John C. McLaughlin was a son of William McLaughlin Jr. and Mary McHugh, and a brother of Mary McLaughlin, better known as Sister Mary Antonia. Among his children was Thomas Francis McLaughlin, who was a well-known singer in Central New York before he settled in Kenmore, NY, where he taught music.

John C. McLaughlin began as a teacher, but only until he qualified as a lawyer. He lived in the village of Jordan, a few miles from Skaneateles, and maintained an office in Syracuse. He was active in politics and for a while was a member of the New York State Assembly

Syracuse Journal, December 16, 1903
Flames Nearly Ruin Dwelling
JORDAN, Dec. 16 – The home of Attorney J. C. McLaughlin at Lawrence and Quince streets was discovered to be on fire at about 3 o’clock Monday afternoon. The Jordan Hose company quickly responded to the alarm and through their efficient work the house was saved from complete destruction.

Some wood had been placed in the oven of the cook stove to dry and in some way it caught fire and Mrs. McLaughlin threw it outdoors and covered it with water, supposing the fire to be extinguished, but being fanned by a strong wind continued to burn, igniting the back steps and then worked to the siding of house where it crept, unknown, between the siding and plastering to the upper part of the house.

She discovered it had gained considerable headway and nearly all of the upper story of the house was destroyed. A portion of the household goods was ruined. It is thought the insurance, which is $1,500 on the house and $500 on the household goods, will nearly cover the loss.

The house was comparatively new and was one of the prettiest in town.

Mr. McLaughlin has moved into the older house in Hamilton Street and will repair his house as soon as possible.

Years later the McLaughlins would spot another fire — this one in the middle of the night at the high school across the street (see below).

Skaneateles Press, July 2, 1948
J. C. McLaughlin Prominent
in GOP; Was Town Native

John C. McLaughlin, Skaneateles native and a prominent retired attorney and former assemblyman of Jordan, died in Onondaga General Hospital last Wednesday (June 30, 1948). He had been in failing health for some time.

A graduate of Skaneateles High School, Mr. McLaughlin became a lawyer practicing in Jordan from 1899 until his recent retirement.

He was prominent in Republican circles and was credited with being responsible for the construction of the parkway along the old Erie canal through the village of Jordan by TERA [New York's Temporary Emergency Relief Administration] in the 1930s.

He was former chairman of the Elbridge town Republican committee and is a former supervisor and member of assembly, first district; also president of the Jordan Village Board, the Jordan Board of Education, banker, and he has been prominent in firemen’s affairs.

Following his graduation from the old Skaneateles Academy, he taught in district schools for three years and studied law in the office of Martin F. Dillon, a prominent former attorney of this village and in the office of Williams and Cowle in Syracuse.

He was a member of the Onondaga County Bar Association, Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Syracuse Lodge B.P.O.E., the Holy Name Society and a trustee of St. Patrick’s Church of Jordan.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Helen O. McLaughlin; a daughter, Mrs. Hugh McPeak of Jordan; three sons, William A. and John C. McLaughlin of Syracuse and Thomas Francis McLaughlin of Kenmore; two sisters, Misses Anna S. and Elizabeth T. McLaughlin of Skaneateles, and eight grandchildren.

The funeral will take place at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, at the home of his daughter, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Patrick’s Church, Jordan.

Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Skaneateles.


Auburn Citizen-Advertiser, August 31, 1972
Jordan names street for
John McLaughlin

Jordan Correspondent

The village of Jordan has honored one of its former citizens by naming the extension from Hamilton Street to new Route 31 that runs back of the firehouse, J. McLaughlin Drive.

John McLaughlin was born in the village of Skaneateles and was graduated from the Skaneateles Academy in 1894, president of his class. He studied law in Skaneateles with the late M. F. Dillon and in Syracuse with Williams and Cowle, and was admitted to the bar Jan. 17, 1897, locating in the village of Jordan in February 1897.

He had three years to his credit as district school teacher at Willow Glen before casting his first vote. Starting life as president of the class of ’94 of the old school, he had been president of about everything he came in contact with.

Shortly after his arrival in Jordan, he was president of the village for three years, president of the fire company, supervisor of the town of Elbridge four years, and a member of the state assembly two years.

Taking an active interest in the volunteer fire departments, he was one of the organizers of and president of the Onondaga County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, presiding over the convention that met at East Syracuse in 1902.

He was a member of the board of education of Jordan High School 15 years and its president five years. He was president of the Northern Central New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association for seven years, and could have been chairman of the board of supervisors had he chosen to abandon his desire to go to the state legislature.

