The Old Clubhouse at Ely Park…

July 1960- Mrs Ernest Smith and Stephen Vaskovic perform ceremonial razing in wake of council decision to build new Ely Park Clubhouse. Photo Credit: David Lasky

July 1960- Mrs Ernest Smith and Stephen Vaskovic perform ceremonial razing in wake of council decision to build new Ely Park Clubhouse. Photo Credit: David Lasky

July 1960- Mrs Ernest Smith and Stephen Vaskovic perform ceremonial razing in wake of council decision to build new Ely Park Clubhouse- house shown in back round was the “clubhouse”.   (David Lasky; Facebook Private Group—Vintage Broome County; THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY in photos and articles; Post with Pic; 1-19-20)

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! What an awesome pic! Truly amazing! Never seen such a good picture of the old clubhouse! Look at that pull cart & bag! Bit strange that it is Mrs. Smith (pro Ernie’s wife) & Steve Vaskovic (Greens Superintendent/Maintenance) but makes sense as she ran the pro shop & he would be the one to coordinate the teardown! Will have to research city council records! THANK YOU David Lasky  You aced that one for sure!!! 🏌️‍♀️🏌️‍♂️⛳🕳1️⃣1️⃣1️⃣   (Andy Reistetter; Facebook Comment; 1-19-21)

Andy Reistetter Sr. on the 2nd tee at Ely Park Golf Course circa 1950s.

Andy Reistetter Sr. on the 2nd tee at Ely Park Golf Course circa 1950s.

Same old clubhouse in the background of this picture of my father Andy Reistetter Sr. on the 2nd tee (downhill par-3 with shoe-like green). Closest green is the 6th green (par-4 around the hill). Further green is the old practice putting green. Remember the first hole was a 200-yard par-3 from what is now the ladies tee on the par-4 No. 3 hole. Note cinder parking lot of whose cinders you can still feel and hear beneath the grass walking off the 3rd tee!

AGED PRO SHOP—Mr. Smith inspects fireplace frame which has sagged several inches. Fireplace is in the Pro Shop. Mr. Smith says that he fears building might collapse in wind storm.

SAGGING CEILING—Mr. Smith points out smashed window in Pro Shop door. Ceiling and door have sagged over years. Mr. Smith says golfers still play at Ely Park but only because of the fine condition of the golf course.

ELY PARK CLUBHOUSE—This is the old clubhouse that would be replaced if city goes through with plan to erect a new $160,000 structure. Present building is said by Ernest E. Smith, professional at the course, to be in dangerous condition.

AGED PRO SHOP—Mr. Smith inspects fireplace frame which has sagged several inches. Fireplace is in the Pro Shop. Mr. Smith says that he fears building might collapse in wind storm.

AGED PRO SHOP—Mr. Smith inspects fireplace frame which has sagged several inches. Fireplace is in the Pro Shop. Mr. Smith says that he fears building might collapse in wind storm. Photo Credit: Joe Danvers

SAGGING CEILING—Mr. Smith points out smashed window in Pro Shop door. Ceiling and door have sagged over years. Mr. Smith says golfers still play at Ely Park but only because of the fine condition of the golf course.

SAGGING CEILING—Mr. Smith points out smashed window in Pro Shop door. Ceiling and door have sagged over years. Mr. Smith says golfers still play at Ely Park but only because of the fine condition of the golf course. Photo Credit: Joe Danvers

ELY PARK CLUBHOUSE—This is the old clubhouse that would be replaced if city goes through with plan to erect a new $160,000 structure. Present building is said by Ernest E. Smith, professional at the course, to be in dangerous condition.

ELY PARK CLUBHOUSE—This is the old clubhouse that would be replaced if city goes through with plan to erect a new $160,000 structure. Present building is said by Ernest E. Smith, professional at the course, to be in dangerous condition. Photo Credit: Joe Danvers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More pics of the Old Clubhouse please!

