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Log cabin will be moved from Albion next to historic cobblestone schoolhouse in Gaines

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Bill Lattin, left, and local contractor Rick Ebbs check the dimensions of a log cabin at the home of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse, who have offered to donate the structure to the Orleans County Historical Society. Ebbs thinks he can stabilize the building so it can be moved.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 September 2019 at 11:19 am

10-by-14 cabin was built by Boy Scouts in 1930

GAINES – If efforts are successful, visitors to the historic Gaines Basin No. 2 cobblestone school on Gaines basin Road will have another attraction to look at.

The Orleans County Historical Society, which is restoring the schoolhouse, has been given a log cabin, which they hope to move behind the school.

The idea was born about a year ago when Bill Lattin, retired as both the Orleans County historian and director of the Cobblestone Society Museum, was talking with Al Capurso at a Cobblestone board meeting.

Bill Lattin looks at the crumbling stones and oil tank from the chimney of a log cabin which has been donated to the Orleans County Historical Society. The cabin was built in 1930 by Boy Scouts and sits in back of the home of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse on Linwood Avenue. Pat’s father was one of the Scouts and her grandfather supervised the work. A limb fell off a nearby tree, knocking the chimney down.

“Al made the suggestion that it would be nice to build a replica of a log cabin on the Cobblestone Museum grounds,” Lattin said. “I could see by the look on the board members’ faces, that wasn’t going to fly.”

Lattin commented it was the mission of the Cobblestone Society to preserve historic buildings, and asked why they didn’t consider preserving a log cabin, instead of building one.

Capurso asked where they would find one.

“I said, ‘On Linwood Avenue in Albion,’ and his jaw dropped,” Lattin said.

Lattin knew the property owners, Pat and Ralph Moorhouse, and when they were contacted, they agreed to donate the deteriorating log cabin if it could be moved.

The Cobblestone Building and Grounds Committee felt they had enough on their plate without taking on another project, so Capurso presented the idea to the Orleans County Historical Association, which agreed to allow the cabin to be moved behind the Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse – if Lattin and Capurso could raise the $6,000 needed to get it in shape to move.

The log cabin was built by Boy Scouts in 1930 as a place to camp out, which makes it kind of unique, Lattin said.

“It’s one of a kind,” he said.

It is 10 feet by 14 feet and barely six feet tall at the peak. The Scouts also constructed a cot of sorts inside and a fireplace. On the outside in back is a tank, which held oil and was rigged so a drop of oil would fall periodically on the fire, keeping it burning.

What makes the log cabin so special is that Pat Moorhouse’s grandfather supervised building the cabin, and her father Ferris Benton was one of the Scouts.

The log cabin is already beginning to deteriorate badly and the front has sunk at least a foot into the ground.

“If it is not preserved now, it will soon rot out,” Lattin said.

Rick Ebbs, a local contractor who has been working on restoration work at the schoolhouse, agreed to tackle the project. He expects to line the interior and exterior with plywood to brace it so it can be lifted with a fork lift. He hopes to be able to move the fireplace intact as well.

“If we have to rebuild it stone by stone, it will spoil its integrity,” Lattin said.

Lattin hopes to interest some Scout troops in helping with restoration of the cabin.

“This would be a wonderful Eagle Scout project,” he said.

Lattin said they have already received about $1,000 in donations toward the project. Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation or donate services in kind can contact the Orleans County Historical Association at P.O. Box 181, Albion. Latin said anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a copy of Irene Gibson’s book, Historic Sites in Orleans County.

Bill Lattin, retired Orleans County historian, points to the spot behind the Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse where a nearly 100-year-old log cabin will be situated. The cabin sits in back of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse’s home on Linwood Avenue, and they have agreed to donate it to the Orleans County Historical Association.

Lattin said the timing is perfect, as they just learned a drivable lane has been completed up to the towpath on the east side of the Gaines Basin Road canal bridge.  The northernmost point of the Erie Canal is just 900 feet west of the canal bridge.

“This was one of the only roads in the county which crossed the canal and didn’t have access to the towpath,” Lattin said. “We hope to have a kiosk and sign which tells people they can stop and see an authentic log cabin and one-room schoolhouse.”

The schoolhouse was built in 1832 and is the oldest documented cobblestone building in the region. It was used until 1944, when the district centralized. Constructed of local fieldstone, it also shows early use of Medina sandstone for quoins.

It is the last remaining structure of the pioneer-era Erie Canal hamlet known as Gaines Basin. It was falling into ruin until the Orleans County Historical Association took interest in it several years ago and Jim Panek, who owns the land, agreed to donate the building and surrounding lot to the Historical Association.

