Find us on Facebook
Local Sports

3597 Yates Community Library
3580 Albion FD
3556 Village of Holley
3563 Brian Millis
3577 Strawberry Festival
3600 OO Yacht Club
3578 COVA
0231 LCP Fishing Hotline
2308 I Saw It On The Hub
2192 LCP Printing Copying Services
2374 Link to LCP

local history

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.

Return to top

100 years ago, U.S. declared war on Germany in WWI

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 8 April 2017 at 8:31 am

Howard Hinckley of Medina among the many local soldiers deployed in the war

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 15

With an 82-to-6 vote in the Senate, the United States Congress declared war upon Germany 100 years ago on April 6th. After campaigning in 1916 on the claim that he “kept us out of war,” the Southern Democrat Woodrow Wilson had reneged on this promise after asking a special joint session of Congress for the declaration just days earlier in 1917.

Men throughout Orleans County heeded the call to service by enlisting with local National Guard regiments or enlisting directly with federal units. Howard G. Hinckley, a Medina resident, was one of the men who signed up for service within a week of the declaration of war.

The son of Thorn and Allie Garter Hinckley, Howard was raised on South Academy Street in Medina where his father worked odd jobs as a carpenter. The 22-year-old was mustered into service with Company F of the 3rd New York National Guard, the unit stationed out of Medina’s Armory.

When called into active duty, the unit was designated as the 108th Infantry with the 27th Division and men were transferred to Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina for basic training and military maneuvers. It was during this training that Hinckley was promoted to the rank of private first class in early August of 1917 and then to the rank of corporal in September of the same year. As Company F trained in South Carolina, U.S. troops trickled into Europe totaling 14,000 by June of 1917.

Departing Camp Wadsworth on May 2, 1918, Company F traveled to Newport News, Virginia where the unit embarked for Europe aboard the U.S.S. Antigone and H.M.S. Kurtz. When the 108th arrived in France, the total number of U.S. troops in Europe had increased to over 1 million. Service was quiet for the men of Company F, spending the majority of their summer in 1918 training with the British Army. As plans developed for an eventual attack on the Hindenburg Line, the 27th Division was ordered to the front lines in anticipation of a major offensive in September of that year.

On September 27, 1918, the unit marched 8 ½ miles from their bivouac camp near Ronssoy, resting near Templeaux le Geurard. They covered the remaining 6 miles under the cover of darkness while taking heavy artillery fire and gas concentration; it was during this march that Medina native Frank Bloom was killed by artillery fire. 2nd Battalion arrived on the front lines at daybreak, led by Capt. John S. Thompson, who stretched the unit 1,500 yards from a location near Valle Post to Bull Post.

Command set zero hour for 5:50 a.m. on September 29th, an advance that was preceded by a massive machine gun and artillery barrage. As the whistles blew and men climbed out from the trenches, more than 100 machine guns from the 27th Division opened fire supported by 23 brigades of British light artillery and 10 brigades of British heavy artillery. Nearly four minutes of heavy shelling cleared the land for the infantry advance. A rolling barrage, firing for four minutes every 100 yards, would lead the way for the 27th Division.

An immediate German counter-barrage inflicted heavy casualties upon the 108th as it fell across the initial advance. The men of 2nd Battalion were required to advance several hundred yards before they reached a point that was in line with the rest of the division. Met by heavy machine gun and artillery fire, the men of Company F advanced as quickly as they could until meeting concentrated Germany opposition at the main defenses along the Hindenburg Line.

A thick cloud of smoke settled on the battlefield as officers and enlisted men were cut down in a hail of gunfire. 2nd Battalion, consisting of over 400 men at the start of the engagement, a formidable unit of men, many whom had served through the Mexican Campaign of 1916, suffered casualties that would cut their numbers in half by the time they reached the German line. Facing a tangled web of barbed wire and overwhelmed by small arms fire and a barrage of hand grenades, the men pushed through the wire either running through paths already cut or by throwing themselves over the thicket.

