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Ellis Hollow History

Geographical Aspects: What is Ellis Hollow?


Ellis Hollow is a small upland valley, about four miles long, and less than 2 miles wide, in the southwestern corner of the town of Dryden. It is drained by Cascadilla Creek. (Cascadilla is a Latin word which means small cascade or falls). The shallow stony land is a legacy of the ice age. The glacier which covered this area scraped off the topsoil as it advanced, and deposited stones as it receded. The land was covered by forests when the first settlers arrived, less than 200 years ago. Much of the timber was white pine, but there were also sugar maples and other hardwoods.


Below please find a downloadable version of the text presented in this History section, in .pdf format.  Please click on the link to download and read.  If you don't have Adobe Reader, please download it here.

Downloadable Ellis Hollow History (pdf)4.47 MB

Native Americans

 According to the Centennial History of the Town of Dryden (George Goodrich, 1898) there is evidence that Indians once occupied this area as a hunting ground. It is known that the Cayuga Indian tribe, one of the five or six tribes which made up the Iroquois confederacy (Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas, Onondagas, Mohawks and later the Tuscaroras), lived at the present site of Ithaca, on both sides of Cayuga Lake.

 The first white men to live among them were French Jesuit Priests, who spend many years of their lives trying to convert the Indians to Christianity. Led by Hiawatha during the Revolution, the Iroquois formed the Iroquois Confederacy.2

 The Iroquois Indians took the side of the English during both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. There were massacres and retaliations. To secure his western front, George Washington planned an invasion in 1779 called the Sullivan Expedition. A force of 5000 men under Generals Sullivan and Clinton defeated the Iroquois Indians in a battle near Newton (Elmira). A detachment of soldiers under Colonel Zebulon Taylor and Lt. Colonel Dearborn then marched north toward the Cayuga Indian villages on the side of Cayuga Lake.

 Following the Iroquois custom of avoiding a mass action with enemy troops, the Cayugas disappeared into the woods. It was late September when the soldiers reached the empty Indian villages. They burned the villages and destroyed all the corn and grain that had been stored. According to The Story of the Cayugas by Mary Van Sickle Wait and William Heidt (1966), the Cayugas never recovered from this complete devastation. They had vacated the area well before the first white settlers came to Dryden.1


1. Most of the historical information on this website came from the book Ellis Hollow, written by Jeanette Knapp and Jill Welch.

 2. Excerpts and chapters taken from "The History of Ellis Hollow" written and researched by Jacob Myers who is the Grandson of Elsie Myers Stainton and Walter Stainton who lived in the Ellis home "Headwaters." The paper contains pictures (photocopies) of both Peleg and Ruth Ellis, photocopies of deeds of transactions, and other interesting memorabilia. A copy is retained by the editor of the Gazette.

Early Pioneers

 John and Peleg Ellis

 John and Peleg Ellis, two brothers, were among the first settlers in Dryden. They were originally from Rhode Island, but had settled in Herkimer County, New York. Peleg traded his Herkimer County property for lot no. 84, originally assigned to Dr. Samuel Cook, a surgeon in the war.


Peleg Ellis came to survey his land, the area surrounding the intersection of Ellis Hollow and Ellis Hollow Creek Roads, in 1799. He cleared the woods for eleven days without knowing there was another human in the area.


Zephaniah Brown, who had already settled on lot 71 (1185 Ellis Hollow Road), heard the sound of Peleg's axe. Brown came to call on Ellis with his gun in his hand. Zephaniah Brown had cleared a road from his home to Ithaca (settled in 1789); two years later Brown and Ellis cleared a road to the Ellis property, a distance of about three miles. It is believed that the house which now stands, was built by Brown about 1830.


Peleg built a log house on his land at the headwaters of Cascadilla Creek. He brought his wife and two daughters to the Hollow in 1800. Zelle Middaugh Pritchard, in her book Ellis Hollow Lore (1962), said her mother was told stories by her grandmother (Peleg's wife), about life in that log house. She related that she often rocked her babies with panthers crying around the house, and only a canvas door separating them.


