1885 County Jail One of Four on Same Site

Volume 2, Issue 19

Nearly 180 years ago, the first jail in Orleans County was constructed at Court House Square of hewn timbers. Prior to the completion of that building, jail cells in the basement of the first court house were used to hold prisoners. During the county’s infancy, criminals were sent to Batavia for confinement.

This image shows the second jail, constructed of stone, as it would have appeared in 1885. Looking south on Platt Street, we see Sheriff Sullivan E. Howard of Holley seated in the front lawn of the jail. The wood structure to the right of the jail provided housing for the sheriff and his family. To the immediate right of the sheriff’s home and just out of view sits the court house. We can assume that the woman seated in the hammock to the left of Sheriff Howard is his wife Phina Cole Howard, their son William Howard leaning against the tree and their daughter Bessie Howard is likely one of the two young women seated in the front windows.… More

Canned Moonshine: Troopers Seize Largest Still in County History

Volume 2, Issue 18

Taken on October 13, 1927, these five men headed one of the largest raids on an illegal liquor manufacturing operation in Orleans County. Pictured from left to right are NYS Trooper J. P. Fisher, Undersheriff Lawrence Higley, Sheriff Ross Hollenbeck, Deputy Matthew McGlen, and NYS Trooper B. L. DeBrine; the plate on the motorcycle shows that the men were stationed at the Troop A barracks in Batavia.

Just after midnight on the 13th of October, police surrounded the abandoned canning factory once owned by Thomas Page at the corner of King Street and West Avenue. Upon entering the building they located one the largest alcohol stills ever seen in the area, allowing for the manufacture of over 5,000 gallons of moonshine liquor. Also seized was a truck carrying 205 gallons of alcohol stored in 5 gallon cans, which was to be shipped to Rochester that night.… More

A Vintage Look at Albion’s Vibrant Business District

Volume 2, Issue 17

In this image taken in 1935 we see the Exchange Hotel which was located on North Main Street in Albion. The front windows are adorned with alcohol paraphernalia including a Genesee Beer sign, the hotel’s liquor license hanging in the left window, and the Bell Telephone Company signs indicating the presence of a public telephone.

At the time this image was taken, Patrick Grady was the proprietor of the business. An immigrant from Ireland, Grady had his start locally as a farmer spending several years working for Supt. Luddington at the Orleans County Alms House and on other farms throughout the area. He later worked as a hack driver for Anson Dunshee at the Orleans House in Albion, transporting patrons from the hotel on East Bank Street to the Clinton Street rail station. It was on January 1, 1913 that through a series of unfortunate events, Grady took control over the Exchange Hotel.… More

Achilles Led Transformation of Swan Library Over 100 Years Ago

Volume 2, Issue 16

As the American Library Association closes 2016’s National Library Week, we take a look back at this interior image of the Swan Library taken in 1900. This year’s theme for library week was “Libraries Transform,” meaning libraries transform the lives of those who use them and transform the communities they serve. Of course, this also means libraries physically transform how they serve their communities.

This image shows the north room of the library known as the reading room, one of the few public spaces in the original building. We see a sign atop one of the tables in the rear of the room that says “HUSH,” the library’s original reference section with two shelves in the back, and numerous resources set out on the tables. Miss Lillian Achilles sits at the front desk, situated to look over the reading room, and the antiquated card catalog positioned near the librarian.… More

Superintendent Dedicated Life to Growth of Albion Schools

Volume 2, Issue 10

In the earliest years of settlement in Orleans County, the establishment of religious and educational institutions was of the upmost importance. Pioneers cleared their land of trees, constructed cabins, planted crops, and once all other necessities were met, established rural schools to educate their children. In Albion, Caroline Phipps Achilles became a driving force behind the creation of female-only institutions for education when she constructed her seminary in 1840.

It was soon after that other academies developed throughout the region including the Albion Academy and Yates Academy, which would produce highly successful and industrious graduates. These tuition-driven institutes provided a valuable service to the community, although limited to those families who could afford it. The concept of using taxation to support the common school system allowed for the creation of the union school, providing education beyond the rural one-room schoolhouse.

