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local history

Akeley Fox gets big welcome home

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Melissa Ierlan, Clarendon town historian, holds a photo of a fox mounted by Carl Akeley taken before its restoration. Heat from being stored in an attic had led to severe deterioration. One eye had fallen out, the tail had "melted," the paws were void of hair and bugs had found their way inside. "It was in bad shape," Ierlan said. "We thought we would have to replace it, but we didn't." The fox is depicted eating a bird it has caught. The paper mache work on the bird included newspaper from the Holley Standard, dated Dec. 4, 1879. Ierlan brought a copy of the original pages to the reception on Saturday.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 September 2017 at 6:13 pm

Cobblestone Museum, Clarendon Historical Society celebrate ‘world-class restoration effort’

CHILDS – Calling it a “world-class restoration effort,” Cobblestone Museum Director Doug Farley opened a reception at the Cobblestone Church on Ridge Road Saturday afternoon to officially welcome home an early example of the work of famed Clarendon taxidermist Carl Akeley.  The reception was held in conjunction with members of the Clarendon Historical Society.

The work – a red fox mounted by Akeley in 1879 at the age of 16 – was recently restored by George Dante, a taxidermist and conservator of Wildlife Preservation in New Jersey.

Farley said the restoration resulted from an “amazing grass-roots effort to secure funding” for the project. Private donors, a grant from the Elizabeth Dye Curtis Foundation and a donations from the Orleans County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Clarendon Historical Society made the project possible, Farley said.

Bill Lattin, retired Orleans County Historian and Cobblestone Museum Director, has a family connection to the fox. He spoke during the reception and explained that his great-grandfather, Francis Harling of Albion, procured the fox for Akeley. Lattin explained that the fox, enclosed in a framed diorama, is a precious artifact.

“In the world of taxidermy, it’s like owning a Rafael,” Lattin said.  “It’s very, very special.”

Akeley, (1864-1926), is known as the Father of Modern Taxidermy.  He devised a method for fitting an animal’s skin over a meticulously prepared and sculpted form of the animal’s body.  The process included the animal’s musculature and details such as wrinkles and veins and produced a very realistic result.

Akeley made many trips to Africa to collect specimens and created the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Akeley also liked to place the mounted animals in settings that reflected their native habitat.

Lattin said his great-grandfather wanted the fox diorama to display in the family’s home on East County House Road in Albion.

Harling was a middle-class dirt farmer and blacksmith, Lattin explained, but noted it is interesting that, “common ordinary people (of that time) had a sensitivity for aesthetics.” Harling had gone out of his way to procure the fox, Lattin said, so that something beautiful could be made to decorate the family’s home, “that’s remarkable,” he observed.

Now that the fox – which Lattin said was found to be a vixen during the restoration work – can help people today to, “appreciate what our ancestors saw as beautiful.”

Matthew Ballard (Orleans County Historian), Bill Lattin and Melissa Ierlan (Clarendon town historian) pose with Carl Akeley’s fox diorama. Cobblestone Museum officials said those visiting the Cobblestone Church will be able to see the diorama on the lower level where the Museum gift shop is located.

Ballard, the county historian and former Cobblestone Museum director, explained that the effort to have the fox diorama restored was fueled by a celebration held in 2014 by the Clarendon Historical Society for the 150th anniversary of Akeley’s birth.

Jay Kirk, the author of Kingdom Under Glass about Carl Akeley and his work, attended the celebration as did Akeley expert John Janelli.

“We wanted to bring (the fox) to the attention of people who would appreciate Akeley’s work,” Ballard said. “The fox is part of a transitional phase for Akeley.”

Ballard noted the legwork done by Ierlan, the Clarendon historian, to have the fox restored as well as the local fundraising effort.

“It’s surreal to see it come to fruition,” Ballard said of the restoration project.  “It’s a piece of national significance.”

Carl Akeley wrote his name and Clarendon in the bottom left corner of the diorama.

Ierlan discussed Akeley’s life and work from his humble beginnings on Hinds Road in Clarendon to the jungles of Africa.

“He was the original Indiana Jones,” Ierlan said.  She noted his early work preserving the pet canary of his aunt, his training in taxidermy by David Bruce in Brockport and his apprenticeship at Ward’s Natural Science Establishment in Rochester.

