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Apples have been big business in Orleans County since the 1800s

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 6 October 2018 at 8:49 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 40

KNOWLESVILLE – October is National Apple Month! This photograph, likely taken in the latter quarter of the 19th century, shows the New York Central Railroad Depot located at Knowlesville. This particular image was taken east of the Rt. 31 Bridge that crosses over the railroad tracks; the photographer has pointed his camera to the southeast. A number of horse-drawn wagons are pulling loads of apples to be loaded into refrigerator cars positioned along the tracks.

In the earliest years of the county’s history, wheat was the primary product shipped out of the area. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 drastically cut shipping rates for grains and produce, but demands for apples increased gradually starting around 1845. That increase in demand led Isaac Signor to include the following account of apple orchards in Landmarks of Orleans County, New York published in 1894;

“The fruit has flourished exceedingly in most parts of the county, the climatic influence of the winds, which from the north, northwest, and northeast, pass over open water before striking this territory, becoming thereby tempered and raising the average of winter temperature, and at the same time serving as protection against late spring and early autumn frosts. The atmosphere of the county is also comparatively dry and the rainfall light, while the cool autumn winds from the lake region retard the ripening of winter fruits, greatly enhancing the value of the apples.”

This value averaged around $1.50 per barrel at the time Signor published this account. Several years earlier prices per barrel hovered around $1.40, but the Medina Daily Register published a rather unusual account of apple sales near Knowlesville. In October of 1891, produce dealers in Medina were offering farmers around $1.40 per barrel while apple “sharks” in Knowlesville “had the gall” to offer farmers $1.00 per barrel. A handful of unknowing farmers sold their apples to the deceitful dealers, but the majority hauled their load to Medina to cash in on the fair price.

Another local farmer drove to Knowlesville “…with a lot of apples in the saddest collection of barrels ever used to pack fruit in. The barrels had been stored away in the hen coop for a number of years and the hens had used them as a roosting place. They were of the poorest quality when new and were full of holes which the great-souled farmer had covered by nailing shingles over them.” The “sharks” refused to pay the farmer the $1.00 per barrel rate they had offered the others. Rather incensed, the farmer told his wife’s cousin of his misfortune and the latter chose to “…jump on the Knowlesville fruit buyers…” The verbal scolding encouraged one dealer to offer “…a trifle more than the even dollar.”

Fluctuations in crop yield could produce gains upwards of $1 million or cause near-failure for area farmers. The 1896 growing season saw one of the most fruitful harvests in local history, increasing shipments out of the county while driving up demands for barrels. John Higgins of Knowlesville operated a nearby cooperage and recalled manufacturing over 52,000 barrels in the height of that demand.

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Albion students celebrate the past with Ghost Walk at Mount Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2018 at 10:54 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Albion student Nia Rodriguez portrays Nehemiah Ingersoll (1788 – February 28, 1868), who played a major role in the development of Albion, donating land for the county courthouse and jail, and parceling out 100 acres of land in the downtown for development. He was one of about 15 interesting people from Albion’s past who were highlighted during a Ghost Walk on Saturday at Mount Albion Cemetery.

About 400 people attended the 10th annual Ghost Walk put on by high school students. There were nearly 70 students involved in the production.

Ryan Krenning is Hiram Curtis (April 1804 – May 17, 1871). He owned a foundry along the Erie Canal currently occupied by the Lake Country Pennysaver and Orleans Hub. Hiram manufactured agricultural implements including plows, cultivators and reapers. His company made 1,000 plows annually in a variety of patterns. The Erie Canal was a perfect place for his business allowing him to receive raw materials and ship finished product throughout the state and beyond.

Emma Tower portrays Jennie Curtis (1837 – October 23, 1921). She was the daughter of Hiram Curtis. Jennie was a spirited young woman who is considered to be the first female prisoner of the Civil War. She was thought to be a Yankee spy, but was eventually released and the charges were dropped.

