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
Volume 3, Issue 12
The origins of electric streetlights date back to over 130 years ago when Wabash, Indiana became the first city to utilize the system that would eventually replace gas lighting. It was nearly six years after that initial testing that the Village of Albion began to explore the possibility of erecting electric lights to illuminate the streets. This image shows a group of eleven men erecting the first electric pole in Albion, located on Madison Street (now East Park).
The Albion Electric Light Company, formed in 1889 by E. Kirke Hart, William G. Swan, and George W. Barrell with a capital of $18,000, first proposed the illumination of Albion’s streets at a cost of roughly $55 per light. The first dam was constructed near Sprague’s Mill on East State Street and served as the primary source of local power through the 1890s. Other area municipalities, such as Lockport, started the process of transitioning from gas to electricity but gave up on the endeavor due to excessive costs.… More
Volume 3, Issue 11
This image shows the interior of a newspaper printing office in Albion. Although the photograph does not indicate which newspaper outfit we are looking at, based on available evidence this is likely the interior of the Orleans Republican taken sometime around 1910 or 1915. If that is the case, the man standing in the center of the room is probably Sanford T. Church and the man seated is W. Crawford Ramsdale.
The Orleans Republican was established in June of 1828 by Cephas McConnell, the same year that the Village of Albion was incorporated. Due to its age, it was regarded as the pioneer publication of the area with the Orleans American as the only newspaper printing business with an older lineage (dating back to 1823). The business was sold to J. O. Willsea of Albion in 1848, who brought Calvin Gilbert Beach of Rochester in to assist in its operation starting in 1850.… More
Photograph courtesy of the Wellcome Trust of London, England licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Volume 3, Issue 10
Perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked story in Orleans County history is that of Silas Mainville Burroughs and the development of the pharmaceutical company that would become one of the largest in the world. The son of Silas M. Burroughs and Laura Bennett of Medina, Mainville as he was called by friends and family was born on December 24, 1846. At the age of five he suffered the loss of his mother and nearly nine years later his father, a Republican Congressman, died unexpectedly leaving an aunt and uncle to raise the young boy.
After attending local schools in Medina, Burroughs attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy where he qualified for graduation in 1877. His thesis focused on the development of compressed tablets as a more effective alternative to the traditional rolled pills; the former dissolved far better in water than the latter.… More
Volume 3, Issue 9
This image shows the interior of the Dowd Newsroom located at 13 East Bank Street in Albion, circa 1907. The business was once owned by Charles Dowd and operated with assistance from his brother George during the early portion of the 20th century (see volume 2, issue 24). Before opening this business, Charles was employed as a railroad laborer and worked on various canal projects during the 1890s until he broke his leg in 1897.
Although this was a newsroom and tobacco store, we can see that tobacco was the prominent piece of merchandise. The walls are littered with promotional materials and advertising posters for some of the most popular tobacco companies at the time; Billy Boy, Union Leader, Jolly Tar, Sure Shot, Bagpipe, High Card, and Little Minister. On the floor to the right we see a crate marked “Smoke U.S. Marine Plug Cut.” Two ads for newspapers are seen, one visible in the back is advertising the “large high class pictorial magazine” the Illustrated Sunday Magazine available weekly for free with the Buffalo Times.… More
Volume 3, Issue 8
One of Orleans County’s oldest funeral homes is likely that of Merrill-Grinnell, which dates well beyond the 1870s. This image shows two predecessors to the current business, Cassius M. C. Reynolds and William S. Flintham, standing in front of their store on North Main Street in Albion. Reynolds purchased this business from his father-in-law George W. Ough, who was a prominent businessman and president of the Albion Board of Trustees.
It is thought that the lineage of this business dates back as far as George M. Pullman, who ran a furniture making business in Albion during his tenure in Orleans County. The business later transitioned to Ough, then to Reynolds and Flintham who operated the outfit into the 1920s. Reynolds & Flintham were known locally for dealing crockery, glassware, and furniture in addition to their work as undertakers.
This image clearly showcases the stock of crockery and glassware carried by the business, visible both through the store windows and on the table standing outside.… More
Volume 3, Issue 7
The records of Orleans County history are quite definitive concerning the role in which George M. Pullman played in the development of his famed sleeping cars. What appears to be left for interpretation is the specific role in which local politician Benjamin Collins Field played in that venture. It is clear that without the aid of Mr. Field that Pullman’s vision for the palace car may never have come to fruition.
Born June 12, 1816 at Dorset, Vermont, Ben was brought to Albion around 1828. His father Spafford was a marble dealer and operated a business out of the Lockport area for a number of years in conjunction with his son Norman. As a young man, Ben read law with Alexis Ward of Albion before his admittance to the bar. He worked with his father’s business, engaging in headstone lettering and marble cutting before determining that politics was of interest.… More
Volume 3, Issue 6
This photograph shows the interior of James Trivit Lacey’s store located on east side of Kendall Road near the intersection of Kenmore Road. Born at Tunstead, Norfolk, England in 1859, Lacey arrived in the United States at the age of 25 in 1884 and lived in the Yates/Carlton area for several years before relocating to Kendall. It was at this location that he would operate a shoe shop, confectionary store, and billiards parlor.
On May 6, 1901, Lacey closed up shop for the day and departed the business for his home located up the street. All was quiet until a fire was discovered in his storefront by a passerby, who alerted nearby residents. The church bells tolled to call community members to the town square and the process of extinguishing the fire began. Despite their best efforts, Mother Nature had other plans and a swift northeasterly wind pushed the flames to nearby buildings.… More
Volume 3, Issue 5
This image shows the interior of Stevens’ Furniture Store located in Kendall, taken sometime in the early 1900s. The man standing in this photograph is likely Marhlon Stevens, the owner of the business. Marhlon was the son of Nelson Stevens, a Herkimer County native who worked as a farmer, bookkeeper, and schoolmaster before testing out the furniture and undertaking business in Kendall.
Nelson Stevens brought his family to Orleans County in 1901 and operated this business for several years before he unexpectedly died of pneumonia in 1908. At that point in time, his son took over the operations of the outfit, which advertised itself as the “House of Quality.” In the days prior to embalming and before funeral parlors were established, furniture dealers often doubled as undertakers who assisted families in preparing the home for wakes.
In this image we see a number of mattresses and rocking chairs in the center of the room.… More
Volume 3, Issue 4
We often wonder how streets received their names throughout Orleans County, so it is important to recall those stories that we know to be true concerning those origins. Platt Street in Albion was named for Elizur Platt, a native of New Haven, Connecticut. Born to John and Abiah Foote Platt around 1803, Elizur came to Clarendon in the late 1820s. Having married his wife, Lydia Merriman of Bristol, Connecticut in 1825, the couple ventured west to start a new life in the wilderness that was Western New York.
Following Elizur were his sisters, Henrietta, Eunice (who married Asahel Merriman), and Melissa (who married William Bates) who all settled in the Clarendon area, all succumbing to the rigors of pioneer life shortly after their arrival. Henrietta was the first to pass in 1838, then Melissa in 1846, and Eunice in 1849. While living in Clarendon, Elizur engaged in the mercantile business, operating a store for several years before David Sturges bought out his inventory.… More