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Erie Canal made Knowlesville a hotspot, busy enough for a hotel

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 April 2020 at 8:29 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 13

I received two friendly phone calls from Bill Lattin and Betsy Hoffman (Town of Carlton Historian) last week correcting last week’s article (v. 6, no. 13). Although the information was correct, the photograph is of a hotel that once stood at Knowlesville. So as a correction, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a short piece about the hotel in the photograph!

Isaac Signor’s Landmarks of Orleans County, New York notes that the earliest hotel in this area was likely kept by William Knowles in the first framed house built at that location in 1825. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 created the need for a stopping point at this location, a much-needed place for rest. An 1860 map of Niagara and Orleans counties shows the “American Hotel” situated on the property shown in this photography. The building was situated on the southeast corner of Knowlesville and Presbyterian roads and a storefront was connected the hotel to the north, which is visible on the left-hand side of the image.

Similar to the hotel at Point Breeze, this hotel was destroyed by fire on July 21, 1913. The July 22, 1913 edition of the Medina Daily Journal ran the devastating conflagration as its headline story; “KNOWLESVILLE VISITED BY A $27,000 FIRE LAST NIGHT.” Caused by an overheated chimney in the hotel’s kitchen, the fire spread quickly through the large frame structure. According to the paper, “…in a short space of time dense smoke was pouring from the windows, quickly followed by the licking, eager flames. With no immediate and adequate fire protection, the situation quickly became a very serious one.” A bucket brigade was formed as the community eagerly awaited assistance from fire companies in Medina and Albion.

Despite the efforts of the firefighters, the flames spread to the building of Dr. Edward G. Hall, which was occupied by Fred Hall’s drug store, Dr. Laverne Waters’ office, Frank Higgins’ barber shop, and Ross Achilles’ electrical office. While the fire raged in the hotel proper, nearby residents assisted in emptying the drug store, the attached post office, and removed several pool tables and other equipment from the hotel. The flames eventually spread to the transformers of the Swett Electric Company, forcing the shutdown of electricity to the community. This prevented the use of the lift bridge, bringing traffic on the Canal to a halt.

According to the Daily Journal, “Forty years ago this same section was devastated with a fire. Frame buildings were erected – a business block and hotel – and for over thirty years the little village has been left in peace.” The total loss included Harry Barnum’s Knowlesville Hotel ($15,000), the Hall Block ($10,000), Frank Hall’s Harness and Shoe Shop ($400), and private residences owned by John Whitwell, George Ames, and stores owned by John Whitwell and M. W. Tilden. Fire insurance in the area cost approximately $3.45 per hundred, which made adequate coverage cost prohibitive. The total value of the loss, not covered by insurance, was around $20,000.

The hotel was eventually rebuilt as the structure that now sits on the same corner.

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The Point Breeze Hotel offered respite on shore of Lake Ontario

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 March 2020 at 8:53 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 12

POINT BREEZE – This glass plate negative was recently found in a collection of images within the Department of History. Although the collection is not labeled, it is believed that the photographs are from the Carlton and Point Breeze area. Based on the content of the other images, this photograph appears to show a hotel once operated by Lewis Rogers. This photograph was likely taken before 1911 when the building was destroyed by a fire.

The history of the Point Breeze Hotel dates to around 1840 when, according to Isaac Signor, a small hotel was constructed on this site. Shortly after Capt. Jonathan Murray arrived in the area in the late 1840s, he acquired this property and expanded the hotel building as part of a larger warehouse and ship building operation.

Around 1876, the property was transferred to Moses Broadwell and Chester Warner who operated the hotel until 1881 when Lewis Rogers and L. Sydney Crooker acquired the property. That particular transaction involved a land swap including acreage in Wisconsin and financial interests in property associated with the Central Hotel in Batavia for ownership of the Orleans House at Point Breeze.

Around 1901 the property was sold by Rogers and Crooker to Mary Virginia Bascom of Boston, Massachusetts for the sum of $4,000. The property transfer seems to suggest that Rogers was unable to continue payments on his mortgage. Even though Mrs. Bascom took ownership of the hotel, Lewis Rogers continued to operate the hotel on site.