In addition to portraying ghosts, students provided music at stops along the cemetery. Here students are shown singing, “Amazing Grace.” The trio includes, from left: Brie Haines, Lily Zambito and Alison Mathes.

Molly Wadhams portrays Laura Ward, wife of Judge Alexis Ward (1802 – November 28, 1854). Alexis Ward was Orleans County Judge from 1830-1840. He was instrumental in coordinating the Rochester-Lockport-Niagara Falls Railroad and the suspension bridge across Niagara Falls River. He was a supporter of public schools. In 1854 he was elected to the Assembly, representing Orleans County, but he died before he could take office.

Chase Froman impersonates Governor Rufus Bullock (1834- April 27, 1907). Bullock graduated from the old Albion Academy in 1850. His background in telegraphy helped him to invent a combination printing telegraph system that was used in many large cities. He moved to Augusta, Ga. and became assistant superintendent of the Adams Telegraph Company and formed the Southern Express Co. When the Civil War broke out, he worked with the Confederate Government and was in charge of the railroads and telegraph lines. After the war he helped organize the First National Bank of Georgia and the Republican Party. He was a key player at the Constitutional Convention and was unanimously nominated for governor. He was elected governor in 1868 and was instrumental in the reconstruction of Georgia with over 600 miles of new railroad built during his tenure.

Olivia Morrison represents Hannah Avery at the only “tabletop grave” at the historic Albion cemetery.

This year’s tour included the singing of a song by the late Albion Mayor Donna Rodden. Hannah Brewer sings Rodden’s song, “Top of the Tower,” at the Civil War Memorial.

Hannah Van Epps is Caroline Phipps Achilles (March 21, 1812 – January 26, 1881). Caroline taught in a log school house at Gaines Basin at the age of 14. She later taught in a classical school located at the Courthouse Square in Albion. She felt girls and boys should be taught separately and chose to teach girls. Her idea was very successful. She built a larger school to accommodate her students and in 1837 the Phipps Union Female Seminary opened its doors to girls from all over New York State.

Students also portrayed Elizabeth Harriet Denio, Judge Noah Davis, David Hardie, Judge Arad Thomas, Starr Chester, James Lewis and Emily Caroline Minton Pullman, and Elizabeth Josephine Vaile, MD.

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100 years ago soldiers from Company F in Medina fought valiantly in France during WWI

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 29 September 2018 at 7:49 am

Photo by Matthew Ballard: The grave of Cpl. James P. Clark of Company F, 108th Infantry, 27th Division at the Somme American Cemetery in France.

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 39

Amidst the commotion of political malfeasance, the excitement of football season, and the stress of a new school year comes the centennial of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The massive campaign initiated on September 26, 1918 marked the beginning of the end for Imperial Germany. Over 1.2 million American soldiers participated in the advance that spanned the nearly 50 days leading up to the Armistice of November 11th

Over the last three years, I have authored numerous pieces on the men of Company F in Medina who marched across the fields of the embattled French countryside. All of that research culminated with the opportunity to stand upon the hallowed ground that refused to release the bodies of so many young men. Now that 100 years have passed, a little interest has stirred up locally in an effort to commemorate this monumental anniversary.

The afternoon of September 27, 1918 arrives as the men of the 108th prepare to march from bivouac camp at Ronssoy, France to the trenches along the front lines. A hasty eight and a half mile march is met with a brief pause just west of Templeaux le Geurard before the remaining six miles are covered by night. The enemy is aware of all troop movements and the regiment is met by heavy shelling and concentrated gas; Medina-native Frank Bloom (Kwiatkowski) is killed by a bursting shell.

Approaching the trenches, the men are placed in line with 2nd Battalion under the command of Capt. John S. Thompson. Although zero hour is set, the officers withhold details of the impending advance from their soldiers and sleep is sparse as the men contemplate the inevitability of the coming days. The clock strikes 5:50 a.m. on September 29th and shelling begins from 23 brigades of British light artillery and 10 brigades of British heavy artillery. The shells fall in front of the trenches and a creeping barrage commences, slowly advancing in increments of 100 feet with 4-minute pauses in between. Over 100 machine gun units open fire as the brave men of Medina crawl forth from the trenches under the encouragement of fellow soldiers.