When restoration is complete, the schoolhouse will serve as a small museum and meeting place.

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Historian’s night-time tour of downtown Albion draws a big crowd

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2019 at 8:58 am

Matt Ballard shares stories of ‘Murder & Mayhem’ from Albion’s past

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Friday night’s tour of downtown Albion, with Orleans County Historian Matthew Ballard, drew a crowd of about 200 people for the “Murder & Mayhem Tour.” Ballard shared stories of high-profile crimes from the community’s past, and some other curious happenings.

Ballard leads summer tours of Mount Albion Cemetery. This was his first time doing a night-time tour of the downtown. He was surprised to see such a big turnout.

Ballard will do another “Murder & Mayhem Tour” today at 8 p.m., starting at Tinsel, just north of the Erie Canal.

He is shown standing on a flower planter in front of the Citizens National Bank (now the Albion Visitor’s Center) at 121 North Main St.

The Citizens National Bank used to be the First National Bank of Albion. Ballard told how Albert Warner stole about $40,000 from the bank and then fled to Canada.

He was rumored to have returned to Albion briefly, when he dressed as a woman to attend his father’s funeral at Mount Albion.

Ballard is shown speaking on the Courthouse lawn. He told about Albion leaders ploy in deceiving state officials to naming Albion the county seat, over Gaines, which was more developed in the 1820s due to the well-travelled Ridge Road.

Philetus Bumpus and Nehemiah Ingersoll led the push for Albion to become the county seat. They concocted a plan to have Sandy Creek dammed just before the state commissioners were in town. The water was then released to make it appear Sandy Creek was a much stronger stream.

What appeared to be a powerful stream was influential in swaying the commissioners to pick Albion over Gaines. Ingersoll would later donate land for the courthouse to be built.

The group stopped in front of the Post Office on Main Street, where Ballard told of the murder of Pierpont Dyer.

He also highlighted the murder of Alice Wilson by her husband George. He was executed in 1888 in a stockade near where the current county jail is located. That execution was the last one in Orleans County.

Michelle Diaz, a member of Body by Summer Torrance in Brockport, was among a group of dancers who dressed as zombies and danced to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson on Main Street near Beaver Alley. It was a surprise on the tour.

The “Murder & Mayhem Tour” is part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival, which continues with events through Sunday.

Other activities this weekend include:

Saturday, Sept. 14

• 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Old Timer’s Fair at the Cobblestone Museum: The Cobblestone Museum will come alive with artisans and re-enactors as we recreate the feel of Orleans County life in the 19th century. A chicken BBQ is available for dining or take-out.

Sunday, Sept. 15

• 1 p.m. – Medina Sandstone Society’s Hall of Fame, City Hall, 590 Main St., Medina: Established in 2013, the Hall of Fame is a display of informational plaques of sandstone structures in NY & PA that have been deemed worthy of inclusion in the Sandstone Hall of Fame. Free admission.

• 4:30 p.m. – Concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Medina: A concert featuring soloist, Patricia L. Worrad, Soprano with songs of years past at the church built in the middle of the street as stated in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”. St. John’s church is built of Medina Sandstone and home of the oldest church congregation in the county.

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Medina’s Elm Park was popular picnic retreat

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 7 September 2019 at 8:11 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 5, Issue 35

MEDINA – Occasionally, I receive notes from readers about suggested article topics of local interest. A few months ago, a copy of several Medina postcards arrived at my doorstep relating to Elm Park north of the village. It seems as though the origin of the park and its exact location remain somewhat mysterious.

Elm Park was known locally for its scenic location along the Oak Orchard River, providing a gathering place for congregations, Sunday school groups, family reunions, and other local organizations.

This particular photograph was taken around 1900 and is labeled on the reverse, “Elm Park Medina, N.Y. donated by Florence Waters – Probably a group from Knowlesville.” Some features of the park, visible in the photograph, include a covered picnic table with folding wood benches, a small boathouse with canoes, a fountain, and a set of swings that appear to spin over the water. Also visible in the image is a small cascade in the river, which helps with identifying the location.

The park itself was allegedly named for the large elm tree pictured in the background. The owners of the park built a playground into the massive tree, which became a focal point of the picnic grounds. An interesting article in the Ithaca Daily News from June 4, 1906, called the location “Bowentown” after Ambrose Bowen who settled the heavily forested area. The article continues on to say that the hamlet was intended to become a stop on the Medina & Darien Railroad, a defunct endeavor that ran from 1834 to 1836 and relied upon horsepower to pull cars between Darien and Medina.

