August 1988

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Whatever Became of

Carter Kingsley's Safe?


Richard Sherer

Well, no, not all of the people living here today with the same names you see in the old books and papers are descendants of those pioneers. There are people here today with the same names of the pioneering families but they aren't related. Some of the families died out.

Charles Kingsley had three sons, all of them lawyers, but no descendants live here today. He built the fine Greek house where Ray Dann and his wife live now on Route 54 close to Hammondsport. Two of his sons went to New York City and Carter Kingsley stayed and practiced in Bath.

I remember when we first came here and dad was buying a piece of property in Buck Settlement, he went to Carter to have him take care of the transfer. Mr. Kingsley must have been in his late seventies then. He always wore a Derby hat and was very gentlemanly, tipping his hat to every lady he saw.

Dad would stop at his office every so often to see if he had gotten through the abstract and Mr. Kingsley would say, "No, I haven't gotten that done yet." There was a pile of papers on the floor in the corner behind his desk that was a foot or more high and it grew between every visit. It got to be two feet and then thirty inches and the base of the pile even began to spread out. Finally one day when dad stopped—I was usually with him, Carter said, "Yes, let me see, I think it is right here," and with his left fingers he went down the stack of papers about six inches and then poked them into it and with his right hand pulled out a clutch of sheets. There was the new deed right on top of the papers in his hand. He evidently knew what was in the stack and exactly where it was located.

His office was upstairs in the old theater building and he had a large two-door safe there. After awhile the landlord became concerned because he saw that the floor joists and the supporting beams below the safe were sagging. He told Carter that he had to get the safe out of there. All right he would.

He found some men who would move it down the stairway. They must have realized after they started that it was a hazardous undertaking because when they got it to the sidewalk they refused to move it any farther, saying they had said they would get it out of the building but nothing more. Carter paid them off and left the safe where they had moved it—on the sidewalk.

He lived on Washington Street and every morning he would come down Liberty Street in his Derby hat and open the safe to get out the legal papers he needed. It was summertime and he didn't mind. He was, however, constantly interrupted because whenever a lady came along the street he had to politely tip his Derby to her. First a lady would approach from one direction and Carter would back out of his safe, straighten up and salute the passing lady. Then before he could get out the papers he was looking for one or several ladies would be coming from the opposite direction and it was necessary to extend them the same courtesy.

After a few weeks the town fathers decided that the safe couldn't stay there on the sidewalk and they spoke to him about moving it. Carter readily agreed that they could move it and so they did with the help of passersby and a policeman, shoving it along the sidewalk until they came to the alley by the village offices. Probably they were exhausted from pushing it that distance so they pushed the safe off the sidewalk and along the alley against the wall of the building and left it. There the safe stayed and Carter continued using it that summer. The new location must have sheltered him somewhat from the passing ladies and his gentlemanly duties toward them.

Not long after this he died. J. Victor Faucett who had the feed store where Fagan's furniture store is now bought the safe from the estate. My dad had an oil business in Bath then and had a truck with a boom and a winch driven cable for moving oil drums. Mr. Faucett asked Dad if we could move the safe with the truck.

"Well, I guess so."

"I've cut a hole in the wall of my building about a foot wider than the safe and three feet higher—room enough for the boom on the back of your truck."

Dad sent me down with the truck and I backed it up to the safe and attached the cable. Then I got back into the cab and engaged the winch. Slowly it wound the cable and the front of the truck rose in the air. The safe didn't move. I eased the cable off the windlass and the truck wheels came down on the ground again. When I had unhooked the cable, I went back to the depot and fastened two drums filled with oil to the front of the truck. Together they must have weighed 1000 pounds.

I went back to the safe again, hooked on and this time it came slowly off the ground but not very far. I drove with the safe dangling behind down Liberty street and then out Morris Street to Faucett's. The truck steered with only finger pressure on the wheel because the front was so light. When I got the truck over the curb and the safe aimed for the hole in the wall, I backed the truck slowly until the safe was through the hole in the wall. Mr. Faucett directed me where to steer and when I got the safe to the right location he said, "Now, Dick, let it down just a little."

I delicately touched the lowering pedal. The taut cable unwound a couple of inches from the winch drum with a slight crisp noise, "Zt."

"A little more," he said turning the safe around so it would face the right way.


"Just a little more."


"There, she's on the floor. You can let it off now."

"Zz z z z zzz zzz zzzz zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzz zzt."

The safe was in the basement.

Faucett said, "Well, Dick, can you hoist it up?"

I put the winch in gear again and it came up, but it did more damage coming up than it had going down because it didn't want to come back through the hole in the floor the way it had gone down.

"Put her out on the ground, Dick."

I moved the truck ahead and let the safe down again.

Faucett said, "If you can leave your rig right here, I'll get the boys to fix the floor and we can try again tomorrow."

I went back the next day. The floor was repaired and down underneath, in the basement, were a lot of new stout posts under that part of the floor. I backed it in again. He got it positioned and I very slowly let off the cable. This time everything held.

Later on Bernard Fagan bought Faucett's building and remodelled it, really built a new building right over it. But the safe is gone. I've asked Jim Fagan where it went but he doesn't know. What did become of Carter Kingsley's safe?

© 1988, Richard Sherer
Carter Kingsley's Safe Found!
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