An enemy counter barrage begins to fall across the lines of advancing men, cutting many down in the initial seconds of the advance. In commencing the attack, the men of 2nd Battalion charge across open fields to swing their line parallel to 3rd Battalion on the left. Enemy machine gun fire halts early progress, which is met with bayonets and hand grenades. It is during this action of outflanking German machine gun nests that James A. Sheret is killed. Pressing forward, men drop as they advance in the face of flying bullets and falling shells.

The unit moving under the code name “Tumo,” presses forward with no reports to Headquarters in the early hours of the advance. By 11:00 a.m., reports arrive at HQ indicating that 2nd Battalion of the 108th is on their objective south of Bony, engaging on the main defenses of the Hindenburg Line. Winded from the rapid advance upon the position, progress is halted as 2nd Battalion approaches a thick entanglement of barbed wire. Heavy enemy fire slows progress and cuts down countless officers and non-commissioned officers during which Cpl. James P. Clark assumes control of his platoon. Leading his men against the enemy, fewer than 200 men are able to move upon the wire:

“This was done with a recklessness, valor and determination that proved irresistible. They rushed forward in small groups and as individuals, through the wire, through passes existing in the wire, and in some cases over the top of the wire where it was very thick, all through a heavy pall of smoke.” – John F. O’Ryan

Nearing 1:00 p.m. the battalion solidifies its position in Bony, but finds itself co-occupying the village with enemy troops. The unit repulses several counterattacks throughout the afternoon and into the evening. One of the first groups to reach the impenetrable Hindenburg Line, Medina’s boys fought bravely and suffered severely.

Cpl. James P. Clark, a 20-year-old native of South Dakota, enlisted with the 3rd N.Y. National Guard in April of 1917. His two older brothers, Leslie and Seth, both followed suit and joined in June of the same year. Cpl. Clark was killed by a machine gun bullet nearly 20 minutes after assuming control of his group after all other officers were either dead or wounded. As John S. Thompson later wrote, “The barrage laid down by the enemy tore up the ground around the men and the noise was deafening.” Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his gallantry exhibited during the deadly advance and is prominently marked upon his marble cross at the Somme American Cemetery in Bony, France.

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Ghost Walks return and highlight local history

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion High School students will bring back the Ghost Walk at Mount Albion Cemetery on Saturday. The school took a year off from the Ghost Walk last year, although many were part of one at the Cobblestone Museum. This photo from oct. 2, 2016 shows Sophia Zambito, left, as Mildred Skinner and Cole London as Herschel Harding. They were two of four children killed in a trolley accident on March 7, 1915.

Staff Reports Posted 28 September 2018 at 9:19 am

Ghost Walks that highlight local history and prominent residents, as well as some who are relatively unknown, will return.

The Albion High School Arts Department will have its 10th Ghost Walk on Saturday at Mount Albion Cemetery. There are 66 students involved in the event, serving as ghosts, tour guides, singers and the tech crew.

Erica Wanecski of Medina played a suffragette who pushed for women’s right to vote. She is shown during the Ghost Walk on Oct. 8, 2017 at the Cobblestone Museum. The museum will have another Ghost Walk on Oct. 7.

Students will highlight the lives of Rufus Brown Bullock, Elizabeth Harriet Denio, Noah Davis, David Hardie, Hannah Avery, Starr Chester, Dr. Elizabeth Vaile, Emily Pullman (George Pullman’s mother), Alexis Ward’s wife Laura Goodrich Ward, Hiram Curtis, Jenny Curtis and Arad Thomas.

An Albion student will perform the song, “Top of the Tower,” written by former Mayor Donna Rodden. The student will sing from the tower, which is a Civil War Memorial.

