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local history

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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In 1882, big fire damaged several Albion storefronts

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 22 April 2017 at 7:55 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 17

ALBION – On Friday, January 13, 1882 at 9 o’clock in the evening, occupants of properties located along West Bank Street in Albion noticed the odor of smoke coming from an unknown source. When neighbors discovered smoke billowing out of F. C. Parchert’s millinery and fancy goods business, they sounded the fire alarm.

Quickly arriving on scene, fireman forced open the door to find a pile of paper boxes ablaze. The stifling smoke made it impossible to remain within the store for even a short period of time and despite efforts to carry in extinguishers, the fire had already spread up the partition walls.

Hart Hose No. 3’s engine arrived on scene with slight delay, as the horses were not stabled nearby. Upon the company’s arrival, the fire had worked its way up the walls and burst through the roof. No. 3’s engine worked tirelessly for seven hours, providing steady streams into the early hours of the morning; another engine on scene broke down shortly after its arrival.

Wind conditions remained favorable as nearby merchants feared for their buildings and merchandise. It was expected by those fire companies on scene that the lack of wind and presence of Proctor’s brick block to the north at Beaver Alley would curtail the fire. Instead, flames leaped to the north, setting the wooden skylight of Wolsley Russell’s photography studio ablaze, stretching through the interior, and threatening façades along West Bank and Main.

As the Swan Block was surrounded on both sides firemen sought to contain the fire, dousing the Proctor and English blocks near Beaver Alley and wetting down the east side of Main Street. Soon after the Swan Block caught fire and firemen carried hose around West Bank in an effort to prevent the fire from spreading further westward. Sparks and embers rained down upon buildings along the eastern side of Main Street as gusts of winds blew in from the west.

Medina fire companies arrived shortly after midnight and several engines were sent by special train from Rochester to provide mutual aid. Although the men found it unnecessary to unload the engines, the firemen from Rochester were greeted by hearty cheers from Albion’s companies. As the fire progressed, walls collapsed and brought down burnt wood and bricks upon nearby telegraph poles, snapping the lines like string.

The total loss of the fire was estimated at $151,000, roughly $3.8 million today, with approximately $95,000 of that covered by insurance. The heaviest loss was suffered by George H. Sickels who not only suffered a staggering $40,000 loss of his buildings, but another $40,000 relating to his dry goods store. William Swan’s block was a loss of $11,000, while F.A. and D.B. Day lost their buildings at a combined total of $5,000. Other merchants, such as George Waterman who operated a hardware store out of his block along the east side of Main Street, lost considerable merchandise due to water damage and theft. As the engines pumped water onto those buildings, the pressure broke windows, providing an opportunity for nearby observers to grab merchandise.

The presence of fireworks, chemicals, liquor, and kerosene within the businesses added to the ferocity of the fire. Visitors from Rochester claimed that the flames could be seen from the western outskirts of the city and embers travelled as far as Caroline Street, carried by the sudden gusts of winds. The dramatic circumstances of the fire led to numerous injuries among firemen and bystanders alike.

Albert S. Warner, foreman of the Young American Hook & Ladder Company sprained his ankle amidst the commotion and refused to leave the scene; he directed his company under the physical support of two men. Dean Currie, whose second floor office was on fire, fell down a flight of stairs in the Swan Block and sprained his wrist. Charles Hilbert, an employee of George Ough, had his collarbone broken when a fire engine knocked him into the canal.

Perhaps the most interesting story of that evening was the presence of a cat, which appeared upon a smoldering pile of bricks in front of Sickels’ Block; the feline painfully meandered towards the intersection of Bank and Main. Belonging to William Hawes, whose confectionary store was destroyed by the fire, bystanders were perplexed as to how the cat survived the conflagration.

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Winners of the 2017 Orleans County ‘Heritage Heroes’ announced

Posted 20 April 2017 at 11:48 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Alice Zacher, the Shelby town historian, speaks after a new historical marker was unveiled in September 2015 at the Millville Cemetery on East Shelby Road. Zacher wrote the application to have the marker paid for by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. She will be recognized on May 5 with C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History.

Press Release, GCC

MEDINA – Now in its fourth year, the Orleans County Heritage Heroes Awards were created in 2014 as a way to recognize the efforts of those who give their time, hard work and resources to preserve and protect local heritage. Often unnoticed, the efforts of those honored help to ensure that the history of Orleans County will be passed to the next generation.

The 2017 class of Heritage Heroes will be recognized in a ceremony at Genesee Community College’s Medina Campus Center in Medina, NY, on Friday, May 5th at 7 p.m.

According to Derek Maxfield, associate professor of history at GCC and a member of the executive committee that chooses the winners, “It is vitally important that we take the time to honor these deserving folks. Not only does it shine a spotlight on their efforts, but it reminds us that it is up to us – the living generation – to take the steps necessary to preserve our heritage for future generations.”

This year’s Orleans County Heritage Heroes are:

• Jim Hancock has always been preservation minded and is a very high profile advocate for Orleans County history and culture. As president of the Medina Sandstone Society, Jim has had some pretty big shoes to fill with the passing of Bob Waters. One of the originators of the society, Jim has been instrumental in the creation of the Sandstone Hall of Fame. Jim has also been a major force in the creation of the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence at Medina Central School. As the former chairman of the Erie Canal Task Force and the present leader of the Christmas Parade of Lights and leadership in the Medina Tourism Committee, one has to wonder if this man ever sleeps.

