It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven & Sterling

    By on January 5, 2016
    • It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven & Sterling

    • W. Roy Maynard

    • The Sherman and Sheehan Iron Mine in Sterling where Roy was employed

    Fair Haven Hero – W. Roy Maynard

    “What does a hero look like? What is a good man? Perhaps it is the portrait of the man next door.”

    — Raymond T. Sant, describing Roy Maynard in the Fair Haven Register

    “The Carnegie Hero Fund awards the Carnegie Medal to individuals in the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”

    — Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie

    For his actions, W. Roy Maynard became a Carnegie Hero and was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1917. The Carnegie Foundation was established in 1904 by Andrew Carnegie to honor civilians who perform extraordinary acts of heroism.

    Minetto, New York: W. Roy Maynard, 26, steam shovel fireman, saved Byron D. Wells, 18, laborer, from drowning, Minetto, New York, June 7, 1913.

    Wells fell from a trestle into the Oswego River and was carried along by a current of 8 m.p.h. He grasped a rope that extended from the bank to an anchored raft near mid-river and held to it. He was 175 feet from the bank and was unable to save himself.

    Maynard left the bank and went hand over hand along the rope, which was at the surface, to Wells. He then called for help, and another man went out along the rope as Maynard had done. Maynard and the other man seized Wells and held to the rope and then called for the rope to be cut at the raft so that they would be carried to the bank by the current. But when the rope was cut, the other man lost his hold and was carried downstream.

    Maynard retained his hold on the rope and on Wells for a time but then lost his hold on both, and he and Wells were carried downstream within 40 feet of the bank. Wells was under water and was holding to Maynard’s ankle. Maynard kept at the surface until a man waded out and extended the branch of a tree to a point within his reach, and he and Wells were drawn ashore.

    Wells was unconscious, and Maynard was almost exhausted, but both recovered.

    William Roy Maynard was born in 1887 to George Webster Maynard (1867-1942) and Mary Adelaide “Addie” Hewitt Maynard (1862-1962). George was born in Oswego but moved with his wife and two young sons, Floyd and Roy, to the Town of Sterling when Roy was a toddler, in 1888. They lived there for 54 years. He was Superintendent of Highways for the Town for 16 years and served on the board of assessment. George Maynard was credited with placing some street bridges, creating the first hard-surfaced roads, and purchasing the first steam roller and stone crusher for the Town of Sterling. Roy’s mother, Addie received a perfect attendance award for 50 years of attending the Fair Haven Presbyterian Church. She was a descendent of the Hewitt family, pioneers in the Sterling area. She lived 100 years. Roy’s grandparents were Henry Maynard (1833-1908) and Christine, “Kate” (1842-1933). She was originally from North Sterling. All are buried in Springbrook Cemetery.

    Roy married Verna McFadden from Sterling. They had one daughter, Mary Maynard who married Robert “Moose” MacArthur on April 5, 1940.


    Roy Maynard was born on a farm in Oswego on August 10, 1887. He attended Sterling area schools and Fair Haven High School. He learned to play the trombone. By age 17, he had joined his older brother, Floyd and they worked together in Rochester for a time. He also worked for his father on the farm for a short stint where he showed himself to be very talented in mechanical aptitude. He also displayed a sense of adventure. The US Corps of Engineers was replacing the piers and breakwater at Little Sodus Bay and Roy went to work there. Afterward, he got a job working for Sherman and Sheehan at the Sterling iron mines, where he became a steam shovel operator loading iron ore into railroad cars. He also worked the steam water pumps that kept water out of the mine pits. Because of the poor quality of the iron ore, some of those mines were closed by about 1910. Roy also worked regularly in the ice industry during the winters. He expanded his skills in excavation at Brockport and Clinton. The lure of gold prospecting swept through Sterling and Roy and others in about late 1910 joined Clarence Crocket and Samuel C. Hunter who were operating the Porcupine Gold Mining Company in Porcupine, Alaska. (The Hunter family of Sterling was known for railroad and canal building, the Hunter Arms Company [L.C. Smith Guns], Hunter Fans, and several other businesses including a farm and mills in Sterling Valley.) The Alaskan mining company needed steam shovel operators and Roy was an expert by then, at age 24. The 4000 mile trip to Alaska required him to trudge through the snow on foot for the last 40 miles. (Fair Haven Folks and Folklore, R.T. Sant). He traveled around near Porcupine, Alaska using snowshoes. In 1912, he sent some gold nuggets to his father, George. (Fair Haven Register, Jan. 11, 1912).

    The lure of romance then swept over Roy. He returned to Sterling, arriving home about January 30, 1913 and he and Verna McFadden were married on February 26, 1913 at the McFadden home by Rev. Harry Stubbs. They lived in Sterling for a time. In 1916, their only child, Mary, was born. (Further information about Roy Maynard will be in future columns.)

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