She explained that the taxidermy work done before Akeley often made animals look like stuffed toys – “freakish and scary…. (Akeley) wanted to make them look as real as possible,” Ierlan said.

In addition to his taxidermy work, Akeley was an accomplished sculptor, biologist, conservationist and inventor with over 29 patents.  Akeley improved the motion picture camera for filming animal movement, Ierlan said.

“He had a remarkable life….. he was one of America’s greatest men,” she said.

Melissa Ierlan brought copies of photographs of Akeley’s work including diorama’s from the American Museum of Natural History and the entourage that accompanied Akeley on his African trips to collect specimens (far left), as well as the condition of the fox diorama prior to restoration.

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Marsh Creek bridge was completed under budget in 1922

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 16 September 2017 at 7:39 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 38

CARLTON – This photograph, taken in the summer of 1922, shows the construction of the bridge over Marsh Creek at “The Bridges” in Carlton. Originally known as “Two Bridges,” the span over Marsh Creek predates 1861 when a committee was put in place to explore the replacement of the bridge.

On November 29, 1861, Almanzor Hutchinson reported that $800 was available to replace the bridge over Marsh Creek and upon the motion of Mr. Abell, Daniel Howe was placed in charge of overseeing the replacement. The following day, for a reason unbeknownst to this historian, the Board of Supervisors released Daniel Howe from his responsibilities and authorized David Fuller to oversee the work.

The bridge faithfully served the community for nearly 44 years when the town of Carlton determined that the structure was in dire need of repairs. This 128-foot-long, 18.5-foot-wide span with a 16.5-foot-wide concrete surface was completed in August of 1922. The final cost to complete the bridge totaled $12,000, roughly $2,000 under budget.

The project was supervised by Carlton Highway Superintendent L. Waldo Callard, who was presented a generous gift of $100 in gold for completion of his responsibilities. William Wigley, a resident of the town for over 40 years, offered an address and presented the gift to Callard.

The opening of the bridge was a celebrated event throughout the community. Bernard Ryan was slated to address the crowds that gathered while a parade led residents across the bridge. Local newspapers reported that a wedding was to take place on the bridge as well, all before the day’s activities concluded with Carlton’s baseball championship between Waterport and Kent.

This image, looking south, shows the incomplete deck of the new span while three men work, a gentleman sits to observe the others working. It appears as though a child has sat down to observe the work as well; a man is laboring on the south side of the creek with steam equipment.

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Albion’s 1955 football team shown in this vintage photo

Staff Reports Posted 13 September 2017 at 3:00 pm

Photo courtesy of Dick Pilon

ALBION – Dick Pilon, who is retired from the grocery business in Albion, shared this photo of members of the 1955 Albion football team.

Pilon dropped off this photo at the Orleans Hub and Lake Country Pennysaver, 170 North Main St., Albion. (Homecoming Week will be celebrated at the school Sept. 18-23.)

Pictured include, from left, bottom row: John Burroughs; Philip (Fred) Ciarico, Lawrence Atwell, Wallace (Wally) Dale, Matteo (Matt) Pecorella, David (Splash) Spierdowis and William (Billy) Narburgh. Back row: Richard (Dick) Pilon, Eugene (Unis) Ulianelli, Charles (Charlie) Derwick and David (Sip) Saeva.

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Heritage Festival kicks off at Forrestel Farm with more events around the county

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 September 2017 at 9:48 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – The Orleans County Heritage Festival held a kick off celebration on Friday at Forrestel Farm with music by City Fiddle in Buffalo. Many of the attendees square dancing.

City Fiddle includes, from left: Phil Banasczak on mandolin, his wife Gretchen in back playing fiddle and singing, Margaret Matthews in front as the caller, and Tim Pitcher playing the guitar.

The Heritage Festival includes many events this weekend and on Sept. 16-17. Organizers are trying to highlight the many historic sites in the county, while providing experiential learning.

JJ Heideman of BAD-AsH-BBQ served up pulled pork and other food that was popular with the crowd.

Attendees of the festival receive a commemorative button.

Derek Maxfield, one of the festival coordinators, presents Lynne Menz, the county’s tourism coordinator, with a special recognition award for her “outstanding effort” in preserving and promoting Orleans County heritage.

“She has been an indispensable person in our group of coordinators,” said Maxfield, a GCC history professor.

