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Photo from late 1800s shows a bustling downtown Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 16 November 2019 at 8:12 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 43

ALBION – This photograph, taken some time in the late 1880s or early 1890s, shows Main Street in Albion looking north from Bank Street. Comparing this image to a current view of the village, readers will notice very few changes in the cityscape of downtown Albion.

The only marking on the obverse side of the photo is the photographer, Francis J. Burnett. The approximate date of 1886-1893 is deduced by the appearance of a large wooden sign that reads “Western New York Hedge Company.” Organized in 1886 by Dwight Beckwith, the WNY Hedge Company encouraged local farmers to plant hedgerows between fields rather than using wooden fences. The short-lived company failed soon after around 1893.

Two village directories, one from 1887 and the other from 1894, provide a detailed look into life in Albion nearing the turn of the 20th century. The most notable feature of this image is the wide unpaved street. Sidewalks and curbing are all cut from locally quarried Medina sandstone and paving blocks run across the street at various locations to prevent pedestrians from soiling their shoes. Horses and buggies, the predominant method of transportation, are visible along the street. The attentive observer will notice the presence of hitching posts lining the sidewalks and the abundance of “road apples” scattered throughout the street, both indicative of equine transportation.

Businesses lined the streets of late-19th century Albion, providing residents with ample opportunities to purchase a variety of goods at specialty shops. On the left side of this image, awnings are pulled down over the storefronts of George W. Barrell’s Central Drug Store and James Bailey & Son’s Grocery Store. The mortar and pestle atop a four-sided post near the intersection of Main and Bank streets draws attention to the drug store. A small sign adjacent to Bailey’s Grocery Store reads “Law Office,” directing visitors to attorneys with offices on the upper floors of the Swan Block. The 1887 and 1894 village directories indicate that John Cunneen, Dean Currie, John G. Sawyer, and George Bullard all had offices in the upper floor of that building. Slightly visible lettering on the windows of the second floor advertise Oscar Eddy’s Insurance Agency as well.

Traveling north along the west side of the street, the image shows G. H. Sickels & Co. dry goods store with the awning retracted, followed by Franklin Clarke’s drug store, Landauer & Strouse’s dry goods, the Rochester Cash Store, and Lyman Root’s grocery store. Signs projecting from the upper floors of these blocks advertise the meeting rooms for the Ancient Order of United Workmen (labeled as Select Knights No. 3, Orleans Legion), the Grand Army of the Republic, and a millinery business operated by Lizzie Griswold. The Pratt Block, occupied by Lyman Root on the first floor, was occupied by his wife Emma Root’s millinery shop. The third floor, of course, was occupied by the Opera House. Further up the street is a sign that reads “Bakery” situated outside of Ben Franklin’s confectionary and bakery business followed by Henry Onderdonk’s furniture store and Guy Merrill’s hardware store.

Turning our attention to the east side of the street, several men have gathered around the large pocket watch advertisement in front of the Empire Block. Although difficult to read, the name H. W. Preston appears on the watch face. Hiram Preston’s jewelry store is just out of sight, although the store’s white awning is visible in the image. Another sign calls attention to Charles H. Eddy’s harness shop. Located in the “Grover Block,” Eddy shared space with John Kane, a boot and shoe salesman and Jay Sweet, who operated a drug store. The next stretch of buildings included a liquor store and brandy distillery operated by Palmer & Briggs, and George Waterman’s hardware store, which operated out of Andrew Wall’s Gothic Hall. This particular building stands out due to the presence of its gabled roof facing the street.

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South Clinton crossing in Albion was busy intersection for agricultural shipping

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 9 November 2019 at 7:34 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 42

ALBION – This photograph, taken sometime around 1900, shows the New York Central Railroad crossing at Clinton Street in Albion looking east towards Main Street. The photographer is standing on the platform of the train station on Clinton Street in an attempt to showcase two important businesses in the vicinity.