In late March of 1911, a fire started in the hotel’s kitchen around 3:30 a.m. while Rogers was visiting friends in Vermont. Although the neighborhood responded to fight the fire, gusty winds off the lake made it nearly impossible to control the blaze. The $6,000 building and over $3,000 in personal property owned by Rogers were only partially covered by insurance. Cutting his losses, Rogers transitioned into the role of proprietor of the Cottage House (now the Black North Inn).

The local newspapers noted a peculiar notice that appeared on the fire-damaged structure on May 18, 1911:

“This land is not for sale and no other lands that Mrs. Bascom owned prior to May 18, 1911 and no deed will be valid unless given by C. A. Deavenport, who owns every foot of land, every building, every stick of lumber of every name and nature and who has a bill of sale for every foot of land which Mrs. Bascom owned prior to May 18, 1911.”

The reason for the rather abrasive sign is unknown, but Deavenport purchased several old lumber sheds previously owned by A. V. Clark with the intention of converting the structures into lakefront cottages. It was believed that he intended to construct a bungalow on the site of the old Point Breeze Hotel for his personal use, but the hotel was rebuilt and operated under the name “Lakeland Hotel.” After remaining under the proprietorship of Lewis Rogers for more than 30 years, the property was sold numerous times over the coming years. In 1921, Deavenport sold the property to his son Carl, who then sold it to Clarence Egbert in 1922. It was transferred to Buffalo Parkside Properties, Inc. in 1929, then sold to Emma Kelemen the same year, once again sold to Clara Norton in 1931, then to Dorothy Valtas in 1933.

Around 1940, the hotel property was sold to Joseph Winghart of Lyndonville who changed the name to the “Winghart Hotel.” Winghart and his brother Bernard were known rum runners during Prohibition. The hotel again burned in the early 1940s and although the origin of the fire was never determined, Winghart was certain arson was the cause. Other sales included a transfer to Fred and Annabelle Hollenbeck who changed the name back to the Lakeland Hotel, sale of the property to Harvey Bardo of Rochester in 1946, and transfer of the hotel in 1956 to Herbert Seiler.

Although this building is long gone, locals will remember the property as the The Lakeland, The Barbary Coast, and was most recently the home of Gene and Joette Haines.

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In 1918, more than 2,000 people in Orleans got the Spanish Flu

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 21 March 2020 at 8:47 am

Historian urges people to document experiences during current coronavirus

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 11

As our community comes together to support one another during the current COVID-19 epidemic, we must remember to document our own stories for posterity. The local written record of events relating to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic is minimal and limited to statistical records gathered by the New York State Department of Health and scattered newspaper clippings.

Diaries and journals would provide the greatest detail from first-hand accounts. Although we have some limited oral histories from the 1970s provided by those who grew up during the pandemic, it is difficult to gain an accurate picture of the everyday lives of Orleans County’s residents. As a historian, I urge everyone to document the events we are living through so that future historians may have an opportunity to understand the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on our lives.

In 1919, the New York State Department of Health provided documentation on the Spanish Influenza (H1N1) pandemic as it spread across the country. Early documentation suggests that Kansas was the first location where the disease was encountered. The Department of Health wrote that “the use of the term ‘Spanish’ is unfortunate and has served to create the impression that a new and especially dreadful disease has appeared.” Historians have noted that the term “Spanish Influenza” likely resulted from the lack of press censorship in neutral Spain during World War One, where the influenza outbreak was publicized far more than in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Spanish Influenza caused a variety of symptoms, the most prevalent being a temperature between 102-105ºF, body aches, nasal discharge, and a dry cough. Some cases included red or watery eyes, a slightly red throat, nausea, and diarrhea. Of course, atypical cases presented with minimal symptoms but remained highly infectious. Lacking antivirals and vaccines, physicians relied upon isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, disinfectants, and limited public gatherings to mitigate the spread of the disease. The fact that approximately 30% of U.S. physicians were deployed into military service limited access to health services in rural locations throughout New York.