An 1860 map of Orleans County shows a natural pool in the Oak Orchard River just south of Slade Road. A small roadway is shown between North Gravel Road and the River just north of the pool. According to the map, the location was known as “Oak Grove.” The map also shows numerous buildings in the vicinity belonging to A[mbrose] Bowen, a G[rist] Mill, a S[aw] M[ill], and B[lack] S[mith] shop, in addition to a store owned by Bowen. This is confirmed by a 1860s advertisement for a millstone company that listed Ambrose Bowen’s mill at Oak Orchard Creek near Medina.

An 1856 New York City newspaper lists Bowen as a dealer in Hereford cattle at Oak Grove, Medina. It would appear from the map and supporting information that the natural pool south of Slade Road was the location for Elm Park, a little further north from its supposed location near Glenwood Lake. A small cascade is still situated at that location, even though the creation of Glenwood Lake has altered the River slightly.

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Heritage Festival returns with focus on local historic resources

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 September 2019 at 10:32 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: A bronze statue of a soldier, resembling a doughboy from pre-World War II, was placed atop a monument on April 17 in front of the Orleans County YMCA. The statue will be dedicated on Saturday during a ceremony at the Orleans County YMCA, which was an training site for soldiers for 76 years when it was an Armory.

The fourth annual Orleans County Heritage Festival returns Sept. 6-15 with 10 days of events highlighting local historic sites.

The Cobblestone Museum, Orleans County Tourism, the Orleans County Department of History and a group of volunteers teamed to organize the event.

“There are many family-friendly events,” said Lynne Menz, tourism coordinator and creative director for Orleans County. “There are well-rounded programs for adults and children.”

There are historical enactments at the Medina Railroad Museum, Cobblestone Museum and Genesee Community College in Medina.

The Medina Railroad Museum and Cobblestone Museum, which Menz said are both “anchors in our community,” will host events during the festival.

Doug Farley, Cobblestone Musuem director, stepped up to co-lead the festival this year. He said the county has many historic resources. Working together with the Heritage Festival helps all of the sites, he said.

“This area has so much history,” he said. “It will do nothing but help us if we promote it right.”

Each day of the festival from Sept. 6 through Sept. 15 will include genealogy sessions led by Holly Canham. She will assist new and advanced researchers in tracing their family trees. She will be at Hoag Library each day from 10 a.m. to noon and 7 to 9 p.m., except on Sunday, Sept. 8, when she is there from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The schedule includes:

Friday, Sept. 6

• 1 p.m. – Albion NY Rocks at the Gazebo, Albion: Paint rocks with an Orleans County theme. Free.

Saturday, Sept. 7

• 11 a.m. –  Company F Statue Dedication: The Company F Statue on the grounds of the Medina Armory/YMCA will be dedicated with several guest speakers, veterans, honor guard, and sculptor Brian Porter. Refreshments will be served following the ceremony. Located on the corner of Pearl & Prospect Ave., Medina.

• 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. – Medina Railroad Museum, Medina: Scene/skit set in 1920’s depicting actions of railroad freight agents and customers (two performances). Free admission for the day.

• 1 p.m. –  Rudely Stamp’d Performance at GCC, Medina: “Now We Stand by Each Other Always” –  an engaging conversation between Civil War Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman portrayed by Tracy Ford as Sherman and Derek Maxfield as Grant.

• 1 p.m. – Cobblestone Kids Day at the Cobblestone Museum, Childs: Illustrator Patty Blackburn will read “Cobble the Museum Mouse.” Each child will receive a copy of Cobble’s Coloring & Story Book. Make & Take a Cobble the Mouse holiday ornament. Tours of the Museum will be available at 3 p.m. with no admission charge for kids. Cobble the Mouse Scavenger Hunt forms are included with a full campus tour. $5 per child, accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration required: or 585-589-9013.

GCC professors Tracy Ford, right, and Derek Maxfield portray Civil War generals during a performance of Rudely Stamp’d in April at Hoag Library. Ford is General William Tecumseh Sherman and Maxfield is General Ulysses S. Grant in a 45-minute theatrical “conversation” between the two Civil War generals for the Union. They will perform Sept. 7 at GCC in Medina.

Sunday, Sept. 8

• 2 to 5 p.m. – Town of Murray & Village of Holley Museum of Local History, Holley: View Holley’s “Halloween Bell” cast by the McShane Bell Foundry in 1894 in Baltimore, MD. Free admission.