Maxfield is dressed as a major general from the Civil War named John Henry Martindale of Batavia.

Phil Banasczak plays the mandolin while some of the attendees squared danced at Forrestel.

The farm is a historic site, with the main house built in 1825. Mary Herbert, a fifth-generation owner of the site, gave tours of the farm.

Some of the attendees give square dancing a try at Forrestel.

Jim Simon, dean of the GCC campus centers in Albion and Medina, welcomes people to the Heritage Festival. He also helped park cars and direct traffic at Forrestel.

This weekend’s events include:

• “Ancestors, Legends & Lore” today at GCC in Albion, 456 West Ave., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a focus on Victorian Spiritualism with a lecture, display, and a parlor séance, as well as a genealogy workshop.

• There will be a guided WWII Victory Garden from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Cornell Cooperative Ext./4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville. Master Gardeners have created a WWII Victory Garden similar to those utilized by US civilians during WWII. They have grown varieties common during that era and will hand out copies of authentic Cornell Cooperative Extension 1942 informational Victory Garden leaflets.

• On Sunday from 7 p.m to 8:30 p.m. at the Hoag Library in Albion, County Historian Matt Ballard will discuss the service of WWI veterans of Orleans County. At 8 p.m., Company F Memorial Creative Director Lynne Menz and Sculptor Brian Porter will provide an update on the progress on the Company F bronze statue in Medina.

To see the full schedule of events, including participating museums and historic sites, click here.

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‘Bean King’ offered fine dining at Lone Star Inn

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 9 September 2017 at 8:45 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 37

ALBION – This photograph taken in the 1920s shows the Lone Star Inn as it appeared on Gaines Basin Road. Located on the old Thurston Farm, this property was located across from the current Orleans County Correctional Facility on 130 acres adjacent to the Howard farm.

In 1923 Lewis E. Sands established the Lone Star Inn, a “quaint homestead with glass enclosed verandas, set on a knoll a few hundred yards off the Million Dollar Highway.” Directions to the property instructed visitors to turn “at the cobblestone schoolhouse,” the old Loveland School since demolished near the intersection of Rt. 31 and Gaines Basin Road. The restaurant quickly earned a reputation as a destination for high quality meals in Orleans County.

In November of 1930, Sands was operating a bakery out of the building in addition to the restaurant and inn during the summer months. While working in the kitchen, Lewis heard a faint crackling sound coming from the garage and after further investigation, was greeted by flames and smoke upon opening the door. He fetched his helper, Walter Waters, and the two men were quickly flushed out into the near-zero temperatures without adequate clothing to keep them warm.

The Albion Fire Department responded to the blaze, but found it difficult to contain the fire due to a lack of water. Newspapers reported that Sheriff Lawrence Higley was the first official at the scene, entering the building periodically to rescue various pieces of furniture. It was expected that the fire would cost Sands nearly $3,500 in personal loss in addition to the over $15,000 in damage to the property. Although several other fires occurred within the vicinity, leading residents to suspect a fire-bug was to blame, Sands admitted that the electrical wiring in the garage was shoddy at best and likely the cause of the fire.

For many years, Lewis Sands was regarded as the “Bean King,” cornering the bean market in this region until his business collapsed around 1924. His business interests had amassed debt nearing the $1,000,000 mark, which resulted in charges of grand larceny and forgery being brought against him on several occasions. Although his personal secretary, Grace Gerkes, was convicted of forgery and sentenced to time at Auburn Prison, Sands was acquitted of charges on two occasions.

Despite his poor luck in business, Sands was well respected within the community as a charter member of the Albion Rotary Club, often volunteering the use of his personal car to take crippled children to out-of-town clinics. While tending to his greenhouses in Rochester, he suffered a massive heart attack and died shortly after on January 23, 1942.

His son, Harold Sands, who took over operation of the Lone Star Inn when his father fled Albion in the face of bankruptcy, was killed in an altercation at Benn’s Grill on Winton Road in Rochester on October 11, 1942. After engaging a semi-pro football player named Pierson Thompson in a heated argument over clothing, Harold invited Pierson outside to settle the disagreement. Thompson obliged and struck Sands once in the head, fracturing his skull and killing him.