Later in 1808 Peleg Ellis built a larger house in front of the log cabin. It was made up of four rooms, each with a fireplace. Peleg and Ruth slept in a four poster bed in the west bedroom. Their ten children occupied the east bedroom. That house is the front half of "Headwaters",1735 Ellis Hollow Road. The house was lighted and heated by an open fireplace. Even candles were a luxury at the time. Mother and children gathered pine for the fire at night.2


Peleg, who was captain of the early state militia in Dryden, volunteered with his entire company when the war of 1812 broke out and served under Colonel Winfield Scott. He eventually became a major and died in the home he had built at the Cascadilla headwater, on his 84th birthday, May 9, 1859. His wife, Ruth Dawley Ellis, lived on in the house with her daughter, Ann H. Smith and her husband John, until she died at the age of 93 in 1870. Both Ruth and Peleg are buried in the Ellis Hollow cemetery (see map), along with many other early residents.


Although Peleg and Ruth are buried in the Ellis Hollow Cemetery, there is also a small cemetery on a small knoll southeast of the house where their small daughter, Betsy, was buried in 1805. Ann H. Smith lived on in Headwaters until her death, in 1900.


In his paper "The History of Ellis Hollow" Jacob Myers, grandson of Elsie Myers Stainton, who later owned "Headwaters" states,"There has been a back end to the house added on. The old cabin is not standing, and one of the bedrooms has been made into two smaller rooms. The house is still in very good shape."


Peleg gave an eastern portion to his son, John J. Ellis who built a fine fashionable Gothic house, cruciform in shape, not far from his parents' home.


John Ellis, Peleg's brother , lived in Virgil and Dryden before settling in Ellis Hollow around 1801. He was promoted in political affairs, serving in many offices and twice a member of the assembly and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Tompkins and Cayuga Counties. He lived in what is numbered 850 Ringwood Road. In his later years, John was called the "King of Dryden."


Interesting links: Ellis Hollow Cemetery

The New York Military Tract

 After the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781, the State Legislature did not have the money to pay its surviving soldiers, so in February 1789, The New York State Legislature passed a law governing the surveying and setting apart, for use of its surviving soldiers of the Revolutionary War, a large section of land between Seneca and Oneida lakes. This was known as the "Military Tract.2"

 The town of Dryden, named for an English poet, John Dryden, was part of the New York military tract, two million acres of wilderness between Seneca and Oneida Lakes, the land which comprises Ellis Hollow was included in this as well.

 The land was divided into 600 acre lots, which the veterans drew by ballot in 1791. What is now known as Ellis Hollow was then Military Lots 71-74, and parts of lots 62-65, 75, 82-83 and 85. Many former soldiers had no interest in settling on their military lots. They sold or traded them for what they could get and left the pioneering to bolder, younger people.


Early Businesses

There were once five dams and five water-powered mills on Cascadilla Creek between Ringwood and Turkey Hill Roads. A sash and blind factory was operated near the Horton Hunt property (now 529 Ellis Hollow Creek Road). The saws were apparently powered by a huge water wheel, which used to stand in the creek behind the residence at 541 Ellis Hollow Creek Road.

Orrin Middaugh, one of the early residents, had a lumber business, which was eventually run by his son Fred. The mill was given power by a pond connected to Cascadilla Creek. The Middaugh homestead is now 493 Ellis Hollow Creek Road. It is believed that the house might have been a stop on the underground railroad before the Civil War period.

Peter Genung and his son operated a gristmill, located at 182 Ellis Hollow Creek Road, farther down the Hollow on Cascadilla Creek, for many years. Myron Cornelius had a shingle mill on his farm, and Horton Ogden once had a cider mill on his place.