 

 

Timeline/History of Land Acquisition for the Ely Park Golf Course

 

 

100 Years Ago Today – May 3, 1919…   
 
An important real estate transaction developed yesterday when Prytherch and Thompson purchased Prospect Park comprising about seventy acres situated west of Ely Park. The land lies fairly level about 1,600 feet above sea level and commands charming views of hills and valleys for ten miles around in every direction. The advantages of Mount Prospect for homes is well known. It is above the fog line of the valley and enjoys almost continual breezes. The movement of the better classes is toward the highlands, where the air is pure and the noises of the city remote. Mount Prospect is by far the most accessible and attractive of the highlands about Binghamton. (Roger Luther, Facebook Group Broome County Hstory, 5-2-2019)
 
Roger Luther I believe the city bought some of the Prytherech property to expand the golf course from its original 9-hole Layout on S. Mills Ely land… in fact the original Prytherech home became its first clubhouse left of what is now the 3rd fairway! Includes the land & westwardly views of what is now the par-5 15th hole (old No. 13) with a double green). Correct Christine Pavlisak, Ray Linsky
 

Mount Prospect, Home of the Ely Park Golf Course, is part of the Appalachian Mountains!

Credit Source:   Binghamton, NY Nearby Mountains

Mountains have always held a special place in the soul of man. From the beginning of time mankind has been fascinated with mountains. Why do mountains touch the human spirit? Is it their size? Is it their solitude? The ancients believed that mountains formed the foundation of the world, that mountains surround the world and provide a resting place for the firmament (an inverted, transparent bowl separating the heavens from the earth), and that gods ruled from the top of mountains.

The Binghamton Nearby Mountains webpage provides you with a complete list of mountains in the vicinity of Binghamton, NY. On the Binghamton Nearby Mountains webspage we list all of the nearby mountain ranges, nearby mountain summits, nearby mountain ridges and nearby mountain gaps. Check one of the neighboring counties of Broome, Susquehanna, Tioga, Chenango, Cortland, Bradford, Tompkins, Wyoming, Chemung, Wayne if you don’t see the nearby mountain you are seeking.

So why are mountains so important to the human psyche? We never answered that question. Is it their size? Is it their solitude? Is it the challenge of climbing them? We might be tempted to explain the importance of mountains by using words like grandiose and majestic; but these words or just scribbles on a piece of paper. These powerful adjectives derive their power from the mountain they describe. Without the mountain to give them meaning, grandeur and majesty are weak and powerless. Mountains are more than the words used to describe them. They are a powerful force on our subconscious that spark the creation of new words in an attempt to describe them.

Do mountains loom large in our mind because they are the closest point to heaven here on Earth? Why did Moses receive the 10 commandments on a mountain? Why did Mohammad receive his first revelation on a mountain? Why did Jesus ascend to heaven from a mountain? Whatever the reason, we created the Binghamton Nearby Mountains webpage to help you find mountains near you. Click on a different location if the mountain you seek is not listed.

 

 

Spanning Time: “Mount Prospect Mountain’s Name, Face have Changed” by Gerald R. Smith

Spanning Time: Mountain’s Name, Face have Changed by Gerald R. Smith

By Gerald R. Smith

Published July 24. 2014 (PressConnects.com)

ALL CREDIT for Article below to Gerald R. Smith and PressConnects.com

ALL CREDIT for Pictures to the Broome County Historical Society

Story Highlights:

Prospect Mountain has been known as Mt. Prospect since the 1780s

In the 1800s, Dr. O.V. Thayer developed a resort atop the mountain using the natural spring waters.

By the early 1960s, homes were demolished or moved to make way for Route 17.

Hikers ascend Mt. Prospect in 1899. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Hikers ascend Mt. Prospect in 1899.
Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

While traveling a midst all the road construction around Kamikaze Curve, I had time to ponder the excavation of the rock and gravel that the crews were sculpting away to make room for the new roadway. I also had time to wonder about the history of that area and how it seems to have been recently renamed.