Less than 200 men jumped into the German trenches, engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat at times, taking 100 prisoners, 4 field pieces, machine guns, anti-tank rifles, and other supplies. The final prisoner count totaled 159, constituting nearly the same number of men who remained in the battalion. The men of Company F fended off counterattacks for the remainder of the day until relieved by friendly troops with the 3rd Australian Division.

Hinckley survived the engagement without harm, though many men from Orleans County were not as fortunate. The mass casualties suffered on September 29th and throughout engagements in mid-October led to Hinckley’s eventual promotion to the rank of sergeant on October 28, 1918. The men of Company F remained in service overseas through the Armistice on November 11, 1918, eventually returning home in March of 1919. After his discharge, Hinckley returned to the home of his parents, remaining a resident of Medina until his death in 1990.

Return to top

Medina boasted successful debating team in 1910s

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 April 2017 at 8:03 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 14

MEDINA – This photograph, taken circa 1917, shows the Ladies’ Triangular Debating League Society of Medina High School. Seated center is Myra Coon, behind her is Ethel Willis, and left to right is Florence Gray and Doris Webb.

The Interscholastic Triangular Debating League was established in 1910 and provided teams of boys and girls from Albion, Medina, and Lockport to debate against one another on preselected topics. Each school would submit three questions and the schools would vote to select one of nine submitted questions. The question returning the highest number of votes was used for that year’s debates.

The debate teams argued on topics that were pertinent to current events at the time, just as debate teams today do. Going back to 1913, the selected question was “Resolved, that the Government should own and control all coal mines of the United States.” The Medina boys won the debate with a unanimous 3-0 decision, while the Medina girls won in a split 2-1 decision. Sanford T. Church, Dr. John Dugan, and Dr. John Sutton were the judges for the girls’ debate.

Following the progression of the debates during the 1910s, it is apparent that Medina fielded the strongest debate teams. In the 1916 debates, both teams argued the question, “Resolved, that the Short Ballot should be adopted by the people of New York State.” The team consisting of Doris Reeves, Charlotte Acer, Harriet Holmes, and Florence Gray secured a unanimous decision after one of the Lockport debaters defiantly threw a long ballot with 70+ names on it into the crowd. The boys secured their own unanimous victory and secured the league championship for Medina that year. As the papers reported, it was the fifth consecutive victory of Medina over Albion…five straight victories in six years of the debate’s existence.

The question debated for 1917, the year this photograph was taken, was “Resolved, that Congress shall pass a law providing for the compulsory arbitration of labor disputes.” It should be no surprise that the Medina ladies won with a unanimous decision, but they earned a number of compliments on the manner in which they handled the question. This debate was the final for Florence Gray and Myra Coon, who both graduated that same year.

Return to top

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

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 29 March 2017 at 9:30 am

A crackdown on pinball, survivors of a sunken ship, a failed bank in Medina, and an outbreak of ‘religious mania’

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).

75 Years Ago – 1942

March 5th

The U.S. State Department announces that George D. Lamont will serve as consul to French Guiana. Lamont was formerly serving as consul at Canton, China.

March 12th

Mr. and Mrs. Fay Hollenbeck of Gaines receive a phone call from their son Louis Hollenbeck, a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Jacob Jones, the destroyer sunk by German torpedoes on February 27, 1942 off the coast of New Jersey. Hollenbeck was one of 11 survivors from the crew of roughly 150.

March 19th

Orleans County receives word of the first local casualties of the war when the parents of Alfred J. Skinner of Medina and James Zazzara of Holley are notified that their sons are missing in action. Both men were aboard the U.S.S. Houston when it was sunk on February 28, 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait in the Pacific Theater. It would be nearly nine months before the fate of the ship was known.

March 26th

Orleans County District Attorney Russell Scharping issues an order branding all pinball machines illegal, directing their removal from all establishments within the county limits. The act was the result of efforts in New York City to ban the “gambling” machines that offered no pay-off system. Glen and Thomas Calafates of the Mayflower Restaurant in Medina were the first to have their machines confiscated in December and January of the previous year.

100 Years Ago – 1917

March 1st

Rumors were circulating across the county that woman suffragists at Albion wanted the village charter amended so that they could vote for school officers at charter elections.