The Mount Albion Ghost Walk is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with a $5 donation. For tickets and to reserve a time, call 589-2087. There are tours every 15 minutes.

The Cobblestone Museum also is having a Ghost Walk on Oct. 7. This follows last year’s debut of the event. The Ghost Walk includes community volunteers, from children to senior citizens.

The “ghosts” are connected to the Cobblestone Museum’s past. The walking tour includes about a dozen different locations on the museum’s campus, including the cobblestone schoolhouse, the oldest cobblestone church in North America, and a cobblestone parsonage, all National Historic Landmarks.

Some of the apparitions include newspaper editor Horace Greeley, who once owned the Cobblestone Parsonage; William Babbitt, who supervised the construction of District #5 Cobblestone Schoolhouse and served as Town Supervisor and a State Assemblyman; and Rev. Stephen Smith, who gave the dedicatory address at the opening of the Cobblestone Universalist Church in 1834.

Tours begin every 20 minutes beginning at 1 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes. The final tour will set out from the lower level of the Cobblestone Church at 4 p.m. The cost for the Ghost Walk is $10 for adults and $7 for Cobblestone Society Members. Kids 12 and under are $5 and those under 2 are free. Pre-registration guarantees a spot on one of 10 tours.

Registration can be made in person, by phone at 589-9013, or online at Walk-ins on October 7 will be accommodated in any open slots remaining.

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Immigrants were critical in growth of local sandstone industry

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 22 September 2018 at 7:45 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 4, Issue 38

The impact of Medina Sandstone extends beyond the beautiful structures that were built from the durable material. Since the initial discovery of the resource during the construction of the Erie Canal and the subsequent opening of the first quarry in Medina by John Ryan in 1837, the sandstone industry was a driving force behind a diverse population in Orleans County. English, Irish, German, French, Polish, and Italian quarrymen traveled to this region in search of employment in the quarries, which provided the necessary funds to bring family and friends to the United States.

This image shows men in a local quarry who paused to stand for a photographer. Scattered around the job site are a number of hammers and bars used for breaking and moving stone. The tools suggest that these men were responsible for dressing stone after it was extracted from the quarry.

Standing at the front of the picture is a face hammer, which was used to roughly dress stones in preparation for detail work; several of these are positioned throughout the photograph. Another man holds a large square, which would have assisted in the rough dressing of stones. Teams of horses were used to haul the stone out of the quarries for shipment by way of the Erie Canal or N.Y.C. Railroad.

On February 20, 1902 a new quarry syndicate was established in the area, uniting nearly 50 quarries sprawled throughout Orleans County. The Orleans County Quarry Company was incorporated with $2,000,000 in capital and employed over 1,200 men. Initial startup funds were directed towards operating the quarries, paying salaries, and most importantly, developing the infrastructure to support the refinement of stone, sale, and transportation across both railroad and the Erie Canal.

The newly established business situated its headquarters at Albion and immediately began the search for a general manager; meanwhile Edward Fancher was sent to New York City to begin peddling the products of the burgeoning company. Within months of incorporation, the “syndicate” signed on to several major six-figure contracts for paving stones in New York City, which would aid in securing a promotion for Fancher to a position of superintendent of the company. Unfortunately, the start of World War One halted production and interest in the building material waned.

At the conclusion of the war, quarries were offered to individuals on a royalty basis with John Lubomski of Albion serving as the executive secretary. Once employees for the business, groups of men bought into the new system and took over management of individual quarries in the Albion and Murray area. Those such as Pasquale DiLaura, James and Edward Ryan, the Monacelli brothers, Camille and Henry D’Orazio, and Mario and William D’Andrea all entered into agreements with the company to manage the very quarries they once toiled in.

The advent of the Great Depression marked an end to the golden age of the sandstone business in Orleans County as most quarries sold the stock they had and ceased the removal and cutting of stone from the quarries. At the conclusion of World War Two, new industries created a void in skilled labor for quarry work and new construction materials replaced the once valuable stone.

