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Medina native rests at Normandy American Cemetery

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 May 2019 at 8:27 am

Photo courtesy of Matthew Ballard: The grave of George J. Quinn at Normandy American Cemetery.

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 20

Dedicated in 1956, the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer encompasses 172.5 acres and serves as a final resting place for over 9,000 soldiers killed in action in Europe. Although the site was primarily used to bury those killed during Operation Overlord and the Normandy Breakout, many families requested that Normandy serve as the place of eternal rest for their deceased veterans regardless of where they were killed.

Wandering the sprawling fields lined with white crosses reveals ornately decorated stones etched in gold leaf, denoting the graves of men who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. One stone melds into the thousands of plainly lettered marble crosses, the stone of Sgt. George J. Quinn.

Born at Buffalo, NY on September 5, 1924, Quinn spent most of his life growing up in the vicinity of North Ridgeway. After graduating from Barker, he spent a short period of time working for Harrison Radiator in Lockport before he was inducted into service in March of 1943. Basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and Camp Pickett, Virginia was followed by deployment to England in October of 1943.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in an effort to establish a foothold in France, resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 men. The capture of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches did not mark the end of the Normandy operation, as troops continued to push through the thick hedgerows of the bocage. On July 22, 1944, Sgt. Quinn and the 112th Infantry landed at Normandy and began the process of breaking out of St. Lo.

The timeline of events during the months of July and August suggest that Quinn was wounded while fighting in the bocage on August 7th, to which he was awarded the Purple Heart. On August 28, 1944, the 112th Infantry along with the remainder of 28th Division arrived in Paris, greeted by crowds of onlookers who welcomed their liberators with cheerfulness and relief. The following day the division marched up Avenue Hoche to the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysees as they progressed north towards their next objective.

On September 1, 1944, the 112th Infantry travelled by truck to Compiegne where the men were again greeted by the newly liberated French. After enjoying a meal of coffee, biscuits, and other local delicacies, Sgt. Quinn and his unit progressed towards a wooded area north of the town. At 7:30 a.m., segments of the 112th were met by heavy resistance from German soldiers camped around the outskirts of Compiegne. Finally, at 11:15 a.m., the unit was able to progress further north, but not without suffering a number of casualties.

George Quinn, only four days shy of his 20th birthday, was killed in action while pushing through these woods. His body was interred at the Normandy American Cemetery, among the thousands of others who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of France and the European continent.

On May 22nd, the Orleans County Legislature will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing at 4:10 p.m. in the Legislature Chambers. Descendants of WWII veterans who participated in the initial landing on June 6, 1944 and descendants of veterans who participated in various engagements in the Normandy region from June 7 – August 30, 1944 are also invited to attend. If you would like to contribute information to Department of History, community members are encouraged to contact me either at Matt.Ballard@orleanscountyny.gov or at 585-589-4174.

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The Central Drug Store in 1904 carried many products, from perfume to baseball bats

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 May 2019 at 7:55 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 19

ALBION – This photograph, taken on August 20, 1904, shows the Central Drug Store, owned and operated by Dr. Charles Moore Burrows. The storefront, now occupied by Five Star Bank, was situated in the Swan Block on the northwest corner of North Main and Bank Streets in Albion. It appears as though Burrows arranged to have this photograph taken as the store’s employees stepped outside for a quick snapshot. Standing, left to right, are Dr. Burrows, Agnes McCabe (bookkeeper), George H. Noble (manager), George W. Annis (head clerk), and Robert Moore (junior clerk); William Barker stands off to the left in “reposeful interest.”

The Central Drug Store was originally known as Barrell’s Central Drug Store, owned and operated by George Barrell of Albion. Up until 1902, the business was still being advertised under Barrell’s name and it appears as though the store remained under Burrow’s ownership until 1906 when it was sold to Dr. Jackson of Gasport. The following year it was sold to Harris Freeman who operated it until 1946 when it was sold to Marvin G. Sayles.

The image provides an interesting view into the goods carried by local drug stores at the turn of the 20th century. The left window reveals a collection of brushes and several advertisements for cigars and cigarettes. The “Finest Quality” Little Minister advertisement called attention to the store’s stock of cigars distributed by the Vincent Brothers of Rochester, NY. The Cairo cigarette advertisement below, which calls attention to the booming tobacco industry in Egypt; an ad for LeRoy brand cigarettes and a barrel of baseball bats sit outside of the window.

