St. Mary’s Parish Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 21

As the parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Holley prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of their parish, it is also worth noting that the physical building will celebrate its 110th birthday this December. Taken prior to 1939, this image shows the interior of St. Mary’s Church as it would have appeared shortly after the dedication of the building in 1905.

The Catholic population of Holley first celebrated Mass around 1850 when Revs. Donnelly and O’Laughlin of Brockport ministered to the inhabitants of the region. Services were held at the old stone school located on the corner of Main and Albion Streets and then at the home of Fenton Whalen until a site on Canal Street was purchased from John Connery. It was under the direction of Rev. John Castaldi that the old frame church was erected on this site and the Holy Cross Cemetery purchased.… More

Henry C. Lawrence – Pharmaceutical Mentor

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 20

A native of Bainbridge, New York, Henry C. Lawrence was born on August 5, 1820 to Richard Lawrence and Sarah DeZeng. Richard moved his family to Lafayette, Indiana prior to 1845 where he established The Good Samaritan drug store in 1844 on the north side of Lafayette’s public square. It was in 1853 that Henry would enter into a partnership with his father and younger brother, George DeZeng Lawrence.

In 1854, Henry Lawrence married Martha Stevens of Knowlesville, but their life together was short and she died on October 10, 1855 at her father’s home in Orleans County. Henry remarried to Martha’s older sister Maria Stevens Flintham, the mother of Albion undertaker William S. Flintham.

Shortly after his arrival in Indiana, Lawrence became an active member of the Free and Accepted Masons, an organization emerging from the persecution of the Anti-Masonic movement of the 1830s and 1840s.… More

Holley Resident becomes Distinguished WWI Pilot

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 19

On the morning of September 7, 1918, Mrs. Effie Stevens received an envelope from Lt. James A. Meissner of the 147th Aero Squadron. Her eyes gazed upon the words, “My deepest sympathy goes out to you who have sacrificed your all to the country…” and with that single note her son, a respected pilot and Distinguished Service Cross recipient, was yet another casualty from Orleans County.

On July 2, 1918 near Chateau-Thierry, Lt. Stevens would earn himself a reputation as one of the most daring members of the 147th Aero Squadron when he and four other U.S. pilots engaged twelve Pfalz type enemy aircraft flying in two groups well beyond enemy lines. After sighting the planes, Stevens quickly maneuvered into position between the aircraft and the sun, gaining the advantage with some difficulty. While three of the pilots engaged the lower formation, Stevens and 2nd Lt.… More

Church in 1932 carried banner, later donated to Cobblestone Museum

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 18

Taken in 1932, this image shows a procession at St. Mary’s Assumption Parish in the Village of Albion.

Located at the intersection of Brown and Moore Streets, we see a number of men lining up in the street with a number of parishioners exiting the front of the church. Considering the clothing worn by those exiting the church, this is likely an image of a First Holy Eucharist celebration.

At the time, the parish had several societies for men and women. The banner, front and center, depicts the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and reads, “Queen Confessors, Pray for Us.” On the obverse side is an image of St. Joseph, which reads, “Society of St. Joseph, February 1, 1903, Albion, New York.”

The beautiful handmade banner was constructed of green cloth with gold braiding and accents. The banner carried behind represented the Sacred Heart Society.… More

Albion’s Dye Hose prepares for parade in 1889

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 17

Formed amidst the vast wilderness that was Upstate New York, Albion was built within dense old-growth forests that covered the region. The untouched and uncultivated land proved to be both dangerous and threatening for early settlers.

Wooded regions were filled with deadly animals that have gone unseen in this area for decades, but the most deadly threat to early settlement was fire.

Dating back to 1829, Albion’s earliest protection against the threat of fire was prevention. Fire wardens sought to eliminate dangerous scenarios that often led to devastating disasters, yet for those occasions where the inevitable fire broke out, the bucket brigade became the last defense against these deadly occurrences.

Between 1831 and 1880, Albion witnessed the development and transformation of the area’s fire fighting force from the establishment of a rudimentary group of young men to the creation of a well-developed and complex system of multiple fire companies.… More

Medina Big Leaguer Strikes Out The Bambino

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 16

Sports enthusiasts from Medina will recognize the name Carl Fischer from his time as a major league pitcher in the 1930s. Albion residents are familiar with his newsstand, which retains his name to this day. Yet all of Orleans County can appreciate the contributions that Fischer made to this community after his years in the big leagues.

