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local history

Cobblestone Museum has new director with busy agenda in 2017

Photos by Tom Rivers: Doug Farley, new director of the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines, is pictured by the historic Cobblestone Church, which was built in 1834. The museum has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2017 at 12:44 pm

GAINES – The new director of the Cobblestone Museum in the Gaines hamlet of Childs has a passion for local history. Doug Farley also likes a challenge.

Farley for 35 years owned a Bells grocery store in Newfane. He bought the store when he was a college student.

When he sold that business he became more active with the Niagara County Historical Society, and helped to develop a state-of-art museum by the Flight of Five Locks in Lockport.

That new museum with a focus on canal history gave a new purpose for a 19th century stone church and may have saved it from the wrecking ball. Farley served as the museum’s director for a decade.

More recently, the Newfane resident has worked four years as the director of a museum in Amherst for People Inc., telling the story of people with disabilities.

“This was a great opportunity for me to grow as a more caring human being, with a focus on history for people with disabilities, an oft overlooked and disenfranchised people group,” Farley said.

A grant will help pay to repoint the stairs at the Ward House, a home built around 1840 on Route 104 next to the Cobblestone Church.

Last week he was hired to serve as part-time director of the Cobblestone Museum. The museum includes seven main historic buildings near the intersection of routes 98 and 31. It has many other contributing historic elements, from outhouses to a Liberty Pole.

Farley sees compelling stories in the museum, buildings that are like tie capsules from eras long ago. The Cobblestone Schoolhouse, for example, is an intact one-room schoolhouse that wasn’t artificially created. It shows the school as it was up until it closed in the1950s. The school had separate entrances for boys and girls.

“You could spend a whole day here if you really want to take in all of the buildings,” Farley said at the museum’s main office, a brick house next to the Crosby’s gas station and convenience store.

Farley, 65, is impressed by the museum as an important historic site. He also said the Cobblestone Society has many dedicated volunteers determined to keep the museum going and share the story with the public.

He wants to boost marketing efforts and strengthen museum’s finances with more corporate support, local government backing and by drawing more visitors.

“We need a bigger marketing effort so people don’t just stop by if they happen to see the sign,” Farley said.

The museum is planning for opening day on Mother’s Day on May 14. That will include a quilt show and an exhibit of paintings featuring folk art and “naïve” paintings from unknown artists.

The museum last year was awarded a $23,000 grant for work on the church and the Ward House. The funds will go towards painting the exterior of windows and the bell tower at the church, replacing rotted window sills and repairing a retaining wall in front of the church.

The Ward House will have some of the masonry repointed, downspouts fixed to improve drainage and the front steps repaired.

Farley is happy to be busy at the museum and is impressed by the group’s volunteers.

He acknowledged many people his age are looking to slow down. He isn’t ready for that. He is happy to be part of an important mission, working to keep the museum going for years to come.

“I don’t like to sit around,” Farley said. “I was never interested in golf.”

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Second Heritage Festival will be a bigger event, spread out over 10 days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 March 2017 at 6:35 pm

Event coordinated by GCC, volunteers returns Sept. 8-17

File photos by Tom Rivers: Last year’s debut Orleans County Heritage Festival including a timeline event at GCC’s Medina campus, which included re-enactors. impressionists and displays covering decades and centuries of American history. Ed Brodbeck, left, of Cheektowaga is Gen. Ulysses Grant. Jay Black, right, of Batavia portrays a provost marshal during the Civil War. Black brought along a collection of weapons that were used in the Civil War for people to look over.

The Orleans County Heritage Festival will return in September, and this time, instead of one activity-packed weekend, the festival will be spread out over 10 days, from Sept. 8-17.

“People felt overwhelmed with the choices available,” said Derek Maxfield, GCC associate professor of history and a festival organizer. “Instead of a couple days we’re going to have two weekends book-ending the whole festival.”

Last year’s county-wide celebration of historically and culturally significant locations involved 29 sites including special programming at GCC’s Albion and Medina campus centers. Maxfield said about 500 people attended, and they received a collectible button and ribbon.

GCC’s Albion campus will host events the first weekend, with the action shifting to the Medina campus the second weekend for a timeline festival. The timeline festival will include re-enactors, impressionists and artisans.

