Historic Childs: The Voting House

Posted 17 October 2021 at 7:00 am

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 39

GAINES – One of the very unique buildings located in the Hamlet of Childs is a historic “Voting House,” given to the Cobblestone Museum in 1999.

This interesting structure was donated to the Museum by the Town of Hamlin in Monroe County. Mary Smith, Town of Hamlin Historian, explained that the old voting house dated back to 1909.  The exact date that the building was taken out of service for voting is not certain, but can be estimated to be sometime around 1970.  But, what is known, is that the building had reached a high level of deterioration over the years. The photo above shows the building at the time of its arrival at the Museum in the fall of 1999.

I was recently asked by an observer, what exactly is a Voting House? The concept of having a unique and separate building that is only used for voting once or twice a year seems pretty foreign today. I admit that in my lifetime, I have seen the evolution from “voting booths,” which were actual booths, usually closed off with curtains, to the present day system of electronic voting machines that are delivered to select locations when needed for voting, but I never voted in a Voting House.

The history of voting in Orleans County pretty much follows the trend of all voting in this country, from paper ballots or “tickets” to mechanical voting devices.  The invention of the later is credited to Jacob Meyers, who operated a company that made safes in Rochester, NY.  His introduction of the Meyers Automatic Voting Booth set the course for a trail of successors that even today, follow his model.

Meyer’s voting machine used many of the same security measures he built into his safes, and in many ways, the first voting machines resembled a large vault, about ten feet square containing two doors at the front and no windows.  The voters would enter through the door on the right. The poll watcher would then close and lock the door while with the aid of kerosene lamps for lighting, the voter pressed in a series of knobs next to the names of their candidates.

When finished, the voter would exit through another door and slam the door shut.  This process would lock the exit door, record the vote and release the lock on the entrance door, allowing the next voter to enter.  Meyers declared that his new voting machine would “protect mechanically the vote from rascals and make the process of casting the ballot perfectly plain, simple and secret.”

The first application of the Meyers machine in the United States came on April 15, 1892 in the Town of Lockport when at 8:45 a.m., incumbent supervisor, John G. Freeman, entered the machine and cast the first mechanical vote for his own re-election. The “Lockport Union” reported that six persons voted in the first minute – a truly remarkable feat.

For the benefit of those who could not read, the slate of candidates for each party were printed in different colors – yellow for Democrats, red for Republicans and blue for the Prohibition Party.  The newspaper went on to report that the voting was “unquestionable, untrammeled, incorruptible and correctly counted.” (It would be safe to presume there were no “hanging-chads.”)  Within a minute after the polls closed at 5:30 p.m., the re-election of Supervisor Freeman was announced and within minutes, the name of every other successful candidate was also known.  It was a remarkable feat in a day and age when voting results usually required many hours or days of counting paper ballots by hand.

Even the old voting “booths” that I remember used to take up a lot of real estate in a polling place and were generally stored at the voting site which also created storage issues. However, I really have never seen or frequented a voting house in my lifetime, so I thought the question pertaining to voting houses to be pretty valid.

We know for a fact, that the voters in the Town of Gaines would have exercised their Constitutional authority to participate in free, local elections by entering their vote within the town’s polling place. This was first accomplished through paper ballots placed in a ballot box, and eventually progressed to mechanical registry by pulling a lever on a voting machine.

Voting House (lower left above) on Courthouse Square, Albion. As seen from Christ Episcopal Church, c. 1930.

Former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin remembers seeing voting houses used in various locations in Orleans County, although they were gone when he was old enough to vote. In the early 1900s, Voting Houses for each voting district were placed on a flat-bed wagon and pulled by horses to sit within the voting district.  They placed them between the sidewalk and the street, but they usually extended out into the road.

An old Voting House now used for storage on West Academy Street, Albion.

Bill recalls seeing a photo of a Voting House at the Court House Square in Albion and an old Voting House on West Academy Street. After Election Day, the Voting House was again carted off to be stored on county property. Primary voting at that time took place in September, so the Voting Houses were left in place from Primary Day in September to Election Day in November.

Larger municipalities used Voting Houses, but small towns used public buildings for voting, similar to today. Cary Lattin, Bill’s father, served as a Voting Inspector in the Town of Gaines and fulfilled his duties at the Voting District #1 in the old Town Hall. He served as a Republican Inspector along with Nellie Vagg. The two Democrat Inspectors were Mae Wolfe and Mrs. House. Gaines also had other Voting Districts, some casting ballots in the Schoolhouse at Eagle Harbor and others at the East Gaines Church. The number of voting districts was controlled by state law based on population density.

Bill noted that the Voting Houses were “always painted battleship grey.” They had two doors, with the door on the left used as an entrance and the door on the right side of the house used for an exit only. Bill said, “The exit door didn’t even have an outside doorknob to prevent people from entering the wrong door and disrupting the voting process.” The buildings were heated with a kerosene stove and lit with kerosene lamps.  Inside the building, a railing was placed to separate someone who was voting from people waiting to vote. There were lots of windows to provide illumination.

At some point in history, towns, cities and villages stopped using voting houses and instead enlisted the help of churches and other community buildings to serve as temporary polling locations.  The rest of the year, the sites continued in their normal course of business.

The Voting House that was given a new home at the Cobblestone Museum was one that had originally been commissioned by the Monroe County Board of Elections in 1909. It was used in the city of Rochester until it was taken out of service. Town of Hamlin Historian Mary Smith acquired it for part of a Town of Hamlin Museum, made up of several small buildings, located just north of Walker, NY. When it was decided to no longer have a Town Museum, Mary Smith offered the former Voting House to the Cobblestone Museum. Highway Superintendents in both Hamlin and Gaines assisted with moving the structure. The remaining buildings at the Walker, NY site were removed and the lot was cleared.

All this having been said, the Voting House at the Cobblestone Museum was a welcome addition to the Museum campus in 1999. A great deal of restoration work was completed at that time. Don Ross and Dick Cook rewired the building for lighting and Ken Root helped install a system of shelving units.

This allowed the historic structure to become a place to display used books for sale to the general public as a fundraiser for the Museum. This purpose has continued, even to this day, with a wide selection of hardcover and softcover books, none more than $1. The Book Building is located behind the Cobblestone Church and is open pretty much around-the-clock until snow flies. Plastic bins are located outside the Book Building to accept used books from community members.  All of the proceeds from the book sales have provided valuable funds over these twenty some years to help cover Museum expenses.

A beautiful Garden Court was also added in 2000 that was made possible by a donation from Marcia Hart Conrad in memory of her father, Homer C. Brown and her mother Marcia Brown Hart. A Bronze Plaque was also donated by Glen and Irene Woolston of Waterport and placed on the Voting House.

The photo above shows the Book Building’s official opening with Cobblestone Museum Treasurer Don Ross and President Mary Anne Braunbach cutting the ribbon.  The addition of the Book Building was a big part of the Museum’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in the year 2000.  (By the way, the celebration went off without a hitch in spite of all of the “Y2K” hoopla that was prevalent in the year 2000 when doomsday pundits believed computers would melt down in a tizzy when they rolled over from 1999 to the new millennium.)

There were a lot of activities that took place at the Museum on September 10, 2000 to celebrate this milestone 40th anniversary.  Here is a list of volunteers who made the celebration possible:

Katie Anderson, Weaving

Nancy Berger, Dried flowers

Nancy Breslawski, Corn husk dolls

Bonnie Beiswenger, Dulcimer

Mary Anne Braunbach, Helper

Sandy Chimenhagen, Basket weaving

Doris Clune, Weaving

Ed Cornwall, Antiques Appraisal

Nancy Ellington, Rug hooking

Elsie Epke, Harvest soup

Bob Gleason, Printing

Betty Gleason, Helper

Lyla Gutman, Refreshments

David Heminway, Historic engines

Betsey Hoffman, Quilts

Katie Laine, Hostess

Bill Lattin, Docent

Evelyn Lyman, Harvest soup

Terri McLaren, Soap making

Marva McCracken, Music

Bruce Midkiff, Masonry

Louie Molisani, Quilts

William Nestle, Tickets

Don Newcomb, Blacksmith

Lois Ormond,Quilts

Debbie Radzinski, Quilts

Marjorie & Gloria Recchia, Victorian Dolls

Nancy Rhodes, Music

Dee Robinson, Herbs

Janet Root, Quilts

Ken Root, Chair caning

Stella Robinson, Spinning

Susan Rudnicky, Carving

René Schasel, Tickets

Linda Schwartz, Refreshments

Marilyn Staines, Tatting

Merwin Staines, Tickets

Janice Thaine, Docent

Russell West, Farm tools

Andy Wheelock, Farm tools

Historic Childs: Five Corners, Part 2 – The Union Cemetery

Posted 12 October 2021 at 9:00 am

1913 Orleans County New Century Atlas

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 38

GAINES – Just south of the hamlet of Childs lies the crossroad community of Five Corners, easily identifiable by its nexus of five roads that meet in a star pattern. Recently, in Part 1 of this article we looked at the Bacon family and their contributions to the hamlet which included providing a lot of land for a school and a lot for a cemetery. In today’s article we focus on the Union Cemetery at Five Corners.

A meeting of Town of Gaines residents took place on May 8, 1834 at the home of Lewis Gates, in order to discuss the creation of a burying ground. Elias Bacon was selected as Moderator and Hosea Bacon, Lewis Gates, Samuel Hill, James Leonard and Seth Leonard were chosen to serve as Trustees to secure a title for a piece of land for that purpose. On April 21, 1835 the Trustees accomplished their duties and took title to a plot of land purchased from Moses and Sarah Bacon.

The cemetery land, adjacent to the Fair Haven Road, ran 100 feet by 90 feet and was further subdivided into 40 burial plots approximately 10 feet square. The cemetery was only described as a “burying ground” on survey maps until 1853 when a group of citizens met again, this time for the purpose of forming a rural cemetery association. The meeting took place at the Cobblestone District #11 Schoolhouse. The group elected Trustees and voted that the association be called the Union Cemetery Association and decided that an annual meeting be held each year at the Schoolhouse on the first Tuesday in October at 6 p.m.

At a later meeting of the Association, it was decided that Elias Bacon was to furnish materials and build a fence around the cemetery.  To reimburse Mr. Bacon for his duties he was to be reimbursed by a levy of $3.44 on each plot.

