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The Story Behind the Candle in the Window at the Garlock House

I am a former Vietnam-era AF air navigator with degrees in History and Economics. Areas of interest include aviation and military history.

Garlock House at 211 N. Main St. in Canandaigua, New York

Garlock House at 211 N. Main St. in Canandaigua, New York

The Electric Candle

For longer than most people can remember an electric candle has glowed, day and night, in the front window of the home located at 211 N. Main Street in the Western New York city of Canandaigua.

This stately mansion, known locally as the Garlock House, was built about 1847 by a man named Jarad Willson. Willson had purchased the property with its original house in 1829. He eventually removed the original house and replaced it with the elegant mansion that occupies the property today.

Willson died in 1875 but members of his family continued to live in the home until 1900 when it was sold to Assemblyman and Mrs. Jean La Rue Burnett. Mr. Burnett died in 1907 and his widow continued to reside in the home until 1927.

Love at First Sight

In the spring of 1927, while driving down Main Street, a wealthy industrialist from nearby Palmyra, Olin J. Garlock, and his wife Pauline, saw the home. The couple liked the home so much that Olin Garlock quickly convinced the widow, Mrs. Burnett, to sell them the home.

Pauline Garlock then lived in the beautiful, fourteen-room mansion, from 1927 to 1959.

According to local legend and periodically reported in books and newspapers throughout New York State, the candle glows in memory of a son who went off to fight in World War I and never returned. In some accounts, the son was a soldier killed in the trenches, while in others he was a flyer who met death when his plane was shot down in that war.

While the story of the lost son has been told and retold for decades, the name of the son and how he died remained a mystery to most.

Side of Garlock House that faces Ftt. Hill Dr. in Canandaigua, NY

Side of Garlock House that faces Ftt. Hill Dr. in Canandaigua, NY

The Victim’s Identity

Recently, two local authors, Nancy O’Donnell and Maureen O’Connell Baker, in separate articles published on the web, have identified the son that the candle memorializes as being Jack Garlock, Pauline Garlock’s son by a previous marriage.

It turns out that Jack Garlock, who was only 13 years old when the U.S. declared war in 1917, never served in the military. While he did die in a plane crash, he was a passenger in the plane that his step-father, Olin J. Garlock, had purchased and which Jack had just picked up from the factory.

While not the heroic self-sacrificing son portrayed in the legend, something must have caused Jack’s mother to have kept the candle glowing in the window for the 32 years between his death in 1927 and her selling the house and moving away in 1959.

In addition, there is also the question of why, in the apparent absence of any stipulation in the property’s deed requiring the candle to remain lit, subsequent owners have continued to honor Jack Garlock’s memory by keeping the candle glowing to this day.

Looking South on Canandaigua Lake from Kershaw Park in City of Canandaigua down the street from the Garlock House.

Looking South on Canandaigua Lake from Kershaw Park in City of Canandaigua down the street from the Garlock House.

Was Jack Garlock a Wild Rich Kid?

The longer and more detailed account cited above was written by Maureen O’Connell Baker using for her research a scrapbook of letters and newspaper clippings in the possession of the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua.

Most of the letters, which were written between 1924 and 1927, were from Olin J. Garlock to Jack Garlock who was Olin’s legally adopted step-son.

Included with the letters in the scrapbook were newspaper clippings describing the secrets of success, the importance of responsibility, and accounts of car accidents involving cars driven by intoxicated young men. The motivational newspaper clippings were included in the letters Olin sent to Jack and his brother Sherry.

There are no letters from Jack in the scrapbook.

According to Ms Baker, the picture that emerges of Jack in the letters is that of a spoiled young rich man interested only in partying, drinking, driving fast cars, flying airplanes, and chasing women.

This image of Jack Garlock that emerges from these letters is not one that would cause him to be memorialized for nearly nine decades.

Maureen O’Connell Baker concludes her article by suggesting that maybe Jack Garlock was “daring, fearless, and talented; living the way many of us, given the wherewithal, would live.” She then ends by writing that his mother may have put the candle in the window “to honor his courage to live the way he wanted.”