Local historic sites will be highlighted during the weekdays with an afternoon and evening event, Maxfield said.

“We’re going to be spotlighting one at a time,” he said. “We’re still in the early stages of planning.”

The debut festival highlighted historic cemeteries, farms, homes and other historic gems.

The new themes for this year include the following:

  • Erie Canal – locations associated with the historic canal to celebrate the bicentennial of this extraordinary 19th century transportation system;
  • Military – locations associated with the military history of Orleans County ranging from the French and Indian Wars through 20th Century Wars with special emphasis on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I;
  • Cobblestone & Sandstone – locations associated with the substantial use of cobblestone and/or sandstone in the historic architecture;
  • Legends and Lore, Spirits and Supernatural – locations associated with a history of spirits, supernatural and/or ghost activities.

Lynne Menz, the Orleans County Tourism Marketing Manager, is excited about what the expansion of time will mean for visitors.

“In addition to being very pleased with the events and programs held in each location last year, almost all visitors wished they could have made it to more locations during the 3-day weekend,” Menz said. “This new 10-day format will allow people to experience a much wider range of events without having to force people to choose between events held at the same time but in different locations.”

Sam Maryjanowski of Medina, front, and Steven Burley of Barker are dressed as German soldiers from World War I during the Heritage Festival on Sept. 10, 2016.

Another first for this year is that the Heritage Festival is being organized by a board of directors.

“We had great cooperation from many community volunteers as well as GCC faculty, staff and students for the first heritage festival,” said Jim Simon, GCC associate dean. “But we realized that a more organized leadership structure would allow for the festival to provide even more to the community.”

The Board of Directors includes Derek Maxfield, Lynne Menz, Tracy Ford, Matt Ballard, Erin Anheier, Al Capurso, Cindy Robinson and Jim Simon.

Any locations or presenters interested in participating in the Second Annual Orleans County Heritage Festival should submit an application to Jim Simon, GCC Medina Campus Center, 11470 Maple Ridge Rd, Medina, NY 14103. Application forms can be found at the Heritage Festival website at www.orleansnyheritage.com. Applications are due by March 20, 2017.

For more information please contact Jim Simon, associate dean of GCC’s Orleans County Campus Centers at (585)798-1688, ext. 4191 jsimon@genesee.edu, or Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or dsutherland@genesee.edu.

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Medina native influential in development of pharmaceutical industry

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 March 2017 at 8:58 am

Photograph of Silas Burroughs courtesy of the Wellcome Trust of London, England licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 10

Perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked story in Orleans County history is that of Silas Mainville Burroughs and the development of the pharmaceutical company that would become one of the largest in the world.

The son of Silas M. Burroughs and Laura Bennett of Medina, Mainville as he was called by friends and family was born on December 24, 1846. At the age of five he suffered the loss of his mother and nearly nine years later his father, a Republican Congressman, died unexpectedly leaving an aunt and uncle to raise the young boy.

After attending local schools in Medina, Burroughs attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy where he qualified for graduation in 1877. His thesis focused on the development of compressed tablets as a more effective alternative to the traditional rolled pills; the former dissolved far better in water than the latter.

Soon after he entered employment with John Wyeth as a salesman and travelled to London to sell pharmaceuticals. It was during these trips that he realized the potential for pharmaceutical development in England.

Inviting Henry Wellcome to London, the two partnered to form the business Burroughs Wellcome & Company. A natural born traveler, Burroughs continued to tour the globe in an effort to expand the fledgling business as Wellcome remained in London to manage the manufacturing facility. It was during this time that Burroughs embarked upon a global trip, traveling through the Mediterranean, to India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. During these trips he kept extensive notes about new ideas for developing, packaging, and selling medicines.

Upon the completion of his trip in 1883, he returned to America and married his wife Olive, whom he brought with him to London. It was during this time that his personal writings in both journals and letters indicated a growing frustration with Wellcome. These quarrels developed into legal battles that would have indicated a certain end to the partnership. Meanwhile, Burroughs was beloved by his employees, being one of the first employers in England to implement an eight-hour work day while instituting profit sharing options for his employees.

