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Big turnout for benefit at Warrior House in Shelby

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Dave Kuzmierczak, left, and Steve Johnson, members of the Medina’s American Legion and VFW, remove the flag from a coffin during a patriotic ceremony Saturday at the Warrior House.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 September 2018 at 4:30 pm

Ed Spence of Oakfield, left, talks with Floyd Hurlburt of Watertown, during Saturday’s gathering at the Warrior House in support of veterans. An Army veteran, Hurlburt was one of seven veterans who spent the weekend at the Warrior House.

SHELBY – Saturday’s event at the Warrior House in support of veterans was a resounding success, and the second in which ABATE motorcycle club participated.

Ed Spence of Oakfield, former Northeast director of Operation Injured Soldier, and Peter Zeliff Jr. of Middleport organized the day, which began with a motorcycle run from Medina’s VFW, and ended back at the Warrior House, a farmhouse on Salt Works Road donated by Zeliff as a retreat for veterans. There, the more than 230 who registered for the motorcycle run, local veterans and supporters from the community gathered to listen to several bands, enjoy a pig roast and support a huge basket raffle.

To conclude the day, members of the Medina VFW, American Legion, their Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard participated in a patriotic ceremony, which included playing of Taps, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a 21-gun salute and the proper folding of an American flag which had been draped on a casket.

The casket and flag are part of a float created by the VFW and American Legion for local parades and celebrations.

Todd Wilcox of Medina is a road captain for ABATE, who said the event was very successful.

“Last year, we raised more than $13,000, and this year is going to top that,” he said.

A sea of motorcycles filled the yard of the Warrior House on Salt Works Road, Medina, during Saturday’s Cycle Run/Pig Roast/ Basket Raffle event to honor veterans. The day was part of a weekend of special activities, which began early in the morning with a goose hunt.

Wilcox’s wife Beverly was in charge of the basket raffle. She said support of that was phenomenal, with everyone she asked willing to donate a basket.

Saturday’s celebration was part of a two-day event, which included a goose hunt early each morning.

Artist Carol Culhane of Albion brought the Purple Heart ornaments she designed for wounded veterans.

Artist Carol Culhane and her husband Gerry had a booth set up with the ornaments she originally designed for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Gerry is a Vietnam veteran, which is one of the reasons Carol has been a longtime supporter of veterans. The couple is hoping to have a hunt at their home in Gaines.

Seven veterans from across New York state were hosted at the Warrior House for the weekend. One was Floyd Hurlburt of Watertown, an Army veteran who was based at Fort Drum.

“I come on these hunts and help where I can,” he said. “I love the concept here.”

Shawn Latour of Schenectady first came to the Warrior House last year for a goose hunt and a deer hunt with bow. He was eager to return again.

“It piqued my interest,” Latour said. “I really had fun.”

He served with the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and in Germany.

The day was a fruitful one for Donna Bushover of West Shelby, who came with her son Randy, who is news director at WBEN Radio.

Donna was looking to donate her late husband David’s wheelchair, and really wanted a veteran to have it.

She met up with Spence, who told her he knew of a very ill veteran in the area who needed a wheelchair immediately.

Dave Kusmierczak, left, and Steve Johnson, right, stand at attention with other veterans as Jim Freas from Medina VFW places a properly folded American flag on the casket displayed during a ceremony at the Warrior House on Saturday.

While Donna’s husband was not a veteran, her brother Robert Burgess of Attica and brother-in-law Lee Buckland of Attica are Navy veterans and her niece’s husband of Attica is an Air Force veteran.

She was happy to know the wheelchair would stay in Orleans County.

In one final presentation, Dan Anderson, commander of the Medina VFW, presented a check for $1,000 to Spence to help maintain the Warrior House.

Dan Anderson, commanded of the VFW in Medina, presented a check for $1,000 to Ed Spence for the Warrior House at the conclusion of Saturday’s event in support of veterans.

Members of the Patriot Guard joined members of the Medina VFW, American Legion and Honor Guard during a patriotic ceremony at the celebration to honor veterans Saturday at the Warrior House.

The veterans’ Honor Guard from Medina VFW and American Legion fires a salute during a patriotic ceremony at a celebration to honor veterans at the Warrior House.

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Warrior House plans busy weekend on Sept. 14-15

Photos by Ginny Kropf: This farmhouse on Salt Works Road in the Town of Shelby has been donated by owner Pete Zeliff Jr. as a getaway for veterans. The site is known as the Warrior House.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 5 September 2018 at 11:44 am

Kneeling before the helmet, rifle and boots of a deceased soldier is how a soldier pays tribute to a fallen comrade, as depicted in this statue on the lawn of the Warrior House.