Living on the other side of the nation and not having access to the contents of scrapbooks I don’t dispute Maureen O’Connell Baker’s account of what she found in the letters.

That being said, I found her assumption that the candle was placed in and has remained in the window to honor her son’s courage to use his step-father’s money to live out his self-indulgent fantasies a bit of a stretch.

Historic Ontario County Courthouse in Canandaigua, NY.  Is south of Garlock House on Main St.

Historic Ontario County Courthouse in Canandaigua, NY. Is south of Garlock House on Main St.

More Research Provides a Different Picture of Jack Garlock

While I was not able to view the letters in the possession of the Ontario County Historical Society, I was able to search through the numerous area newspapers from that era that have been digitized and made available on the Internet.

With Olin J. Garlock being a prominent local business and civic leader, there are numerous accounts of him and his family in these newspapers.

The picture of Jack Garlock that emerges from the newspapers is one of a young man who, in the words of Ms Baker, was “daring, fearless, and talented…”. He could also be described as a wealthy young man sowing his wild oats before settling down and becoming a mature and responsible adult.

The same could be said of his brother and two stepbrothers, all three of which matured into very responsible and productive adults. In fact, newspaper accounts show Jack maturing into a responsible adult at the time of his death which occurred a few weeks short of his 23rd birthday.

Jack Frances Myers Becomes Jack Garlock

John (Jack) Frances Myers was born in Carthage, New York to Frances (Frank) and Pauline Harvey Myers (1883 – 1972) on August 13, 1904. A younger brother, Sherry B. Myers was born in 1907.

Sometime after Sherry’s birth, Frank Myers died leaving Pauline a widow with two young sons to care for alone.

At some point, probably in the early 1920s but possibly earlier, Pauline met the wealthy Palmyra, New York, industrialist Olin J. Garlock (1861 – 1942). The two were married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 24, 1922.

Shortly after his marriage to Pauline, Olin legally adopted Pauline’s two sons. Following the adoption, Jack, who would have turned 18 on August 13th of 1922, took the Garlock name while his younger brother Sherry (who would have been 15 at the time) elected to keep Myers as his last name.

Following their marriage, Olin and Pauline moved frequently as Olin’s business interests kept him constantly on the move. Olin did maintain a home in Palmyra, his hometown and headquarters of his business, the Garlock Packing Company. He also had a summer home on Keuka Lake near Penn Yan, New York.

During this time Jack seems to have moved around as well. In 1922 and 1923 the family, according to newspaper accounts, seemed to consider Penn Yan, New York their address. The Penn Yan address was probably Olin’s home on nearby Keuka Lake.

In 1923, the following accounts regarding Jack appeared in local newspapers:

January 26, 1923, the Penn Yan Democrat reported: Jack Garlock is at his home here suffering from infection having developed in his right hand and arm. Garlock has been attending military school.

March 2, 1923, the Penn Yan Democrat reported: Jack Garlock was towing some “bobs” up the hill at Head street Tuesday night when his automobile went into the ditch. No one was hurt. (Note: “bobs” appears to be 1920s Flapper Era slang for young ladies.)

June 12, 1923, in the “Penn Yan Briefs” column, the Geneva Daily Times reported: Jack Garlock has been spending the last few days in Watertown. (Note: Watertown is near Carthage, NY)

While Jack was in Penn Yan, possibly with his mother, when he wasn’t away other places in 1923, his step-father, Olin J. Garlock was living at the Powers Hotel in Rochester, New York where, in April 1923, he had just purchased a controlling interest in the Crandall Packing Company.

Following his Lackluster School Days Jack Begins to Mature

Prior to his mother’s marriage, Jack probably attended the local Carthage high school. However, in a lengthy July 22, 1927 account of Jack’s death, the Penn Yan Democrat stated that Jack had attended several schools among them Penn Yan Academy, Manlius, Culver Military Academy, Villa Nova, and Fordham.