• 6 p.m. – Tour of Hillside Cemetery, Holley: County Historian Matthew Ballard and Clarendon Historian Melissa Ierlan will lead guests on a tour of Hillside Cemetery featuring stories about people buried there.

Tuesday, Sept. 10

• 7 p.m. – Roswell Burrows Lecture, Hoag Library’s lobby: Town of Albion Historian Ian Mowatt will be giving a talk about Roswell Burrows and a part of his estate.

Wednesday, Sept. 11

• 12:30 p.m. – The Heritage Fruit Farm Luncheon & Tour at Hurd Orchards: The luncheon will feature recipes taken from historic Orleans County recipe books from 1895 through the mid 20th century. A short talk after the luncheon will share the colorful history and development of the Hurd fruit farm properties – from Mattison’s Tavern to the Ridge Barn foundation, to a plank pioneer tenant house. Then there will be tour of a recently restored Greek Revival farmhouse, the oldest house in the Town of Murray, and a 1910 family home built from wood sawn from the Hurd woodland. Reservations required by calling 585-638-8838.

• 7 p.m. – Forensic Anthropology, Modern History and Honoring Our Dead, GCC Medina: Dr. Ann Bunch, Professor & Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, SUNY College at Brockport, along with her husband Steve (LT COL, US Army-Retired), will present a lecture titled, “Forensic Anthropology, Modern History and Honoring Our Dead.”

Ann is a nationally recognized expert in identifying remains of the deceased.  She and Steve were members of Joint Defense Department repatriation teams searching for the remains of fallen Americans in Southeast Asia. Ann will explore the compelling crossroads of forensics, history and emotional closure as she traces several multidisciplinary investigations – from the Vietnam War and the World Trade Center attack to recent criminal investigations in New York State.

Thursday, Sept. 12

• 7 p.m. – Author Melissa Ostrom at the Yates Community Library, Lyndonville: Melissa Ostrom, author, will discuss her novel, The Beloved Wild, with its setting of Orleans County in the early 19th century.

• 7 p.m. – Bill Lattin’s “Trivial Tales” at the Hoag Library-Curtis Room, Albion: local author & historian Bill Lattin will be sharing a few passages from his upcoming book Trivial Tales which feature various humorous historical tales related to various figures from Orleans County. (The release date for the book is still pending.)

Friday, Sept. 13 & Saturday, Sept. 14

• 8 p.m. – Murder & Mayhem Tour – Torch-lit Tour of Downtown Albion: Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian, will lead guests on a night-time tour of downtown Albion. Come hear the stories of the disappearance of William Morgan, Nehemiah Ingersoll’s crafty plan to secure the county seat, the murder of Pierpont Dyer, Albert Warner’s theft of thousands from the First National Bank of Albion, the murder of Alice Wilson, and many more! Guests are encouraged to bring a flashlight, wear comfortable shoes, and pack an umbrella (just in case!).

Saturday, Sept. 14

• 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Old Timer’s Fair at the Cobblestone Museum: The Cobblestone Museum will come alive with artisans and re-enactors as we recreate the feel of Orleans County life in the 19th century. A chicken BBQ is available for dining al fresco or take-out.

Theresa Jewell of Clarendon weaves with a loom during a Historic Trades Fair at the Cobblestone Museum on Aug. 27, 2017.  The fair highlighted 19th century craftsmen. The museum on Sept. 14 will host the Old Timer’s Fair.

Sunday, Sept. 15

• 1 p.m. – Medina Sandstone Society’s Hall of Fame, City Hall, 590 Main St., Medina: Established in 2013, the Hall of Fame is a display of informational plaques of sandstone structures in NY & PA that have been deemed worthy of inclusion in the Sandstone Hall of Fame. Free admission.

• 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Medina Sandstone Society Bus Tour: County-wide narrated bus tour of Medina Sandstone structures with Bill Lattin, narrator (above right). Refreshments included. Reservations required, email $25 members, $30 non-members.

• 4:30 p.m. – Concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Medina: A concert featuring soloist, Patricia L. Worrad, Soprano with songs of years past at the church built in the middle of the street as stated in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”. St. John’s church is built of Medina Sandstone and home of the oldest church congregation in the county.

For more on the festival, click here.

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Clarendon farmer was substitute for Barre resident during Civil War

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 31 August 2019 at 8:10 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 5, Issue 34

CLARENDON – Received as part of a recent donation, this undated photograph of Samuel Perkins was carefully slid into the pages of the Joiner family album from Barre, New York.

