Graham Avenue is a street that brings back fond memories for me. As a teen, I worked summers at WSUC-FM, the college radio station. I often had a morning shift and rode my bike up there from my great grandmother’s house on Rural Avenue. It was always so peaceful and quiet at 5:00 am. It was still usually cool, but heat and humidity were just lurking around the corner. When I was at the radio station, I had no idea who Brockway Hall was named after (George Brockway, I know now), and I never gave a thought as to how the street was named. Julius A. Graham was the namesake for Graham Avenue.
Julius A. Graham was born in Newark, NY in 1827, but he came to Cortland in 1849 and worked in a mercantile business for about three years with Edward Webb. He purchased the Cortland House and was the proprietor for several years. In 1864, he married Mary L. Ives, the daughter of Frederick Ives of Schermerhorn and Ives. It appears that Graham changed his vocation a few times, according to his obituary. (There was not much to go on besides his obituary.) He spent 2-3 years in the oil regions in Pennsylvania “looking after his interests” there. Upon his return to Cortland, he clerked for Ives and Schermerhorn, and after the death of his father-in-law, he partnered with Mr. Schermerhorn and the business became Schermerhorn and Graham. He was in the produce business for 16 years and owned “some fine farms in the vicinity of Cortland.” Without more research, I’m not sure how many or where those farms were located.
Seven years before Frederick Ives’ death, Julius and Mary moved to the Ives home at the corner of North Main Street and Clinton Avenue. Where Key Bank (formerly the Cortland Savings Bank) stands today, the Ives family home stood for over 100 years before it was moved to make way for the bank. There was only one photo that had a caption on the back that the home was moved to Charles Street, so I’m not sure if this occurred or if the home was demolished. As always, more research is required!
Some other incidental information about Mr. Graham–Julius was a member of the first fire company in the village of Cortland and he was very fond of music. He played the double bass viol, played in local orchestras, and sang in the Presbyterian choir. His son Fred was also musically inclined and was a teacher at the Cortland Conservatory of Music. On the 1888 map of Cortland, Julius owned two lots on Graham Avenue and he had his residence at 10 Main Street, right next to the Samson Block. J.A. Graham died July 5, 1902, and is buried at Cortland Rural Cemetery with his wife Mary.
Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about the namesake of Graham Avenue. Enjoy your day! ~Tabitha