A cheese and butter factory existed in the early days of the Hollow directly across the road from the church. The factory, which flourished from 1867-1872, was owned by a group of stockholders, most of whom were residents from the Hollow. Over 25 men bought stock in the factory. The price of one share of stock was $50. The largest stockholders were Daniel F. Rice, $300; John J. Ellis, $250; Harrison Middaugh, $200; and Chauncy Goodspeed, $200; most of the others purchased 1 to 3 shares of stock. Joseph A. Genung kept the account register. Janet Nash, who is a descendant of the Genungs, has preserved many of the old records and has offered them for viewing (2002) on the internet at: In 1977, the original foundation was still visible across the road from the church, but it has since been covered over. The barn that housed the factory was moved behind the John J. Ellis house. The more than a century-old barn is of board and batten construction.



The Village of Ellis

The little village of Ellis was a thriving community in the late 1800's. The town was at the bend of Ellis Hollow Road and Ellis Hollow Creek Road. There was a school, a church, a post office and general store, a barbershop and a blacksmith shop.

Before 1880, all Ellis Hollow mail was put in one box in the Ithaca Post Office and any Ellis Hollow resident who went to town would bring the mail to the John J. Ellis home, where each person would then sort out his own mail. In 1880 or 1881, a post office was established in William and Luthera Bennet's home (now 1780 Ellis Hollow Road). The mail was brought back and forth from Brookton (now called Brooktondale), sometimes on horseback. The Ellis Hollow Post Office was discontinued in 1903 when Rural Free Deliver (R.F.D.) began. John Ellis gave a lot near his house for a school building. It was turned into a house after School District 10 voted to send their children to Ithaca Schools in 1945.




William Bennett also had a country store in his home. The store was a gathering place for the local residents who traded butter, eggs, etc. for flour and other staples they couldn't make or grow themselves. Some years later Bennett took in a partner, Emmons Ogden Sr., and they ran a horse-drawn grocery wagon around Ellis Hollow and the surrounding area.

Eugene Banfield had a blacksmith shop across the road from the country store. In the 1890's Leon Willsey, an Ellis Hollow native, built a small building in his yard and opened a barbershop. During the political campaigns, the Democrats gathered at the barbershop, while the Republican pole was raised in front of the John J. Ellis house. John and Jerri Behler (562 Ellis Hollow Creek Road) now own the house. The barbershop is still standing (barely).



Most of the mills were closed by the turn of the century. Emmons Ogden, the grandson of Emmons Ogden Sr., said the general closed about 1908. Emmons, who has lived in Ellis Hollow all his life, said the Hollow began changing from a farming to a residential community after World War I. Because the land was poor, it was hard to make a good living by farming. People moved to town to work, and did not move back until roads and automobiles improved enough to make commuting practical.

After World War II, many more houses were built in Ellis Hollow and there were little woods left. Ithaca was expanding, and Ellis Hollow had become less of a town-like community. Most of the John Ellis farm (not including the house) has become the Ellis Highlands Development.



"Spooky Hollow"

In her book Ellis Hollow Lore, Zelle Pritchard said that a history of Ellis Hollow just would not be complete without tales of "Spooky Hollow". The stories about "Spooky Hollow" (see map), center around an old farmhouse which burned down many years ago.

According to legend, an old peddler who had always stayed at the farmhouse when he came to Ellis Hollow was murdered there. Some farmers who were pulling stumps in the swamp discovered human bones under one of them. Years later, just before he died, one of the men who murdered the peddler confessed to the crime and told about burying a pot of gold under a stump in the swamp below the house. However, he had lost the markings of the stump and could never find it again.

People searched for the pot of gold for years. According to Zelle Pritchard, a man who lived on Ellis Hollow Creek Road, and whose pasture ran into the swamp, thought the men might have buried it on his land. He dug up about ten acres by hand looking for the gold. He went insane and died in Willard Asylum. Stories have been told of a headless horseman who rode through "Spooky Hollow" at night, and of a skull rolling down the road in the advance of anyone traveling the road after dark.

Early Schools

There used to be two schools in Ellis Hollow, one at each end of the Hollow. The Ellis Hollow School (District School No. 10) was built between 1830 and 1853. It was a large one-room school with as many as 20 to 30 children enrolled some years. The school closed in the late 1930s and has since been remodeled into a house (575 Ellis Hollow Creek Road). The swing set from the old Ellis Hollow schoolyard was moved to the old community center for the nursery school and then to the new center where it is still in use, together with a new playground that was built in 1987.