SHELBY – It may not look like much – an old farmhouse surrounded by cornfields.

But to the veterans who get to come there, it is a paradise.

The home on Salt Works Road is called the Warrior House where, on Sept. 14 and 15, a weekend of events has been planned for a handful of veterans.

After purchasing the farm on Salt Works Road, Pete Zeliff Jr. knew he didn’t want the farmhouse. It didn’t take him long to find a use for the old home.

Zeliff knew Joe Pionessa of Oakfield, who in turn introduced him to Ed Spence of South Alabama. Spence, a  Marine and Army veteran, at the time was New York state director of Operation Injured Soldier, and was actively involved in developing events to support veterans.

Soon after meeting, the three came up with the idea of a retreat, where veterans could come and spend quality time, just relaxing or enjoying sporting events.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Warrior House in West Shelby hosted six veterans in early November 2015 for hunting and fellowship. These three include, from left: Albert Gonzalez from Theresa, near Fort Drum in northern New York; Shannon Girard from Lafayette, La.; and Shane Weyant from Holidaysburg, Pa.

The Warrior House became a reality in 2015.

Zeliff fixed up the interior and had 12 beds built to fill the downstairs.

The first event was a hunt, set up by Operation Injured Soldier, which paid to bring veterans from all over the country to the Warrior House. Three more sporting events were sponsored the first year, including a string of chartered fishing trips on Lake Ontario.

The Sept. 14 and 15 event will be a goose hunt, and will include participation by ABATE, an Albion-based motorcycle group that will sponsor a dice run. The dice run will begin at the Medina VFW at 10 a.m. and continue to other VFWs in the area, ending with a pig roast, live band and basket raffle at the Warrior House.  Last year’s event raised about $13,000. For more information, contact dice run leader Todd Wilcox at (716) 566-0365.

The Warrior House is now a 501-3C, and donations of cash, food and raffle baskets is always welcome.

They are also looking for volunteers, and anyone interested can call (716) 560-0697.

Spence said they recently took in some homeless veterans and gave them temporary shelter at the Warrior House.

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Shelby firefighters give campers much needed relief on a hot day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2018 at 12:49 pm

Photo courtesy of Mary Herbert

SHELBY – Shelby firefighters provided much needed relief to 48 campers on Sunday at the Forrestel Riding and Sports Camp, just around the corner from the firehall.

Temperatues were in the high 80s on Sunday and the campers were feeling the effects of the heat and humidity. Firefighters stopped by and sprayed water on the group, which is spending time at Forrestel, which runs a girls summer horse riding camp.

Mary Herbert, owner of Forrestel, said she appreciated the firefighters stopping by to help cool off the kids.

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East Shelby church turns back the clock by more than a century for Old Tyme Day

Posted 16 July 2018 at 8:26 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf

EAST SHELBY – Hundreds of people turned out to experience life in the 1800s’ village of West Jackson Corners during Old Tyme Day, sponsored by East Shelby Community Bible Church on Sunday.

The village includes a working blacksmith shop, a woodworker’s shop, a sewing shop, a penny candy store, a miniature church with a steeple identical to that of the main church.

The congregation created the village that is popular for the annual Old Tyme Day, when the church has pie, hot dogs, candy, hand-spun ice cream and popcorn available for a penny.

Shawna Baldwin of Medina is dressed as Betsy Ross as she strolls the grounds of West Jackson Corners Sunday with her sewing basket. Visitors were able to have conversations with other historical characters, including Ben Franklin, Martha Washington, and John and Abigail Adams.

Darlene Murphy, left, helps Sadie Pask, 4, and Gianna Hyde, 4, make little sheep out of wool carded by Heidi Pask. Other activities include kids’ games, candle making, basket weaving, horse and buggy rides and horseback riding.

Heidi Pask demonstrates carding wool during East Shelby Community Bible Church’s annual Old Tyme Day Sunday.

Levi Olsen, dressed as Baron von Steuben, strolls the grounds of West Jackson Corners during Old Tyme Day on Sunday.

Lewis Tombari of Lyndonville sits in his 1930 Model A at Old Tyme Day Sunday at East Shelby Community Bible Church. Tombari has owned the car for 51 years.

Youth from East Shelby Community Bible Church demonstrate old-fashioned dances in Penders Apple Barn.The day included patriotic concerts.

A working water wheel is one of the old-time features of West Jackson Corners.

