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Hotel in Albion was raided by sheriff for serving alcohol during Prohibition

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 27 May 2017 at 8:10 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 22

ALBION – This photograph, taken around 1920, shows the dining room of the Orleans Hotel located on the southwest corner of East Bank and Platt streets.

After the Platt House burned in the early, Charles A. Harrington constructed this building in 1862/3 and operated it as a hotel. The business was originally known as the Orleans House, but records seem to indicate that the name changed to the Orleans Hotel in the 1890s when Anson R. Dunshee took ownership of the building.

Fresh on the coattails of the 18th Amendment, the United States was “enjoying” the consequences of Prohibition when this photograph was taken. Other interior photographs of the Orleans Hotel show a bar void of liquor bottles and barstools. It is no surprise, perhaps, that in 1922 the Orleans Hotel was one of six local businesses raided by Sheriff Scott Porter under the suspicion of selling illegal intoxicating liquor.

The manager of the hotel, Herbert S. Field, pleaded not guilty on a charge of “having maintained a common nuisance” where intoxicating liquor was sold in violation of the state. Bartender Sylvester Bragg was also charged in connection with the illegal sale of liquor; he pleaded not guilty to selling alcohol to Egbert Delano.

A typical stay at the Orleans Hotel would run a guest $2.00 to $2.50 per night and the building became a popular location for political conventions, reunions, business dinners, and parties for groups throughout Orleans County.

On March 8, 1920, President William Howard Taft stayed at the Orleans Hotel while visiting Albion as a guest of the Chamber of Commerce. At the time, Taft was a faculty member at Yale Law School, one year before his selection as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

On March 15, 1923 Anson Dunshee committed suicide in his home on Ingersoll Street by slitting his throat with a razor. The hotel closed its doors immediately following the tragedy and Albion remained practically void of hotel accommodations until William Lysitt leased the McMann Hotel on Main Street. Florida Dunshee, Anson’s widow, would later lease the Orleans Hotel to J. J. Collins.

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Fox from famed taxidermist in Clarendon refurbished and back on display

Photos by Tom Rivers: Carl Akeley was only 16 when he preserved this fox in Clarendon. Akeley would go on to become one of the world's most acclaimed taxidermists. The fox is on display at the Cobblestone Museum after a $6,000 refurbishment.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2017 at 3:51 pm

Cobblestone Museum has fox from Carl Akeley

Provided photo: Carl Akeley is pictured with a leopard in Africa that he killed with his bare hands after it attacked him.

GAINES – Two years ago, a fox in a display case at the Cobblestone Museum was missing an eye, with its fur matted. The animal, then about 135 years old, was in rough shape and wasn’t given a prominent spot at the Cobblestone Museum.

But it was an early example of Carl Akeley’s taxidermy work. Akeley, who grew up in Clarendon, stuffed the fox when he was 16. It was an ambitious effort after he started with birds. Akeley would become one of the world’s most renown taxidermists and remains an industry legend 153 years after his birth.

He earned acclaim after stuffing the giant elephant Jumbo, and made several trips to Africa, hunting animals and displaying them in New York City at Akeley’s Hall of Mammals in the American Museum of Natural History.

Locally, he gained renewed prominence three years ago when the Clarendon Historical Society celebrated his 150th birthday.

Jay Kirk, author of the Carl Akeley biography “Kingdom Under Glass,” was the featured speaker during a program about Akeley on May 21, 2014. Kirk chronicled Akeley’s life during the golden age of safaris in the early 20th Century.

Akeley’s adventures connected him with Theodore Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum and George Eastman. Akeley died in 1926 and is buried in Africa.

The taxidermist community worked with the Clarendon Historical Society last year to put a monument at Hillside Cemetery in honor of Akeley. Donors, many of them taxidermists around the world, contributed to have the $8,000 monument in Akeley’s honor. The monument is in the shape of the African continent and the stone is black African granite.

The memorial includes a quote from Akeley, who survived being mauled by an elephant and vicious bites on his arm from a leopard. “Death Wins! Bravo! But I Laugh In His Face As He Noses Me Out At The Wire.” The stone will note Akeley’s birth, May 19, 1864, and his death, Nov. 17, 1926.

When Clarendon made a big push to recognize Akeley, retired Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin told Clarendon Historian Mellisa Ierlan the Cobblestone Museum had an early example of Akeley’s work.

Provided photo: The Akeley fox had lost a lot of color and had deteriorated after more than a century. But the Clarendon Historical Society, Cobblestone Museum and other community members were determined to have the animal refurbished by a professional taxidermist.