Since the 1780s, that spot has been known as Mt. Prospect. Only with the Department of Transportation project along the Route 17-Interstate 81 connection has it been called Prospect Mountain. It was the first settlers after the end of the American Revolution who arrived and made their way to the top of the hill to cast their eyes upon the vista of the valley below that one of them called it Mt. Prospect — much like our own airport sits upon Mt. Ettrick.

Despite the current misnaming of the mountain, it holds a long and interesting history. One of the first schools in Broome County, dating from the late 1790s, was held at the base of the hill in an area near the former McCormick’s Paint Store. While Prospect Street became an early connector between Binghamton and points west, it was the spring water that provided the source for much of the interest in Mt. Prospect.

Binghamton Water Cure, c. 1860. Broome County Historical Society

Binghamton Water Cure, c. 1860.
Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

By 1849, Dr. O.V. Thayer seized upon his plan to develop a resort atop the mountain using the natural spring waters for a curative effect. This was the era of Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and other areas, and we were not to be outdone. Thayer built a hotel with baths for his Binghamton Water Cure. It seemed like a great idea, but it never caught on in this area as it did elsewhere.

 

Text from the Binghamton Water Cure picture added here:

“This Institution was established in Binghamton in 1849, since which time it has treated successfully thousands of invalids. The Cure is beautifully situated on the side of Mt. Prospect, surrounded by large trees, and commanding a fine view of the city, rivers, hills and the magnificent scenery in the immediate vicinity, and abundantly supplied with pure, soft spring water, the great essentials for hydropathic purposes.

The bath-rooms have facilities for giving a wide variety of baths, such as Full, Half, Shallow, Douche, Eye, Ear, Nasal, Spray, Steam, Medicated, etc.

Dr. and Mrs. O.V. THAYER have the entire charge of the Medical Department. Their large experience and extensive public and hospital practice for more than twenty years, and the success attending their labors, gives them confidence recommending their Institution as a place where sick people can be cured. Surgical as well as medical cases are solicited. All needed surgical operations skillfully performed, and the hygiene treatment, so successful to rapid recovery, continued at the Cure when necessary.”

Back to Gerald R. Smith’s article:

Binghamton Lager Beer Brewery. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society.

This 1866 engraving shows the Binghamton Lager Beer Brewery. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society.

Shortly after the Civil War, the curative spring movement basically dried up and the area was converted into the Binghamton Lager Beer Brewery — one of several breweries that would last until Prohibition in the early 20th century. An 1866 engraving shows a highly romanticized view of a multiple building complex that smartly used the spring water for their products.

S. Mills Ely was a wholesale grocer who thrived in business in Binghamton. His stately home on the corner of Henry and Chenango streets would be greatly changed to become home to the Morning Sun newspaper (See NOTE No. 1 below). He purchased a large tract of land atop Mt. Prospect to build a summer home. He had lumber taken from a failed fundamentalist tabernacle (See NOTE No. 2 below). and had it reconstructed as Ely Tower which overlooked the entire river valley.

Ely Tower is shown in 1907.

Ely Tower is shown in 1907.

In 1907 and in declining health, Ely donated that tract of land to the City of Binghamton to be used for a park. For two years, the tower was a popular spot for residents to visit (See NOTE No. 3 below). In 1909, a windstorm took the tower to the ground, and the park would later be re-purposed for the Ely Park Golf Course.

Even before Ely gave the land for a public park, people would hike the pathways for outings atop Mt. Prospect. Picnickers, hikers and artists clambered to the top to rest, eat and use the magnificent views for inspiration. First Ward residents long remember the many steps through a concrete gateway to Ely Park as they lumbered up the hillside. But by the beginning of the 20th century, those days of ease were already numbered.

View from Mt. Prospect of Stow Flats in 1902. Photo Credit: Noyes Collection, Broome County Historical Society

View from Mt. Prospect of Stow Flats in 1902. Photo Credit: Noyes Collection, Broome County Historical Society

By the 1950s, plans were set in motion to modernize our transportation. The era of the interstate highway ended much of that mountain’s history (See NOTE No. 4 below). The hill became the site for the reconstruction of Route 17, which for decades has meandered along the valley. By the early 1960s, homes were being demolished or moved to make way for the improved roadway.