Penn Yan Academy, Manlius (located in Syracuse, NY), and Culver Military Academy (located in Culver, Indiana) are all college prep schools with Culver and possibly Manlius being boarding schools. A 1925 article has him attending, for at least part of a semester, Fordham University in New York City.

Jack was probably not a scholar, but his step-father, Olin J. Garlock, appeared to be trying to provide Jack with educational opportunities he himself never had.

According to newspaper accounts, Jack spent the last two years of his life, from 1925 to 1927 living at and managing Olin J. Garlock’s Owl Pine Farm near Carthage.

Jack also spent 18 months attached to Troop D of the New York State Police. Eight months were at the Homer, New York sub-station and ten months in Oneida. An athletic young man, he was also a member of the troop’s rough riding team.

Some of his time with the state police appears to have overlapped with his time managing Owl Pine Farm. The State Police position may have been a reserve or part-time position. Also, his brother, Sherry was living at the Owl Pine Farm at this time and may have been helping Jack with the farm’s operation.

On April 5, 1926, Jack married Hazel R. Sweeney of Marion, NY. The marriage was performed by the Reverend E. J. Dwyer at a local Catholic church in Palmyra, New York. Jack’s days of chasing women were apparently over.

Historic Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens in Canandaigua, NY.  Located a few blocks east of the Garlock House.

Historic Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens in Canandaigua, NY. Located a few blocks east of the Garlock House.

Jack and His Stepfather Share and Interest in Aviation

Despite Olin Garlock’s letters and the 1923 newspaper reports of Jack Garlock’s activities, Jack seemed to be maturing in the years 1924 to 1927. At the time of Jack’s death on July 20, 1927, he was 24 days shy of his twenty-third birthday which would have occurred on August 13th.

According to accounts, Jack had a strong interest in aviation. His step-father Olin, who may have known the aviation pioneer and aircraft engine manufacturer, Glenn Curtis who lived in the same part of New York State, was also very interested in aviation.

Olin Garlock was reported to be considering the purchase of an airplane as early as 1917 and his biological son, Harold O. J. Garlock (1896 – 1963), had been trained as a naval aviator just prior to World War I.

While Jack appears to have had a wild side and an appetite for fast cars and airplanes, his aviation experience at the time of his death was as a passenger and student only.

Prior to his untimely death, Jack had been taking flying lessons from W. Knox Martin an instructor and pilot for F. H. Taylor’s flying service in Watertown, NY. Knox Martin had extensive flying experience in both war and peace and had also become a very cautious and careful aviator by the time he became Jack’s instructor.

Knox Martin was supposed to have accompanied Jack to pick up the airplane. However, when his contract with Taylor’s flying service ended shortly before the trip, he elected not to renew it and returned home to Salem, Virginia where his wife and children lived.

Jack and Pilot Charles Baughm Travel to Illinois Factory to Pick Up Airplane Olin Garlock Purchased

F. H. Taylor replaced Knox Martin with Charles Baughm, a professional pilot and World War I aviation combat veteran. It was Baughm who travelled with Jack to the National Airways System factory in Lomax, Illinois to pick up the Air King bi-plane that Olin Garlock had purchased.

Following Charles Baughm’s appearance before the City Council in Watertown on Monday evening July 18th to testify in support of establishing a municipal airport, he and Jack left for nearby Syracuse where they caught the New York Central Railroad’s late-night Wolverine to Chicago.

The two had planned to arrive at the National Airways System/s factory in Lomax, Illinois on Wednesday afternoon, pick up the plane and fly to Detroit where they would spend the night. They would then complete the flight back to Taylor’s airfield on Thursday.

Things appear to have gone as planned until take off. The plane was a two-person Air King bi-plane with an open cockpit. Baughm climbed into the front seat and Jack Garlock into the seat behind him.

Plane Crashes and Jack is Burned Alive

With Baughm at the controls, they took off.

After climbing about thirty feet, Baughm appears to have banked the plan to avoid hitting the top of a tree. Unfortunately, as he did this one of the wings hit a tree on the other side which put the plane in a spin.

