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6 outhouses focus of tour at Cobblestone Museum this evening

File photo by Tom Rivers: This outhouse is one of six that will be included on a tour of privies today at 6 p.m. at the Cobblestone Museum.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2017 at 8:12 am

Privies include one that was owned by governor from Albion

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum often has a “First Friday” art show at the beginning of the month. This evening the museum will showcase its impressive collection of outhouses, including a five-seater by the Farmer’s Hall on Route 98, just south of Route 104.

The cobblestone structures get a lot of the attention – as they should – but the museum also includes six outhouses, including the one used by Rufus Bullock and his family. Bullock is the former Georgia governor from Albion. His outhouse is located behind the Ward House next to the Cobblestone Church.

Bullock grew up in Albion and went on to be the governor of Georgia during Reconstruction after the Civil War. He gained prestige as president of the Macon and Augusta Railroad in 1867. He was elected governor and served from 1868 to 1871. Bullock was an abolitionist and successfully fought accusations of corruption while he was governor in Georgia.

He returned to live out his life in Albion and is buried at Mount Albion Cemetery. His house still stands at the northwest corner of West Park and Liberty streets.

Bill Lattin, the retired museum director, will lead a tour of outhouses today at 6 p.m. “Privies: From Primitive to Pretentious-An Outhouse and In-House Tour” will be a fun and entertaining trip around the Cobblestone National Historic Landmark District.

This photo shows the inside of the five-seater outhouse.

The “potty tour” includes each of the Cobblestone Museum’s historic outhouses, indoor commodes and much more.

• The oldest building on the Cobblestone Museum property is actually an outhouse. Built in the Federal Style in 1830, it was originally used at the first bank built in Orleans County, located at corner of NYS Routes 279 & 104.

• The Farmers Hall has a Greek Revival Outhouse that seats five. It’s really remarkable with plastered walls and wallpaper.

• The outhouse at the Museum’s Print Shop is in the East Lake Style with interior paneling.

• The water closet in the 1834 Universalist Church lobby was for men only and the adjacent Cobblestone parsonage has an assortment of chamber pots.

• There are separate boy’s and girl’s outhouses at the Cobblestone School.

•  Those on the tour should wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and be sure to bring a sense of humor, said Doug Farley, the museum director.

“Being new to the job, I have been learning the history of the major buildings located at the museum,” said Farley, who started as the museum director in March. “In the process, I also discovered that some of the structures that aren’t usually mentioned in tours have a pretty remarkable history of their own. For instance, the oldest building on the museum’s campus is actually an outhouse that was originally located at the first bank in Orleans County.  Also, when I came upon the ‘five-seater’ outhouse, I thought to myself, ‘What would that have looked like for a family? Did they all go out to the outhouse together?’ I had more questions than I had answers. I also realized that my generation still has some recollection of using outhouses. However, subsequent generations are most likely uninformed of the intricacies of outhouses. I think in order to appreciate the comfort of our modern sanitary facilities, we have to take a look at what came first.”

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200 years ago today, construction started on the Erie Canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 July 2017 at 10:03 am

File photos by Tom Rivers

This photo from Sept. 23, 2015 shows a canal boat named Canandaigua out cruising on the Erie Canal along Presbyterian Road at the widewaters section in Gaines.

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the Erie Canal’s construction. Construction started in Rome. It would take about eight years to complete the project, going 363 miles across the state.

“200 years ago, on this very day, ground was broken for the construction of America’s most iconic and enduring man-made waterway – the Erie Canal. Happy Bicentennial!” – NYS Canal Corporation tweeted today

Rome will recreate the ceremonial groundbreaking on July 22.

The tugboat Syracuse carries inspectors and officials from the State Canal Corp. on the Erie Canal in Albion on Sept. 14, 2016. The inspectors headed east after passing under the Ingersoll Street lift bridge in Albion. They were doing the annual inspection of lift bridges, locks, navigational aids, embankments and some other canal infrastructure.

A small sign on a tree in a ditch in Holley notes that this was part of the original Erie Canal loop that meandered to the Public Square area of Holley. This is a rare section of the original canal loop. The canal was widened several times after the original construction was completed in 1825.

