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Niagara Falls City Historian, Michelle KrattsNIAGARA FALLS, NY  (Oakwood Cemetery) - The phrase, "Niagara's History is at Oakwood" has never rung truer than tonight!

Oakwood Cemetery is pleased to congratulate our good friend, Michelle Kratts on being named the City Historian of Niagara Falls, NY by Mayor Paul Dyster. Michelle follows in some mighty footsteps of previous Historians and will be a great ambassador for the City's stories.

Michelle is a local author and has been involved with several publications, including "The Missed", "Haunted, True Tales of Niagara", "Buon Appetito" a book of Italian American restaurateurs in Niagara Falls, NY along with  recipes. Kratts writes for the prestigious Western New York Heritage Magazine.  She has also written extensively for the Oakwood Cemetery's website and her works are consistently the top articles read on our site.  Michelle's passion for finding the full story will be a great asset for the city. As an author and genealogist, Michelle can take a shred of evidence and track it down, finding all the facts, then turn it into an item of interest for the general public.  

Kratts, just recently was awarded a Masters Degree in Library Science and is a librarian/genealogist at the Lewiston Public Library.  She lives in Niagara Falls, NY with her husband and 3 children and several assorted animals.


Spring is here for Oakwood: 4th Annual “Bird Walk” and “Beautify Oakwood”

The 4th Annual “Bird Walk” at the historic Oakwood Cemetery, 763 Portage Road, Niagara Falls, NY will be held at 8 AM on two consecutive Saturdays:  May 2 and May 9.

photo by Dave Young

Free and open to the public, birders are asked to meet at the Oakwood House to register and pick-up a free “Migrating Birds of Niagara Checklist”.  Please bring binoculars and cameras; wear weather appropriate clothing with comfortable shoes.  Free parking and open restrooms are available on site.

Whitney Mallam, president of the Oakwood Cemetery Association board of directors and chair of the event, invites interested persons to join him on the two special outings: “I look forward to sharing this experience with other birders and nature lovers.  Our historic, mid-19th century, 18 acre site is a jewel in the center of the city.  It’s truly an out-of-doors museum and the migrating birds enhance its beauty.” 

A breath of fresh air, this unique experience is a delight!  While strolling the historic lanes in the early morning light, today’s birders will come upon wonderful sightings - rolling landscape and birds from as far away as South America make their spring migration up the east coast of the United States.  Many resting sites can be found in Western New York and, for some, summer nesting places.  Oakwood Cemetery, with prime vegetation and habitation, is one of these sites. 

Following the “Bird Walk”, and as part of the Niagara Beautification Commission (NBC) “Beautify Niagara”, individual volunteers and groups will organize at Oakwood House.  Chaired by Trudy Christman, “Beautify Oakwood” will include:  Congressman Higgins’ staff, AARP #283, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to name a few.  “Oakwood Beautifiers” are asked to bring their own trash-collecting tools.

The NBC, the City of Niagara Falls and the Seneca Niagara Casino will provide a kick off breakfast at 8 AM, trash bags and gloves, and a “Volunteer: Thank You Lunch” at noon at the John Duke Senior Center, 1201 Hyde Park Blvd.,  Niagara Falls, NY.

For more information and photos of past events, please go to Oakwood Cemetery’s website:

To register for events, please call:  (716) 284-5131


From the pages of Orrin E. Dunlap's Scrapbook

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (Oakwood Cemetery) - On a recent trip to the Niagara Falls Public Library - Local History Dept. Michelle Kratts discovered several Oakwood related items in Orrin E. Dunlap's scrapbook.  Here are just a few of the remarkable items.  

How strange is destiny!

How remarkable that two Englishmen should leave their mother country and cross the Atlantic ocean –one in search of Pleasure, the other restless for Fame, but both to find graves in the same cemetery in a foreign city—resting so closely in the burial place, where laid 52 years apart that were it possible they might sleep in each other’s arms as well as in the grasp of Death that came to them and their souls fled to Eternity so they took the water route from Niagara Falls to Lewiston—one on June 10, 1831, the other July 24, 1883. Under the flat stone lies Francis Abbott; under the modern monument rests Captain Matthew Webb, who swam the English Channel, but who surrendered life to the Whirlpool Rapids of Niagara.

Grave of Francis Abbott

The Cemetery Association made an appropriation of $30. For masonry and a slab. On this slab it is recorded the Hermit died June 10, 1831. All Nature united in making the water and foliage about the Falls most glorious. His soul took flight to Heaven in the Spray Cloud. Could Abbott, fascinated as he was with sublime Niagara, have wished better?

His (Abbott's) guitar, that beguiled so many of his solitary hours, and soothed him in his sorrows, is still preserved as a curiosity, and may be seen at Mr. Hooker’s shop in the village of Niagara Falls.—Parson’s Guide, 1836.

