All in-person Chapel worship services are currently suspended pursuant to COVID-19!
A brief historical synapsis, "The Holloway Memorial Chapel" by Austin M. Fox, initially developed June 1979, and later revised in 2001, is available in a downloadable MS Word Document format by selecting the Blue Button (below).
A brief historical synapsis, "Holloway Memorial Chapel at Point Abino, 1894 - 1965", by Mildred W. Magee, developed in 1965, is available in a downloadable MS Word Document format by selecting the Blue Button (below).
The Holloway Memorial Chapel - by Austin M. Fox
This booklet is dedicated to all the men and women who have served in the past and present on the Board of Trustees and who’s loyalty and affection for the Chapel have a shirt it’s continuance.
In compiling this new little history of the Holloway Memorial Chapel, I have with some reluctance excluded the names of a number of Point Abino, Abino Hills, and Bay Beach families who have supported and served the Chapel in various capacities in the past. The English historian, Thomas Carlyle, once said that the history is the essence of innumerable biographies. In a sense, the history of the Chapel is the essence of many biographies too. Unfortunately, there is not room to include many names in the short history, but they are of course preserved in Chapel records, rolls, and minutes of trustees’ meetings.
I have included some material on the history of the Point itself because the story of the Holloway Memorial Chapel is really part of that history.
I would like to thank the following Canadians and Americans for their time, their information, and their interest: William C. Baird, Charles K. Bassett, Ruth Ellsworth, Florence Foreman, Elsa Kreiner, Earl N. Plato, Dr. Herman Sass (Librarian of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society), the Rev. Robert S. Sweeney (especially), Jean Tripp, and various descendants of the Holloway and Stafford families, particularly Constance Stafford Constantine and the late Walter F. Stafford.
June 1979 A.M.F. Revised 2001
The Holloway Memorial Chapel was built in 1894 in memory of Isaac Holloway and his wife, Mary Ann. It was given by their daughter, Harriet Holloway Stafford, on land owned by Alan Holloway. The original site was near the gas well, close to the former Point Abino Security Gate.
In the 1930s the Chapel was moved to its present location, and the land deeded to the church by Alan Holloway. With the advent of electricity in the area, William Stafford gave an electric organ in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Stafford. Thus ended the era of the old hand-pumped organ, manned by robust young sons of church families.
In 1951 William C. Baird bought 70 additional feet of frontage for the Chapel to increase the size of the church lot to 120 feet, so that the Chapel could have a more spacious and pleasant setting, with parking in the rear.
At the same time Mr. Baird donated funds for the remodeling of the Chapel. The country vernacular, carpenter Gothic design gave way to a more formal eighteen century New England village church style. The porch, with its entrance on the south side of the façade, was supplanted by a classical portico with a center entrance, and the barn-style cupola was replaced by a slender Christopher Wren-style steeple. Inside, the chancel was re-designed to include a communion rail, pulpit, “cathedral” chairs, lectern, and new light fixtures. Off the south side of the entrance a “bride’s room” was added, and on the opposite side a minister’s robing room, with modern lavatory facilities.
In accordance with the original wishes of the donors, the Chapel remains inter-denominational. It invites both Canadian and American religious men and women of various faiths to conduct Sunday services, traditionally held at 5 PM Sunday afternoon, to accommodate the pastors who often had to hold services in their own churches on Sunday mornings before coming over to the Point. Beginning in the summer of 1978, in deference to a poll of the congregation, the service was shifted to 10 AM Sunday morning.
In the early years of the century, before the Erie Road was built, church-bound families would row or paddle across the bay to the Holloway Chapel. Charles K. Bassett tells of his father, George B. Bassett, rowing the family in a 16-foot rowboat from their summer home on Bay Beach to the shore near the Chapel. And in her children’s book “Trudy and the Tree House” (Macmillan, 1955), Elizabeth Coatsworth gives a fictionalized version of her own nautical excursions to Chapel during her girlhood summers in her family cottage at Bay Beach:
“On fine Sunday mornings the Davises always paddled to the little church at Point Abino in the war canoe. Mummy took the bow and Daddy the stern and the little girls knelt two-by-two in the space between wielding light paddles – except for Ann, who paddled by herself just behind Mummy. It was Mummy, of course, as bow paddler who set the rhythm. The Family had practiced enough so that all the paddles, dipping in flashing in the sun, struck the water at once, with a pretty gurgling sound, and the big canoe move steadily across the mile of bay between their dock and the Point, where the church stood. There were always other boats on their way to service too, with sails white against the water, or with motors chugging, as well as two or three other canoes, smaller, of course, for smaller families.”