The low altitude gave Baughm no time to regain control. The plane crashed upside down and burst into flames with Baughm and Garlock suspend by their seatbelts and hanging upside down in their seats.

Baughm appears to have unhooked his seatbelt and fallen to the ground before passing out.

Hearing the explosion and screams, the workers ran to the scene from the factory. They were able to pull Charles Baughm to safety. He was taken to a hospital in nearby Burlington, Iowa but was not expected to survive.

Jack, screaming as the flames engulfed him, tried in vain to unhook his seat belt and free himself. The intense fire was such that the rescuers from the factory could not get to him as he burned alive before their eyes.

Olin J. Garlock and the Garlock Family

To better understand Jack Garlock and his potential, it is important to get to know and understand the Garlock family.

Olin J. Garlock was a wealthy self-made man. He began his career as a young man working in a lumber factory in Palmyra.

While working in the engine room Olin found himself having to continually repack the steam engine’s stuffing box to stop it from leaking.

One day he decided to try cutting a piece of discarded fire hose into strips, soaking the strips in oil, and then using them for packing. The new technique worked and Olin began making and selling his new packing in his spare time.

Olin eventually founded what became the Garlock Packing Company, which is still in operation in Palmyra, NY. Under Olin’s tutelage, The Garlock Packing Company produced and sold his product throughout North America and Europe.

City Hall located at 2 N. Main Street in Canandaigua, NY

City Hall located at 2 N. Main Street in Canandaigua, NY

Olin J. Garlock: Failure as a Husband, But...

Olin’s passion in life was business. In addition to the Garlock Packing Company in which he was President and a major shareholder, he was a real estate investor and active in civic and community affairs.

However, when it came to family life, Olin was less successful. He was married at least three times and each of them ended in failure probably due to his being away on business most of the time. However, as a father, he seems to have done fairly well despite his absences.

Olin sired a son with each of his first two wives.

He married his first wife, Nina V., sometime in the mid-1880s. On December 10, 1887, Nina gave birth to Olin’s first son who was born in Palmyra, NY, and was named Nelson John Garlock. Less than a decade later, in the fall of 1895, Nina filed for and was granted a divorce from Olin.

Olin wasted no time in marrying his next wife, Lillian B., who gave birth to his second son, Harold O. J. Garlock, on September 9, 1896.

While I wasn’t able to find any record of Olin divorcing Lillian, the marriage seems to have fallen apart sometime before World War I. Lillian died on June 21, 1923, a little over a year after Olin married Pauline Harvey Myers in Philadelphia. Lillian appears to have been buried in the Garlock family plot along with Olin and his parents in the Palmyra Village Cemetery.

. . . Success as a Father

While Olin could not hang on to his wives, he does seem to have maintained a close relationship with each of his two biological sons as well as his two step-sons. In fact, the surviving letters of Olin to Jack may be but a sample of Olin’s correspondence with his other sons.

Maureen O’Connell Baker’s article indicates that some of the letters in the scrapbook were directed at Jack’s brother Sherry as well and Olin probably corresponded frequently with Nelson and Harold while he was away on business and when they were away at school.

Letters were probably one of the primary ways Olin J. Garlock managed to maintain a strong presence in his sons’ lives. In this, he was a good father in that all four of them grew up to be responsible citizens and family men.

Nelson Garlock, the oldest, served six years in the New York State Naval Militia (a reserve National Guard organization) and was employed at the Garlock Packing Company which was run by his father, Olin Garlock.

Despite having previously served and been honorably discharged from the Naval Militia, he, as required by the World War I inspired draft law at the time, registered for the military draft and re-enlisted in the Naval Militia shortly after the United States declared war in World War I. Nelson served as a naval officer during World War I.

Following the declaration of war, Olin J. Garlock himself immediately became an active supporter of the war, serving as chairman of the Wayne County Home Defense Committee and chairman of the War Bond Committee.

