Beardsley Creek in Gaines, an important spot for settlers, now has a sign
Photos by Tom Rivers
GAINES – A new wooden sign for Beardsley Creek on Route 104 in Gaines was unveiled today. The sign is by the home of Robert Bruning. He has lived there for 40 years. The house was built in the 1830s by John Anderson, a Revolutionary War soldier who is buried at Gaines Cemetery, behind the Gaines Congregational Church on Route 104.
Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard removes the cover for the sign.
Local dignitaries were present for the sign’s dedication. This group includes, from left: Jim Bonafini, president of the Cobblestone Society & Museum and maker of the sign; Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Gaines Town Historian Adrienne Kirby; Al Capurso, president of the Orleans County Historical Association and coordinator of the sign effort; Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard; homeowner Robert Bruning; and Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature.
Al Capurso addresses the crowd at the sign dedication. The sign is located west of Route 98, and east of Eagle Harbor Road. This is third sign for the creeks near the historic district in Gaines. Capurso wanted to recognize the Beardsley Creek’s importance, especially to pioneer residents. He also wanted to highlight the historic area of Ridge Road with the signs at Proctor Brook, Gilbert Creek and now Beardsley Creek.
Proctor Brook passes through the Cobblestone Museum. Gilbert Creek is next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church, east of Route 98.
Capurso, a former Gaines town historian, believed the creek was named for the Levi Beardsley family who settled in Carlton in 1827. Born in Connecticut in 1777, Mr. Beardsley died on his homestead in 1867 at age 90.
But additional research showed there was an earlier Beardsley in the area. Elizabeth Hoffman, the Carlton town historian, tipped Ballard off that Selah Beardsley was the first Beardsley in the area.
Ballard learned that Selah Beardsley was one of eight men who signed a contract with the Holland Land Purchase in September 1810. The eight men from Massachusetts shared their labor and resources in acquiring land and settling in Carlton.
Capurso said today that Selah Beardsley was the original Beardsley in the area.
“It shows you that history is always revealing itself,” he said.
Adrienne Kirby, the Gaines town historian, said the new sign is important in highlighting a local resource that is unique to Gaines.
“I am very pleased to participate in the unveiling of this sign, which has two messages for the world — Beardsley Creek runs through here, and This Place Matters!” she said.
“We live in an age where efficiency and convenience are prized above all else,” she said. “This attitude has led to a homogenization of the landscape. Strip malls and housing tracts all look the same no matter what state of the union you are in. In the face of this, local history cries, ‘This Place Matters.’ Local history values the individual and uniqueness of our communities. We celebrate the accomplishments of those who came before us. We cherish what’s one of kind. Local history reminds us of what we have done, that we might be either inspired or forewarned to do better in the future.”
Many of the town roads are named for early residents who cleared roads, built homes and established churches and businesses.
“It is because we enjoy the fruits of others’ labors that local history matters,” Kirby said. “As for Beardsley Creek, every single child who has lived on this creek over the past 200 years has climbed the willow trees that grace its banks, tried catching the minnows that show up in early summer, and observed the snails that reside here.”