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Cobblestone Museum will celebrate restored Akeley fox as part of Heritage Fest

Photo by Tom Rivers: The restored fox, a work of taxidermy by famed Clarendon native Carl Akeley, is back on display at the Cobblestone Museum after a restoration effort.

Staff Reports Posted 7 September 2017 at 8:32 am

GAINES – A fox that is the work of Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist from Clarendon, will be highlighted at the Cobblestone Museum as one of the event’s during the upcoming Orleans County Heritage Festival.

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

The museum is holding a “welcome home” celebration for the restored red fox that was originally mounted by Akeley when he was a teen-ager about 140 years ago. A native of Clarendon, Akeley established himself as one of the most influential taxidermists in the history of the United States. His major works exist in museums throughout the country including the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The red fox was mounted by Akeley at the age of 16 and was procured for him by Francis Harling of Albion. The mounted fox diorama represents one of Akeley’s earliest works still existing in Orleans County. This amazing diorama was donated to the museum in 1979 by John Seager, great-grandson of  Francis Harling, in memory of his parents Agnes Harling Seager and John Seager.

The Museum worked with taxidermist and conservator George Dante of Wildlife Preservations in New Jersey alongside two conservators from the American Museum of Natural History to have the piece fully restored to its original beauty.

A reception with the Clarendon Historical Society will take place at the 1834 Cobblestone Church on Saturday, September 16, at 5 p.m.

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

But it was an early example of Carl Akeley’s taxidermy work. The fox was an ambitious effort after Akeley started with birds. Akeley would become one of the world’s most renown taxidermists and remains an industry legend 153 years after his birth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: This monument for Carl Akeley was dedicated at Hillside Cemetery in May 2016. Taxidermy historian and Carl Akeley expert John Janelli (back left), Ken Edwards of, and Clarendon Historian Melissa Ierlan pose behind the Carl E. Akeley Memorial Stone. Edwards designed the memorial stone and was instrumental in rallying the support of taxidermy professionals behind the project to honor Akeley, who was born in Clarendon in 1864.

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

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

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

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

To see the schedule for the Heritage Festival, click here.

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French cemetery honoring Americans includes 3 from Orleans who died in WWI assault

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 2 September 2017 at 8:07 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 36

A quiet drive through the French countryside reveals the sprawling fields of golden wheat and green stalks of corn, the wind rushing through the hedgerows, and faint sounds of cattle. The openness of the landscape is broken up by the occasional town that contains century-old homes, churches, and schools, with the irregular modern buildings that house every amenity needed for the local community.

After passing eastward through the small village of Bony, one is greeted by an immense marble structure that displays the French phrase “Morts pour la patrie,” or “To those who died for their country.”

The Somme American Cemetery, situated on 14.3 acres of rolling countryside in the Picardie region, is the final resting place for over 1,800 men who died during the assault on the Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918. The cemetery was peaceful while a small crew of caretakers meticulously aerated the grass amidst the rows of marble crosses. Despite the significance of the battle during which these men were killed, the last visitors to the cemetery came in April of 2017 when I visited in early July.

A beautiful marble chapel looms over the cemetery, the massive marble altar inside contains the inscription “Thou o Lord has granted them eternal rest.” The four sections of grave plots are surrounded by flowering plants and trees, while most notable are the beds of polyanthus roses that adorn the area near the flagpole at the center of the cemetery.

On this hallowed ground rests 138 unidentified soldiers, whose graves are marked by stones reading “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Not secluded in their own area, these brave souls rest among their fellow soldiers who rest in graves marked by Latin Crosses and Stars of David.

Among the graves are all familiar names, such as PFC Albert Beary, who left his young wife a widow after their marriage took place less than one year earlier. In an adjoining section rests Pvt. Jesse Brooks, whose life was cut short after volunteering for a reconnaissance mission near St. Quentin on October 14, 1918.

Yet far away from his fellow soldiers from Orleans County lies the body of Cpl. James P. Clark who courageously led his men after all other officers were either killed or wounded. Nearly twenty minutes after assuming command of his unit, he was gunned down by machine gun fire. The courage and tenacity exhibited by Clark on September 29, 1918 earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, prominently noted upon his marble cross.