The community was able to raise abut $6,000 to give the fox some needed attention. In July 2015, Ierlan took the fox to George Dante, a professional taxidermist in New Jersey. Dante, owner of Wildlife Preservations, gave the fox new life. When the case with the fox was opened, the fox’s missing eye was found. Dante put the eye back where it belonged.

He gave the fox a new tail, which had to be dyed to match the fox’s body. Dante also had to replace the fox’s feet and fill in some gaps by the ears.

He vacuumed the body and the fur popped back up. He also replaced the bird as part of the display. Akeley had the fox with feathers in its mouth. Dante kept the scene created originally by Akeley nearly 140 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Ierlan: John Janelli, left, is past president of the National Taxidermy Association. He is pictured with George Dante and the refurbished fox at Dante’s studio in New Jersey.

Irelan, the Clarendon historian, brought the fox back to Clarendon on May 10. The fox was on display in Clarendon for over a week during the kickoff of the Clarendon Historical Society’s season. On Monday, the fox returned to the Cobblestone Museum in the Proctor Room in the basement of the Cobblestone Universalist Church.

“It was in rough shape,” Ierlan said about the fox’s condition two years ago. “I knew George would do a good job but he exceeded our expectations. Carl would be proud.”

Doug Farley, the museum director, said there will likely be a reception and program about the fox in September as part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival in September.

This fox was stuffed by Carl Akeley nearly 140 years ago. It is back on display at the Cobblestone Museum after getting some needed attention. The fox used to be in Farmer’s Hall at the museum, but now is displayed inside the Cobblestone Universalist Church, the most prominent building at the museum on Route 104 in Gaines.

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One of oldest photos of Albion shows Empire Block before it burned in fire

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 20 May 2017 at 7:57 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 21

ALBION – One of the oldest images of downtown Albion, this photograph shows a busy street scene at the intersection of Batavia Street and Canal Street (now North Main and East Bank). Per an 1857 map of the Village of Albion, the block at the intersection was owned by Willis P. Collins, a grain dealer from Connecticut.

As a self-sustaining community, businesses filled the first, second, and third stories of these buildings, providing residents with convenient options for obtaining essential goods and services.

On the first floor of the “Old Empire Block” was the store of W. Cole and Robert Sheldon, who operated a clothing business along with Martin Rawson and Fitch Collins. The appearance of signage hanging above the second floor windows shows the dentist office of Dr. J.S. Northrup. On the third floor, as indicated by the high-hanging signs, was the headquarters for the Orleans American, which was operated by David S. Bruner.

Moving further north along Main Street was the drug store of Drs. Orson Nichoson and Lemuel C. Paine, two local pioneer physicians; Snell Realty currently occupies this building. Also visible are stores belonging to William Close, a local shoemaker, and Jacob Hallenbake, a hardware merchant. Slightly visible is the iconic “Gothic Hall,” owned by grocer and baker Andrew Wall, as well as the large block owned by Roswell Smith Burrows.

The Empire Block burned on December 18, 1868, the cause of the fire being an ember from a stove within the store of Cole & Sheldon.

The conflagration left a total loss as follows:

Mr. Densmore, on building, $11,000 with $6,000 insurance

Cole & Sheldon, on goods, $12,000 with $6,000 insurance

Martin Rawson, on goods, $5,000 with no insurance

Orleans American, $6,000 with $2,500 insurance

John Bradshaw, hatter, on goods, $3,000 with no insurance

J.S. Northrup, $1,000 with no insurance

Fred Butler, tailor, on goods, $1,000 with no insurance

Collins Hill, owner of a nearby building, $3,000 with no insurance

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Albion native unveils new canal mural in Brockport

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 9:58 am

Photos courtesy of Stacey Kirby

BROCKPORT – A new 40-foot-long mural was unveiled last Thursday in Brockport on the railroad overpass on Route 19.

Albion native Stacey Kirby created the mural, which was a project pushed by the village and Walk! Bike! Brockport!

“They were very interested in creating a gateway into the Village of Brockport,” Kirby said. “I think it’s very effective.”

The mural was unveiled to kick off Brockport’s fifth annual “Low Bridge High Water” festival to celebrate the start of a new canal season.

Kirby created scenes showing the canal from yesteryear.

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Historical marker will be dedicated Saturday for Revolutionary War soldier in Clarendon

Posted 15 May 2017 at 10:58 pm

Provided photos: An eventual settler of Clarendon, Lemuel Cook would earn the distinction of the oldest pensioner of the Revolution at the time of his death on May 20, 1866 at the age of 107.