The stairs to Ely Park were destroyed, and the former park was converted to be used solely as the golf course (See NOTE No. 5 below). Within a handful of years, the new moniker of Kamikaze Curve stuck as the number of accidents in that area quickly mounted. Today, you can call it Mt. Prospect, Prospect Mountain or Kamikaze Curve — but whatever it is called, that hill has led an ascendant role in our history.

ALL CREDIT for above Article to Gerald R. Smith and PressConnects.com

ALL CREDIT for Pictures to the Broome County Historical Society

NOTES respectfully submitted by Andy Reistetter:

NOTE No. 1:   Per current Broome County Historian Roger Luther the home of S. Mills Ely was located at 85 Henry Street across from Carroll Street; currently where stands the new Post Office.

NOTE No. 2:   “From a failed fundamentalist tabernacle,” is inaccurate. Per Tom Cawley’s Article entitled: “One Man’s Outlook: Ely Tower Symbol of Faith,” the Evangelist B. Fay Mills ‘tabernacle’ on Water Street was a hall that was built to be temporary.

“Mr. Ely was a very religious citizem. At the turn of the century, there was an Evangelist he admired a great deal, B. Fay Ely. There was built on Water Street a temporary hall, where Evangelist Ely preached nightly. Importer Ely attended with fervor, and when the series of sermons ended, he didn’t want to lose the building, even though it had to be torn down. So he bought the lumber and had it transformed into a tower…”

NOTE No. 3:   The Ely Tower was a popular spot for residents to visit since its erection in 1893. in the article “Ely Tower Demolished” it was stated: “It was erected in 1893 by S. Mills Ely from the lumber which he bid off at auction which had been used in the great temporary building in which the B. Fay Mills evangelistic meetings were held in that city in 1892. The tower was put up as a memorial to these meetings and thousands of people ascended it each year to get the view.”

NOTE No. 4:  The history of Mount Prospect continues to this day as people grow up there, learn to play golf, and make their contributions to society throughout the world…

NOTE No. 5:   I believe that the land donated by S. Mills Ely exceeded what is currently used for Ely Park Golf Course and includes parkland for picnics and a tennis/basketball in addition to wooded areas being retained in their natural state.

Ely Park’s Windmill Pumphouse to Bondhouse to Starter’s Shelter in 1946

Ely Park’s Windmill Pumphouse to Bondhouse to Starter’s Shelter in 1946

Dated January 14th, 1946.

Courtesy of Joe Danvers; posted on the Historic Binghamton Facebook Group on 1-14-2021:

From today’s Press, 1946:

Caption of the picture reads”

“END WORLD WAR II CAREER—The Courthouse Square Bondhouse, a landmark in downtown Binghamton for nearly four years, was returned to Ely Park today by city workmen. The building used to be a pumphouse near a windmill at Ely Park. It will be used as a starter’s shelter near the first tee of the Municipal Golf Course. The structure was placed at the Court Street Location in 1942.”

Which raises the following questions:

1. Where was the windmill located at Ely Park? What years was it in operation?

2. How did the windmill pump water (presumably)? And for what use?

Perhaps it was originally located on the stone structure above in-ground water storage tanks with the name Ely Park above the doors of the foundation?

3. Is it safe to assume that it was moved four years earlier from Ely Park to Court Street? Or was it used somewhere else?

4. Year 1946; original ‘clubhouse’ is in the old Prytherch home just off the left side of what is now Hole No. 3 (was originally Hole No. 1 as a long par-3 which was lengthened to a short par-4 once the new clubhouse was built and the parking lot was no longer needed; note one can still feel and hear the cinders of the old parking lot). Where was the starter’s shelter located?

April 1913: Erection of Ely Memorial Tower Considered by City of Binghamton but Never Built.

THE BINGHAMTON PRESS, SATURDAY EVENING, APRIL 12, 1913

View of the original Ely Tower built in 1893 and demolished by a wind storm in 1908. It stood for 15 years and gave Binghamtonians a great view of their city and surrounding countryside.

