Bicentennial Biographies No. 141 – 145

A collection of bicentennial biographies from Chautauqua County, N.Y. featuring Jim Roselle (Jamestown), Abner Hazeltine (Jamestown), Alvah Bradish (Fredonia) , Belle Cole (Harmony) and H.B. Halicki (Dunkirk). Originally broadcast on local radio stations July 25 – July 29, 2011.

No. 141 – Jim Roselle

Jim Roselle

Jim Roselle at his studio at Bestor Plaza in Chautauqua Institution in 2009. (Photo by Jason Sample)

James Roselle was born in Jamestown in 1926 to Joseph and Josephine Roselle. He grew up in Jamestown, graduating from Jamestown High School in 1944. Among his classmates was Charles Goodell, who would go on to become a congressman and U.S. Senator.

Throughout his youth, Jim was fascinated with the growing industry of radio and spent many hours in front of his family’s radio listening to various programs on the dial. Following graduation, Jim attended St. Lawrence University to study communications and was a member of the KSLV radio club.

After graduation, Jim found part-time work on the radio in Jamestown, but by 1951 he was offered a fulltime position at a station in Harrisburg, Pa. Jim worked there for two years before he was offered a fulltime position by Si Goldman at WJTN radio in Jamestown. That was 1953 and Jim has been working at WJTN every since.

During his time at WJTN, Jim become a well-known and well-liked host, taking part in various station promotions and even hosting a long-running “sock hop” for area teens at local schools and Midway Park.

In 1974, Jim’s profile increased when he started to do live broadcasts from Chautauqua Institution. His first guest was former classmate Charles Goodell, who was scheduled to give a lecture. Since then, he’s spent every weekday at the Institution, interviewing thousands of guests including noted cultural, business and political leaders.  In 1988, Jim even travelled with a group from the Instutition to the Soviet Union to cover an international conference.

Oer the years, Jim has received numerous awards for his service to the Jamestown community. In 2011, as Jim celebrates 58th year in broadcasting on WJTN, he continues to broadcast from the instution during the summer as he shares a cup of happiness each morning with thousands of loyal listeners in southern Chautauqua County.

No. 142 – Abner Hazeltine

Abner Hazeltine was born June 10, 1793 in Wardsborough, Vt., the son of Daniel and Susanna (Jones) Hazeltine. In 1815 he graduated at Williams College, and that same year he came to Jamestown and engaged for a time in teaching. In July, 1816,he commenced the study of law with Jacob Houghton at Mayville, and spent a portion of his time in the office of attorney Samuel A. Brown in Jamestown.

In August,1819, he was admitted as an attorney in the Supreme Court and in November in the common pleas of Chautauqua County. In November 1819, he opened an office in Warren, Pa. and in March, 1820, was admitted as  attorney in the court of common pleas of Warren Co., Pa.

In 1823, Hazeltine returneed to Jamestown, and opened an office in the front part of the building occupied by attorney Joseph Waite. In 1828, and again in 1829, he was elected to the New York State Assembly. In 1832, he was elected a member of Congress as a membr of the anti-masonic party, and reelected in 1834. In June, 1847, he was elected District Attorney of Chautauqua county.

In 1845 Hazeltine moved to an office at the north side of Third street, near Main. In 1855, he went into partnership with Charles G. Clark, with whom he was connected several years.

Hazeltine married Polly Kidder, a native of Wardsborough, Sept.  21, 1819. He  married his second wife, Matilda Hayward, on July 21, 1834 – who was born in Pomfret, Conn., July 22, 1799.

Hazeltine served as United States Commissioner for the Northern District of New York until his death. He died in Jamestown on December 20, 1879 and was interred in Lakeview Cemetery.

No. 143 – Alvah Bradish

Alvah Bradish was born in Fredonia in 1806. His early life was spent in the village.  As an adult, he moved to Detroit in the mid-1930s and there followed the profession of portrait painter. In addition to working in the Detroit area, he also painted in Minnesotta, Canada and Jamaica.

