John Ball & Co., Produce Elevator

John Ball.jpg
John Ball 1935.jpg
John Ball 1953.jpg

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John Ball & Co., Produce Elevator


Number 45 on the Burleigh map, the firm alongside the Erie Railroad dates to 1892 when John Ball (1855-1936) formed a partnership with his younger brother Thomas--who had been a principal in the firm of Ball & Donahue. Eventually their facility came to encompass a grain elevator, a bean dryer, a mill, and facilities for processing coal delivered by the railroad.

Beneath this skeletal history are hints of the catastrophes routinely faced by merchants in an era before modern fire-resistant architecture and alarm systems. After commencing operations in 1891, a fire in 1896 destroyed Ball's structure. It was the third major Caledonia fire in six years. The "Advertiser" sardonically recommended that the village "ought to erect a great big portable grand-stand on wheels, so that when a fire occurs the spectators might have comfortable seats" (8 Oct. 1896). Ball's losses were estimated to be at least $15,000, yet two weeks later he already was consulting with a Buffalo architect for a new and "far better" elevator (Caledonia "Advertiser" 22 Oct. 1896).

In 1910, the firm constructed a "modern concrete coal shed"--presumably more fireproof than its earlier version. These various advertisements show the company's gradual shift from agriculture to energy, from coal to oil delivery.


Caledonia Advertiser


1. 1918-05-23
2. 1935-10-24
3. 1953-08-06


Cooper, Ken


Courtesy of Tom Tryniski / Fulton History


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