View of the original Ely Tower built in 1893 and demolished by a wind storm in 1908. It stood for 15 years and gave Binghamtonians a great view of their city and surrounding countryside.

Binghamton will finally begin this summer the erection of an Ely Memorial Tower to the memory of S. Mills Ely, who gave the city a valuable tract of land on the crest of Mount Prospect for a city park and built a concrete stairway leading from Prospect Street to the park.

When the park was given to the city a wooden observatory occupied the crest, and from its top a view of the entire country could be obtained, the village of Owego being discernible with a strong glass on a clear day.

The 'Gateway to Ely Park, referenced in the article. Photo CreditL Unknown

The ‘Gateway to Ely Park, referenced in the article. Photo Credit: Unknown

A tornado wrecked part of the tower, and later the remainder was destroyed by fire.

Mayor John J. Irving and Park Commissioner John Ring now are considering a plan for the immediate rebuilding of the observatory.

It is hoped the building can be completed early in the summer, that it may be available to the numerous picnic parties visiting the park this year.

This gateway was constructed on Prospect directly across from Oak Street.

NOTE: Gratitude to Bob Bullock for sharing this article and six pictures on Facebook’s Historic Binghamton public page on September 29, 2015.

 

Death & Obituary of S. Mills Ely on Wednesday, May 5th, 1909 in Binghamton, New York.

The Binghamton Press Thursday, May 6, 1909 Photo Credit: Joe Danvers (January 2021)

The Binghamton Press
Thursday, May 6, 1909
Photo Credit: Joe Danvers
(January 2021)

Death of S. Mills Ely (Wednesday, May 5th, 1909)

Binghamton Loses Citizen Whose Devotion to Principle Was Most Prominent

GAVE TO MANY CHARITIES

Contributed to Several Libraries, and Recently Gave Ely Park to the City

S. Mills Ely, whose serious illness for some weeks past has been a matter of deep concern throughout the city, died mast night at his residence on Henry Street. The end came at 9:40 o’clock. Just two weeks before, at the same hour, Mr. Ely was taken aboard the private car in which he was brought from his Winter home in Maitland, Florida, in the hope that the more invigorating northern atmosphere might make possible a recovery which seemed impossible in the South.

The Binghamton Press Thursday, May 6, 1909 Photo Credit: Joe Danvers (January 2021)

The Binghamton Press
Thursday, May 6, 1909
Photo Credit: Joe Danvers
(January 2021)

Mr. Ely’s death removes a man whose long and successful business career was unmarred by any suggestion of unfairness and whose charities were widespread and wisely bestowed. In writing of his character an intimate friend of the family said:

To speak of his character is hardly necessary in this community, where his life was an open book, known and read by all, and his inherent modesty and simplicity forbid any words of fulsome praise. But truth compels the notice of a detailed thoughtfulness and a most unusual grasp not only in business matters, but in every path of friendship and benevolence, with a generosity as constant as the calls made on it. Still, after all, the deep interest and devotion of his life, after his family, was in his church to which he unceasingly gave of his means, his time, and his prayers.”

The Binghamton Press Thursday, May 6, 1909 Photo Credit: Joe Danvers (January 2021)

The Binghamton Press
Thursday, May 6, 1909
Photo Credit: Joe Danvers
(January 2021)

Mr. Ely was born in Chester, Connecticut of English ancestry, in October, 1837, and came to Binghamton, where his life has since been spent, 15 years later. His first employment was with Charles McKinney, in a general store, and later in the coal business. With S. McKinney and E.P. McKinney, he formed a partnership in the grocery business, withdrawing in 1873 to establish the wholesale grocery house which continues. The partnership with E. F. Leighton, which continued unbroken until last October, was formed in 1876.

True to Principle.

His business was conducted with absolute conscientiousness and absolute devotion to what he thought was right. Mr. Ely did not use, or believe in the use of tobacco, and the firm of S. Mills Ely & Co., considering principle before profit, never has carried or sold tobacco, or smokers’ supplies, though this is an important and very profitable line with all wholesale grocers. Persons familiar with the trade do not recall another wholesale grocery house which does not carry tobacco.