During his term of president of the board of education, he new high school was added with a large, modern gymnasium, stage, scenery, kitchen and modern sanitary plumbing.

In Albany he served with Robert Wagner, Al Smith and James Wadsworth Jr., who were leading figures in several general elections. (Smith ran for President on the Democratic ticket in 1928, losing to Herbert Hoover.)

With his other activities, McLaughlin carried on an extensive law practice. He was also Republican campaign committeeman from Elbridge, an active member of Syracuse Lodge of Elks and an organizer of an attorney for the Jordan National Bank.

McLaughlin and Miss Nellie Irene O’Grady, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John O’Grady of Mottville were united in marriage June 13, 1900, by the Rev. F. J. Purcell in St. Mary’s church, Skaneateles.

In 1908 Assemblyman John C. McLaughlin was unanimously renominated for member of the state assembly in the first district. It was largely due to his efforts that provision was made in the new highway law for the construction of highways in the state and through incorporated villages. All his bills met with approval of the governor and were passed into law, including the appropriation for a sea wall at Skaneateles.

He was instrumental in the program of converting the abandoned Erie Canal in the village of Jordan into a park, and getting much of the work accomplished through the WPA (Works Progress Administration).

In the entrance way at Jordan Museum is the large desk of J. C. McLaughlin, donated by his daughter, Margaret (Mrs. Hugh) McPeak of Jordan, who had it refinished for the opening of the museum.

John C. McLaughlin was born and raised in Skaneateles, NY, but when he became a lawyer he moved to nearby Jordan where he set up his practice and became one of that village's leading citizens, serving as president (mayor) and a state assemblyman, as well as being involved in several civic organizations and projects.

Many years ago Jordan and one of its neighbors, Elbridge, combined their schools in what is now the Jordan-Elbridge Central School District. But in John C. McLaughlin's time, Jordan, like other small villages, operated its own school system. Villages took great pride in their schools, which is why, as it mentioned in a newspaper story on this page, the 1929 Jordan fire was so devastating to residents, and to John C. McLaughlin, in particular. He and his family lived across the street from the school, which is why Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin were among the first people aware of the disaster which awakened them in the middle of the night, then briefly threatened to destroy their home.

I am still looking for a story that explains the cause, though the editor of the Jordan Home Paper offers a theory.

Jordan (NY) Home Paper, January 30, 1929
Jordan School Razed
By Disastrous Fire!

C. H. WILLIAMS, Editor
Jordan suffers staggering loss in almost complete destruction by fire of her modernized Jordan High School, her prided institution and center of educational and social life.

At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning January 30, 1929, when discovered, the building was a mass of roaring flames.

Only three bare walls of the older structure remain, the new building roof burned off but possibly half the value of this was saved by vigilant labor of loyal firemen. We were informed of this on good authority, while still another good authority says with the roof and upper floor gone, the walls of questionable value, four feet of water standing in the new Gym, an estimate of value is much less than half, and perhaps not any toward a new structure of modern type.

First impression indicated that the fire started at the southwest corner, or side bordering Academy street toward Hamilton, in the floor over the basement and over the furnaces. Still, Assistant Janitor Ross Van Camp inspected this room late last night, caring for the fire, which makes the cause as likely to be electric wiring as over-heated piping.

The glare awakened Mrs. John C. McLaughlin, who lives across Academy Street from the school, she telephoned the night operator, who gave the alarm. It was 3:30 a.m., an hour when firemen might be slow, yet their alacrity was amazing. Calls were made immediately to Elbridge, Weedsport and Port Byron, and they responded in that succession in a manner and time limit proving village volunteer service of high value. Their aid is priceless, our gratitude beyond words.

Snow had fallen until six inches lay in trackless highways, yet the visiting departments came, with fire pumpers loaded with men, and Elbridge sent over forty to lend their best endeavor to their good neighbor in distress.

The flames were despairingly beyond control when the fight began, but firemen were roused to undaunted spirit regardless of the difficulties of the battle, and with the help of the other three villages, have perhaps saved a portion of the new addition built five years ago.

The roof is gone, but all walls stand. The interior is damaged, equipment is water-soaked and impossible to estimate the great loss off hand. But the fight made was well worth while. The addition was built by issuance of bonds for $60,000 during 1923, and according to the specified payments only three payments of $2,000 each year have been made, leaving $54,000 still unpaid, with interest as provided.

Insurance is held for $125,000 on the building and $4,000 on equipment and contents. The former includes what is not part of the structure. Deducting $54,000 due on bonds leaves net of say $75,000 as nucleus toward a possible $200,000 outlay which Jordan School District faces, or a bond issue of double the former one. Tough indeed.