The state veered the canal from a relatively straight line in Holley in 1823 due to the high banks and engineering challenge in dealing with Sandy Creek. The Erie Canal used to loop about 2,000 feet towards the Public Square.

There was an unusually deep ravine formed by the east branch of Sandy Creek, which presented a difficult engineering problem for builders of the original Erie Canal in the early 1820s, according to display on the north side of the canal by the Holley lift bridge. The State Canal Corp. put up that display about “The Holley Loop.”

This historical marker is next to the railroad depot used by the Murray-Holley Historical Society near the former Save-A-Lot. The original canal went near the depot and Public Square and some stone and remnants are still visible in the community.

Rather than try to build the canal on the ravine, engineers opted to take a sharp turn near the current lift bridge and cross over a relatively narrow section of the creek.

“The sharp curve required boaters to slow down, which made a promising location for canal-oriented busiensses,” according to the state display. “The Village of Holley grew at this bend in the canal.”

The canal was widened throughout the 363-mile-long system from 1905 to 1918 and much of the original canal was replaced by the wider and deeper canal.

But in Holley, some of the original remained because it wasn’t touched as part of the Barge Canal widening in the early 1900s.

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Historic Cobblestone church holds annual patriotic service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2017 at 3:27 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CHILDS – Two congregations teamed for their annual patriotic service this morning at the Cobblestone Universalist Church. This photo shows Darrel Dyke, one of the leaders at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion, giving a reading at the pulpit at the Cobblestone Universalist Church. Dyke read from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The Cobblestone Universalist Church holds church services twice a year. Today’s service had a patriotic theme and included members of the Gaines Congregational United Church of Christ.

Jim Gardner, pastor of the Gaines Congregational United Church of Christ, shared the homily today. “Choose life and love,” he said. “Choose happy not mad. Choose to honor those who have gone on before us.”

Doug Farley, front left, serves as director of the Cobblestone Museum. He also is a long-time member of the Lock City Glee Club based in Lockport. The group performed several patriotic songs including, “The Battle Hymn of the RePublic.” The Lock City Glee Club is in its 51st year.

Darrel Dyke addresses the group inside the church, which was built in 1834.

The church is on Ridge Road, just east of Route 98. It is the focal point of a museum that is a National Historic Landmark.

Drew Burke (with beard) is director of the Lock City Glee Club’s men’s chorus. The Glee Club usually has 35 to 50 singers but during the summer performs in a smaller group of summer ambassadors.

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OC Heritage Fest expands to 2 weekends in September

Photos by Tom Rivers: John and Joe Dady perform by the canal in Albion with a boathouse in the background in this photo from June 2015. The brothers played bluegrass, Irish and folk music between the lift bridges on Main and Ingersoll streets. They will be in Medina on Sept. 14 as part of the Heartland Passage Tour, featuring a concert, stories and a showing of the Erie Canal Film, “Boom and Bust”.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2017 at 9:14 am

ALBION – A team of volunteers has been busy working on the second annual Orleans County Heritage Festival.

The event debuted over a weekend last September, and will be expanded to two weekends this time, running from Sept. 8-17.

“There are so many historic assets in Orleans County that it is hard to see them all in one weekend,” Derek Maxfield, a GCC history professor and festival organizer, told county legislators on Wednesday.

David Kreutz, an Abraham Lincoln presenter from Depew, was at last year’s debut Orleans County Heritage Festival with his “Penny Car,” which includes a vinyl wrap of Lincoln. Kreutz’s license plate reads “HNST ABE.” He has travelled 150,000 miles in his Lincoln car, attending events all over the country. Kreutz said the car functions as “a roving schoolhouse.” He is expected to be back at this year’s Heritage Festival along with a Thomas Jefferson impressionist.

The Heritage Festival starts on Sept. 8 with an opening celebration at Forrestel Farms in Medina. The historic farmstead includes the carriage step for John Ryan, who opened the first Medina Sandstone quarry in 1837, helping to establish a dominant industry in the county for a century.

The event at Forrestel at 4536 Soth Gravel Rd. includes a performance by City Fiddle, refreshments and a tour of farm.

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.

Another collectible button will be included in this year’s festival.