Based on other images in the album, which included photographs of Judge Sanford E. Church and Dr. Samuel Cochrane, the collection of photographs probably belonged to Marvin K. Joiner. Joiner was the son of Erastus Burnham Joiner and Caroline Church. The obverse side of this image reads, “Sam Perkins, substitute for Marvin K. in Civil War for $300.”

The Enrollment Act, also known as the Conscription Act, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863. As a result, all “able-bodied” male citizens and any immigrant with intentions of becoming a citizen between the ages of twenty and forty-five became eligible for the first military draft. Of course, the government implemented a list of potential exemptions from the draft including select government officials, the only sons of widows dependent upon his support, and the only son of elderly parents who were dependent upon his support, just to name a few.

As an alternative option, men of wealth could identify and present a “suitable substitute” to enter the Union Army in his place. If a substitute was not presented, the man could pay $300 to the Secretary of War, which covered the expense of locating and paying a stand-in. Bounty jumpers became prevalent as men accepted the $300 pay, quickly deserted, and enlisted in a neighboring town to receive an additional $300.

Research on Samuel Perkins suggests that he was a veteran of the Civil War, however, there are no records to confirm that he was paid a bounty by the federal government. It is likely that Perkins was selected by Joiner, paid directly by him, and enlisted with the 6th New York Cavalry. Although the name Samuel Perkins appears on the regimental roster, there is no enlistment or muster information and he deserted in March of 1862.

Very little is known of his early life. The son of Warren and Dorothy Cady Perkins, Samuel spent his earliest years on a farm in Barre before relocating to Clarendon after the War. He was first married to Almira Love, who died on July 4, 1859, and later remarried to Esther Benham of Byron.

His name appears briefly in David Sturges Copeland’s “History of Clarendon,” to which Copeland writes, “On the fine location of Samuel Perkins lived, very early, John Sturdevant, whose name may be found in 1829.” An 1875 map of Clarendon shows S. Perkins living on the southwest corner where New Guinea and Upper Holley roads intersect. In June of 1894 when a Mrs. G. A. Riggs lost her red cashmere shawl, she referred to the location as “Perkins’ Corners” when writing to the Holley Standard asking residents to kindly watch for it along the road.

The latter years of Samuel’s life are just as mysterious. After the passing of his wife Esther in 1894, he lived as a boarder on several farms in the Clarendon area, including that of John Stevens in 1900. In 1915, he was admitted to the Orleans County Poor House, under unknown circumstances, where he remained for 185 days until his death on April 1, 1916.

His name appears in the annual report submitted to the Board of Supervisors by the Leigh Hill, Superintendent of the Poor. Records indicate that he “left no known relatives” and that he may have been interred at Mt. Albion Cemetery even though his wife’s headstone at the Byron Cemetery reads, “Samuel C. Perkins, 1823-1916.”

What remains most interesting is that this particular image of Perkins found its way into the pages of the Joiner family photo album, the only photograph of a non-family member.

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Medina’s Empire Couch Company did a bustling furniture business

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 24 August 2019 at 6:38 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 5, Issue 33

MEDINA – One of Medina’s most prosperous businesses during the early portion of the 20th century was the Empire Couch Company established by Earl Card and Walter Marvin in 1901.

Prior to establishing a factory in Medina, the small outfit operated out of Middleport with mild success. After the company purchased the Bignall Works facility and constructed a new building in its place, the business was sold to J. D. Smith.

With financial support from Alonzo Phillips, the company witnessed considerable growth during the following years. The original factory was a 40-foot by 140-foot building equipped with electric lighting, heat, and hot water but demand for merchandise forced the company to expand relatively soon after. This image shows the facility after that expansion, the photograph taken on March 20, 1913 as part of New York State’s assessment of land and property leading up to the 1913-14 expansion of the Erie Canal.

The three-story building was broken into four sections; the closest section consisted of lumber storage in the basement, a coating room on the first floor, and a stockroom on the second floor. The next section contained a woodworking shop in the basement, a staining and varnishing room on the first floor, and upholstering space on the second. The next portion contained a room for preparing shipments on the first floor and a continuation of the upholstering space on the second. The final section on the southern end was an office and cloth storage space. Several piles of lumber used for manufacturing furniture are visible in the distance.

When New York State started the process of expanding and widening the Erie Canal in 1913, the Empire Couch Company was given $13,888 for the land and buildings on this property and was forced to relocate to a new site on Orient Street near the intersection of Short Street immediately north of the railroad tracks. The forced relocation was a welcomed one as the demand for fine furniture built in Medina was growing at an exponential rate. The area newspapers praised the high quality of furniture made by the company and its high rate of employment.

