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A new Erie Canal storyteller has emerged in the Village of Newark in the form of Louie DeJohn. DeJohn lived in Lockville (East Newark) for most of his life and recalls many stories of playing in Lockville as a child, working in Lockville as a young man, and the operation of yesteryear's commercial enterprises in Lockville.

Lockville is a place rich in Erie Canal history--a history that was all but lost until one man (or pirate) became irrevocably interested in Lockville's story in 2008. Jolly Roger Straub aims to make sure that Lockville will not be lost to history, and that the community and travelers can discover Lockville without getting lost. Since Jolly Roger starting opening the eyes of the Newark and Wayne County communities to Lockville many others have taken up the Lockville banner to include the Village of Newark itself under the leadership of Mayor Peter Blandino, local volunteers groups from churches and the Boy Scouts, Trail Works, Inc. of Wayne County, and community cameraman and Wayne County Life contributor Mark De Cracker.

Historic Lockville included three Clinton's Ditch canal locks (1820s) and three Enlarged Erie Canal locks (1840s); today it is home to Lock 28b on the present Erie "Barge" Canal (early 1900s). On a happenstance meeting at Tom Wahl's restaurant in Newark, Louie DeJohn self-identified himself to the Wayne County Life team as a Lockville man and said he'd been waiting for us to come asking for his story. In the following video at Lock 58 in the Lockville Historic Canal Park, watch and listen as Louie DeJohn recalls Erie Canal memories of Lockville including:
  • Soft coal stored during WWII by Case DenDecker (sp?) and Graf Coal Company
  • Drew's Hotel and mule livery in East Newark, fresh mushrooms in Lock 58
  • East Newark raceway powering mills and other businesses
  • Lock 59's use as a dump site for commercial "stoker" ashes and other items
  • Lock 58 as a children's playground, catching turtles and fish
  • Jim DeJohn's "victory garden" during the War
  • Lock 57 as the easternmost in Lockville before bend in Canal under West Shore Railroad bridge
  • 1800s photograph of Lock 57 in Deluge Hose Room at Newark's City Hall (Village Building)
  • Colburn Park's formation from dredgings of the New York State Barge Canal
  • Dan Oberdorf, a shovel operator who dug the Barge Canal and stayed in Newark as a heavy machine operator
  • Burial (accidental) of three shovel crewmen in Colburn Park beneath discarded Barge Canal dredge material, while eating lunch on the bank

Do Louie's stories ring a bell for you? Wayne County Life wants to hear your story. Make a comment in the space provided or contact our editorial team to share the history that you know.


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3 Comments to "Louie DeJohn of Lockville"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    Seems like a very smart man. But I should know because he has educated me for 47 years. Love you your son Gerry.

    Posted on Mon Nov 09, 08:41:00 PM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    I love listening to him talk about stuff like this :D

    Louis's Granddaughter

    Posted on Mon Nov 16, 02:00:00 PM EST

  3. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    It seems that today the oral tradition of Story-telling is nearly a lost art. And boy, does Mr. DeJohn do it well.

    He makes you want to listen, want to learn about how things used to be...thanks Louie!

    Posted on Mon Nov 16, 02:03:00 PM EST


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