‘Out of the Past’ looks at highlights in February from years ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 February 2017 at 10:38 am

Editor’s Note: County Historian Matthew Ballard has a new monthly column, “Out of the Past,” that lists interesting events happenings from various milestone years (50 years ago, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200).

50 Years Ago – 1967

February 2nd

Holley officials begin planning for the centennial celebration of the incorporation of their village.

February 19th

Otis Bartlett of Riches Corners died at Lakeside Hospital after a brief illness. He was injured in a fall while hunting nearly 20 years earlier, spending the remainder of his life in a wheel chair. Following this accident he crafted a small tractor, giving him the ability to continue the sport of hunting every year.

February 23rd

Clayton Root dies in a tragic accident after he is trapped inside his burning trailer home which had been overturned by high winds. Root was a horse trainer by trade.

75 Years Ago – 1942

February 12th

Half back Tommy Colella of Albion – the Albion Antelope – the 1941 Canisius College captain signs a contract to play professional football with the Detroit Lions of the National League. – During his career, Colella would also play for the Cleveland Rams, Cleveland Browns, and one season with the Buffalo Bills in 1949 before retiring from football.

The 1946 Cleveland Browns – Tommy Colella #92, front row

February 19th

Photographers send images of four buildings in Orleans County to the Fine Arts Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The archived photographs would provide a record for restoring the buildings in the event of war damage; those buildings included the Lanson House, the Whipple House, the Hunn House, and the T. V. Saunders House (cobblestone homes).

1942 photograph of the Whipple House, sent to the Library of Congress. This unique cobblestone building showcases the “herringbone” pattern where flat, rounded stones are set at an angle. The home is located on the south side of Ridge Road, east of Kenyonville Road in Gaines.

February 26th

Francis H. Blake is elected as Mayor of Albion to succeed Jacob Landauer, winning a victory with a voter turnout of 129, the smallest in recent memory.

February 26th

Eugene E. Barnum, Jr. of Albion is among six WNY men who completed basic flight training at the Army’s West Point of the Air, Randolph Field, Texas. He would continue on to an advanced training base for instruction that would result in his 2nd lieutenants’ bars and wings. – Barnum died in action on December 2, 1944 less than five months after his younger brother, Lt. William J. Barnum, was killed in the breakout at St. Lo in France; it was one of the most devastating losses for an Orleans County family during WWII.

“Gene” Barnum (center) recaps a recent mission with several other pilots from his unit.

100 Years Ago – 1917

February 6th

The McMann Hotel at Albion experienced a fire in the 2nd floor stock room. The building filled with smoke, but George Foster, Fred Chapman and his wife, all employees of the hotel were able to escape from the third floor barely clothed. The thermometer registered two degrees below zero.

February 14th

Michael Cleary, a NYCRR conductor, was killed at Holley when he fell off a freight car and was run over. He died while being taken to a Rochester hospital. He leaves a wife and three children.

February 15th

Charles Stielow

The most important case to come before grand jury this month is the special investigation ordered by Gov. Whitman into the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby – George Bond of Syracuse is set to be the special prosecutor.

The German immigrant, Charles Stielow, is wrongfully convicted of a double murder in 1915 at West Shelby. Escaping the electric chair on several occasions, Gov. Whitman finally agreed to reopen the case after Erwin King confessed to committing the crime.

February 15th

Local stories surface of a wild pack of wolves running around Orleans County. It is determined that an old pet wolf and her litter of puppies got away from their owner.

February 21st

The Orleans Republican notes that the NYS Legislature is to appropriate $25,000 to investigate the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby. “While we are glad that there is an attempt being made to shift the financial burden off from Orleans County attendant upon this investigation, yet we feel that there is no good excuse for saddling $25,000 on the State of New York or anybody else in connection with this matter…” Apparently the wrongful conviction of Stielow and near execution by electric chair on multiple occasions was not a good enough cause for the Orleans Republican…

125 Years Ago – 1892

February 2nd

James Gotts of Medina committed suicide at his home north of the English settlement by hanging from a halter suspended from a timber. As a prosperous and respected citizen, there was no explanation for the rash act which left the widow Gotts and a daughter, Mrs. William Wheeler. Gotts’ brother John committed suicide nearly 10 years prior at Shelby Basin by drowning himself in the Canal.

February 11th

Orleans County Grand Jury returns and indictment against Philo Burch of Albion on a charge of bigamy. Burch married Lucinda Field, a widow at Albion, in 1866. After leaving his wife and children, he returned and married Nancy Beach of Medina.

February 18th

The Medina Tribune reports that coroner’s inquests cost the county $578.57 for the previous year, the most expensive case involving a Medina girl who strangled her illegitimate child, that case costing $161.27.

150 Years Ago – 1867

February 2nd

Rev. Joel Lindsley of Shelby, on trial at Albion for whipping his child to death, is found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree. Lindsley received a four year sentence at Auburn Prison.

February 21st

W. K. Townsend, Esq. represented George W. Root, a farmer from Holley, in an action for slander against A. B. Dauchy. Root alleged that Dauchy called him a “whore-master” while Dauchy denied ever making the statement; he was held on $300 bail.

February 28th

Elmore, son of Edward Wheeler at Kendall Mills, was kicked in the face by a horse. The boy’s right eye was severely injured and required that Dr. Carpenter remove all of the broken bones from the face. It was expected that the boy would recover.

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