The Binghamton Press Thursday, May 6, 1909 Photo Credit: Joe Danvers (January 2021)

The Binghamton Press
Thursday, May 6, 1909
Photo Credit: Joe Danvers
(January 2021)

Mr. Ely was a Senior Elder at the First Presbyterian Church. He united with the church during the pastorate of Dr. Goodrich, and was for many years an officer of the church, being deacon for some time, and an elder for the last 30 years. Aside for his liberal support of the church, Mr. Ely has bestowed many charities, which he administered with the sagacity of a man of affairs, tempered with a tenderness which led him to conceal even from his most intimate associates his activities in this direction.

Many Charities.

Among other charities with which, because of their public nature his connection was known, Mr. Ely gave liberally of his time and money to the Fresh Air Fund, and always entertained a dozen city children during the Summer at Mount Prospect. He was treasurer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and, when the new Y.M.C.A was being canvassed, he was one of the most energetic supporters of the project.

Mr. Ely gave a library to his native town of Chester, Connecticut, and contributed liberally for a library in Port Dickerson. In Maitland, Florida where he had an orange grove and Winter home, Mr. Ely and another gentleman made possible the erection of a fine library.

Soon after he embarked in business for himself 32 years ago, Mr. Ely began to acquire property on Mount Prospect, After the B. Fay Mills revival meetings 15 years ago, he bought the lumber with which the tabernacle, in which the meetings were held, had been constructed, and used this to erect Ely Tower on Mount Prospect as a memorial of the religious revival. His recent gift to the city of Ely Park, comprising 140 acres on the summit of Mount Prospect, is a recent evidence of his public spirit. The only public office that Mr. Ely held was that of school commissioner, which he held for three years.

Mr. Ely was married in October, 1867 to Miss Mary Hawley, who died last December. Surviving are a sister and a daughter.

Before his death Mr. Ely requested that his funeral services be simple, and in deference to his wishes, the family requests that friends omit moral tributes. Services will be held at the house tomorrow afternoon and Fr. Lawrence of the First Presbyterian Church will officiate.

At the meeting this afternoon, the employed officers of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the State of New York, in conference assembled at Binghamton, would unanimously record the profound impression by the life of of the late S. Mills Ely. His deep appreciation for the needs of men, his faith in our Heavenly Father, his confidence in his fellow citizens, his courage, and his consecration, made him a leader in establishing a work in Binghamton which can not fail at being most effective at elevating the young manhood of the community.

The work of Mr. Ely in the encouragement and support of efforts in behalf of young men has been felt beyond Binghamton and has been an inspiration to the Association throughout the State and the Nation.

We unite with the city of Binghamton in mourning the departure of this useful citizen, with the churches and the Young Men’s Christian Association in the loss of this earnest follower of the Master, and we deeply sympathize with his family at this time of sorrow.

(Signed)

Frank G. Banister, John W. Cook, Herbert P. Lansdale”

Committee.”

 

ALL PHOTO CREDIT:

The Binghamton Press

Thursday, May 6, 1909

Photo Credit: Joe Danvers

(January 2021)

Obituary Transcript by Andy Reistetter

 

 

 

 

Ely Park Honoree: S. Mills Ely; Namesake of Binghamton’s Ely Park Golf Course!

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Samuel Mills Ely—For nearly half a century Samuel Mills Ely was a resident of Binghamton, New York, and during that period there were few who contributed more largely to the life of the city than did he. Founder of one of the most important wholesale grocery houses of the city, and identified with various business interests, he demonstrated the often disputed fact that large business success and strict adherence to the principles of the “Golden Rule” are not incompatible. He gave to the community not only the economic advantage accruing from the establishment of a large and important business enterprise, but the inspiring example of a man who, even in his business connections, remains staunchly true to the principles of Christianity.

