Search Results for: carl akeley

Legacy of Carl Akeley, famed naturalist from Clarendon, threatened by oil drilling in Congo

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 7 July 2018 at 8:42 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 27

Carl E. Akeley, circa 1914, The American Museum Journal

The story of Carl Ethan Akeley is one of my favorite tales of a local boy who traveled beyond the boundaries of Orleans County to leave a lasting impact on the world. This prolific naturalist, taxidermist, artist, and inventor was born May 19, 1864 to Daniel Webster Akeley and Julia Glidden.

He grew up as a child in the family home on Hinds Road where he took an early interest in the preservation of animal specimens. To his family, this “morbid curiosity” earned him the reputation of being “odd,” that was until he mounted his aunt’s beloved yellow canary that died one cold evening.

He entered the tutelage of David Bruce of Sweden, New York, an artist and taxidermist known locally for his mounting of bird specimens for E. Kirke Hart (now on display at the Cobblestone Museum). Akeley’s time with Bruce was short, the latter recognizing his pupil’s unusual proficiency and skill in the art of taxidermy. At the age of 19, Akeley found employment with Ward’s Natural Science Establishment in Rochester, officially launching his professional career in mounting animal specimens.

It was during his tenure at Ward’s that he became attuned to the disconnection between taxidermy as an art and taxidermy as a science. To Akeley, these mounted specimens lacked the context that came from showing animals in their natural habitats. Although he held strong feelings on the direction of the profession, it was not until his work on the mounting of Jumbo, P.T. Barnum’s East African circus elephant in September of 1885, that he developed an expert’s voice.

Two years after his first major project, he left Ward’s for a part-time position with the Milwaukee Public Museum where he developed his trademark of setting animals against painted backgrounds. These backgrounds mimicked the natural habitat of the focal specimen, adding the necessary context to the piece. It was this particular type of work that earned Akeley his reputation as a premier taxidermist and eventually led to his appointment as chief of the department of taxidermy at the Field Columbian Museum (now the Field Museum) in Chicago. During his tenure in Chicago, Akeley experienced his first of five African expeditions. It was on this trip that he first stared death in the face, killing a leopard with his bare hands.

Over the course of his life, Akeley was responsible for the invention of a “cement gun” used for spraying plaster under newly mounted animal skins. The device was used in the repair of the exterior walls of the Field Museum and earned him the John Scott Legacy Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1916. It was thanks to Akeley’s work that we have motion picture footage of the First World War. His 1916 patent of the Akeley Motion Picture Camera, dubbed the “pancake camera,” was developed out of his efforts to capture moving images of animals in the wild. The U.S. War Department adopted the camera for capturing war footage, which later received the John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1926.

Much more can be said of Akeley’s life; his commitment to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, his insistence on shooting animals for the sake of preservation instead of sport, his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt, or his numerous encounters with death while on expeditions in Africa. His lasting legacy, however, is defined by the establishment of the Albert National Park in Africa. In 1921, he visited Mt. Mikeno on his fourth expedition to collect gorilla specimens. It was during this visit that his ideas on the collection and preservation of animal specimens fundamentally changed. Thanks in part to Akeley’s work, King Albert I of Belgium set aside land for the first national park in Africa in 1925. That park remains intact today as the Virunga National Park.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the bush elephant, the endangered bonobo, and Akeley’s endangered mountain gorilla. News media announced recently that the Democratic Republic of Congo is now exploring the possibility of opening this important refuge to oil drilling. With this news comes the possibility that Akeley’s legacy could come to an end in our lifetime. It was thanks to his foresight that we can view these beautiful animals in a recreation of their natural habitat. It was his lifelong vision that we should never lose the ability to view these living species in the wild, if we should so choose.

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In celebrating Carl Akeley, a call to preserve natural world

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The Clarendon Historical Society threw another birthday for the community’s most famous son, Carl Akeley, on Wednesday. The top photo shows a comic book image of Akeley fighting with leopard in Africa.

Akeley survived and managed to kill the leopard in Africa. Akeley was a world renowned taxidermist and inventor. He was instrumental in creating the first national park in Africa.

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

Last year the Historical Society celebrated Akeley’s 150th birthday with 150 people turning out for the party, which featured a presentation by the author of a book about Akeley’s life.

Jay Kirk wrote “Kingdom Under Glass,” a book that traced Akeley’s upbringing on Hinds Road in Clarendon, when he started “stuffing” birds and small animals, to his ground-breaking advances in taxidermy and his adventures in Africa.

The 151st party featured another prominent Akeley enthusiast, Stephen Quinn. He worked in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, where many of Akeley’s elephants, lions, rhinos and gorillas are displayed in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History.

Steven Quinn addresses about 100 people on Wednesday at Holley Junior-Senior High School, sharing photos and insights from a trip to Africa, retracing Carl Akeley’s trips to the continent from 1921 to 1926.

Quinn said the mountain gorillas are threatened, losing habitat and suffering attacks from predators and illnesses. The gorilla pictured has a nose fungus, Quinn said.

“The natural world is to be cherished,” Quinn said. “We’re accountable to the natural world.”

Quinn is recently retired from the American Museum of Natural History. He said the Akeley Hall “is truly a magnificent place.”

Quinn wanted to retrace Akeley’s route in the eastern Congo, where Akeley and his team visited from 1921 to 1926, bringing back paintings, photographs, and specimens collected in the field nearly a century ago.

Akeley became a passionate advocate for the mountain gorillas and other wildlife, and pushed for a national park in the area.

Quinn in his presentation also highlighted the work of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Program, which provides care to sick gorillas, cleaning and suturing cuts and providing medicine.

“The work they do is truly wonderful,” Quinn said. “They work they do wouldn’t be possible without Carl Akeley, who gave his life and is responsible for the first national park in Africa.”

Akeley was on his fifth trip to the Congo in 1926 when he died of fever. He is buried in Africa, just miles from where he encountered his first gorilla.

The taxidermist community is working to raise money for monument for Akeley at Hillside Cemetery in Holley.