Press Release, Orleans County History Department

CLARENDON – This Saturday at 10 a.m. the Orleans County Department of History in conjunction with the Orleans County Historical Association and Clarendon Historian will host a dedication ceremony for a new historic marker at the Cook Cemetery in Clarendon.

The Orleans Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution will participate with a wreath laying ceremony following the unveiling of the marker – the Rochester Chapter Sons of the American Revolution will offer a primitive gun salute dressed in patriot attire.

Lemuel Cook, a young man from Connecticut, enlisted with the 2nd Connecticut (Continental) Light Dragoons to serve for the duration of the American Revolution. During his service, he met Gen. George Washington on at least two occasions and saw action at the Battle of Brandywine and Yorktown. Cook migrated to North Bergen in 1821 and later to Clarendon around 1832, eventually settling on the South Holley Road near Munger Road, just a short distance from his final resting place.

Upon his death in 1866, Lemuel Cook was regarded as one of the oldest pensioners of the American Revolution, a title that genealogists and historians have challenged over the years. What is known for certain is that Cook was the last official pensioner of the war, the last surviving veteran of the war whose service was proven with discharge papers signed by Gen. Washington himself.

The marker for Lemuel Cook will be dedicated at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Recently toppled by the massive windstorm in March, the Orleans Chapter DAR has generously supported efforts to reset Cook’s headstone, working with the Town of Clarendon and Brigden Memorials in Albion.

The program is free and open to the public.

The Department of History will begin the process for selecting the next spot for a historic marker following this program. Input from the community is appreciated and more information will be made available about the process.

Mount Albion tour planned for May 28

The Orleans County Department of History also will host a tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery over Memorial Day weekend on May 28th, starting at 2 p.m. The group will assemble at the cemetery chapel, departing at 2:05 p.m.

Although the tour will spotlight local veterans, not all of the stories will focus on military service. The tour is a prelude to the regularly scheduled series taking place Sunday afternoons in August. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather; guests should expect the tour to last approximately 90-120 minutes and cover several sections of the cemetery.The tour is free and open to the public with no tickets required.

Cobblestone Museum kicks off new season on Sunday

Photo by Tom Rivers: Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum, is pictured with a “This Place Matters” banner in front of the Cobblestone Universalist Church at 14393 Ridge Rd. The banner is part of a national campaign to highlight historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Cobblestone Museum opens on Sunday with paintings, quilts and textiles on display, as well as the important artifacts in the museum buildings.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2017 at 9:42 am

Mothers are welcome to tour historic site and see exhibitions for free on May 14

CHILDS — Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is also the traditional kick off of a new season at the Cobblestone Museum.
The museum is opening a new season with an exhibit from “Sunday Painters of Yesteryear” and a display of coverlets and quilts from the museum’s and community members’ collections. Mothers will be welcomed to the historic complex for free, and also will be given a flower. Opening day is from 1 to 5 p.m.

The museum this year also is offering free admission throughout the season for children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult.

The museum is a National Historic Landmark with a collection of more than a dozen structures near the intersection of routes 98 and 104. The Cobblestone Universalist Church, built in 1834, is the oldest cobblestone church in North America. The church will host the art exhibit and display of quilts and coverlets.

The museum has a new logo as part of a branding campaign.

The “Sunday Painters” feature more than 50 paintings from people with no formal training in art. The artists painted for fun, often on a Sunday. The paintings were collected by Rene Schasel and Bill Lattin, the retired museum director. (There will be a First Friday reception for the exhibit on June 2 in the evening.)

The museum hired a new director for this season. Doug Farley started on March 1. He said he has developed a greater appreciation for the museum’s local, regional and national importance.

“Now that I’m seeing the great asset that we have and its potential as a heritage tourism destination is exciting,” Farley said. “The museum tells of the influence from the opening of the Erie Canal. Farmers could afford to build nice houses because they had a market for their goods. It speaks of the great wealth of the area after the canal opened.”

Farley and the museum’s leaders would like to see the historic site have a greater role in promoting heritage tourism locally. The museum is planning a VIP celebration on June 14 to share a vision for the future, which would include a new visitor’s/welcome center for the area.

That building is eyed for behind the Ward House on Route 104, where current restrooms are located. If the project becomes a reality, Farley said those restrooms and a next-door outhouse could be relocated to the cobblestone schoolhouse down the road.

The June 14 event at the Daughters of the American Revolution is an opportunity for feedback on the visitor center, and to see if there would be community support for the project.

The museum is also working to keep up the existing historic structures. Some of the windows in the church will be repaired and repainted this year. The Ward House also is receiving new steps and drainage improvements to protect the building.