Samuel Mille (S. Mills) Ely was born in Chester. Connecticut, at the Ely homestead, October 24, 1837, son of Richard and Caroline (Buck) Ely, the former a descendant of the early settlers of Lyme, Connecticut, but born in Essex, Connecticut, August 6, 1798, who was a farmer and prominent in the local public affairs of the town, holding various offices, and the latter born May 5, 1799.

Letterhead of S. Mills Ely & Company. The building is still standing at the corner of Prospect Ave, and N. Depot St. across the railroad tracks from the Kilmer Building in downtown Binghamton. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Letterhead of S. Mills Ely & Company. The building is still standing at the corner of Prospect Ave, and N. Depot St. across the railroad tracks from the Kilmer Building in downtown Binghamton. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Samuel Mills Ely received his education in the public schools of Chester, and later became a student in a grammar school at Deep River, Connecticut. When his school training was completed, he began his active career in the employ of his uncle, Hon. Charles McKinney.

In 1865 he formed a partnership with S. & E. P. McKinney and engaged in the grocery business in Binghamton, which connection he maintained until 1873, when he withdrew and established the wholesale grocery and importing house of S. Mills Ely & Company, of which he was president at the time of his death.

Three years after the founding of the business, in 1876, he formed a partnership with E. F. Leighton, and that connection remained unbroken for a period of thirty-two years, at the end of which time it was terminated by the death of Mr. Leighton, which occurred in 1908.

S. Mills Ely Tower on summit of Mount Prospect stood from 1894 to 2007 when a windstorm knocked it down.

S. Mills Ely Tower on summit of Mount Prospect stood from 1894 to 2007 when a windstorm knocked it down.

The business was a very prosperous one and conducted according to the highest standards of fair dealing, recognizing moral obligations and standards as well as those which are legal. Just one instance serves to illustrate the sincerity with which Mr. Ely made his business adhere to his moral convictions. He did not use tobacco in any form because he believed it to be injurious to health. Therefore, he refused to handle it in his wholesale business even though that article was then one of the large and profitable items of that trade.

Along with the business known as that of S. Mills Ely & Company, Mr. Ely, in association with Roswell J. Bump and Mr. Leighton, organized the Binghamton Chair Company, one of Binghamton’s most successful manufacturing concerns.

Tower Brand table syrup distributed by Mr. Ely features the Ely Tower!

Tower Brand table syrup distributed by Mr. Ely features the Ely Tower!

Always deeply interested in the highest development of the community in which he lived, Mr. Ely did not hesitate to devote time and energy, as well as financial aid to the furtherance of the public welfare. He rendered valuable service valuable service as a member of the Binghamton Board of Education, and was a member of the Binghamton Club.

His religious affiliation was with the First Presbyterian Church of Binghamton, in which he was an office holder for many years, continuing his service to the time of his death in Binghamton, May 5, 1909. More than fifty of his seventy-two years were spend in “good works” in the truest sense of the word. Consistent in all things, his business affairs, his church life, and his home and social life were lived in accordance with the same principles of uprightness, and he refused to sanction or engage in any business deal not in accordance with his religious convictions.

 

No greater benevolent and charitable work was ever carried on by a private individual in Binghamton, than was accomplished by Mr. Ely. The Fresh Air Movement and the Humane Society were the recipients of his most generous aid; the Presbyterian Church and the Young Men’s Christian Association found in him a friend that never failed.

Close up of the tower in the Tower Brand.

Close up of the tower in the Tower Brand.

In memory of his father and mother he gave a library building to Chester, Connecticut, and his summer home, located on Mount Prospect, Binghamton, he gave to the city as a public park, before his death, hoping that this donation would form the beginning of a complete park system.

In his will Mr. Ely remembered nearly every public charity in his city, and made the Presbyterian Church trustee of a fund for carrying on two benevolent enterprises, the care of the poor in Binghamton, and home missionary work among the foreign-born element of the city. Besides these bequests there were generous legacies to ten other organizations of the city, and perhaps one of the most important parts of his unusual will was the generosity with which he remembered his employees, and his recommendation that they take the value of their bequests in stock of the business which he had developed from a small beginning to a strong enterprise.

