Whiskey Jim

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From History, Reminiscences, Anecdotes and Legends by Walter Henry Green 1947


In the 1870’s and 80’s there was a notable character in Sodus Point called Whiskey Jim: “There needs no ghost come from the grave” to tell us how he came by the nick name. The name is sufficient.


One summer’s day two Sodus boys thought that they would like to take a tour around the bay and at the same time try their luck at trolling. At Walsh’s boathouse Whiskey Jim was detailed to do the rowing for them. About every quarter hour Jim would give a few very vigorous pulls on the oars and the boys soon learned what it was for: it was to give the boat headway while he took some likewise vigorous pulls on a pint bottle in which there was a reddish brown liquid.


The Walsh House was located where Hots Point is now. Photo courtesy of Bob Chase, Jr.


Lady Luck was not with them and Jim accused one of the boys of being a Jonah. That was very unjust. Jonah was in that bottle. If Jim had given more attention to keeping upon the known good fishing grounds instead of the uninhabited parts of the bay they boys might have caught some big fish.


For a week or more before election day each year, George Case, the owner at the Johnson House would keep Jim at his hotel and see that he was well dined and well wined and in every way well cared for, in order that he would vote what George considered the right ticket. One year there was an election which to George was more than usually important and for ten days preceding it Jim lived on the top shelf at the Johnson House, without expense to himself.


In those days the only polling place in Sodus Township was the barroom at the Whitney Hotel in Sodus Village. Very solicitously George brought Jim to Sodus and left him in the barroom while he went to the barn to see that his horse was properly cared for. While he was at the barn a joking politician who well knew how he had been groomed for the occasion, induced Jim to vote the ticket that was wholly unsatisfactory to George. When George got home that evening he took down his volume of Shakespeare and pursued “Love’s Labor’s Lost”.