New treasure trove of information for Jell-O Museum

Jan 16, 2018

LE ROY — Two weeks ago two boxes from Portsmouth, N.H., arrived at the Jell-O Museum in Le Roy.

Inside the contents were what was once the property of Stewart Luther Johnston, who had spent his childhood in Le Roy.

Johnston had worked briefly for Jell-O before serving with the Merchant Marine and the United States Navy for 23 years and moving out-of-state. His father was a friend of influential Le Roy businessman Donald Woodward.

Woodward owned the Kemp and Lane Company — a medicine business whose predecessor was owned by Orator Williams, Donald’s father.

Town Historian Lynne Belluscio said the boxes represent a treasure trove of information which the Jell-O Museum is still working through, since the collection just came in.

One of the things she pointed out is a wealth of photographs of the medicine wagons that traveled around the country selling the various products Kemp and Lane manufactured in Le Roy.

“They took photographs of the wagons all over wherever they were traveling, and some of them got information as to where the photographs were taken, who was driving,” she said. “The fun thing about it was the photographs of the pet raccoon. It’s really just a snapshot of a company that existed in Le Roy that we knew about, but now we know a lot more about it.”

The photographs also dated back to a time when O.F. Woodward Medicine Business was still under the Woodward family before being taken over by Donald Woodward in 1920 reorganized under the name of Kemp and Lane name.

Belluscio said what amazes her is the scope of the photographs and seeing where all the wagons were. They give more sense of another chapter in Le Roy’s history.