A devout Christian, Burroughs was committed to charitable giving and was often responsible for raising funds for charitable endeavors he found fitting and worthwhile. On one such occasion, he gave 1,000 pounds to start the fundraising campaign to build the Livingstone Hospital at Dartford – the two hospital wards were named in his honor; the Silas Ward and the Burroughs Ward.

In 1894 Burroughs embarked upon a European cycling tour with his sister, but due to over exertion, fatigue, and poor weather, he developed a cough. Expecting to rest and recuperate, the mild cold developed into pneumonia and he died shortly after in Monte Carlo at the age of 49. The sudden and unexpected death sent shockwaves through the business, employees were devastated, and letters of sympathy flooded the Burroughs home. Per his will, his wife received 4/24 of his estate, each child received 3/24, his employees received 1/24, and the remainder was distributed among his favorite charities.

Today the pharmaceutical company that once bore the name of Silas Mainville Burroughs exists as GlaxoSmithKline, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world behind the likes of Pfizer and Merck. Manufacturing numerous brand name drugs such as Advaid, Augmentin, and Nicorette, GlaxoSmithKline applied for approval for the first malaria vaccine in 2014. Without the hard work and funding put forth by Silas Burroughs in the earliest stages of Burroughs Wellcome & Co., the global pharmaceutical industry would be far different today.

Burroughs remains as one of Orleans County’s largest and most influential legacies, one that all residents should appreciate.

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Newsroom was a mainstay for decades in Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 25 February 2017 at 8:37 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 9

This image shows the interior of the Dowd Newsroom located at 13 East Bank Street in Albion, circa 1907. The business was once owned by Charles Dowd and operated with assistance from his brother George during the early portion of the 20th century (see volume 2, issue 24). Before opening this business, Charles was employed as a railroad laborer and worked on various canal projects during the 1890s until he broke his leg in 1897.

Although this was a newsroom and tobacco store, we can see that tobacco was the prominent piece of merchandise. The walls are littered with promotional materials and advertising posters for some of the most popular tobacco companies at the time; Billy Boy, Union Leader, Jolly Tar, Sure Shot, Bagpipe, High Card, and Little Minister. On the floor to the right we see a crate marked “Smoke U.S. Marine Plug Cut.” Two ads for newspapers are seen, one visible in the back is advertising the “large high class pictorial magazine” the Illustrated Sunday Magazine available weekly for free with the Buffalo Times.

The photograph is marked as 1909, but we can see a poster on the back wall placed over other advertising pieces that reads “Orleans County Fair – Albion, NY – Sept. 18, 19, 20, 21 – 1907.” Assuming Mr. Dowd did not forget to take this poster down for two years, we can easily date the image. Located just in view behind the U.S. Marine tobacco crate is a snow shovel, so there is a possibility that the image was taken during the earlier portion of 1907.

Charles Dowd is standing behind the counter, approximately 46 years old at the time, with his derby placed on the glass case. To his right are Albion Police Justice Henry C. Tucker, Louis Spauling, and local carpenter, Ozro Bates; the latter has placed his hat on the adjacent glass case.

On November 8, 1941 Dowd suffered a massive heart attack while listening to the Notre Dame – Navy football game. A passionate Fighting Irish fan, the 76-year-old’s heart could not handle the excitement of the 20-13 victory over the “Middies.” After his death, his brother-in-law Charles Kellogg took over the business before it was sold to Newell Maxon of Medina. The business was then sold to Carl Fischer and relocated to N. Main Street where Fischer’s Newsroom operated under his ownership until his own death in 1963.

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Former U.S. president visited Albion in 1920

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2017 at 7:56 am

ALBION – In honor of Presidents Day, we’re digging into the Orleans Hub archives for an article that former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin wrote for his “Vintage Orleans” column.

Lattin, in an article posted on April 14, 2014, writes about former U.S. President William H. Taft paying a visit to Albion on March 8, 1920. Taft is pictured third from the left in the front row. The group is in front of the Orleans Hotel with members of the Albion Chamber of Commerce. (The Orleans Hotel was located at the corner of Platt and East Bank streets.)