Although the name selected for the cemetery was officially “The Union Cemetery,” lacking a sign, local residents usually called it the Five Corners Cemetery or the Harding Farm Cemetery. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the lack of a sign on the cemetery was corrected, when Russell West, a local Boy Scout, placed a wooden sign at the west end of the property and a wooden bench in the interior.  In more recent times, it appears the sign on the property is missing once more.

Many times, the history of a community is told through the gravestones of its local cemetery, and the Union Cemetery is no exception. Moses, Elias and Hosea Bacon, who provided for the creation of the cemetery, along with many early settlers of Five Corners, are all buried here.

Moses Bacon arrived here in 1809. As mentioned in the previous article, he was wounded and taken prisoner during the War of 1812.  He built the brick home at the Corners in 1835.

A special War of 1812 marker was added to Moses Bacon’s grave a few years ago.

Hosea Bacon, also interred at the Union Cemetery, constructed the Cobblestone Home on Brown Road, known as Graystone Farm beginning in 1835.

Boy Scout Eagle Project built by Russell West

Rebecca Baker, originally from Rensselaer County, was a Methodist minister of some local note. She eventually settled on a farm in Carlton and is buried in Union Cemetery along with her husband and six children.

Mrs. Olive Bartlett and her husband came to this area on one of the first canal boats to travel to Buffalo in 1825.

Benjamin Dwinnell, a blacksmith from New Hampshire, was an uncle to famed newspaper man, Horace Greeley of New York City. Mr. Greeley agreed to co-sign a mortgage for his nephew on the Dwinnell’s Cobblestone House in Childs. Today, the home is known as the Ward House, and is part of the National Historic Landmark Cobblestone District.  The Dwinnell’s, along with daughter Lucy, are buried in Union Cemetery.

Simeon Dutcher and his wife, Rachel, are buried here. Mr. Dutcher was born in Dutchess County in 1772 and settled in Gaines in 1817. He was ordained an elder of the Baptist Church and was one of the first preachers for local settlers, officiating at many early marriages and funerals. During the Anti-Masonic Movement of the 1820s, he was told to renounce Free Masonry, which he refused to do, and was subsequently ex-communicated from his church.

Four Civil War veterans also are found in the Union Cemetery. Victory Ball was wounded in the shoulder at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Joseph Cook was killed near Fairfax Station, Virginia at the age of 22. Also interred here are veterans Henry Watson and Valentine Beach.

The majority of those buried in Union Cemetery are related to one another, and nearly half were under the age of 18 when they died. On the original plot map for the cemetery, a plot known as #22 was reserved for “strangers.” The last burial recorded for the cemetery took place in 1910.

Historic Childs: Five Corners, Part 1

Posted 19 September 2021 at 8:14 am

1913 New Century Atlas

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 37

Special thanks to local historian, Delia Robinson for her research and writing about the history of Five Corners, with input from Watt Farm Country Market, still operating at Five Corners.

Just south of the Hamlet of Childs, The Hamlet of Five Corners derives its name from the intersection of three roads: Route 98, Route 279 and Bacon Road.

Route 98 is the original Second Meridian Survey Line of the Holland Land Company. Route 279 essentially follows the original route of the Oak Orchard Road leading from Batavia to Lake Ontario. Bacon Road, running east and west, was named for the family who most influenced the history of that intersection.

Three brothers, all in their early 20’s came from Burlington, Connecticut to the new frontier of the Holland Land Purchase in the early 1800s. They were the sons of Moses and Rosanna (Rust) Bacon.  Moses, the first to come, selected 200 acres and worked for the Holland Land Company to help open the Oak Orchard Road. His earnings were applied towards paying for his land. That road today follows Route 98 from Batavia north and continues on Route 279 to Lake Ontario.

In December 1813, the War of 1812 touched the settlers in the area. Moses Bacon was called out with the militia to defend the frontier at Molyneaux Corners Tavern in the Town of Cambria. A historical recounting of the battle follows:

“Many of those who fled the Lewiston area reached the Town of Gaines, roughly thirty miles west of the (Forsyth) tavern, on the same day. Residents of the Town of Gaines recount that the villagers from Lewiston passed through their homes with warnings of an invading army killing and burning everything along the Ridge Road. The residents at Gaines decided not to flee but to muster a militia. It is said that all of the males over 18 living along the Ridge Road were gathered and under the direction of Captain McCarthy they proceeded single file west on the road by early daylight on Friday, December 20, 1813.

“They paused at the home and tavern of the widow Forsyth just before nightfall where the soldiers argued about whether to make camp or continue to the arms stockpile further up the Ridge Road. They came upon the tavern of William Molyneaux (originally that of David Klink) where some British soldiers and their Native allies had burned the barn and taken residence in the log tavern. In the dark, the militia stormed the tavern. Two British soldiers and one Native American were killed in the skirmish and the remainder were taken as prisoners. The militia later turned their prisoners over to the American army as it advanced from the south to scout the charred remains of the settlement at Lewiston. Twenty-one farms were destroyed on the Ridge Road between Lewiston and the Forsyth Tavern. The British continued to dispatch raids of approximately 15 men each throughout the Niagara Frontier to pillage and burn farms. Meanwhile an army of over 1,000 burned the village of Buffalo.”

Moses Bacon served again in September 1814 at the Battle of Fort Erie. During that battle he was shot in the neck and taken prisoner by the British and transported to Halifax, Canada. According to family records, Moses Bacon, while captive, carved a figure out of horse bone, after eating the meat from the bone for survival. He was released at the end of the war in 1815 and returned to his home where he lived out his life.

Moses built the brick house, still extant, at The Corners in 1835, which suffered a destructive fire in more recent years.  Moses drew a pension from the government for his service and injuries during the War of 1812.

Moses’ brothers, Elias and Hosea, followed him to Five Corners between 1819 and 1823. Moses sold part of his land to each brother. In those first years, the brothers built a sawmill where they produced timber from the trees felled to clear the land. Elias built a log cabin and barn by the side of the spring just north of the corner. He brought his wife, Sarah, from Connecticut to live in the wilderness. The barn was constructed of logs with a thatched roof in which he kept a cow and a horse. After clearing his land and planting crops, Elias was financially able to build his cobblestone home, still present at Five Corners.

Bacon Home, “Graystone,” Brown Road

Hosea was the youngest brother and first visited the Holland Purchase when he was 19 years old. For four years after he spent summers here with his brothers cutting and sawing timber at the mill and clearing land for planting. He worked at the saw mill until 1828 when he received the deed to his property, located east of Five Corners, on Brown Road. He built a frame house there, which was later replaced with a cobblestone home (shown above) and the farm acquired the name Graystone. It’s quite possible that the wrought iron frieze window works came from the Bacon foundry, about one mile away.  Today this beautiful cobblestone home is owned by Susan and Peter Heard.

Education at Five Corners in the early years was conducted in a variety of buildings. Around 1820, school was held just south of The Corners in a log barn that “leaked when it rained.” The next summer, school was held in a log house northwest of The Corners, which was the first house built south of the Ridge Road. The next summer, school was held in a corn crib just south of Five Corners, and from there it went to a horse barn just north of the corner.

By 1824, Moses and Sarah Bacon decided to help in the schooling of the children and deeded a piece of land to be used to build a schoolhouse. A cobblestone schoolhouse was built and serves today as a private residence (shown above) on Route 279, just north of the intersection.

In 1834 Moses Bacon deeded another parcel of land to create a burying ground, which will be the subject of Part 2 of this article. In addition to his community service of providing a cemetery, Moses Bacon was a trustee of the Congregational Church in Gaines in 1824 and contributed financially to the establishment of Phipps Union Seminary on Courthouse Square in Albion. He died in 1848 and was buried in the Union Cemetery that his philanthropy made possible.

Descendants of the Bacon brothers carried on business at Five Corners into the 20th century. Elias Scott Bacon lived in a brick house on the point of the triangle. Elias also built a foundry and manufactured farm implements. His son, Scott E. Bacon, carried on after his father with a foundry and furniture manufacturing business just north of the house. Photo shows structure prior to demolition in 1977.

In the 20th century, nieces of the Bacons inherited the Elias Bacon cobblestone home, where Dr. Ruth (Mary) Neilans, a descendant, now lives.

Earl Harding, Cornell University photo, 1920

Earl Harding, also a descendent, grew up in Five Corners in the Moses Bacon home. He attended the Cobblestone School at Five Corners and the Albion High School. Earl went to Cornell University and graduated in 1920.

Over the next 60 years his accomplishments were many for both Gaines and New York State.  After serving in the armed forces in WWI and graduating from Cornell, Earl married Marguerite (Hazard) and they had one daughter, Joan (Farnsworth.)

Before his death in 1980 he was president of the NYS Horticultural Society, one of the original Directors and President of the National Cherry Institute, first President of Orleans County Farm Bureau, served 20 years on the Advisory Board of Marine Trust Bank,  Chairman of the National Cherry Growers Meeting, Director for six years of the NYS Agricultural Society, appointed by Governor Rockefeller in 1959 to the New York Marketing Order Advisory Board and the Marketing Development Board for Apples. He also served on the Gaines Town Board for 21 years in addition to his service as a Mason, member of the Town Club, Lions Club and Methodist Church.

Earl Harding in his cherry Orchard at Five Corners, 1956

Cobblestone Museum brings back membership dinner and auction

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Larry Albanese and Dick Remley ham it up with a pair of puppets from a Dutch store in Jakarta, Indonesia, which were donated to the Cobblestone Museum’s auction Wednesday night at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 September 2021 at 8:21 am

CARLTON – The Cobblestone Museum brought back its annual dinner and fundraising auction at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall on Wednesday evening. The crowd was smaller than in recent years, due to concerns over the rising cases of Covid, said Cobblestone director Doug Farley.

“However, we are glad to be back in business again,” Farley said. “This is a great kickoff for our Welcome Center, and it’s good to see people out and enjoying themselves. The money raised tonight will go a long way in helping get the Welcome Center going.”

Dick Remley, finance committee chair and head of the committee to raise money for purchase of the c. 1830 home formerly known as Fair Haven Treasures, said the Visitor’s Center will not only be for the Cobblestone Museum, but for all of Orleans County.

“It couldn’t be more centrally located,” Remley said. “In fact, in the 1800s, Childs was the county seat for a day. This house will give us room to show movies to tourists, ample space for parking and indoor bathrooms, all things we don’t have now.”

He explained their goal is to add a meeting room for up to 100 people, where they can have educational programs all year long and provide office space for Orleans County Tourism.

“This will be a one-stop location for information regarding all of Orleans County, including the Medina Railroad Museum to the fishing industry,” Remley said.