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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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 Taxidermy.net, 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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Ghost Walk brings cobblestone characters back to life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 October 2018 at 1:23 pm

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum had its second annual Ghost Walk on Sunday with a cast of about 40 people portraying characters from the community’s past, as well as a few people who were out of place, including explorer Leif Eriksson (Roger Beam of Gaines), who is credited with being the first European to reach North America, about 1,000 years ago.

He is shown at the Farmers Hall, waiting for the next tour group. There were about 100 people on the Ghost Walk, which was organized by Brenda Radzinski, Sue Bonafini and Marty Taber of the Cobblestone Museum.

Roger Beam, right, joined Joe Nowicki of Hilton, who was Carl Akeley, the renown taxidermist from Clarendon. The Cobblestone Museum has a red fox that Akeley mounted when he was 16 in 1879. The museum recently had the fox restored.

Akeley 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.

Judy Larkin of Ridgeway and Bill Ott of Lockport both portrayed Joe Vagg, a blacksmith. Larkin and Ott are both members of the New York State Designer Blacksmiths.

Erica Wanecski portrayed Emily Hale teacher, a teacher from 1849 when the Cobblestone Schoolhouse opened on Ridge Road.

Keira Zambito, 10, and Aubrey Bruning, 7, are students. The school was built in 1849. It served District No. 5 for 103 years before it was closed in 1952 after the centralization of Albion’s school district. In 1961, it was sold to the Cobblestone Society Museum for $129.

Elliana Nowicki, 9, Hilton gets her makeup on. She also was a student at the Cobblestone Schoolhouse.

Sandy Wilson Wheeler, a student at the school in the late 1940s, stopped by on Sunday and rang the school bell.

Al Capurso portrayed the Rev. Stephen Smith who gave the dedicatory address at the opening of the Cobblestone Universalist Church in 1834.

Sue and Kevin DeHollander of Knowlesville represent members of the congregation.

A group of girls play “Ring Around the Rosie” at the Liberty Pole on the museum’s grounds. The nursery rhyme actually has a morbid meaning, referring to the Black Death from the Great Plague of London in 1665. The girls sang, “ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

The girls include, from left, Liana Flugel, Autumn Flugel, Ella Trupo, Julia Knight, Madalyn Ashbery and Mallory Ashbery.

Provided photo: Tom Rivers, the Orleans Hub editor, portrayed the tightrope walker George Williams, who attempted to walk across the Erie Canal on Sept. 28, 1859 in Albion. The event became one of the community’s worst tragedies with 15 people dying, including 11 children, when the Main Street bridge collapsed. Rivers did a few tricks over Proctor Brook in a buildup of the fateful walk.

Debbie Atkinson portrayed one of the victims of the bridge collapse, and Gina Sidari was an assistant for the tightrope walker.

Gerard Morrisey portrayed Rufus Brown Bullock, the former Georgia governor who grew up in Albion and moved back to his hometown after his career. The museum owns Bullock’s outhouse and it is on display behind the Ward House. Patrick Hargrave, 12, of Lyndonville is a garden ghost.


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Heartland Tour celebrates canal during bicentennial

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 September 2017 at 10:42 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Heartland Passage Tour made its way to Medina on Thursday with singers and storytellers, including Gretchen Sepik of Albion portraying Surly Sal, a cook on a canal packet boat in 1840.

The Heartland Passage Tour is  making stops at canal towns from Sept. 2-23 to celebrate the bicentennial of the digging of the canal. The tour highlights the cultural and historic impact of the canal through songs, stories and the documentary film “Boom and Bust.”

The Dady Brothers were joined by Kit Fallon and Dave Ruch in playing many canal songs at the Canal Basin in Medina.

The film, Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal, was made by Academy Award winning independent filmmaker Paul Wagner. The film is a meditation on the economic cycles along the canal that speak to the fate of the American dream.

The Dady Brothers have been performing for 40 years a repertoire of Irish folk ballads, bluegrass, acoustic blues, and original contemporary folk music. They are joined by Dave Ruch, right, who specializes in historical and traditional music from New York State, including Erie Canal songs.

Gretchen Sepik portrays Surly Sal, a cook on the Erie Canal.

The tour will stop in Brockport today at 7 p.m. (Click here to see the full schedule.)

A crowd brought lawn chairs to listen to Gretchen Sepik, and later the concert and showing of the film.

The event happened during the Orleans County Heritage Festival, which continues with events today through Sunday. All events are free.

Some of the Heritage Festival events include:

• WWI Era Music Concert, today, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Stroyan Auditorium, Lyndonville High School, 25 Housel Ave, Lyndonville.

The Elementary Summer Honors Band (Albion, Medina & Lyndonville) and choral groups will present a concert with music from the World War I era. Exhibits will be available for review featuring clothing from the era and presentations will be shown between musical selections.  Courtesy of the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

• Mount Albion Walking Tour, today at 6 and 7 p.m. at Mount Albion Cemetery,  14925 Telegraph Rd. (Route 31), Albion

Join Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard at the historic Mt. Albion Cemetery for two 50-minute walking tours. Each tour will feature different individuals, so folks from the first tour might choose to stay on for the second.  Tours begin from the cemetery chapel.

•  Epochs in Orleans, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. GCC Medina Campus Center, 11470 Maple Ridge Rd., Medina

The event includes informative lectures, special exhibits, and historical personas like Abraham Lincoln and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. There is also a concert featuring teaching artist Dave Ruch who will perform “The War of 1812: Songs and Stories from NY and Beyond” at 1 p.m.

• Genealogy Workshops, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 PM at GCC Medina Campus Center

Members of the Orleans County Genealogical Society will be on hand to help individuals with their genealogical research. Researchers at all levels are welcome. Handouts will be available for those researching the WWI service of their ancestor. Researchers need not be residents of Orleans County.

• Sandstone Society Hall of Fame on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, at City Hall, 600 Main St., Medina

Guided tours of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame and visit inductees in Orleans County (self guided). View an exhibit of original masonry tools used to build several sandstone structures in our region at 529 Main Street.

• Carl Akeley Fox “Welcome Home” Reception on Saturday at 5 p.m., Cobblestone Museum, 14389 Ridge Rd., Albion (Childs)

The Clarendon Historical Society will host a reception featuring the newly restored Carl Akeley fox at the 1834 Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum Complex.

