Out of the Past – April 2017

Vol. 1, Issue 4

50 Years Ago – 1967

April 28th
I. J. Dallas of Elba was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction of first degree murder. Dallas was found guilty of shooting Willie Carruth of Buffalo with a 12-gauge shotgun at a migrant labor camp south of Albion.

75 Years Ago – 1942

April 1st
Eugene “Bud” Wilcox is forced to close the doors of his hardware store in Albion due to the uncertainty of the war. A veteran of the U.S. Navy during WWI, Wilcox submitted his papers in hopes of receiving a commission with the U.S. Naval Reserves.

April 8th
One of the largest real estate transactions in the history of Albion took place between Thomas J. Sweet and Bert Crego, owners of the Thomas J. Sweet Canning Company, to Continental Foods, Inc., owned by the Thomas Lipton Corporation.

April 16th
Word is received at Albion that Lieutenant Commander and Mrs.… More

Renowned Portrait Painter had Connections to Orleans County

Chester Harding (American, 1792 – 1866 ), Self-Portrait, c. 1825, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Vol. 3, Issue 18

A considerable amount of information that appears within the pages of this column often constitutes some sort of overlooked aspect of Orleans County. On occasion, I have the privilege of writing about something that is truly ignored, or perhaps long forgotten in our area’s history. The story of Chester and Horace Harding is one of those stories of men who, at one time or another, passed through our corner of Western New York while leaving their mark on history.

Born at Conway, Massachusetts, the fourth child of twelve to Abiel and Olive Smith, Chester Harding grew up in a large family with a poor economic disposition. Abiel was a veteran of the American Revolution, working in a distillery and claiming status as an “inventor.” Failing to create anything of need or want in this endeavor, the family had little money which often forced the elder siblings to care for themselves.… More

The Great Fire of 1882

Vol. 3, Issue 17

On Friday, January 13, 1882 at 9 o’clock in the evening, occupants of properties located along West Bank Street in Albion noticed the odor of smoke coming from an unknown source. When neighbors discovered smoke billowing out of F. C. Parchert’s millinery and fancy goods business, they sounded the fire alarm. Quickly arriving on scene, fireman forced open the door to find a pile of paper boxes ablaze. The stifling smoke made it impossible to remain within the store for even a short period of time and despite efforts to carry in extinguishers, the fire had already spread up the partition walls.

Hart Hose No. 3’s engine arrived on scene with slight delay, as the horses were not stabled nearby. Upon the company’s arrival, the fire had worked its way up the walls and burst through the roof. No. 3’s engine worked tirelessly for seven hours, providing steady streams into the early hours of the morning; another engine on scene broke down shortly after its arrival.… More

NYS Assemblyman Makes Municipal Park Possible

Volume 3, Issue 16

Born at Gaines in 1828 to pioneer parents, George Bullard was raised on the family farm and attended the local district schools in that township. Upon reaching the appropriate age, various resources indicate that he studied at the Albion Academy, Gaines Academy, and the famed Yates Academy. He read law with Cole Sawyer, in the years before law schools were commonplace, and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1857. Bullard commenced the practice of law with Benjamin Bessac and later worked with Henry Glidden, and John G. Sawyer.

In 1877, Bullard barely escaped death when his horse and buggy were struck by an engine on the New York Central Railroad. He and horse were narrowly missed by the train, but his buggy was smashed to bits. As a charter member of the Orleans County Pioneer Association and the Orleans County Bar Association, he was well regarded in the community as a respectable orator and frequently addressed the community at gatherings and events.… More

Remembering the Centennial of “The War to End All Wars”

Volume 3, Issue 15

With an 82 to 6 vote in the Senate, the United States Congress declared war upon Germany 100 years ago on April 6th. After campaigning in 1916 on the claim that he “kept us out of war,” the Southern Democrat Woodrow Wilson had reneged on this promise after asking a special joint session of Congress for the declaration just days earlier in 1917.

Men throughout Orleans County heeded the call to service by enlisting with local National Guard regiments or enlisting directly with federal units. Howard G. Hinckley, a Medina resident, was one of the men who signed up for service within a week of the declaration of war. The son of Thorn and Allie Garter Hinckley, Howard was raised on South Academy Street in Medina where his father worked odd jobs as a carpenter. The 22 year old was mustered into service with Company F of the 3rd New York National Guard, the unit stationed out of Medina’s Armory.… More

Historical Hijinks – April Fools!

November 1, 1894:
Democrats gathered at Albion’s train station in the pouring rain awaiting the arrival of Gov. Roswell Flower to pass through on a special train. As the train slowly sputtered into the station, a gentleman arouses the attention of onlookers by passing word around to give three cheers for Gov. Flower. A man emerged from the train, greeted by three hearty cheers for Flower; he tips his hat, bows, and addresses the crowd, telling them to vote next Tuesday for Levi Morton, the Republican nominee. The man stepped back onto the train and departed – the special train arrived shortly after.

March 12, 1903:
At midnight, the streetlight wire crossed the incandescent lighting circuit at Medina near the home of Watson Barry. The steel ceiling in Barry’s home became charged and made a brilliant display!

October 31, 1932:
Kids at Medina reportedly exchanged the front steps of Mayor Grinnell’s home with those of another and someone advertised the Presbyterian Church as for sale.… More

Medina High School Boasted Successful Debating Team in 1910s

Volume 3, Issue 14

This photograph, taken circa 1917, shows the Ladies’ Triangular Debating League Society of Medina High School. Seated center is Myra Coon, behind her is Ethel Willis, and left to right is Florence Gray and Doris Webb. The Interscholastic Triangular Debating League was established in 1910 and provided teams of boys and girls from Albion, Medina, and Lockport to debate against one another on preselected topics. Each school would submit three questions and the schools would vote to select one of nine submitted questions. The question returning the highest number of votes was used for that year’s debates.

The debate teams argued on topics that were pertinent to current events at the time, just as debate teams today do. Going back to 1913, the selected question was “Resolved, that the Government should own and control all coal mines of the United States.” The Medina boys won the debate with a unanimous 3-0 decision, while the Medina girls won in a split 2-1 decision.… More