The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Fifty-Five


Kernan Bakery Burns

The Opera House was given over to the combined members of the local Masonic fraternity who brought the comedy drama. “Are You A Mason,” for their benefit January 3,1902. The play and cast gave the large audience a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment which was highly appreciative to the members, their wives and guests, who came to witness the performance.

Frank Hostler, prominent citizen and long-time employee in the machinery department of the Baltimore and Ohio local railroad shops, sojourning in the southern states, during his wandering arrived at Tuscumbia, Alabama, and on registering at a well known hotel, his attention was called to a painting hanging on the ornate walls of the hotel lobby, recognizing the painting as the work of George L. Blaney’s “Lady Godiva, the famous woman of Coventry.” Hostler remarked to the hotel proprietor, “I see you have a painting done by an artist of my own town.” The hotel man said: “Surely you are mistaken,  that painting is from the brush of a celebrated French artist and painted in France and cost me a great sum of money.” Hostler remarked: “An artist of my own town painted an exact duplicate of the picture, which led me to think it was from his brush and the same painting.”

The hotel man was called to attend the arrival of a group of guests. Hostler approached the painting and saw in the corner the name “Blaney”  autographed and his belief was confirmed, but he said nothing of his discovery until he returned home. And seeking Blaney told him of the incident. Blaney painted the famous picture in 1888 and displayed the painting in a show window on Main Street that year. Sometime later he sold the painting to the railway order in the city of Toledo, Ohio, for the sum of $100 and had the painting been autographed by some famous painter it would have been known to art lovers as a masterpiece. Doubtless who ever sold the painting to the hotel man assured him the work was from the brush of a celebrity and charged him accordingly.

The comedy drama , “An Irish Arab,” a vehicle written for laughing purposes came to the Opera House January 6, 1902, and like all drama that give full scope for Irish with and humor proved an entertaining play for those who prefer this kind rather than the heavy type of drama.

Mrs. F.O. Purdy opened a school for instruction in shorthand and stenography and type-writing in the Merchants and Mechanics Bank building and enrolled a number of students in her school. This art that eliminated the “scriveners of old,” whose classical pens covered the pages of the records of the past with beautiful penmanship, has almost reduced the art of writing to oblivion for this modern way of keeping records.

Side Tracked, a comedy drama of an amusing character, featuring the comedians, John Mack and Eddie Dunlay, came to the Opera House February 15,1902, and drew an audience that completely filled the house and proved an attraction that kept the audience gleefully shouting their approval of efforts of the two comedians to give them an evening’s entertainment.

The big siren screamed an alarm of fire that was raging in the old Edward Kernan bakery on West Main Street on February 3,1902. Bitterly cold, the volunteer firemen fought and prevented the fire from entering the tailor shop of John H. Gerkin in the west and the home of William Jennings on the east. The Sommerville brothers, owners of the property applied to the town council to raze the unburnt part of the building and construct business rooms on the ground floor which consent council granted and workman began operations by raising the building in preparation for its reconstruction and after spending some time and considerable money in this operation the raised building suddenly collapsed and fell to the ground a mass of broken timbers. The owners  had the wreckage removed and the present brick business and office building erected. The old frame building erected by Edward Kernan, one of the pioneer settlers of Grafton, who opened a bakery on site now covered by the business and apartment building occupied by tenants and Favish Novelty company on Latrobe Street, which became property of William D. Swaim by purchase in the 70’s , caused Mr. Kernan to erect his bakery and dwelling on the site that is now 207 West Main Street , in which he operated his bakery and confectionery until his death on August 25, 1891, and then his heirs sold the old building to the Sommerville brothers, who leased it to John Dolan for a bakery at the time of the fires.

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