March 1st

Assemblyman Frank Lattin introduced a bill to amend the village charter in Albion in order to annex the sewage treatment facility constructed on Densmore Street in Gaines.

March 1st

A young boy appeared in a local church the previous Sunday with a box of candy. When the pastor asked where he obtained the candy, the young lad told the minister that he had “won it.” He had placed his pennies in a gambling machine at a candy store and won the prize. The result was a local movement to “suppress the petty gambling devices” in Medina.

March 8th

Erwin King, the man who would eventually be convicted of the murder of Charles Phelps and Margaret Wolcott, was arrested in Cattaraugus County on a charge of perjury.

March 8th

Edward Donaher, 22 of Shelby, was crushed by a falling tree. Expecting the tree to fall in another direction, he was unable to move out of the way in time. While attempting to escape, he stubbed his toe and fell, the tree crushing his chest. It was expected that the young man would succumb to his injuries.

March 15th

William Kelley and Tony Chireco of Rochester are arrested by county sheriff deputies at Fancher. The two are accused of murdering Wesley Webster at a lunch car in the city.

March 22nd

Rumors are circulating that Guy Merrill, Platt LaMont, and Elbert Rowley are forming a new corporation to take over the interest of Morgan & Linson Cold Storage.

March 29th

Edith Ponder, an 18-year-old servant working for a family on Lewiston road, was committed to the Buffalo state hospital after suffering an attack of “religious mania.” The woman was said to be reading the Bible at “unseemly hours” and objected to anyone working on Sunday. The case was of interest to many Christians across the county.

125 Years Ago – 1892

March 3rd

A large pane of glass in the storefront belonging to Allen & Vosler’s meat market was broken by a snowball which was thrown by a young boy named Comerford.

March 3rd

James Farrell and John O’Brien, who are working on the sewers in the western part of Medina, were seriously injured when a dynamite cartridge exploded.

March 10th

A farmer sent a ten-cent stamp to a man claiming to offer advice on how to operate a farm without having to worry about potato bugs. The farmer received the following response, “Plant fruit trees instead of potatoes.”

March 17th

Harry Underhill was injured at Ide’s planing mill at Medina when a saw he was using caught a knot in a piece of wood, sending splinters into his eye. A doctor was summoned and the splinters removed.

March 17th

Nerville L. Cole was elected as president of the Village of Holley without opposition.

150 Years Ago – 1867

March 13th

Notices appear in papers across the country that the First National Bank at Medina failed and closed its doors near the end of February. It was suspected that the failure was due to the bank president’s “wild speculations” in the produce business. The federal treasury agreed to cover outstanding bank notes from the institution.

March 16th

Newspapers report that a man living in Murray, who arrived in the area over fifty years ago, had never once traveled from his home. The farthest distance from home was a single trip to Rochester by packet boat on the canal. He recently attempted to travel by railroad but found the cars to travel far too fast for his liking. The man was a staunch Federalist in his early years and was certain that Thomas Jefferson would have burned all the bibles in the country, but “abstained from it as a matter of policy.”

March 19th

A man named L. Beecher is arrested in Ohio claiming to represent the Orphan Asylum Association of Medina, New York. Detectives found it strange that funds collected to support an institution in New York needed to be sent to an address in Covington, Kentucky.

Return to top

Family-owned grocery and dry goods stores once were prolific in small towns

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 25 March 2017 at 9:41 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 13

In the years preceding massive department and grocery stores, smaller family-owned dry goods and grocery stores occupied the storefronts of small-town America. This image shows the store owned by James Bailey of Albion, taken sometime in the late 1890s.

Bailey was raised on a 240-acre farm on the Transit Road and sometime in the 1850s entered the employ of Harvey Goodrich, a grocer and dry goods dealer at Albion. After a short stint with that interest, James entered the produce business with Charles Baker and worked under his employ for nearly 15 years before starting his own grocery store. During his time with Baker, Bailey developed a sizable farm west of Albion, later owned by John H. Denio on land now occupied by the Albion Correctional Facility.

Herbert J. Bailey, pictured center, was brought into the trade in 1882 when the business became known as James Bailey & Son. The father-son duo also built a large fruit house capable of holding 8,000 barrels near the railroad freight house on West Academy Street, one of the first in the area.

