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Stemple Family Tree
EX-Steamboat Head has 89th Birthday
(printed in 1951)
Naples, NY- George H. STEMPEL who resides at Stemples Landing, West shore
of Canandaigua Lake, quietly observed his 89th birthday Feb 23.
He was born Feb. 24,1862, in Germany and came to the United States at an early age.
For many years he was a steamboat Captain on Canandaigua Lake. He also
devoted many years to fruit growing. He is the oldest member of John Hodge Lodge, F and AM in Naples.
CANANDAIGUA, NY, Thursday, February 21,1952
GEORGE H STEMPEL, 90 on Saturday; No One Knows the Lake Better
Planned in his honor Saturday Night in Naples
Naples, NY- George STEMPEL,
who has known Canandaigua lake intimately for 70 years, will be 90 Saturday, February
24 and some of his Naples friends are giving him a party in the evening at the
Richard HAWKES of the Hiram
Maxfield Bank is planning the party and about 45 will be on hand.
Festivities will get underway at 6:30 PM. There will be some brief speeches,
some special music and greetings from friends from all parts of the area.
It's hard to believe that Captain
STEMPEL captained the old Ogarita and Onnalinda on the Lake-is 90. He's
vigorous, wiry and exceptionally keen of mind. The other day he slipped on an
icy walk and took what he termed a "nasty fall" but there were no ill
This is the first winter in years
that the STEMPLES have not spent the winter at "home"... Stemple's
Landing, below Cook's Point on the West shore. Captain STEMPEL with his two
sisters, Miss Julia STEMPEL and Mrs. Mary GRIESA, moved to Naples in November
for the winter months but they plan to go back as soon as the weather breaks a
The STEMPLES came to the Lake in
the late 1860's. John STEMPLE, Captain STEMPEL's father, brought his family from
Wachenheim in Bavaria. Like so many of the German families who came into Ontario
County in those years immediately after the Civil War. John STEMPLE was
interested in grapes and had much to do with the rich development of the grape
industry in the Naples area.
The side-wheeler Ogarita, built in
1889 for the Canandaigua Lake Steam Navigation Company and equipped with the
engine from the Canandaidua, was Captain STEMPEL's first vessel. Like most of
the area lake boats of that period it was designed by Alonzo SPRINGSTEAD, Marine
architect, of Geneva, NY.
"It had the best whistle of
any boat on the Lake," the Captain recalls.
"My engineer, Bill COUSE, swiped it off the pump house up at
His first year on the Orgarita he
served as both pilot and captain, but after that the line hired special pilots.
"There were 70 stops along
the lake", he says," and some of them, like Pine Bank, were tricky. We
started trips as soon as the ice was out of the lake. We'd leave Woodville at 7
in the morning, get to Canandaigua at 9:30, get back to Woodville for dinner,
leave there at 1 and leave Canandaigua at 5 again."
In addition to the regular
schedule there were special picnic excursions on Sundays and special
moonlight cruises on summer evenings. At Christmas time each year Canandaigua's
merchants made up a subscription fund to provide shoppers free transportation
from down the Lake for the week before the holiday.
Senator John RAINES, political
boss and veteran legislator of Ontario County, was president of the Canandaigua
Lake Transportation Company which took over the lake boats in 1899. Through this
friendship, Captain STEMPEL used to go to Albany every winter to serve as
messenger in the State Senate. His recollections are historical.
"It didn't cost anything to
ride down there. John Raines gave me a pass on the railroad. Everybody those
days had a pass."
"Teddy Roosevelt was Governor
then. He always walked over to the Capitol from the Executive Mansion.
Always wore an old slouch hat and had a hard time getting the guards to salute
him. They were all veterans that fought in the War of the Great
"Met Susan B Anthony one day.
She was down the lobbying, and she came into the Capitol building carrying a
little paper bag full of cookies. She asked me if she could sit down there in
the corridor and eat her cookies."
"A lot of people from the
country used to come down to ask John Raines for one thing or another. Whenever
he'd walk in his office and find a big gang waiting he'd yell,' scatter boys,
they'll think there's nobody left home to do the chores.'"
He remembers George ALDRICH,
Monroe County's boss well, and he rubbed elbows with countless other prominent politicians
of that era.
The Oragrita survived a period of
ruinous competition with the People's Line's of Genundewah, known as the 'GEE
WIZ', which burned at the Woodville dock in 1894. But in 1917 the Oragrita
suffered a similar fate. George STEMPEL remembers the night well.
"I was staying up at the
Hotel, and the rest of the boys were spending the night in the cottages at
Woodville, First thing I knew I heard Fred Shay yelling and ran out. The fire
had a good start and we cut her loose. She drifted all the way over to
Sunnyside, went aground and burnt out."
After that Captain STEMPEL served
regularly on the Onnalinda, largest of all the Canandaigua Lake Steamers, which
had been launched in 1888. She was 142 feet long and carried about 600
passengers safely. Once she is said to have carried a thousand.