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Fox from famed taxidermist in Clarendon refurbished and back on display

Photos by Tom Rivers: Carl Akeley was only 16 when he preserved this fox in Clarendon. Akeley would go on to become one of the world's most acclaimed taxidermists. The fox is on display at the Cobblestone Museum after a $6,000 refurbishment.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2017 at 3:51 pm

Cobblestone Museum has fox from Carl Akeley

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

GAINES – Two years ago, a fox in a display case at the Cobblestone Museum was missing an eye, with its fur matted. The animal, then about 135 years old, 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. Akeley, who grew up in Clarendon, stuffed the fox when he was 16. It was an ambitious effort after he started with birds. Akeley would become one of the world’s most renown taxidermists and remains an industry legend 153 years after his birth.

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.

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.

Provided photo: The Akeley fox had lost a lot of color and had deteriorated after more than a century. But the Clarendon Historical Society, Cobblestone Museum and other community members were determined to have the animal refurbished by a professional taxidermist.

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.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Ierlan: John Janelli, left, is past president of the National Taxidermy Association. He is pictured with George Dante and the refurbished fox at Dante’s studio in New Jersey.

Irelan, the Clarendon historian, brought the fox back to Clarendon on May 10. The fox was on display in Clarendon for over a week during the kickoff of the Clarendon Historical Society’s season. On Monday, the fox returned to the Cobblestone Museum in the Proctor Room in the basement of the Cobblestone Universalist Church.

“It was in rough shape,” Ierlan said about the fox’s condition two years ago. “I knew George would do a good job but he exceeded our expectations. Carl would be proud.”

Doug Farley, the museum director, said there will likely be a reception and program about the fox in September as part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival in September.

This fox was stuffed 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.

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Frost advisory issued for tonight in Orleans, WNY

Photos by Tom Rivers: This photo shows a farm field by the Holley water tank on Route 237 near Hillside Cemetery. It was taken on Saturday evening from the cemetery.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 October 2016 at 8:35 am

The National Weather Service has issued a frost advisory from 11 p.m. tonight through 9 a.m. Tuesday. The frost advisory is in effect for Orleans County and the following: Niagara, Monroe, Wayne, northern Cayuga, Oswego, Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario and Chautauqua counties.

Temperatures will be in the mid-30s and could damage sensitive vegetation, the National Weather Service in Buffalo advised. Tender vegetation should be protected and potted plants should either be covered or brought inside, the Weather Service said.

  The cross at the Cook grave at Hillside Cemetery is pictured at sunset on Saturday.

The cross at the Cook grave at Hillside Cemetery is pictured at sunset on Saturday.

Today is forecast for a high of 54, but the temperatures will drop overnight to a low of 34. Tuesday is forecast to be sunny with a high of 64, followed 72 and sunshine on Wednesday. Thursday will be cloudy with a high of 61 followed by a high of 58 on Friday.

The new memorial stone in the shape of Africa is pictured on Saturday. The stone was dedicated on May 19, on the 152nd birthday for Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist from Clarendon who made several expeditions to Africa. The Akeley Hall of Mammals in New York City showcases large mammals of Africa in the American Museum of Natural History. Many taxidermists from around the country donated to the memorial for Akeley. (Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers portrayed Akeley during a Ghost Walk on Saturday at Hillside.)

The new memorial stone in the shape of Africa is pictured on Saturday. The stone was dedicated on May 19, on the 152nd birthday for Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist from Clarendon who made several expeditions to Africa. Many taxidermists from around the country donated to the memorial for Akeley. (Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers portrayed Akeley during a Ghost Walk on Saturday at Hillside.)

Ghost Walk highlighted prominent Hillside Cemetery residents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2016 at 1:42 pm

091116_holleymoore

Photos by Tom Rivers

CLARENDON – Sheena Hamiter, a high school social studies teacher at Holley, portrayed her great-grandmother Jessie Moore during Saturday’s Ghost Walk at Hillside Cemetery. Jessie had 13 kids, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren total about 250. She lived to be 100.

Hillside Cemetery highlighted prominent people in this historic cemetery with the Ghost Walk, an event that was part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival. About 50 people attended the Ghost Walk before it was called off due to a lightning storm.

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Allen Smeltzer, a Genesee Community College student, portrayed Jewell Buckman, the first soldier from Orleans County to be killed in World War I about a century ago. The American Legion Post in Holley is named in Buckman’s honor. Several GCC students volunteered to serve as ghosts and guides during the Ghost Walk.

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Cindy Davis, Clarendon’s town assessor, portrayed Irene Gibson, a lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Gibson was also a teacher. “She was a rather remarkable woman,” Davis said.

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This is the backside of a monument dedicated on May 19 to Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist who grew up in Clarendon. Akeley was portrayed at the Ghost Walk by Tom Rivers, the Orleans Hub editor. Akeley is buried in the Congo. He died there in 1926 after getting the fever. The memorial stone is carved from black African granite and bears the shape of the continent that Akeley worked tirelessly to preserve and protect.

Heritage Festival puts spotlight on ‘outdoor museums’ – local historic cemeteries

Staff Reports Posted 29 August 2016 at 12:21 pm
Matt Ballard

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard leads a tour of Mount Albion Cemetery on Sunday evening. Ballard is pictured at the grave of Lorenzo Burrows, who established a bank in Albion, served as the county treasurer and was the state’s comptroller from 1856 to 1857. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor. About 40 people attended the tour on Sunday.

ALBION – The first-ever Orleans County Heritage Festival is less than two weeks away – Sept. 9-11. The festival will focus on four themes – Agriculture, Transportation, Historic Gems and Historic Cemeteries.

One of the four themes emphasized this year is Historic Cemeteries. Participating cemeteries include: Beechwood and Greenwood in Kendall, Boxwood in Medina, Hillside in Holley, Mt. Albion and Union Cemetery at Watt Farms – both in Albion.

Beechwood Cemetery on Woodchuck Alley in Kendall was established in 1828.

Beechwood Cemetery on Woodchuck Alley in Kendall was established in 1828.