A native of Medina, Charles W. Fischer was born on November 5, 1905 and graduated from Medina High School in 1924. Following graduation he started his professional career with various minor league teams throughout the east coast before he transitioned into the limelight. Selected by the Washington Senators, Fischer debuted on July 19, 1930 in a 5-2 loss against the Cleveland Indians.

In 1932 the “Medina Mauler” was sent to the Detroit Tigers where he would experience his best days as a hurler. It was in that year that Fischer was said to have struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Sam Byrd consecutively in a game against the New York Yankees.… More

Nation’s Oldest Patriot Rests in Clarendon


Lemuel Cook – Age 105

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 15

The history of Orleans County is sprinkled with the stories of our ancestors who served this great nation over the last 239 years. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is only proper to recall the service of those men before us who risked everything they had as young men. They took up arms against what they believe to be an oppressive government focused on unfair taxation and inconsistent representation.

One such hero of the American Revolution was Lemuel Cook. A native of Northbury, Connecticut, Cook enlisted near Watertown, Connecticut at the young age of sixteen. He was present for the Battle of Brandywine and at Yorktown for General Cornwallis’ Surrender in 1781. An eventual settler of Clarendon, “Lem” as he was known would earn the distinction of the oldest pensioner of the Revolution at the time of his death on May 20, 1866 at the age of 107.… More

Holley veterinarian treated ‘all diseases of animals’

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 14

This image shows the horse barn owned by Dr. George C. Kesler of Holley. The photographer directed his camera to the southeast while standing on the north side of East Albion Street.

The house in the background belonged to Dr. Kesler and was situated along the bend of White Street. The barn itself was located on the corner of East Albion and White Streets.

George Kesler, a native of Kendall, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College on March 25, 1892. After his return to Orleans County, he started his practice in Holley on Main Street at a location west of the hotel. He married Agnes O’Neil and the couple made their home at this site in 1893. Kesler outlived his three wives, Agnes, Ana Wilson, and Ada before his own death in 1937.

Advertising as a Veterinary Surgeon and Dentist, his ads regularly featured the line, “All diseases of animals scientifically treated – open day and night.” The gentleman kneeling in front of the fence seems to have coaxed the horses to pop their heads through the windows for this photo.… More

New York Sun editor spent childhood in Gaines

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 13

The annals of local history are filled with the names of influential citizens who were either born here or lived here before moving beyond the political boundaries of our area to establish themselves on a much larger scale. One such man was Charles Anderson Dana, a name that few would recognize today.

This daguerreotype from the 1850s taken by Matthew Brady shows the staff of the New York Tribune. Seated left to right are George M. Snow, Bayard Taylor, Horace Greeley (once owner of the Ward House in Childs), and George Ripley. Standing left to right are William Henry Fry, Charles Anderson Dana, and Henry J. Raymond.

The son of Anderson Dana and Anna Denison, Charles A. Dana was born on Aug. 8, 1819 at Hinsdale, New Hampshire. At a young age, Charles was brought to Orleans County with his siblings where his father accepted a position as the overseer of a canal warehouse at Gaines Basin.… More

Early Albion Catholics Practiced at North Main Street Site

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 12

Irish Catholic immigrants flocked to Orleans County as early as the 1820s and 1830s, well in advance of the Great Famine of 1845-1852. The Irish in Albion and Medina quickly found work within the newly established sandstone quarries located throughout the region, yet no house of worship existed to meet their weekly sacramental requirements.

Around 1840 Rev. Patrick Costello of Lockport visited Albion to celebrate Mass in the home of John Walsh, an early Irish settler in the village. The earliest Irish population was small, consisting of the families of Samuel McCaffrey, Denis Sullivan, Patrick McMahon, Bernard Flaherty, Thomas Crean, and Felix McCann, the latter a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo. The community rented space in the Burrows Block on Main Street and priests held monthly services from Lockport or Rochester. These priests were also called upon to administer the sacraments of baptism and matrimony.… More