Publication: The Times Union
Rochester, NY, United States
By MARGE VAN ISEGHEM
Special to The Times-Union
Victor — The progress of time has erased a landmark here. Victor's new bridge expanse program at the easterly village limits is assuming the come-alive appearance of spring minus the Fred M. Locke homestead.
While the homestead, which doubled as a dwelling and laboratory for insulator experiments for inventor Locke is gone, memory of what happened on the site will linger on. The high tension porcelain insulator was perfected in the lab formerly at Lynaugh and Locke Hill roads. "Fry" overware also was born here.
Lest the passing of the old Locke home dim memories of what the Victor resident accomplished there, his family and friends are stumping the town and village for a street or site to be named for the inventor. Locke Insulators, then Victor Insulators and now I. T. E. Circuit Breaker Co. on Maple Avenue, made products that grew from Fred M. Locke inventions. Mention has been made of changing Maple Avenue to "Fred M. Locke Avenue."
James L. Locke, Canandaigua and one of two surviving sons of the inventor, has approached town and village officials, he said, on the idea. He also has contacted Ontario Justice Frederic T. Henry, president of the County Historical Society, on the name possibilities.
The son discovered after requesting a marker for the old homestead site from the state Education Department that such installations are a thing of the past. Locke said the state advised funds no longer are available to erect historical or memorial markers. In fact, some markers have been removed. Maintenance costs were said to be the problem.
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LOCKE INSULATOR plants at one time were located here, in Lima, and Barberton, Ohio. The firm rebuilt both Victor and Lima buildings following fires. Locke insulators continued here until the 1920's when the factory moved to Baltimore, Md.
Fred Locke's job as railroad telegrapher brought him to Victor. When his experiments occupied him, his wife, the late Mercie Peer Locke, filled in as telegrapher. Eventually their five sons became adept as wire operators. Morton and James of Canandaigua are still members of Inc International Telegraphers and Morse Code associations.
Mr. Locke died in 1930 at the age of 69. He then was working on a type of glass, now used in cookware and high tension insulators. Locke was active in the Masons and Episcopal Church and interested in Victor's Indian lore. One Victor resident, Ernest T. Johnson, urged in an open letter that a memorial plaque be situated in the village to honor the late inventor.
|Date completed:||August 6, 2010 by: Elton Gish;|