Cemeteries are a rich source of local history and culture, if people take the time to appreciate them, said Derek Maxfield, a history professor at Genesee Community College and one of the chief organizers of the Heritage Festival.  The cemetery art contained on the many grave stones contain information about families, military service and values.  The symbols and iconography give us a window into the culture of the time, he said.

Several of the participating cemeteries this year will give people the opportunity to learn more about these wonderful outdoor museums, Maxfield.

At Boxwood Cemetery in Medina, Village Historian Todd Bensley will lead tours on Saturday (Sept. 10) and Sunday (Sept. 11) beginning at noon and 2 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Mt. Albion will also feature cemetery tours led by former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin.  Tours will be led on Saturday (Sept. 10) from 3 to 5 p.m. and will begin every half hour from the chapel. There is no admission charge.

The chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon will be open for tours on Sept. 10. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley/Clarendon will be open for tours on Sept. 10. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At Hillside Cemetery in Holley visitors can take a self-guided tour on Sept. 10 of the remarkable Gothic Revival chapel built in 1894 and cemetery from 9 to 11 a.m. – beginning from the chapel, and/or go on a “Ghost Walk” in the evening.

Established in 1866, the cemetery has a split personality.  The older section of the cemetery reflects the romantic era of antebellum America and Guilded Age of the late 19th century. The newer section reflects the Lawn Cemetery style of the twentieth century.

The Clarendon Historical Society began raising money a few years ago in an effort to preserve the beautiful chapel at Hillside Cemetery.

The “Ghost Walk” on Saturday (Sept. 10) will benefit the restoration fund.  Walks will begin from the chapel at 7 and 8 p.m.  Admission is $10 per person.  Among the fascinating “ghosts” will be Carl Akeley, the famed taxidermist, who will be portrayed by Tom Rivers, editor of the Orleans Hub. Also featured will be Francis Cole, who was a POW for 29 months during World War II, and Jewell Buckman who had the distinction of being the first local soldier killed in World War I.

The cemeteries in Kendall, Beechwood and Greenwood will feature self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday (Sept. 10) as will Union Cemetery at Watt Farms in Albion.  A brochure will be available at the Watt Farms Market which will highlight the graves of veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

Folks interested in American death ways will want to check out events and exhibits at Genesee Community College’s Albion campus center.  “Death, Mourning and Justice in Orleans County” will feature a recreated wake in a Victorian parlor.  A beautiful glass casket from the late 19th century will be on display.

Matt Bullard stops at the Pullman family grave at Mount Albion on Sunday. James Lewis Pullman, father of sleeping car magnate George Pullman, is buried at Albion's historic cemetery.

Matt Ballard stops at the Pullman family grave at Mount Albion on Sunday. James Lewis Pullman, father of sleeping car magnate George Pullman, is buried at Albion’s historic cemetery.

There will also be two public lectures at the Albion campus: at 11 a.m. Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone will speak on famous crimes and murders. Lattin, the retired historian, at noon will talk about Victorian memorials featuring human hair. There is no admission charge for any GCC events or exhibits.

Visitors who wish to take advantage of the great opportunities afforded by the Heritage Festival should begin by procuring a festival brochure, which is available at all participating organizations and from GCC campus centers in Albion and Medina.  A list of participating organizations is available at the festival website (click here).

Once the brochure is in hand, participants are encouraged to visit at least three locations to be eligible for prizes. As guests visit each location, they will be provided with a colored ribbon. Once they collect three ribbons of any color, they are eligible for a collectable button featuring artwork that reflects the four themes.

They also become eligible for a drawing for prizes. For more information about the Orleans County Heritage Festival go to orleansnyheritage.com or contact Derek Maxfield at ddmaxfield@genesee.edu.

Appreciation for 2 who make Orleans County a better place to live

Posted 28 July 2016 at 2:40 pm

Editor:

Melissa Ierlan and Linda Redfield Shakoor are owed the gratitude of all Orleans residents for their tireless work done in the interests of making Orleans County a better place in which to live.

Melissa’s efforts to recondition numerous historic markers should be appreciated for the labors of love that they are. This area’s history is very real and warrants greater attention than it gets. Melissa has supported several other historical projects including the refurbishing of the fox that famed naturalist Carl Akeley reportedly mounted as an Orleans County teenager.

Linda has made a tremendous difference in the lives of dozens of first generation immigrant residents of Orleans County. Her dedication to the realization of their dreams has made it possible for them to accomplish far more than might have been possible without the fluency in English and encouragement she and the World Life Institute provided.

Thanks to both Melissa and Linda for their contributions to the quality of life in Orleans County.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion

Outstanding citizens recognized by Orleans Hub

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans Hub held a reception at the Hoag Library on Tuesday evening for the people and organizations we named “Outstanding Citizens” for 2015. We also recognized Randy Bower, the new Orleans County sheriff, as “Person of the Year.”

The front row, includes, from left: Joette McHugh, Randy Bower, Gail Miller and Melissa Ierlan. Back row: James DeFilipps, Marietta Schuth from Kendall Community Choir, Tony Hipes from Medina Area Association of Churches, Sue Metzo from MAAC, Lisa Stratton, and Thom Jennings (accepting on behalf of his nephew Peter Zeliff Jr.) Missing from photo includes Al Capurso and Bob Songin.

Bower was recognized as Person of the Year after being elected sheriff in one of the most competitive county elections in recent memory.

The sheriff told group of award-winners that he was honored to be recognized “with so many amazing people.”

The Outstanding Citizens were named by the Orleans Hub on Dec. 31. Editor Tom Rivers and Publisher Karen Sawicz weighed the contributions from people and organizations in 2015.

The Kendall Community Chorus has performed in numerous concerts since 2008. The group has been led by director Mary Campbell. Sixty-eight people have sung in the choir since it started, and many have become close friends through the group.

Joette McHugh has been an active volunteer with the Friends of the Orleans County Animal Shelter the past seven years, helping to adopt out 1,500 animals from the shelter. She knows all of the dogs and cats by name, and has an energetic group of volunteers looking after the animals. The Friends also raised $7,000 for the animal shelter last year, and those funds helped to have all dogs neutered at the shelter, and also paid for a new washer and dryer.