Younger Brother Harold a Naval Aviator who Fought in World War I and World War II

Nelson’s younger brother, Harold O.J. Garlock, also joined the New York Naval Militia prior to the war and, at the start of World War I, was serving as an ensign in the Naval Militia Aviation Corps. Harold spent the war serving aboard the battleship Wisconsin and rose to the rank of lieutenant during the war.

Following the war, Harold remained in the Naval Militia and went to work for the Garlock Packing Company in Palmyra.

Harold appears to have returned to active duty during World War II and then remained on active duty in the Navy following the war. He retired with the rank of commander and, upon his death which occurred on October 10, 1963, he was buried in the Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

Sherry Myers: World War II Veteran and Career Army Lawyer

As for Sherry Myers who was still a teenager when the unflattering comments about him were written by Olin in the letters now located in the Ontario Historical Society, he also matured into a responsible and successful citizen and family man.

In 1931 Sherry enlisted in the New York Militia (now the New York Army National Guard) and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in that military reserve organization. The notice of his commission lists the Owl Pine Farm as his address so he was probably either continuing to work for Olin there or had taken over his brother’s job as manager following Jack’s death.

Sherry is listed as having attended Fordham University with Jack and appears to have graduated from Harvard University. Following his undergraduate education, he went on to Georgetown University Law School where he received his law degree on July 12, 1933.

He taught law at the University of San Francisco and then returned to Canandaigua where he sat for and passed the New York State bar exam. He either volunteered for or was called to active duty at the start of World War II where he served in a legal capacity as an officer in the Army’s Provost Office.

Promoted to Lt. Colonel in December of 1945, Sherry remained on active duty and was sent to Dachau, Germany where he led the prosecution of Nazi war criminals charged with murdering, rather than taking prisoner, over 1,200 American flyers shot down over Germany.

Sherry married sometime before the war and eventually had four children with his wife. Following the war, he remained in the Army working in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army in Washington, D.C., and living in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Jack Begins to Mature

I don’t doubt that Jack Garlock had a wild side as a young man. It is not uncommon for young men basking in both the new freedom from parental control and the lack of family responsibilities to take often foolish risks and act in an irresponsible manner.

However, there is no evidence of their breaking the law other than their drinking which was a violation of the Volstead Act (the federal law banning the production and consumption of alcohol during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s)—this law was regularly ignored by many including public officials.

Sherry obviously matured into a very responsible adult. Jack seemed to be on his way to maturity despite the fact that, at the time of his death he was not quite 23 years old.

Prior to his death, Jack had worked a year and a half as a state trooper, for two years had been managing the Owl Pine Farm for his step-father, and had been married for a year. Marriage usually causes a young man to mature and act more responsibly. That is why the high car insurance rates for men under 25 are reduced when they marry.

The evidence indicates that, while Jack Garlock started out as an irresponsible young man, he began to mature as he advanced into his twenties.

Jack Saved His Stepfather's Letters and Began to Follow the Advice in Them

Jack not only started taking to heart and following the advice in the letters and newspaper clippings that his step-father sent him but also appears to have saved the letters and clippings.

The scrapbook in which he kept the letters probably ended up being given to Jack’s mother following his death and she saved and ultimately donated the scrapbook to the historical society.

The scrapbook is Jack’s personal collection of letters from his step-father and not a collection of Garlock family letters and papers. This is why there are no letters from Jack—these would have been sent by Jack to Olin and were apparently either not saved by Olin or were saved and were not among those donated to the historical society.

Olin was not only frequently away traveling on business but he and Pauline parted ways around 1930. While Pauline remained in Canandaigua, Olin returned to the long-time residence he had in Palmyra (which is also known as the Garlock House and was a local museum until recently).

Candle in memory of son Jack Garlock continues to glow in right front window of Garlock House at 211 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY

Candle in memory of son Jack Garlock continues to glow in right front window of Garlock House at 211 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY

Pauline Garlock Placed a Candle in the Window of Her Home for Jack's Safe Return

Jack left on his fatal, final trip not from his family’s home in Canandaigua but from the Carthage area where he and his wife lived at the Owl Pine Farm.