Doug Farley, left, director of the Cobblestone Museum at Childs, scans the audience as former sheriff Randy Bower solicits bids on donated items.

Remley is very encouraged at the support the project has already received. So far $400,000 of the $750,000 goal has been raised for the project. Click here for more information.

“We’ve only been fundraising for four weeks and we are already at more than 50 percent of our goal,” he said. “The Cobblestone Museum is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County and we are on the road to making sure it continues for a long, long time.”

The evening continued with dinner catered by Zambistro, followed by a live auction with former sheriff Randy Bower as auctioneer. Bower egged the crowd on to secure the highest bids for each item. There was a variety of donated items, and when there was an occasional item with no opening bid, Bower started the bidding himself.

There were bargains to be had, such as 10 one-day park hopper passes to Disney World, valued at $150 each, which the bidder got for $200, and a pen and ink painting by Roger San Miguel, whose paintings are said to bring $4,000 to $6,000, which went to the highest bidder for $200.

Two unusual puppets from a Dutch store in Jakarta, Indonesia, were more than 100 years old and brought laughs when Remley and Larry Albanese started dancing around with them.

A silent auction followed with three dozen unique items and a basket raffle.

This was the Cobblestone Society’s third annual membership fundraising dinner. Next year’s membership dinner will be May 11 at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Editor’s Note: Museum Director Doug Farley reported the event on Wednesday raised $10,000 for the museum.

Marty Taber, left, holds a painting by the late Roy Bannister as Larry Albanese points to a bidder during the Cobblestone Museum’s live auction Wednesday night.

Cobblestone Museum has raised $400K towards $750K welcome center

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 September 2021 at 9:45 am

Organization to acquire 1834 ‘Brick House’ with plans for an addition at key crossroads location

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Cobblestone Museum will be acquiring the “Brick House” and will turn it into a welcome center that would promote other tourism sites and businesses in Orleans County.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum has announced it has raised $400,000 out of a $750,000 goal for a visitor’s center in the historic Childs hamlet.

The museum is acquiring the “Brick House,” a 3,000-square-foot building from 1834 at the southeast corner of the routes 98 and 104 and wants to put an addition on the back of the brick building with new modern bathrooms and a meeting space that hold up to 100 people. The property includes 50 parking spaces.

The site would be an Orleans County welcome center and would promote businesses and other tourism sites in the county.

“It’s a win-win,” said County Legislator Fred Miller, who is serving on a fund-raising committee for the project. “It would help all of Orleans County. It’s perfect.”

Miller would like to see the county tourism office be based out of the site, with the county providing some steady revenue to the museum as a tenant in the building.

He sees tourism and the Cobblestone Museum working together to promote other attractions, including fishing, the Medina Railroad Museum, the Niagara Wine Trail (which runs along Route 104) and other historic districts and sites.

“It’s right at Route 98 and 104 which are major routes in the county,” Miller said about the site. “It would be ideal, and it would help everybody. It wouldn’t just be an Albion or Medina thing. Hopefully people will get on board.”

Gail Johnson, a member of the capitol committee for a welcome/visitor center, and Cobblestone Museum Director Doug Farley are pictured by the “Brick House,” a building the museum is acquiring with plans for an addition. The site also has about 50 parking spaces.

Many people already have given to the project. The museum has been doing a “silent” capital campaign and has $400,000 committed. It is making the campaign public this week and welcomes community support.

The Cobblestone Museum’s board of directors have considered a visitor’s center as part of the museum’s campus for several years. But there wasn’t enough room for a new building at the museum campus, which is a National Historic Landmark, the only site in Orleans County with that designation besides the Erie Canal.

The Cobblestone group only had to look across Ridge Road from the Cobblestone Church to see a stately red brick home with six fireplaces. That church was also built in 1834.

Ray and Linda Burke fixed up the brick house, added parking and a driveway on Route 98. They opened Fair Haven Treasures in May 2014. They have high-end artisans and crafters at the site. Doug Farley, the Cobblestone Museum’s director, praised the Burkes for their work and care for the property.

“It is ideal for a welcome center,” Farley said about the brick house. “It is high visibility.”

The $750,000 campaign total would fund the following: $260,000 purchase price with closing costs; $200,000 for meeting room addition; $130,000 for theater and interactive exhibits; $100,000 for ADA accessibility; $30,000 for architectural planning; $20,000 for stabilization (roof, septic, windows, masonry, etc.); and $10,000 for historic structures report.

The Cobblestone Welcome Center Fundraising Campaign Committee includes chairman Richard Remley, treasurer Kevin Hamilton, Brett Kast, Andrew Meier, County Legislator Fred Miller, retired county historian Bill Lattin (who was the museum director for 40 years), Gail Johnson, Cobblestone Museum President Erin Anheier and Doug Farley, the museum director.

Ray and Linda Burke, shown in May 2014, gave the site new life as Fair Haven Treasures.

The Burkes in their work on the building removed plywood and linoleum from the floors, and discovered hardwood floors underneath. They took out one wall to make a bigger room that they used for performances and public events.

The museum cited many benefits of the acquiring the Brick House, including:

  • a highly visible location to promote the museum and other local sites
  • plentiful additional parking for school and tour buses, and other museum events including weddings
  • year-round access to bathrooms
  • further expansion of the Childs historic district
  • expanding educational programming and visitation with year-round access
  • kitchenette for use by caterers or small receptions
  • large community meeting space for educational programming
  • multi-purpose room
  • space for Orleans County Tourism Department (currently based at Orleans County Office Building on Route 31)
  • new exhibit space to interpret Orleans County history
  • space for viewing an introductory video and new cobblestone interactive exhibits
  • distribute materials for local attractions including Medina Railroad Museum, Erie Canal, lighthouse at Point Breeze, campgrounds, marinas, bed and breakfast sites, sports fishing, agri-business, wineries and other locations.

The capital campaign includes several opportunities for naming rights, including the building name (for $250,000-plus), large meeting room ($75,000), Orleans County History Room ($30,000), Reception Desk ($25,000), Ground Floor Rooms (5 at $25,000 each), Second Floor Rooms (5 at $20,000 each), Entrance ($20,000), Stairway ($15,000), Meeting Room on lower level ($15,000) and Major Donor Plaque Entry (Heritage level at $10,000 or more).

The donations can be paid over five years. For more information on the capital campaign, click here to be directed to the museum website or contact Farley at (585) 589-9013, or by email at

A group of Santas helped dedicate International Peace Garden at the Brick House property at the corner of 98 and 104 on April 17, 2015. The Santas were in town for a Santa convention.

Historic Childs: Natural History (Part 2)

Posted 13 September 2021 at 7:54 am

Dr. Frank H. Lattin had extensive bird egg collection featured at World’s Fair, produced magazines on science – also served as assemblyman and local health officer

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 36

Frank Haak Lattin (1861-1937), age 26

GAINES – In Part 1 of this article, we explored a 19th century discovery in the Town of Gaines with roots back to the last Ice Age. In this article, we explore how this discovery had a dramatic influence on the life of one of the Town of Gaines leading citizens.

Frank H. Lattin was born in 1861, son of Joseph and Mary (Haak) Lattin of Gaines. Joseph died when Frank was only nine years old, but the setback was only temporary, as Frank went on to graduate from Albion High School, taught school for several years in Gaines, and then began an amazing career buying, selling and collecting natural history objects.

Even at the age of 36, Frank Lattin returned to school and worked his way through medical college and received his M.D. from the University of Buffalo in 1899, beginning a second career in medicine and surgery.

At an early age, Frank developed an interest in geology and natural history. He was especially fascinated by the discovery of “Gilbert’s Hearth” in Gaines in 1864, a prehistoric find that geologists and anthropologists dated to the Paleo-Indian era at the end of the last Ice Age.

His interest in the natural sciences started Frank on a lifelong obsession that led him to leave his mark not only on Gaines and Orleans County, but also all over the world.

“North American Birds Eggs,” 1905, by Frank H. Lattin, MD.  Also shown is the birds egg collection of Cary Lattin which he created 1911-1914 at age 13, currently display at the Cobblestone Museum.

At first, Frank’s primary interest was in bird eggs and in 1884 he began the publication of a monthly magazine entitled the “Oologist,” which grew to a circulation of 3,000 copies. In 1894 he exhibited his collection of birds’ eggs at the Chicago World’s Fair and his display alone covered 2,000 square feet in the Anthropological Building.

Frank Lattin’s interests certainly included much more than just bird eggs. Following the World’s Fair, he purchased a world renowned collection of shells once owned by Col. Ezekiel Jewett, former curator of the NYS Museum at Albany. The collection embraced 50,000 separate specimens from over 10,000 species.  The Catalog of the Collection made a book of 200 pages.

On February 15, 1895 Lattin began producing a weekly publication entitled, “Natural Science News.” Popularity spread quickly and the publisher needed to employ four workers to meet the demand. Eventually, Mr. Lattin’s many collections within the natural sciences grew to encompass two large warehouses of specimens.

Dr. Frank H. Lattin, 1917

Dr. Frank Lattin’s reputation was equally as strong locally as it was with scientists worldwide. One Gaines resident, Earl Harding, recalled his admiration and appreciation for this small town medical legend.

“Yes, in those days, doctors made house calls. The doctor that delivered me was Dr. Frank Lattin of Gaines. I almost used to try and get ill so my Mother would call him up, because Frank Lattin was very famous as a collector of birds’ eggs. I used to do some of that myself, so if I could get Dr. Frank Lattin up here and talk about birds’ eggs, I’d like it! At that time, there was quite a migration of our people to Wayne County to buy fruit farms, and Frank Lattin was interested in that project, too. He had a farm in Wayne County as I remember.”

Town of Gaines Centennial, 1909

Mr. Lattin wore many hats indeed during his lifetime. He promoted local history and was a moving force in the Town of Gaines Centennial celebration in 1909. On January 5, 1909 he addressed the Eleventh Annual Convention of New York State Fruit Growers Association held in Convention Hall in Rochester. His topic was “My Experience in Reclaiming Old Apple Orchards.”

From 1917 to 1930 he served in the NYS Legislature as Assemblyman from Orleans County. He contributed to the advancement of public health in the State by endorsing and defending new health measures as the Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Public Health.

In the 1920s, Dr. Lattin was busy organizing the Old Schoolmates Reunion for the District #4 Cobblestone School in Gaines.

