It’s no secret that quality horses were (and are) part of Geneseo heritage from the early 19th Century. It’s Horse Country!

But another domestic animal brought excitement and laughter to early Geneseo of the 1930s.

We know that Geneseo has two ravines at the south and north, once with streams running to below the hill. Jacob B. Hall had a personal experience with the south ravine and his runaway bovine.

Hall bought the ill-broken cow from a Groveland farmer; soon after he began evening milking behind his 31 Main St. home, the rebellious cow managed to force her head through a picket fence. Lifting the fence from the fastenings, cow stumbled into the street heading toward the south gully.

Cow bellows alerted villagers who always were alert for emergencies. They saw the picket fence was well-balanced on the cow’s neck despite being very heavy.

Every few steps bossy tipped to her knees with tail in the air.

Hall’s seven children led the rescue brigade. Reaching the South Main Street gully bridge, the terrified cow could not clear the railing. It was still a temporary bridge, not designed for bulky loads. The guide posts snapped and down into the gully went railing, post, fence and cow.

Remarkably uninjured, the bovine emerged and “took off.” She ran up South Street with a large number of citizens trailing behind.

Eventually Hall caught the runaway and drove her along Temple Hill Lane and down North Street.

Afrrican-American Ben Fox needed a cow. He offered a fair price to buy the cow, quickly accepted by frustrated, embarrassed Hall. North Street’s Fox became keeper of Geneseo’s early non-equine animal of fame.

David W. Parish is historian for the town and village of Geneseo. He writes “Historic Geneseo” for The Livingston County News. He is a Chancellor Award retiree from Milne Library at SUNY Geneseo and author of 12 reference and history books. Local news submissions are always appreciated.

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