Jack either accompanied Charles Baughm to the local Watertown council hearing that evening regarding the proposed new municipal airport or he was picked up by Baughm after the meeting and the two either drove or were driven to the New York Central train station in nearby Syracuse where they caught the late train to Chicago.

Hoping for his safe return and knowing that he was catching a train that evening, Jack’s mother, Pauline Garlock, probably placed the candle in the window of the Canandaigua home sometime that day or evening. This was not an uncommon practice.

Following Jack’s death in the crash, Pauline apparently decided to leave the candle glowing in the window in memory of her son.

Newspaper accounts about Pauline in the 1930s later describe her as a quiet person with a small circle of close friends.

With husband Olin frequently away and Sherry and the rest of her relatives living in the Carthage area, Pauline, in Canandaigua, was left with her small circle of friends, her fourteen-room mansion, and memories of Jack.

This is not to say she was a recluse, but she doesn't appear to have been a social butterfly either.

The tragic loss of her firstborn obviously left a hole in her life which is probably why she left the candle glowing in the window and kept the scrapbook of his letters.

A Legend Develops

While Jack's tragic death was well-publicized, newspaper accounts of the candle do not seem to appear until years later. When they did begin appearing, the legend was well established and this was the account that was reported.

While the candle is easily detected by passers-by at night, one can easily pass by the home during the day without noticing it. As a result, it may have taken a while for people to both start noticing it and also become aware that it was always there.

Since Olin J. Garlock and his family were well known in the area and since two of his sons fought in World War I with one being an aviator it is easy to see how people came to link the candle to a son lost in the War.

Thus, over time the legend grew that the candle was originally placed in the window to help a son find his way back home from the war and then left glowing in the window when the son never returned.

Except for the fact that the candle was placed in the window a decade after the war and was for the safe return of a son on a business trip, the theme is the same.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Chuck Nugent


Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on August 06, 2020:

Nelson L. Underwood - Thank you for your comments and for sharing your lineage. Olin J. Garlock was a major local figure and he and some of his descendants have continued to play a role in the area.

Nelson L. Underwood on August 05, 2020:

I am the name sake of Nelson J. Garlock who was Olin J. Garlock and Nina V. Garlock (Crandall). Olin had three sons before is third wife, Nelson J. Garlock, Milton J. Garlock and Harold J. Garlock. After Nina V. Garlock (Crandall) divorced Olin J. she remarried Arthur E. Underwood and had two more sons, Horace D. Underwood and Lester L. Underwood. Horace D. Underwood is my Grandfather and Arthur E. Underwood would be my Great Grand-father.

Desiree on April 30, 2018:

I wanted to see if you got my email I sent last week?

Explaining the missing son from your story this could have been my Great Granddaddy

(Milton James Garlock)


BIRTH 1890

DEATH 1920

Milton James Garlock was born in 1890, the son of Nina and Olin J Garlock. He had two sons Eugene Nichols Garlock, and Archie Milton Garlock. And one daughter Dorothy M Garlock with Lillian M. Stickler. He died as a young father in 1920 at the age of 30 and was buried in Corning, New York.

My papa Eugene was only 4 when his dad die and he did not know what happen to him. Stuff like that was not discussed with the children. Lillian M. Stickler, Garlock remarry a Rex Harris. And had another daughter Chanletta Harris.

Thank you for your story and pictures of the Garlock house. I loved it and it helped me on my research on I sent my mom the picks of the house and she said that when she was little they would visit the house from time to time and she would ride down the big staircase. I hope this helps your quest.

Janelle from Houston on March 17, 2017:

This is very well thought out and thoroughly researched. Thanks for sharing!

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on August 24, 2016:

Juanne Connors - In my research I didn't run across any accounts of purchases of musical instruments by the Garlock family. However, it is possible that Olin or one of his sons did purchase the clarinet you now have. Music was very popular in the era I wrote about and sales of sheet music were high due to the fact that many people owned and played musical instruments.