“They were a little late and went right in. The doors stood open and the sunlight fell across the aisle; and the flies and bees came in and out on their various errands, perhaps deceived by all the bright-colored clothes.”
The Holloway Chapel has frequently been the scene of summer weddings of sons and daughters of Canadian shore family and of the christenings of their infants. The lovely setting and charming atmosphere of the Chapel provide a simple but beautiful background for these church ceremonies.
The Chapel is administered by a Board of Trustees, who over the years have sponsored various benefits to raise money for maintaining the Chapel. One of the most successful has been the Strawberry Festival, held every year on the rear lawn of the lovely home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Rich, a particularly appropriate site, since their home was the original residence of Isaac Holloway, built probably about 1880.
1874 Isaac Holloway and his partner, Chandler J. Wells, had bought all of Point Abino. A paving contractor before the days of cement and asphalt, Holloway regarded the Point is a marvelous source of sand, which in those days was used as a base for stone streets and slab side-walks. Holloway in Chandler built a dock on the east side of the Point, near Bragg’s landing, for shipping sand to Buffalo. They also built a horse drawn railway to haul sand from the west shore to the east shore, the track probably running through the cut on the Baird property.
Sometime after Chandler had withdrawn from the partnership, Holloway built a dock and a sand hopper on the west shore, from which he shipped sand.
When Isaac Holloway died in 1884, his son Allan took over the Point Abino Sand Company, which gradually went out of existence. Allan’s sister Harriet married James B. Stafford, who with his brother Richard, was to help establish the Point Abino Association, thus altering the history of the Point from commercial to speculative and recreational real estate.
The Point Abino Association was formed August 21, 1892. The Buffalo News gives the following account:
“A company was formed yesterday for the purpose of booming Point Abino, Canada, as an appropriate spot for families to spend the summer. James B. Stafford and R.H. Stafford of Villa Park and Fulton Market fame are the head of the scheme, which is sufficient guarantee that it will be commercially successful.
James B. Stafford has a house there already. R.H. Stafford is building one and the officers elected yesterday at the rooms of the Security Investment Company in the Stafford Building on Pearl Street are:
President, Charles L. Bullymore; first vice-president, Jacob Stern; second vice-president, W. Bowen Moore; treasurer, John W. Fisher; secretary, Albert T. Brown; attorney, Perry C. Rayburn; trustees, Theodore Wende, John W. Fisher, C.S. Crosser, Harlan J. Swift, James B. Stafford, Jacob Stern, Charles L. Bullymore, Perry C. Rayburn, James H. Smith. F.S. Hubbard, Albert T. Brown, and Frank P. Boechat.
Of these gentlemen several own lots at Idlewood on the American lake shore, Surrogate Stern among the rest. The “Point” is but a short distance from Crystal Beach. Stages will run to connect with all boats.”
The story of the Holloway Chapel would not be complete without some reference to the Indians, whose ossuary or burial ground was not far from the present site of the Chapel. They were probably Attiwandarons, kinsmen of the Hurons to the north of them and of the Iroquois to the east and south. The French called them Neutrals because they took no part in the deadly struggle between the Hurons and the Iroquois. In 1640 their forty villages along the north shore of Lake Erie comprised a population of about 12,000. In the Niagara district the Neutrals had numerous small villages and two large ones, one at Point Abino and the other at Niagara. Part of the trail connecting the two large villages went from Point Abino up the Marsh or Point Abino Road to the Ridge Road, along the ridge through what is now Ridgeway to the Bowen Road, thence to Miller’s Creek, to what is now the Town of Fort Erie, and along the river to Niagara.
But the Iroquois broke the back of the Neutral Indians in the period from 1645-1650, killing large numbers and causing many of the survivors to flee the area and join other tribes. There is no evidence, however, that any of this fighting took place near the site of the Chapel or anywhere else on the Point.