This store was located at 61 Main Street in the Swan Block on the corner of North Main and West Bank streets, now occupied by Five Star Bank. The reflection in the right window shows the Empire Block; one can faintly make out “Law Office” in the upper windows where Church & Currie and Kirby & Hughes had their offices. In the left window is a reflection down East Bank Street where one can slightly see the portico of the Orleans House, now a municipal parking lot across the street from the Village of Albion offices.

Standing to the left of Bailey is George Hess who worked as a clerk in the store. Hess started with Bailey after 1892, so we know this photograph was taken sometime between then and prior to the death of James Bailey in 1899, when Herbert took full ownership of the business and changed the name from James Bailey & Son.

The storefront is filled with merchandise commonly carried by local grocers. A hammock hangs on a hook on the left, situated next to a large pile of pineapples. For those who preferred to grow their own produce, seeds of all kinds were offered. The display inside consisted of canned fruits and vegetables, including peaches, apricots, pineapple, tomatoes, succotash, lima beans, Bartlett pears, and baked beans.

Two massive barrels of salt sit to the right, shipped in from LeRoy and the right window includes a nice display of canned and bottled goods as well as a tall stack of Quaker Oats. The store located to the left was owned by Dr. Charles Burrows, who operated a drug store once owned by George Barrell, and the boot and shoe store to the right, owned and operated by Orville Taylor.

Herbert was a respected businessman and a Republican in politics. He was elected Village President in 1903, the first Republican elected to that position. In 1882 he married Mary Sawyer, the daughter of Hon. John G. Sawyer, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Return to top

Medina residents, Mike and Cheryl Wertman, highlighted by Buffalo News for work uncovering Drake House Ruins at Golden Hill

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2017 at 9:02 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman: This photo taken last October shows the Drake House Ruins site at Golden Hill State Park in Barker. The sign describes the history of the site. This spot is the front of an area that was uncovered last summer.

BARKER – Mike and Cheryl Wertman are well known in Orleans County for their decades of work highlighting local sports, first for The Journal-Register in Medina and now for Orleans Hub.

The couple from Medina also enjoys camping at the Golden Hill State Park, and they have become dedicated volunteers helping to uncover the “Drake House Ruins” at the eastern edge of Golden Hill in Somerset.

The restoration effort, which was sparked about two years ago at an “I Love My Park Day” held annually in early May, has seen volunteers uncover a long stone wall highlighted by cobblestone features, several large stone posts and a long lake stone sidewalk which ends at a large cornerstone believed to be part of the foundation of the Drake house. The home was demolished in 1962 when New York State acquired the property for inclusion into the state park.

Contributed Photo – A gathering of Newell Shirt Factory employees at the Drake House in 1922.

The Wertmans have been dedicated volunteers at the site, and they were highlighted on Wednesday in The Buffalo News in an article entitled, “Mysteries abound as couple unearths ruins of Lake Ontario estate.” Click here to see the article.

The Wertmans have removed vines and brush, and dug down in the dirt to help uncover some of the ornate features from an elaborate estate that had been forgotten.

“We, right now, want to make sure the site never becomes overgrown again,” Cheryl Wertman told The Buffalo News. “We would like to see groups come in and maybe redo some new gardens, make some repairs to the cobblestone wall and the pond. And mainly have it become an integral part of the park so it remains maintained. Most of that can be possible without a grant by dedicated volunteers who come to love the site as much as we do.”

Dr. Douglas J. Perrelli, director of Archaeological Survey and clinical assistant professor of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo, would like to see the state fund a cultural landscape study and see the site brought back to its former glory.

Volunteers are welcome to help at the site. This year’s I Love My Park Day is set for May 6.

For more on Golden Hill, click here.

Return to top

Printing popular Albion newspaper was tedious work a century ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 March 2017 at 8:20 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 11

This image shows the interior of a newspaper printing office in Albion. Although the photograph does not indicate which newspaper outfit we are looking at, based on available evidence this is likely the interior of the Orleans Republican taken sometime around 1910 or 1915. If that is the case, the man standing in the center of the room is probably Sanford T. Church and the man seated is W. Crawford Ramsdale.