Others in the photo include: Herbert Reed, Spencer Tanner, Wm Karns, Bernard Ryan, Thomas A. Kirby and County Judge Gerald Fluhrer at far right.

“Taft was given a reception at the Elks Club and later gave a forceful address in the High School Auditorium on why the U.S. should join the League of Nations,” Lattin wrote. “Taft and Teddy Roosevelt are the only two former presidents who have visited Albion.”

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Statuesque, NY: Monument in Lewiston thanks Tuscaroras for saving Americans in 1813

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2017 at 6:15 pm

 

Photos by Tom Rivers

LEWISTON – The Tuscarora Heroes Monument was dedicated on Dec. 19, 2013, on the 200th anniversary of when the Tuscaroras, despite being badly outnumbered by British and Canadian soldiers, came to the aid of American civilians in Lewiston.

It’s hard to imagine today, but the United States faced a grave threat from the Canadian border more than 200 years ago. British and Canadian soldiers were there and the War of 1812 was being fought. (It lasted until 1815, with no changes in the border.)

The Americans burned Niagara on the Lake (then called Newark) before the Dec. 19 attack in 1813.

The angry British and Canadians crossed the border early on Dec. 19 and quick took over Fort Niagara. They then charged down River Road to the frontier town of Lewiston, seeking retribution for the burning down of Newark. The group was reportedly armed with torches, guns and tomahawks. They came upon a poorly defended Lewiston, and killed some of the civilians including small children.

The massacre would have been worse but the Tuscarora Indians came to the rescue, running down a hill from their village atop the Escarpment. Despite being outnumbered 30 to 1, the Tuscaroras offered the first defense against the enemy, and the Tuscaroras “diversionary tactics” made it appear they were in great numbers. The British and Canadians left Lewiston.

Two hundred years later, the Lewiston community said thank you with a $350,000 monument that includes three bronze statues, interpretive panels, bronze plaques, flagpoles, lighting and security cameras. (Private donations and Niagara River Greenway funds covered the cost of the project.) The monument is located at the southwest corner of Portage and Center streets.

The monument was dedicated as part of the 200th anniversary observance of the War of 1812. The Tuscarora monument was the largest display as part of the bicentennial observance. It is also believed to be the only monument from a community expressing gratitude to Native Americans.

The monuments show two Tuscarora men rescuing a local woman and her baby from the attack.

The Tuscarora intervention had been relatively unknown until it was highlighted in 2010 book, “Tuscarora Heroes,” by Lee Simonson. He led the committee to have the monument created for the Tuscaroras.

The bronze statues were created by artist Susan Geissler of Yougstown, who in 2009 earned acclaim for her statues of the “Freedom Crossing Monument” at the Niagara River. (Click here for more on Geissler’s work.)

A bronze plaque lists the names of the Tuscarora Heroes, along with the names of those killed in the attack.

The platform for the sculpture is on concrete in the shape of a turtle’s back, which reflects the Iroquois’ belief that the world was created on a turtle’s back. The turtle’s head points toward the American flag representing the American-Tuscaroran alliance since the American Revolution.

Six northern white pine trees represent the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois flag also flies at the site.

The Tuscaroras were one of a handful of Native American nations that supported the United States in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Here is the inscription on a bronze plaque:

Tuscarora Heroes Monument

“In honor of the brave members of the Tuscarora Nation who defended and saved local residents during the War of 1812:

On the morning of December 19, 1813, Lewiston was attacked by British forces and their native allies from Canada. The British had captured Fort Niagara hours earlier and were intent on destroying Lewiston, in retribution for the burning down of Niagara on the Lake (then called Newark) days earlier by the Americans.

Poorly defended, Lewiston residents could only run for their lives in hopes of escaping the atrocities. Civilians were killed in the rampage and tormented parents found themselves helpless in trying to save their children.

At the moment when Lewiston citizens had lost hope, a small group of Tuscarora men ran down from their village atop the escarpment and offered the first resistance the enemy had seen. Their ingenious tactics gave the impression that “their numbers were legion.” Fearing a trap, the enemy stopped in its tracks, allowing time for the citizens to escape.

Despite being outnumbered 30-to-1, the Tuscarora Heroes risked their lives, took their courageous stand, and came to the aid of their Lewiston neighbors, saving the lives of dozens of grateful citizens.”

