Livestock Yards. It was one of the most comfortable and well equipped hotels in East Buffalo. The three storied Stock Exchange Hotel had rooms for fifty-three guests. Rooms were well ventilated, comfortably and elegantly furnished and provided with every convenience including fire escapades. The dining room provided the best in the market making guests feel perfectly at home at rates of $1.50 per day. This house was patronized by livestock owners and commission men.

The East Buffalo Stockyards opened in 1863 and was the second largest stockyards in the country after Chicago. Buffalo served as a distribution center as it was supply from the West and demand from the East.

So much has changed in the 150 years since the stockyards opened. Streets that once existed are now gone. The largest post office in Buffalo now stands where the stockyards stood.

Looking across the tracks from the hotel one can see the vacant Art Deco New York Central Railroad Terminal, a towering landmark of East Buffalo and a reminder of more prosperous times. It was built in 1929, the year of the stock market crash. Many a soldier left for W.W.II from this station only to return in a wooden box.

The hotel is now a decrepit house with tar paper siding and holes in the eaves where squirrels and birds find refuge. It is occupied by a religious zealot who gladly granted permission and proudly gave us a tour. The 12-foot ceilings were a sign of its age. lt's difficult to believe it could hold 53 guests. The rooms must have been quite small. The enclosed front windows were indicative that it served as some type of store front at some point in its history.

The Dig

I was digging with Monte Boshko, AKA the "Buffalo Backhoe," now of Brick, NJ; his girlfriend, Vickie; and my son, Jacob. Monte wasted no time and located the two privies side by side with his magic spring steel probe.

The first artifact recovered was a blown ketchup bottle, then a plain stoneware ginger beer.

Based on the size of the privies, they appeared to be six-seaters and were not ones that would have been in a typical household.

Unearthed Bottles

As we continued to go deeper we hit groundwater which required that we don our barn boots and rubber gloves. On the bottom of the privy amidst the trash were floorboards that went in a vertical and horizontal pattern. Wedged under these boards were bottles. I pulled out a John Howell squat soda and turned to hand it to my son, Jacob, while in the privy next to me Monte was handing over the exact same bottle. Howell was in business in Buffalo from 1841 until his death in 1888. He began as a employee of Burr & Waters, started his own company with a gentlemen by the name of Smith and began his own business sometime after the Civil War. He was recognized throughout the country as a leader among the makers of pop soda water and mineral waters. His firm then continued under the auspices of his sons.

Monte pulled out a Hutchinson squat soda in a sapphire blue from Chicago, Illinois. This was an incredible find for three reasons: This bottle was evidence that someone who stayed at the hotel traveled from Chicago, the hub of livestock activity in the US; Charles Hutchinson was the inventor of the Hutchinson stopper that was patented in 1879 as a stopper for pop bottles; and, the color was phenomenal.

I pulled out two rare squat sodas from Buffalo, one that I needed for my collection, a mug based Adams & Co., and the other a Fred Kuemfel I had in my collection but with a repaired top. In a 1887 directory, JN Adams & Co. had a grocery and dry provisions store in downtown Buffalo on Main St.

Jacob proudly excavated a oil lamp embossed Ripley & Co. Jan 7 July 14 Aug. 11 1868.

Mount recovered two Buffalo Medicines a large Dr. Ransom King of The Blood in a nice dark aqua and a scarce Dr. Hickeys Cough Syrup.

I unearthed several clear flared-lip C M Lyman Druggist bottles from Buffalo NY. They were in business in Buffalo from 1870-1896. It made me wonder if a street a few blocks away with the same name had any connection.

The bottles were coming out fast and furious: many plain but crude strap sided flasks; broken ironstone pitchers, one with 2 clay pipe bowls inside; doll heads; enamelware pots,; yelloware bowlshards; shoes; animal bones; and clay marbles. The amount of artifacts recovered as compared to other Buffalo city privies was evidence that this was a hotel in the 1880s.

Livestock no longer walk the streets of East Buffalo. Vacant brick edifices of slaughter houses, stained glass windows of Precious Blood Church bearing the names of prominent livestock agents who helped build the church, and this old hotel are all that remain of this bygone era.

On that Fall Sunday as we excavated the time capsule of the Stock Exchange Hotel, the bleating of sheep, the bellowing of cattle and the grunting of pigs could be heard again.

Bottles found:

Illustrations supplied by the author
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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