Because I live in Arizona it was not possible to travel and spend time in Canandaigua viewing the letters and other papers of the Garlock family that are now owned by the local Historical Society. I had to rely mostly on articles about the family found in historical newspapers published in that area and are now online. So, if you can get to the local historical society and are able to get access to the family letters you might find the answer to your question. I wish you luck in your endeavor. Chuck

Juanne Connors on August 04, 2016:

Thank you for your research. For 38 years, I have owned a Silver King clarinet and some accent chairs that were from the Garlock House that were sold at an Estate sale after a fire. I was reading the history of the H. N. White, Company in Ohio and wondered if the clarinet, probably 1920's was purchased by Olin Garlock. Is there any reference to a musician in the family? Perhaps it was acquired on a trip out that way. This musical instrument company was considered the world's finest in musical instrument production and a website is established for historical reasons. It stated that the H. N. White Co. was awarded two large government contracts to assemble radar units for the Navy and Army in WWII due to their adeptness at silver work and instrument calibration.

Returning to the previous idea that Olin Garlock was rich enough to buy a bi-plane and that the trip of his son, Jack was through Detroit, I want to find out if this instrument may have been acquired in his or his sons' travels because some facts are coming out that make that possible.

Could the "wild son" that was written about in your historical accounts have been a musician? Could this be his clarinet?

barbara from colorado on May 05, 2016:

about 30 years ago I purchased a stepback cupboard from an antique dealer who told me it was from the Garlock house. It is pegged together and I love it. The dealer was from the Palmyra area.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on September 26, 2015:

RTalloni - Interesting suggestion. My objective in researching and writing this was to find the "soldier" behind the story about the reason for the candle in the window. This was hard enough. However, I think it would be much more difficult to research and find the motive behind the candle remaining in the window. My own suspicion is that the mother was simply following the old custom of putting a candle in the front window to symbolically light the way home for someone who leaves on a difficult or dangerous journey. I was a way of wishing the traveler a safe return. When Jack Garlock died tragically rather than returning his mother probably left the candle glowing in the window in memory of him. Once the legend started circulating the subsequent owners continued to keep it glowing in the window

Thanks for your comment and suggestion for a piece of fiction from this.

RTalloni on September 25, 2015:

A good reminder to check out local legends! Like much of history, the story of this family could provide a real foundation for a great piece of fiction. Theories on why the mother kept the candle burning could be believable…she snapped and could not believe he wasn't coming home, she believed his memory worthy, she wanted others to know that she loved her son no matter how he had lived…, and then the theories on why the candle has been kept burning could be quite fantastical.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on October 05, 2014:

Chuck, I couldn't help but chuckle (in sympathy) for the poor sods who had to comb through the original paper copies of old newspapers, or the microfilms of them, before they were digitized and became available online! I just researched a hub about an old hotel in my hometown from digitized papers, information I wouldn't have since I now live four and a half hours away from the only records repository that has that town's newspapers on microfilm. Nor would I have been able to find it without digitized papers being searchable...after, like you said, one figures out the right search terms, which is still more difficult than it should be. But I'm sure that will change as technology improves.

Even with searchable digitization, I still enjoy reading the local ads and other tidbits on other parts of the page containing the article I'm seeking. They're a peek into the world as it was on the day that issue was published...a great way to see how times have or haven't changed in the decades since. ;D

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on October 04, 2014:

JamaGenee - Thanks for visiting and commenting on this Hub.

As to my theory as to why the candle has remained in the window, I didn't state it but, like you, assume it is the desire to maintain a local tradition.

I agree with you that digitized newspapers are one of the best things for long distance research. I spend far more time researching many of my Hubs than actually writing them and without Google and its access to not only digitized newspapers but also troves of other research resources I would never be able to write most of my Hubs. I have neither the time nor the money needed to travel to distant places for research material (as an added bonus Google not only helps me find material in distant places but also translates it for me when it is in a language other than English).