District #4 First Reunion, 1924

In addition to his historical research, Frank Lattin produced extensive genealogical information on the Lattin family. He served as health officer for the Town of Gaines until his death in 1937.

Photo courtesy Town of Gaines Historian

One of Dr. Frank Lattin’s favorite activities was judging fruit exhibits at state and county fairs, as seen in this photo from the 1930s.

The Lattin home in the Village of Gaines, shown above, was a great source of community pride over the years. Dr. Lattin himself reflected that it is probably the only home in the world that was secured through the consummation of a single sale of bird eggs.

Frank Lattin married May Bullard in 1885 when she was 19 years old.  They had two daughters, Dorothy Root and Virginia Lattin Morrison who later resided in the family homestead on the southwest corner of NYS Routes 104 and 279.

Perhaps, an editorial in the “Orleans Republican” newspaper from 1937 provides the best summary of Dr. Lattin’s character:

“Everything pertaining to natural history attracted him and he gained a broad knowledge by keen observation of everything about him.  Step by step he broadened and progressed, not by magic, but by his own unswerving integrity and steadfastness. Honorable, possessed of a keen sense of humor, he radiated cheer wherever he might be.  His success meant no man’s downfall, hence all loved him and regarded him as a friend.  His life touched many others at home and in foreign countries in a business way that culminated in friendship. He was like the sturdy mountain oak whose roots ever deepen into the rich soil until it stands firm and solid against each blast.”

The bridge at Eagle Harbor has long provided canal crossing

Posted 8 September 2021 at 5:29 pm

This 1909 postcard photo taken by W.C. Eaton of Jeddo, shows Main Street, Eagle Harbor, looking north.

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – Vol. 1, No. 21

EAGLE HARBOR – The hamlet of Eagle Harbor has seen more traffic of late as many avail of its convenient bridge because the Knowlesville bridge on Route 31 is still “Closed” or “Out.”

Named for the eagle’s nest found in a tree there by Canal surveyors in 1815, Eagle Harbor’s growth was due to Canal trade.

In 1894, it boasted a hotel, livery, wagon shop, meat market, grist mill, school, three general stores, two churches, and two blacksmiths. The following photographs from the History Dept. provide interesting visual images of Eagle Harbor’s history.

The old steel arch bridge is visible in this bustling scene.

This 1911 postcard photo also taken by W.C. Eaton, of Jeddo, shows the early stages of the bridge reconstruction project which was necessitated by the widening of the Erie Canal.

This massive reconstruction project was thoroughly documented by the New York State Barge Canal (Western Division). This photograph is labeled “South Wall of Trough, Eagle Harbor, Looking East, 4/12/12”

“Eagle Harbor Waste Weir, Looking S.E., 4/10/1912”

A temporary wooden bridge over the Canal at Eagle Harbor, 1912.

The construction of the Erie Canal presented several engineering challenges and lead to the development of several new types of bridge design. The vertical lift bridge at Eagle Harbor is one of the longer spans of this bridge type. It is one of seven lift bridges in Orleans County.

According to “This bridge features end posts which extend above the top chord, with a tastefully designed curved plate providing a visual and structural transition from the top chord to the top of the end post…..this bridge stands on its own as a beautiful eye-catching landmark for the area.”

Historic Childs: Natural History, Part 1 – Native Peoples

Posted 4 September 2021 at 9:00 am

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 35

Our efforts to date with the “Historic Childs” article series have focused on 19th and 20th century history, today we take a venture into much, much earlier territory.

I believe the first printed telling of this historic discovery appeared in the “Holley Standard” newspaper on January 6, 1887. The subject of the article concerned an 1814 discovery in the Town of Gaines that scholars over the years have confirmed to date from a pre-Ice Age, Paleo-Indian settlement, dating back over 12,000 years ago.

The scene of the local discovery in 1814 was at the David Tomlinson Farm located on Ridge Road just west of the Village of Gaines. At that time, the region was largely unbroken forest. About 150’ off the Ridge, there was a well-known fresh water spring that the Native Peoples had shown to the settlers in the early 1800s.

In 1824, the spring was cleaned out and stones were built up to form a well. In 1853, the well failed and was subsequently deepened to replenish the water supply. In 1864, the farm experienced a dry well which necessitated a second re-digging to the 18’ level. It was at that level that the prehistoric discovery was made which was described in detail in the Holley newspaper:

“About 18’ below the original surface, the digger came upon a quantity of brush overlying an ancient fireplace, consisting of three round stones, each about one foot in diameter, placed in the form of a triangle. A mess of charcoal and ashes surrounded the stones, which were burned and blackened by fire and smoke. Several sticks were found thrust between the stones, the inner ends burned and charred as left by the expiring flames. A careful inspection of these sticks by a gentleman thoroughly acquainted with the nature and grain of various woods proved them to be hemlock and ash.

“Some were denuded of bark and had the smooth surface usually presented by water washed wood found on any beach. Several sticks were split and surrounding one was a depressed ring or indentation, as through some dull instrument had been employed in an effort to weaken or break the wood. The ashes were indurated to a degree requiring the use of a pick in their removal and rested upon a stratum of sand which was also in a hardened condition, being taken out in large pieces that proved to be fine grained with a smooth surface, slightly creased in places, possibly ripple marks.

“When first discovered the brush was closely packed over the fireplace and had every appearance of having been forced into position by the action of water. The fireplace and all the details of its narrow surroundings, which were carefully noted, clearly indicated that it had been made upon a sand beach and was subjected to an inundation that washed the mass of brush, possibly gathered for fuel, over the stones and ashes, which were afterwards covered many feet deep by successive strata of the same gravelly soil of which the Ridge is composed, and was preserved for ages unknown.

After ascertaining these facts, and after looking over the ground, the observer reached the conclusion that the fireplace must have been made at a period just before the formation of the Ridge.  The Ridge at that point in time must has been a (sand) bar like that on the present lake shore behind which lies a little round pond. The waters of the pond or marsh, finally soaked thru the mud bottom and following a vein or seam, rose to the surface in the formation of the spring. When the marsh land was cleaned and drained the spring failed.  All this would go to show that man was a habitant of the lake shore before the existence of the Ridge. The late Lewis H. Morgan thought the discovery an important one and advised its publication.

At a late meeting of the Anthropological Society of Washington, G. K. Gilbert of the U.S. Geological Survey, retold the story of the find as verified by himself on the occasion of his visit to this vicinity.”

Grove Karl (G. K.) Gilbert (1843-1918), Rochester NY

The find, at that time, was labeled “Gilbert’s Hearth.”  Professor Gilbert’s findings were recorded in the Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities, 1919. He stated that the terrace on which the Tomlinson site sits is located about 175’ above the present level of Lake Ontario.  The formation occurred between the ice front on the north and the southern rim of the basin. When the basin was finally free from ice, the lake outflowed via the Mohawk Valley and the present terrace was formed.

Gilbert concluded that the hearth was made in the period following the Ice Age outflow at the Mohawk Valley in a period of time that reflected the decline of the glacial climate.

Next week, in Part 2 of this article, we look at how this local discovery became a dramatic influence in the life of one of Orleans County’s early citizens, Dr. Frank. H. Lattin.

Historic Childs: A Sesquicentennial Essay by Sanford B. Church

Posted 13 August 2021 at 7:38 am

‘I would gladly give up all of my interest in a rocket to the moon to go back again to 1910 and ride once more behind that old horse in the dust of the Fair Haven Road.’

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 31

Sanford B. Church, family photo

GAINES – The Hamlet of Childs was by its very location, front and center, during the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the Town of Gaines in 1959.  The milestone of the passage of 150 years of time from 1809-1959 was indeed cause for celebration amongst locals and onlookers, alike.  As part of the Sesqui, a 32-page publication was produced that talked about the overall history of the town and reflected on many of the changes that have taken place in the town over the years.

This week’s installment of “Historic Childs” takes a look at an article that was included in the Sesquicentennial publication that featured the reflections of one of its citizens, Sanford B. Church (1904-1976).  In his lifetime, Mr. Church practiced law for 40 years and was a founding director of Albion Federal Savings and Loan Association.

He was the owner of the Orleans Republican newspaper, a member of Christ Episcopal Church and Renovations Lodge of Masons. Mr. Church was also the grandfather of current Orleans County Judge Sanford A. Church. The photos included this week were not part of the original essay, but have been included to bring additional understanding to Mr. Church’s remarks.

“Requiescat (Prayer) in Limbo,” by Sanford B. Church, 1959.

This is a chronicle, of sorts, designed with the intention of recalling to the minds of those who read it, some of the customs, practices, institutions which have ceased to be a part of our way of life here in the Town of Gaines during the past fifty years. “Limbo’, according to Webster, is a place or condition of neglect or oblivion, and it is into oblivion that many things we have all known well have passed since 1909. While the loss of some of these causes us no regret, others give a nostalgic tug at our heartstrings and bring back fond memories of a bygone era.

Thompson Farm, Ridge Road, Gaines, late 1800s, showing unpaved Ridge Road. Paving of Ridge Road was not complete until the 1920s.

First and foremost on my list is the passing (or almost) of the dirt road in our town. Certainly, with one exception I can think of, the dirt road as it was fifty years ago has completely ceased to exist. Frankly, I’m sorry. While the modern highways bearing their streams of automobiles from farms to town and maybe still farther away, are an essential part of our current way of life, the little dirt road had a definite charm of its own, and I have always had a special fondness for it in my heart.

In this connection, it is interesting to note that the end of the era of the dirt road was just beginning in Gaines fifty years ago right now. In 1908 the “macadam” road to Gaines was built, and two years later the blacktop road to Fair Haven and beyond was under construction.

Democrat Wagon from Coloney Farm, Gaines Centennial Parade, 1909

Although I was pretty small back in those days, I can well remember coming home from Oak Orchard in my father’s ‘‘democrat wagon’’ (I suppose it was the station wagon of the time) on a summer’s evening in 1910. At that time there was a large camp for the road workers, and as I recall it was on the west side of the Oak Orchard Road, about a half mile north of the Ridge.

I remember it was dusk, and as the horse plowed his way through the dust, the men were singing and the darkness sparkled with their little fires. In point of time, it was a long drive from Albion to the lake in those days, and many is the buckboard, buggy or democrat we passed on the way, to say nothing of an occasional surrey or phaeton, or a farm wagon creaking and groaning under its load of hay or grain. Such vehicles as these are all gone, so long gone, in fact, that I was startled to see a manure spreader recently on the road not far from Fair Haven (Childs, if you like) drawn by a team of brown horses.