Stacks of notebooks sit in the right window with a sign that reads “Spencerian.” The Spencerian script was the popular style of cursive writing that allowed writers to produce quick, legible notes, particularly for business related matters. Readers might recognize examples of this script in the Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola logos. Larger business ledgers are visible in the glass case inside with an assortment of pamphlets on display. A small sign that reads “Paul E. Wirt Fountain Pens” advertises a popular writing instrument produced by Paul Wirt, which reached peak production around the time this photograph was taken.

A 1903 advertisement in the Orleans Republican displays the breadth of products carried by the store; “The aim of this store is high quality, moderate prices and courteous attention. The drugs and medicines are fresh, pure and reliable. The Wines and Liquors are old reliable stock bought in quantities direct from the distillers expressly for medicinal purposes. The Perfumes are the best that can be produced, both imported and American. The stock of imported and domestic Cigars is the largest and choicest ever displayed here. The stock of fine Toilet Articles, Stationary, Papterie, Books, Purses, Tooth, Hair, and Toilet Brushes is superior and attractive. Huyler’s and Lowney’s fine Candies always in stock.”

The storefront to the right was home to the James Bailey & Son grocery store (v.3, no. 13), operated by Herbert Bailey. A small stand of potatoes or yams sits in front of the store below a window advertising soap; it appears as though a potato may have rolled off the table and landed at the foot of Dr. Burrows. It was quite common for local business owners to display their wares along the street, relying upon awnings to protect those goods during poor weather. The retracted awning reads “Central Drug Store” but also features two advertisements for Hires Rootbeer, the “Best Drink on Earth.” Featuring birch, sassafras, licorice, vanilla, spikenard, sarsaparilla, hops, wintergreen, pipsissewa, and ginger flavors, the company frequently advertised the product as “The Temperance Drink.” Hires remains the second oldest soft drink under continuous marketing since its introduction in 1876, which is now sold by Keurig Dr. Pepper.

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Lyndonville Canning Company pioneered applesauce production

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 May 2019 at 8:32 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 18

LYNDONVILLE – Taken some time in the late 1920s or early 1930s, this image shows thousands of bushels of apples piled outside of the Lyndonville Canning Company. Yates farmers established a cooperative canning company in 1916, which was then purchased by Theodore and Frank Visscher in 1917. The Visschers marketed their products under the “V.B.” label, which stood for “Visscher Brothers.”

In the early 1920s, the Visscher Brothers advertised the sale of Cumulative Preferred Stock at a cost of $100 per share; the annual dividends of seven percent were paid to owners on a quarterly basis. Shortly after, William A. Smith and Wilson McCagg purchased 50 percent of the business and the two men began to gradually shift production from a variety of vegetables to apples.

The Visschers previously manufactured applesauce in large batches using copper kettles, producing as many as 24,000 cases of applesauce in 1924. Smith brought with him an interest in innovating and improving that production process, inventing a method for continuously cooking the apples to improve uniformity and quality. In 1930, Frank Visscher died and the business passed to Smith and McCagg. During the 1930s, Smith would file at least three patents for cooking apparatus used in the manufacturing of applesauce; an apparatus for preparing food substances (1935), a method and apparatus for refining fruit sauces (1935), and an apparatus for making fruit products (1939).

According to Smith’s sons, George and Clayton Smith, their father was a pioneer in the applesauce industry, largely due to his invention of the above listed apparatus. By the 1950s, other manufacturers were utilizing these machines to continuously cook down their product. The company remained under local ownership until 1979 when it was sold to Pillsbury.

Around 1929 or 1930, William Smith constructed a large applesauce can at the intersection of Rt. 63 and Rt. 104 on the south side of the road. A replica of the Very Best brand applesauce, travelers could stop for a sampling of the locally known product.

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5 honored for selfless efforts as ‘Heritage Heroes’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Five people were honored as Heritage Heroes during an awards celebration on Friday at GCC’s campus center in Medina. The following were recognized, from left: Todd Bensley, Harriette Greaser, Tom Taber, Lynne Menz and Dr. Neil Johnson.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2019 at 1:51 pm

MEDINA – Five Orleans County residents were honored for their efforts to preserve and promote local history during the sixth annual Heritage Heroes awards on Friday evening at the GCC campus center in Medina.

The annual awards are sponsored by GCC and Orleans Hub. The program included a keynote speech by Dr. Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer, who is the historian of the Western Monroe Historical Society, which has its headquarters at the Morgan-Manning House in Brockport.

The Morgan-Manning House, built in 1854, was badly damaged by fire in 1964. Brockport area residents rallied to save and restore the house, which remains an important landmark for the community, Bailleul-LeSuer said.