The New York State Department of Health relied upon preexisting policies and procedures to limit the spread of the virus. According to Sanitary Code, spitting in public places, on sidewalks, and on the floors of public buildings was forbidden and considered a misdemeanor. The Public Health Council also pushed for legislation that made it a misdemeanor to cough or sneeze without properly covering your mouth or nose. Physicians treating infected patients were encouraged to wash their hands frequently and wear gauze masks whenever possible.

When quarantining those with influenza, individuals were expected to remain secluded inside of a well-ventilated room when families were around. Dishes and utensils used for eating were to be boiled after use and handkerchiefs, napkins, and towels were burned after use. In locations where large portions of the community were infected, the Department of Health encouraged no public funerals, keeping windows open to ensure adequate ventilation, and closing amusement locations (specifically movies and theatres).

Although the Spanish Influenza was deadly to children under five and adults over 65 years of age, the virus also affected a relatively healthy segment of the population, those between the ages of 20 and 40. In Orleans County between October and December of 1918, the Department of Health estimated 2,279 cases of influenza across a population of 33,919 (approximately 6.7% of the total county population). Comparatively speaking, outbreaks of other communicable illnesses such as the measles (79 cases), Scarlet Fever (35 cases), and Tuberculosis (33 cases) dwarfed in comparison.

Newspapers provide a glimpse at the local response to the influenza pandemic. In early October of 1918, Brent Wood presented as the first confirmed case of influenza in Albion. The son of Rev. Edwin Wood of the Pullman Universalist Church, Brent was taken ill at Buffalo where he was to enter military service.

In the coming weeks, the Gillett and Benton Corners School Districts in Barre closed due to influenza outbreaks and other school districts followed suit. Teachers received their regular salary if the school closed on account of sickness, however, teachers who proactively closed their school would not receive pay for the duration of the voluntary closure.

In mid-October, the Medina Board of Trustees mandated the closure of all churches, theatres, schools, fraternal organizations, and public meetings, anticipating a need to shut down for one to two months. Although cases locally subsided into late October, the celebration of peace on November 11, 1918 caused a spike in cases throughout Western New York.

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Frances Folsom, First Lady from Medina, was a celebrity with style

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 7 March 2020 at 8:07 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 10

Frances Folsom moved from Buffalo to Medina after her father’s death on July 23, 1875, when he was killed in a carriage accident. Folsom lived in Medina for three years with her mother and grandmother.

“I am waiting for my wife to grow up.” – Grover Cleveland

As a young bachelor in Buffalo, Cleveland was said to have muttered these very words to his sisters who frequently asked him about his intentions to marry. His statement, although witty, held a certain degree of truth and it is with that truth that the story of Frances Folsom is told.

In 1996 an historic roadside marker was installed at the corner of Main and Eagle Streets in Medina, denoting the structure that Folsom called home for a brief moment in her life during the 1870s. The marker reads: “Frances Folsom lived here in the mid-1870s with her grandmother and attended Medina High School. In 1886 at age 21 she wed Pres. Grover Cleveland.”

The daughter of Oscar and Emma Harmon Folsom, Frances was born July 21, 1864 at Buffalo, New York where her father practiced law with Grover Cleveland in a firm known as Lanning, Cleveland and Folsom. Folsom and Cleveland became close friends after a failed run for the office of Erie County District Attorney left Cleveland with a sense of defeat. It was said that Cleveland doted on the young girl, purchasing the first baby carriage for Frances.

On July 23, 1875, Oscar Folsom was tragically killed when he was thrown from his carriage in Buffalo’s Black Rock district. Cleveland was made administrator of Folsom’s will, but sources vary on whether Cleveland was, in fact, made the legal guardian of Frances.

Oscar’s widow and eleven-year-old daughter relocated to Medina to live with Ruth Harmon, the grandmother of Frances, while Cleveland settled the estate. During the approximately three years that she lived in Medina, “Frankie” as she was later known (a nickname much to her disliking), became a popular pupil among fellow students and teachers at the Medina high school. It was after Cleveland finalized his business partner’s estate that Emma and Frances returned to Buffalo.