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Museum will use grant funds for work on historic Cobblestone School

Photos by Tom Rivers: The historic Cobblestone School, built in 1849, will get a new roof, paint and repaired masonry with two grants for about $30,000 covering the cost.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 September 2018 at 9:39 am

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is the owner and caretaker of a schoolhouse from 1849 that is one of three cobblestone buildings on Ridge Road designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The schoolhouse will soon get a new roof, repaired masonry and fresh paint on the window trim and soffits near the roof.

The Rochester Area Community Foundation approved a $21,000 grant for the work at the schoolhouse through the Lloyd E. Klos Historical Fund. The Elizabeth Dye Curtis Foundation in Orleans County will contribute $8,800 towards the schoolhouse, with the funds targeted for the roof replacement.

Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum, shows where the foundation in the school has cracks and deterioration. That corner will likely have to be removed and rebuilt.

The upcoming projects are the latest attention in preserving the historic building. Last year the bell tower was repaired and the bell rededicated.

This year, the wooden windows were removed and restored through a seminar with the Landmark Society of Western New York. The windows were repaired as part of a workshop teaching others how to fix and preserve wooden sills and frames that are about a century old.

A window specialist taught how to evaluate old windows, removing sashes from the window opening, removing putty and paint, installing new sash cords, weather-stripping old windows and other skills for preserving windows.

The upcoming project will fill some of the cracks and gaps in mortar at the school.

The window project made the museum aware of additional needs at the schoolhouse, including a deteriorating foundation, especially in the northeastern corner.

Museum Director Doug Farley and Erin Anheier, a trustee for the museum, applied for a grant through the Rochester Area Community Foundation. The organization approved $21,000 for the foundation work. The northeastern corner may have to be taken out and rebuilt.

The grant will also pay for exterior repointing of mortar. There are several gaps and cracks that need attention, Farley said.

The Rochester Area Community Foundation also provided a $23,000 grant about two years ago for work on the Cobblestone Universalist Church and the next-door Ward House. The grant covered the costs of painting the exterior of windows and the bell tower at the church, replacing rotted window sills and repairing a retaining wall in front of the church. The Ward House also had some of its masonry repointed, the front steps repaired and downspouts fixed to improve drainage.

The school – the Gaines District #5 Cobblestone Schoolhouse – is a short walk east of the Route 98 intersection on Ridge Road. The school was closed in 1952. The building was acquired by the Cobblestone Museum in 1960 – the year the museum formed.

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Interior named the school, the Ward House and Cobblestone Universalist Church as a National Historic Landmark, the highest historic designation from the federal government.

The interior of the school is largely unchanged from when the school was closed in 1952.

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Bell at Catholic church in Albion bothered some neighbors, while comforting the faithful

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 15 September 2018 at 5:59 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 37

St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Albion, NY

ALBION – Some of the best local history stories are those that are rediscovered and built upon by each historian. While organizing a collection of newspaper clippings, I stumbled upon a particular story that holds a special place in my heart.

“Why the Bell Rings,” vol. XXIX no. 1 of Bethinking of Old Orleans authored by Bill Lattin recounts a story relating to St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Albion. His discovery of a newspaper clipping within a scrapbook led him to write a short piece about the Angelus Bell.

As a young boy, I can recall the frequent tolling of the bell at our parish on Brown Street. In my naiveté I thought for sure that the evening bell was a simple curfew reminder, but over the years I have developed an appreciation for the deeper meaning of the scheduled bell tolling. Even though the bells now stand silent, except for the Sunday call to service, the story is an important one centered on tradition and faith.

In 1907, complaints arose locally about the church bell at the “Polish colony.” As observed in the Orleans Republican, it is clear that the publisher of the Orleans American took issue with the frequent ringing of the bell. The November 20, 1907 issue of the paper published an article entitled “The Angelus Bell; A beautiful custom, general in foreign lands, observed by the Poles,” which opened with “Will the Orleans American be good enough to tell its correspondent to stop chattering against the ringing of the church bells?”

