Piece of Americana

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 May 2013 at 12:00 am

GAINES – Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin holds a brass button that declares, “Long Live The President – GW.”

It was issued in 1789 to commemorate the inauguration of George Washington as the country’s first president. The button has been in Lattin’s family for about 150 years.

His grandmother Sarah Harling was given the button when a Civil War soldier believed to Robert Capstick showed up destitute and hungry at the Harling home on East Countyhouse Road. Harling fed Capstick and helped him regain his health. He was penniless, but gave her the brass button that he carried during the war for good luck.

The button has been passed down through the generations in Lattin’s family. He showed the button to the Albion Rotary Club during its lunch meeting today at The Village Inn. Capstick is buried in Mount Albion Cemetery.

Lattin also shared a canteen that may be at least two centuries old. It originally belonged to his great-great-great-great grandfather John Anderson, who died in 1827 and is buried in the county’s first cemetery behind the Gaines Congregational Church.

Lattin also showed off and discussed some “oddities” from the Cobblestone Society Museum, including a mouse trap developed by David and Claudius Jones of Kendall in the 1870s. The mouse trap was so popular the brothers opened a manufacturing site in Erie, Pa.

The historian also showed an apple slicer and corer from the 1860s and antique tools used by veterinarians. The museum will be open this Sunday for Mother’s Day from 1 to 5 p.m.