GCC’s Albion campus will host events the first weekend on “Ancestors, Legends & Lore” with will include presentations on Victorian Spiritualism.

The action shifts 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.

Last year 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.

Mayfield provided an update on the festival to county legislators on Wednesday. He was joined by Lynne Menz, the Orleans County Tourism coordinator.

“Hopefully we can continue it for years to come and build on it,” she said.

Other events during the festival include:

• WWII Victory Garden on Sept. 9 at Cornell Cooperative Ext./4H Fairgrounds. Join Master Gardeners for WWII Victory Garden tour and display.

• Cobblestone Museum, open both weekends with guided tours, scavenger hunts, hands-on arts & crafts, kids free.

• Medina Historical Society, open both Saturdays with unique local heritage items, WWI display.

• Daughters of the American Revolution, open both Saturdays in Albion for guided tours of Patriots House, displays of historic memorabilia.

• Hoag Library, open on Sept. 10 for display and lecture on WWI veterans who served from Orleans County.

• Hart House Hotel in Medina, open on Sept. 12 for guided Ghost Tours of Hart House Hotel and the former Newell Shirt Factory.

• Maplewood Cemetery in Clarendon, guided tours on Sept. 13.

• Hurd Orchards Luncheon & Tour on Sept. 14 – Experience Canal Boat kitchen cuisine and tour an historic canal siphon.

•  Heartland Passage Tour on Sept. 14 – Erie Canal Basin in Medina for songs and stories with The Dady Brothers, Dave Ruch, and the Erie Canal Film, “Boom and Bust”.

• WWI Era Music Concert on Sept. 15 at Lyndonville school district. Concert of WWI era music by 5th & 6th grade students of Orleans County.

• Genealogy Workshops on Sept. 9 at GCC in Albion and Sept. 16 at GCC in Medina – Search your ancestry with Orleans County Genealogical Society experts.

• Sandstone Society Hall of Fame, open on Sept. 16 at Medina City Hall. Guided tours of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame and visit inductees in Orleans County (self guided).

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July 4th marks bicentennial of Erie Canal construction

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 July 2017 at 9:00 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 27

The Erie Canal has a long and illustrious history spanning over two hundred years starting on July 4, 2017. As we hit the bicentennial of the construction of the Canal, I thought it would be fitting to write a series of articles about some of the more interesting Canal images within the Department of History’s collections.

I suspect that the passing of the July 4th anniversary will go without fanfare locally, but the eight years between the start of construction and official opening will provide many opportunities to celebrate the iconic waterway.

Dating back to 1699, the concept of constructing a waterway that would open the wilderness of New York to the rest of the world was first suggested by a French engineer named Sebastien Vauban. The radical idea remained in the minds of entrepreneurs and politicians throughout the 18th century, surfacing again after the establishment of the United States. It was not until the early 1800s that the idea became a reality under the governorship of DeWitt Clinton.

The canal, opening on October 25, 1825, represented a feat of engineering that only few could have ever imagined. Without the aid of steam equipment, men relied on hand tools and animal power to excavate the 40-foot-wide, 4-foot-deep ditch that spanned over 360 miles.

According to Cary Lattin, shipping rates for wheat dropped from $.25 per bushel to $5.00 per ton, earning Western New York the title of “The Break Basket of the World.” The old Niagara Frontier went on to produce much of the wheat consumed by the United States up until the start of the Civil War.

The massive drop in shipping costs resulted in the expansion of the canal system starting in 1835. Over the following decades, the waterway was widened to seventy feet and deepened to seven feet; entire sections were rebuilt, new locks constructed, aqueducts erected, and some sections rerouted. The newly expanded canal allowed for businessmen to operate larger packet boats, which in turn carried more tonnage from Lake Erie to the Hudson River.

This image was taken during the second expansion, which officially started in 1903 when the New York State Legislature introduced a plan to form the New York State Barge Canal. The photographer directed his camera westward looking towards Church Street in Medina. In the distance, you can see the Church Street Bridge that spanned the original canal; a packet boat is visible travelling eastbound towards Albion. Also visible are buildings that lined the “heel path,” or southern towpath of the canal, providing valuable goods and services to passing boats.