This must be the same situation from which Lattin extracted his information, quoting another newspaper story in which a local Polish resident was asked about the frequent ringing. “At the hour of work it rings to remind them that God has given them the strength to labor. When it sounds at noon, the Poles are again reminded of the Giver of temporal blessings, and at night it calls for expressions of thankfulness for what God has done for the people throughout the day,” one resident stated, “In the old country at home the church bells are always rung in this way.”

The particular situation called attention to the Angelus Bell, sometimes referred to as the Ave Bell. Catholic tradition called for the ringing of the church bell three times throughout the day, typically at 6 o’clock in the morning, noon, and 6 o’clock in the evening. At those times, the ring consisted of a triple stroke repeated three times with a short pause in between each set; many churches opted to follow the three sets of triple strokes with nine additional strokes. The term Angelus Bell is derived from angelus domini, the phrase preceding the archangel Gabriel’s greeting to the Virgin Mary. According to Luke, Gabriel would reveal to Mary that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38).

The origin of the practice is often attributed to either Pope John XXII or Urban II, while the triple recitation of the Hail Mary is attributed to Louis XI of France during the 15th century. When the bell rang, the faithful would cease work and pray the Angelus, beginning with “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit,” followed by a Hail Mary. Each versicle was followed by a Hail Mary with three recited in total. Individuals could recite these prayers alone or as part of a group with leader and response parts. Although these prayers often marked the start and end of a day, their purpose extended beyond the temporal. One can imagine those laboring in the fields and quarries, hearing the bell toll and gathering together to recite the Angelus.

Jean-Francois Millet’s painting entitled L’Angelus, or “The Angelus,” depicts two peasants standing in a potato field having ceased their work to pray. In the distant background is a village with a church steeple protruding into the horizon as a symbol of the Angelus. Asked to reflect upon this particular piece of art, Millet said, “The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remember that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed.”  Millet’s work is a reflection of the simplicity of peasant life so dependent upon the rhythms of life and the Catholic faith.

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‘People with purpose drive change,’ says Elizabeth Cady Stanton impressionist

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2018 at 5:26 pm











Photos by Tom Rivers: Melinda Grube speaks at Hoag Library in Albion on Monday evening for a presentation about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the women’s suffrage leader. Grube was in costume at presentations on Saturday and Sunday about the famed suffragette.

Grube, a Medina resident, is an adjunct lecturer in history at Cayuga Community College in Auburn. She has portrayed Cady Stanton for the past 14 years. She also will portray Abigail Adams on Saturday at 1 p.m. during a timeline festival at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Her presentations are part of the 10-day Orleans County Heritage Festival, which started on Friday and continues through this Sunday.

Grube in her presentation on Monday said women were not treated as equals by most men, especially during the country’s first century. Many men didn’t think they women were smart enough to be considered citizens.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was among a small group of women who pushed for women’s rights, and helped organize the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. Women wouldn’t get the right to vote nationally until 1920.

Grube said it was a minority of women who pushed for the right to vote.

“People with purpose drive change,” Grube said. “It’s always been a small group of people that push the world forward.”

For more on the Heritage Festival, click here.

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‘White Bronze’ markers provided alternative to traditional stone

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 8 September 2018 at 10:15 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 37

Photo by Matthew Ballard: The Amos & Rosamond Grinnell Lot is shown at Mt. Albion Cemetery.

ALBION – During tours of Mount Albion Cemetery, it is nearly impossible to visit a section of the cemetery that is void of at least one zinc marker. The “stones” themselves are a rather unique feature given their short-lived history, but the variety of sizes, shapes, and iconography provide visitors with a unique look into the beautiful art of cemetery monuments.

The photograph highlights a particular stone, belonging to Amos and Rosamond Whaley Grinnell, that stands near the front of the cemetery on Hawthorn Path and displays a stunning urn draped in a cloth that symbolizes the veil that separates Heaven and earth.

The Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut commenced the manufacture of these memorials in 1875. In addition to the company’s headquarters, subsidiaries opened in Des Moines, Detroit, and Chicago where the final stage of the manufacturing process was completed; all casting was performed in Connecticut.

It is important to note the use of the term “bronze” to describe these unique monuments. Although zinc was used to cast the memorials, the company understood the nature of marketing and thus affixed the name “white bronze” to the product in an effort to move more merchandise. The company boasted the use of 99% pure zinc that was rust, frost, and moisture resistant while preventing the growth of moss and requiring minimal cleaning. An artist in Bridgeport would fashion a wax model of the ordered monument and then use that model to produce a plaster mold. Molten zinc was then poured into these molds and allowed to set. On these larger stones, each side was crafted separately then fused together using zinc, which was stronger than soldering the joints.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of these monuments is the method in which they were sold. There were no showrooms or local dealers who provided samples of completed works. Instead, individuals received a visit from a salesman and sifted through the pages of the company catalog to select a monument style that appealed to them. If a potential customer wanted to see a physical example of a marker, they were encouraged to visit the local cemetery to look at examples. To place an order a customer would request an “order blank” through the mail, which provided space for illustrating the location of inscriptions and bas-relief emblems.

The white bronze monuments were marketed as more durable than their stone counterparts were and far more customizable. After installation, the markers developed their unique blue-gray appearance thanks to a sandblasting process that allowed for the formation of a layer of zinc oxide. On this particular monument are four tablets, one on each side, containing inscriptions and emblems. Visible in this photograph are tablets that show an ear of corn, representing the bounty of God, and the golden sheaf of wheat with sickle, representing the divine harvest. Each of these panels was attached with decorative screws that allowed the individual to remove and replace them upon the death of a loved one. In doing so, the monument always appeared complete and never displayed unfinished inscriptions.

Although the company marketed these monuments as superior to traditional stone memorials, the public failed to fully accept the product. Many failed to believe the claim that white bronze would outlast marble and granite and preferred the traditional appearance of stone. Perhaps it was the lack of the personal touch from a local businessman that limited the sale of these markers? Regardless of the reasons, production of white bronze monuments ended around 1912. Today we see that the claims made by the company held true, in many cases, holding their inscriptions far better than stone monuments. This particular memorial stands a large and beautiful example of the work produced by the Monumental Bronze Company.

On Saturday, September 15th, I will conduct two tours of Mount Albion Cemetery as part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival. The first tour, starting at 10 a.m., will take visitors to a number of stops located on the eastern end of the cemetery. The second tour, starting at 1 p.m., will take visitors around the western end of the cemetery. Each tour will last approximately 90 minutes and visit many sites not included in the August tours.

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Clarendon resident presents wood carving to town of the founder’s mill

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 September 2018 at 5:44 pm

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan

CLARENDON – Bob Barrett, a Clarendon resident who lives in the town founder’s house, surprised town officials today by presenting a wood carving that Barrett made to show the mill run by Eldredge Farwell, founder of Clarendon.

Farwell discovered Clarendon in 1810 while looking for his brother Isaac’s lost horse. He traced Isaac’s footprints along the border of Sandy Creek and was impressed with the town waterfalls.

Farwell saw the waterfalls as a potential source of power for business. He moved his family to Clarendon in 1811 and built saw and grist mills. The town was originally named Farwell’s Mills but was renamed to Clarendon. Farwell was from Clarendon, Vermont. He died in 1843.

Barrett based his carving on this historical image from Melissa Ierlan, the town’s historian. Barrett worked about 50 hours on the carving.

Barrett has also made frames to display artifacts in the town hall, including a poster for the Clarendon sesiquencentennial in 1960 and an old map of the town. He also used his woodworking skills to restore a desk and chair in a historic cobblestone schoolhouse in Gaines on Gaines basin Road.

“He is a wonderful person and I can’t ever thank him enough for the things he does for us,” Ierlan said.

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