Hibbard's Corners School (District School No. 20) was at the corner of Ellis Hollow and Turkey Hill Roads. It was named after the Hibbard family. This one-room Greek Revival schoolhouse was built about 1840. Warren Ellis Schutt, the first United States Rhodes Scholar, completed the 8th grade at Hibbard's Corners School about 1889. The school closed in 1940. The building served as the community center from 1952 to 1968. It was enlarged in 1974 and was used as the home of the Foundation of Light until their new facility was built in 1999. (The Foundation of Light is a free church whose members are interested in meditation and the wholeness of life.) Today, the schoolhouse is again filled with young students ages 6 through 12. In 1999, Stone Circle School opened its doors to offer the Ithaca community a classical waldorf curriculum



The two old school districts consolidated and became Dryden School District 20. For a dozen years, Ellis Hollow parents contracted with Ithaca to send their children to the city's schools and were taxed according to busing and tuition costs. Grade school children were assigned to whichever school had room - East Hill, Belle Sherman, and even West Hill one year.

In 1956, Ellis Hollow and 41 other out-lying school districts joined the Ithaca schools to form the new consolidated Ithaca City School District. Elementary school children were then assigned to the Belle Sherman Elementary School. When the new Caroline Elementary School opened in 1959, Ellis Hollow children were again divided between two grade schools. Those living west of Turkey Hill/Quarry Road attended the Belle Sherman Elementary School, while those to the east went to the Caroline Elementary School. In 1984 all Ellis Hollow children were assigned to the Caroline School.

early ellis schoolhouse.gif

The Church

Religious services were held in the Ellis school house (see map) during the early days. The small group of people who worshipped there were members of the Slaterville Springs Methodist church. The minister had other congregations and could only come on alternate Sunday afternoons.


Attendance increased and weekly services were held after the congregation joined the Varna Methodist Church in 1889. Ann H. Smith, the youngest daughter of Peleg Ellis, was a member of the congregation. She had long dreamed of a church in Ellis Hollow. In 1895, five years before her death, she donated land that had been cleared by her father, and the first $1000 to the church's building fund. Members and residents of the community donated what they could in money and labor. In 1896, the little church in the valley was filled to capacity for its dedication. The Ellis Hollow Community Church, located on Ellis Hollow Road continues to welcome all to its Sunday services.

 Today the Church closes down during the winter months. The Pastor, Carolyn Byrne, also welcomes you at the Varna Methodist Church during these months.The Church reopens each year with the Palm Sunday Service.

Century Houses

There are well over two dozen houses in Ellis Hollow that have been lived in for a century or more. There were farmhouses, many built in the Greek Revival style popular between 1820 and 1860.


  • The Home of Zephaniah Brown (Fig. 1) built around 1830.(See Peleg Ellis page)

  • The home that Peleg Ellis built in 1800 started out as a log cabin at the headwaters of Cascadilla Creek. In 1808 Peleg built a larger house in front of the log cabin. It was made up of four rooms, each with a fireplace. That house is the front half of "Headwaters"(Fig. 2). For more information see (Peleg Ellis page)



  • The house at 1202 Ellis Hollow Road, formerly owned by Paul Gates, was built about 1865, and for many years was the main farmhouse of the old Snyder farm. Paul Gates, who died in 1999, wrote an unpublished paper on Ellis Hollow. The front half of the house at 1184 Ellis Hollow Road was the hired man's house on that farm.

  • The front half of the house at 1184 Ellis Hollow Road was the hired man's house on that farm.

  • 1780 Ellis Hollow Rd. (Fig. 3) was the former General Store and Post Office run by William and Luthera Bennett.



  • The house at 1374 Ellis Hollow Road was built in 1860 by a member of the Cornelius family, one of the early families in the Hollow (Fig. 4). The house is built in Greek Revival style and was once owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Post, one of the founding families of the Community Center




  • The home of Paul & Sabina Kneeland on the southeast corner of Ellis Hollow and Genung Road, was thought to have been a speakeasy where illegal liquor was sold during prohibition in the 1920's. Judging by the quantity of clam shells and broken glass found in the back yard, business must have been good.