On the right is the business of Morgan & Linson, started in 1887 by Benjamin Franklin Morgan who purchased the operation from Sheldon & Warner. Morgan, a son of William Pitts Morgan and native of Gaines, then brought Lyman Sewall Linson into a partnership in 1890.

Linson was an 1876 graduate of New York University who attended the University of Pennsylvania to study law before working out west in the railroad industry. His return to Albion and entrance into the partnership with Morgan likely brought a level of expertise required for shipping goods by way of rail. The pair dealt in coal, mason’s supplies (lime and cement), and produce, focusing specifically on the storage and shipment of apples and beans.

Morgan & Linson constructed additional coal sheds at this facility in 1900, which included the implementation of an elevator used to lift coal for storage in bins located on the upper floors of the building. Coal was then dropped down chutes and into wagons for delivery to homes throughout the area. Morgan’s death at New York City in 1909 following a lengthy illness led to the eventual dissolution of the partnership. In 1917, Guy Merrill, Platt LaMont, and Elbert Rowley formed the Morgan & Linson Cold Storage Company, Inc., taking over the property and operating the business; Linson retained partial interest in the company.

Around 1941 this building was devastated by a fire during a period of time in which the Atlantic Commission Company was leasing the facility to store onions. Workmen backed a cart into a kerosene stove, knocking it into a coal bin, which started a small fire. The flames were quickly extinguished and the men returned to work unloading a freight car outside. The flames reignited and the alarm was sounded. 50,000 bushels of onions were destroyed but thankfully the brick cold storage building and office was saved from obliteration. Eight firemen were stationed at the facility overnight to quell any flames that started up.

To the left is the Albion House, one of Albion’s larger hotels along with the Orleans House and Exchange Hotel. The photograph shows five young children seated on the front steps and two men seated on the corner of building adjacent to a sign that reads “Reed & Allen, American Rochester Beer;” likely the entrance to the bar. Attached to the tree out front is a sign that reads “Livery.” Like many hotels in the area, hackney cabs (horse drawn taxis) were offered to pick up or drop off visitors at various stops in Albion. The barn that housed the horses at the Albion House was sold in 1922 to Albert Foote, who relocated the building to his farm in Barre.

One other interesting item in this photograph is the small shed located along the railroad tracks; another is visible in the distance located along Main Street. These flagman’s shanties were an essential feature at railroad crossings. Approximately eight feet across and constructed in a hexagonal shape, the buildings contained a small coal burning stove, a bench seat, and a small stock of coal located under the bench. Men would sit inside of these shanties for eight hours each shift, three each day, exiting the building to stop road traffic as trains were crossing. Although the job seemed simple, it was frequently dangerous as flagmen were responsible for observing road and rail traffic simultaneously. In 1926, Thomas Coffey was struck and killed by a train while working as the flagman at this crossing. Negligence or lack of awareness was harmful, if not fatal.

An interesting news story appeared in papers throughout Western New York in 1908. Morgan & Linson’s office cat went missing and it was feared by the owners that the cat had climbed into a boxcar, only to be carried off to some far-off place. A telegram was sent immediately to Cincinnati, the next stop for the produce that was being shipped. Soon after the telegram was sent, a response was received notifying the owners that the tabby was found within one of the boxcars having survived eight days without food or water. To make the story more remarkable, the cat was returned to Albion by express train that same day.

I’m not sure what is more interesting, the fact that the cat was rapidly returned to Albion, or that this was considered “news” at the time!

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Orleans County defeated Suffrage Amendment in 1917

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 2 November 2019 at 8:28 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 41

On November 6, 1917, half way across the world, the October Uprising was in full swing as the Bolsheviks led a revolution against the Tsarist government of Russia. In the United States, New York voters decided that it was time to extend suffrage to women.

