A collection of bicentennial biographies from Chautauqua County, N.Y. featuring Samuel Carlson (Jamestown), Stan Lundine (Jamestown), Jess J. Present (Jamestown and Bemus Point), Roy Orton (Ripley) and Julian Buesink (Findley Lake). Originally broadcast on local radio stations Sept. 19 – Sept. 23, 2011.
No. 181 – Samuel Carlson
Samuel Augustus Carlson was born in the city of Jamestown, Oct. 26, 1868 on what is known as English Hill. His parents, John Frederick and Matilda Charlotta Carlson, immigrated from Sweden a year earlier. Carlson was educated in the public schools of this city and at the age of 14 he became a member of the YMCA and its debating society.
In 1891 together with his father and brother he purchased a furniture factory from his uncle, which was then located at the foot of Willard Street. In 1893 he sold his interest in the business and assumed the management of a Swedish Weekly newspaper – Vart Land (“Our Country”). Also in 1893, Carlson entered politics for the first time, being elected as a Jamestown city councilman.
In 1895, Carlson became a member of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. He spent the next 12 years guiding the BPU and making it a viable commodity for the city. In 1908, he was elected Mayor of Jamestown on the pledge promising expansion of the city electric plant. He served a total of 26 years as mayor – one four-year term and 11 two-year terms, losing twice for re-election. He also served two terms as president of the New York State Conference of Mayors.
While in Office, it can be said that Carlson led the charge in making Jamestown a “modern” city. Some of the highlights of his career included the establishment of the Board of Public Utilities, his proposal for a municipal hospital and public market, his establishment of a sewer and water district, the effort to begin paving all city streets, and movement to bring about the establishment of a municipal milk plant.
In 1933, the Carl Schurz Foundation of Philadelphia chose Carlson as a member of a group of 17 Americans to conduct study and research in European cities to stimulate good will between the peoples of the two countries. He was the only mayor so chosen and was named chairman of the group. During his visit to Europe he met several leaders, including Adolph Hitler in Germany. Upon his return from Europe he wrote a book, “The Sage of a City and a New Concept of Government.”
After stepping down from the office of Mayor, Carlson continued to serve as Mayor Emeritus of Jamestown. He also again served on the Board of Public Utilities from 1940 to 1951. He died in 1961 in Jamestown at the age of 93.
No. 182 – Stan Lundine
Stanley Nelson Lundine was born in February 1939 in Jamestown. After graduating from Jamestown High School, Lundine attended Duke University, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1961 and then attended the New York University School of Law, receiving his degree 1964. After passing the state bar exam, he returned to Jamestown to practice law.
In 1970 Lundine ran for Mayor of Jamestown on the democratic ticket, winning election and serving until 1976. While he was Mayor, the city received national attention as a result of the labor management strategy that Lundine implemented, and Jamestown soon became a model for labor/management co-operation.
In 1976, Lundine ran for Congress after the resignation of James F. Hastings and won office. As a Congressman, he brought his labor/management ideas to Washington, and was instrumental in developing legislation that created labor/management councils and employee stock ownership plans. He focused on finance, banking and economic development policy, and also served on the Science Committee. He was a subcommittee chairman on the House Banking Committee.
Lundine was elected six times to Congress. He served until 1987, when he then stepped down from office to become Lt. Governor of New York State under Governor Mario Cuomo. As lieutenant governor, Lundine worked on housing, technology, economic development, and job training programs and policies. He was an advocate for the creation of a high speed rail link connecting New York State cities together. He was a frequent surrogate speaker for Cuomo around the state. He also used his position as President of the State Senate to handle legislative liaision for Cuomo.
After Cuomo lost the 1994 election, Lundine returned to Chautauqua County and began his service as Executive Director of the Chautauqua County Health Network and Chairman of the Board of the Chautauqua Integrated Delivery System. He also served on the Board of Directors of several private businesses – including American Capital Strategies, Ltd., US Investigations Services, Inc. and John G. Ullman and Associates, Inc. He also served on the Boards of Directors for several not-for-profit organizations including Chautauqua Institution, the Robert H. Jackson Center and the Fredonia College Foundation.
No. 183 – Jess J. Present
Jess J. Present was born July 28, 1921 in Jamestown to Abe and Frances Price Present. After graduating from High School in 1939, he attended Allegheny College and later served in World War II in the 8th Air Force in England. Following the war, he returned to Jamestown and operated a jewelry store for many years with his father and brother.
In 1959 Present ran for and won election to the Jamestown City Council. By 1962 he was serving as the council’s president. In 1965 he was elected to the New York State Assembly. Three years later he ran for the State Senate in a special election and won. He would then serve as Chautauqua County’s representative in the Senate for the next thirty years.