During the grape harvest, Captain
STEMPEL recalls, she'd carry "70 odd tons" of grapes to be loaded
directly onto cars on the Pennsylvania Spur at the Canandaigua dock.
The coming of the automobile
tolled the death knell of the old steamers. The days of the boat commuters
ended. Special Excursions were not enough to keep the line going. The Onnalinda
was docked for the last time, later to be dismantled, scrapped and her hull
hauled out into the lake and sunk.
George STEMPEL had started out
with his father working for the family of Dr. George COOK, who founded the noted
sanitarium in Canandaigua, Brigham Hall. His daughter, Antionette,
married Thomas HAWKES, Rochester banker, who was one of the early steamboat
commuters. His son, George H HAWKES , also a Rochester banker, continued to keep
the family summer place at Cook's Point, and George STEMPEL became full
overseer, caretaker and general factotum.
Now Dick HAWKES, a 31 year old
president of the Hiram Maxfield Bank of Naples, has built a year-round house at
the point where he lives with his wife, four small daughters, and a very small
They're all great friends of
Captain STEMPEL, and the youngers represent the sixth generation of the Hawkes-Cook
family he has known.
Mr. HAWKES has a collection of
historical data and mememtos of the steamboat days on the lake, things like a
ticket on the Joseph Wood, one of the old time boats built before the Oragrita.
He has a ticket used by the transportation company on later boats that is nine
inches long and lists 56 of the stops between Woodville and Canandaigua. They
are names of cottages, camps, and landings, and each calls to George STEMPEL's
mind another story. There are Wahoo, Menteth's and DePuy's, Camps Madonna,
Onanda, and Tarion. Fishers,Freer's Forester's and South Wind; Highlands,
Hickories, Havemar, Hiawatha and Vine Valley; Endion, Oak Ridge, and too many
others to mention.
They'll be recalled Saturday night, however, at George STEMPEL's birthday party.
SKIPPER SAILS ON MEMORY SEA
by John W Brown
To hear George STEMPEL talk
about the old days is to seem to catch again the fading echo of then throbbing
engines and churning side-wheels of steamboats that once plied Canandaigua
Lake's historic waters.
He was Captain STEMPEL in those
days, master, in the course of events of two of the lake's most famous steamers,
the Oragrita and the Onnalinda, and he retains the title though the boats are
He's wiry, active and keen, and
it's a steady hand that packs fresh tobacco into the well-caked bowl of his
ancient pipe as he recalls with rare humor details of the Lake's romantic past.
It's hard to believe he'll be 90 in Feb.
HIS VIVID MEMORY is filled with
incidents concerning the boats of
his day and their passengers, the people who rode the old Ontario, the
Canandaigua, the Genundewah, called the "GEE WIZ", the Seneca Chief,
the Orianna, the Oragrita and the Eastern Star.
Captain STEMPEL and his two
sisters, Miss Julia STEMPEL and Mrs. Mary GRIGSA, are spending the winter in
Naples-"the first winter we've been away from home," the captain says.
"Home" is Stempel's Landing, just south of Cook's Point, named for
John STEMPLE, George's father, who brought his family from Wachenheim, Bavaria,
just after the Civil War, and became a vineyardist for the family of the late
DR. George COOK. Dr. COOK founded Brigham Hall, noted Canandaigua Sanitarium, in
STEMPEL's FIRST RIDE on a lake
steamboat was on the old Ontario which brought the Stemples to their future
home,. As the captain puts it, "We got
off at Fox's Landing and we've been hanging around ever since."
The first boat he captained was
the Oragrita, dubbed the "O'Garrity" by an Irish wit.
"It had the best whistle of
any boat on the lake," he recalls. My engineer, Bill COUSE, swiped it off
the pump house up at Canandaugia. "The Oragrita burned at Woodville
one night in 1917. After that Captain STEMPEL served regularly on the
Onnalinda,142 feet long, largest of all the Canandaigua steamers.
President of the Canandaigua Lake
Transportation Company, owners of his two boats after 1899 was Senator John RAINES,
Veteran legislator and political boss of Ontario County, and for many years
George STEMPEL served as a messenger in the State Senate during the winter.
While he was there he used to see Theodore Roosevelt, then the Gov., almost
And one day Susan B Anthony walked
into the capitol building carrying a paper bag of cookies and asked the captain
if it would be alright if she sat down in the corridor to eat them.
GEORGE W HAWKES, a Rochester
banker, in the 20's had taken over the family summer place of his father, the
late Thomas Hawkes,whose wife was a daughter of Dr. COOK's. George STEMPEL
became the overseer, caretaker and general factotum. Now Richard HAWKES,
great-grandson of Dr. COOK and 31 year old president of the Hiram Maxfield Bank
in Naples, has built a year-round home on Cook's Point where he lives with his
wife and five children, all great friends of Captain StTEMPEL's. Dick HAWKES is
planning a 90th birthday party for the Captain.
There is going to be a big time at
the Naples Hotel, Feb. 23.
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