One of the former Camillus Cutlery buildings burned to the ground earlier this month. It closed its doors for good in 2007, but at one time employed 200 people. One family in particular had four generations working there and even a connection the night of the fire. Our Iris St. Meran caught up with some members of the Lingyak family to talk about their family history there.
CAMILLUS, N.Y. -- Robert Lingyak stands by the former Camillus Cutlery Company site with his daughter, Jessica Lingyak. One of its buildings is now reduced to rubble following a major fire there on February 11th. He watched as the fire burned, taking memories with it.
Robert Lingyak said, “I remember going to my grandparents' they lived on Dutch Hill up here, and watching the workers get out of work. The little whistle would go off; they'd all trudge up the hill like little soldiers going up. It meant a lot."
It has a lot of meaning, because Lingyak's family history at the Cutlery started with his Great Grandfather, Gustave Lingyak who came to the area from Hungary in 1908 to work there.
"They were cutlers over in Stohles, Hungary. And friends came over first. It was the land of opportunity as it was back then,” Robert Lingyak added, “More money, a better opportunity and they came to Camillus."
And in Camillus, they stayed. Robert Lingyak says his sister, father, grandfather also worked there in addition to his great grandfather, marking four generations. He keeps a piece of history with him at all times. He carries a jack knife his great grandfather made. His daughter, Jessica also carries one from the cutlery. On the night of the fire, another chapter in their family's story was written.
"Heard my pager going off, heard it was the Camillus Cutlery and I was like, 'Wow, no kidding, that's a huge building.' That's what Camillus is known for," said Jessica Lingyak who is a volunteer firefighter for the Marcellus Fire Department.
As a volunteer firefighter in Marcellus, her department was on standby that night. She helped with the clean up. It was bittersweet in her role as a firefighter and a member of the community with a long lineage there. But in the aftermath, she found a silver lining.
Jessica Lingyak said, "That I could be a part of it and my fire department was there to help out and I have a name in it."
Although there's not a whole lot left of this building, she says she will still pass down her family history at Camillus Cutlery, through pictures and stories.
She has a daughter who's five years old and when she's old enough to understand how deep her roots are, Lingyak already knows what she'll say.
"I would let her know that this is where our family came over, where we started working, how we got on our feet to live and support our family; it's where it ended too," said Lingyak.
This is where it may have ended, but sharing their story will ensure their family ties will never be broken.