Susan B. Anthony

Orleans County was at the center of suffragist activity and notes pertaining to Susan B. Anthony’s visits to the area can be found within the local papers. As early as October of 1859, Anthony attended a local women’s rights convention along with Frances Dana Barker Gage and Hannah Tracy Cutler, noted abolitionists and movers in the women’s suffrage movement. In a later visit on January 22, 1894, Anthony spoke at the Court House, along with Mary Seymour Howell and Mary G. Hay, on the subject of extending suffrage to women by amending law at the constitutional convention. The event led with a symposium on the subject of equal suffrage and involved a number of notable suffragists.

Leading up to the vote in 1917, a number of local women formed committees in Albion, Medina, and Holley to operate Suffrage Schools. On March 5th and 6th Holley hosted a school followed by Albion’s school at the Swan Library on the 7th and 8th. The following week, Medina hosted their school in the rooms of the Grand Army of the Republic. These Suffrage Schools held lectures on topics such as “Women in Relation to Community Problems,” “The Legal Status of Women,” “Parliamentary Law,” and public speaking. Prominent women from across Western New York attended and taught “classes” for local women in preparation for the anticipated victory in November.

It was believed that Medina’s school received additional interest as an announcement guaranteeing the suffrage bill as part of the November 6th election was made shortly before the event. Mrs. Carl Breed was appointed to chair a committee of fifty women tasked with planning the important program. The event attracted considerable attention as Mrs. Mary Grace White, wife of local attorney David White, opened the program by attacking Sen. Elon Brown for his claims that the birth control movement was an off-shoot of the suffrage movement.

Fervor surrounding the impending vote increased exponentially as November neared. Attorney John J. Ryan led efforts to enlist the support of men throughout the county in favor of the suffrage movement. On November 1, 1917, a lengthy article appeared in the Orleans American highlighting the importance of the approaching vote. “If you have a son or a brother who has been drafted for the war for democracy, don’t spoil your family record by voting against democracy in New York State.” The author went on to write, “Don’t be too sure, when you are making the woman suffrage amendment that men can represent women. The women may after all have ideas of their own.”

As the day passed, the papers reported that the “election in Orleans County passed off quietly. There was no excitement anywhere in the county.” The vote to extend suffrage to women in Orleans County was defeated by a vote of 2,134 for, to 3,024 against, but news quickly spread of downstate carrying the amendment through. It was quickly reported that Albion would be one of the first locations to provide the opportunity for women to vote as village elections were slated for February 26, 1918. When it came time to elect new members to the Albion Board of Education, Mrs. Lorinda Lasher was nominated as the first woman for public office in the village, unopposed to replace Alfred Wood. Mrs. Ruth Williams nominated Dr. Cora Billings Lattin to run against Thomas A. Kirby, but was defeated 230 to 110.

Perhaps one of the oft-overlooked tidbits of local suffragist history relates to Gilbert Turner Mason, the son of Albert J. Mason of Albion. Mason, the chief clerk at the Clum & Atkins Company in Rochester, married the young Miss Anna Elizabeth Dann in the home of Susan B. Anthony on Madison Street in 1902. Dann was the housekeeper and personal secretary to Anthony, assisting in the preparation of Anthony’s biography. In a 1906 letter to Anna Mason, Anthony’s niece Lucy wrote, “I think you know…that we all love you for your own sake…but we love you even more because dear Aunt Susan was so fond of you.” Susan was so fond of her that she stood by Anna’s side as she was married to Gilbert by the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw. The Masons are buried at Mt. Albion Cemetery.

2020 marks the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Extending full suffrage in 1917, New York ratified the Amendment on June 16, 1919.

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Newsroom owners in Albion entombed at mausoleum at St. Joseph’s Cemetery

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 19 October 2019 at 8:01 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – v. 5, no. 40

ALBION – Taken in May of 1942, this image shows men erecting the Dowd-Kellogg mausoleum at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Albion. William E. Karns of Albion was commissioned to build the first and only mausoleum at that that cemetery using 35 tons of granite shipped in from Barre, Vermont.