I find this image to be an outstanding reflection of the extensive knowledge of engineering required to complete the massive expansion in Orleans County during the 1910s. Guy derricks were constructed to raise stone and cement to the top of the large wooden frames assembled to form the enormous retaining walls seen along Medina’s towpath. The relative size of the workers gathered near the base of the retaining wall gives perspective to the size of the work being completed.

Although we see the presence of a steam locomotive to the left, used to draw raw materials to the job site, a team of horses is visible pulling a piece of equipment up the tracks to the right. The gentleman standing atop the embankment wearing a suit and hat appears to be a supervisor, observing the work of the men below. A thorough observation of the photograph reveals men standing at various points on the framework of the retaining wall and one man standing upon the wall’s concrete foundation, directing the guy derrick operator to move the scoop to the south. One of the workers appears to have caught the photographer out of the corner of his eye and stopped to watch him take the photograph.

The expansion, which was completed in Orleans County approximately between 1912 and 1918, widened the canal to 120 feet from 70 feet and deepened it from 7 feet to 12 feet.

The second photograph shows men working on a portion of the retaining wall closer to the terminal in Medina. The Church Street Bridge approach is visible to the left and the White Hotel is likely the most prominent and recognizable structure in the photograph.

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Immigrant ancestors showed incredible resilience building new lives in America

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 24 June 2017 at 12:09 pm

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 26

Dating back to the earliest years of the United States, immigration was a welcomed occurrence; the arrival of new European immigrants was believed to bring desirable traits that would strengthen American stock. Despite this early stance on a process that was of little concern to most Americans, groups surfaced with the intention of restricting or ending waves of immigration.

The emergence of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s brings forth a “Gangs of New York” image to the minds of many. The exact level of activity of such groups in Orleans County is uncertain, but we do know that men such as John Hull White of Albion and Elisha Whalen of Medina were aligned with these political ideas. White, a Conservative Democrat in the years when Republicans considered themselves the “Party of Lincoln,” found it impossible to win an election in our Republican-dominated county.

An influx of Irish and German immigrants established an unfounded fear of the Catholic Church, while many of these immigrants flooded into the emerging sandstone quarries of our region, bringing with them a willingness to toil amidst dynamite and heavy stone. Shortly after came the laborers from the Norfolk region of southern England, who with pickaxe and shovel, filed into the ranks with the Irish and Germans. Minimal legislation meant no visas, no limitations, no need for connections to family already in the United States, nor guarantee of work.

The mass of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe starting in the 1860s and 1870s raised questions about the ongoing solvency of unrestricted immigration. With the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the federal government established a solid stance on the limitation of specific immigrants, prohibiting any immigration of individuals from China. Additional laws passed over the following decades created the conditions experienced at places like Ellis Island, the conditions that so many genealogists read about.

Immigrants were no longer desirable, their genetic traits more likely to diminish the hearty stock of American citizens than strengthen. These new immigrants were viewed as unwilling to assimilate, preferring to gather in ethnic communities while retaining their cultural and religious practices. Their presence developed unfounded fears of disease, leading the federal government to limit access to those “likely to become a public charge,” polygamists, sexual deviants, anarchists, radicals, and the disabled.

Agents at ports of entry would observe immigrants for physical defects, limps, poor posture, feeble natures, weakness, and abnormal body shape, many feeling as though they could learn more about an immigrant’s physical condition from a few moments of unnoticed observation than they could through detailed medical examinations. These laws created the concept of the illegal immigrant, who concealed illness and disability, or lied about political beliefs to try their luck at a better life in a country determined to keep them out; until this point, there was no illegal immigration.

I found myself reflecting on this image of my great grandparents, taken on the day of their wedding in 1919, as I prepare to travel to their hometown of Wabcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie in Poland. I often think of the hardships they endured. Frank Kaniecki, seated upon the table, was three years old when he arrived at Ellis Island with his parents and younger brother Paul. His mother, eight months pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl during the journey across the Atlantic, the baby dying several days later. One can imagine Frank’s father, Antoni, leading his grieving wife with two toddlers in tow through the lines of immigrants while agents observed their every move. Rose Romanski, standing with her hand on Frank’s shoulder, was only one year old when her parents brought her to America.