The museum is pursuing other grants and support to help maintain the historic site, including an engineering assessment of Farmers’ Hall on Route 98 near Proctor Brook.

The museum was established by the Cobblestone Society in 1960 and opened for its first tour in 1961.

For more information, click here.

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Legion Band added pep and patriotism at events throughout Orleans County, WNY

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 13 May 2017 at 7:57 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 20

ALBION – Established in 1920, the Sheret Post #35 American Legion Band operated for over twenty years under the direction of William Melville of Rochester. The Livonia school band director joined the organization on April 18, 1930 and remained as the director into the 1950s.

After the conclusion of World War Two, the band was an active participant in dedicatory programs and memorial parades throughout the county. During the dedication of the statue of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, erected on the front lawn of St. Joseph’s Rectory in May of 1947, the Legion Band led the parade and furnished a beautiful rendition of the national anthem following the ceremony.

This photograph, taken by Fred Holt, shows the Legion Band marching out of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Annual Memorial Day exercises typically included a parade from downtown Albion, to St. Joseph’s Cemetery, and finally to Mt. Albion Cemetery where veteran gravesites were decorated.

Up until the early 1930s, members of the Grand Army of the Republic coordinated Memorial Day activities in Albion as a carryover from the old days of “Decoration Day” following the Civil War. In 1931 the responsibility of planning the Memorial Day program was passed on to the Sheret Post, under the command of John Kane, who placed W. Edward Ryan in charge of the preparation.

The photograph likely shows the band sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The band was a well respected musical outfit throughout Western New York, regularly traveling throughout the region providing concerts to communities and veterans organizations. The men who filled the ranks of the group were skilled musicians, many playing with other community and ethnic bands before the Sheret Post was established.

Isidore DiLodovico, one of the founding members of the band, was a musician with Donatelli’s Italian Band before his service during the First World War. Another founding musician, James Pilato, was the last remaining charter member of the Legion Band upon his death in 1985.

Around 1955/56 the band went defunct until 1986 when it was reorganized under Keith Harvey of Holley. Rho Mitchell remarked that it was the first time in 31 years that the band performed in Albion, returning to Courthouse Square for summer concerts.

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Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse goes from verge of extinction to historic designation

File photos by Tom Rivers: Volunteers worked to save a former Cobblestone Schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road in Gaines, just north of the Erie Canal. The school was built in 1832, and may be the oldest cobblestone building in the county.

Staff Reports Posted 10 May 2017 at 6:46 am

Governor approves site for State and National Register of Historic Places

GAINES – A cobblestone building constructed in 1832 and used as a schoolhouse until 1944 was on the verge of falling down, until a a group of volunteers put on a new roof and stabilized the building.

The Orleans County Historical Association has given it new life as a meeting place.

This week Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the schoolhouse was headed for the State and National Register of Historic Places. It is one of 20 sites around the state headed for the lofty status.

“The history of the Empire State is the history of this nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “These designations will help ensure the storied sites and places that dot every corner of this state, will be preserved for future generations of New Yorkers.”

Volunteers in 2015 cleared most of debris from the inside of the former school. Gaines Town Historian Al Capurso said many pioneer children in Orleans County were taught at the school, which was also used for countless town meetings.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are more than 120,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

State and National Registers listing can assist property owners in revitalizing buildings, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

For the past two years, the Orleans County Historical Association has worked to save and stabilize the building at 3302 Gaines Basin Rd., just north of the Erie Canal.

The 913-square-foot building hasn’t been used much since it was closed as a school in 1944. Nor had there been much upkeep of the building until 2015.

Al Capurso, the Gaines town historian, pushed to save the building from collapse. The site received a new historical marker in October 2015.

He thanked Erin Anheier of Clarendon for writing the nomination for the schoolhouse.

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A century ago, Albion Fire Department was among best equipped to fight fires

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 6 May 2017 at 8:06 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 19

ALBION – On November 19, 1913, the Ever-Ready Manufacturing Company of Buffalo delivered a six cylinder, 90 horsepower Thomas flyer hose, chemical, and ladder truck for the Active Hose No. 2 Fire Company in Albion.

At a cost of approximately $6,000, the fully-loaded vehicle was said to max out at 75 miles per hour. A year and a half prior to this delivery, Dye Hose No. 5 Fire Company purchased a similar machine, making Albion’s fire service one of the best in the United States.

This photograph shows Chief Engineer C. Royce Sawyer, right, seated in his recently purchased 1913 Buick Model 30 Roadster, which was designated as the chief’s car for the Dye Hose Company. The vehicle was equipped with a carbonated gas fire extinguisher, visible on the car’s driver-side running board.