The Orleans Republican was established in June of 1828 by Cephas McConnell, the same year that the Village of Albion was incorporated. Due to its age, it was regarded as the pioneer publication of the area with the Orleans American as the only newspaper printing business with an older lineage (dating back to 1823). The business was sold to J. O. Willsea of Albion in 1848, who brought Calvin Gilbert Beach of Rochester in to assist in its operation starting in 1850.

The business eventually transitioned to Beach upon Willsea’s retirement and operated under Beach’s ownership until his untimely death in 1868. Not wishing to sell the business, his widow Juliette Beach ran the printing outfit until the two sons were old enough to engage in the operation. After the death of their mother, Lafayette took control of the business and Frederick moved to Rochester where he associated with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Lafayette retained ownership until his retirement in 1909 when he sold the business to Sanford T. Church and W. Crawford Ramsdale, two Albion attorneys. In the earliest days of operation, the printing equipment was housed on the 3rd floor of 13-15 East Bank Street and remained there until Church and Ramsdale took over; the business was eventually relocated to the first floor sometime around 1915. We can tell from this image that the room is situated on the first floor given the visible features outside of the front door and windows.

The two large presses located along the left wall were used to print the weekly paper, which peaked in the early portion of the 20th century at over 2,000 subscriptions. Given the nature of the printing process, the majority of area papers at the time were weekly runs due to the amount of time associated with setting the type. Along the right wall there are a number of cases filled with types used in the typesetting process.

The letterpress method of printing, where type is locked into a chase that is used for pressing ink onto paper, was the standard printing method from its development by Johannes Gutenberg during the 15th century up until the development of offset printing in the 20th century. The woman standing to the left was likely responsible for setting the type, which was done upside down and backwards – a time-consuming and tedious process that required a great deal of precision.

Once the chase was set, it was given to the men situated at one of the two presses for printing. Both men wear long aprons to prevent ink from staining their clothing. In this picture, the men are wearing long-sleeved shirts and have opted to roll the sleeves up. Some printers would wear coverings over their arms to prevent ink from damaging clothing or staining their skin.

As a side note, the municipal park on State Street in Albion is named in memory of Lafayette Beach. Today we refer to it as Lafayette Park, even though Lafayette Beach Park or simply Beach Park would be the more appropriate name.

Return to top

4 historic cemeteries suffered in wind storm

Photos by Tom Rivers: A big tree snapped in Mount Albion Cemetery near the Civil War memorial tower. Another tree by the tower also came down.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 March 2017 at 8:49 am

Big trees come down, branches strewn all over

There are four cemeteries in Orleans County on the National Register of Historic Places – Mount Albion, Boxwood in Medina, Millville Cemetery in Shelby, and Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon. All four lost big trees from the powerful wind storm on Wednesday.

“There are lots of branches, pieces and a lot of debris everywhere,” said Jason Zicari, superintendent at Mount Albion.

Thankfully, Zicari said, none of the cemetery’s buildings or monuments were damaged.

“It looks like we escaped the worst of it,” Zicari said. “It will be a lot of work to clean up.”

A tree split by the tower at Mount Albion and missed the building that was constructed in 1876 as a memorial to the nearly 500 soldiers from Orleans County who died in the Civil War.

Zicari, the cemetery superintendent, worried as the wind raged for several hours on Wednesday. He said the damage at Mount Albion could have been much worse.

Millville Cemetery in Shelby also saw large branches come down.

A tree fractured near the cemetery’s historic chapel. The building was spared from damage from falling limbs.

Boxwood Cemetery in Medina was littered with broken branches.

A large branch from a tree near the entrance of the cemetery came crashing down.

This big branch shifted one of the monuments on the hill of the cemetery.

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan

Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon, near the Village of Holley, saw at least two big trees come down and hit some of the head stones.

Melissa Ierlan, the town’s code enforcement officer and historian, said she is thankful the damage isn’t worse. She said two big trees lost sizable branches. “It’s a mess but we didn’t have as much damage as I anticipated,” she said.

Return to top

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.”

Return to top

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 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, or Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or

Return to top