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Undertakers in Albion also sold furniture, glassware

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 February 2017 at 6:30 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 8

ALBION – One of Orleans County’s oldest funeral homes is likely that of Merrill-Grinnell, which dates well beyond the 1870s. This image shows two predecessors to the current business, Cassius M. C. Reynolds and William S. Flintham, standing in front of their store on North Main Street in Albion. Reynolds purchased this business from his father-in-law George W. Ough, who was a prominent businessman and president of the Albion Board of Trustees.

It is thought that the lineage of this business dates back as far as George M. Pullman, who ran a furniture making business in Albion during his tenure in Orleans County. The business later transitioned to Ough, then to Reynolds and Flintham who operated the outfit into the 1920s. Reynolds & Flintham were known locally for dealing crockery, glassware, and furniture in addition to their work as undertakers.

This image clearly showcases the stock of crockery and glassware carried by the business, visible both through the store windows and on the table standing outside. Several chairs are situated in front of the building and a number of prams are on display; from simple models to the more ornate such as the piece parked next to William Goff, which features a suspension system, ensuring a comfortable ride for the passenger.

Mr. Goff’s tenure with the business dated back to Ough’s ownership when at the age of 16 he first applied for a job. He became somewhat of a local celebrity in regards to his work as a funeral director and embalmer; his claim to fame was being the first to cover a casket in cloth for use in Orleans County. In his earliest years working with Ough, caskets were made to order, but he watched the industry develop as he worked over 40 years through the ownership of Ough, Reynolds & Flintham, and Merrill.

In 1926 the business was sold to John B. Merrill of Holley, who partnered with his son Roy to start J. B. Merrill & Son. Goff remained with Merrill for nearly 13 years before his own retirement and upon his death he was regarded as one of the oldest funeral directors and embalmers in Western New York at the age of 83. Today, J. B. Merrill & Son exists as Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes.

One other notable feature of this image is the reflection in the windows of the storefront. The beautiful white fence and trees were situated in front of the mansion of Lorenzo Burrows, which still stands today as the home of Key Bank.

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Albion man was critical to helping George Pullman become railroad mogul

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 February 2017 at 8:37 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 7

The records of Orleans County history are quite definitive concerning the role in which George M. Pullman played in the development of his famed sleeping cars. What appears to be left for interpretation is the specific role in which local politician Benjamin Collins Field played in that venture. It is clear that without the aid of Mr. Field that Pullman’s vision for the palace car may never have come to fruition.

Born June 12, 1816 at Dorset, Vermont, Ben was brought to Albion around 1828. His father Spafford was a marble dealer and operated a business out of the Lockport area for a number of years in conjunction with his son Norman. As a young man, Ben read law with Alexis Ward of Albion before his admittance to the bar. He worked with his father’s business, engaging in headstone lettering and marble cutting before determining that politics was of interest.

Although he never practiced law, Field dealt largely with contracts and worked with Tousley, Lee & Co. in constructing several railroads in the Midwest. During the 1850s, he was elected as a New York State Senator from the 28th District for the 77th and 78th New York Legislature (1854 and 1855). He would later serve as a representative to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1867 from the 29th District, along with Sanford E. Church of Albion.

The discrepancies in Field’s involvement with Pullman’s interest start in 1857 when records show that he developed a partnership with George Pullman, a fellow resident of Albion and close friend. As accounts from Pullman show, Field facilitated the contract with the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad that called for the construction of the first sleeper cars. It was shortly after that Field traded his interests in the business for future loans as he was more concerned with political ventures than entrepreneurship.

Accounts of the Field family genealogy suggest that Ben Field was responsible for the concept of the sleeper car, that Pullman traveled with Field from Chicago to Western New York when the idea for improved sleeping quarters on railcars was hatched. It is recorded in these accounts that Field provided Pullman not only the idea but the funds to finance his operation, which Pullman later bought Field out of in the early portion of the 1860s. This humble take on the partnership makes sense considering Field was regarded as a hardworking, fair-minded, honorable man who frequently assisted friends and family with business ventures through funding.