Derek Maxfield, a GCC professor, welcomes a crowd of about 35 people to the Heritage Heroes awards celebration on Friday evening. Jim Simon, left, is dean of the GCC campus centers in Albion and Medina. Maxfield and Simon are part of the Heritage Heroes Committee, along with Tom Rivers, editor of the Orleans Hub. Dr. Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer (center), who is the historian of the Western Monroe Historical Society, was keynote speaker for the event.

The 2019 Orleans County Heritage Heroes include:

• Tom Taber of Albion, who has devoted many years to chronicling local connections to the Civil War. In 2003 he completed his first book, “Hard Breathing Days-The Civil War Letters of Cora Beach Benton.” Taber transcribed, edited and researched 160 Civil War period letters of historical and genealogical interest from the Orleans County wife of a soldier. He tracked down her letters, including 40 that were at Notre Dame University.

He followed Hard Breathing Days in 2012 with a 320-page book, “Orleans Battery – A History of the 17th New York Light Artillery in the War of Rebellion.” The book details the service of 240 men from Orleans County who served in the war. Taber worked dutifully for 15 years to track down stories about Orleans County men who fought in the war.

• Harriette Greaser and her late husband Philip restored two grand homes in Orleans County, including a prominent house in Albion’s historic Courthouse Square, earning them the Landmark Society of Western New York Historic Home award in 2002. That house was built in 1893 at the corner of East State and Platt streets as the manse for the First Presbyterian Church in Albion.

When the Greasers bought the house in 1987, it was in rough shape. The Greasers restored it, scraping away old paint, bringing back original woodwork, planting trees, hedges and a big garden of flowers and vegetables. The house had been the home for the church pastor since the house was built in 1893. The house was designed by acclaimed Rochester architect Andrew Jackson Warner, and was constructed in the Queen Anne style.

The Greasers also restored a 7,000-square-foot house in Eagle Harbor before “downsizing” to the 4,000-square-foot home in Albion. In addition to her restoration efforts, Mrs. Greaser has been the organist for Holy Family Parish/St. Joseph’s Catholic Church since 1987. She praised her late husband for pushing to create a “home” that was a welcome place for their family. That was always the main motivation for the work in the houses.

Lynne Menz accepts a Heritage Hero award on Friday. Her late father, Bill Menz, also was a Heritage Hero in 2015. The two worked together on a monument for the soldiers who trained at the former Medina Armory and went to war.

• Lynne Menz is a strong supporter of making historical artifacts and local heritage preservation an attractive destination for young and old in Orleans County. Her direct assistance with GCC’s Civil War Initiative (2013 – 2015) and her leadership on the event committee for the Orleans County Heritage Festival (2017-2018) were instrumental in highlighting the noteworthy history of Orleans County people, places and things. Her recent efforts are culminating a labor of love started by her father, Bill Menz, to honor Orleans veterans who mustered to go to war through the Medina Armory (now the YMCA) with the installation of a 7-foot bronze World War I soldier on the grounds of the YMCA. The statue was erected last week and will be dedicated this fall. Menz has also been active with the Orleans Renaissance Group, Medina Sandstone Society, and the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. She said the community is fortunate to have been people with passion that work on projects, benefittign everyone.

Todd Bensley, Medina village historian, accepts his award on Friday. He said the community has people of all ages interested in promoting history.

• Todd Bensley received the Bill Lattin Municipal Historian Award, named in honor of the retired county historian. Lattin presented the award to Bensley and praised his many efforts to promote Medina history. Lattin said Bensley has shown tenacity and dedication in his role as Medina historian.

Bensley, a Medina High School history teacher, has worked as the village historian since 2004. Prior to that he was president of the Medina Historical Society.

He has led numerous historical tours of Medina, engaging students in local history. Last year he published a 314-page book on the community’s historic cemetery, Boxwood. He teamed up with the Medina Sandstone Society to establish the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence in 2015 at the high school. In 2014, he worked with the State Historic Preservation Office to designate Boxwood Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. That effort led to more research on the cemetery, which culminated last year with his book, “Boxwood Cemetery: Where the Past is Present.” Proceeds from the book are donated to Friends of Boxwood Cemetery.

Dr. Neil Johnson was recognized for about 40 years of dedicated service as a local historian.