  • The former J. H. Whitlock house (1502 Ellis Hollow Road), was built in the Federal style of the early 1800's by Wessels S. Middaugh, it is one of the oldest houses in Ellis Hollow.

  • The gothic house at 1790 Ellis Hollow Road was built in 1843 by John J. Ellis on land given to him by his father Peleg Ellis. Most of the present Ellis Highlands development is on the original John J. Ellis farm. The gabled house has undergone extensive restoration and renovation around 1999-2000. The barn behind the house is the old cheese factory building, which was moved from its original location across the road from the church. (Fig. 5).




  • H. Emmons Ogden was born in the former Horton Hunt home (Fig. 6), 529 Ellis Hollow Creek Road. The house, which his great-grandfather bought almost new in 1865, remained in his family for 110 years. Hunt Hill Road is named for the Hunt family, which homesteaded the area. (see map). Emmons, who now lives next door at 517 Ellis Hollow Creek Road, contributed to the current housing boom in Ellis Hollow by building 14 houses in the area. The Town of Caroline named Ogden Road for him.


  • The home at 91 Ellis Hollow Creek Road was built by John Mitchell about 1840. Hesikiah English, Jr. bought it about 1889. He was a prosperous sheep farmer who did not believe in banks. When he died it was rumored that large numbers of bills, mildewed with age, were found in old almanacs. The house stood vacant for almost 25 years until shortly before Wat and Edie Dimock bought it in 1940.

  • The home of John and Jerri Behler, 562 Ellis Hollow Creek Rd. as it stands today (fig.7). Eugene Banfield had a blacksmith shop across the road from the country store. In the 1890's Leon Willsey, an Ellis Hollow native, built a small building in his yard and opened a barbershop. During the political campaigns, the Democrats gathered at the barbershop, while the Republican pole was raised in front of the John J. Ellis house. John and Jerri Behler (562 Ellis Hollow Creek Road) now own the house. The barbershop is still standing (barely) and the Behlers plan on more clearly marking the site for historical purposes. A new drawing was done of the house for the 50th Anniversary booklet by Lois McManus, who has done all the original drawings which are shown in the booklets and website (Fig 8).


(fig 7) 562 Ellis Hollow Creek Rd.



  • The house at 870 Ringwood Road was built by John Ellis, brother of Peleg, who was prominent in Dryden and New York state politics. The house was owned from the 1940s to 1991 by Leverett and Nancy Saltonstall. The original farm was later divided among the Saltonstall children and some sections, including the house, were sold. See the Saltonstall Arts Colony. The house is currently owned by Doug and Wendy Antczak.

Community Center Association

(reprinted with permission from Ellis Hollow by Jeanette Knapp & Jill Welch, 1977)


In 1952 five families met to discuss using the empty little red school house at the corner of Ellis Hollow and Turkey Hill Roads as a Community Center. Fifty families donated $92.50 to renovate the old school and the first of many, many work bees was planned.


That first Community Center building has since been painted brown and converted to the Foundation of Light, but the Community Center itself, now located on Genung Road(Fig.7), continues to grow. There are now more than 600 member families (1999).


This website hopes to provide some background information about Ellis Hollow and its Community Center for new-comers and revive some pleasant memories for old-timers as together we begin Ellis Hollow's next chapter.


This is not the first history of Ellis Hollow. In 1956, Katrina Morse wrote a short history of the Community Center. Zelle Middaugh Pritchard wrote a longer book in 1962 entitled Ellis Hollow Lore, in which she recorded many of her own memories of Ellis Hollow's past. Historic Ithaca printed a booklet entitled Ellis Hollow and Environs to accompany its tour of homes in Ellis Hollow in 1974. We relied heavily on these sources, plus an unpublished paper by Paul Gates, the minutes of the Community Center boards meetings, the past issues of the Gazette and the memories of many long-time residents.

