Seymour Murdock was Portrait of Pioneer Spirit

Seymour B. Murdock

Volume 2, Issue 31

“It has been playfully said that you may place a Yankee in the woods with an ax, an auger and a knife, his only tools, and with the trees his only material for use, and he will build a palace…” – Arad Thomas, 1859

We are fortunate to retain the images of our pioneer ancestors, showing the faces of hardship and tribulation. This studio portrait taken in Rochester shows Seymour B. Murdock of Ridgeway in his advanced age, likely in his late 70’s. Over 200 years ago, Murdock was brought to the frontier of Western New York by his father and namesake, Seymour Murdock, arriving on June 1, 1810.

The Murdock clan, consisting of twelve family members, packed into wagons drawn by a team of oxen for the nearly 300-mile journey. Upon reaching the Genesee River, the family was met by dense forests and difficult travel the entire distance to their next stop at Clarkson.… More

Portrait of a Murderer: William Coniber, Jr.

William H. Coniber, Jr. – Murderer of Horace Halpin

Volume 2, Issue 30

The history of Orleans County is littered with the stories of cold-blooded murder, perhaps some cases more infamous than others. Of course, capturing wanted criminals connected to these cases was a far more difficult process over a century ago, but local officials did the best they could in apprehending suspects. In one particular case occurring at the turn of the 20th century, several years would pass before a suspect was arrested in one of the most grievous murder cases in local history.

One Thursday morning, September 14th to be exact, back in 1899 Horace Halpin left the family homestead at Rich’s Corners. John Halpin, Horace’s father, was a local grocer and had sent his son to make the daily deliveries at approximately 11:00am. While traveling towards the “Lattin Swamp,” Horace encountered a tramp walking north. The man told Horace he was seeking employment with Oscar Brown’s merry-go-round outfit in Albion and that he had walked some distance from Batavia to do so.… More

Bidelman’s Tannery Was a Mainstay at Gaines

Volume 2, Issue 29

Coming to Shelby in 1817, Samuel Bidelman was brought to Shelby by his Uncle John Garlock to a site cleared by Bidelman’s father during the previous year. The Bidelman clan was built from strong German stock and resided in Herkimer County before trekking westward to the wilderness that was Orleans County.

As Arad Thomas recalls in the Pioneer History of Orleans County, the Bidelman family was greeted by a large contingent of locals who welcomed them to their new home. Upon the crowd’s departure, Henry Bidelman realized that his new neighbors had taken a large portion of the wheat flour brought with them into the virgin forests. The family was forced to live off of the remaining flour, bran bread, and sea biscuit leftover from the War of 1812 stores at the Batavia Arsenal. The crops of 1817 eventually provided alternate food sources for the settlers of the area.… More

Albion Hardware Merchant Stars as Theda Bara in Local Performance

Volume 2, Issue 28

Over 100 years ago, “Womanless Weddings” were commonplace throughout the United States. Dating back into the 19th century, faux nuptials were held in the South as a means for raising money for charities, churches, and community organizations. As interest in their inherent humor began to rise, the events spread like a wildfire across the entire country.

The Womanless Wedding was an opportunity for men to dress up as women, don some makeup, and over exaggerate femininity. These gentlemen would kiss members of the crowd (men and women alike), flash their garters, adjust whatever they may have rigged up for breasts, and act in a generally “naughty” manner all for a few laughs.

Naturally, these became popular events as community members had no qualms about paying a little money to see their neighbors dressed as women. Publishers eventually developed scripts for such programs and each event became a true dramatic performance.… More