• Dr. Neil Johnson of Albion received the Bob Waters Lifetime Achievement Award. Johnson has been the Albion village historian since 1980. He wrote a weekly column, “Albion, Oh Albion,” in the Albion Advertiser for 26 years, compiling 1,313 columns about village history, often highlighting regular folks in the community. He has written books about the history of Swan Library and the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

He teamed with historian Bill Lattin to do an inventory of all the historical markers in the county. They are included in a book in 2001. Johnson was critical to the effort in 2000 for the establishment of a monument at Mount Albion Cemetery for at least 50 pioneer black residents in the county. Neil also has been honored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension with the Legacy Award for serving as a 4-H leader for a rabbit club for more than 40 years. Johnson worked as an archeologist and taught anthropology at The SUNY College at Brockport. He continues to do monthly lectures – “Take a Bite Out Of History” – about local history at Hoag Library.

Matt Ballard, the current county historian, presented the award to Johnson and called him a role and inspiration. Ballard said the two served together on Albion’s Historic Preservation Commission.

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Blacksmiths provided essential services for community more than a century ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 27 April 2019 at 8:49 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 17

HOLLEY – Taken after 1903, this photograph shows the blacksmith shop of Frank W. Donohue as it appeared on Mechanic Street in Holley, just south of Public Square. This building and the billiards room showing to the left were situated south of the block currently occupied by Holley Falls Bar & Grill. Frank “Duff” Donohue, pictured right, stands in front of his business with George Jenks (left) and Joseph Haight (middle). Mag the horse is the centerpiece of this photo, demonstrating the work primarily carried out by blacksmith shops; the sign reads “F. W. Donohue, Horse Shoeing and Repairing.”

At the time this photograph was taken, all three men were well versed in the work of the blacksmith. Originally a native of Albion, Joseph Haight worked as a stableman before entering the blacksmith trade. He eventually relocated to Sandy Creek where he opened a blacksmith shop on Rt. 237 just north of Rt. 104 adjacent to the present site of the Murray Superette. An 1894 newspaper article indicates that George Jenks commenced working out of this shop after William Wetherwax relocated to East Gaines. Jenks and Haight operated a business partnership for a short period of time, dissolving the venture that same year.

According to a business directory from 1911, Haight worked as a blacksmith out of a shop on Mechanic Street, which suggests that the photograph was likely taken between 1903 and 1911. Although the three appear to be regular, hardworking men, Jenks appears to have been more of the rough and tumble type. In 1883, he was arrested for stealing a collection of pennies from C. H. Frisbie of Holley and accused of selling the lot in Rochester for approximately $30. The following year a brief note in the Holley Standard notes that he accidentally shot himself with a revolver. Then in 1893, prior to commencing work with Haight, Jenks married Alta May Downey at the age of 15 (not necessarily uncommon for the time); the two lived together for a short period of time, then living separately until finalizing their divorce in 1904.

The men are pictured with the typical leather apron, used to protect their clothing from burning embers and heated metal. Pictured to the right of the front entryway are wooden wheels leaning against the sidewall. Blacksmiths were often able to true wooden wheels and install the metal tread that covered them; various sizes indicate that work was performed on both wagon wheels (the thicker) and buggy wheels (the narrower). Prior to the widespread ownership of automobiles, the neighborhood blacksmith shop was the equivalent of the car repair shop where horses were shoed and buggies repaired. In the years leading up to this photograph, blacksmiths would produce nails and tools in addition to the services provided by Donohue and his colleagues.

It is worth noting that this building was constructed of fieldstones of varying sizes and shapes. The utilitarian nature of the building did not warrant stones of similar size or for the stones to be “dressed” to provide a decorative or uniformed appearance. The building is also lacking in windows, which provided a darkened environment inside allowing the blacksmith to monitor the temperature of the forge based on the color of the flame.

Located down the alleyway, which still exists today, was a shed with a cupola and a dwelling with a high foundation. Both were situated along the bank of the old Erie Canal bed that looped through the Village of Holley. The house still stands today.

As a final side note, before relocating to Sandy Creek Joseph Haight raised his family at Albion where his eldest daughter Martha married William Howard. The couple’s son, Charlie, was well known locally for his portrayal of Santa Claus.

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Yates Academy teacher went on to be prominent educator at Illinois college

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 20 April 2019 at 8:20 am

Pioneer settlers made education a priority in Orleans County

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 16

YATES – Studying the earliest history of Orleans County shows us that education was a foundational element on which our pioneer settlers invested a great deal of funds and effort.

The Yates Academy, Phipps Union Seminary and Albion Academy all represent prestigious institutions that produced prominent and influential attorneys, politicians, educators and philosophers. Perhaps one of the most notable products of one of these institutions was Ely S. Parker, the Native American from Indian Falls who attended the Yates Academy and later served as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs under President Grant.