Medina Area Association of Churches has been together for nearly 50 years, running a Clothing Depot throughout the year, an annual holiday toy and food drive for about 150 children in the community, and a working together on other religious and community events. The depot generates about $30,000 to $35,000 annually that the churches give back to the community for many causes.

Bob Songin, a charter boat captain, lead a pen-rearing project from 1998 to 2014 until passing off the reins to a new group of volunteers last year. The pen-rearing volunteers helped to raise fish in the Oak Orchard River. Songin has given countless hours to improve the fishery through the pen-rearing project, where about 100,000 baby fish are nurtured each year in the Oak Orchard. The project has increased the survival rate of fish, and charter boat captains say more bigger fish return to the Oak Orchard for fall fishing runs since the pen-rearing, boosting the county’s top tourism industry.

Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop in Albion, also spearheads several efforts in Albion, including the planting and watering of downtown flowers, and organizing the annual wine-tasting, Beggar’s Night the Friday before Halloween, and other projects to promote downtown businesses and the community.

Peter Zeliff Jr. turned an old farmhouse in West Shelby turned into hunting retreat for wounded warriors. Zeliff and a team of volunteers fixed up the house and connected with veterans’ groups to bring injured soldiers to the site for a few days of hunting. The property has been renamed The Warrior House. The site hosted its first hunt in September with 13 wounded veterans. Other groups have followed and The Warrior House will be made available to spouses and children of veterans as well.

Gail Miller stepped forward last year as volunteer coordinator of the new Canal Village Farmers’ Market in Medina in the parking lot across from the Post Office. Miller worked with vendors and lined up entertainment and exhibitors. Some Saturdays, 450 to 500 attended the market.

Al Capurso led a volunteer effort to save a cobblestone schoolhouse from 1832, a former one-room schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal. The schoolhouse was built in 1832 and is one of the oldest cobblestone buildings in the area. The building has been largely abandoned since 1944, until last year when it got a new roof. Boards were removed from windows and sashes restored. Junk was cleared out, and a historical marker put up.

Melissa Ierlan has given many faded historical markers a fresh coat of paint. She started that effort in 2014 when Clarendon was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Carl Akeley’s birth. Akeley grew up in Clarendon on Hinds Road and became one of the most famous taxidermists in the world. The historical marker on Hinds Road about Akeley could barely be read due to flaking paint. Ierlan took the marker down, stripped off the remaining paint and repainted it blue and gold. She has now worked on about a dozen markers around the county.

James DeFilipps was shot twice in a shootout at 3 a.m. on March 21 following a high-speed chase with James Ellis of Wyoming County. DeFilipps was the first police officer on scene when Ellis wrecked his vehicle in Clarendon on Route 31A. Police were pursuing Ellis after a 911 call when he threatened an ex-girlfriend in Shelby with a gun. Ellis had fled to a nearby wooded area in Clarendon and opened fire on DeFilipps and other deputies and police to arrive on the scene. DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot Ellis, killing him and ending his threat. For his acts of valor, DeFilipps was named Deputy of the Year for 2015 by the New York State Sheriff’s Association.

Outstanding citizens for 2015 contribute in many ways to Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Orleans County is blessed to have many dedicated volunteers and generous residents, who give of their time, talents and financial resources for a better community. Each year since the Orleans Hub started in April 2013 we’ve recognized outstanding citizens and we want to do it again.

This time there are two – Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon and Al Capurso of Gaines – who are first-time “repeat winners.” We have no limits on how many times someone can be recognized. Many residents make big contributions to the community, year after year.

This year’s “Outstanding Citizens” include:

Kendall Community Chorus hits the right notes

Photo by Kristina Gabalski – Mary Campbell, far right, directs the Kendall Community Choir during a holiday concert in November. The concert also served as a benefit for the Kendall Food Cupboard.

In 2008, Mary Campbell put notices in Kendall churches and public buildings, looking for singers. Campbell retired as a Kendall music teacher in 2007. A year later, she was eager to lead voices again.

Campbell hoped 20 people from Kendall would volunteer for the Kendall Community Chorus. The first practice, 50 people showed up. The choir has performed in numerous concerts since then, including a big bash for Kendall’s bicentennial in 2012. They have sung in the school, at the town park, and many local nursing homes. They begin the annual Kendall Fireman’s Carnival Parade with the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America, the Beautiful.” They even sang a patriotic medley in a flash mob at Wegmans in Brockport.

The group’s annual November concert benefitted the Kendall Food Cupboard, with people urged to bring canned goods or cash donations.

“We tried to go where there were people we knew,” Campbell said.

Sixty-eight people have sung in the choir since it started. Many have become close friends through the group. Campbell announced after the November concert she was retiring from directing. She thanked the many dedicated singers. About 30 have stayed with the group since it started.

Campbell has been the group’s leader as it enriched the community, and built strong bonds of friendship. She said the singers have all given of their time to make the group a success.

Provided photo

Eighteen members of the Kendall Community Chorus sang in October 2014 at the Middleport Community Choir Invitational. The 18 members from the Kendall Community Chorus are, from left, first row: Kristy Markham, Alissa Grimm, Lisa Rowley, Katie Presutti, Marilynn Kundratta and Mary Campbell. Second row: Cindy Curtis, Debbie Collichio, Eileen Young and Candy Mael. Third row: Carol Duerr, Marietta Schuth and Mary Lou Lockhart. Fourth row: Jeremy Rath, Nancy Grah, Christopher Tobin, Robert Bissell and Eileen Grah.

Animal lover has boosted dog and cat adoptions, improved shelter

Photo by Tom Rivers – Joette McHugh of Albion, center, is pictured with her husband Bill and Gina Smith of Hilton. They are with Zurie, a Shar-Pei/Lab mix. About 20 volunteers are regulars at the Orleans County Animal Shelter, feeding animals, taking dogs for walks, socializing cats and performing other duties.

Ever since she retired nine years ago, Joette McHugh has been a devoted volunteer at the Orleans County Animal Shelter. She knows all of the dogs and cats by name, and has been instrumental in adopting out many of the animals.

