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Clarendon

Clarendon’s settlement was a fortunate stroke of serendipity

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 20 January 2018 at 8:43 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 4, Issue 3

CLARENDON – Of the New York State Historic Markers erected by the NYS Department of Education, the overwhelming majority cover locations deemed significant to the earliest history of Orleans County including Native American and pioneer sites. The marker situated at the Town Park on Holley Byron Road in Clarendon calls attention to one of the earlier settlements in our area.

The marker reads, “Farwell’s Mills, here Eldred Farwell, first white settler of town, built the first mills in Clarendon, saw mill in 1811, grist mill in 1813.”

While consulting several seminal publications on early Orleans County history, the spelling of Farwell’s name is clearly debated; here, the State Department of Education uses a shortened spelling. Arad Thomas records Farwell’s name as Eldridge in Pioneer History of Orleans County, New York, but this historian would prefer to reference Farwell’s name as spelled by David Sturges Copeland in his History of Clarendon from 1810 to 1888 where he records the name as Eldredge.

Perhaps this is a detail that would only concern Farwell himself, but his contributions to the early settlement of Clarendon are also duly noted within the pages of these books. Born to William and Bethel Eldredge Farwell on March 6, 1770 at Charlestown, New Hampshire, Eldredge settled in the vicinity of Clarkson along the Ridge Road. From other publications, we know that his brother Isaac settled nearby to the west of the Ridge Road and Lake Road intersection in the same location.

As so many historians have recorded, the story of Clarendon’s foundation occurred by happenchance after the unfortunate escape of Isaac Farwell’s horse around 1810. Following the animal’s trail along the bank of Sandy Creek, it is said that Eldredge stumbled upon a waterfall and while recognizing its potential for power, decided that he should settle the area. Farwell purchased approximately 210 acres the following year and relocated his wife and five children to the area in the spring of 1811. With that acreage upon which the beautiful waterfall sat came the mill privilege, providing him with the opportunity to construct a grist mill on the site.

In the unsettled wilderness of Orleans County, the role of the mill owner was one of significance, prestige, and prominence. Grist millers held the key to survival, providing an invaluable service to settlers who needed to grind corn and wheat into flour. Settlers could travel west, east, or south to “nearby” locations to grind their grains, but trips to these areas were marred by unimproved roads, swamps, and waterways without bridges. The convenience of a local miller, of course, was preferred and Ambrose Ferguson was hired to labor in the mill at the astonishing rate of $20 per month.

Farwell’s establishment of a grist mill in 1811 followed by a saw mill in 1813 provided a significant amount of political capital to the 43-year-old pioneer. When the town held early elections for the position of supervisor, he was selected by his neighbors to the post. He operated the first post office at the location then known as “Farwell’s Mills,” which his sons later assisted in delivering mail to Byron Center by horseback when the stagecoaches operated between Rochester and Buffalo. He was later selected as a judge in the court of common pleas and from that point on was known locally as Judge Farwell.

When William Morgan disappeared in 1826, presumed to have been kidnapped and murdered by Masons, a series of trials took place in Orleans County involving local men accused of participating in the conspiracy. Elihu Mather, brother of Gaines pioneer James Mather, was accused of driving the carriage carrying Morgan through Orleans County. The exhaustive process of selecting unbiased jurors resulted in Judge Farwell’s participation in the defense’s challenge of Stephen Martin as a potential juror. According to Farwell, Martin had expressed an opinion of guilt, telling him explicitly that the masonic institution was corrupt, that Morgan was forcibly carried by carriage along Ridge Road, and that Morgan was most certainly in the carriage driven by Mather. The testimony resulted in Judge Addison Gardiner setting Martin aside as a juror.

The site on which this marker sits was donated to the Clarendon Grange in 1940 by Morris Brackett, Chief Game Protector of the NYS Conservation Department and a descendant of Farwell.

Erratum: Volume 4, Issue 2 noted that B. T. Roberts was removed from the pulpit of the Methodist Church in Albion – Roberts was living in Albion and relocated to Pekin, NY, but did not serve as pastor of the Albion Methodist Church. A huge thank you to Pastor Randy LeBaron for the correction!

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Clarendon couple lost all possessions in fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2017 at 8:38 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jerry Bentley, deputy fire coordinator for Orleans County Emergency Management Office, is on scene of a fire on South Fancher Road in Clarendon on Tuesday. The fire destroyed a house, garage and the homeowners’ possessions.

CLARENDON – Donations are sought to assist to a Clarendon couple that lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire on Tuesday.

