Sunday, March 29, 2015

John K. Lorch and the Blacksmith Shop on Monroe Street

According to the 1900 census, John was born in Germany in December of 1873, had emigrated to the U.S. in 1889 and was a naturalized citizen. His wife Mabel was a New York native, born in February of 1875. The Ellicottville Post newspaper reported several mentions of John and Miss Mabel Rickards visiting neighboring towns together in 1897 and then a notice was posted on December 1, 1897 stating that the two were united in marriage “Wednesday evening” by the Rev. C.W. Remington (he was the Presbyterian minister in Ellicottville.)
John K. Lorch was a blacksmith living on Monroe Street in Ellicottville during the 1900 federal census. A Post article from September 23, 1931 provided a timeline of this blacksmith shop on Monroe Street. The article highlighted the Gilbert J. Marsh Wagon Making and General Blacksmithing Shop in Monroe Street, stating that Mr. Marsh had purchased the local shop a year ago and also operated a blacksmith in Steamburg. The article also noted that before Mr. Marsh was born, this blacksmith shop was “the center of activity and a busy work-hive” in the community and that a number of blacksmiths conducted this shop including William Lee, Mr. Waldron, John K. Lorch, James Kelly, Herpst and Patridge, Aaron DeGroff and John Linhardt. 
A notice from the Ellicottville Post dated 23 November 1897 was published for A. H. Waldron stating that he had sold his blacksmith shop and business and that all bills could be paid to John Lorch, the new proprietor, in his absence. Various happenings regarding John Lorch’s blacksmith shop made the news in the following years, such as having the “front of his blacksmith shop lettered” in June of 1899. In November of that year, it was noted that Asa Fay opened a wagon and repair shop over J. Lorch’s blacksmith shop and in December of 1899, it was reported that E. R. Huff of Ellicottville was helping John Lorch in his blacksmith shop. 

In February 1902, the Ellicottville Post noted that A. Gray who “occupied the C. B. Green building in the rear of their furniture ware rooms, moved into John Lorch’s house joining the shop.” In November of 1906, it was reported that John Lorch was having the Fenton blacksmith shop made over into a dwelling house. By the 1910 federal census, the family was listed on Martha Street.

Around 1920, J.K. Lorch advertised for sale “one of the best blacksmith shops in the county and fully equipped to meet all demands, also one two family house, 1 Maxwell touring car first-class condition.”  It was sold to the firm Herpst and Patridge of Franklinville according to an article dated August 25, 1920. This article indicated that the shop “formerly known as the Lorch blacksmith shop” had been run by Mr. Kelly for the past few months. It was further noted that Herpst and Patridge would conduct the shop in the same location on Monroe Street next to the Rider Garage.  

In the September 24, 1941 edition of the Ellicottville Post, a news article was published entitled “More Improvements Made About Village” which discussed that Mr. and Mrs. John K. Lorch were engaged in making over their house on Martha Street into a two-family apartment building. This article also included a paragraph stating that the “former Lorch blacksmith shop on Monroe street” was being remodeled into a one-story building to be used for storage by the R.F. Dash Garage. The remodeling was to include having the second story of the frame building removed with a new roof and floor. This may have taken some time or there were two separate projects done as another item in the August 13, 1947 indicated that Roy Dash was fixing up the former Lorch blacksmith shop next door to his Monroe Street garage “which he will use as an additional workshop.” Contractor Joseph L. Scharf was putting in a cement floor and widening the front doors.  
John Lorch & Bert Coit, WWI
John K. Lorch and his wife were the parents of John I. Lorch born in Ellicottville on 8 January 1899 and Kenneth S. Lorch, born about 1909. 

According to his obituary published July 2, 1942, John K. Lorch had conducted a blacksmith shop in Ellicottville for nearly thirty years , then worked for the B.R. & P. Railway in a construction crew and at his death was employed in village and town work. While working with the town highway crew on the Buffalo Road near the Paul Lindbergh farm he met with an accident with a dump truck filled with heavy gravel that proved fatal. His funeral was conducted at the family home on 25 Monroe Street and burial was in the family plot of Sunset Hill Cemetery.

Mrs. Mabel Lorch died in January of 1948 in the Bradford Hospital in Bradford, PA and had made her home with her son, Kenneth S. Lorch of Bradford, PA for three years. Her obituary indicated that she was born in Great Valley and had been a member of the Presbyterian Church in Ellicottville. The obituary also noted that she and her late son, John I. Lorch (who died in Little Valley in 1945), had operated the former Hotel Arlington for a number of years. Mabel had an aunt, Sophia M. Rickards, who lived with the family during the 1910 Federal Census. When Sophia died in 1921, her funeral was held was from the Arlington Hotel. She had been a member of the Great Valley Baptist Church.

(This was compiled using the website for access to digital copies of old newspapers as well as census research at and heritagequest.)


  1. Ran across your page while looking for information about my great grandfathers gas stations/auto repair. He is Roy Dash. I have three pictures of his buildings and looking for more. I think his one shop was on Main St. and the other was the one you are talking about here. I can send them to you if interested. I found a picture you were selling on eBay that I'm wondering was the same building. Tracy Brown

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tracy! I would be delighted to see the photographs. Would you be willing to post them on the Facebook page of the Ellicottville Historical Society? I do not sell any photos on Ebay, though, so I am unsure what you are referring to.

    2. Are you referring to pins in pinterest?