Historian's Corner

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
Historian's Corner
November 19, 2019

Photo: Philip Coble, World War I veteran

Who was Philip Coble? I first came in contact with Mr. Coble while researching the World War I book in 2004. As we research Lacona businesses we find he retired from Sancona Builders Supply.

Philip Coble was in the construction business since he was 14 years old and retired from Sancona Builders Supply, having sold his interest in the corporation to his partner, Harold Wing. He bought into the local firm in 1952. His earliest experience in building was in 1910 with heavy construction, when he began working with his father, Charles Coble at Sylvan Beach at the age of 14. This work was in connection with the Barge Canal, excavating, putting up embankments and bridges.

“Perhaps as an interesting part of my experience during this time from 1910-1913 would be my work during the summer and fall of 1912, Mr. Coble said. My father had a contract to process and deliver by canal boat, concretesand and gravel for construction of locks and spillways near Rome. It was my part to have partial supervision during day time of the gravel plant, and delivery of materials to the boat which would be placed under a bridge across the Old Erie Canal at Stark’s Bridge just west of Higginsville. Then at night it was my job to tow the loaded boat to Rome with a team of horses and return an empty boat for the next day’s operations. On the boat, of course, we had a steersman, an old time canaller. That was his only duty for the day. That job usually took from six to eight hours.”

From 1913 to 1924 Mr. Coble was engaged in farming in Lorraine with his brother, Robert Coble and their father who headed the business. During this period, he had two years out for service in World War 1 when he was in France with the Army engineers, engaged in all types of building. His outfit built two bases, one for railroad operations, and the other a general advanced base including warehouses for all kinds of military supplies.

Leaving Lorraine in 1924 he went to Florida where he was engaged in building houses in the Avon Park area, the highland country of south-central Florida where citrus groves are abundant. Returning to New York State in 1927, he continued working for the same outfit as he had in Florida building homes in Jamestown, also in Niles, Ohio. After 1929 Mr. Coble was with the Irish Construction Company, working at first here on the new school building as well as other places for the firm until 1933. After that he was self employed in construction. It was during this period that he built his home on South Main Street.

In 1940 he went with the John W. Cowper Company at Pine Camp (Camp Drum). While with the firm there he held a separate contract and had the entire supervision in the building of the sports arena, the largest structure at the camp. While still with the firm he was in Scotia for a year working on the naval supply base.

During the period 1950-52 he worked with the LouisGressani building contractors in school construction here, at Fabius, Central Square and Great Bend.

When questioned as to any building of which he was particularly proud, he mentioned the sports arena at Camp Drum and locally in addition to work on the school, the BPE Recreation Center which he had charge of building and the brick addition of the chancel in front of the sanctuary at the Methodist Church. This work included not only the addition itself but all of the interior work, the building of the organ chamber and the intricate carving of the reredos, also the choir seats, pulpit lectern and communion rail. Probably none of his construction has given him any greater feeling of satisfaction, Mr. Coble said.

In 1952 Mr. Coble bought into the Sancona Firm. This business had been acquired by Harold Wing and W. S. Bumpus from the Tad Harding estate. The business was operating at that time from the freight house property in Lacona, the fire having destroyed the building at the corner of Academy Street and Harwood Drive where Sancona had previously been located. In 1952 the Sancona firm acquired the Billings Mill on Main Street Sandy Creek and located its business there.

The History Center has documented all our veterans in books. (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Veterans 1945 to 1960 and Veterans 1960 to current times)

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
1992 Harwood Drive
Sandy Creek, NY 13145
315-387-5456 x7
Office hours: Friday 9am to 2pm