Gaines

Ballard praised for ‘superb job’ as county historian

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2020 at 1:19 pm

‘He brought out crowds of people. What historian is able to do that?’

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Bill Lattin (left), the retired Orleans County historian, presents a card to Matt Ballard, who followed Lattin as historian and served in the role for more than five years. They are shown Monday evening inside the cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road.

Ballard has resigned as county historian. He is leaving Orleans County in about two weeks to take a position at a college in North Carolina. He will be assistant director of Collection Strategies at Davidson College.

Lattin said Ballard put in tremendous effort in a part-time position, while also finishing up a master’s degree and working full-time at Roberts Wesleyan College in North Chili as director of library services.

Matt Ballard, center, is pictured with members of the Orleans County Historical Association on Monday evening. They are next to a cobblestone schoolhouse that the association took on as a project the past five years. They were able to save the building and will use it for their meetings. Ballard served as the group’s president the past 18 months. He credited Al Capurso for leading the effort to preserve the school. Pictured from left include: Frank Berger, Tina Inzana, Jean Sherwin, Adrienne Kirby, Bill Lattin, Jonathan Doherty, Sue Baker, Rick Ebbs, Sandy Freeman and Betsy Kennedy.

Ballard did an in-depth column each week on local history that was featured in the Orleans Hub and The Daily News in Batavia. He also led many historical tours at cemeteries and a very popular tour of downtown Albion that attracted several hundred people.

“This is a real loss for the community,” Lattin said about Ballard’s resignation and his impending move to North Carolina. “It’s going to be a big loss for local history to see him move away. It’s really a shame. He’s done a superb job.”

Lattin teamed up with Ballard in some of the cemetery tours. Lattin watched Ballard grow in the role, especially in the presentations, sharing details of lives from more than a century ago. Ballard would sometimes dress in period costumes for the tours.

“He had a good spiel for each tour,” Lattin said. “He is a wonderful presenter, and he did as a one-man act. He brought out crowds of people. What historian is able to do that?”

Matt Ballard looks at some of the school desks inside the cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road. Those desks were donated by the Cobblestone Museum, which also has a schoolhouse on Ridge Road.

Bill Lattin served as historian for 35 years before being succeeded by Ballard in February 2015. Lattin said Ballard did wonders organizing the Orleans County Department of History records, including creating an online database.

“He deserves all kind of accolades,” Lattin said. “It’s going to be big shoes to fill, not only for county historian but as the president of historical association, which is a position no one wants to do.”

Monday’s meeting also was the first chance for the Historical Association to see several recent improvements at the schoolhouse.

It has a new hardwood floor, which was installed by member Rick Ebbs. The inside walls have been painted by Jerome Ebbs.

The building from 1832 was used as a schoolhouse until 1944 was on the verge of falling down, until a group of volunteers put on a new roof and stabilized the building.

Volunteers from the Historical Association in 2015 cleared most of debris from the inside of the former school. Many pioneer children in Orleans County were taught at the school, which also was used for countless town meetings.

The building also was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2017, and a historical marker was added in front to denote its significance. Lattin believes it is the oldest cobblestone building in the county.

The 913-square-foot building hadn’t been used much since it was closed as a school in 1944. Nor had there been much upkeep of the building until 2015.

Later this summer a log cabin will be relocated behind the schoolhouse at this spot. The privy behind the schoolhouse was recently donated by Irene Roth and her daughters, Chris Sartwell, Marge Page and Arlene Rafter.

The log cabin will be moved from the home of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse on Linwood Avenue in Albion. The cabin was built in 1930 by Boy Scouts.

The cabin is 10 feet by 14 feet and about six feet tall at the peak.

Rick Ebbs, a local contractor who has been working on restoration work at the schoolhouse, will lead the effort to move the log cabin.

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Cobblestone Museum plans for a busy 2020, which is its 60th anniversary

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 January 2020 at 8:11 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Doug Farley has served as director of the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines since 2017. He has since developed a full schedule of events in an attempt to grow the museum. This year’s schedule includes more than half a dozen new events, in addition to most of the old favorites.

GAINES – When Doug Farley became director of the Cobblestone Museum in 2017, his goal was to grow the museum and make it a year-round destination, and this year’s schedule of events alludes to that success.

The museum will be open by appointment during May and will open for the season from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning June 3.

However, the Sunday Painters Art Classes will start the season with their first class on Jan. 26. The successful classes are a return event, and will take place at 1 p.m. for four weeks on the last Sunday of January, February, March and April. Medina artist Pat Greene will teach the classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.

Greene has created a new syllabus for each class. Participants will start with a blank canvas and leave with a finished painting. Farley called Greene a “real professional.” People who have taken her classes said she is very helpful, he said.

New this year is a bus trip April 4 to Corning Museum of Glass. The trip will include admission to the museum and lunch on the bus.

A Cobblestone Spring Trivia night is also new, with a date in April to be announced. Maarit Vaga has volunteered to be emcee for the night and has her questions ready. Farley suggests putting together a team of two or four, even six contestants. The evening will include wine and refreshments.