Jim and Marge Dale were working when a fire broke out at 4214 Fancher Rd. The fire destroyed their house, garage, a boat, Corvette, Jeep, Harley Davidson motorcycle, snowmobile, tools, furniture and appliances.

“They lost everything they own except the clothes on their backs,” their daughter-in-law Michelle Dale wrote on an on-line fundraising page YouCaring. Click here for more information. A GoFundMe has also been started to help the Dales. Click here for more information.

The Dales did not have homeowner’s insurance. The on-line fundraiser is trying to raise $5,000 for the couple.

“Please, if you can find it in your heart to give what you can to this couple, it will help them get back on their feet, and slowly get back to their lives,” Michelle Dale wrote. “It will be greatly appreciated.”

The couple has three dogs, and at least two of them survived the fire. One is still unaccounted for, Michelle Dale said.

This dog, owned by Jim and Marge Dale, was able to get out of the fire. The dog is pictured on South Fancher Road before being picked up by the Orleans County animal control officer.

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Clarendon home on Fancher Road destroyed by fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2017 at 12:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CLARENDON – A fire late this morning destroyed a house and garage at 4214 Fancher Rd. The fire was reported at about 11:30 a.m. The house is owned by Jim and Marge Dale.

The fire is under investigation and no cause has been determined, but firefighters said it looks like the fire started in a garage and quickly spread into the house.

The fire spewed dark smoke on Fancher Road, north of Route 31A and south of Route 31.

Several fire departments responded to the scene, including Clarendon, Holley, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, Albion and Brockport.

Robert Margis, a Clarendon firefighter, keeps a steady stream of water on the fire.

Rob Conner of Albion helps straighten the hose so firefighters could get more water on the fire.

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Holley native wins $50K grand prize on food truck challenge

Food Network: Nick Hunter, Steven Klatt (center) and Brandon Lapp are teammates in Braised in the South which won the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.” Klatt is a Holley graduate.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2017 at 10:42 pm

CLARENDON – When the winning team was announced on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, the Clarendon Rec Hall crowd jumped out of their seats and hollered in joy.

Steven Klatt, 31, and his teammates on Braised in the South took home the top prize, $50,000. Klatt grew up in Clarendon and graduated from Holley. He is the son of Ryan Klatt and Susan Colby, the Clarendon town clerk.

Susan Colby, standing, jumps out of her seat after her son’s team won the “Great Food Truck Race” on the Food Network. The show aired from 9 to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Colby watched the finals at a viewing party at the Clarendon Rec Hall with about two dozen people. She had tears rolling down her face after Klatt and his team won the grand prize.

“We’re pretty darn proud,” Colby said. “He deserves all the credit.”

Braised in the South is based in Charlotte, South Carolina. It faced Mr. Po’ Boys from Dallas, Texas, in the finals in Savannah, Ga.

The team that sells the most food is the winner. Braised in the South created dishes with shellfish, scallops and clams to win the finals.

The competition features Southern-style food. The Great Food Truck Race started with seven teams, but each week one is eliminated, the team with lowest sales.

Susan Colby, right, watches the show wearing a Braised in the South shirt.

Colby said her son and his teammates are planning to go into the food truck business. They all work as chefs in Charleston.

Klatt and his wife have two children.

“It’s the most humbling experience I’ve ever been a part of,” Klatt said on the show. “It’s all worth it.”

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Clarendon native who lived to be 107 will be laid to rest on Wednesday at Hillside Cemetery

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan: Clarendon Town Historian Melissa Ierlan is pictured last July with Ida M. Brace Cook.

Posted 29 August 2017 at 3:50 pm

By Melissa Ierlan, Clarendon Town Historian

The Cook family monument is prominent at Hillside Cemetery.

CLARENDON – Ida M. Brace Cook born March 30, 1910. The first time I saw this I was sad to think that a person had passed away and a date of death wasn’t on her headstone.

This was probably 2012 and little did I know that this woman was still alive. I discovered that she was living in New York City somewhere.  Several years went by and I thought of her every time I was in the cemetery. I learned a little more about her and her connection with a well known family from Clarendon.

I discovered that an old family photo album of the Cook family had been donated by her to our county historian who then donated it to the Clarendon Historical Society.

Fast forward to 2016, and I find myself in NYC visiting the Museum of Natural History. By this time I was able to locate and contact Mrs. Cook with the help of Bill Lattin and made arrangements to visit her. Mrs. Cook was 106 years old when I met her and lived in a nursing home in NYC.  She visited with me for an hour or so and told me the story of how she grew up in Albion and how she met Gordon Cook, a descendant of Lemuel Cook, the Revolutionary War soldier who lived in Clarendon.