Community Center History

 The little red school house at the corner of Ellis Hollow and Turkey Hill Roads (Hibbard's Corners) was unused and empty for more than a dozen years. At a school district meeting in 1950, Earl and Mabel DeMotte, owners of the land on which the school house stood, suggested that it be used for a community center. Interest in the idea grew. The following is an excerpt from minutes taken at the first meeting of the Ellis Hollow Community Association:

On January 30, 1952 Mr. and Mrs. Earl DeMotte, Mr. and Mrs. Rueben Shapley, Mr. and Mrs. Cuyler Page, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Post, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Musgrave met at the Post's to discuss the possibility of making a community center of the hold school house on the DeMotte property. The old building had no well or inside toilet facilities, but it was wired for electricity and the stove worked, but the chimney needed repairing.

  A discussion followed of the uses to which the building might be put. 4-H and Boy Scout meetings, special Home Bureau meetings and the annual school meetings were mentioned along with a summer play program for young children and square dancing.

 The cost of running the center was approximated at a minimum of $25 per year which covers insurance and electricity. Fuel would be donated and water carried from outside if needed. In addition, each interested family could contribute a small amount, such as 50 cents. The five families present decided to act as a committee with Kenneth Post as chairman to get the center underway. Each family paid 50 cents on expense fund, making a total of $2.50.

 The men of the newly formed association agreed to meet in the school house in the latter part of April to see what work must be done. The women of the newly formed association would meet in the schoolhouse to see what furnishings are needed to make the place attractive.

 The meeting was adjourned with everyone agreeing they were starting on a worthwhile and enjoyable project.

Mildred Musgrave, Secretary


Early Activities

"We wanted to provide some activities for the children," explained Eleanore Page, one of those present at the first Community Center organizational meeting. Over the years, there have been visits from Santa and Easter egg hunts for the little ones; Halloween parties, hay rides, and bowling nights for older children; dances for teen-agers; and ice skating, swimming, skiing, and Christmas caroling for everyone.


"Fun, fun fun!!!" says an exuberant report from the Senior High teenagers, May 1956. "Twelve dances, two hayrides, one ice skating party and one evening trail ride." The March 1956 Gazette reported, "The adults have been living it up to some extent. So far there have been three square dances for the old folks with an average attendance of 24 and a grand time was had by all." Square dances continued to be held the last Saturday of the month for the next 4 years.

Thursday night was bridge night at the old school house for several years. There have been exercise classes and art, dance, swimming, and baton twirling lessons. Residents have taught their neighbors Spanish, crocheting, basket weaving, how to play bridge, how to make quilts, how to color prints, and many other skills.

The bookmobile began stopping at the Community Center in 1967, and the Center became a polling place in 1975. Boy Scouts and 4-H groups meet regularly at the Center. There have often been Cub Scout dens and Brownie troops and baseball teams. Sporting goods exchanges have been held in the fall so residents can profitably swap old skis and skates. The best-attended activity, aside from the Fair, is the annual chicken barbecue. The Center building and grounds are available for use by any members. There have been many quilting and other work bees, countless meetings, group picnics, and at least one wedding.

1968 - New Community Center

Plans for additions and improvements to the Community Center have been under discussion since the association was formed. In the fall of 1960, the Board of Directors sent a questionnaire to the 160 families of Ellis Hollow requesting suggestions for the future. A report on the questionnaire was printed in the November Gazette. Comments "range from the completely negative to the wildly enthusiastic, from "let's just enjoy the country," to "Buy property and build a community center near Cascadilla Creek and have a swimming hole'." The wildly enthusiastic prevailed.

 The Community Center owned the school house, but the land was leased from the DeMottes. As the Ellis Hollow population continued to grow, the Board felt more land and a larger building were needed. A "Walking Committee" was formed which investigated a number of sites including land on Cascadilla Creek, but the swimming hole idea proved impractical.