Frances continued her studies at Central High School in Buffalo and eventually entered the sophomore class at Wells College where she was attending when Cleveland was inaugurated for his first term. Despite her best efforts to attend the prestigious event, she was not permitted to miss classes. After her graduation in 1885, Frances was whisked off to Europe by her mother at the urging of Cleveland so that she could experience the culture of the old world. At this time it was suspected by the public that Emma was visiting Europe to purchase her wedding dress under the assumption that Cleveland was courting the elder Folsom. Upon their return to New York on May 27, 1886, an announcement was made the following day noting Cleveland’s engagement to Frances and not Emma as previously thought.

On June 2, 1886 Grover and Frances were wed in the Blue Room, the stately parlor on the first floor of the White House, becoming the only couple to celebrate their wedding in the executive mansion. Frances became an instant celebrity, the press following her every move. As a fashionable young woman, she frequently wore gowns that were edgy for the time. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was floored by her frequent wearing of gowns that revealed bare shoulders, claiming it negatively influenced young women. She quickly became a marketing tool for companies that used her likeness to sell goods. Others marketed goods on claims that she either purchased or used the goods herself, suggesting that Mrs. Cleveland was endorsing the products. Harper’s Magazine went as far as to feature her as a frequent cover subject, which undoubtedly assisted the periodical with the sale of issues.

While companies benefited from the marketability of the President’s wife, one Democratic Congressman attempted to pass a bill that would stop the widespread use of any woman’s image for commercial purposes without her written permission. Although the piece of legislation did not specifically address her by name, the bill was clearly aimed at alleviating the external pressures felt by the Clevelands at the hands of the corporate world.

Suffering a heart attack at the age of 71, Grover Cleveland passed away on June 24, 1908; his widow 27 years younger than he, remained at Princeton, New Jersey where she would remarry to Thomas Preston nearly five years later. She died in her sleep on October 29, 1947 and was laid to rest next to her first husband in Princeton Cemetery.

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At Leap Year parties in yesteryear, men paid by the pound

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 29 February 2020 at 8:20 am

‘Weight Socials’ provided fundraising opportunity for local organizations

 “Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 9

With one extra day this year, I thought it would be interesting to dive into some early newspapers to extract a handful of interesting “February 29th” events. Lo and behold, the leap year provided few notable deviations from everyday life. That is, of course, aside from the prevalence of “Leap Year Parties” scattered throughout the calendar.

However, one particular paragraph published in the February 28, 1884 edition of the Holley Standard caught my eye. Lyman Preston was scheduled to host a “Weight Social” at his home in Clarendon on Friday, the 29th of February. A rather foreign occasion to readers today, the Standard was kind enough to provide some brief insight into this unique gathering. The social event paired men and women together based on luck, with the occasional dire consequence for the unsuspecting gentleman. Each guest received a card as they arrived and on that card was a number; lucky couples would identify themselves by matching numbers.

Then the real fun began. As in the case of Mr. Preston’s party, each man paid one cent for every ten pounds that the lady “he may draw” will weigh. After confirming the lady’s weight on a scale, the gentleman paid his debt. The couple would then eat supper together, usually a meal that the woman prepared. The Holley Standard provided some additional, yet perhaps snarky, context to the story. “Gentleman will please remember and carry sufficient of the “needful” to meet any emergency that may arise. Clarendon has been noted for stout women…”

The ”emergency” referenced here came by way of female attendants who tied rocks, horseshoes, or other objects to their hoop skirts in order to increase their weight on the scale. These socials served the purpose of raising funds for charitable and religious organizations in the community. Often organized and hosted by ladies’ societies, it was in their best interest to tip the scales when possible to increase contributions.

Lyman Preston’s weight social was not the only gathering of its kind held that year. On December 11th of the same year, an ad in the Holley Standard read, “Pick out a good heavy girl and attend the Good Templars weight social at McCargo’s Hall tomorrow night. A jolly time is anticipated.” In fact, it appears that the International Organization of Good Templars in Holley frequently hosted these events in the 1880s.