She spoke of his family, especially his mother who made her way to the USA with an ox cart and her children by herself. Gordon was many years older than Ida when they married but they made a life and did quite well.

Mrs. Cook was very independent up until an accident in 2013 which left her in a wheelchair. She went from assisted living into a nursing home.  She had a very sharp mind and although she was almost deaf, she would respond to written questions and speak about anything you could ask.

Before I left the nursing home, she was giving me suggestions of places in NYC that I might go to eat. She even gave directions on how to get to several places. She was a very remarkable woman and I feel fortunate to have met her even for a short visit.

Mrs. Cook passed away last week on Aug. 22. She will be laid to rest on Wednesday, August 30, at 1 p.m. at Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon. There will be a graveside service.  The public is welcome to attend.

Mrs. Cook will be laid to rest at the family plot that includes her husband Gordon.

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Big crowd in Clarendon to hear from author trapped in Nazi Germany almost 80 years ago

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 August 2017 at 11:19 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Marlies Adams DiFante describes her harrowing experiences of being trapped in Nazi Germany as a young child.

CLARENDON – A talk by Rochester author and Naples native Marlies Adams DiFante drew a large crowd to the Clarendon Historical Society meeting Wednesday evening.

DiFante made those in the audience both laugh and cry as she discussed her book, Queen of the Bremen, an autobiographical account of her childhood experience of being trapped in Nazi Germany with her family during World War II.

In 1939 at age 5, Marlies traveled with her parents and brother to her parents’ native Germany. The family wanted to visit Marlies’ dying grandfather. Marlies’ mother was pregnant with her third child at the time and Hitler invaded Poland shortly after they arrived, closing German borders and ports. The Adams were not allowed to leave the country due to the fact Marlies’ mother was so close to her due date.

The family endured what Marlies describes as a seven-year “living hell” during the war, suffering starvation, homelessness, abuse, bombings and constant fear.

“I never intended to put it into a book,” Marlies said. She began taping her story only as a way to preserve her first-hand experiences for her grandchildren.

The Clarendon Historical Society Museum Barn meeting room was filled Wednesday evening for a presentation by local author Marlies Adams DiFante.

Marlies’ daughter-in-law transcribed the tapes, typing everything down for her Master’s thesis, but at the time, Marlies said she was not ready to share the story with anyone other than family. Eventually, her feelings changed and she decided to publish the book.

She described the horrors of the war, including severe food rationing, being bombed out of her home, and the British dropping of dolls and fountain pens embedded with explosives.

“Children were maimed and killed,” she said. “The German people had nothing but fear in them…. Hitler took everything, the German people had no control at all. I felt sorry for the German people, that they let that monster take over like he did.”

Marlies also detailed an especially harrowing year she spent with an aunt, who was a Nazi informant. She suffered horrific neglect, and turned to the animals on the farm for companionship. She became attached to one of the cows, in particular. “That cow was my best friend,”

Marlies said, and added that she believes the cow was really an angel whose comfort helped her survive the ordeal.

She also discussed the power of forgiveness and how their strong faith in God helped her family to cope and survive. “If you don’t believe God watches over you, He does,” Marlies said.

“I’m so proud that God let me be born in this country,” she said of her native United States.

Marlies Adams DiFante speaks with Clarendon residents following her talk.

Marlies mentioned the recent violence at protests in Charlottesville, VA. “When I see the swastika… it’s a good thing I am not in that town,”  she said, and called the swastika a symbol of evil. “It’s the worst symbol that ever came out …… (the Nazis) destroyed everything…. we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Marlies’ son, Tom DiFante, who serves as Clarendon town justice, attended the presentation with his family.

“She does a fantastic job,” he said of his mother. He noted the book, “has given her a new purpose. It makes me proud and I appreciate what she’s endured.”

Tom’s wife, Amy, agreed. She said it is remarkable that the Adams family was able to survive their ordeal and move on with their lives.

“They stepped beyond it. I’m amazed at how strong she is,” Amy said, and noted Marlies’ story is inspiring. “She shows that it doesn’t matter how hard it gets, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tom and Amy’s daughter, Marlayna, and son, Mitchell, also attended the presentation. Mitchell, 13, enthusiastically promoted his grandmother’s book. He said his grandmother has taught him much.

“It’s hard to explain how much she’s gone through,” Mitchell said. “She’s spectacular. I thank God for all the blessings we’ve had and she’s had.”

He said his grandmother’s experiences make him more appreciative of what he has.

“It makes me realize how much I take for granted and that I might need to re-focus.”

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