Judge Theodore T. G. Hullett and his Valet

Judge Hullett designed and , with his own hands, built the Old Iron Basket used on the cableway of the footbridge erected across the Niagara Gorge in 1848.


Canadians want Goat Island!

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (Oakwood Cemetery) - In a surprising move, a small group of our neighbors to the north have set up camp on Goat Island in Niagara Falls, NY and claimed it as rightful property of the Candian government.  "If anyone would take the time to read the fine print in the Treaty of Ghent, you would clearly see the International Border leaves Goat Island in the Canadian Province of Onatario", said group spokesman Thomas Shackleford.  "We just want what is rightfully ours", he continued.  At the moment the group of eighteen or so people are on the west end of the Island in the middle of what is the New York State Parks parking lot. 

New York State Parks Police are at the scene of the encampment, but have been warned not to enter the "Sovereign Land of Canada" without the United States Ambassador.  "It is our intent to take the whole island, once we convince the New Yorkers to leave", Shackleford said.  State Parks Police Lieutenant William Adams seemed nonplussed by the whole situation.  "They've been peaceful and polite.  Aside from the ocassional whiff of back bacon and maple syrup, they have kept to themselves".  

UPDATE:  It looks like the invasion has ended peacefully.  As the group was leaving Shackleford was heard mumbling something about an April Fool prank.



Grand Gardens of the Niagara Portage



Saturday, July 18, 2015 10am-4pm

Offers a wide variety of activities at 5 distinctly different venues in Niagara Falls

The New York State Parks Trolley will provide transportation between locations


The NACC 1201 Pine Avenue

10am-Noon - Children’s Garden

12 Noon – Presentation to Showcase the Children’s Garden

Established in 2014 to teach children how to grow fruits and vegetables

The garden area is a place where visitors can sit on benches to relax or read

1-7pm – 9th annual Good News Gospel Festival


Schoellkopf Park Portage & Pine

10am-Joy Kuebler Landscape Architectural presentation

10am-1pm – Schoellkopf Garden Club will be available to greet guests

11am- Tai Chi in the Park with Ray Robertson

12:30 pm–Yoga in the Park with Laura Vendrys from Tree of Life Yoga Studio 


Oakwood Cemetery 763 Portage Road

10am-Welcome to Historic Oakwood

11am-Mike and Kathleen Shadrack “Smug Creek Gardens”presentation

Noon-3 Sales of Hostas by WNYHS and book sale by the Shadracks

1 pm- Tree Tour-John Farfaglia-Cornell Cooperative Extension

3pm-Sally Cunningham CNLP presentation on “The Power of Garden Tourism”

Look what’s happened in  Western New York!


Niagara Falls Public Library 1425 Main Street

10am-Noon-Local Author Book Signing in Turtle Rock Garden

1-1:45 pm – Lew Buttery presents the “Gad Pierce” story in the Serenity Garden

1-4 pm Children’s Activities and Crafts in the “Learning Together Sculpture Area”

10-4 Book Sale in the International Peace Garden Area


Complete Senior Care 1302 Main Street

10am-4pm-Tour the Day Center

Free Blood Pressure Check

Activities for all ages

Free Door Prize Drawing

Refreshments available

Theme Basket Auction

11am-Physical and Occupational Therapy Presentation

Noon-Culinary Demonstration with Recipe Card

1 pm-“Therapeutic Gardening” by Margaret Lapp-Cornell Cooperative Extension

2pm-“Garden to the Kitchen-Herbs and More” by Bob Brackikowski

3pm-Memory Garden Dedication

4pm-Door Prize and Theme Basket Winners Announced

Winners need not be present


The New York State Parks Trolley will stop at each of the 5 venues on a continuous basis. They will pass by the following locations along the route from Portage Road to Main Street to Pine Avenue that will feature plantings of their own.

Carnegie Building 1022 Main Street

It was designed and built in 1902-1904, with funds provided by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The structure cost $50,000 to build and opened in April 1904. It is a low one story brick structure. It functioned as a library until March 9, 1974 when the library’s collections outgrew the small building and were moved to the new Earl Brydges Building at 1425 Main Street, and is now occupied by the offices of Niagara Falls Urban Renewal Agency, along with other city departments. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

City Hall 745 Main Street

It is a historic building located at Niagara Falls and was constructed in 1923-1924, in the Beaux-Arts style. The building embodies Neo-Classical revival architectural details. It features a centrally arranged rectangular form, with a central projecting pavilion, fluted columns with Ionic capitals, and smooth ashlar sandstone walls with pilasters. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

There will be parking available at each of the participating venues, and one can board the trolley at any one of them to get to another. All 5 have bathroom facilities available and some will also have food and/or drinks.

Note the hourly presentations in red. There will be at least 1 at each location on the hour, and will last about 45 minutes. Hopefully that should give attendees enough time to make it to the next presentation on the hour.

“Gardens will be in full bloom, and we look forward to greeting you to Niagara Falls.”