Another social in December of 1884 received considerable attention. The papers wrote, “Now let every young man who feels an interest in the organization display his generosity by taking to supper the heaviest young lady he can find…he may equalize matters by taking two smaller ones.” Hoping to raise money to support the organization’s temperance activities, women were weighed as they arrived, given a number, and the corresponding number placed in a bag. Men pulled numbers from the bag and paid the price per pound before sitting down to eat. The Standard included a follow-up article noting, “one girl, with an eye to the shekels, hung some heavy clock weights from her waist under her dress and made herself weigh 209 pounds! Her partner had cold shivers when he saw the beam balance.”

On March 1, 1888 (another leap year), Henry Brown held a weight social at his home to raise funds for the Good Templars. “It was amusing in the extreme to notice the contrast in some of the couples who sat down to a sumptuous supper, the largest man present escorted a little dot weighing less than 80 lbs.” Of course, the odd pairings of attendees became the most entertaining feature of these fundraising events.

The weight social represented just one of many interesting social gatherings. The Box Social placed additional emphasis on the prepared supper, where women wrote their name on a card and placed it inside of a box with a meal they prepared. Men bid on each box, paid the fee, and enjoyed supper with the woman who prepared it.

A local “Old Folks Social” encouraged attendees to bust open their old trunks and dress in pioneer attire for a party; what an antiquated sight! Conundrum Socials or Quiz Socials paired men and women together based on questions and answers. The occasional Sock Social required guests to fill old socks with pennies, which were then deposited in a large sock hung at the party venue.

Then, of course, was the very rare and mysterious “Handsome Social,” once hosted by Mrs. Minerva Pratt of Clarendon. Although it attracted considerable attention from local papers, they never provided a detailed explanation of the event. It is surmised that the social included an activity similar to a “Bachelor Auction.”

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Albion native was University of Rochester’s first African American student

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 22 February 2020 at 8:04 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 8

Photograph of Henry Spencer courtesy of the University of Rochester

The history of Orleans County’s African American population in the earliest decades of our area is scarce and unknown in many aspects.

Some residents may be familiar with the story of Richard Gordineer who, as an infant, was sold by his father to Joseph Grant; Grant eventually settled in the Shelby/Medina area. After New York abolished slavery in 1827, Gordineer became a free man and a well-respected citizen of Medina. Other stories involve families, like those of Henry Spencer and Jacob Carter, who came to Western New York with local Union army officers at the conclusion of the Civil War.

Spencer came to Orleans County with Lt. Hiram Sickels of the 17th New York Light Independent Artillery sometime around 1866. After earning enough money working for George Sickels, he brought his wife and children to this area. One of Spencer’s sons, Henry Austin, spent the majority of his teenage years working for Asa and William Howard as an errand boy until he reached adulthood. While he worked, he made his best efforts to attend the local schools, which he attended for approximately three months out of the year. A biographical sketch of Spencer noted that he kept up with his fellow classmates by “burning the midnight oil.”

He attended Miss Mabel Foster’s boarding school in Philadelphia, becoming the first African American admitted to that institution where he quickly became one of the more popular students. Spencer then attended the Brockport Normal School, where he was one of the few African American students at an institution with several hundred students.

The impressive young man graduated in 1880, about 10 years after Fannie Barrier Williams became the first African American student to graduate from the school. During commencement week, Spencer was selected as the Gamma Sigma orator, an honor that earned him a full scholarship to the University of Rochester shortly after. It was not the scholarship that was unprecedented, but Spencer’s acceptance to the University, which marked the first time in the history of the institution that an African American was accepted into the institution.

Upon the conclusion of his schooling, he studied law under the Hon. George H. Smith of Rochester while working to support his family. Spencer was appointed to a position in Albany in the speaker’s room thanks to a former University of Rochester classmate, Hon. James M. E. O’Grady. When S. Fred Nixon assumed the role as speaker of the State Assembly, Spencer was appointed as Nixon’s confidential clerk, a position which he continued to hold through the tenure of the Hon. James Wadsworth, Jr.

Upon his retirement in 1929, he had served in government for over 30 years and worked for a period of time under Governor Alfred E. Smith and other prominent state officials. At the time of his death on September 25, 1935 in Rochester, he was one of the area’s more prominent African American citizens. He was a past grand master of the New York State Colored Masons, an organization which consisted of over 2,000 members across New York.