• Ken McPherson personifies what it means to be a Heritage Hero as gregarious keeper of the flame. A graduate and advocate for the Charles Howard Santa School, “No one has done more to keep Charlie Howard’s legacy alive in his hometown,” according to Phil Wenz when he presented Ken with the Charles W. Howard Award in 2015. A thirty year veteran Santa Claus, Ken has amassed an impressive collection of Howard memorabilia and is on the committee to erect a memorial to Howard in downtown Albion.

Richard and Shirley Nellist work as a team, and they have painstakingly prepared detailed records for the eleven cemeteries in the Town of Ridgeway – over 11,000 burials all told, which are now loaded into the Orleans County Genweb system online and available for anyone doing genealogical research. Active members of the Medina Historical Society, Richard and Shirley have both served on the Board of Trustees.

Gretchen Sepik brings history to life with her engaging and inspirational portrayals of Erie Canal Sal, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Jemison and Beatrix Potter. In 2009, the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council awarded Gretchen a grant to adapt her character Erie Canal Sal into a children’s book. As it is the 200th anniversary of the building of the Erie Canal, it only seems appropriate to honor Gretchen for her work educating young people about “Clinton’s Ditch.”

• The C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History will be awarded to Alice Zacher. As historian for the Town of Shelby from 1981 to 1995 and 2006 to the present, Alice is a true inspiration and a tireless advocate of local heritage. In 2012, Alice published “Slate Boards and Hot Soup: A History of One-Room Schoolhouses in the Town of Shelby.” Through this she not only did her part to preserve the history and culture of the one room schoolhouses, but she donated all of the proceeds to the Millville Cemetery. Clearly, another of her passions, Alice has worked to raise funds to preserve the chapel at the cemetery, secured a historic marker from the Pomeroy Foundation, and took the lead in getting the cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. An active member of the Medina Historical Society, Alice is presently cataloging artifacts donated to the society.

Those selected as Heritage Heroes could be of any age but had to be living residents of Orleans County. No posthumous nominations were accepted. History professionals and GCC employees were also not eligible for the award, nor were those serving on the award selection committees. The selection committees were made up of staff and students of Genesee Community College, community members and history professionals.

The awards ceremony on May 5 is open to the public, but seating is limited. A reception will follow the ceremony featuring light refreshments.

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George Bullard gave 24 acres to village to create park in Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 15 April 2017 at 6:58 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 16

GAINES – Born at Gaines in 1828 to pioneer parents, George Bullard was raised on the family farm and attended the local district schools in that township. Upon reaching the appropriate age, various resources indicate that he studied at the Albion Academy, Gaines Academy, and the famed Yates Academy.

He read law with Cole Sawyer, in the years before law schools were commonplace, and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1857. Bullard commenced the practice of law with Benjamin Bessac and later worked with Henry Glidden, and John G. Sawyer.

In 1877, Bullard barely escaped death when his horse and buggy were struck by an engine on the New York Central Railroad. He and the horse were narrowly missed by the train, but his buggy was smashed to bits. As a charter member of the Orleans County Pioneer Association and the Orleans County Bar Association, he was well regarded in the community as a respectable orator and frequently addressed the community at gatherings and events.

In 1894, he was elected to the New York State Assembly as a Republican from Orleans County, receiving 3,822 votes to his Democratic challenger, Ora Lee, who received 2,423; Relly Tinkham, the Prohibitionist candidate, took home 315 votes.

Bullard was regarded as an independent thinker who caused great despair for party managers, as he preferred to formulate his own opinions on political matters instead of following orders from party leaders. Noting this threat to stability, the Republican organization quickly realized that he was “so absolutely unhitched” that party organizers could not risk a second term. The following election, Bullard was actively supporting the Democrat candidates.

When the state legislature authorized the construction of the New York State Barge Canal in 1903, Bullard became one of its biggest opponents. In an October 1905 issue of the Orleans Republican, Stanley Filkins of Medina noted that the project was being opposed by “such clodhoppers as George Bullard.” The paper scolded Filkins for his demeaning language used to describe such a prominent and well-respected citizen of Albion. One could not blame Bullard for his opposition to the canal project as his property was threatened on several occasions by breaks in the canal wall in the latter half of the 19th century.

Upon his death in 1912, a provision within his will left approximately 24 acres of land for a park in the village of Albion, if the authorities accepted the gift and agreed to improve and maintain the land. Nearly 12 years later, Bullard’s son Daniel contested the transfer of the land, stating that the village voided the agreement by failing to improve the land; up until that point, the lot remained a vacant hayfield with no improvements.

After a lengthy battle in court, Mayor Daniel Hanley announced in June of 1928 that the village won the case, retaining ownership of what would eventually become Bullard Park. Encompassing a meadow, grove, and the ravine created by the west branch of Sandy Creek, village officials planned to convert the land into a park, tourist camp, and picnic grounds.

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