On October 14, 1930 the Medina Daily Journal published an article noting the company’s steady and prosperous growth stating, “This plant does its share to make the wheels of industry in Medina go round and there is every indication that it will continue to do so in the future.”

Unfortunately, the Lockport Union Sun and Journal published an announcement the following year on November 3, 1931 stating that the Central Bank of Medina was closing due to the decline of the bond market. With the majority of the company’s funds held by that bank, the closure forced the Empire Couch Company to go bankrupt.

With the company’s liabilities totaling close to $40,000 and assets equaling about the same, a bankruptcy auction was held and the property sold to William J. Gallagher’s trucking outfit. With that auction in 1935 went a successful but short-lived Medina enterprise.

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Reynolds & Flintham were Main Street entrepreneurs in Albion a century ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 17 August 2019 at 8:18 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 5, Issue 32

ALBION – One of Orleans County’s oldest funeral homes is likely that of Merrill-Grinnell, which dates well beyond the 1870s. This image shows two predecessors to the current business, Cassius M. C. Reynolds and William S. Flintham, standing in front of their store on North Main Street in Albion. Reynolds purchased this business from his father-in-law George W. Ough, who was a prominent businessman and president of the Albion Board of Trustees.

It is thought that the lineage of this business dates back as far as George M. Pullman, who ran a furniture making business in Albion during his tenure in Orleans County. The business later transitioned to Ough, then to Reynolds and Flintham who operated the outfit into the 1920s. Reynolds & Flintham were known locally for dealing crockery, glassware, and furniture in addition to their work as undertakers.

This image clearly showcases the stock of crockery and glassware carried by the business, visible both through the store windows and on the table standing outside. Several chairs are situated in front of the building and a number of prams are on display; from simple models to the more ornate such as the piece parked next to William Goff, which features a suspension system, ensuring a comfortable ride for the passenger.

Mr. Goff’s tenure with the business dated back to Ough’s ownership when at the age of 16 he first applied for a job. He became somewhat of a local celebrity in regards to his work as a funeral director and embalmer; his claim to fame was being the first to cover a casket in cloth for use in Orleans County. In his earliest years working with Ough, caskets were made to order, but he watched the industry develop as he worked over 40 years through the ownership of Ough, Reynolds & Flintham, and Merrill.

In 1926 the business was sold to John B. Merrill of Holley, who partnered with his son Roy to start J. B. Merrill & Son. Goff remained with Merrill for nearly 13 years before his own retirement and upon his death he was regarded as one of the oldest funeral directors and embalmers in Western New York at the age of 83.

J. B. Merrill & Son existed as Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes until Christopher Mitchell acquired the funeral homes in Albion and Holley in 2017. One other notable feature of this image is the reflection in the windows of the storefront. The beautiful white fence and trees were situated in front of the mansion of Lorenzo Burrows, which still stands today as the home of Key Bank.

William Flintham and his son, Stuart J. Flintham were both featured on the Aug. 11 tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery. This week’s tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery, set for Aug. 18 at 6 p.m., will include stories about notable Orleans County veterans buried in the western section.

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Albion woman served as University of Rochester’s first female faculty member

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 10 August 2019 at 9:01 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 31

Dr. Elizabeth Denio

ALBION – Last weekend’s tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery focused on notable “movers and shakers” from Orleans County, including Dr. Elizabeth Denio.

Elizabeth Harriet Denio was born to John and Celinda Weatherwax Denio on August 3, 1842 at the family’s farm in Albion, now part of the Correctional Facility. A printer by trade, John Denio became a respected citizen of Albion due in part to his time as publisher of the Orleans American. As a young girl, Elizabeth attended the local schools but as the daughter of a prominent family, she was afforded the opportunity to attend the Phipps Union Seminary. Upon the completion of her education there, she later attended and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1866, followed by a very brief term as an instructor at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY.

In 1876 she became a professor of German and Art History at Wellesley College until taking a leave of absence in 1883 to travel abroad. While in Germany, she commenced study at Leipzig, Berlin, and Heidelberg, focusing on German philology (language) and art history. In 1896 she was fired from Wellesley College due to her antiquated teaching style after the arrival of the institution’s new president. It was nearly two years later in 1898 that she received her Doctor of Philosophy from Heidelberg, writing her thesis entitled “The Life and Works of Nicolas Poussin.” This defining piece on the French Baroque artist was printed in 1899 by Charles Scribner and Sons of New York.