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Medina native was member of famed 54th Massachusetts in Civil War

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 15 February 2020 at 8:05 am

Isaac Hawkins survived inhumane conditions at Andersonville

The Battle of Olustee, Chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 7

February 20th marks the 156th anniversary of the Battle of Olustee, the only major battle fought in Florida during the American Civil War. The story of Isaac Hawkins represents a significant tale in the progression of the involvement of black soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The son of Richard and Caroline Hawkins, Isaac was born at Medina in 1843. As indicated by early census records, Richard was a grocer who was enumerated immediately before John Ryan, the pioneer stone mason who opened the first commercial sandstone quarry in Medina. An 1842 deed shows that Hawkins purchased a parcel of land from David Evans for the sum of $200 at the point where West Street crossed over the Erie Canal (lot 41). This lot would have sat near the current intersection of Glenwood and Ryan streets.

It is likely that Isaac was born on this site, working for his father as a young man before the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1863, the twenty-year-old Hawkins enlisted at Medina and was placed with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the unit once under the command of Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw was killed at Ft. Wagner on July 18, 1863, months before Hawkins enlisted with the Union Army. However, Isaac was with the regiment for approximately two months when the unit engaged Confederate troops in Baker County, Florida at the Battle of Olustee on February 20, 1864 (the only major battle fought in Florida).

Isaac survived the battle, which claimed the lives of over 200 Union troops, but was captured and sent to Andersonville as a prisoner. The camp became infamous for its poor and inhumane treatment of white prisoners, who were given bread made from ground corn cobs, maggot-filled meat, and rotten vegetables. Blankets were scarce, tents were often non-existent, and men were forced to defecate in areas that contaminated drinking water.

One can imagine that the treatment of African American prisoners was far worse. In his pension documents, Hawkins noted that he received 250 lashes for forging a pass; he was stripped naked, forced to lie across a log, and whipped from head to foot. He was shackled and returned to work in the graveyard, where he was threatened with similar treatment if he stopped working for even a few moments. Following the war, this particular event was referenced by two witnesses in the trial of Henry Wirz. This testimony and the testimony of other prisoners resulted in Wirz’s sentence to death by hanging.

In addition to the whipping he received while at Andersonville, it was recorded that he had suffered a sabre wound to his arm and a gunshot wound to his arm and foot; the latter injury mangled his foot and required the use of a cane for the remainder of his life. His brother, Charles R. Hawkins, also enlisted in the Union Army in November of 1864 at the age of sixteen and removed to New Jersey following the war where he worked as a barber. His brother Walter relocated to Pennsylvania and worked the same profession. As for Isaac, he later removed to Washington, D.C. where he died on August 25, 1902; he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Babe Ruth played game in Medina and homered in 1920

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 8 February 2020 at 8:20 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 6

Babe Ruth is pictured during his first year with the New York Yankees in 1920.

MEDINA – February 6th marked the 125th birthday of George Herman “Babe” Ruth. After a stint with Jack Dunn’s Baltimore Orioles, Ruth’s contract was sold to the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 1914 and once again to the New York Yankees in 1919 for $100,000. Those hardened baseball fans know the rest of the story, the superstitious “Curse of the Bambino” and subsequent Red Sox World Series drought.

Ruth made a visit to Medina on October 18, 1920, playing as a ringer for “Bing” Cleary’s Medina baseball club against Jimmy Mack’s Harrisons of Lockport. Playing at what is now Veterans Park along with Carl Mays, Fred Hoffman, and James “Truck” Hannah, the Medina club shelled out $2,000 to bring the quartet to Orleans County.

Cleary announced in the local papers that advanced-sale grandstand tickets were unavailable and that all sales would take place the afternoon of October 18th. After the close of the game, the ticket sales came up approximately $400 short of the needed $2,000. Local accounts indicate that the “Sultan of Swat” put on a home run exhibition before the game, launching 15 balls over the fence. Cleary was forced to step in and stopped the demonstration as Ruth threatened to knock all of the team’s balls out of the park before the game even started.