She also has been a driven fund-raiser and spearheaded the start of the Friends of the Orleans County Animal Shelter. She is president of that group, which had a fund-raising gala at The Pillars in May, bringing in about $7,000.

That has helped to have all dogs neutered at the shelter, and also paid for a new washer and dryer.

Most of the animals at the shelter are chipped which makes it much easier to find their owners if the animals are ever lost or on the loose. The number of adoptions has actually gone down in the past couple years because the shelter has been able to find many of the owners.

However, many cats and dogs don’t have homes. McHugh, the other dedicated volunteers and Animal Control Officer Kathy Smith have adopted out 1,500 dogs and cats in the past seven years.

McHugh brings enthusiasm and joy to the shelter, whether its feeding the animals, walking dogs, playing with cats or cleaning cages.

“I love the animals and thought if there was anything I could do to help I would,” McHugh said.

Medina churches unite throughout the year to help community

Some of the members of the Medina Area Association of Churches are pictured on Dec. 19 after toys. clothes and food were delivered to Medina families, including about 150 children. The group includes, from left: Grace Pries from the First Baptist Church, Rosey Boyle from the United Methodist, Donna Johnson from the Presbyterian Church, Sue Metzo from the Presbyterian, Pastor Tony Hipes of the United Methodist, Joanne Arnett with United Methodist, and Ronnie Barhite from St. John’s Episcopal Church.

For more than four decades a group of Medina churches have played Santa during the holidays for local families.

The annual MAAC toy drive allows about 150 children to have several toys each year, as well as food, and new hats, mittens, scarves and socks.

The churches also work together throughout the year running the clothing depot at the Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God, the former Medina High School. The depot sells clothes below thrift store prices. It generates about $30,000 to $35,000 annually that the churches give back to the community for many causes.

The humanitarian work has brought Christians from several churches together, strengthening their fellowship while they provide for local residents.

“You don’t see this in many other communities,” said Tony Hipes, pastor of the United Methodist Church and current vice president of MAAC. “It’s the body of Christ. We’re giving back throughout the year.”

MAAC members Sue Metzo (left) and Sylvia Riviere are pictured in December 2014 inside the Medina United Methodist Church at the former Apple Grove Inn, which has become the headquarters for the annual present sorting.

Charter boat captain has been instrumental in raising trout, salmon for local fishery

Bob Songin, in red, lead the pen-rearing project from 1998 to 2014 until passing off the reins to a new group of volunteers this year. Songin remains active in helping to raise the fish in the Oak Orchard River.

Orleans County’s top tourism draw are big salmon and trout in Lake Ontario and local tributaries, such as Oak Orchard River, Johnson Creek and Sandy Creek. Fishing has a $12 million economic impact in the county each year.

A local charter boat captain has given countless hours to improve the fishery through a pen-rearing project. With that effort, begun in 1998, about 100,000 baby fish are delivered to pens in the Oak Orchard River from the Altmar Hatchery.

The fish arrive at about 2 inches long. The are babied and nurtured for a month in the Oak Orchard, doubling in size before they are released from the pens. They are fed five times a day, beginning at 5 a.m.

The month in the Oak Orchard allows the fish to imprint on the river, increasing the chances they will return to spawn when they are mature.

Without the pen-rearing, the fish would more likely head near Oswego and the Salmon River, near the Altmar Hatchery.

Bob Songin is charter boat captain with Reel Excitement.

Songin and the volunteers have increased the survival rate of fish, and charter boat captains say more bigger fish return to the Oak Orchard for fall fishing runs since the pen-rearing.

“He has spent untold hours getting it off the ground,” said Mike Waterhouse, the county’s sportsfishing promotion coordinator. “The whole community benefits because it ensures our fish will remain at a level to draw fishermen from all over the country.”

Songin also has shared the success of the Oak Orchard pen-rearing with other fishing communities. Now there are similar efforts in Olcott and the Genesee River in Rochester. This year he handed off the main pen-rearing responsibilities to Mike Lavender, Bob Stevens, James Cond, Chris Efing and Ian Scroger.

Downtown business owner spearheads several efforts in Albion

Lisa Stratton is dressed in costume during Beggar’s Night in October, when hundreds of children stopped by Albion businesses for treats.

Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop in downtown Albion, remains one of Albion’s biggest boosters and tireless workers.

Each spring she and a few other volunteers fill concrete planters with dirt and flowers. She also arranges for the hanging baskets on Main Street.

Stratton organizes volunteers to water the flowers on weekends. She also helps plan many of the events through the Albion Merchants Association, including a wine tasting, Beggar’s Night with candy for children, and other activities throughout the year that provide fun for the community while promoting the locally owned businesses in the downtown.

She attends many of the Village Board meetings, advocating for the downtown businesses, and often will step forward to help with a community event.

Old farmhouse turned into hunting retreat for wounded warriors

Photos by Thom Jennings – Hunters pose with some of the birds harvested during a hunt in September in Shelby, the first for The Warrior House.

Peter Zeliff Jr. turned an old farmhouse in West Shelby into a therapeutic site this year for wounded veterans.

Zeliff and a team of volunteers fixed up the house and connected with veterans’ groups to bring injured soldiers to the site for a few days of hunting. The property was renamed The Warrior House.

The site hosted its first hunt in September with 13 wounded veterans. Other groups have followed and The Warrior House will be made available to spouses and children of veterans as well.

Zeliff sees the site as a ministry for people who served the country. Some bear obvious injuries and walk with a cane. Others suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and constant physical pain.
Shannon Girard from Lafayette, La. was out for a hunt at The Warrior House in late October-early November. Girard, 40, said he “slept like a baby” over the weekend on his hunting retreat. That is a big deal for Girard and the other veterans.

Girard was deployed as a medic to Iraq in 2004-05. The Louisiana resident said the hunting getaway is a perfect way for veterans to calm their nerves and bodies, while connecting with others in the military.

“The best therapy is bringing people together,” Girard said on Nov. 1 after a morning of bow-hunting. “You can decompress when you come out here and be in nature and see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.”

Zeliff, through his generosity and hard work at The Warrior House, is making a big difference for many soldiers.