The structure stands 10 feet high, is 12 feet 7 inches long, and 7 feet 6 inches wide with a crypt built from Pennsylvania Black Ribbon slate finished with a bronze door with plate glass. A crane was used to lift the large blocks of stone into place, the man standing in front of the mausoleum was responsible for mixing the mortar that locked the stone into place.

Charles Dowd was the first interment made in the newly completed crypt after his death in November of the previous year. An ardent fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a 76-year-old Dowd found himself tied to the radio in his home on West Bank Street listening to the Notre Dame-Navy football game on November 8, 1941. Dowd suffered a massive heart attack as a result of the 20-13 victory over the “Middies”; far too exciting for an old gentleman’s frail heart.

Before his death, Dowd operated a newsroom and tobacco shop at 13 E. Bank Street (occupied by the Golden Comb today) in Albion with his brother George. Upon his death, he left an estate valued at $10,000 to which he gave $100 each to St. Joseph’s Church and St. Mary’s Church in Albion, depositing the remainder in a bank account for his sister. Upon her death, the money was to pay for the upkeep of St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in Gaines.

The newsroom transitioned to his brother-in-law, Charles Kellogg, who had started his career in Dowd’s newsroom. Kellogg was lucky to have survived into adulthood, having receive a near fatal gunshot wound as a young boy; a group of young lads led by a young son of Joseph Dibley were playing with a loaded revolver when it accidentally discharged, shooting Kellogg in the groin.

The newsroom operated by Kellogg was later sold to Newell Maxon of Medina and eventually was transferred to Carl Fischer and relocated to North Main Street (Fischer’s Newsroom). Kellogg had his fair share of “toys” and frequently raced novelty automobiles at the Orleans County Fairgrounds. He was cited by local authorities on several occasions for driving his boat up and down the Canal at excessive speeds, once to the point where Canal employees threatened to remove the vessel from the water should he not abide by the laws.

Charles Kellogg and his wife, Mary Dowd Kellogg, are also entombed in the mausoleum.

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1909 banner recognizes local lodge for gaining members in fight against alcohol

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 12 October 2019 at 9:01 am

“Overooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 39

October is American Archives Month and is a wonderful opportunity to feature some of the collections within the Department of History.

Although the County Historian maintains an extensive collection of published works, documents, photographs, ephemera, and other paper materials, a number of textile and 3D artifacts exist within the office. This “prize banner,” awarded to the Orleans District Lodge of the I.O.G.T. (2019.010), recognizes the organization’s membership growth during the 1908-09 year.

Established in 1850 as the Knights of Jericho by Daniel Cady, the organization merged the following year with a similar lodge from Oriskany Falls to form the Order of Good Templars. A schism in the organization in 1852 caused a number of members to form the Independent Order of Good Templars, renumbering Excelsior Lodge of Syracuse from Lodge No. 14 to Lodge No. 1. Although it started as a fraternal organization, the I.O.G.T. mission spanned beyond abstinence from alcohol. The Good Templars fought for equal rights, “admit[ting] women on equal terms with men.”

The Good Templar platform consisted of six points:

1. “Total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage.”

2. “No license in any form under any circumstances for the sale of liquors to be used as a beverage.”

3. “The absolute prohibition of the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquors for such purposes.”

4. “The creation of a healthy public opinion upon the subject; by active dissemination of truth in all the modes known to enlightened philanthropy.”

5. “The election of good, honest men to administer the laws.”

6. “Persistence in efforts to save individuals and communities from so dreadful a scourge; against all forms of opposition and difficulties until our success is complete and universal.”

According to a booklet published by Kendall Lodge No. 538 in 1899 entitled 31 Years of Good Templary, “We aim to save the young, pure and virtuous from falling into the snares of the tempter as well as helping those who have sunk low in the scale of human degradation to rise again.”

Welcoming men, women, and children alike, the I.O.G.T. believed that ridding the world of the wretched drink was a community affair. Drunkards posed concerns for local communities, unable to hold down a job, engaging in violence, and abandoning wives and children.