This photograph shows Professor Charles G. Fairman, an important figure in the growth of the Yates Academy. Born on August 6, 1823 at Northfield, Massachusetts, Fairman was educated at the Townshend Academy in Vermont, the Black River Academy, the Hancock Literary & Scientific Institute of New Hampshire, and Waterville College (now Colby College). Shortly after his graduation from Waterville, he travelled to Orleans County to teach in the Yates Academy where his skills as an educator earned him an early promotion to the position of principal in 1853.

Although his tenure at the Yates Academy was a successful one, his abilities as an educator pulled him away to other institutions. After a short term as principal of the Medina Academy from 1863 to 1867, he headed the Nunda Academy for one year in 1867 before venturing westward to Illinois. Fairman was then offered a position as Chair of the Mathematics Department at Shurtleff College in 1868.

In all respects, Fairman was a prodigy, a genius when it came to the finer points of education. His tenure at Shurtleff was highlighted by his appointment to two prominent lecturing positions; the Edwards Professor of Mathematics & Natural Philosophy and the Hunter Lecturer on Chemistry, Geology & Mineralogy. Students would later recall Fairman’s passion for the subjects he was teaching, earning him a stellar reputation at the college. When Dr. Daniel Reed vacated the position of President of Shurtleff College, Fairman and Prof. Justus Bulkley were selected to split the duties pro tem. This arrangement lasted for three years until Rev. A. A. Kendrick was selected to fill the position.

Upon his death on February 14, 1895 at Upper Alton, Illinois, students gathered for chapel on a dreary winter day, Prof. Fairman’s regular seat draped in black cloth. After 20 years at Shurtleff, he had never missed a recitation; he was regarded for his accuracy of knowledge across disciplines and his rare teaching ability. The college began the process of finding a replacement, to which they were forced to hire two professors to fill his vacancy.

Prof. Fairman’s son, Charles E. Fairman, followed in his father’s footsteps, excelling as student at the Yates Academy, University of Rochester, and St. Louis Medical School. The young Fairman entered the University of Rochester at age 16 and upon his graduation in 1874, became the youngest student to ever earn a degree from that institution. After completing his medical studies, Dr. Fairman returned to Lyndonville to practice medicine, all before his 21st birthday.

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Hoag Library’s latest find: letter from George Washington

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2019 at 8:13 am

Hoag Library posted this copy of the letter written in May 1784 from George Washington to Jacob Morris, who delivered a package for the general to Marquis de Lafayette, a French military officer who fought with Washington in the American Revolutionary War.

ALBION – Hoag Library continues to sift through historical files, finding treasures. On Tuesday, local history librarian Dee Robinson found a letter from George Washington.

It was written in May 1784, about five years before he started serving as the first president of the United States. The letter from Washington was written to Jacob Morris, thanking him for taking care of a gift package sent to Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War. He led American troops in several battles, including Yorktown.

The letter acknowledges correspondence from Morris in regard to the package of Lafayette, and Washington offers to pay the cost of the delivery, and also extends his compliments to Mrs. Morris. Jacob Morris was the son of Lewis Morris, who signed the Declaration of Independence.

The Journal-Register in Medina on April 19, 1967 wrote about the letter from Washington, which was being put on display briefly at Swan Library. The Journal-Register reported then that a family in Westchester County owned the letter for about 90 years. Thomas Bell then owned it and presented it to Noah Davis, a justice for the State Supreme Court who was from Albion. (Davis was the judge in the trial that brought down New York City Tammany Hall ringmaster William M. “Boss” Tweed. Judge Davis presided over Tweed’s trials on charges of conspiracy, perjury and larceny.)

After his death, Davis’s wife sent the letter to Emma Swan, the founder of the library with her husband William. Mrs. Swan gave the letter to the library. According the JR article, the letter’s authenticity was established by the Historical Society of New York City and by the Astor Library.

The article from 1967 reports the Washington letter is ordinarily kept in bank vault and only seen by a few people.

Robinson last month was searching through library files and found a 1903 letter from Susan B. Anthony, written to the then Swan Library. (The new Hoag Library opened in July 2012.) Anthony, the women’s rights activist, was a pivotal leader for women’s suffrage. She wrote to the library to encourage Swan to buy four volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage and also two volumes about the Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony.

The library has been in the news recently for a public discussion about what to do with a Civil War flag for a Colored Troops regiment. That flag had largely been kept out of public view for a century. The flag is deteriorating. The library’s board voted on March 13 to have the flag sold through an auctioneer in Dallas, Texas. The flag hasn’t been sent away yet and will stay with the library through at least April. It has been brought out for Civil War programs this month.