During his time in the Senate, he was instrumental in bringing several projects and improvements to the area, including the effort to turn Route 17 into a four lane expressway and eventually into a federal interstate. He also worked toward bringing a greater Parks presence to the his district. It is said that in all, there were 200 to 300 pieces of state law enacted under Present’s Signature – many of which had a positive impact on Chautauqua County.
While serving in the Senate, Present served as the state deputy Senate Majority Leader and worked on the Senate Agriculture and Markets Committee, the Commerce and Navigation Committee, and the Labor and Industries Committee. He also served on the Chautauqua County Planning Commission, the Welfare Baord and the Industrial Development Commission.
In addition to his work in politics, Present also served as Director of the Jamestown area YMCA, the Chamber of Commerce and the first National Bank of Jamestown. In 1997, a year before he passed, the museum in Allegany State Park was dedicated in his honor.
Present died Aug. 8, 1998 in Jamestown. Following his death, Route 430 – which stretches across much of Chautauqua County from Jamestown to the state Line with Pennsylvania – was renamed the Jess J. Present Memorial Highway.
No. 184 – Roy Orton
Joseph Roy Orton was born in Ripley in 1938, the son of Ross and Martha Orton and the middle of three children. Orton was raised in a farming environment and worked alongside his father in the chicken coops and orchards on the family farm – which grew into the largest poultry and cherry operation in Chautauqua County. At age 20, Orton purchased a Concord vineyard next door to his parents’ farm.
Hand-picking grapes in those days was time-consuming and costly. To make his vineyard operation go faster, Orton and his Uncle Max worked on a machine that would make harvesting quicker and cheaper.
Despite detractors, Orton continued to work on his machine and by age of 26, he had built a prototype harvester and reached a deal with Chisholm Ryder Co. In 1967, the company built a model using Orton’s patented machine and it soon became a runaway success. With the help of Orton’s machines, grape growers could now harvest four to five tons per hour. Previously, they were lucky to harvest a ton per day.
In 1970, Orton was elected to the National Grape Board. In 1981 he became chairman of the two-board system of National Grape and Welch’s, a position he held for 13 consecutive years. Orton’s accomplishments with National Grape also led to his election to the board of the Springfield Bank for Cooperatives (in Massachusetts) in 1992. Two years later the bank merged into CoBank and Orton was eventually elected chair in 2002.
In 2008, Orton was chosen as the Director of the Year by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives for his 53 years of involvement with cooperatives — including service as president of National Grape Cooperative, and chairman of Welch’s and CoBank.
Source: “A Nice Guy Who Finished First,” by Patricia Daughrity
No. 185 – Julian Buesink
Julian E. Buesink was born in Mina on September 24, 1921, and was involved in the automobile industry his entire life owning Ford dealerships in Corry, Clymer, North East, and Westfield. He also owned a recreational vehicle dealership, as well as several used-car dealerships in the area.
Buesink’s first involvement in NASCAR Grand National racing came just days prior to his 28th birthday when he entered Bill Rexford, driving a 1949 Ford, in a race at the 1-mile track in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Rexford finished 14th out of 45 starters. A week later Buesink and Rexford finished fifth at the NASCAR-sanctioned event at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. On October 2, 1949, Buesink entered two cars at the Heidelberg (Pennsylvania) Raceway. He was rewarded with a third-place finish by Rexford and a sixth by his other driver Lloyd Moore in the NASCAR race won by Lee Petty.
For the 1950 season, Buesink entered at least two cars in each of the 17 races on his NASCAR schedule. His team earned NASCAR victories at Canfield (Ohio) with Rexford and at Winchester (Indiana) with Moore. When the final NASCAR points were tabulated, Rexford was declared the Grand National Champion and Moore finished in fourth place. Bill France, Sr., President of NASCAR, recognized Buesink as its National Champion Car Owner of 1950. Speed Age magazine honored Buesink for “outstanding achievement as stock car racing’s Car Owner of the Year.”
In 1961, Buesink hired Tom Dill to drive his 1961 Ford at Daytona and Darlington. For three years he also developed a partnership with a young driver named Cale Yarborough, who would go on to be rated one of the Top 50 Drivers in NASCAR History. In the 13 total years of NASCAR Grand National competition, Julian Buesink competed in 107 races, entering 156 cars, driven by 15 drivers. He earned two pole positions, won two races, had 29 top-five finishes, 64 top-ten results, and earned $42,841 in race purses. Most significantly was his GN Championship in 1950.
Throghout the 1960s up to 1973, Buesink also sponsored drivers for local and regional races. Following the 1973 season, Julian’s racing career was essentially over. Although he would occasionally sponsor a car, as late as the 1990s, he refocused his attention and energy to his businesses. He died September 23, 1998 and was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
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 www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.