A Mother/Daughter Tea on May 10 (Mother’s Day) is a new event, organized by Georgia Thomas of Medina. A short program on the history of Mother’s Day will be included. Cobblestone Society members will have priority, but it will be open to the public if space permits.

The group who participated in the Cobblestone Museum’s bus trip to view cobblestone buildings in the Rochester area are pictured here in front of an Amish cobblestone home near Palmyra. The tour this year will take participants to the Sodus area in August.

The Cobblestone Society is honored to welcome Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension to the museum on June 6, when the 4-H program will host their statewide 4-H Fashion Show from 10 a.m. to noon in the cobblestone church. After lunch at Tillman’s Village Inn, a group tour of the cobblestone campus will follow.

A Civil War Re-enactment at a date to be announced in July or August is new. The Lewiston Reenactment Group will portray a Civil War field hospital with nurses and surgeons demonstrating skills and medical tools of the era.

A fall history bus trip Oct. 10 will take participants on a narrated tour of cobblestone homes in the Finger Lakes area, while viewing fall foliage along the way. The trip will feature a tour of the facilities at Ganondagan State Historic Site near Canandaigua, the Seneca Arts and Cultural Center and the full size replica of a 17th century Seneca Nation Longhouse.

The last new venture for the Cobblestone Society this year is creating a float to take to local parades, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cobblestone Society. Parades will include Holley’s June Fest Parade June 6, Albion’s Strawberry Festival June 12 and 13, Lyndonville’s Fourth of July Celebration and Medina’s Parade of Lights Nov. 28.

Returning for a second year is Cobblestone Museum Day March 21 at Lures Restaurant at Bald Eagle Marina, Kendall. Lures will donate a portion of the proceeds from guests who eat at the marina from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Deniz of Fairport, center, plays the violin during an April 14 performance by Elderberry Jam at the Cobblestone Church in the Gaines hamlet of Childs. Nearly 200 people attended the concert. Elderberry Jam will be back for another concert at the church on April 26.

Farley is also thrilled to have been contacted by Elderberry Jam, an extremely popular fiddlers’ group from the Finger Lakes area, asking if they could return. The Museum waited several years to book them for their first appearance last year, when they packed the cobblestone church.

The Cobblestone Society’s Membership/Fundraising dinner will take place May 6 at Carlton Recreation Center. The evening will feature dinner catered by Michael Zambito, live and silent auctions and raffles throughout the event.

The third annual Progressive Organ concert and dinner will move to Holley and Brockport this year on May 16, with visits to the Morgan Manning House and two historic churches. A catered dinner will follow.

The opening exhibit June 7 is “Historical, Hysterical and Naughty,” featuring some very unusual novelty pieces from the collections of Bill Lattin and the late Rene Schasel.

The Cobblestone Patriotic Service July 5 will celebrate the museum’s cobblestone heritage and 60th anniversary. The nation’s independence will be observed with patriotic songs and readings at 11 a.m. At noon, all churches in the community will be welcomed for a picnic lunch on the side lawn. A freewill donation will be received.

Sue Starkweather Miller will host the annual summer garden bus tour, at a date to be announced in July. The trip will visit four or five new gardens in Orleans County.

The Cobblestone Museum is working with Orleans County Tourism to put together events for the 10 days of the Orleans County Heritage Festival Sept. 11 to 20. A celebration of the storied history of Orleans County will be celebrated by many different partners throughout the county.

An Old Timer’s Fair and Antiques Appraisal is scheduled for Sept. 12. The museum will come alive with artisans and re-enactors as they recreate the feel of Orleans County life in the 19th century. Admission is free for the fair, but a small fee per item will be charged for the appraisal service. A Chiavetta chicken barbecue will take place for dining on site or takeout from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until sold out.

The Cobblestone Tour of Homes on Sept. 26 will branch out to several fine examples of cobblestone structures in western Orleans and Niagara counties. Self-drive or bus tour options are available.

Photo by Tom Rivers: These girls portrayed students at the District No. 5 Schoolhouse at the Cobblestone Museum during a Ghost Walk on Oct. 8, 2017. The girls include, from left: Meganne Moore, Kelsey Froman, Ella Trupo, Autumn Flugel and Liana Flugel. The museum will have another Ghost Walk on Oct. 17.

The Cobblestone Ghost Walk on Oct. 17 will showcase Orleans County happenings at the conclusion of the Civil War.

The Cobblestone Museums Gift Shop will again be turned into a Holiday Shoppe on Nov. 6, 7, 8 and Dec. 5, featuring a Christmas wonderland of decorations and gifts at low cost. There will also be Christmas music at special times.

The Cobblestone Society will hold its annual meeting from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at a location to be announced.

The final event of the year is the Christmas Tour of Homes on Dec. 5, featuring Christmas displays and homes in Holley. Diana Flow is working with the Holley Historical Society to select homes that will be on the tour. Again, a self-drive or bus option will be available.

Further information on all events is available on the Cobblestone Museum’s website or by calling the museum at 589-9013.

Farley and the museum also continue to explore options to create an Orleans County Welcome Center at the Cobblestone campus.

“It will be a very busy year,” he said.


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