Erie Canal towpath, Gaines Basin, c. 1900 before Barge Canal expansion

Well do I remember blacksmith shops (Joe Vagg’s was the last one to go in Gaines, wasn’t it?). Clure White and his fabulous pond full of goldfish, the old stone mill north of Eagle Harbor, the golf course and country club north of Eagle Harbor, which has both come and gone within this half-century, the towpath along the Erie Canal, the machine shop (maybe you know what work was done there; I don’t) in the rear of the Bacon house in the triangle at Five Corners, the East Gaines store (at the corner of the Kent Road and the Ridge – a vacant lot now), the Congregational Church at Gaines which burned in 1950, Huskin’ Bees, Bees to clear out the drifted roads in winter, and many, many other pleasant, friendly, everyday things.

Traction Engine, Maple Lawn Farm, Childs, early 1900s.  Note the belt driven power system extending from the engine into the barn.

I can’t remember back to the old, old threshing machine which was propelled by horsepower, and any way that’s back before 1909.  But I can distinctly recall the so-called old-fashioned threshing machine, drawn and propelled by a great, smoke-spouting steam “traction engine” which is gone from these parts (although it is in common use in New England, parts of Pennsylvania, and even in other parts of this state).

Almost as good as the arrival of a circus, was the advent of the threshers with their fascinating equipment on a hot summer’s morning. As a child I’ve stood many times in front of the farmhouse where Dan Bolger and his family lived, and seen the men set up the machine, connect the great belt to the traction engine, and bring the wagons loaded with wheat into line. Presently the engine would he belching smoke higher than the barn, the huge spout of the threshing machine would he spewing out straw in a never-ending stream, and the golden grain would run out into the waiting sacks.

Straw stack, Coloney Farm, Childs, c. 1900.

At noon, the activity would suddenly cease, and after a hasty cleaning-up session, the threshers would crowd about the tables to consume the meal the women had prepared. Then, afterwards, the threshing went on all the afternoon, until all the wheat was threshed, the straw stack was two stories high, and the wheat was sacked and ready for market. It was always an eventful day, an interesting and enthralling sight at the time, and a pleasant memory now.

Windmills exist no longer in Gaines, as far as I know. At least, there are no working ones. But they are by no means totally extinct. There are some still in use in this county, and still more in parts of Genesee and Wyoming. Down in the central part of the state, and in parts of New England, they are very common. For those of you who are doubting Thomases, I respectfully refer you to a brand new aluminum one a half-mile east of Navarino on U. S. 20 (south of Syracuse).

George B. LaMont, horse drawn binder, c. 1930.

To the best of my knowledge, no horse-drawn farm tools are in use in the Town. But, like windmills, they are much in use elsewhere for instance, in eastern Pennsylvania and New England. Likewise with the ‘‘little red schoolhouse.”  If you are lonesome for these relics of our youth here in this land of the centralized school of university proportions, go to rural New England. There you will find all of them your heart desires (and without swimming pools!).

One of my informants has assured me that there are no outside privies remaining in Gaines, but I can assure him that he’s wrong. While they are on the wane, they definitely are still very much with us, and I have an idea that they will be for a long, long time to come. But hitching posts (except for ornamentation) are a thing of the past, along with dry houses and evaporators.

Picking and sorting apples in 1904, LaMont Farm, note use of barrels for storage and shipping.

In my opinion, the cooper shop is deserving of a memorial from the apple growers of the past in Gaines, because the heyday of the barrel was also the heyday of the apple industry in all of this area. In the early part of this century the crop was usually good, and there was an ever-ready seller’s market, particularly overseas. Am I not correct that many of the fine, old homes of Gaines owe their existence to the fact that around 1900 apples were selling at $14 a barrel in foreign ports, notably in the free port of Hamburg.

Gaines Sesquicentennial Parade float from Coloney Farms, 1909

And what about circuses and the thrilling parades which always preceded them? And don’t tell me there have been no circuses or circus parades in the Town of Gaines since 1909, because I know better. I’ve watched many a parade go past mv house headed north, turn about (with considerable difficulty) at North Street, and head back up Main Street, with bands playing, flags flying and elephants joined tail-by-trunk in a long line.

Calliope as seen at Krull Park, Olcott NY, July 2021.

Perhaps the most thrilling part of the parade (to me, at any rate) was the steam calliope, and I can well remember one in particular, which was huge. Of course, as always, it brought up the rear of the parade, and was giving out great clouds of steam all along the route. The player sat on a fancy settee which overhung the rear wheels, and as the vehicle passed under the trees in front of what is now the Lions Club house, the steam descended, completely enveloping player, calliope, horses and all.

As for circuses themselves, I can well remember three back on the Church farm, at least one of which was within the past twenty-five years. But they’ve gone now, not only from Gaines, but from almost everywhere and circus parades, I understand, have completely drifted into oblivion, forever obscured from their clouds of steam from their now silent calliopes.

While modern economists tell us it is a good thing, and a sign of progress, the passing of the small farm makes me sad. The little farm, usually a one-man operation or certainly a one-family operation, was for a long, long time the measure of the American way of life. For generations the families which worked these small places were the real “grass roots” of the country, and the salt of the earth. It is true that some of these small farms are still with us, but each year a few more of them drift into the limbo of the past, along with the asheries with which Gaines was once so liberally blessed.

Paradise Road, not existing today, as seen on this 1913 map, at one time had two cobblestone homes at its northern terminus, north of Ridge Road. One home was owned by Nahum Anderson, great-great-grandfather of retired Historian Bill Lattin. Bill noted that Nahum said the soil on Paradise Road was so poor that “it was only good to hold the rest of the world together.”

And Paradise! Have you ever been to Paradise while the half-dozen houses were still standing? Back then, there was no need of going to the “wild west” to find a ghost town. We had our own right here in Gaines. Just when it was finally abandoned, I don’t know, but it has completely fallen to pieces in the last half-century, and now consists of stones scattered about the meadow at the end of the old Paradise Road.

Gaines Academy after a third story had been removed 1930s, Courtesy Town of Gaines Historian

So it was, too, with the old Gaines Academy, except that this institution is marked by a State sign on the south side of the Ridge, across from the Town buildings. The Academy building has completely collapsed into rubble during the past fifty years, but it was, I am informed, abandoned long before that.

Harness maker Philo Henry Peters is shown here at the entrance of his harness store in Albion, 1905. A sampling of the numerous types of leather goods he produced is seen in the store windows and also on the life-sized horse mannequin he moved outdoors in fair weather.

Harness shops are gone, kerosene lamps (except in emergencies) are no more, and the gas-light era has long since passed. So with the kind of well with an “old oaken bucket” (there were a lot of them fifty years ago).

Blind Man’s Bluff, Bisque Figurine, circa 1890

And think of the old children’s games, like Blind Man’s Bluff, Cops and Robbers, and the like. And the songs which have come, been sung and loved, and gone…and the dances…and the celebrations…and the weddings…and all of “those we have loved long since and lost awhile.”

When I come to read this over, now that the space allotted to me is exhausted, I realize something I never thought of when I started: This little chronicle is a half-century slice carved out of the life-time in the Town of Gaines, in the County of Orleans, State of New York. It tells of the way of life in this community during the period 1909-1959, and all that is set forth in it is now history – a history which many of us living have helped to shape.

View of Gaines business section looking east along the Ridge Road, 1930s, during the period of recollection by Sanford B. Church.

Progress is wonderful, so I’m told, and we should be duly thankful that we’re living in this modern day and age, with all of its many wonders. Probably this is right, and probably a psychologist would say that I’m simply wishing for my irrevocable youth when I would gladly give up all of my interest in a rocket to the moon, to go back again to 1910 and ride once more behind that old horse in the dust of the Fair Haven Road.

Plaque unveiled at cobblestone schoolhouse in honor of Al Capurso

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 August 2021 at 9:19 am

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan

GAINES – Chris Capurso, center in back, is shown with family members on Sunday afternoon, when a plaque was unveiled in honor of her late husband Al Capurso at the Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse.

The schoolhouse on Sunday also a celebration of the life for Mr. Capurso, who spearheaded saving the schoolhouse from ruin. Mr. Capurso passed away at age 68 on Feb. 17.

Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum, speaks about Capurso’s support for local history projects. The cobblestone school on Gaines Basin Road is owned by the Orleans County Historical Association, which Capurso led as president.

The building has been repurposed to serve as a meeting space and display for the Orleans County Historical Association.

The plaque notes Capurso was instrumental in saving the 1832 cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, the oldest documented cobblestone building in the county.

Capurso led a team that put on a new roof, replaced windows and cleaned out junk and debris from the site. They put in new electric, a new subfloor, restored the trim and repaired the facade. He added a historic marker and flag pole. The building has been given new life as a meeting house and display of schoolhouse artifacts for the Orleans County Historical Association, which Capurso led as president.

These painting by Judy Collins shows Capurso playing his guitar. He performed at many community events, often singing songs he wrote about pioneers.

Historic Childs: Forming the Cobblestone Society

Posted 4 August 2021 at 5:04 pm

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 30

Cary Lattin

GAINES – Most local residents probably don’t remember a time before the Cobblestone Society existed. Nearly everyone in the vicinity can remember a school field trip to the Cobblestone Museum, or has attended an Old Timers Fair or two over the years. But truth be told, there was a definite beginning to the Cobblestone Society and a dedicated team of individuals who created a reality from a dream.

The rest of this article is taken from an interview with Historian Cary Lattin, as shown above, on July 24, 1979, undertaken by Orleans County Historical Association (OCHA) in an effort to record the collective memory of the county’s leading pioneers from the late 19th century and early 20th century. The full audio recording of Mr. Lattin’s interview is available in local libraries and also can be view online using this link.

Forming the Cobblestone Society, as told by Cary Lattin

I’ll try and tell a little bit about the history of the Cobblestone Society, why it was formed and how it was formed during the year 1959, when Gaines had the Sesquicentennial celebration, there was going to be a one day celebration or fair. It took about two months to get ready for this Sesquicentennial celebration.

We wanted to visit the points of interest around the town and we wanted to visit the Cobblestone Church at Childs. We went to the Universalist Board in Albion and asked them if they would open the church for one day so we could see the interior of this beautiful old Cobblestone Church. Two or three of us went down to the church and word came ’round, and we went through the building.

The plaster was bad in the ceiling and it was in kind of rough shape. There were many windows that were broken and the Universalist Board decided that it would be risky to have a bunch of children running around in the church. They might jar some plaster and break somebody’s glasses! So we didn’t have the Church to visit. During the Centennial, and after the Centennial, people commenced to ask, “What’s going to happen to the old church?”