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Church will serve up penny pie and old-fashioned fun

Provided photos: Erik Olsen and his son Levi are dressed as Vikings in this photo from last year’s Old Tyme Day at West Jackson Corners, the miniature village across from East Shelby Community Bible Church. Old Tyme Day returns Sunday.

Posted 11 July 2018 at 9:15 am

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

Charles Silvernail of Basom is the “mayor” of West Jackson Corners.

EAST SHELBY – The past is always in the forefront at West Jackson Corners, the 1800s village built by the congregation of the East Shelby Community Bible Church.

That is where on Sunday the annual Old Tyme Day will take place, giving visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the 1800s.

Events begin with an old fashioned church service at 10 a.m., immediately followed by activities in the miniature village.

Visitors can have conversations with historical characters, such as Ben Franklin, Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams and Betsy Ross.

Patriotic concerts will take place near the village square and for only a penny, they can sample classic dishes cooked on an open fire, bread baked in a beehive oven, all-you-can-eat homemade pies and hotdogs, hand-spun ice cream and popcorn.

Activities include kids’ games, wool spinning, candle making, basket weaving, horse and buggy rides and horseback riding.

Features of the village are weaving on an old-time loom, a working blacksmith shop, a woodworker’s shop, a sewing shop, a penny candy store, a miniature church with a steeple identical to that of the main church and a mill with a waterwheel fed by a sluiceway.

Everyone is welcome to view pictures, letters and articles of former members on display in the church, take a horse and buggy ride to the historic East Shelby Cemetery and listen to a gospel concert at 4 p.m. in the church.

East Shelby Community Bible Church is located at 5278 East Shelby Rd., one mile south of East Shelby.

Mitch Kolb turns the wheel which runs the lathe in Israel Sanborn’s woodworking shop at West Jackson Corners at Old Fashioned Day.

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Fashion show at Shelby features styles over 200 years

Posted 17 June 2018 at 5:46 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf

SHELBY – Partly visible at left are Shane Cia in a 1900’s gown and Trish Stacy as a flapper girl, who are waiting to take the stage in the fashion show Saturday during the Town of Shelby’s 200 anniversary celebration. The other models are Paula Dresser (with parasol) in a 1930’s afternoon dress, Jodie Zacher as a 1940’s war bride, Lynne Johnson as a 1960’s go-go girl and Peter Beach in a polyester pant suit from the 1970s.

Shelby’s bicentennial celebration featured a fashion show at the auditorium of Oak Orchard Elementary School on Saturday. The fashion show included apparel from each decade capped off a day full of historic events.

Megan Ortt, left, wife of State Sen. Robert Ortt, volunteered to model this 1920’s dress in the Town of Shelby ’s vintage fashion show Saturday. With her is Pat Briggs in a 1920’s outfit.

Orleans County legislator Lynne Johnson waits to present a proclamation to the Town of Shelby prior to Saturday’s fashion show commemorating the town’s 200th anniversary. She modeled a go-go girl outfit from the 1960s, with boots she actually wore in her marching band in school.

Provided photo: Narrator Georgia Thomas describes the outfits worn by Allan and Ginny Kropf, who portrayed Alexander and Betsey Coon during a fashion show Saturday to commemorate the Town of Shelby’s 200th anniversary. The Coons were the first settlers in the town.

Memorabilia from the town of Shelby’s 200 years filled the hall and auditorium of Oak Orchard School Saturday, where a fashion show of apparel from each decade capped off a day full of historic events, which included self-guided driving tours of the town, a video and refreshments at the town hall and proclamations by Shelby deputy supervisor Ken Schaal, Congressman Chris Collins, Senator Robert Ortt, Assemblyman Mike Norris, Legislator Lynne Johnson and Medina Mayor Mike Sidari.

Provided photos: Town Historian Alice Zacher, who organized the fashion show and helped spearhead the town’s bicentennial celebration efforts, is presented flowers. Town Clerk Darlene Rich is at left.

Several dignitaries presented proclamations for Shelby’s 200th anniversary. From left include Deputy Town Supervisor Ken Schaal, Town Clerk Darlene Rich, Congressman Chris Collins, State Sen. Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Michael Norris, County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and Medina Mayor Mike Sidari.

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Town of Shelby celebrates 200th anniversary

Posted 17 June 2018 at 12:05 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf

SHELBY – The Town of Shelby celebrated its 200th anniversary on Saturday. One of the highlights of the celebration was a fashion show at Oak Orchard Elementary School auditorium, featuring apparel from 1818 to 2018.

Georgia Thomas, commentator for the vintage fashion show, goes over her notes just before the show at Oak Orchard School.