Upon her return to the United States, she was appointed to a position as a lecturer of art history at the University of Rochester in 1902. This appointment marked a significant milestone in the University’s history as Denio became the first female member of the institution’s faculty. In his 1910 report, University President Benjamin Rush Rhees noted that “Dr. Denio’s work has been elected increasingly by our students…there are few persons in the country so well equipped to do this work, and it is work which it is very advantageous for our women to take;” this also came with a promotion to the title of “Instructor in the History of Art.”

In the earliest years of her tenure at the University, a lack of funding required for a permanent position forced the institution to hire her on an annual appointment by special action. Emily Sibley Watson, the daughter of Western Union founder Hiram Sibley, was largely responsible for funding Denio’s remuneration in those early years. After her retirement in 1917, she was made an Emeritus Professor.

On December 23, 1922, Dr. Denio prepared to cross from the south curb of East Avenue at Meigs Street Rochester when she was struck by a car driven by Theodore Drescher. In an effort to avoid the elderly woman, Drescher slammed on his brakes forcing the car to spin out of control and striking Denio with the rear of the vehicle. After she was knocked to the ground, a vehicle driven by Charles Flint passed over Denio’s body. She was quickly rushed to the Homeopathic Hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.

As noted by Bill Lattin (Bethinking of Old Orleans v. 16, no. 10), “Dr. Denio was known to be a stimulating conversationalist who had a broad spectrum of friends. Local lore conjectures that she became accustomed to men’s clothing while studying in Germany, for upon her return to this country, she was seen to appear in pants and supposedly enjoyed cigars. Denio’s lasting legacy remains in the form of the Memorial Art Gallery, an institution that she was influential in developing in 1913.”

The tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery this Sunday, Aug. 11, will feature Orleans County’s wealthiest, most famous, and eccentric residents. Gathering at the chapel, the group will depart at 6:05 p.m. for a walk through the west section of the cemetery.

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Mt. Albion replaced small municipal burial grounds in 1843

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 3 August 2019 at 8:25 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 30

“We have met to provide a mansion for the dead. We have come out from our quiet homes and the bright sunlight and the crowded streets and all the garish show of life, to this secluded spot to set apart a last final resting place where the weary pilgrim…may come and lay down his burden forever…” – Daniel R. Cady, Esq.

ALBION – Benjamin Franklin once said that there are but two certainties in life; death and taxes. For the pioneers of Albion, the question of a sacred final resting place plagued them from the earliest years of settlement. Small burial grounds existed within the village limits, but the harsh realities of life and death proved problematic for these noble citizens.

It became apparent soon after the incorporation of the village that a cemetery on East State Street would be quickly overcome with the bodies of those who succumbed to the tribulations of pioneer life. Discussions shifted to purchasing land outside of the municipal boundaries, which required an amendment to the village charter. Yet after careful consideration, the proposition to amend the charter was replaced by a full redrafting of the document under the care and attention of Arad Thomas and Lorenzo Burrows.

Upon the conclusion of this task, Alexis Ward and Lorenzo Burrows were charged with selecting an appropriate site for this new municipal cemetery. A large sandy drumlin east of the village limits provided the ideal spot for the burial of local citizens. The village purchased 25 acres from Lyman Patterson and Jacob Annis, the land containing a mixture of rolling meadows and wooded hills; $1,000 was the final price.

It is believed that upon the dedication of the cemetery on September 7, 1843, that the first lots were sold at auction. Those families who purchased graves were responsible for the initial upkeep of these final resting spots. Even after the first interment occurred in October of 1843, the care of individual lots were lacking in even the smallest of improvements. For nearly 20 years, it was the responsibility of the village trustees to oversee the management of the cemetery. With no dedicated caretaker or supervisor, the work often fell upon the village president.

The response to this problem was the appointment of Dr. Lemuel Paine, Lorenzo Burrows, and Henry Sickels as the first three commissioners of the cemetery while Michael Hanley was hired as the first caretaker. The first task of the commissioners was to construct a receiving vault and caretaker’s house on the western end of the cemetery (now the main entrance).

According to research by Marguerite Monacelli and Eleanor Wilder, a schedule of allowance for services was established:

1. Digging a grave and attendance of burial service for a child under 12: $1.00 without box, $1.50 with box.

2. Digging a grave and attendance of burial service for person over 12: $1.50 without box, $2.00 with box.

3. Depositing of remains in vault: $.50 with burial in Mt. Albion, $1.00 with burial in another cemetery.

4. Improving and ornamenting lots owned by individuals: $1.00 per day.

As families decided to relocate graves from small family burial grounds starting in the early 1860s, a fee of $3.00 was assessed per interment and added costs associated with the construction of “vaults” from stone or brick.