Public domain: This painting from 1906 by John Ward Dunmore shows George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette during winter at Valley Forge.

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Courthouse dome appeared golden until repainted silver in 1948

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 13 April 2019 at 7:17 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 14

ALBION – This photograph, taken after 1903, shows Orleans County Courthouse and Clerk’s Office located in Albion. Readers will notice a diagonal sidewalk running from the front steps of the courthouse to East State Street and a number of beaten footpaths through the front lawn. The photograph is dated post-1903 because the sandstone jailhouse is visible to the left of the courthouse. Also visible in the photograph is a tall flagpole extending from the cupola atop the dome.

According to Isaac Signor, the building was constructed at a cost of $20,000 under the supervision of Lyman Bates, Charles Baker, and Henry A. King. The county contracted William V. N. Barlow of Albion to design the courthouse. Born in Madison County in 1810, Barlow moved to Albion in 1833 and launched his career with the development of Albion’s most significant buildings. The presence of the cupola on the courthouse was a signature of Barlow’s designs, which earned him the nickname “High-Rickety” Barlow.

A 1979 Building/Structure Inventory Form completed by County Historian Cary Lattin for the New York State Historic Trust described the building as follows:

“Notable exterior features include a magnificent octagon dome and cupola. The dome being composed of 88 individual rafters. The columns of the Ionic order display hand carved and sawed capitols. The front entrance remains as a superb example of Greek Revival detailing. A beholder can easily be awe inspired by the beautiful proportions, symmetry, dignity and symbolism that pervades and pulsated from this masterpiece. It measures 50’ x 55’ and has a balcony in the read. The judge’s bench, clerk’s desk, dividing balustrades and rising seats are all original. Corinthian pilasters supporting a full Greek entablature are plaster, above which is a bi-level ceiling with more plaster moldings and ornamentation coming to a climax with a decorative ventilator. From this is suspended a single electrolier created in 1928 to blend with all the architectural details.”

The most iconic feature of this landmark building is its beautiful silver dome. Yet most residents would be surprised to read that this color scheme is not native to the structure. According to a newspaper article published July 22, 1929, the Board of Supervisors hired John “Jack” Finn of Albion, a local steeplejack, to complete work on the dome. The article noted that Finn applied a coat of blue lead (to seal the metal) followed by a coat of yellow paint. Once the yellow was sufficiently cured, Finn applied a layer of gold enamel paint. According to early descriptions, the dome was “gilded,” or covered with a thin coating of gold paint or gold leaf. According to Cary Lattin, the dome remained this color until 1948, when the dome was repainted with the signature silver color.

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Daughter of Union officer became namesake of 8th N.Y. Heavy Artillery

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 6 April 2019 at 6:59 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 14

Capt. George A. Hoyt, Company C, 8th N.Y. Heavy Artillery

This studio photograph, taken circa 1863, shows Capt. George A. Hoyt wearing a Union frock coat and holding a pair of gloves. Placed on the chair to the left is a kepi with crossed artillery pieces, signifying his service with the 8th New York Heavy Artillery.

Born in 1830/1 at Dansville, New York, Hoyt came to Gaines in 1855, marrying Julia McOmber and quickly becoming a well-respected harness maker. In August of 1862, he received a commission as a lieutenant with the 129th New York Infantry which was later converted into an artillery regiment.

Sgt. Thomas Jasper Dean of Company I wrote home to his mother at Byron on June 23, 1864, following the regiment’s engagement with Confederate troops in advance of Petersburg:

“Directly South of Petersburg about 4 miles behind breastworks we took last night ben skirmish fighting all day. Dear Mother & All Friends whom this may interest…Our company lost in Wounded yesterday but 7 perhaps more but think not. They have not all come in yet. We cant tell precisely. the Rebels are charging there position in front of us. they appear to be massing there troops for a charge on our works. Col Bates was wounded last night besides quite a number of other officers killed and wounded…I led the company into the charge last night. Our men has been marched much there spirits are verry low…” (sic)

The following day, Pvt. James Sherman of Company G wrote home:

“Since I wrote you last the regt has been in another of those terrible charges. We did not lose many men but we lost one of the bravest that ever drew a sword & that was Lieut. Col. Bates. He fell while leading the men within four rods of the enemies breastworks shot through the bowels…There was no officer left to command our company the Capt being in command of the second Batallion & all the sergeants being absent or wounded…” (sic)