From left, twins Charlene Pratt and Shelby Town Clerk Darlene Rich and Marian Fry are all decked out in their 1930’s outfits, as they stand in front of a video playing at the Shelby Town Hall on Saturday morning.

Alice Zacher, Town of Shelby historian, and David Green, a member of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Department, stand in front of a row of vintage automobiles on display at the fire hall during the Town of Shelby ’s 200th anniversary observance Saturday.

This row of vintage automobiles represents a vehicle from every decade. In front is a 1935 Plymouth owned by Pete Cramer of Gasport. The oldest was a 1920 Model A owned by Dennis Bailey of Middleport.

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Shelby gets ready for town’s 200th birthday party

Posted 11 June 2018 at 12:14 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Town of Shelby employees working on the town’s 200th anniversary celebration Saturday stand next to a sign created for them by TakeForm Architectural Graphics. From left are Candy Koch, Town Clerk Darlene Rich, Lori Myhill, Hannah Forder and Town Historian Alice Zacher.

Shelby Town Historian Alice Zacher shows a bathing suit from the 1800s, with leggings, cap and an umbrella, which will be modeled at the fashion show Saturday commemorating the town of Shelby’s 200th anniversary.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

MEDINA – A committee formed more than a year ago has been making plans for a special celebration June 16 in observance of the Town of Shelby’s bicentennial.

Heading the committee are Town Historian Alice Zacher, Town Clerk Darlene Rich and Medina native and history buff Georgia Thomas, with help from town employees Hannah Forder, Miranda Bennett, Candy Koch and Lori Myhill.

The celebration will kick off at 9 a.m. at Shelby Town Hall with what Thomas calls an “awesome slide show.” There will be treats, such as old fashioned candy, cookies, scones and popcorn.

The town has been divided into four routes and maps will be provided to all visitors, who are encouraged to use the maps and go on a driving tour at their own pace.

A highlight of the celebration will be a fashion show at Oak Orchard Elementary School auditorium, featuring apparel from 1818 to 2018. Also at the school, local dignitaries will present proclamations to the town.

Both Shelby and East Shelby fire companies are planning special activities. Each will have an open house, with tours of their fire halls and refreshments.

At East Shelby, David Green is organizing a car show, featuring a vehicle from each decade, starting with the 1930s. Their event will run from 9:30 to 1 p.m.

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Public hearing set for July 18 on Western Orleans comprehensive plan

Staff Reports Posted 6 June 2018 at 1:53 pm

SHELBY – Residents in western Orleans County are welcome to attend a public hearing on July 18 to comment about a comprehensive plan for the towns of Shelby, Ridgeway and Yates and the villages of Medina and Lyndonville.

The plan covers a broad array of topics, including socioeconomic trends – housing; land use – zoning and development; infrastructure and utilities; environment; historic, cultural, and municipal resources; parks; open space and recreation; economic development; transportation; and sustainability.

For each topic area, the plan summarizes existing conditions, identifies issues and opportunities and outline recommendations and action items.

A committee with officials from the municipalities has been working on the plan for about 18 months. The Western Orleans Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee has completed a draft of the plan, a 339-page document that is available by clicking here.

The July 18 public hearing and information session begins at 6 p.m. at the Shelby Town Hall, 4062 Salt Works Rd.

“The draft WOCP is the result of 18 months of hard work by Committee members and the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development,” said Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon, who also chairs the Committee and is responsible for revising the WOCP.

He urged western Orleans residents to review the plan and provide some input. Comments can be directed to the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development – the agency facilitating this process. Copies of the Plan and comment forms can be found at the town and village halls of Shelby, Ridgeway, Yates, Medina and Lyndonville, the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, and the Yates Community Library.

Comments should be submitted to the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development at 14016 Route 31, Albion NY, 14411. Additionally, an electronic comment form can be found on the Department’s webpage.

Questions about the WOCP or the public involvement process should be directed to Sarah Gatti at the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development by phone at 585-589-3187 or email at

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Millville Cemetery monument stands as a remarkable local landmark

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 April 2018 at 8:08 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 17

Gravesite of Asa C. Hill – Millville Cemetery, Shelby, NY

SHELBY – Our rural communities are filled with strikingly beautiful landscapes and recognizable landmarks scattered throughout the region. As I passed through Millville this week, I thought about one of my favorite “little” landmarks in Shelby, a cemetery marker that has always grabbed my attention since I first visited Millville Cemetery.

The stone is rather remarkable, aside from its overwhelming appearance, towering over the seemingly smaller stones placed around it. Rarely does an attractive statue such as this adorn the burial site of an individual and perhaps its location in a rural cemetery makes it all the more unique. Yet the story of Asa Hill, the man memorialized by the granite obelisk and stoic soldier standing guard, adds a degree of mystery to the stone itself.