At the time this photograph was taken, both were celebrating their second marriage. Each lost their spouses to consumption, a condition that often ravaged the immigrant populations that labored in the quarries. Their marriage, one of necessity, ensured that the children from their previous marriages were cared for, eight in total. These families, arriving amidst the influx of new immigrants out of German-controlled Poland, found themselves fleeing ongoing pressure to destabilize the Catholic Church and suppress the Polish culture. Generally accepted within the community of Albion, Frank changed his last name from Kaniecki to Crane in the 1930s in the hopes of attracting more American customers to his grocery store in Albion’s Polonia.

As few of our ancestors would qualify for legal entry into the United States under the laws of today, we should be forever grateful that they were afforded the opportunity to start a new life in America. The resilience of our immigrant ancestors is an amazing thing.

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Pioneer Association was a large and impressive group, devoted to preserving early Orleans history

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 17 June 2017 at 8:37 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 25

ALBION – On June 25, 1859, the pioneer inhabitants of Orleans County converged upon Court House Square in Albion with the purpose of establishing an historic association.

The Pioneer Association, as it was known, was formulated upon a motion made by the Almanzor Hutchinson of Gaines, which set forth the permanent appointment of officers for the organization. Robert Anderson of Gaines was selected as president, vice presidents representing the nine townships were elected including Lansing Bailey of Barre, Alexander Coon of Shelby, Jeremiah Brown of Ridgeway, Gardner Gould of Carlton, Samuel Tappan of Yates, Shubael Lewis of Clarendon, Robert Clark of Kendall, Walter Fairfield of Gaines, and Aretus Pierce of Murray, as well as Asa Sanford as secretary, and Dr. Orson Nichoson as treasurer.

Residency was a requirement for membership within the Pioneer Association; only those who resided in Western New York prior to January 1, 1826, were eligible for admittance. In 1862, those who descended from pioneers were eligible to join as junior members per an amendment to the constitution. Members signed a roll and paid an initiation fee of fifty cents, therefore agreeing to pay twenty-five cents each year after. The most interesting article within the organization’s constitution was Article VI which read, “The association, by a vote of two-thirds present at a regular meeting may expel any member for habitual intemperance or grossly immoral conduct.” It appears that during the first several years of the organization’s existence, over 275 members were enrolled, consisting of the county’s earliest settlers who broke the virgin wilderness to establish themselves in this new region.

This photograph shows the membership of the Orleans County Pioneer Association on June 19, 1869 standing on North Main Street in Albion. The building that reads “Nichoson & Paine” was a drug store that was operated by Drs. Orson Nichoson and Lemuel C. Paine; the building is currently occupied by Snell Realty. The photo was taken as part of the eleventh annual meeting of the association, called to order by the president, Lyman Bates. The Rev. Mr. Elias Bacon opened the meeting with a prayer and the constitution was recited by Bates.

At an early point in the meeting, George P. Hopkins, a local photographer, invited the group to have this photograph taken in front of his studio on Main Street. The meeting was adjourned until 1:30 p.m. and Col. N. E. Darrow led the group, accompanied by a “martial band” under the direction of Israel Shipman. After the photograph was taken, the group proceeded to the Harrington House where they enjoyed a large dinner, eventually returning to the court house for an afternoon session.

I was visited recently by Tom Taber who was seeking out an original of this particular photograph. He pointed out that this image is one of two distinctly different snapshots of the Pioneer Association, likely taken within moments of one another. As if the juxtaposed photographs were part of a “Spot the Difference” puzzle, one could make out minor adjustments to the posture and locations of various individuals in the photograph.

This visit along with a recent chat with Dale Blissett during my Memorial Day tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery spurred me to take a closer look at this impressive image. In a photograph this size, it is difficult to point out particular men or women, but we do see the familiar faces of Elias Bacon, Robert Anderson, Lyman Bates, Nicholas Darrow, Orson Nichoson, and Seymour Murdock, just to name a few. One individual, hidden within the mass of people, is David Farnham of Ridgeway, who led the choir of veteran pioneer singers at the conclusion of the meeting.