According to Maj. Erastus Spaulding, after the charge described by Dean and Sherman, the unit held their position within several yards of the enemy position and “entrenched in the night under severe picket-fire.” The following morning, the enemy had abandoned the position thus allowing the 8th N.Y.H.A. to occupy the works until that evening when the unit “withdrew a distance of a mile…”

At some point during the advance on June 22, 1864, Capt. George Hoyt suffered a gun shot wound. Some records indicate a wound to one of his legs while others indicate a wound to his ankle. He was tended to by the regimental surgeon and sent home to recuperate. During his furlough, Dr. William McKennan of Albion tended to Hoyt until his untimely death on July 5, 1864. According to McKennan, Hoyt suffered “traumatic tetanus induced by [a] gun shot wound of the leg,” his death was caused by lockjaw.

A widow’s pension application filed by Julia Hoyt, a 32-year-old mother of three, illustrates the hardships suffered by so many women as a result of the ravages of war. Her oldest daughter, Marilla, had just celebrated her sixth birthday before her father was sent home to recover. The youngest daughter, Octavia Artilla, was just shy of 18 months.

Julia Hoyt never remarried, her financial support derived solely from her widow’s pension which she carried up until her death on February 2, 1917. Among the affidavits and other documents is a letter penned by Octavia Hoyt Mather, her mother’s “only living heir,” requesting money to pay for her mother’s burial; $12.00 to pay for Dr. William Burbank’s bill, $102.00 for an undertaker, and $6.00 to Mt. Albion for burial.

In the years after the war, Octavia Mather attended regimental reunions in place of her father. George Hoyt had already left for war when she was born and according to several accounts, she became “the daughter of the regiment.” It was said that when Hoyt received word of his child’s arrival, he asked Col. Peter Porter “what shall I name my baby daughter?” Porter responded, “Why name her after our regiment, Octavia Artilli 8th heavy artillery.”

The Hoag Library and Orleans County Historical Association are co-sponsoring a Civil War Series in April, featuring a program entitled “When Did the Civil War End?” with Dr. John Daly of SUNY College at Brockport on April 16 at 12 p.m. I will present a program entitled “The Legacy of Rufus Bullock: Racial Liberalism and Reconstruction” on April 30 at 6 p.m. A number of other programs will take place throughout the month.

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5 ‘Heritage Heroes’ in Orleans County will be recognized

Photos by Tom Rivers: Tom Taber is pictured at the Civil War section of Mount Albion Cemetery. He has written two books highlighting the community’s ties to the Civil War.

Posted 3 April 2019 at 11:11 am

Awards ceremony will be April 26 at GCC’s Medina Campus Center

Press Release, Genesee Community College

MEDINA – The Orleans County Heritage Heroes Awards recognize the work and dedication of those who give their time and resources to preserve and protect the history of Orleans County for future generations.

The Heritage Heroes Awards will be bestowed upon the 2019 winners at a special ceremony on Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at Genesee Community College’s Medina Campus Center in Medina. The awards are co-sponsored by SUNY GCC and the Orleans Hub. The entire community is invited to come and help honor these important individuals.

The 2019 Orleans County Heritage Heroes are:

• Tom Taber – Taber, an Albion resident, has devoted many years to chronicling local connections to the Civil War.

In 2003 he completed his first book, “Hard Breathing Days-The Civil War Letters of Cora Beach Benton.” Taber transcribed, edited and researched 160 Civil War period letters of historical and genealogical interest from the Orleans County wife of a soldier. He followed that effort in 2012 with a 320-page book, “Orleans Battery – A History of the 17th New York Light Artillery in the War of Rebellion.” The book details the service of 240 men from Orleans County who served in the war. Taber worked dutifully for 15 years to track down stories about Orleans County men who fought in the war. He feels like he has adopted the soldiers from the 17th, many of whom returned from the war and led distinguished lives.

Harriette Greaser is pictured in July 2015 with the staircase made of golden oak at her historic home across from the Orleans County Courthouse. She and her late husband Phil lovingly brought the house back to its original grandeur.

Harriette Greaser – Harriette Greaser and her late husband Philip restored two grand homes in Orleans County, including a prominent house in Albion’s historic Courthouse Square, earning them the Landmark Society of Western New York Historic Home award in 2002. That house was built in 1893 at the corner of East State and Platt streets as the manse for the First Presbyterian Church in Albion. It had been the church manse, the home for the pastor, since the house was built in 1893. The house was designed by acclaimed Rochester architect Andrew Jackson Warner, and was constructed in the Queen Anne style. The house was in rough shape when the Greasers bought it, and they completely transformed it, scraping away old paint, bringing back original woodwork, planting trees, hedges and a big garden of flowers and vegetables. In addition to her restoration efforts, Mrs. Greaser has been the organist for Holy Family Parish/St. Joseph’s Catholic Church since 1987.