Field was a Whig, early on, and aligned himself with the Republican Party upon its formation. During the 1872 election, he aligned himself with Horace Greeley and “transitioned to liberalism” to which he remained an ardent supporter of until his death in 1876. Regardless of the specifics regarding his involvement with the Pullman Car Company and the development of the sleeper car, his influence through support and funding was essential to the establishment of George Pullman as a railroad mogul.

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More than a century ago, Kendall store suffered multiple fires

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 February 2017 at 8:28 am

 “Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 6

This photograph shows the interior of James Trivit Lacey’s store located on east side of Kendall Road near the intersection of Kenmore Road.

Born at Tunstead, Norfolk, England in 1859, Lacey arrived in the United States at the age of 25 in 1884 and lived in the Yates/Carlton area for several years before relocating to Kendall. It was at this location that he would operate a shoe shop, confectionary store, and billiards parlor.

On May 6, 1901, Lacey closed up shop for the day and departed the business for his home located up the street. All was quiet until a fire was discovered in his storefront by a passerby, who alerted nearby residents. The church bells tolled to call community members to the town square and the process of extinguishing the fire began. Despite their best efforts, Mother Nature had other plans and a swift northeasterly wind pushed the flames to nearby buildings.

With Lacey’s store fully engulfed, the fire jumped to the drug store of Charles Spring to the south and the hardware store of Ephraim Fuller to the north. The fire continued to spread, setting the meat market of Otto Seigel and a nearby residence ablaze. As the wind continued to blow, the flames crossed the street and set fire to the stores of Sherrill Sanford and Nelson Stevens.

Firefighters labored through the night with little hope of extinguishing the blaze, which as Ray Tuttle recalled in the 1950s caused “folks [to] believe the world was coming to an end because the good book had stated that someday it would all be destroyed by fire.”

Kendall’s business district was nearly a total loss from a fire causing over $40,000 in damage. When all was quiet yet again, Lacey had suffered a loss of $500 with no insurance to cover his merchandise. Nelson Stevens, who had just opened his business the same year, suffered damages topping $2,000 with no insurance to cover the loss.

Lacey reopened his business in the office space owned by Seth Jones in Kendall and while the town wished him well in his new venture following this devastating fire, he would yet again suffer from a similar catastrophe nearly 12 years later. On September 16, 1913 Lacey’s store yet again burned as a result of a fire starting in the hardware store of Payne & Wright. The building in which Lacey was leasing was a total loss, resulting in over $25,000 in damages. Unfortunately, in addition to the loss of his business, Lacey lost his beloved hunting dog in the fire.

It is likely that this image, with James Lacey standing behind the counter, was taken prior to the 1901 fire that destroyed the store. The back counter is filled with materials used for making harnesses and shoes and the glass display cases are filled with cigars. The most noticeable feature in the building are the billiards tables located in the back room. Although the cause of the fire was never definitively known, the oil lamps hanging from the ceiling could be a good indicator of a possible cause.

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‘Out of the Past’ looks at highlights in February from years ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 February 2017 at 10:38 am

Editor’s Note: County Historian Matthew Ballard has a new monthly column, “Out of the Past,” that lists interesting events happenings from various milestone years (50 years ago, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200).

50 Years Ago – 1967

February 2nd

Holley officials begin planning for the centennial celebration of the incorporation of their village.

February 19th

Otis Bartlett of Riches Corners died at Lakeside Hospital after a brief illness. He was injured in a fall while hunting nearly 20 years earlier, spending the remainder of his life in a wheel chair. Following this accident he crafted a small tractor, giving him the ability to continue the sport of hunting every year.

February 23rd

Clayton Root dies in a tragic accident after he is trapped inside his burning trailer home which had been overturned by high winds. Root was a horse trainer by trade.

75 Years Ago – 1942

February 12th

Half back Tommy Colella of Albion – the Albion Antelope – the 1941 Canisius College captain signs a contract to play professional football with the Detroit Lions of the National League. – During his career, Colella would also play for the Cleveland Rams, Cleveland Browns, and one season with the Buffalo Bills in 1949 before retiring from football.