If we observe closely, we catch a glimpse of a young lad waiving his hat, as if to be noticed by the photographer. In the middle of the photograph, a man has extended his derby upon a cane, and another man in the rear holds onto a step ladder, as if he stopped to sneak into the crowd.

What this photograph does not show is that a crowd had gathered to observe this special occasion, the mass of people located along the west side of Main Street carefully cropped out by Hopkins. It is believed that the photographer would have directed his camera out of the second story window, where his studio was located, to grab this fantastic view. One can only hope that someday, a labeled version of this image will surface to tell us who these weathered faces belong to.

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Cobblestone Museum presents preliminary plan for new visitor center

Courtesy of Cobblestone Museum: This rendering by Dean Architects of Depew shows a preliminary design for a new visitor center at the Cobblestone Museum.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2017 at 10:43 am

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is investigating a possible new 3,000-square-foot visitor center. The building would be on Route 104, behind the Ward House, which is next to the Cobblestone Universalist Church.

The spot for the visitor center currently has bathrooms, and an old outhouse used for storage. Those buildings would be moved if the visitor center moves forward, perhaps being relocated to the cobblestone schoolhouse down the road, said Jim Bonafini, the museum’s president.

“We’re casting the vision,” Bonafini said on Wednesday during a museum a meeting supporters at the DAR House in Albion.

The visitor center would serve as the office for the museum, with bathrooms and public meeting space. There would also be room for exhibits and displays.

The museum would like to partner with the county and have the site be used as a county visitor center, helping to inform visitors on the busy Route 104 corridor of other attractions and businesses in the county, Bonafini said.

The county appreciates the museum’s efforts to boost marketing and its presence in the community, said Lynne Menz, the county’s tourism director.

County officials are looking at a visitor center, whether in a county-owned building or partnering with other entities. The discussion is in the early stages, a county official said.

The museum, meanwhile, wants to raise its profile in the community and region. It sees the cobblestone buildings, most built in the 1800s, as a unique resource in western and central New York, with the museum grounds the focal point. The Cobblestone Museum has been declared a National Historical landmark, the only site in the county with that distinction.

The museum has a new video to help introduce people to the historic site. Click here to see the video by Oh!Davidsen Creative.

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Photo shows bustling railroad corridor in Albion in 1900

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 June 2017 at 8:03 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 24

ALBION – This photograph, taken sometime around 1900, shows the New York Central Railroad crossing at Clinton Street in Albion looking east towards Main Street. The photographer is standing on the platform of the train station on Clinton Street in an attempt to showcase two important businesses in the vicinity.

On the right is the business of Morgan & Linson, started in 1887 by Benjamin Franklin Morgan who purchased the operation from Sheldon & Warner. Morgan, a son of William Pitts Morgan and native of Gaines, then brought Lyman Sewall Linson into a partnership in 1890.

Linson was an 1876 graduate of New York University who attended the University of Pennsylvania to study law before working out west in the railroad industry. His return to Albion and entrance into the partnership with Morgan likely brought a level of expertise required for shipping goods by way of rail. The pair dealt in coal, mason’s supplies (lime and cement), and produce, focusing specifically on the storage and shipment of apples and beans.

Morgan & Linson constructed additional coal sheds at this facility in 1900, which included the implementation of an elevator used to lift coal for storage in bins located on the upper floors of the building. Coal was then dropped down chutes and into wagons for delivery to homes throughout the area. Morgan’s death at New York City in 1909 following a lengthy illness led to the eventual dissolution of the partnership. In 1917, Guy Merrill, Platt LaMont, and Elbert Rowley formed the Morgan & Linson Cold Storage Company, Inc., taking over the property and operating the business; Linson retained partial interest in the company.

Around 1941 this building was devastated by a fire during a period of time in which the Atlantic Commission Company was leasing the facility to store onions. Workmen backed a cart into a kerosene stove, knocking it into a coal bin, which started a small fire. The flames were quickly extinguished and the men returned to work unloading a freight car outside. The flames reignited and the alarm was sounded. 50,000 bushels of onions were destroyed but thankfully the brick cold storage building and office was saved from obliteration. Eight firemen were stationed at the facility overnight to quell any flames that started up.