In 1839 Bradish married Lydia Douglass Houghton—the daughter of Judge Jacob Houghton and Lydia Douglass. Her brother was Douglass Houghton, Michigan’s first State Geologist. Together, Alvah and Lydia had three children.

In 1852 Bradish was engaged to give lectures on the Fine Arts at the University of Michigan and held this position for eleven years with the title of Professor of Fine Arts. He was the author of various literary works, including a life of Professor Douglass Houghton, a fellow transplant from Fredonia.

In 1852, the Regents of the University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. During his career, Bradish was commissioned to paint more than 100 portraits of noted individuals – including Michigan Congressman John Biddle and Michigan Governor Lewis Cass. He died in Detroit, April 19, 1901, and was buried in Fredonia.

No. 144 – Lucetta Belle Weaver Cole

Belle Cole in the late 1890s (Image from The Strand Magazine, Jan. 1894)

Lucetta Belle Weaver was born in the Town of Harmony in 1853 to Philander Weaver and Mary Ruth Ann Harford. “Belle” – as she would come to be known – was the ninth of 11 children and was educated in the area. It is said that musical ability ran in her family. She soon studied singing and excelled in Opera, becoming a well-known American contralto.

It was during her early years as a perfomer that Belle married J. Calvin Cole and changed her stage name to Belle Cole. Her first national success as a singer took place when she toured with famous opera singer Theodore Thomas, during his Grand Transcontinental Tour of the United States in 1883.

In 1887, Cole went oversees to London to perform as part of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubiliee. The British public was immediately charmed by the singing of Cole. Her advance to the front rank of English singers was exceedingly rapid, and she secured a place amongst the most notable performers in England for the remainder of the 19th century.

Cole performed at many notable venues in England, including the Crystal Palace and Royal Albert Hall.  In 1901, she toured Australia and did a world tour in 1902, which was the last time she would visit the United States. Cole made a few records in England where she made her home but they are rare.

She passed away in London in 1905 at the age of 52.

No. 145 – H.B. Halicki

H B Halicki

H B Halicki on set.

Henry “Toby” Blight Halicki, also known as H.B. Halicki, was born in a Polish-American family in Dunkirk October 18, 1940 and was one of 13 children. H.B. started to develop his fascination with cars while working in the family towing business. He started driving at a young age and developed a wide knowledge of automobiles by the age of ten. When he was a teenager, after the loss of two of his brothers, Halicki decided to move to California and live with one of his uncles.

Halicki began working at a local gas station in Gardena, Cali. He started collecting cars at the age of 16, eventually ranging his collection from 1920s classics to lowriders and Ferraris. By 17, Halicki owned and operated his own auto body shop. At 17 and still in High School, he signed a contract with an insurance company to detail and do minor repairs on 2,000 new cars. By the age of 21, Halicki enrolled in real estate classes and began investing in commercial properties, which led to numerous land holdings and a successful junkyard business.

In 1974, Halicki decided to make the film that became Gone in 60 Seconds in 1974. He wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film. With his business sense, he copyrighted the terms “Gone In 60 Seconds” and “Eleanor.” Following the film, Halicki became known as “The Car Crash King” by his fans. Also during the 1970s, Halicki was classified as the owner of the world’s largest antique toy and automobile collection, consisting of over 100,000 collectible items.

Halicki was introduced to Denice Shakarian in 1983, and in 1988 they got engaged. The couple lived in Southern California, and married on May 11, 1989, in Dunkirk. On August 20, Halicki began to shoot Gone In 60 Seconds 2 in Dunkirk and Buffalo. Preparing for the most dramatic stunt sequence in the film, during which a 160-foot-tall (49 m) water tower would suddenly topple, a cable attached to the tower snapped. The cable sheared off a telephone pole, which fell on and instantly killed Halicki. Hallicki was just 48 years old.

In 1995, Denice agreed a contract with Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer for the film Gone in 60 Seconds. Filming began in 1999, with Denice as Executive Producer. The movie premiered on June 5, 2000.

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit or contact your local historical society.

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5 Responses to Bicentennial Biographies No. 141 – 145

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