One of the earliest descriptions of the Point comes from Isaac Weld, Jr.’s “Travels through the States of North America and the Province of Upper and Lower Canada during the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797” (London, 1799) (A copy belongs to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society). The report suggests that in the 1790’s there were still both Indians and bears on the Point:
“The Indians generally go in large parties to hunt bears, and on coming to the place where they suppose these animals are lurking they form themselves into a large circle, and as they advance endeavor to rouse them…...We proceeded in this manner at Point Abineau, where three or four men are amply sufficient to hem in a bear between the water and the main land. The point was a favorable place for hunting this year, for the bears, intent, as I before mentioned, upon emigrating to the south, used on coming down from upper country, to advance to the extreme end of the point, as if desirous of getting as near as possible by land to the opposite side of the lake, and scarcely a morning came but what one or two of them were found upon it…..
Weld also tells of two white farming families on the Point in the 1790’s:
“The ground on the eastern side of the point is neither so much broken nor so sandy as that on the opposite one, and there we found two farm houses adjoining to each of which were about thirty acres of cleared land. At one of these we procured a couple of sheep, some fowls, and a quantity of potatoes, to add to our store of provisions, as there was reason to apprehend that our voyage would not be speedily terminated; whilst the men were digging for the latter, the old woman of the house spread her little table, and prepared for us the best viands which her habitation afforded, namely, coarse cake bread, roasted potatoes, and bear’s flesh salted, which last we found by no means unpalatable.”
One of these farmers may have been the Timothy Skinner recorded in a search done on Lot No. 51 in the present Point Abino Association. A patent dated 10thof February 1797 was issued to Timothy Skinner for part of Lot No. 32, Broken Front Concession. Unfortunately, nothing is known of Timothy Skinner.
Any historical record of the Holloway Memorial Chapel would be unfinished without some reference to the Pere Aveneau Legend. According to tradition, a Jesuit priest, Claude Aveneau, came to the Point in 1690, built a cabin, and lived there for several years, communing with God and converting the Indian inhabitants to Christianity. Part of the legend is that the name Abinois an Anglicizing of Aveneau.
Historical sources, such as Jesuit archives and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, show that such a person existed and did indeed travel to the Mid-West and back from Quebec City. But there is no documented evidence that he ever stopped at the Point or that Abinois a corruption of Aveneau. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that legend is based largely upon oral tradition, which is difficult to prove right or wrong.
Surrounded by legend, tradition, and history, the Holloway Chapel stands today as s serene symbol of a spiritual peace, an unpretentious House of God, that will outlast the plans and struggles of the various peoples who have set upon the beautiful stretch of land and water known as Point Abino.
In the years since 1978, when this booklet was first published, the Chapel has continued to thrive. Indeed, some services are so well attended that the “overflow crowd” must be accommodated outside the Chapel on the portico! (Our ushers make sure that the outside worshippers are well supplied with chairs and hymnals.)
There have been two notable events since 1978 that deserve mention in any history of the Holloway Memorial Chapel. In 1990n the Town of Fort Erie, recognizing how unique the building is and citing its interesting history, designated the Chapel as property of “architectural and historical value” – in effect, landmark status. And in 1994, the Chapel celebrated its 100thanniversary! There is a plaque commemorating that event near the entrance to the driveway.
The Chapel, embarked now on its second hundred years, is indeed a treasure – and a living reminder of the rich historical tapestry Point Abino enjoys.
Holloway Memorial Chapel - At Point Abino, Ontario - 1894-1965 - by Mildred W. Magee
How little do we who worship at the chapel on Point Abino realize it’s early religious background.
Two hundred and Seventy-five years ago, a Jesuit priest, Pere Claude Aveneau left his home country of France.
He had been assigned to the Ottawa mission in Canada. He proceeded west and in 1690 he stopped at the point of land which now bears his name. He built a log cabin on the dunes and there he communed with his God and prepared himself for the mission to the Indians. He later moved on to the mouth of the Saint Joseph River in the limitless Northwest area of the United States which is now known as Indiana. There he preached and taught and was much beloved by the redskins.
Through the years the name point Aveneau was changed to Point Abino, and here in 1891 Mr. and Mrs. James Stafford built themselves a home. Mrs. Harriet Holloway Stafford was a devout woman in the mother of six children. She realized a need for their religious education and started a Sunday School for them in her home.