Around the time this photograph was taken, two of Albion’s volunteer companies took out incorporation papers following village approval to do so. The process of incorporation allowed both companies to move their automated fire apparatus to the municipal building shown in this photo. Sawyer was an incorporator of the Dye Hose Company, while J. Wallace Eggleston, seated left, was an incorporator of the Active Hose Company.

At the time of his retirement, Eggleston had responded to over 2,000 fire alarms with the Active Hose Co. No. 2, becoming an inactive fireman in 1966 after more than 50 years of service. When the Orleans County mutual-aid system was established in 1949, he served as its first coordinator.

He worked with Sawyer to motorize Albion’s fire apparatus, encouraging village officials to invest in the machine purchased by Dye Hose. Eggleston was also an advocate for the creation of fire districts, convincing nearby towns to enter into contracts with the village to provide fire protection. This effectively spread the cost of the fire department across the tax rolls and reduced fire insurance rates for rural residents.

In the far bay with closed doors, you can see the Dye Hose fire apparatus parked inside. Active Hose housed their vehicles in bays located along Platt Street. This building was later converted into offices for the Village of Albion and the Albion Police Department.

Chester Harding, one-time Barre resident, worked as portrait artist for statesmen

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 29 April 2017 at 8:02 am

Many famous individuals sat for Harding’s portraits, including Daniel Boone, U.S. presidents

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 18

A considerable amount of information that appears within the pages of this column often constitutes some sort of overlooked aspect of Orleans County. On occasion, I have the privilege of writing about something that is truly ignored, or perhaps long forgotten in our area’s history.

This self portrait of Chester Harding was completed in 1825.

The story of Chester and Horace Harding is one of those stories of men who, at one time or another, passed through our corner of Western New York while leaving their mark on history.

Born at Conway, Massachusetts, the fourth child of twelve to Abiel and Olive Smith, Chester Harding grew up in a large family with a poor economic disposition. Abiel was a veteran of the American Revolution, working in a distillery and claiming status as an “inventor.” Failing to create anything of need or want in this endeavor, the family had little money which often forced the elder siblings to care for themselves.

In 1806, Abiel uprooted the family and relocated to Madison County; “western New York” by accounts from that time. There he learned the trade of cabinet and furniture making, earning extra money while painting houses. When the War Hawks of 1812 pushed the United States into a second war with Britain, Chester enlisted with a New York militia regiment as a drummer boy for the duration of the War of 1812. At the conclusion of the conflict, he married and moved to Caledonia in Livingston County. His short tenure in that area was marred by failures in the cabinetmaking and tavern-keeping businesses; he racked up a large amount of debt and was forced to relocate his young family.

Horace Harding, Chester’s younger brother, was working in Paris, Kentucky and sent word to his sibling that portrait painters were fetching $50 “per head” in that area. A self-trained painter himself, Chester jumped at the opportunity to reestablish himself financially and ventured south to live with his brother. After a short period of time, Chester earned enough for a course of study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Design in Philadelphia where he honed his skills with the brush and canvas. Upon completion, he realized his work lacked the color and refinement of high quality competitors.

This portrait of Davy Crockett was painted in 1832 by Chester Harding. This portrait now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery at Washington, D.C

Sources note that in 1821 Chester relocated to western New York near his father’s family. In 1823, records show that a Chester Harding purchased a parcel of land from the Holland Purchase in Barre. It is known that Abiel and Olive Harding are buried at Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Barre and census records show that Horace Harding was living in Albion and working as an artist in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

Little is known about Chester’s tenure in Orleans County, but we know that it was short as he continued to travel throughout the United States, refining his craft and expanding his repertoire.

Although Horace remained a painter of “fair ability,” as noted by newspaper advertisements in Rochester during the 1830s, Chester far surpassed his younger brother’s abilities. His first notable subject was Daniel Boone, whose portrait completed by Harding is the only piece known to have been completed during Boone’s lifetime; all other portraits were derivatives of Harding’s work.

Chester’s tenure as a noted painter was capped by famous individuals who agreed to sit for portraits, including U.S. Presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, as well as Daniel Webster, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who was the last subject to sit for Harding in 1866.

While traveling for a fishing trip at Cape Cod in the early spring of that year, Harding caught a cold and died during a short stop in Boston. He was interred next to his wife, Caroline, at the Springfield Cemetery in Massachusetts. Relegated to the footnotes of Orleans County history, Chester and Horace Harding remain as relatively unknown figures in antiquity, but worthy of note nonetheless.

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