The history of Mt. Albion is a lengthy one and far too long to contain within the confines of one article. However, we fast-forward to 1912 when the top image was taken. At the center is the cemetery’s main entryway, surrounded by trees and beautiful flowers carefully arranged throughout the landscape. The “small” fountain is representative of other smaller fountains situated throughout the grounds. In 1914, Emma Ingersoll provided for the installation of the large fountain constructed by William Karns of Albion. The following year, Ingersoll’s will provided for a granite bench that was installed at a cost of $500.00.

In keeping with tradition, the County Historian will host tours of Mt. Albion Cemetery starting on Sunday, August 4th at 6 p.m. Tours will take place every Sunday during the month (Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25) starting at 6 p.m. from the chapel. Tours will cover the majority of the cemetery grounds over the course of four Sundays and visit a number of notable local politicians, entrepreneurs, activists, and criminals. These events are free and open to the public – please contact the Historian at or 585-589-4174 with any questions.

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Summer tours planned for Mount Albion, Hillside cemeteries

Posted 28 July 2019 at 5:58 pm

Torch-lit tour of Downtown Albion set for September

Press Release, Orleans County Historian Matthew Ballard

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard stops at the Pullman family grave at Mount Albion Cemetery during a tour of the cemetery in August 2016. James Lewis Pullman, father of sleeping car magnate George Pullman, is buried at Albion’s historic cemetery.

The Orleans County Department of History in partnership with the Orleans County Historical Association will host a series of cemetery and community tours in August and September.

• August 4th at 6 p.m. – Mt. Albion Cemetery, Albion

This “Movers and Shakers” tour will explore the gravesites of notable Orleans County residents including Roswell Burrows, John Proctor, Rufus Bullock, and Elizabeth Denio. Visitors will have the opportunity to stop at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The group will assemble at the cemetery chapel and depart at 6:05 p.m. – this tour includes large hills.

• August 11th at 6 p.m. – Mt. Albion Cemetery, Albion

A “Wealthy, Famous, and Eccentric” tour will take visitors on journey through Orleans County’s most interesting residents, including E. K. Hart, Hank Porter, Charlie Howard, and Lewis Sands. The group will assemble at the cemetery chapel and depart at 6:05 p.m. – this tour route is relatively flat.

• August 18th at 6 p.m. – Mt. Albion Cemetery, Albion

Through “Courage and Honor,” visitors will tour the gravesites of local veterans including Jesse Brooks, Andrew Hall, Ross Brown, William Collins, Virginia Sheret, and Charles Harris, a local Medal of Honor recipient. The group will assemble at the cemetery chapel and depart at 6:05 p.m. – this tour route is relatively flat.

• August 25th at 6 p.m. – Mt. Albion Cemetery, Albion

This concluding tour, “Pioneers and Politicians,” will take visitors to the gravesites of Albion’s most interesting pioneer and political figures; stops will include Ben Field, George Ough, Calvin and Juliette Beach, and a stop at the grave of Joseph Van Camp, whose home was the site of Orleans County’s most gruesome murder. The group will assemble at the cemetery chapel and depart at 6:05 p.m. – this tour route includes some larger hills.

• September 8th at 6 p.m. – Hillside Cemetery, Clarendon

Orleans County Historian Matthew Ballard and Clarendon Town Historian Melissa Ierlan will lead a tour of Hillside Cemetery as part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival. The group will meet at the cemetery chapel and depart at 6:05 p.m.

• September 13th & 14th at 8 p.m. – Murder & Mayhem: Torch-lit Tour of Downtown Albion

Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian, will lead guests on a nighttime tour of downtown Albion. Come hear the stories of the disappearance of William Morgan, Nehemiah Ingersoll’s crafty plan to secure the county seat, the murder of Pierpont Dyer, Albert Warner’s theft of thousands from the First National Bank of Albion, the murder of Alice Wilson, and many more! Guests are encouraged to bring a flashlight, wear comfortable shoes, and pack an umbrella (just in case!).

The tour will meet at 34 E. Park Street in Albion (Central Hall) and will include a stop at the Downtown Browsery for free snacks. Visitors are encouraged to visit restaurants and shops downtown prior to the tour and should bring a flashlight.

All tours are free and open to the public, no advanced registration is required. Tours will take place rain or shine, so bring an umbrella or jacket in case of inclement weather. Additional information about upcoming events and notifications about changes or cancellations can be found on the Department of History’s Facebook page or the Historian’s website,

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