The Green Heart of the Finger Lakes

By: Jeffrey H. Wells (co-owner – The Olde Country Store and More – 1849)

What is that green heart I’ve been seeing on cars and trucks lately??…. Many have been asking themselves that question since late spring of 2016.

We, at the Olde Country Store and More – 1849, in the tiny hamlet of North Cohocton NY, have the answer! Our historical building is literally on the crossroads to Naples, Cohocton and Wayland or as we also love to say, we are located in the “Green Heart of the Finger Lakes”. Our image was created to celebrate the beauty of one of the greenest regions in the United States or at least in the state of New York!!

The whole idea is very simple and is built on three basic elements… The shape of the heart, a shape known to represent love and endearment for something or someone. The color Green, is the color of hope, life, renewal, nature, and energy, associated with growth, harmony and environment. The color Blue is the color of the sky and sea, associated with depth and stability. So the Green Heart of the Finger Lakes is a clear representation of the obvious love for our gorgeous Finger Lakes Region with its rolling hills harboring 11 glacial lakes formed millions of years ago, creating this unique pattern of fingers spanning the countryside. If that wasn’t enough…, as man stepped in to better navigate this natural wonder, an unplanned uniqueness began to take shape with every major highway built to the north, east and west of the Finger Lakes Region. Step back for a second as you study a map of the Finger Lakes Region to plan your next adventure. With a keen eye, open heart and an ounce of imagination, you’ll quickly recognize the outline of a heart surrounding this wonderful piece of nature. History knows that these were once natural paths beaten by the hooves of deer and the moccasin of our native brothers living here long before our European ancestors arrived.

The eleven Finger Lakes from East to West:

Otisco | Skaneateles | Owasco | Cayuga | Seneca | Keuka | Canandaigua | Honeoye | Canadice | Hemlock | Conesus

And now… the rest of the story…

The phrase “Green Heart of the Finger Lakes” has been on our lips for a several years now but I cannot give sole credit to the fact that I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes Region. Part of that credit must go to the fact that my ancestors were from Germany and I had the opportunity to follow their paths back to the region in Germany, commonly known as The Green Heart of Germany (das grüne Herz Deutschlands).

I was born and raised in the heart of the Finger Lakes but left at the very young age of 17 to serve my country. The US ARMY first took me to Fort Hood Texas and then sent me oversees to Mainz, Germany where I met my German wife and both of my daughters were born. Being married in a foreign country will mold you in ways you normally will never know. I had a very positive experience in Germany, so when the time came to leave the Army, in the late fall of 1986, it was very easy for my wife and I to choose Germany as our new home.

Soon followed the German reunification in 1989 when the Berlin Wall and the notorious Iron Curtain were no longer needed to separate humanity in this newly reunified world. The Cold War was over! That was just the beginning of my conquest to research as much as possible about my German roots since everything I knew about them was kept captive in what was once East Germany.

Remembering my grandmother’s stories and using her memoirs, I was able to easily trace my German roots from my great grandfather Tuisco Greiner to my 8th great grandfather Hans Greiner. Tuisco had immigrated from Bernburg, Germany to Naples, New York in the mid 1800”s. He was a direct descendent of Hans Greiner a.k.a. “Der Schwaben Hans” a glass master and co-founder of Lauscha, Germany. This tiny glassblower village of Lauscha is nestled deep in the Thuringia Forest (Thüringerwald) commonly known in Germany as “The Green Heart of Germany” (Das grüne Herz Deutschlands), due to the dense forest covering the land.

After my wife passed away in 2012, my daughters and I had pondered the idea of returning to my hometown of Naples, New York. Thoughts were intertwining and ideas flowing on how we could earn our living using both our German and American roots. For us it was like a mini explosion of imagination as we searched our souls for that perfect business idea or at least one that will give us a somewhat comfortable start at our new venture in our personal New World…

And so, the “Green Heart of the Finger Lakes” was born, melting together the uniqueness of two most breathtaking regions of our world, the Finger Lakes Region and the Thuringia Forest Region, over 4000 miles apart but still so close… ~jhw

We dedicate this story to Karen and Cindy from the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance in Penn Yan, for their keen sense of a good thing and their partner dedication in giving us great tips as well as confidence that we are on the right path.