In the summer of 1963, the Community Center purchased 28 acres on Genung Road from Reuben Shapley. The Long Range Planning Committee was formed by the Board in 1964 to plan the new center. When Peter Levatich, Chair of the Planning Committee, presented the plan to the Board in April of 1965, the center site was undeveloped land covered by marsh, brush and small trees. The plan was approved, and a fund drive was held in June 1966. One hundred and twenty-two families donated $18,965. Volunteers cleared the land and the new Community Center was under construction by the spring of 1967. Again, many work bees were organized and much of the work at the new Center was done by volunteer labor. By the fall of 1968, the new Community Center was in use.

Community Center Membership

 The Community Center by-laws define membership as "any member of a family which is a resident of the former Dryden Consolidated School District 20." This includes all of Ellis Hollow Creek Road and portions of Dodge Road, Game Farm Road, Turkey Hill Road, Genung Road, Thomas Road, Ringwood Road, most of Ellis Hollow Road, and all new housing developments within the existing boundaries.

 At the Annual Meeting of the Ellis Hollow Community held on June 8, 2001, it was decided by majority vote to include the development of Genung Circle as part of the Ellis Hollow Community and extend full membership rights to these residents. Many of the residents of Genung Circle (which did not exist when the Community Center was established) have been strong supporters of the Fair and the Ellis Hollow Community Center (EHCC).

 The by-laws also state, "Non-residents living in the vicinity of Ellis Hollow who have been active in community affairs may also be considered residents at the discretion of the Board of Directors." In recent years many families who live outside the boundaries of the Hollow have been extended honorary memberships as a result of their participation with the Fair and/or other Ellis Hollow Community Center activities.

 The purpose of the Ellis Hollow Community Center, located at 111 Genung Road between Ellis Hollow and Ellis Hollow Creek Roads, as stated in its by-laws, is "to provide for the mutual assistance, enjoyment, entertainment, social welfare and improvement of its members." A Board of Directors governs the Community Center. The Board consists of (1) up to nine elected directors, (2) the elected representatives of recognized organizations in the community, and (3) appointed chairs of standing committees (buildings and grounds, activities, etc.). A three-member committee nominates the elected directors. Elected directors are voted into office by all community members present at the annual meeting, which is usually held on the second Saturday in June, following the chicken barbecue. The President, Vice-president, Secretary, Treasurer, and coordinator of Member Relations are chosen from these elected directors. Board meetings are usually held the third Wednesday of the month at the Community Center and are open to all Ellis Hollow residents. Starting in 1995, it was decided that Board members would serve (if able) 3-year terms.

EHCA-Past Presidents

1952 - Earl DeMotte

1953 - Ethel Hodges

1954 - Frank Hanshaw

1955 - John Whalen

1956 - Constance Currier

1957 - John Whalen

1958 - Constance Currier

1959 - Charles Rickard

1960 - Ed Lemon

1961 - Virginia Bizzell

1962 - Norman Vrana

1963 - Joseph "Skeef" Hodgson

1964 - Barbara Warner

1965 - Lois McManus

1966 - Ernest VonBorstel

1967 - Ernest Von Borstel

1968 - Byron McCalmon

1969 - Richard Ledford

1970 - Herbert Schryver

1971 - Lamartine Hood

1972 - Ed Hartz

1973 - Reuben Shapley

1974 - Marie King

1975 - Bill House

1976 - Bill Albern

1977 - Bill Albern

1978 - David Donner

1979 - Betty House

1980 - Daniel Blumkin

1981 - Stu Berg

1982 -Tom Marker/Ross Welch

1983 - Barry Cooper

1984 - Peter Littman

1985 - Pat Haugen

1986 - Pat Haugen

1987 - Tom Sims

1988 - Tom Sims

1989 - Marc Walker

1990 - Marc Walker

1991 - Marc Walker

1992 - Tony Bretscher

1993 - Tony Bretscher

1994 - Joe Lalley

1995 - Glenn Gray

1996 - Glenn Gray

1997-1999 Paul Kneeland

2000-2002 Owen Raymond

2003 -2005 Doug Long

2006 - 2020, Christine Beacraft

2020 - Present, Treva Levine

Notable Community Members

The Dodie Harris Award

 Dodie and Tony Harris and their family were very active members of the community during the 1980s. Dodie ran a small gift and craft shop from an outbuilding on their property she called "The Grey Goose." Dodie was also very active with youth hockey, Ithaca HS Tennis Boosters, and the PTA Council. Dodie and Tony were also involved with the Fairs, working in a variety of capacities over the years from the food and dried flower booths to the white elephant booth. They were always ready to pitch in when help was needed.