Interestingly, former Monroe County (New York) historian and "Rochester Democrat & Chronicle" newspaper columnist, Arch Merrill, who wrote numerous books and articles in the1950s & 1960s about Western New York history is supposed to have spent much of his time traveling around Western New York State visiting newspaper offices, libraries, historical societies etc. and going through old newspapers researching and looking for local lore to write about.

Of course his newspaper employer paid for this travel. In one or more of his books he mentions the Garlock House and recites the tale of the candle being placed in the window to light the way home for a son who went off to fight in World War I and never returned. I used the online digitized versions of the same newspaper sources he had available in either original paper form or microfilm, and was able to find the real story about the candle in the window. Of course, I had the advantage of a search engine to relatively quickly (when I figured out the right key search words) drive through a year or more worth of papers to find articles relevant to my research while Arch Merrill had to sift through papers page by page or frame by frame on microfilm.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 26, 2014:

Chuck, did I miss your theory on why subsequent occupants, unrelated to Jack, continue to display the candle in the window? "Tradition" would be my guess...that the candle had been there so long while Pauline lived there that people simply expected to see it even after she moved out.

Online digitized newspapers are one of the best things ever for long-distance historical (and genealogical) research! ;D

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on September 10, 2014:

Regina Myers - I am glad you enjoyed this Hub. Thank you for sharing this. The people in this story were very interesting and I enjoyed reading about them as I went through dozens of old newspapers and other sources while researching their stories for this Hub

Regina Myers on September 08, 2014:

I am the youngest daughter of Sherry Myers. My oldest brother and sisters were able to visit my grandmother, Pauline, quite often at 211 N. Main St. The family history is fascinating and contains a lot of magical and scandalous stories. Thank you for publishing this article.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on March 08, 2014:

Ed Piierce - I also grew up with the same stories from my great-aunt and uncle who had owned a cottage on Canandaigua Lake since the late 1920s or 1930s. My Mother, who had visited them at their cottage regularly while growing up, also told us the same thing.

We used to visit my great-aunt and uncle regularly at the lake during summers when I was growing up and always believed that the candle had been put in the window by a grieving mother whose son had gone off to war and never returned. Even the late Arch Merrill, who had been the neighboring Monroe County, NY historian and who had published a number of popular books on Western New York local history and lore as well as writing a regular column in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper during the 1950s and 60s, had told the story in one of his books about the candle and missing soldier exactly as my Mother and great-aunt and uncle had told it. Merrill got his material by traveling around the area and going through old newspapers and local museum and historical society documents.

Given that Canandaigua was not that big at the time of World War I and that I was looking for a soldier out of the even smaller population of sons from wealthy families it should have been very easy to discover the missing soldier's name.

It was about 5 years between the time I first published my Hub "The Candle in the Window" ( in which I shared the legend and when I finally stumbled across the real story while doing research on the address of the home attempting to find the name of the owners at the time of World War I. Doing those five years I would periodically spend up to an hour or so doing searches on every fact I could think of attempting to locate the name of the missing soldier.

While searching using the street address of the home one evening I stumbled across the December 2011 article by Maureen O'Connell Baker (a link to this is in the Hub above) in the online version of the Ontario County Historical Society's newsletter. I also found another, shorter piece by Nancy O’Donnell that had been published about a year earlier. Both of these writers liven in Canandaigua and had access to the Ontario County Historical Society’s records which are not online. It was from these that I learned for whom the candle was originally placed in the window.

Despite the fact that Jack Garlock had been too young to have served in World War I and that his death had been due to a plane crash in peacetime, his story looked like a good one so I decided to make this follow-up Hub about Jack and the Garlock family. Even though the family no longer owns the Garlock Sealing Technologies Company they did play a role in the history of the area and the, now global, company is still in nearby Palmyra and was recently in the news for having won a major case in their long running battle over asbestos lawsuits.

Ed Piierce on March 06, 2014:

I remember walking by that home every day coming & going to CA, from 1946-1950. We always believed he was an Army pilot who left & never returned and his mother put the candle in the window "until he returned".

smw1962 on March 05, 2014:

Interesting story! Thank you for posting it.