This beautiful burial ground stands upon the same ground that these men sacrificed their lives upon. Overlooking the small village of Bony, it serves as a reminder that some men never reached their final objective. This sacred ground is overpowered by other monuments such as the massive Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, a memorial that stands like a fortress in the French countryside, calling to memory the names of over 72,000 British and South African men who died in 1915 and 1918. Yet its quaint beauty is to be appreciated, a true representation of honor to our fallen soldiers who sacrificed so much nearly 100 years ago.

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Cobblestone Museum puts out casting call for upcoming Ghost Walk

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2017 at 8:03 am

Horace Greeley, an 1872 U.S. presidential candidate, once owned the Ward House that is now part of the Cobblestone Museum.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum needs community volunteers for a Ghost Walk on Oct. 8 from 1 to5 p.m. at the museum grounds near the intersection of routes 98 and 104.

The museum needs children and adults for the event, which will highlight suffragists from more than a century ago and also some prominent residents with ties to the museum, including Rufus Brown Bullock. He is the former governor of Georgia who grew up in Albion and returned to the village in his later years. Bullock is buried at Mount Albion. The museum has his outhouse.

The Ghost Walk also includes Horace Greeley, who briefly owned the Ward House, which was built in 1840 under the direction of John Proctor, a prominent early Gaines resident. (Proctor also will be a Ghost Walk character.)

Following Proctor’s ownership, the house was sold to Benjamin and Mary Ann Woodburn Dwinnell. Mary Anne was the aunt of Greeley, the famed New York Tribune editor who held the mortgage until 1863. When Greeley’s uncle became ill and could no longer make payments on the mortgage, Horace took control of the property. The home functioned as a private residence until 1975, when the property was purchased by the museum from Mrs. Inez Martyn Ward.

The Albion school district has been doing a Ghost Walk each fall for several years, but is taking a break this year. Some students are expected to be part of the Ghost Walk at the Cobblestone Museum.

One student, for example, will portray Grace Bedell, the Albion native who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln when she was 11. She encouraged him to grow a beard, believing it would increase his chances of winning the presidency. Lincoln took her advice.

Some other characters for the museum’s Ghost Walk include

• (Schoolhouse) William Babbitt (founder of school), John Cuneen (former state attorney general from Albion) and students

• (Ward House) Horace Greeley at the wake of his uncle Benjamin Dwinnel.  Mary Ann Dwinnell will also be there.

• (Voting Booth) Women Suffragettes

• (Cobblestone Church) John Proctor, Grace Befell and George Pullman

• (Blacksmith) Joe and Nellie Vagg

• (Printer) H. Hill and a customer – woman suffragette

• (Harness) JG Peters and Starr Chester

• (Farmer’s Hall) a Gaines farmer

• (5 seater outhouse) Rufus Brown Bullock

• (Cemetery) two women discussing the murder of Emma Hunt by William Lake at Farmer VanCamp’s home.

Actors need to be available for rehearsals, to memorize their role, and secure their own costume. Most of the parts are for working people so their attire would not have been too formal – pants, shirt, vest for men, and skirt and blouse for most of the women.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Ghost Walk should call the museum at (585) 589-9013 and leave your contact information.

Photos by Tom Rivers: The former Voting House in Hamlin was moved to the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines in 1999. The Voting House was built in 1909 by the Monroe County Board of Elections. Monroe County made many of the voting houses that were placed in voting districts in Monroe.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The former Voting House in Hamlin was moved to the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines in 1999. Suffragettes will be at this spot for a Ghost Walk on Oct. 8.

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Event at Cobblestone Museum shines light on historic trades

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 August 2017 at 5:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum held a Historic Trades Fair today which highlighted 19th century craftsmen, including Theresa Jewell of Clarendon, who did weaving with a loom. She owns the Stoney Meadows Alpacas and Stone Mountain Looms in Clarendon.

The day at the museum also featured a blacksmith, printer, weaver, wood joiner, chair caner, musicians, butter churner and many others as well as a Civil War encampment.

Fred Vieira plays bass for the musical group, Old Friends. They played outside next to the Farmers Hall.

Judy Larkin of Ridgeway demonstrated the art of chair caning.

Gary Deiboldt of Albion lets loose a pigeon that Tom Fuller, left, brought for the day. Fuller raises the pigeons in Medina. Fuller said the pigeons functioned as the country’s first postal service, delivering messages, often traveling hundreds of miles.