When you tell a damn Yankee that he can’t have something, hell is out for dinner-time. Then they want it! They learned that in Prohibition. When they told the American people they couldn’t have booze, they got booze, one way or another. So, people in the neighborhood were concerned. People in the district were concerned, and in the town. “What’s going to happen to this old beautiful church? We had no organization formed that· could maintain the building or had no Society formed that could operate the thing like it is today.

Bob Frasch, 1961

During the winter of 1959 and 1960, Bob Frasch taught school in Holley, history and English, and he formed a Yorker Club in the Holley High School. One of the projects was to find the cobblestone houses in the Town of Murray and get all the information on these 14 cobblestone houses in Murray. There wasn’t too much information available.

He came into the office when I was County Historian and asked me what I knew about a cobblestone house. I said, “I have lived in on one for about 60 years. And by way of talking about cobblestone buildings, there’s a beautiful church building in Childs.” He said, “Let’s go see it.” So we proceeded to go down to Childs, stopping by Homer Brown’s house to get the key to the church. When Bob Frasch saw the interior of this old Cobblestone Church, he really flipped! He said, “This building should be saved.” I said, “Yes, I know it should be saved but how are you going to save it? We have no organization whatsoever to do this. We have no money.”

Well, people commenced to get concerned. The Historian of the Town of Albion, Katharine Billings, whose ancestors had been attendants of this church and the Historian of the Town of Gaines, Howard Pratt were interested. And that’s the way it hung fire. The next fall in 1960, Charlie Thompson called me one morning about six o’clock and said, “Say, they are going to sell the Cobblestone Schoolhouse. We better do something about it.” So I went down to see Charlie, and he said all the district schools have been centralized in the five schools in Orleans County, Kendall, Holley, Albion, Medina, and Lyndonville.

He says, “You know they are going to sell this building next week Tuesday at Albion Central School. They are going to dispose of it.” “Well,” I said, “Charlie, will you go up to the meeting? You can vote. Vote against selling it; to hold us on the table for six months until we can do something?” And he said, “Sure.” So I took it upon myself to go and see about 12 or 14  people in the immediate district, Gaines  #5, to see if they would go to the Albion Central School meeting and see if we couldn’t save this, stall this off, for four or five or six months until we could get an organization.”

Bob Frasch and I went to the meeting and asked if we could be heard, and we both talked about holding this up until an organization could be formed. Our main purpose was to save the Cobblestone Church and the Cobblestone School. We gave them a pitch and they listened. Walter Balcom was there. He had gone to school at this Cobblestone School. He had attended the Cobblestone Church when they had their meetings there twice each summer. He had a very fine vocabulary of four-letter-words. He got up and said, “I make a blankety-blank motion that this blankety-blank schoolhouse be left on the table for six months, and if you blankety-blank guys can’t get organized in that time, you don’t deserve the damn school!”

And, they voted unanimously to hold the sale up for six months. They tossed us a torch and then we had to do something. So we got an ad hoc committee, so to speak. We had no money. We had no funds, we had nothing! And on this, we wrote a letter, Bob Frasch, it was in his writing. And, we got Katharine Billings, the Albion Historian, and Howard Pratt, who was Gaines Town Historian, and Morris Wilson, who lived next door to the Church and one or two others. Bob Frasch and the committee and myself, signed this letter. We sent this letter out to 100 people. We went through the telephone directory and looked in there and saw names of people we thought would be interested in saving their heritage. Well, the meeting was called at three o’clock on a cold Sunday afternoon in October 1960.

Some of the first officers and directors of the Cobblestone Society in 1960: (left) Maurice Wilson, Vice-President; Cary H. Lattin, Director; Katherine Billings, Secretary; Robert Frasch, President; J. Howard Pratt, Director; and Hannah Thompson, Treasurer.

You know there were 65 people showed up at that meeting, and we had a slate of officers drawn up. We’d asked all these people if they’d either be a director or an officer, and we told them what we wanted to do at this meeting. There were about 60 people signed up to be members. Some of them paid the $2.00 dues right then. So, we had the thing started. We agreed to meet at the Village Inn in about two weeks and get an organizational meeting. We had a dinner meeting over at the Village Inn and we had the west room pretty well filled up.

There were probably 89 to 100 people there who were interested in saving this building. Carl Schmidt was there. He was also at the first meeting. He had written a book about cobblestone buildings in 1944. The little books that he wrote in 1944 are collector’s items today. So, we had a slate of officers drawn up. We had a cross section of our people, we had an attorney, we had two architects, we had school teachers, we had farmers, and we had businessmen on this thing. We had a cross section of what was going on. With the help of the attorney and Bob Frasch, they came up with a set of by-laws and a constitution.

State Education Department Charter

We asked for a charter from the New York State Department of Education. And we were wise. That was our attorney’s advice. “Get this charter from the state Department of Education if you possibly can.” So we had the application for a charter and it was signed by, I think, the directors and the officers. By the end of the six months we had a temporary charter.

So, when the school-house came up for sale, the next April, that was in 1961, we had $129.00 in our fat little hands to pay for the school- house! That’s what we had to pay for deeds and search and the necessary proper papers that has to be signed to transfer the property. So we owned the building.

We were in business. Carl Schmidt came up with the idea that we would have a tour that spring, 1961. And, we held a Cobblestone Tour and made money. It was held right around this vicinity. That fall we had an auction in the schoolhouse to make money, but our main concern was to save the church. We made some overtures to the Universalist Board in Albion, and they were in our corner, so to speak.

John Brush, who was a director on our society, was in the hierarchy of the State Universalist Convention and his influence didn’t hurt a bit. He was a trustee of St. Lawrence University. He has endowed St. Lawrence University very well. It took about two or three years before the final papers came through. After the papers were signed by the Universalist State Convention and the Universalists over here had relinquished what they had in the building, it seems that they sat for six months in Judge Serve’s office. I saw him one day in the courthouse hall and I said, “You know, Judge, why don’t you hurry that up a little bit? We want to get title to that building and we want to do things!” He said, “You know, Cary, don’t try to coerce a Supreme Court Judge. I wouldn’t want to put you in jail.”

So, in about three years we got clear title to the Cobblestone Church in Childs. We were in business for real. The Cobblestone Society put a roof on that building that cost $2,200 before we owned it. That’s how much we thought of the building. So then we had two buildings.

John Brush, early 1900s

Well, our angel, John Brush, is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him as long as I’ve known anybody around Albion High School, and he is a fairly wealthy man. I said, “You know one day we should restore the tower.” There was a tower on that church when it was first built. The tower was removed in 1918 because it was getting deteriorated. The timbers were rotten. So, the Universalist Society decided to take the tower off. And, John Brush said, “I think so too, and I will pay for it.”

Cobblestone Church tower restoration, 1966

So, John and I went to see Hobart Snell who was the only contractor close by, and John and Hobart made a deal, and the tower was restored. And John Brush paid for it himself. I remember when he was up there the terrace in front of the church was in bad shape when we bought the church. They were all covered over with woodbine. Nobody knew there was a terrace there, just thought there were some steps going up there.

So one day when there were some of the directors down there, we decided to pull up some of the woodbine, and discovered there was a terrace. It looked pretty crummy. One day John said, “I think we better do some repair on the front of the church. I will repair the terrace and furnish some landscaping.”

Pasquale DiLaura

So, we went to see “Pat” (Pasquale) DiLaura, who was the last of the Orleans County quarrymen. He was as fine a gentleman as I ever hoped to know. “Pat” DiLaura was Mr. Stone Quarry, Medina Sandstone.

He was 80 years old at the time, and he said he would take upon the job of restoring the terrace. He still had some influence at the quarries in Hulberton, and he went down there with some of his trucks and got a couple loads of stone to re-lay this terrace. With his stonecutter helper, Sandy Malone, “Pat” DiLaura re-laid the stone.

Frankie Swierczynski let us have four or five of his boys over there to do the grub work. They had to dig out the trench and do some of the heavy lifting. There was “Pat” DiLaura and Sandy Malone that made the terrace and that was laid in 1966. It looked pretty nice. These shrubs that were replanted, came from a nursery up in Newfane, and that first summer they were planted there, they guaranteed these shrubs to live. I said, “That’s awful nice, to guarantee these shrubs!” However, he said, “You got to water them this summer.”

I watered them 27 times that summer. I got water for free from Hank Radzinski’s spigot. You know, neighbors are better than money sometimes. When Hank Radzinski was going to get his license for a Liquor store, right next to the church, he was having problems. The Secretary of the Orleans County Liquor Authority came to me and said, “How many times are you going to have service in your church?” It wasn’t my church and I wasn’t having the service, but that’s what he said. I said, “We don’t know whether we would have any service.” “You know,” he said, “Hank is going to have problems getting a liquor store next to a church.”  I said, “If you talk to any Cobblestoner and they try to do anything to stop his liquor store, clobber them!” I told Howard Pratt, and I told a couple of others, “If they wanted to have a liquor store there, he is going to get it. Let’s have his good will.”

So we had his good will. When we wanted water, we had thousands and thousands of gallons of water. I talked to Hank about it and he said, “I know it. I appreciate what you guys didn’t do.” So we were in business.

Historic Childs, Recreation (including the Gaines Grange), Part 2

Posted 25 July 2021 at 9:07 am

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2. No. 29

GAINES – Much of the recreational activities of citizens in the Hamlet of Childs and Town of Gaines focused around an organization known as the Grange, or more formally, The Patrons of Husbandry.

While the organization was founded to provide valuable services to farm families, it grew to become a center of community engagement for numerous social activities such as dances, box socials, and even a choir.

The Gaines Grange #1147 was formed on Nov. 30, 1908. In May 1909, 40 people were initiated into membership. The first meeting site was in a building known as White’s Hall, shown above.  The building, located on the southwest corner in Gaines, dated to the turn of the century. Albert Anson Appleton ran a store there, but it also served as headquarters for town meetings, post office, Good Templars, and eventually served as the Grange Hall.

White’s Hall suffered a disaster fire on May Day in 1910, disrupting the lives, in one way or another, of most people in the community.  The hall was rebuilt following the fire and the Grange continued to meet there until 1915.

In the spring of 1915 the Grange purchased Thurber’s Hotel next to the Congregational Church and transformed it into a new Grange Hall. The third floor was fixed up for a dance hall with a superb hardwood floor being installed at the time. This was considered one of the best dance floors around at the time and one of the largest Grange Halls in the region.