As the colony on Point Abino grew, other children came to be taught and so the idea of a chapel came into being.
In 1894 the chapel was built by Mrs. James Stafford on land owned by Alan Holloway on a site near the gas well close to the Point Abino gate. It was dedicated “To the glory of God, and in loving memory of Isaac and Mary Ann Holloway”, Mrs. Stafford’s parents.
How happy Father Aveneau would have been to know that there would be a chapel raised on the site of his work with the Indians, and that a man and his wife would fulfill his desire to bring the word of the Lord to this area.
The little chapel flourished in those early days and it was not only a church, but the center of the early Lake Shore community.
Prominent ministers came from Buffalo to preach on Sunday. One summer, Alfred Waite, a son of Sarah Holloway Waite and a grandson of Isaac Holloway filled the pulpit.
In those early days, Mrs. Stafford and Mrs. Everet Jameson, who was Julie Stafford, played the organ. Since there was no electricity in the chapel the organ had to be pumped by hand. Mrs. Frederick W. Danforth followed Mrs. Stafford as organist. Small boys of the community were impressed into pumping it. Alexander McNabb and Granger Wilson took turns. Granger often rode to church on his pony, which he tied to a tree back of the chapel, where it sometimes whinnied impatiently. The young lads often tired in the middle of a hymn and the organ stopped only to burst forth again at the urgency of the organist, when the pumpers made up for the lost time.
Mrs. Danforth organized a children’s choir. It was not too successful, because children had the idea that the holiday they were enjoying was not for choir practice. Mr. A. T. Brown lead the singing. He was married to a Miss Fargo, a member of a prominent Buffalo family. They had built a cottage in what was known as the Brown Cut.
Mrs. George Buck played the violin and Mr. Charles Kilhoffer and Mr. George Montgomery were soloists. Miss Kathleen Howard of the Metropolitan Opera sang at the community sings.
There are many interesting tales told about those days.
The wheezy organ, became the winter home of a family of mice. In spite of a thorough spring cleaning, one mouse met the churchgoers at the door of the chapel. He was chased to a window and locked out. However, Mr. Mouse insisted on vying for attention through the window all during the service. In a few weeks, either he, or one of his family, got his revenge. During the prayer, Mr. Mouse appeared and skipped back-and-forth over the brave preacher’s feet. Perhaps the preacher was poised, but it was said that the ladies were most unhappy.
In the early days of the chapel someone put varnish on the pews which became sticky during the warm summer days. When it was time to rise for the service there was often of tearing and rending sound from the starched skirts of the ladies. Added to the general creaking of the benches, it almost drowned out the sound of the music. It was told that one gentleman feared for his Sunday suit and refused to rise.
Sermon by an elderly Scottish clergyman became rather famous. It was based on the second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, fourth chapter, thirteenth verse:
“The clook that I left at Troas, with Carpus, when thou coomest, bring with thee the boooks-- but especially the Paarrrchments.”
His very broad Scots accent brought forth prolonged and unrestrained giggles from the children.
In the early nineteen hundreds, a group of fathers and mothers living at Bay Beach, would gather their children together for the trip to the church. On calm days, they came up in the War Canoe, owned by the Buffalo Canoe Club. It was paddled by the young men, but led by Mrs. Allan McNabb who sternly called the stroke – “Paddle, paddle.” It was a status symbol in those days for any young lady to be invited aboard. Other days they walked through the woods behind the Yacht Club station. Sailboats and rowboats beached near the Chapel when the families came to worship each Sunday. Mr. Charles Bassett remembers his father bringing his family to church in a rowboat.
There was a Camp Fire Girls Camp in the cut which is now the property of Mr. William C. Baird. Every Sunday the girls and counselors marched to the church. Often they were entertained by the kindly members of the community after the service.
I think it very nice to hear such pleasant stories told by the young people of that day. Going to chapel on the Sabbath must have been part of their happy years.
During all these years, there were many who labored to raise the money necessary for the upkeep of the Chapel. The weekly collections were not large. It was through donations and active work on the part of the ladies of the Board that it was maintained. One early treasurer’s report gave a final balance of three dollars. The lady sponsored Baked Goods Sales, a Marionette Show, and in later years, and annual card party. At the present time the proceeds from a Strawberry Festival and a Rummage Sale held in alternate years provide the financial support.