Kenneth Bush was reported as first to arrive at the Fire House; Ray Miller came, and he drove the fire truck to the scene; Tommie Howe was the third fireman to arrive – in stocking feet! The Watts, in the same house, roused him, and he, half dressed, grabbed his footwear, and rushed downtown stocking-footed yelling, “Fire!”

Other firemen jumped the truck enroute, and all were on deck and on the job in jig time. One report had it that pressure was not good, because the big, new reservoir was shut off, but Ray Miller, who has charge, had this open soon, and water was plentiful. Others state that pressure was good from the start. Anyway, Jordan did not fail in her water system with this record fire – good news!

All High School records, being in the new building, were saved, together with records, books, etc., from all teachers’ desks of pupils in the high school and 8th grade rooms, many anyway, library books, and carried to safety even though to be found in great confusion.

And strong men were there, for two pianos in the new part were likewise saved. Two others, in the old part, were burned.

The Boys basketball suits were saved, the girls’ not so, not readily found. Prof. Maxwell was there in time to unlock the front door of the new part, directing the effort of helpers.

A basketball game was played by Jordan boys with Solvay boys the evening before the fire. Girls’ team did not come. After the game the few remaining in the building are reported to have smelled smoke, and made a search. Assistant Janitor Ross Van Camp made a special effort to locate a possible cause, he very carefully examined the heating plant, piping, and found nothing. He carefully cared for the fire at this late hour. Which leads to an assumption that defective wiring was more apt to be the cause.

When the east wall fell, firemen escaped from under it. Clothing of firemen was coated with ice, though the freezing was not so low as to effect the hose nor the streams which played on the fire.

Coffee and sandwiches were served by liberal, anxious villagers. It was said three nearby houses were ignited by sparks and had to be watched, but the heavy snow protected roofs.

Bert Watts’ house was nearest, and they were among those first aroused. Mrs. James Bowes saw it about the same time as Mrs. McLaughlin across the street.

Elbridge Department on arriving looked over the situation and decided wisely. They set their pumper along side of Chris Jenner’s shop down on Main Street, ready to draw water from the creek. They laid the thousand feet of hose which the pumper carries up to the burning structure. Their pumper put water through this 1,000 feet of hose, up the steep hill on Quince Street, and the force put a full stream of water over the top of the fire. That is some shooting on the part of Elbridge firemen and their new pumper. A pretty good neighbor. Weedsport and Port Byron worked from hydrants on the hill.

Prof. Frank S. Maxwell summoned the faculty together for a session just after dinner in the Public Library to consider, with the Board of Education, upon action toward establishing school work. They are together as we go to press.

The churches and organizations have offered various rooms and all facilities. It occurs to this paper to suggest that other villages having met such an emergency may still have on hand desks and improvised requirements which could be bought or rented. The State Department may know of such possibility.

A later edition of the newspaper, in a story also written by C. H. Williams, made some additions and corrections:

Jordan (NY) Home Paper, January 30, 1929
High School Hill presented a sad sight Wednesday morning.

About 4 o’clock the weird scream of the siren sounded a warning, and people arose to find the vicinity covered by the bright light that comes only from conflagration.

Jordan High School was in flames. John C. McLaughlin, living nearby, discovered fire bursting from the windows. He turned in a phone alarm to Central. In the meantime, Thomas Howe, living nearby, was awakened by the bright light and he jumped into his clothes, raced to the firehouse and sent the siren screaming.

The homes of McLaughlin, Bowes and Rising across the street on Lawrence, facing the Main School building were scorched, but not otherwise damaged beyond blistering the paint.

Fire broke out again in the school ruins early Thursday morning which called out the department.

And we further hear of these incidents: Monday will see some sessions of school, in various church buildings, lodges, public rooms about the village. Pupils are enjoined to do the best they can.

Pupils number 100 in High, and 282 others.

Frank Spaulding is school janitor, Ross Van Camp assistant.

Five hours is quoted as the duration of the fire, but it probably burned five hours before discovery.

Those precious library books in jeopardy brought Librarian Mrs. C. M. Bramely among the first at the scene; she obtained a ladder somehow, and at its foot took books from those who helped Prof. Maxwell remove them.

It appears to us that in no individual instance was the shock of the fire so appalling as to the Hon. John C. McLaughlin when he first looked from his window to see flames bursting from windows of the prided structure, for and upon which he had lent his best endeavors for the better part of his entire life, as citizen and official.

To correct something written here earlier, the school was not renovated, but a new school was built in the village on Chappell Street. My thanks to Maureen Doyle, president of the Jordan Historical Society.