The 1946 Cleveland Browns – Tommy Colella #92, front row

February 19th

Photographers send images of four buildings in Orleans County to the Fine Arts Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The archived photographs would provide a record for restoring the buildings in the event of war damage; those buildings included the Lanson House, the Whipple House, the Hunn House, and the T. V. Saunders House (cobblestone homes).

1942 photograph of the Whipple House, sent to the Library of Congress. This unique cobblestone building showcases the “herringbone” pattern where flat, rounded stones are set at an angle. The home is located on the south side of Ridge Road, east of Kenyonville Road in Gaines.

February 26th

Francis H. Blake is elected as Mayor of Albion to succeed Jacob Landauer, winning a victory with a voter turnout of 129, the smallest in recent memory.

February 26th

Eugene E. Barnum, Jr. of Albion is among six WNY men who completed basic flight training at the Army’s West Point of the Air, Randolph Field, Texas. He would continue on to an advanced training base for instruction that would result in his 2nd lieutenants’ bars and wings. – Barnum died in action on December 2, 1944 less than five months after his younger brother, Lt. William J. Barnum, was killed in the breakout at St. Lo in France; it was one of the most devastating losses for an Orleans County family during WWII.

“Gene” Barnum (center) recaps a recent mission with several other pilots from his unit.

100 Years Ago – 1917

February 6th

The McMann Hotel at Albion experienced a fire in the 2nd floor stock room. The building filled with smoke, but George Foster, Fred Chapman and his wife, all employees of the hotel were able to escape from the third floor barely clothed. The thermometer registered two degrees below zero.

February 14th

Michael Cleary, a NYCRR conductor, was killed at Holley when he fell off a freight car and was run over. He died while being taken to a Rochester hospital. He leaves a wife and three children.

February 15th

Charles Stielow

The most important case to come before grand jury this month is the special investigation ordered by Gov. Whitman into the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby – George Bond of Syracuse is set to be the special prosecutor.

The German immigrant, Charles Stielow, is wrongfully convicted of a double murder in 1915 at West Shelby. Escaping the electric chair on several occasions, Gov. Whitman finally agreed to reopen the case after Erwin King confessed to committing the crime.

February 15th

Local stories surface of a wild pack of wolves running around Orleans County. It is determined that an old pet wolf and her litter of puppies got away from their owner.

February 21st

The Orleans Republican notes that the NYS Legislature is to appropriate $25,000 to investigate the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby. “While we are glad that there is an attempt being made to shift the financial burden off from Orleans County attendant upon this investigation, yet we feel that there is no good excuse for saddling $25,000 on the State of New York or anybody else in connection with this matter…” Apparently the wrongful conviction of Stielow and near execution by electric chair on multiple occasions was not a good enough cause for the Orleans Republican…

125 Years Ago – 1892

February 2nd

James Gotts of Medina committed suicide at his home north of the English settlement by hanging from a halter suspended from a timber. As a prosperous and respected citizen, there was no explanation for the rash act which left the widow Gotts and a daughter, Mrs. William Wheeler. Gotts’ brother John committed suicide nearly 10 years prior at Shelby Basin by drowning himself in the Canal.

February 11th

Orleans County Grand Jury returns and indictment against Philo Burch of Albion on a charge of bigamy. Burch married Lucinda Field, a widow at Albion, in 1866. After leaving his wife and children, he returned and married Nancy Beach of Medina.

February 18th

The Medina Tribune reports that coroner’s inquests cost the county $578.57 for the previous year, the most expensive case involving a Medina girl who strangled her illegitimate child, that case costing $161.27.

150 Years Ago – 1867

February 2nd

Rev. Joel Lindsley of Shelby, on trial at Albion for whipping his child to death, is found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree. Lindsley received a four year sentence at Auburn Prison.

February 21st

W. K. Townsend, Esq. represented George W. Root, a farmer from Holley, in an action for slander against A. B. Dauchy. Root alleged that Dauchy called him a “whore-master” while Dauchy denied ever making the statement; he was held on $300 bail.

February 28th

Elmore, son of Edward Wheeler at Kendall Mills, was kicked in the face by a horse. The boy’s right eye was severely injured and required that Dr. Carpenter remove all of the broken bones from the face. It was expected that the boy would recover.

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