1925 the Chapel was moved to its present location and the land was deeded to the church by Mr. Allan Holloway. With the advent of electricity in the Chapel, Mr. William Stafford gave a new electric organ in memory of his parents Mr. and Mrs. James Stafford. And so ended the era of the old hand pumped organ.
In 1951, Mr. William C. Baird gave an additional piece of land which added a graciousness to the new site. In 1956 he urged and financed the rebuilding and extensive remodeling of a little church. The old porch was removed, a steeple added, and it became a lovely facsimile of a Christopher Wren church.
The ladies worked hard, and were able to buy a new organ which was dedicated to the young men of the Church who had died during the Second World War.
The lights that glorify the Chapel each night, give to everyone, a feeling that the Lord is still with us. And so, from Father Aveneau until this day -- we who toil here, are fulfilling the aspirations of those who built the Chapel so many years ago.
According to the original wish of James Stafford and his wife, Harriet, the Chapel will continue to exist, only if it is non-denominational and welcomes all people to the worship.
We of this day follow their wishes, and extend to all men our welcome.
Come, praise the Lord.
Sing -- and listen to the words of these wonderful men of all denominations who come to this church to preach.
It is truly a memorial to those who built, and to all those who through these many years have labored.
After seventy-one years, it still stands in the loving memory of Isaac and Mary Ann Holloway and to the glory of God.
I would like to thank:
Mr. Walter Stafford,
Miss Alice Stafford,
Mrs. Ivan Hekimian,
and particularly Mrs. Henry Wagner, who is devoted notes and references, kept a continuity to this story of Holloway Memorial Chapel.
There have been many who let their light shine all these years; and not least of these were the early preachers, and those who preach today.
In 1925 – the preachers were:
Rev. Theodore Janeway;
Rev. Murray Howland;
Dr. Charles H. Stewart;
Rev. William McLennon;
Dr. Don Tullis;
Rev. Alanson Davis;
Rev. Thomas Newcomb.
In 1963 – the preachers were:
Rev. Albert Butzer, D.D.;
Rev. Dean Richardson, D.D.;
Rev. Peter Sturtevant;
Rev. James Carroll, D.D.;
Rev. G. Barrett Rich, D.D.;
Rev. Helmut Saabus;
Rev. Ray Kiely, D.D.;
Rev. Lee J. Beynon, D.D.;
Rev. Ralph W. Lowe, D.D.
Board Members in 1920:
Mr. A.T. Brown, Mr. George S. Buck;
Mr. J.B. Stafford, Mrs. James Dyett;
Mr. Allan I. Holloway, Mr. Walter Stafford;
Miss Florence Hayes, Mr. Alex Paterson;
Mr. R.H. Stafford, Mr. F.W. Danforth;
Mr. C.H. Barton, Mr. C.F. Adams;
Mr. B.F. Jackson.
Later and long Members of the Board:
Mrs. C.H. Booth, Mr. Erastus Knight;
Mrs. Albert Hatch, Mr. George Bassett;
Mrs. Hiram Watson, Mr. Edward Scheu;
Mr. G. Barrett Rich.
Board of Trustees – 1965:
Mrs. Charles F. Kreiner, Mrs. Theodore Knight;
(President of the Board), Mrs. Edward B. Magee;
Mrs. James M. Benson, Mrs. Walter H. Miller;
Mrs. Wm. F. Coatsworth, Miss Hazel Robinson;
Mrs. Albert W. Genske, Mrs. Robert A. Teach;
Mrs. John G. Henry, Mrs. William Wright;
Mrs. C. Benedict Johnson.
Men’s Advisory Board – 1965:
Mr. William C. Baird, Mr. John M. Quackenbush;
Mr. Donald McPhail, Mr. Robert S. Scheu;
Mr. Thomas S. Fairbairn.
Women’s Advisory Board – 1965:
Miss Clara Paterson, Mrs. Robert E. Rich;
Mrs. John M. Quackenbush.
There have been many memorials given to loved ones who were much beloved by all who worshipped in Holloway Memorial Chapel. To those who gave and to those in whose memory they were given, we give many thanks.
Mildred W. Magee