Lynne Menz receives a special recognition award during the Orleans County Heritage Festival on Sept. 8, 2017. Derek Maxfield, one of the festival coordinators, presents Menz, one of the festival coordinators, with the award for her efforts in promoting the county’s historic assets.

• Lynne Menz – Lynne Menz is a strong supporter of making historical artifacts and local heritage preservation an attractive destination for young and old in Orleans County. Her direct assistance with GCC’s Civil War Initiative (2013 – 2015) and her leadership on the event committee for the Orleans County Heritage Festival (2017-2018) were instrumental in highlighting the noteworthy history of Orleans county people, places and things. In 2018, Lynne orchestrated the screening of “Pieced Together” – the first film documentary about the American quilt square trail movement – at Kendall High School which featured filmmaker Julianne Donofrio and Orleans County Barn Quilt Trail organizer Lora Partyka. Her recent efforts are culminating in a labor of love started by her father, Bill Menz, to honor Orleans veterans who mustered to go to war through the Medina Armory (now the YMCA) with the installation and dedication of a seven-foot bronze World War I soldier on the grounds of the YMCA this fall.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Todd Bensley, Village of Medina historian and member of the Boxwood Cemetery Commission, stands in the veterans’ section of Boxwood Cemetery. Bensley last year published a 314-page book about the cemetery.

• Todd Bensley (Receiving the Bill Lattin Municipal Historian Award) – Bensley has worked as the Medina village historian since 2004. Prior to that he was president of the Medina Historical Society. He has led numerous historical tours of Medina, engaged students in local history and written a book about the community’s historic cemetery. Through his role as a teacher at Medina High School, Todd leads student and new teacher tours of Medina and assists his students with a local history project each year. He teamed up with the Medina Sandstone Society to establish the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence in 2015. In 2014, he worked with the State Historic Preservation Office to designate Boxwood Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. That effort led to more research on the cemetery, which culminated with his book, “Boxwood Cemetery: Where the Past is Present.” Proceeds from the book are donated to Friends of Boxwood Cemetery.

Neil Johnson signs a copy of a booklet he put together about the history of the fair. He is pictured on July 24, 2017 at the fair in Knowlesville. For about a half century he also has helped lead a 4-H club for rabbit raisers.

• Neil Johnson (Receiving the Bob Waters Lifetime Achievement Award) – Johnson has been the Albion village historian since 1980. He wrote a weekly column, “Albion, Oh Albion,” in the Albion Advertiser for 26 years, compiling more than 1,300 columns about village history, often highlighting regular folks in the community. He has written books about the history of Swan Library and the Orleans County 4-H Fair. He teamed with historian Bill Lattin to do an inventory of all the historical markers in the county. They are included in a book in 2001. Johnson was critical to the effort in 2000 for the establishment of a monument at Mount Albion Cemetery for at least 50 pioneer black residents in the county. Neil also has been honored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension with the Legacy Award for serving as a 4-H leader for a rabbit club for more than 40 years. Johnson worked as an archeologist and taught anthropology at The SUNY College at Brockport. He continues to do monthly lectures – “Take a Bite Out Of History” – about local history.

The keynote speaker for the awards ceremony will be Dr. Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer. Dr. Bailleul-LeSuer is currently the historian of the Western Monroe Historical Society, whose headquarters are at the Morgan-Manning House in Brockport. However, she is first and foremost an Egyptologist and she continues her research on birds in ancient Egypt. To get a better understanding of the various ways that birds were incorporated into the daily life of ancient Egyptians, she especially studies the bird mummies now held in museum collections. In 2012-13, she was guest curator of the Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit entitled “Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt.” She is now working on the publication of a monograph entitled “From Marshes to Farmyard: Aviculture and Poultry Husbandry in Pharaonic Egypt.”

The award ceremony on April 26 will be held in GCC’s Medina Campus Center, located at 11470 Maple Ridge Rd. The event is free to attend and open to the public, but seating is limited. A reception will follow the ceremony featuring light refreshments.

For more information on the awards or the ceremony, contact Jim Simon at simon@genesee.edu or Prof. Derek Maxfield at ddmaxfield@genesee.edu or by calling the Medina Campus Center at 585-798-1688.

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