It was anticipated that Ruth would pitch for the game, but during a game at Binghamton the week prior he sprained his wrist. The Bambino played first base for the duration of the game, while Carl Mays took the mound and Hoffman played behind home plate.

Although Ruth was just beginning to establish himself as major hitter, he fanned on his first at bat for the game against Lockport’s Bert Lewis. It was “Fin” Whalen of Lockport who hit the first ball out of the park. Whalen later recalled, as he rounded first base, that Ruth remarked, “Beat me to it, eh Red?” Ruth later hit a home run and triple in Medina’s 6-2 victory over Lockport.

Ruth’s visit to Medina is legendary, although those who would recall first hand have since passed. Over the years, variations of the story have appeared in local papers, including notations that the game occurred in 1921 rather than 1920, occurred on October 19th instead of the 18th, and that Jeff Tesreau of the NY Giants played instead of “Truck” Hannah. Of course, Ruth’s connection to Orleans County was not limited to his visit in 1920. Carl Fischer, “The Medina Mauler,” struck out Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Sam Byrd consecutively during his time as a pitcher with the Detroit Tigers in 1932.

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Historian given 19th Century post-mortem photographs of children, who likely died of croup

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 February 2020 at 7:57 am

Post-mortem portrait of Tracy Bogue, taken March 10, 1892 by P.W. Griffiths of Marysville, California.

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 5

Popular during the Victorian era, post-mortem photographs provided family members with an opportunity to capture a lasting likeness of their deceased loved ones. In this particular case, a young child passed before his parents could arrange a formal studio portrait. The boy is peacefully posed on a fur blanket on the front porch of the family’s home in Yuba City, California, holding a rose in his left hand with another laid beside him.

The appearance of the child may seem peculiar given his clothing and hairstyle. Breeching remained a common practice through the late 19th century. As infants, boys often wore dresses that covered their legs down to their feet which made ambling difficult. Once they began walking, these knee-length dresses allowed the child to walk while facilitating easy toilet training. After toilet training was complete, the boy went through the “breeching” process at which point he was dressed in trousers for the first time. This represented a very important rite of passage for a young man.

Tracy Bogue, pictured here, was born in December of 1889 to James Tracy Bogue and Clara Worden. James, the brother of Virgil Bogue, operated the Batavia Nurseries in Genesee County with his brother Nelson until moving to Hillsdale, Michigan in the early 1880s. A sufferer of asthma, James hoped the change in climate would improve his health. After several years in that location, he and his family returned to Batavia where he remained until his condition worsened. He relocated his family to Yuba City, California where he operated one of the largest nurseries on the west coast. Among his many accomplishments, he is credited with promulgating the Phillips Cling Peach and the California Red Plum.

This particular image is one of two post-mortem photographs found in an album recently donated to the Department of History by Tom Phillips of Batavia. The other photograph shows Tracy’s older sister, Grace, who died on March 19, 1892, just two weeks after Tracy’s death. A death notice, which calls attention to the suffering experienced by Mr. and Mrs. Bogue following the untimely passing of both children, suggests that croup was the cause of death. James and Clara Bogue returned to Albion on August 19, 1892 to bury their children in the family plot located at Mt. Albion Cemetery.

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Sandstone monument at Mount Albion marks burial site of 5 English quarrymen

Photos by Tom Rivers: The gravesite of five quarrymen from England, who are buried at Mt. Albion Cemetery.

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 25 January 2020 at 8:39 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 4

ALBION – The use of Medina sandstone to craft headstones was rather limited in the nineteenth century. C. W. Lattin, the retired county historian, has speculated that the common use of the stone for curbing and paving blocks made the durable material undesirable for such a noble purpose.

In Orleans County, sandstone within cemeteries is often observed in hitching posts, carriage steps, and monument foundations. However, the presence of sandstone monuments became common among immigrant quarry laborers. The stone represented the livelihood of the deceased individual. It was readily accessible, often affordable, and on other occasions, a quarry owner might gift a slab of stone for use in the case of an untimely death. This particular monument at Mt. Albion Cemetery represents a rather unusual occurrence. Five English quarrymen are buried on this lot with this large, beautiful sandstone monument erected to their memory by friends and fellow quarry laborers.