Fuller, a retired science teacher, let several people release a pigeon. The birds then took off and were expected to head home in Medina.

Fuller’s wife, Kimberly, demonstrated how to do spinning.

Georgia Thomas of Medina helped people learn how to make butter. It was a lot of work to shake the jars for at least 15 minutes.

Bill Ott of Lockport ran the blacksmith shop. Ott is a member of the New York State Designer Blacksmith Group.

David Damico fielded many questions at the print shop. The print shop was built in 1875. It used to be in Medina, but was moved to the museum grounds on Route 98 in 1977.

Dave Clark of Clarendon did demonstrations in the harness shop, including some shoe repairs.

Jim Bonafini, president of the Cobblestone Museum, showed a talent for wood joinery.

Jay Black of Albion, a member of the 4th South Carolina Infantry, showed a collection of knives, firearms, swords and bayonets.

Lillian Mathes, 12, of Barre and her grandmother, Doreen Clark of Clarendon, discussed historical seamstress work. Lillian made her own dress that is being judged at the State Fair.

Jan Brauer of Lewiston weaves a basket at the Historic Trades Fair.

Brenda Radzinski of Gaines discussed how herbs can be used in cookies and herb-infused water.

Natalee Bozzer, 8, of Corfu pokes her head through the cutout featuring Cobble the Museum Mouse. The museum sells a coloring book highlighting the character.

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Historian visits centuries-old church that was worship site for Orleans County’s Polish Community

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 26 August 2017 at 7:49 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 35

Centuries ago, the Teutonic Knights established themselves within the Chełmno region of Poland. The country’s long and complex history is mired in conflict and subdivision, suffering its most catastrophic partition in the latter half of the 18th century. This once autonomous region was dominated by the Prussians and would remain so for over a century.

This beautiful church in Wabcz, constructed during the time of the Teutonic Knights, was a sacred place of worship for the Polish immigrants who arrived at Medina and Albion starting in the late 1870s. Oppressed culturally and religiously under German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the free practice of the Catholic faith and retention of Polish culture was under threat. The Kulturkampf or “Culture Struggle” sought to decrease the power of the Catholic Church, imprisoning priests, making marriage a civil ceremony, and pushing German settlement of Polish lands.

The city of Chełmno, approximately 15 minutes from Wabcz, served as a central location for conscripting young men into military service. The cadet academy at Chełmno produced qualified military officers while duplicate baptismal records were sent to Berlin for use in tracking young men who attained the appropriate age for military service. There is little doubt that the influx of Polish immigrants during this period was, in part, the result of this forced military service.

The Church of Sts. Bartholomew and Anne at Wabcz is a stunning sanctuary amidst the rolling Polish countryside. Reminiscent of Orleans County, waving fields of golden wheat sprawl throughout the region, cut into segments by single-lane gravel roads. One is hard-pressed to find a local resident who speaks any English and many intersections are adorned by shrines to the Virgin Mary.

I attended Sunday Mass at this church, although I will admit I had no understanding of what exactly was happening. The loveliness of this quaint church was exactly what one might imagine, especially for those who grew up attending St. Mary’s Assumption in Albion or Sacred Heart in Medina. The side altars, adorned with sacred artwork, pay homage to the Virgin Mary while statues embellish the spaces around the main altar. A stunning depiction of the crucifixion sits above the sanctuary.

The Poles are devout in their visitation of the nearby cemetery after Mass. The building empties almost immediately after, where the faithful flock to their vehicles and drive up the road to attend to their flowers. Although the cemeteries no longer contain the names of our immigrant ancestors, the registers of the church contain those surnames that so commonly appear throughout Orleans County: Cichocki, Czachorowski, Danielewski (Daniels), Depczynski, Gurzinski, Kaniecki, Kwiatkowski, Norkowski (Noreck), Reis (Rice), and Sadowski, just to name a few.

Although most local Polish immigrants left their homes in the latter quarter of the 19th century, one would suspect that some family members remained behind. When the Nazis came through the region in 1939, Chełmno became a site for the imprisonment of the Polish intelligentsia in the Pomerania region. The nearby hamlet of Klamry, 14 kilometers from Wabcz, served as a site for the mass execution of approximately 2,000-2,500 inhabitants of the Chełmno region, mostly teachers, priests, political activists, and retired military members.

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