A local resident, Fay Hollenbeck, reflected on the Grange dance floor in 1984 at the celebration of the Town’s 175th anniversary celebration. “In Gaines, this little village has got one of the best dance floors in Orleans County. It’s all narrow boards, laid around, across the end and down the other side, and across the other end. So on a Round Dance you are always dancing with the boards never across them. In those days dances would alternate, first a Round Dance and then a Square Dance.”

Photo Courtesy Orleans County Historian

Here we see officers of the Gaines Grange #1147 posed in front of the Gaines Congregational Church in the 1930s. The women in the picture, from left to right, include: Elinor Cooper, Sarah Bacon, Octavia Mather (chaplain), Kate Crowley, Alice Hatch (secretary), Alma Appleton and Wilhelmina Taylor.  The men in the photo include, from left: William Grinelle (trustee), Charles Thompson (trustee), Fred Derisley, Winton Hatch (master), Ronald Spinks, Lewis Reed and William Crowley (trustee).

Local farmer, Charles Thompson (shown in photo above) and his wife, Hannah, were very active in the local Grange. Their daughter, Gail (Johnson) remembered, “My mother used to sell donuts at the Grange square dances on Saturday evenings.”  The Gaines Grange formed the basis of much of the Saturday night social life in the community for decades.

WWII presented many challenges to everyday life in the community and the Grange suffered a decline in membership in the 1940s. One local Granger, Sylvia Ball, recalled the trying times. “The war was on its terrible move and soon the boys were leaving in the service. Most of the women in Gaines began working at one type of work or another in the war effort. Help became scarce and even busy farmers worked a four hour swing-shift at some essential plant. With sickness in my home, the war on, I too began working which gave me no time for picking up where I left off in the Grange. When it was so I could return to Grange it was well under way, there was an active membership, the war was coming to a close all about and people could relax.”

The Gaines Grange #1147 received three plaques from the Sears Roebuck Foundation, along with two $25 War Bonds, for outstanding community service. The awards recognized the Grange’s community service at the time when the Congregational Church burned in 1959.  The Grange allowed the church to use their hall for services during the rebuilding. The usage included scout meetings, auctions, dinners and home bureau. The Grange also assisted with construction of the church and a community playground, baseball field, and water supply pond.

The Grange Hall, seen in 1959, when Dean Sprague had a store there and also the Town Clerk’s office.

In the 1950s, membership in the Grange reached 105 people. Changing times in the 1960s and 1970s saw membership drop to just a handful of members. The building was then sold in 1979 and the last official act of the Gaines Grange #1147 was its own dissolution in 1979.

The Gaines Grange Hall is currently occupied by Americana Unlimited Antiques, Robin Stelmach, proprietor.

New historical marker at Cobblestone Museum for Vagg House and blacksmith shop

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2021 at 7:02 am

Provided photos

GAINES – A new historical marker has been added to the Cobblestone Museum with one side of the marker highlighting the Vagg House at the southwest corner of routes 98 and 104. The other side notes the blacksmith shop operated next door by Joseph Vagg.

This side of the marker include the white ribbon that was a symbol of the

Women’s Temperance Union. Nellie Vagg was active in the temperance movement and wore a white ribbon until her dying days. “Nellie was a warhorse on liquor,” said Bill Lattin, retired museum director.

The museum will welcome guests on Saturday for an open house . There is free admission for people who bring bottles and cans from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s when Upstate Bottle Return will be on site with a truck and an attendant to accept empty cans and bottles from visitors. Upstate will donate the full refund for all cans and bottles collected to the museum.

All buildings on the Cobblestone Museum grounds will be open at no charge for this open house event.

The Vagg House was recently acquired by the museum. The home was last owned by Rene Schasel, who died in March 2019. Schasel, was a supporter of the Cobblestone Museum and an avid collector of antiques dating from 1910 through 1940. He was also a friend of Bill Lattin, former director of the Cobblestone Society, and named his sister Marena Rupert and Lattin as executors of his estate.

The museum kept enough of the things to maintain the integrity of the home and furnish it in the style of the 1920s. “The home is now set up to interpret life as the Vaggs would have lived it in the 1920 and 1930s,” Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum director, wrote in the Cobblestone’s autumn newsletter.

Joseph Vagg built the blacksmith shop next door in 1921 and Nellie bequeathed it to the Cobblestone Society after she died in 1975.

“This brings the Cobblestone Museum’s buildings to nine,” Farley said. “We have 18 if you count the outhouses. We are very excited to have a presence on this corner. The potential here is unlimited. This house will be included in our future tours.”

Historic Childs: The Albion Rotary Club, nearing 100th anniversary, has long been part of Gaines hamlet

Posted 13 July 2021 at 8:34 am

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 27

GAINES – The Albion Rotary Club is a civic organization about to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022, and has been meeting in the Hamlet of Childs at Tillman’s Village Inn for over a quarter of a century.

Twenty one businessmen were originally present and voted in as Charter Members of the Albion Rotary Club on April 20, 1922 at the Lone Star Inn in Albion, located on Gaines Basin Road near the New York Central Railroad tracks. The Lockport Rotary Club served as organizers and the Constitution of the International Rotary Association was adopted.

Albion Rotary members could not have asked for a more elegant meeting headquarters at that time than the Lone Star Inn, one of the finest restaurants in Orleans County in the 1920s. It was created out of the Thurston Farm and had a seating capacity of 450 guests. It was owned and operated by Lewis E. Sands of Albion and for a time, was also operated by Art Case who used to manage the old Lakeside Hotel in Lakeside Park.

It was said that the Inn had such a large following that often three cash registers were needed to handle all of the guests present. Live music was frequently provided by some of the best bands in the area. A large porch was used as an additional dining area in nice weather, where many a lobster, fillet mignon, broiled shrimp and other house specialties were served with vistas of the beautiful flower gardens around the lawn.

The Rotary Club continued to meet there for several years, until a disastrous fire destroyed the Lone Star Inn on Friday, November 28, 1930.  After that time, the property was sold to New York State and served as a Prison Farm.  (Needless to say, no longer a suitable locale for Rotary meetings!)

The Rotary Club assembled for this photo in the 1930s in front of Four Chimneys Restaurant at Eagle Harbor.  It can be noted that the ladies present would have been guests of the Rotarians as it was a men’s organization at that time.  (Rotary Club International changed its policies in the 1980s to begin allowing women to become Rotary members.)

Ladies: L_R: —–, —-, —-, Marjorie Garnett Weller Pauley, Enid Strassner Hakes, —-, —-, —-, and Albertine Garrison.

Gentlemen seated L-R: William Karns, Monuments; Eugene Wilcox, Hardware; Herman Neuremburg, Clothing; Charles Dean, Produce; and Nelson Barrus, Dry Cleaning.

Second Row: Earl Sullivan, Carpenter; John Mansfield, Farmer; Clayton Anderson, Beans; James Lonergan, Journalist;  John Kane, Vinegar; Dr. Cramer, Dentist; Amos Beedon,  Dry Goods; Dr. Ralph Brodie, M.D.; John VanStone, Car Dealer; and Kirk Cole, Lumberman.

Third Row: William Luttenton (guest), Carl Bergerson, School Superintendent;  Henry Anderson,Albion Brass Works; James Craffey, Insurance; Stanley Woods, Feed; Edward Archbald, Fruit Farmer; Burt McNall, Furniture & Embalming;  Sidney Eddy, Printing; Dart Porter, Insurance; and Howard Woods, Miller.

This picture taken of the Albion Rotary Club taken in Rotary Year 1959-60 is a veritable “Who’s-Who” of local businessmen at that time.

Row 1 (L-R) Bill Monacelli, teacher & Mayor; Don Nesbitt, Farmer; Charles Martina, theater owner; Burr Trumble, travel agent; —-Unidentified—, Harlan Harvey, Wells Harrison, car dealer; Jacob Schanels, Hunt Canning Factory; Dr. Bob Raemsch, veterinarian; Guido Monacelli, grocery store; Dr. Thomas Orlando, dentist; George Brunelle, insurance.

Row 2: Hon. Charles Signor, County Judge; Charles Byrne, Birdseye Laboratory; Franklin Cropsey, Attorney; Stanley Landauer, dry goods; Richard Fenton, Bemis Bag Co.; Bill Snowen, Firestone Tire Store; Sidney Eddy, Printing; Dr. James Parke, M.D.; Bob Babbitt, hardware; Ed Archbald, farmer.

Row 3: Brad Shelp, car agency; Neal Beach, Winson Hatch, Dept. of Labor; Thomas Heard, Jr., Marine Bank; R.E. Greenlee, Hunts plant; Carl Bergerson, School Superintendent; Roland Kast, service station; Dr. John Ellis, M.D.; Dr. John Jackson, dentist.

Row 4. Bob Root, insurance; Thomas McNall, Furniture/Funeral Director; Arthur (Dick) Eddy, printing; Richard Hollenbeck, Skip Landauer, dry goods; George Lamont, farmer; Richard Bloom, insurance; Bill Host, School administrator; Albert Raymond, insurance; Francis Blake Jr., Cold Storage.

Row 5: Len Morneau, Lipton’s Company; Lee Maine, Lumber Co.; Leonard Depzinski, sign painter; Daniel Marquart, appliances store; Homer Marple, furniture; Ray Severns, auto sales; Sam Shelp, auto agency.

Row 6: Roy Merrill, Funeral Home; Gordon Gardner, pharmacist; Walter Martin, James Lonergan, journalist; Henry Keeler, construction; Carlton Wilkinson, electrical store; John Merrill, Funeral Director; Harold Farnsworth, Rev. Earle Hamlin, Frank Sachali, produce; Rev. Jack Hillary Smith.

Inset: Homer Luttenton who was absent from the group photo.

In the same decade, The Albion Rotary Club members participated in an annual Variety Show for many years.  One of the “acts” is seen here with (left) Homer Marple, Tom McNall, Winton Hatch and Bob Raemsch.

It was all good natured fun and even the ladies got into the spirit of entertainment: (left) Norma Marquart, Ray Severns, Marilyn Brunelle and Sue Eddy.

