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Local dignitaries let down their hair

Dibble’s Dabbles

July 5, 2011
By (the late) Billie Dibble, Former Westfield Historian (1975-2006)
First published June 30, 1983:

There was a time when a very popular type of social event was a “Children’s Party.”

I am not referring to the birthday parties given for youngsters. I mean those hilarious affairs where adults “got themselves up” in children’s clothing, carried a toy and spent an evening just having fun with friends in a most undignified manner.

Sometime in the early 1900s (perhaps about 1908) Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Crandall invited a group of friends and neighbors to such a party in their lovely home on North Portage Street, long before the pillared mansion moved up the hill to become the William Seward Inn.

Someone had the foresight to have a photo taken of the group of merry makers, and to identify the guests.

No doubt the prize for the longest hair braids went to Mrs. Ben Boult. Ben Boult came to Westfield in 1891 and entered the dry goods business and was prominent on the business row for 20 years thereafter.

Dr. and Mrs. Stephen V. Brown were among the guests. Dr. Brown was a dentist whose office was on Main Street for about 30 years.

Judge A.B. Ottaway practiced law for 48 years and was County Judge from 1906 until 1927. Mrs. Ottaway, among other activities, was a member of the YWCA Board for many years.

The Mintons were also guests. J.V. Minton was a commercial traveler and a deputy sheriff. Mrs. Minton was a member of the school board, Patterson Chapter DAR and Union Relief Association and was also active on the Chautauqua County Board of Child Welfare. “Jimmy” Minton and his brother, Will, took active parts in the minstrel shows which were popular in Westfield in the early 1900s. They are remembered for their marvelous sense of humor.

Harriet Pitts whose family owned a dry goods store on Main Street was a guest as was Frances Flagler.

Frank Crandall, genial host at the party, was for a great many years president of the National Bank of Westfield. Catherine Crandall was a busy lady, working for virtually every good cause in the community. Both she and Mr. Crandall were members of the Corporation of Patterson Library since its founding in 1896 and were also on the Board of Trustees of the library since its very beginning, Catherine holding the office of secretary and Frank that of treasurer. (I understand that the present corporators of Patterson Library and their families will be in Westfield for the annual meeting of the Patterson Library Board of Trustees and Corporators because this is the year in which the 75th anniversary of the opening and dedication of the Patterson Library building will be celebrated.)

It’s good to know that these conscientious people sometimes took “time out” for fun and were not so dignified that they could not enjoy a “Children’s Party” with their friends.

DIBS AND DABS: I know we are all anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Ben Franklin Store but who remembers that before 1938 there was a Ben Franklin store in Westfield? The Westfield Republican of March 9, 1938 announced that “The local Ben Franklin Store which has been operated by Mr. H.H. Hoover has been purchased by the Dilco Company 25 cents to $1.00 Stores. Mr. Elmer Geyer will be the new manager.” I wonder what we’ll be able to purchase in the new Ben Franklin Store for 25 cents to $1?

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.

Beigh can be reached at or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).

Article Photos

Photo courtesy Patterson Library
Dressed up — “Make me a child again, just for tonight.” All dressed up for the “Children’s Party” at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Crandall in the early 1900s were, row 1 left to right: Mrs. Stephen Brown; and Francis Flagler. Row 2: Mrs. Ben Boult; Mrs. A.B. Ottaway; Mrs. J.V. Minton; Catherine L. Crandall; and Harriett Pitts. Row 3: Ben Boult Sr.; A.B. Ottaway; Dr. S.V. Brown; J.V. Minton; and F.W. Crandall.



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