Volume 3, Issue 51
Around this time last year, I authored a piece about Charles Howard and the founding of the Santa Claus School (v.2, no.52). As Christmas approaches, I thought it appropriate to once again recall the life of an influential and beloved man who left a lasting impression on many Orleans County residents.
Starting in the mid-1950s, Howard started the process of converting his farm and barns to a Christmas Park. On Saturday, September 22, 1956, this “entertainment, education, gift, and amusement center,” opened for a short, 13-week season. Mrs. Henry Greene of Medina provided “Christmas Village,” a collection of 20 small houses, schools, churches, and other structures, fully furnished and lighted – an endeavor that required 25 years of collecting to complete. Also included was “Toy Lane,” a collection of 23 window scenes aimed at simulating store fronts. Children had opportunities to visit with Santa Claus, see reindeer in the stables, and visit Mrs.… More
Volume 3, Issue 50
This photograph, taken some time around the turn of the 20th century, shows the storefront of Landauer & Strouse Dry Goods on North Main Street in Albion. Standing on the left is Simon Landauer and the young man standing on the right is his son, Jacob Landauer. A number of crates sit along the curb marked Landauer & Strouse Albion, NY, many of them coming by way of the New York Central Railroad; a young boy watches from the second-floor window as the photograph is taken.
Simon Landauer was born in Bavaria (present day Germany) in 1833, the son of a Jewish cattle farmer. He and his brother Moritz were trained in cotton weaving while living in Europe, leaving for America prior to forced conscription in the army. Although documentation of Moritz’s arrival has not been located, Simon arrived at New York City on August 21, 1852 aboard the Chancey Jerome.… More
Volume 3, Issue 49
These two photographs show the baseball grounds in Albion located on Caroline Street on land now occupied by the ARC of Orleans. A popular pastime in Orleans County, baseball teams commonly played on fields located at the County Fairgrounds until this site was created in the early 1900s. The top photograph shows the grandstand, situated in the northeast corner of the lot. A 1911 map shows the grandstand situated at an angle and a small structure to the immediate west of the grandstand. Based on the bottom photograph, we can presume that the small building on the map is the structure occupied by Robert Clark, who is selling popcorn and peanuts to those watching the game. Behind the grandstand, the peak of a house on the north side of Caroline Street is slightly visible. One would venture to guess that this is 137 Caroline Street.
In addition to the field itself, the photographs show the 1905 baseball club consisting of Howard Kilborn, 1st base; James Craffey, 2nd base and team captain; Frank VanStone, 3rd base; Ralph Vick, Shortstop; Herbert Reed, left field; Homer Brown, center field; Walter Radley, right field; Robert Clark, Jr., pitcher; Pete Galarneau, catcher; Arnold Donovan, mascot.… More
Volume 3, Issue 46
On November 6, 1917, half way across the world, the October Uprising was in full swing as the Bolsheviks led a revolution against the Tsarist government of Russia. In the United States, New York voters decided that it was time to extend suffrage to women.
Orleans County was at the center of suffragist activity and notes pertaining to Susan B. Anthony’s visits to the area can be found within the local papers. As early as October of 1859, Anthony attended a local women’s rights convention along with Frances Dana Barker Gage and Hannah Tracy Cutler, noted abolitionists and movers in the women’s suffrage movement. In a later visit on January 22, 1894, Anthony spoke at the Court House, along with Mary Seymour Howell and Mary G. Hay, on the subject of extending suffrage to women by amending law at the constitutional convention. The event led with a symposium on the subject of equal suffrage and involved a number of notable suffragists.… More
Volume 3, Issue 44
This stunning photograph shows the storefront of John DeValson Daniels, a local jeweler who operated his business out of the old Empire Block at the intersection of North Main and East Bank Streets. Daniels, standing to the left and wearing a hat, ran this successful commercial venture for nearly fifty years when he finally retired from the profession in 1935.
John Daniels was raised at Whitney Point, New York, where he attended the local schools until 1878 when he left to join his father in the jewelry business. Nearly ten years later, in 1887, he arrived at Albion and purchased this business from Hiram W. Preston the following year. His specialties, according to advertisements, included watches, clocks, jewelry, silverware, optical goods, musical instruments, and bric-a-brac (tchotchkes), which he sold out of “The Old Corner Store.”