On one particular occasion, James O’Connell of Fletcher Chapel, a violence-prone farmer, went on a week-long drinking binge much to the chagrin of his wife. January 16, 1896, he told his wife he would visit the priest at Medina and “sign the pledge,” turning his back on the alcohol. Instead he visited a gun store in the village and purchased a .22 revolver, returned home, and shot his wife in the head. Although she survived the incident, she lived the remainder of her life with the bullet in her skull. O’Connell spent eight years in Auburn Prison.

This particular banner was awarded to Orleans District Lodge No. 16 on September 11, 1909, just over 110 years ago. A joint meeting with Holley’s Fountain Lodge No. 840 included the conferral of the organization’s secret degree on 20 new members by Grand Chief Templar Ben Wright of Lockport.

J. E. West of Poughkeepsie was in attendance to present banners to three lodges with the largest net membership gain between May of 1908 and May of 1909. Holley’s membership increased by 28 members, Kendall by 17 members, and Jeddo by 8 members. This “beautiful new prize banner was presented…to Orleans District for making the largest net gain in membership for the year ending May 31, 1909.”

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One of community’s most eligible bachelors sued in broken-heart case in 1896

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 5 October 2019 at 8:21 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 38

I do not love thee! – yet, I know not why,

Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:

And often in my solitude I sigh

That those I do love are not more like thee!

– Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Edgar Z. Pells of Ridgeway

RIDGEWAY – Did you know that until 1935, an individual could file a lawsuit against their sweetheart for “breach of promise to marry?” Although both men and women could initiate such a lawsuit, “Heart Balm Statutes” commonly provided a jilted lover with an avenue for seeking financial reparations against their darling gentleman.

Sweeping reforms in the 1930s resulted in the passing of “Anti-Heart Balm Statutes” that abolished the ability for parties to bring action “for alienation of affections…seduction and breach of contract to marry,” as well as the right to “recover sums of money as damages…”

This photograph, taken by the Dunshee Brothers of Rochester, NY, shows Edgar Z. Pells of Ridgeway and was found in the same album as the portrait of Philetus and Eliza Bates (v. 5, no. 37). The son of William H. Pells and Maria Whitaker, Edgar spent the majority of his childhood in that vicinity, earning a common-school education, and eventually entering employment with his father. William Pells, a storeowner and investor in the Medina & Alabama Plank Road Company, provided his son with an opportunity to expand his personal wealth. Investing heavily in the development of Ford County, Illinois, William partnered with Ransom R. Murdock to purchase and survey Prospect City, now known as Paxton.

Spending time between Illinois and Western New York, Edgar quickly became the most eligible bachelor in the community. Although he was described as rather short and stout, his family’s wealth made him an attractive candidate for courtship. In 1887, Pells started a relationship with Carrie Myhill, a young schoolteacher in Ridgeway; he was 48 years old and she was 23. From all accounts, the two fell deeply in love, that is until Pells had a change of heart. In 1896, Stanley Filkins filed a breach of promise suit against Pells on behalf of Myhill seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages for the failed courtship.

The case attracted considerable attention throughout the county and although it is difficult to ascertain the specifics of the relationship between Myhill and Pells, the commentary on the case leaves much to the imagination. During the trial, attorneys presented a large volume of personal correspondence as evidence including 35 letters penned by Pells and 43 by Myhill. The couple knew each other for the majority of Myhill’s life and the relationship started after an exchange of photographs.

According to Myhill, once Pells promised marriage, “she consented and allege[d] that she thereafter conducted herself as his affianced bride.” In two separate articles published by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, one line read, “It was claimed by the plaintiff that liberties were offered her on promise,” while another read, “The confession of both as to their intimacy began soon after the alleged offer of marriage was given by both.” A notice in another paper notes that Myhill “testified to buggy rides and acts of impropriety.” As time passed, Pells grew tired of his young lover and denied any previous promise of marriage.