A native of Shelby, Asa Cummings Hill was born August 19, 1837 to William and Clarissa Miller Hill. When the South seceded from the Union in April of 1861, Asa found himself drawn to military service like so many other local men as indicated by his enlistment on November 14, 1861. Over a month later on December 22nd, he was mustered into service as a private with Company D of the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry along with a number of other men from Medina.

Of the four shields that adorn the base of Hill’s monument, the southern face notes his service, stating that he was wounded in action on August 9, 1862, captured, and sent to Libby Prison before his eventual exchange and discharge from service on January 13, 1863. A detailed description of an enlisted man’s service carved upon his headstone surely indicates a closer connection to his service than might appear on the surface. With that curiosity, I thought it worthwhile to peruse the pages of C. W. Boyce’s A Brief History of the Twenty-Eighth Regiment New York State Volunteers, which highlights the unit’s service and what transpired on August 9, 1862.

On that date, Union and Confederate forces converged upon a location known as Cedar Mountain, often called Cedar Run by the Confederates and occasionally referred to as Slaughter’s Mountain after a nearby landowner. This particular morning was exceptionally hot, as Sgt. William Lewis recalled, upwards of “100° to 109° in the shade,” and Union forces were told to hold their position in the face of oncoming artillery fire and light skirmishing. Following an impromptu conference between commanding officers, it was decided that the available units should advance upon the Confederate battery in an effort to capture it. As Union artillery was poised to direct fire upon a section of woods occupied by the enemy in advance of the attack, Gen. Nathaniel Banks prematurely commenced movement of his troops.

Asa C. Hill, Standing Atop Cemetery Monument at Millville Cemetery

Sgt. Lewis, the color-bearer for the 28th New York, led the charge with fixed bayonets at double quick and immediately after the advance commenced, “the entire line was met with a murderous fire from the front and also from the right flank…” The men of the 28th New York had encountered the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Virginia Infantry under the command of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson. It was during this advance that men encountered “…a most desperate hand to hand conflict,”  suffering the loss of 17 of the 18 officers and 196 of the 339 enlisted men, either killed, wounded, or captured. It was during this engagement that Col. Edwin F. Bowen of Medina was shot in the arm, the bone shattering to pieces and requiring amputation.

In the months following the engagement, a report appeared in the New York World on October 21, 1862, listing casualties from conflicts in the previous months. It was noted in this report that Pvt. Asa Hill suffered an amputated right leg as the result of wounds sustained during the engagement at Cedar Mountain. It is difficult to discern exactly when the procedure was undertaken to remove Hill’s leg.

A single man who relied upon his physical strength to conduct business on his farm, Hill returned to his family’s home on Sanderson Road in Shelby with an overwhelming injury that he would never recover from. With Asa’s father William passing in 1868, the family relied upon hired men to assist in caring for the farm including William Mull, Joseph Schindelmyer and Asa’s nephew, William Hill. As a disabled veteran he was entitled to a pension, which he applied for in 1866, and the eligible bachelor eventually married Catherine Bodine in 1878. The couple welcomed a son, Asa Bodine Hill on January 15, 1879, and Asa passed two years later on April 25, 1881 at the age of 43.

In the years following Asa’s passing, newspapers reported on the beautification that was taking place at Millville Cemetery, drawing attention to the “…soldiers monument to Asa Hill.” It was noted in a subsequent correction that Hill’s monument was paid for by his widow, Kate, after his passing without any assistance. What is unique about the statue that adorns the peak of this monument is the form of the soldier. Although many monuments to area soldiers are crafted as a “stock” representation of a man, the soldier atop Hill’s monument is carved in his likeness – there is no monument like it anywhere else.

Hill stands atop this granite obelisk, wearing a great coat and topped with a forage cap. It is possible that a portion of the musket barrel broke off as the musket’s length would have extended to the shoulder of a soldier of average height. Packed under his right elbow is his cartridge box, he stands with a rifled musket grasped firmly in his hands and appears to gaze off in the distance as if to watch over the family’s farm.

The statue is carved with exquisite detail as the lock plate, hammer, trigger, and sling are clearly visible. Perhaps most interesting about this representation is that the statue shows no sign of his physical disability as a result of the war, indicating that the representation depicts Hill before the Battle of Cedar Mountain. He rests the weight of his body on his left leg, the right leg slightly flexed. It is likely coincidental that it was his right leg that was amputated and not an effort by the artist to symbolize his eventual injury.

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