Original 1929 plan of the Ely Park 9-hole golf course that opened in 1933. Original routing was today's Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 1, 2, & 7!

Original 1929 plan of the Ely Park 9-hole golf course that opened in 1933. Original routing was today’s Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 1, 2, & 7!

Few have lived more worthy and helpful lives than that of Mr. Ely, and both his moral influence and his works are still living and growing in the city to which he gave so generously.

S. Mills Ely married, at Binghamton, New York, October 10, 1867, Mary Hart Hawley, of Binghamton, daughter of Elias and Adaline (Hawley) Hawley, and they were parents of two children: Richard Hawley Ely, who was born July 29, 1868 and died October 8, 1869. 2. Clara May Ely, who was born December 19, 1876, who, with John R. Clements, general manager of the S. Mills Ely Company, was one of the executors of Mr. Ely’s estate. She is a resident of Binghamton.

Gratitude and all credit to William Foote Seward, Editor-in-Chief and Librarian of the Binghamton Public Library for the three-volume series—Binghamton and Broome County, New York, A History—published and copyrighted in 1924 by Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. New York and Chicago. Mr. S. Mills Ely is found in Volume III, Historical and Biographical on Page 30.

December 1908: Ely Tower Demolished. Went Down in Wind that Swept Binghamton.

Ely Tower Demolished. Went Down in Wind that Swept Binghamton.

Among the damage done by the heavy wind at Binghamton yesterday morning was the destruction of the Ely Tower upon Mt. Prospect which has been readily seen off on the right by Lackawanna passengers as they approached Binghamton from the North.

This tower was 130 feet in height and from it five counties could be seen, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, and Delaware counties, N.Y., and Susquehanna county Pa.

It was erected in 1893 by S. Mills Ely from the lumber that he bid off at auction that had been used in the great temporary building in which the B. Fay Mills evangelic meetings were held in that city in 1892. The tower was put up as a memorial to these meetings and thousands of people ascended it each year to get the view.

A year and a half ago Mr. Ely presented to the city of Binghamton for a public park, the land that surrounded it and the tower was included in the gift. The structure cost $4,000 and the park commissioners carried an insurance of $2,500 upon it.

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society

Samuel Mills Ely, Benefactor of Ely Park Golf Course. Photo Credit: Broome County Historical Society photo)

The tower was strongly guyed by four steel cables at its four corners. Only last week it was inspected and declared safe. The city of Binghamton greatly regrets the destruction of the tower. Whether it will be rebuilt is as yet uncertain.

The wind also unroofed the big building on the Binghamton Industrial Exposition grounds and partly removed the building from its foundations. The damage is estimated at $1,500. The wind in Binghamton reached a velocity of 42 miles per hour.

Additional Notes (by Andy Reistetter):

  1. Interesting that the article does not reference Broome County as in 1806, the present-day Broome County was split off from Tioga County. Today, it might be possible to see from Ely Park Golf Course–six counties–Broome, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, and Delaware counties, New York State, and Susquehanna County in the state of Pennsylvania.
  2. View of Ely’s Tower Binghamton, NY

    Very interesting in that S. Mills Ely did not go by his first name Samuel but rather by his middle name Mills… is this a tribute to or recognition of the last name of evangelic S. Fay Mills?

  3. The ‘a year and a half ago’ references the gift of 140 acres of land, including the tower, from S. Mills Ely to the City of Binghamton on June 3rd, 1907.
  4. The wind in Binghamton was referenced at 42 miles per hour. I wonder what was the wind speed of the gust or tornado that knocked down the Ely Tower.
  5. S. Mills Ely was born in Chester, Connecticut on October 24th, 1837 and came to Binghamton around 1859 at the age of 21 or 22. He died at age 71 on May 5th, 1909 after living in Binghamton a half of a century.
  6. Gratitude to Edward G. Brewer who posted this picture of this article on Facebook’s Historic Binghamton public page administered by Bob Bullock.