Peter Zeliff Jr. is pictured in July during a workday at The Warrior House.

Volunteer made farm market a Medina hotspot

Photo by Tom Rivers – Gail Miller stepped forward this year as volunteer coordinator of the new Canal Village Farmers’ Market in Medina.

A farmers’ market that operated in the Canal Basin for about a decade ceased after the 2014 season. The Orleans Renaissance Group saw a farmers’ market as a draw for the downtown and residents’ quality of life.

The ORG decided to start a new market, The Canal Village Farmers’ Market. The market date was moved from Thursdays to Saturdays, and the location shifted from the Canal Basin to the parking lot across from the Post Office.

Gail Miller volunteered to lead the market, working with vendors and lining up entertainment and exhibitors. Some Saturdays, 450 to 500 attended the market.

“It’s been a great group effort,” said Mrs. Miller on the market’s final day of the season, which was Halloween. She dressed as an Angry Bird character that day.

Next year the market will start in June, and Miller said there will be more entertainment and demonstrations. She has been a key to the market’s success and it’s bright future.

One of oldest cobblestone schools gets new life

Al Capurso is pictured with a new historical marker that was unveiled Oct. 17 by a former one-room schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal. The schoolhouse was built in 1832 and is one of the oldest cobbesltone buildings in the area.

Orleans County is home to about 100 cobblestone buildings and many other historic sites that are a source of pride. But there could be more if the wrecking ball, fires and neglect hadn’t destroyed former mansions, schoolhouses and other sites established in the 1800s.

Al Capurso didn’t want to lose another building that is important to the county’s past. This year Capurso rallied volunteers to save a former one-room schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road. The building from 1832 is one of the oldest cobblestone buildings in the county and region.

The building has been largely abandoned since 1944. This year it got a new roof. Boards were removed from windows and sashes restored. Junk was cleared out.

Capurso and members of the Orleans County Historical Association also put up a historical marker for the school. The marker notes that Caroline Phipps taught at the school. She went on to be a distinguished educator and ran the Phipps Union Seminary in Albion from 1837 to 1875. That spot later became the County Clerks Building.

The 913-square-foot building needs more work and Capurso has a game plan to get it done. Next year he said there will be repairs to the floor, and the building will be rewired and ceiling and walls plastered. Some missing sections of cobblestones will be replaced with appropriate soft lime mortar.

In 2017, Capurso said he expects the site will receive donations for a piano, school desks, teachers desk, wood stove, tables, chairs and wall hangings. The site, where hundreds of children were educated, will add to the county’s historical fabric. A treasure that could have caved in has been saved.

Capurso was recognized as an outstanding citizen by the Orleans Hub in 2014 for leading the effort to have the federal government name a creek in honor of a pioneer resident, Elizabeth Gilbert. It flows 6.5 miles along Brown Road in Gaines across Ridge Road to Carlton.

It took a year of lining up local support, and gaining permission from the federal Bureau of Geographic Names. The agency on April 10, 2014 formally approved the naming request.

Faded signs about local history get a makeover

In August, the historical marker for Balcom’s Mills on Fancher Road in Murray was reinstalled with fresh paint. Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon town historian, repainted the marker. She is right of the marker in light purple shirt. Ierlan repainted nine historical markers in the past two years.

It started in 2014 when Clarendon was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Carl Akeley’s birth. Akeley grew up in Clarendon on Hinds Road and became one of the most famous taxidermists in the world.

Melissa Ierlan, the town historian, noticed the historical marker on Hinds Road about Akeley could barely be read due to flaking paint. She took the marker down, stripped off the remaining paint and repainted it blue and gold.

She did three others in Clarendon. It’s tedious work, but she wanted the markers to look good.

Other communities also had markers in need of fresh paint and Ierlan this year has redone five markers, including one for the Elba Muck, one in Albion for Grace Bidell, two on Ridge Road in Gaines, and one in Murray.

She has three others and some will require welding.

The restored markers not only make it easier to read about prominent people and places in the community’s past but also project a message that the community cares about its historical assets. Ierlan has done a nice service in reviving some of these markers.

She was also an outstanding citizen in 2014 for her efforts to save the chapel at Hillside Cemetery. Ierlan received good news on that project on Dec. 10 when the state announced a $126,210 grant for the chapel.

Deputy survives shootout, prevents mayhem

Deputy James DeFilipps is pictured with his wife Marie and their infant son Jake at the Orleans County Public Safety Building on May 19 during a recognition program.

It was 3 a.m. on March 21 when James DeFilipps was shot twice following a high-speed chase with James Ellis of Wyoming County. Thankfully, the deputy was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

DeFilipps was the first police officer on scene when Ellis wrecked his vehicle in Clarendon on Route 31A. Police were pursuing Ellis after a 911 call when he threatened an ex-girlfriend in Shelby with a gun.

DeFilipps was the first on the scene. Ellis had fled to a nearby wooded area and opened fire on DeFilipps and other deputies and police to arrive on the scene. DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot Ellis, killing him and ending his threat.

Police feared Ellis could have shot more officers on the scene if DeFilipps hadn’t been there. Ellis could have fled to a neighbor’s house.

A grand jury reviewed the evidence and found DeFilipps was justified in the shooting. After recovering from his wound to his stomach, he returned to the night shift for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, where he has worked nearly 13 years.

Orleans Hub will recognize the outstanding citizens during a reception in February.

Some things are worth celebrating

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Editorial – $100K donation, 200th anniversary of farm and several other jobs well done

Good deeds and major milestones deserve some recognition, so let’s consider a few recent examples in Orleans County.

Maurice Hoag and his wife Courtenay gave another $100,000 to Hoag Library. They had already given $250,000 to the new library, which opened in 2012. That was enough to have the building named in their honor.

Mr. Hoag, the valedictorian of Albion’s Class of 1961, worked in the chemical engineering field. He lives in the Baltimore area but comes back to Albion for class reunions.

Photos by Tom Rivers – A plaque at Hoag Library notes the contributions from Maurice and Courtenay Hoag.

In July, the library received a surprise check from the Hoags. They asked that the money be used to pay down the mortgage on the new library.