In December 1989, Dodie and Tony Harris and their children, Mark and Shelby, were robbed and murdered. Their tragic and senseless deaths shocked and saddened the community and put Ellis Hollow in the national news for a brief time. A month later, the perpetrator was identified. He died resisting arrest. In 1990, a community service award was established to posthumously honor Dodie Harris who had made so many contributions to the community. This award, presented at the Annual Spring Chicken Barbecue each year, recognizes Hollow residents who have provided notable service to the community in the calendar year preceding the year in which the award is conferred. The recipients of the award have been:


1989 - Dodie Harris, awarded posthumously

1990 - Marc Walker, Bill Brown

1991 - Jan Shay

1992 - Mary Helen Cathles

1993 - Tony and Janice Bretscher , Barb Batley

1994 - Joe Lalley, Dave Schlesinger, Mike Murphy

1995 - Anne Kendall Casella

1996 - Bill House

1997 - Mary Royer, Susan Lang, Tom Schneider, Paul Kneeland

1998- Bruce Howlett

1999 - Lynne Mellinger

2000 - Doug Long and Glen Howser

2001 - Marcy Schaeffer

2002- Owen Raymond, Glenn Henderson, Alex Burdick

2003- Bruce Stark

2004 - Andrea Kabcenell & Marjorie Rinaldo-Lee

2005 - Christine & Steve Becraft

2006 - David Mellinger

2007 - Stuart Berg

2008 - Wendy & David Salomon

2009 - Nelson Burdick

2010 - Milo & Bonnie Richmond

2011 - Treva & Doug Levine

2012 - Ellie Biddle

2013 - The Korb family

2014 - Karen Miller & Rob Strominger

2015 - Kevin Markwardt

2016 - Julie Petrie

2017 - Stacey Mojo

2018 - Quilters

2019- Jason Klaben


The Don Lake Endowment


In the wake of the tragedy which took the lives of Dodie Harris and her family in 1989, an endowment was made to the Community Center by Don Lake, father of Dodie Harris. Mr.Lake donated $10,000. to the Ellis Hollow Community Center. The gift had no restrictions. On November 11, 1990 the Board of the Community Center formally approved arrangements for managing the Don Lake donation. The Board voted unanimously that the money be invested in an endowment fund, and that the Board of Directors use the interest each year in a discretionary manner to fund proposals received from the community. On March 13, 1991, the Board approved the following uses and restrictions of the endowment and interest:


  • For projects in the spirit of the Harris' commitment.

  • For projects that would benefit the entire Ellis Hollow community (social events, newcomer activities, etc.).

  • For projects that would improve the buildings, grounds, or athletic facilities at the EHCC.


Each year the forms are mailed out to all members of the community in the November and December issues of the Gazette. Proposals are received by January 31st and voted upon for the upcoming year by the Ellis Hollow Board.


EHCC Disbursement of the Don Lake Endowment 1992 a utility trailer for use by the EHCC and Boy Scouts

  • 1993 painting the exterior of the community center

  • 1994 a bike rack at the center and materials needed for the nature trail

  • 1995 the endowment was used as seed money for the Harris Family Skating Rink Fund for the facility that was built on East Lake Drive in Ithaca.

  • 1996 a kiosk to display and store interpretive guides for the nature trail

  • 1997 repair of the playground and replacement of crushed stone in the driveway

  • 1998 lighting for the skating rink; surplus funds were to be used to offset the cost of brush hogging the rink

  • 1999 replacement of plantings in front of the Community Center. The original plantings were overgrown and had been victimized by deer. The plantings are in memory of A.W. Dimock.

  • 2000 a new carpet and mats for the community center

  • 2001 four new picnic tables for the pavilion

  • 2002 a roof over the new barbecue pit.

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