William Kendall died from a long-term illness on July 5, 1883.

On May 3, 1883, the Medina Tribune recorded the death of a man named “Fred” Long who died at Pt. Breeze. At the age of 21, Long was fishing with friends in a boat between the piers on the Oak Orchard River when the boat suddenly filled with water. The vessel capsized and Long’s two fishing companions were rescued with ropes from bystanders. Unfortunately, Long drowned as a result of the accident.

Albert Long was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, England and appears in the 1881 England Census, employed as a stone dresser and living with his grandparents, John and Hannah Smith. The whereabouts of his parents are unknown, but it appears as though he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents at an early age. Long appears on the April 13, 1883 manifest of the R.M.S. City of Richmond, traveling in steerage quarters and listing his employment as a mason. This information is confirmed by his notice of death in the April 27, 1883 edition of the Jamestown Evening Journal, which notes that he arrived in the U.S. just two weeks prior. It is believed that a son, John Albert Long, was born to his widow in England in August of 1883.

The second of the men listed is William Kendall, born in 1824 at Baildon, Yorkshire, England. He appears on the May 9, 1883 manifest of the S.S. Sardinia as a mason traveling from England and he appears in the 1881 England Census in Yorkshire, married to Mary Halliday. According to the Orleans Republican, Kendall was suffering from a long-term illness and his son Thomas, already living in Orleans County, coaxed his father to the U.S. in the hopes of improving his condition. On July 5, 1883, Kendall succumbed to his illness. His funeral was held in Christ Church and a procession of over 100 Englishmen followed the casket to the cemetery. Kendall left his widow in England, just eight weeks after his arrival in the U.S.

The third name listed on the stone is that of Bottomley Boothman. Born in 1847 at Bradford, Yorkshire, England, Boothman’s family consisted of his wife, Mary Duckett, three sons, and a daughter. Very little is known about the circumstances surrounding his death. However, on August 15, 1883, a local brief in the Orleans Republican notes that “The body of an Englishman killed in the eastern part of the state was brought here yesterday for burial in the Englishmen’s lot at Mt. Albion.” A notation in a later obituary for Gilbert Dobson suggests that Boothman was killed while attempting to jump a train. The lack of a detailed obituary was likely the result of an absence of family in the U.S.

Gilbert Dobson, born in 1848 at Bradford, Yorkshire, England to Samuel and Hannah Hainsworth Dobson, was the fourth of five Englishmen to be buried on this lot. A lengthy article in the Medina Tribune on October 25, 1883 thoroughly documented the events leading up to his death just four days earlier. An employee of the Albion Medina Stone Company and working out of the Goodrich Quarry, Dobson left work early to board a train for Holley. As he reached Main Street, the train had just left the Clinton Street station and was crossing east. Although bystanders advised against it, Dobson attempted to board the train by grabbing the guard on the side of the rear car but lost his footing. As he fell under the car, the rear wheels passed over his legs, severed his left foot at the ankle, and crushed his right leg below the knee.

Dobson was carried to the Clinton Street station where his legs were bandaged and physicians summoned. The paper wrote, “He lingered along for a number of hours and died during the night – a merciful thing to one so horribly mangled.” Dr. Samuel Cochrane summoned a coroner’s jury, which issued a verdict of accidental death. Dobson was expected to return to England in the following weeks to visit his wife and children. Following his death, fellow quarry laborers collected $100 to send home to his family.

The final death, that of Charles Cock, remains a mystery. According to the inscription, he was born in 1861 and died August 15, 1884, but little information can be found concerning his life, his arrival in the U.S., and his eventual death. It is likely that his death, whether natural or accidental, was overshadowed by the extensive coverage of the Albert Warner case in Albion (v.2, no.45).

The monument represents a rather unusual set of unfortunate circumstances that claimed the lives of several English immigrants. In the absence of their families, fellow quarrymen raised the funds to purchase this lot and erect this monument to the memory of those so far from home. As the Medina Tribune wrote, “Who can picture the grief of that family across the waters, when they shall learn that he who was preparing them a home in this land of ours, is numbered with the dead?”

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