Filkins argued that Pells used his wealth to lead an innocent woman astray, giving her money and promising her what he never intended to fulfill. Edmund Pitts, the attorney for Pells, argued that the accusations levied against his client were tantamount to blackmail as none of the letters brought forth as evidence mentioned marriage.

When the case passed to the jury for deliberation, they returned a verdict in favor of Carrie Myhill in the sum of $12,000. Equivalent to $365,000 today, Pells appealed the case, which remained in court until after his death in 1899. His sister and executrix of his will, Hannah Bogardus, immediately paid the amount out of Pells approximately $1,000,000 estate. Available records indicate that Myhill later married T. Edward French of Detroit, Michigan in 1914.

It is worth noting that the selection of Filkins as attorney by Miss Myhill was likely a strategic one. Filkins served as attorney for Annie Ough during her divorce from notable Albion businessman George Ough in the late 1880s (v. 2, no. 5). During that case, Ough accused his wife of having an affair with Filkins, which contributed to Filkins’ own divorce in 1890.

Jeddo merchant who owned local hotels lived double life in Chicago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 September 2019 at 7:18 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 37

This photograph, taken some time in the 1860s by an unknown photographer, shows Philetus and Eliza Bates of Jeddo; an inscription on the reverse reads “Bates and wife, storekeeper at Jeddo.”

The Bates family was well known in Ridgeway near the Niagara-Orleans County Line thanks, in part, to Philetus’ father. An early settler of Orleans County, Orlando Bates constructed the first mill at Jeddo Creek and the location was quickly referred to as “Batesville” in honor of its pioneer founder.

On the surface, the life of Philetus Bates appears relatively uneventful. An obituary published in the days following his death on November 26, 1913, notes that he was a successful merchant at Jeddo and Middleport. At the close of the Civil War, his business suffered, and he turned to hotel proprietorship in order to make a living. Upon his departure from the earthly realm, he was laid to rest next to his wife and daughter in the West Ridgeway Cemetery. However, with a little digging, Philetus Bates’ reputation was marred by unprincipled and immoral behavior.

On November 9, 1853, Philetus married Eliza Southworth just two months after the death of her father, Harmon Southworth. From all accounts, the two lived a normal life together, although the posing and facial expressions in this photograph might indicate otherwise. In the January 31, 1882 edition of the Rochester Union and Advertiser, an article entitled “A Medina Bigamist” appeared on the back page of the paper. A nearly identical article appeared two days later in the Medina Register under the headline “Bates’ Indescretion (sic).”

According to the articles, Bates deserted his wife several years prior, sold most of the furnishings from the Medina House where he was landlord, and disappeared. Upset and ravaged by the stress of the situation, his wife became ill and was forced to earn her own living by sewing and taking in boarders. Philetus would occasionally return to Medina to sell jewelry and celluloid goods as a traveling salesman, but his stays were short in an effort to avoid his wife. Eliza became even more confused when she received a letter from Philetus asking her to send bedding and a bedstead to Chicago where he planned to make his “future home.”

Eliza wrote to friends in the Chicago area, asking them to dig deeper into her husband’s whereabouts. The response she received was infuriating, as she received word that Philetus had married another woman while roaming the countryside in the Midwest. Eliza wrote to the minister, John Crabbs, who allegedly married Philetus and his second wife. Crabbs responded in the affirmative, that he married her husband to a woman named Bertha Poucher in the village of Moronci, Michigan on September 22, 1881.

Additional research reveals that a bond for marriage license, affidavit, and marriage license were all filed in Crittenden County, Arkansas on February 4, 1882 for the 48-year-old Philetus Bates and 21-year-old Bertha Poucher. The reason for this “duplicated” marriage is unknown, but the newspaper articles closed by saying, “Philetus is still roaming about the country having, as we are informed, deserted number two and is probably looking for new worlds to conquer.” Clearly his interest in his second, younger bride passed quickly. His behavior was, however, not surprising to many in the Lyndonville community. It was reported that “Bates’ morality would not bear inspection and that he kept one or two girls of a loose character ostensibly as help but in reality as mistresses.”