The Albion Rotary Club observed its 50th Anniversary with a special Golden Anniversary celebration on May 25,, 1972 at the Fireman’s Recreation Hall in Albion.  Taking part in the evening’s program were (Front) Rotary District Governor Dan Mitchell and Mrs. Mitchell of Amherst, District Governor and Mrs. Bob Reader of Auckland, New Zealand, (back row) Roy Merrill, Albion Rotary Past President and his son, John Merrill, Club President in the Anniversary Year, and Sidney Eddy, Charter Member from 1922.  The Merrill’s were one of several father-son presidents in the Club’s history.

In 1979, the Rotarians gathered for this Club photo outside the Albion Courthouse.

Front Row:  Conrad Cropsey, Rollie Kast, Wells Harrison, Bob Temple, Frenchy Downey, Dick Pilon (Club President 1979), Jim Nesbitt, Pete Dragon.

Second Row: Winton Hatch, Ashley Ward, Dick Eddy, Don Shawver, Bob Remley, Brad Shelp, John Stable, John Koval, Steve Heard.

Third Row: John Merrill, Don Nesbitt, Sam Shelp, Bruce Smith, Leonard Rice, Carlton Wilkinson, Roy Merrill, Erling Maine, Norm Phillips, Merritt London.

Fourth Row:  Harlan Harvey, George Wolfe, Curtis Lyman, Jeff Rheinwald, Bob Babbitt, Tom Heard, Lee Maine, Franklin Cropsey, Al Raymond, Jarvis Swartz, Sid Eddy, Carl Bergerson, Joe Sadler.

Dick Pilon, a 55 year Albion Rotary Club member this June, offered his reflections on meeting venues during his tenure. “The first place we met when I started was the Presbyterian Church in Albion, then Marti’s Restaurant for a short time, then we went to the Methodist Church for 20 years, then Albanese Restaurant for a couple of years and finally to the Village Inn in the 1980s.”

Another milestone was reached in the Rotary year 1986-87 when Diane Arsenault was the first woman admitted as a member of the Albion Rotary Club.  Today, there is about equal representation with men and women.

Rotary members gathered for this group photo in 1994 at Tillman’s Village Inn.  Those attending are:

(Seated L-R) John Greene, Chris Haines, John Stable, Ed Archbald, Al Raymond, Rollie Kast, Jim Nesbitt

Row 2: Bruce Landis, Tom Anderson, Brad Shelp, Dick Eddy, Nathan Lyman, Paul Miles, Lynn Phillips, Ashely Ward, Don Nesbit

Row 3: Mark Reed, Ron Sodoma, Don Butts, Dick Pilon, Darlene Benton, Frenchy Downey, Fred Nesbitt Stan Allen

Row 4: Ed Fancher, Jim Neilans, Mike Pilon, Ed Guthrie, Jeff Hanes, Dan Marquart, Don Bishop.

The Rotary Club assembled wearing red for a meeting in February 2015 to promote heart health. Those assembled included: (Seated L-R) Fred Nesbitt, Don Bishop, Bruce Landis, Marlee Diehl and Mary Anne Braunbach. (Standing) Dick Remley, Bonnie Malakie, Marsha Rivers, Tammy Yaskulski, President Bill Diehl, Ron LaGamba, Brad Shelp and Maynard Lowry from Lockport Rotary. Rotarian Brad Shelp is the Albion Club’s most tenured member. He started with Rotary in 1958 and will have 63 years of perfect attendance this August. Marlee Diehl represented the Albion club as District Governor in 2016-17, with a theme that year of “Serving Humanity.”

Beginning in 1975, the Albion Rotary Club presented its first Paul Harris Award, a tradition that continues through today that honors individuals, both members and non-members, who have made outstanding contributions to their communities. The first recipient in 1975 was charter member Sidney Eddy.  Since that time, the Albion Rotary Club has recognized 75 individuals as Paul Harris Fellows, the highest honor bestowed by Rotary International. Those so recognized are (in alphabetical order):

Ahmad Abdallah, Marian M. Adrian, Stanley Allen, Edward B Archbald, Timothy Archer, Diane L Arsenault, Carl Bergerson, Donald W. Bishop, Harriett Bishop, Richard C Bloom, Michael J. Bonafede, Michael Bonnewell, Donald Butts, Sanford A. Church, Sanford L. Church, Conrad Cropsey, Grace E. Denniston, Marlene Marlee Diehl, William F. Diehl, Kevin Doherty, Everett G. Downey, William F. Downey, Arthur B. Eddy, Sidney M. Eddy, Edward Fancher, Mildred Gavenda, Ada Grabowski, George P Guthrie, Christopher P. Haines, R Wells Harrison, Harlan E. Harvey, Winton P Hatch, Thomas E. Heard, Jr., Scott Hess, Rebekah Karls, Rolland W. Kast, Teresa M. Kelly, Kelly Melinda Kiebala, Alexandra R. Krebs, Bruce Landis, Cary W. Lattin, Leo La Croix, Raymond M. Lissow, Kathleen R. Ludwick, Curtis L Lyman, Evelyn L. Lyman, Erling W. Maine, F. Leland Maine, Bonnie B. Malakie, John B Merrill, Rho B. Mitchell, Sharon  Narburgh, James R. Neilans, Charles H. Nesbitt, Fred W. Nesbitt, Jerome Pawlak, Margaret A. Pearson, Cindy Perry, Michael R. Pilon, Richard Pilon, Charles Pulley, Albert C. Raymond, Francis Richard Remley, Thomas Rivers, Gary A. Saunders, Patricia M Shelp, Bradley J. Shelp, Walter A Shelp, Gary Simboli, David G. Spierdowis, Susan A. Starkweather, Ashley R. Ward, William Morrell Washington, Jr., Patricia J Wood, Tammy Yaskulski.

Editor’s Note: Since this article was initially posted, more Paul Harris award winners were identified, including Cary W. (Bill) Lattin, Karen Sawicz, Jim Parke, Paul Miles, Don Nesbitt, Ron Sodoma, Gordy Gardner, Nathan Lyman, Gail Lyman and Bill Tillman.

In 2019, the Albion Rotary Club named Becky Karls, center, as a Paul Harris Fellow. Karls is congratulated at a club meeting at the Village Inn by Rotarians Cindy Perry, left, and Don Bishop, Rotary Foundation Chairperson; right. Bishop called Karls “the secret ingredient of the Albion Rotary Club.” She is instrumental each year in many of the club’s fundraisers, including the St. Patrick’s Ham Dinner, the Turtle Race at the Strawberry Festival, the golf tournament and the fishing derby. Karls also is active with many other community efforts, including organizing the car show at Bullard Park as a fundraiser for Hospice of Orleans County (now known as Supportive Care of Orleans County).

The Albion Rotary Club has been a sponsor of the Albion Strawberry Festival since 1986. The success of this annual event depends on the many Rotary members, as well as community members, who oversee the event each year.  Thousands of visitors flock to the two-day event that plays out across downtown Albion.

The poster above shows the logo for the 2020 festival which had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 health restrictions.  The Rotary Club is hopeful that the event will return in full swing for 2022.  The Club maintains several other community events each year such as the Rotary Fishing Derby, St. Patrick’s Day Ham Dinner, and the Rotary Golf Tournament.

The Club also sponsors Interact, a group of Albion High School students led by advisor Tim Archer. In 2017, Albion Rotary Interact members spent the day at Foodlink in Rochester. Pictured from left: McKenna Boyer, Alanna Holman, Emily Mergler, Noah Wadhams, Cody Wilson, Aubrey Boyer and Annalise Steier. Over the years, the Albion Rotary Club has also been very active in sending and receiving students and adults for overseas foreign exchange opportunities.

Over the years, Albion Rotary has been a sponsor for many youth sports teams, providing uniforms, leadership and much more. Perhaps you can lay claim to one of these “sluggers” from 1988.

Albion Rotary’s two newest members, Robert Batt, Executive Director of Orleans County Cooperative Extension and Laura Olinger, President of Bentley Brothers, are welcomed to the Club on June 10, 2021.

Incoming Albion Rotary Club President for 2021, Jessica Capurso, accepts the gavel from outgoing President Alexandra Krebs.  The Club held their Installation Service outdoors at the Cobblestone Museum in Childs at a potluck luncheon meeting on Thursday, June 24.  Many thanks to Kendall Lions Club who provided the tent.

Cobblestone Museum plans several summer events

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 7 July 2021 at 8:44 am

Concert, art show, trivia night and painting classes all in the works

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Deniz of Fairport plays the violin during an April 2019 performance by Elderberry Jam at the Cobblestone Church in the Gaines hamlet of Childs. The group will be back for another concert this summer.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Museum will welcome guests July 17 for an open house and unique fundraiser.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when Upstate Bottle Return will be on site with a truck and an attendant to accept empty cans and bottles from visitors. There is no need to count empties. Upstate will donate the full refund for all cans and bottles collected to the museum.

All buildings on the Cobblestone Museum grounds will be open at no charge for this open house event.

“You can visit any or all of our buildings, including the newly acquired c.1920s  Vagg home,” said Doug Farley, museum director.

While at the museum visitors are also encouraged to watch artisans at work in the Blacksmith Shop and Print Shop. Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza will be on site to sell wood-fired pizzas for lunch.

The public is also reminded they can take their cans and bottles to any Upstate Bottle Return site at any time and just mention the Cobblestone Museum. Full proceeds will be donated to the museum’s fundraising account.

“This will go a long way toward helping us throughout the year,” Farley said.

Farley also announced the Cobblestone Museum will again collaborate with local artist Pat Greene to offer a series of oil and acrylic painting classes. This year, the classes will be taught outdoors at local scenic venues throughout Orleans County. The sites themselves will serve as the background for the painting session. Subject matter will feature clouds, foliage and water, which are all affected differently by light, Greene explained.

The first class on July 24 will take place (weather permitting) at Robin Hill Nature Preserve in Lyndonville. Students will supply some of their own materials. Greene will provide a list of supplies needed for outdoor painting. Cost for each session is $25 for Cobblestone Museum members and $30 for all others. An art exhibit of student work will follow later in the year at the Cobblestone Museum.

On Aug. 8, the family of the late Al Capurso invites friends to a celebration of his life at 1 p.m. at the Gaines Basin Schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, which he was involved in restoring. The schoolhouse is located just north of the canal bridge.

Other summer events at the Cobblestone Museum include plans for a Cobblestone Trivia Night series, hosted by Maarit Vaga; a Victorian Mourning Art Online Exhibit beginning Sept. 1; a fundraising concert featuring Elderberry Jam at a date to be announced; and the annual Cobblestone Membership Fundraising dinner Sept. 15 at Carlton Recreation Hall.

Details on these events will be announced at a later date.