That will reduce the debt payments and get the building paid off sooner. It could free up funds for programs, staff and supplies, or reduce the library tax.

The Hoags also pay for generous scholarships for two Albion college students pursuing chemical engineering.

Mr. Hoag hasn’t forgotten his hometown. His gifts are appreciated.

George LaMont (right), a desendant of Josias LaMont, unveils a historical marker in honor of the man who started the LaMont farm in 1815. About 200 people attended a celebration on Aug. 15 for the farm.

A local family celebrated 200 years of growing fruit last month. Josias LaMont started the farm that would span six generations.

Roger and George LaMont are both semi-retired from farming. They have made a big impact on the industry and with many local causes.

Roger was co-chairman of the fund-raising effort for the new Hoah Library. George was instrumental in starting the Oak Orchard Community Health Center, which has expanded from care for migrant workers to the entire community. Both men have been key leaders in the apple industry.

They helped establish Lake Ridge Fruit Company, an apple packing and storage business that serves many local apple farms on Route 104 in Gaines. Roger helped organize growers in a partnership with Cornell to breed new apple varieties and make them available to only NY growers, giving New York farmers an advantage over growers from Washington.

The family has done so much for the industry a future apple variety should be named the LaMont.

Matt Ballard, former director of the Cobblestone Musuem, is pictured with a World War I exhibit he helped organize.

Matt Ballard served as director of the Cobblestone Museum for about 18 months. He was a key leader at Orleans County’s only National Historic Landmark, putting on professional exhibits about medicine in the 1800s and the local involvement with World War I.

Ballard resigned last month to take a full-time position with Roberts Wesleyan College. He will continue to work part-time as the Orleans County historian.

Ballard is only 27 and brings a passion and expertise to local history. He certainly raised the profile of the Cobblestone Museum in the community and region, and partnered with several local groups on heritage projects, including refurbishing a fox “stuffed” by legendary taxidermist Carl Akeley, a Clarendon native. The museum owns a fox that Akeley worked on when he was 16.

Ballard feels so committed to the Cobblestone Museum he has agreed to stay on in a volunteer role as a board member. He has proven an asset to the county, especially with preserving and promoting our proud heritage.

This statue of Mary is part of the Catholic parish in Holley.

A church in Holley is marking its 150th anniversary in the next 12 months. St. Mary’s Catholic Church has been a focal point in Holley since 1866. The parish has one of its biggest community events on Sunday with the annual St. Rocco’s Festival in Hulberton.

The church members have been good stewards of a church built in 1905 of Medina sandstone. It replaced an earlier wooden structure. The congregation also has had an infusion of young families in recent years with the leadership of Father Mark Noonan, the parish priest. It looks like the parish will stay strong for years to come.

Gary Withey tends to a customer during the final days of Fischer’s News Stand.

Many Albionites are sad to see a long-established business close. Fischer’s News Stand sold its last newspaper, magazine and Lotto ticket on Sunday.

Gary Withey and his late wife Denise became owners of the business in January 1995. They kept it going long after news stands in other much larger communities shut down.

Best of luck to Mr. Withey in the future.

Cobblestone Museum director resigns for full-time position at college

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2015 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – Matt Ballard, pictured in 2014 outside the Cobblestone Church, is taking a full-time job with Roberts Wesleyan College. He will continue to work as the Orleans County historian.

GAINES – The director of the Cobblestone Museum worked his last day on Sunday at the museum. Matthew Ballard is starting a full-time position as collections services librarian at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester.

Ballard, 27, has been a director at the museum since February 2014. He spearheaded many projects at the museum complex, including new exhibits, building repair efforts, a revamped Web site, and strengthened partnerships with other historical associations and organizations. He also cultivated potential donors towards the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

“He has helped to move the museum towards the goal of expansion and enrichment for every visitor,” said Mary Anne Braunbach, president of the Cobblestone Society board of directors.

The museum’s season continues until Oct. 11. Conner Wolfe will serve as interim director until the season ends on Oct. 11. Wolfe is in his final semester at Brockport State College as a history major. He has been interning with Ballard.

Matt Ballard is pictured with an exhibit about doctors and medical care in Orleans County from the 19th Century.

The museum also has a part-time volunteer coordinator, Sue Bonafini. She will work more hours the last two months of the museum’s season.

Ballard also works as Orleans County historian. He will keep that part-time job. He also wants to stay connected with the Cobblestone Museum. He was appointed to a volunteer position to the Board of Directors for the museum on Thursday.

“I’ve grown attached to the place,” Ballard said about the museum.

He has a master’s degree in library science. He will use that degree in his new job, which also offers full-time pay and benefits.

The museum put new roofs on the Cobblestone Church and a neighboring brickhouse last year, projects that Ballard said were in the works before he arrived.

The Cobblestone Museum has two exhibits this season about the war, including a display of 20 to 25 World War I posters that were discovered while cleaning out the Swan Library. Some of the propaganda posters ask, “Are you 100 percent American?”

He developed an exhibit and lecture series in 2014 – “Medicine at the Museum” – about medical care in the 1800s. The museum showed an extensive collection of artifacts, and many were also donated from community members for the exhibit.

“Medicine at the Museum” features photos and write-ups on many of the pioneer physicians and pharmacists in the county.

The museum also hosted a lecture series with four speakers discussing Orleans and WNY medical history.

Ballard developed an exhibit this year about World War I. “The Great War” has been overshadowed by the second World War that followed about two decades later. The service and sacrifice in the first World War isn’t fully appreciated locally or nationally, Ballard said.

Provided photo – The Cobblestone Society Museum owns this fox that was stuffed by Akeley when he was 16 and living in Clarendon.

Ballard also is excited about a joint restoration effort with the Clarendon Historical Society. They are working together to have a fox restored that was originally stuffed by famed taxidermist Carl Akeley.

When he was 16 and living in Clarendon, he stuffed a fox, which later was donated to the Cobblestone Society Museum. The fox spent years in a glass case inside Farmers’ Hall.

The museum and the Clarendon Historical Society are working to have the 135-year-old fox cleaned and put in an air-tight display.