After the death of Eliza on March 10, 1884, Philetus returned to Orleans County to operate hotels in the Lyndonville and Ridgeway area. His penchant for illegal activity remained as he was charged on several occasions for selling liquor at his establishments without a license. On one particular occasion in November of 1885, he was charged in connection with the death of J. Mahar, who committed suicide soon after consuming liquor purchased from Bates. In 1887, Bates pleaded guilty to a similar crime, spent 30 days in the Orleans County Jail, and left for Niagara County upon his release.

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Millville Stone Store eligible for National Register status

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 21 September 2019 at 8:04 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 36

In January of 2019, I received a request for information on the old stone store once belonging to T. O. Castle of Millville. Daniel Hurley purchased the building and pushed for the State Historic Preservation Office to consider the building for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. I was informed that the building is eligible for inclusion on the National Register and the process of researching and documenting the building’s history has commenced.

This photograph of the stone store appeared in “Bethinking of Old Orleans” volume 24, no. 1 authored by Bill Lattin. The article, entitled “Winter Gathering,” called attention to the large crowd gathered in front of the store, located at the intersection of Maple Ridge Road and East Shelby Road. Although the occasion for the photograph is a mystery, Lattin wrote, “Whatever was going on at the time must have seemed like a worthy event for taking a picture.” Several teams of horses are visible in the image, including at least one hitched to a bobsleigh.

Born at Parma, NY in 1826, Thomas Oliver Castle came to Shelby Center in 1846 where he worked for Reuben S. Castle for several years. He later worked for George Sweeney at a store in Buffalo before relocating to Millville around 1850. Although Thomas presumably owned the property in this photograph it was in fact deeded to his wife, Mary Anna Timmerman Castle, by James Potter in 1851 for the sum of $525. A parcel of land containing the Castle home was deeded to Mary from John and Harriet Knowlton around the same time for the sum of $500.

The date of construction remains a mystery but tracing the transfer of the property starting in 1830 provides some clues. That year, the property was transferred from the heirs of David Bottum to Daniel S. Root for $200. According to the history of the Frost family, Bottum was a pioneer in the silk industry. Settling at Oak Orchard in the Town of Ridgeway, he planted mulberry trees, raised worms, and spun silk, establishing a trade in sewing and knitting silk along the Ridge Road. He died in 1828 and his wife continued the business until 1831 when she remarried.

It is surmised that Bottum may have intended to use the site in Millville for his silk venture, dying before it could come to fruition. Root, an early postmaster and merchant, died unexpectedly in 1833 at the age of 33 and the property was later sold to James Potter by Root’s widow in 1849. At that point, the value of the property increased to $450 (nearly three times the original value when considering inflation) and likely contained the stone store in this picture. With all evidence considered, a date of construction sometime between 1830 and 1833 make sense.

This property also consisted of a tannery and post office, visible to the right of the store in this image. An 1860 map of Orleans and Niagara counties also confirms this, showing an adjacent building to the west. This makes sense considering both Root and Castle served as postmaster for Millville while Castle’s son George also worked as a tanner. For many years, T. O. Castle and Son operated out of the stone store at Millville, dealing in general merchandise, dry goods, and groceries. The 1903 Orleans County Directory also indicates that George Castle was a local dealer in Shropshire Sheep at Millville in addition to working in his father’s store.

On an interesting side note, the Millville Congregational Church constructed a house of worship on the south side of Maple Ridge Road in 1848. When a conflagration leveled the building, courtesy of an exploding kerosene lamp in 1870, Thomas Castle was placed on the fundraising committee responsible for securing money to rebuild. A new building was constructed from brick in 1871, which is visible in the background of this image. The congregation fell apart in 1900 when congregants discovered the minister to be of low moral character. The parcel of land was always referred to on maps as the “Presbyterian Society” even though the group adopted the congregational form of church government soon after forming.

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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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