Oldest Photograph of Albion Shows Empire Block Before 1868 Fire

Vol. 3, Issue 21

One of the oldest images of downtown Albion, this photograph shows a busy street scene at the intersection of Batavia Street and Canal Street (now North Main and East Bank). Per an 1857 map of the Village of Albion, the block at the intersection was owned by Willis P. Collins, a grain dealer from Connecticut.

As a self-sustaining community, businesses filled the first, second, and third stories of these buildings, providing residents with convenient options for obtaining essential goods and services. On the first floor of the “Old Empire Block” was the store of W. Cole and Robert Sheldon, who operated a clothing business along with Martin Rawson and Fitch Collins. The appearance of signage hanging above the second floor windows shows the dentist office of Dr. J.S. Northrup. On the third floor, as indicated by the high-hanging signs, was the headquarters for the Orleans American, which was operated by David S.… More

Albion’s Legion Band was focal point of celebratory programs

Vol. 3, Issue 20

Established in 1920, the Sheret Post #35 American Legion Band operated for over twenty years under the direction of William Melville of Rochester. The Livonia school band director joined the organization on April 18, 1930 and remained as the director into the 1950s.

After the conclusion of World War Two, the band was an active participant in dedicatory programs and memorial parades throughout the county. During the dedication of the statue of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, erected on the front lawn of St. Joseph’s Rectory in May of 1947, the Legion Band led the parade and furnished a beautiful rendition of the national anthem following the ceremony.

This photograph, taken by Fred Holt, shows the Legion Band marching out of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Annual Memorial Day exercises typically included a parade from downtown Albion, to St. Joseph’s Cemetery, and finally to Mt. Albion Cemetery where veteran gravesites were decorated.… More

Motorized Fire Apparatus Made Albion’s Department Best in the Nation

Vol. 3, Issue 19

On November 19, 1913, the Ever-Ready Manufacturing Company of Buffalo delivered a six cylinder, 90 horsepower Thomas flyer hose, chemical, and ladder truck for the Active Hose No. 2 Fire Company in Albion. At a cost of approximately $6,000, the fully-loaded vehicle was said to max out at 75 miles per hour. A year and a half prior to this delivery, Dye Hose No. 5 Fire Company purchased a similar machine, making Albion’s fire service one of the best in the United States.

This photograph shows Chief Engineer C. Royce Sawyer, right, seated in his recently purchased 1913 Buick Model 30 Roadster, which was designated as the chief’s car for the Dye Hose Company. The vehicle was equipped with a carbonated gas fire extinguisher, visible on the car’s driver-side running board.

Around the time this photograph was taken, two of Albion’s volunteer companies took out incorporation papers following village approval to do so.… 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

Bailey’s Grocery was a Staple in Albion

Volume 3, Issue 13

In the years preceding massive department and grocery stores, smaller family owned dry goods and grocery stores occupied the storefronts of small-town America. This image shows the store owned by James Bailey of Albion, taken sometime in the late 1890s.

Bailey was raised on a 240 acre farm on the Transit Road and sometime in the 1850s entered the employ of Harvey Goodrich, a grocer and dry goods dealer at Albion. After a short stint with that interest, James entered the produce business with Charles Baker and worked under his employ for nearly 15 years before starting his own grocery store. During his time with Baker, Bailey developed a sizable farm west of Albion, later owned by John H. Denio on land now occupied by the Albion Correctional Facility.

Herbert J. Bailey, pictured center, was brought into the trade in 1882 when the business became known as James Bailey & Son.… More