It is clear that Daniels was fond of leisure activities, including cycling, as he assisted in the formation of the Albion Cycle Club in 1895 and was appointed as a sidepath commissioner charged with overseeing the construction of bicycle paths in areas west and northwest of the village.… More
Volume 3, Issue 43
The trial of George Wilson, accused of murdering his wife Alice in 1887, remains one of the most infamous stories in Orleans County. His trial and execution is a tale filled with speculation and accusation, while the later story of District Attorney William P. L. Stafford is shrouded in spite and hatred following his upsetting defeat in the 1895 election for County Judge. Despite its popularity, much of the story exists as hyperbole and conjecture concerning Stafford’s motives following his embarrassing loss.
I was contacted by Gerard Morrisey following my article featuring John Newton Proctor and kindly reminded that the property, which was so scandalously sold to the Catholics by William Stafford, was in fact sold by his wife Clara. It is important to trace the lineage of the property itself to better understand the situation in which the Staffords were faced with in 1896. It is also important to note that in 1848, New York passed the Married Women’s Property Act that gave married women the right to own real and personal property that was not “subject to the disposal of her husband.”
John Newton Proctor entered the employ of William Gere upon his arrival in Albion and shortly after married Gere’s daughter, Orcelia.… More
Volume 3, Issue 41
The annals of local history are filled with stories of men who worked their way up the social ladder, starting from humble beginnings before leaving a lasting mark on the community. John Newton Proctor was no different. The son of Gershom and Emily Holland Proctor, John’s family was not in a position to provide him with an exceptional education. As a young boy, he attended the district schools in Gaines before enrolling in the well-respected Gaines Academy.
As an astute businessman in his later life, Proctor started his career as a clerk with Erastus Woodruff of Gaines and after two years ventured into Albion to seek employment with William Gere. The young man quickly earned the respect of his employer as a trustworthy and hardworking individual and was brought in as a partner in the business. Following Gere’s untimely death in July of 1865, the partnership transitioned to his son Isaac and remained in operation until his new partner died from dysentery the following year.… More
Volume 3, Issue 35
Centuries ago, the Teutonic Knights established themselves within the Chełmno region of Poland. The country’s long and complex history is mired in conflict and subdivision, suffering its most catastrophic partition in the latter half of the 18th century. This once autonomous region was dominated by the Prussians and would remain so for over a century.
This beautiful church in Wabcz, constructed during the time of the Teutonic Knights, was a sacred place of worship for the Polish immigrants who arrived at Medina and Albion starting in the late 1870s. Oppressed culturally and religiously under German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the free practice of the Catholic faith and retention of Polish culture was under threat. The Kulturkampf or “Culture Struggle” sought to decrease the power of the Catholic Church, imprisoning priests, making marriage a civil ceremony, and pushing German settlement of Polish lands.
The city of Chełmno, approximately 15 minutes from Wabcz, served as a central location for conscripting young men into military service.… More
Volume 3, Issue 32
We often read stories of men and women who committed themselves to charitable acts and endeavors, giving time and money to efforts they felt best contributed to the needy. This portrait of John Blodgett Bordwell provides a glimpse into the eyes of a man who was passionate about the betterment of his community. While we explore his genealogy, his lineage suggests that the drive to overcome adversity ran deep within his blood.
John was the son of Joseph Bordwell, an immigrant from French Canada in the late 1830s. Joseph’s parents, Amab and Ursula Martelle Bordwell, died when he was 12 years old, leaving him an orphan. When he reached the age of 17 he traveled to Brockport where he arrived with two shillings in his pocket, unable to speak English. Joseph found employment in a local brickyard and eventually transitioned to the trade of blacksmith, working with Mitchell Gardner at Albion.… More
Volume 3, Issue 31
The long, illustrious history of the Erie Canal is filled with tragedy and catastrophe despite its successes as an economic driving force for New York State. It seems fitting to recall one of the most frequently told stories relating to the Canal in Albion to close out this month.
On September 28, 1859, the residents of Orleans County were celebrating the opening day of the fair in Albion with a series of festivities. Conforming to popular fads of the time, a young gentleman was scheduled to walk a tight-rope stretched across the Erie Canal several rods west of the Main Street bridge. In the afternoon of Wednesday the 28th, the rope was strung from the second floor of the Mansion House south towards the second floor of Pierpont Dyer’s building.
The Blondin-esque feat attracted a massive crowd from across Orleans County as men, women, and children packed onto the three-arched iron bridge spanning across the water.… More