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Hidden Heroes - Charles & Dr. Elizabeth Wakeley

Which story to tell about the Wakeley family of Levanna was a dilemma to this writer. Would it be Dr. Elizabeth Wanzer Wakeley (1831-1902), a Quaker and prominent physician who practiced medicine in the area for over 30 years during a time when men dominated this profession? Or would it be her husband, Dr. Charles C. Wakeley (1832-1916), the grandson of Abner Wakeley, a Baptist preacher and pioneer settler of the area?

Charles distinguished himself as a manufacturer, farmer, civil engineer, surveyor, architect and astrophysicist. In 1863 and according to the New York Times, Charles Wakeley and his associate, Lewis Rutherford, took the first photographs of the moon through a photographic telescope which they had developed. The telescope is now in the collection of Columbia University. But Charles' early roots in farming held fast. In 1874, two years before Heinz Catsup was first manufactured, Charles founded the Cayuga Lake Catsup Manufactory which the family continued to operate until 1904. In the early days, the catsup was shipped out in different sized bottles from the Cayuga Lake landing near their home. By 1880, the operation employed 15 workers from area families and produced 7,000 gallons of catsup. By 1896, bottles were abandoned in favor of large barrels which could be shipped out by the LVRR line which traversed the eastern shores of Cayuga Lake. By 1900, 60 tons of catsup were being processed in a season. So the next time you are in the grocery store, check out the many varieties and sizes of catsup offered and think - what if?


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