To the left is the Albion House, one of Albion’s larger hotels along with the Orleans House and Exchange Hotel. The photograph shows five young children seated on the front steps and two men seated on the corner of building adjacent to a sign that reads “Reed & Allen, American Rochester Beer;” likely the entrance to the bar. Attached to the tree out front is a sign that reads “Livery.” Like many hotels in the area, hackney cabs (horse drawn taxis) were offered to pick up or drop off visitors at various stops in Albion. The barn that housed the horses at the Albion House was sold in 1922 to Albert Foote, who relocated the building to his farm in Barre.

One other interesting item in this photograph is the small shed located along the railroad tracks; another is visible in the distance located along Main Street. These flagman’s shanties were an essential feature at railroad crossings. Approximately eight feet across and constructed in a hexagonal shape, the buildings contained a small coal burning stove, a bench seat, and a small stock of coal located under the bench. Men would sit inside of these shanties for eight hours each shift, three each day, exiting the building to stop road traffic as trains were crossing. Although the job seemed simple, it was frequently dangerous as flagmen were responsible for observing road and rail traffic simultaneously. In 1926, Thomas Coffey was struck and killed by a train while working as the flagman at this crossing. Negligence or lack of awareness was harmful, if not fatal.

An interesting news story appeared in papers throughout Western New York in 1908. Morgan & Linson’s office cat went missing and it was feared by the owners that the cat had climbed into a boxcar, only to be carried off to some far-off place. A telegram was sent immediately to Cincinnati, the next stop for the produce that was being shipped. Soon after the telegram was sent, a response was received notifying the owners that the tabby was found within one of the boxcars having survived eight days without food or water. To make the story more remarkable, the cat was returned to Albion by express train that same day.

I’m not sure what is more interesting, the fact that the cat was rapidly returned to Albion, or that this was considered “news” at the time!

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Beautiful home stood in Albion before being demolished to make room for Post Office

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 3 June 2017 at 8:33 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 3, Issue 23

This postcard, sent February 27, 1912 to Mrs. D. C. Hopkins of Batavia, shows the Greek Revival house constructed for Alexis Ward in 1841. The postcard also shows the home of Alexander Stewart to the left. At the time this photograph was taken, the Buffalo, Lockport, and Rochester Trolley was in operation as the tracks are visible running through the center of State Street.

Alexis Ward was born at Addison, Vermont on May 18, 1802. His parents relocated to Cayuga County, New York when he was a very young boy and he attended the local schools in that vicinity before studying law at Auburn. He arrived at Albion in 1824, one year after his admittance to the bar, and was appointed Justice of the Peace shortly thereafter.

Ward was quite the “mover and shaker” in early Albion, playing an instrumental role in securing the charter for the Bank of Orleans, serving as the president of that institution for a number of years. As Caroline Phipps Achilles worked to open the Phipps Union Seminary in the early 1830s, Ward was an ardent supporter of that effort and the efforts to open the Albion Academy, always seeing the value in higher education.

He understood the value of the railroad, lobbying for the construction of the Rochester, Lockport, and Niagara Falls Railroad, which brought about the start of the Suspension Bridge Company in 1855. Numerous residents of Orleans County became charter stockholders in that venture, including John Proctor and William Swan, which brought considerable wealth to Albion.

The well-respected Ward was elected as the first president of the Village of Albion after its incorporation in 1828 and received an honorary A.M. degree (Artium Magister, or Master of Arts degree) from Middlebury College in 1836. Around the time his house was constructed, Ward was appointed to a two-man committee along with Lorenzo Burrows, charged with the task of locating a suitable location for a new cemetery. That site, now Mt. Albion Cemetery, was formally dedicated on September 7, 1843 on land purchased from Jacob Annis and Lyman Patterson.

On November 7, 1854, Ward was elected to the New York State Assembly to represent Orleans County for the 78th New York State Legislature. Unfortunately, he died on November 28th before he could take office. A special election was held on December 28, 1854 to fill his vacancy; Elisha Whalen, a merchant from Medina on the Know-Nothing ticket, served one term in office in Ward’s place.

This beautiful home, once located on the southwest corner of Main and State streets was demolished in 1936 to make way for the new Post Office. That building was constructed at a cost of $52,699.00 in the Colonial Revival style.

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