Freeman Abram Greene was a product of the early academy system.… More

Albion Catholics Established New Cemetery in 1920

Volume 2, Issue 9

Located just east of the Village of Albion, St. Joseph’s Cemetery was established in 1920 under the pastorate and direction of Msgr. Francis Sullivan. Notice the paving stones covering East Avenue and the extensive landscaping of the property along the road. The center driveway runs north towards a circle containing four statues depicting the crucifixion of Christ and the chapel behind it. A larger pathway surrounded the chapel creating a section for burials within that loop.

St. Joseph’s Church celebrated its first Mass as a parish in 1852. For over twelve years prior, the Irish Catholic community relied on itinerant priests from Lockport to provide the sacraments throughout the year. This often meant that baptisms, marriages, and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist would occur in bunches as a priest was made available by the Diocese of Buffalo.

The earliest Irish Catholics engaged in manual labor often in the sandstone quarries scattered along the Erie Canal, which led to accidental deaths and the contraction of tuberculosis.… More

A Sheriff of Astronomical Proportions

Volume 2, Issue 7

This picture, taken sometime around 1920, shows Weston Wetherbee standing with his homemade telescope behind his home on Ingersoll Street in Albion. Also pictured is Wilbur Phillips (left) and John Gilmore (center).

Weston Wetherbee was born January 24, 1857 at Barre, NY to Weston and Mary Ann Wetherbee. In his earliest years, Weston was employed as a carpenter and became proficient in the construction of windmills. During the later portion of the 19th century, Wetherbee continued his work as a windmill salesman and mechanic.

It was during this period of time that he served as a Justice of the Peace and Barre Town Supervisor. During his time in Barre politics he served as Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. He was elected to the position of Orleans County Sheriff in 1904, a position which he held for three terms. It was around this time that Weston and his wife, Julia Goff, moved to the Village of Albion to their home on Ingersoll Street.… More

Albion Attorney Left Legacy of Service to Community

Volume 2, Issue 6

I received a few calls and inquiries about Thomas A. Kirby following the recent news article highlighting newly established scholarships through the Albion Central School District – who was he and why a scholarship in his name? Albion Council #1330 Knights of Columbus developed an annual memorial award for a deserving graduating senior who showed commitment and service to the community. This image shows Thomas A. Kirby as a young man, a freshly minted lawyer eager to establish a local partnership in Albion. The photograph is paired in the collection with that of Thomas L. Hughes.

Thomas Kirby was born on March 22, 1869 in Albion to John and Catherine Hayes Kirby. As a young man, he was no stranger to patriotic duty and service to the community. Undoubtedly a young Thomas would have heard the stories told by his father, who served with the 8th New York Cavalry during the Civil War, was taken prisoner at Gettysburg, and sent to Andersonville Prison Camp.… More

Prominent Village President was Center of Marital Scandal

Volume 2, Issue 5

George W. Ough, pronounced “Uff”, was born on February 12, 1827 at Cherry Valley, New York. As a child, he worked on the family farm in Otsego County until he reached the age of fourteen, when he moved north to Fort Plain, New York to work as a store clerk. Following a short stay in Lockport, Ough later moved to Albion where he operated a crockery store, which he later sold to purchase the furniture business formerly owned by George M. Pullman. His eldest daughter, Jennie, later married Cassius M. C. Reynolds who would eventually take over the business located in the Ough Block on North Main Street.

By the late 1890s, Ough had the distinction of being one of the longest tenured members of the Albion Board of Education, of which he was a founding member. After he was elected to his first term as President of the Village of Albion, he resigned his position on the Board of Education.… More

Noted Civil War Surgeon was Cousin of Georgia Governor

Image courtesy of The Fort Dalles Museum in Oregon

Volume 2, Issue 4

Born July 26, 1822 at Albany, New York to Rufus and Margaret Bullock Brown, Joseph Lee Bullock Brown received his early education in the Albany area. He later attended the Albany Medical College where he graduated from that institution, likely in the early 1840s and shortly after the establishment of the school in 1839.

Appointed physician at Clinton Prison in 1845, the year after the institution was established, Dr. Brown remained in that position for nearly three years before he removed to Detroit, Michigan to practice surgery.

In 1849, he received an appointment as a surgeon with the U.S. Regular Army and received a commission as Assistant Surgeon from Zachary Taylor the following year. Stationed at Ft. Dalles in the Oregon Territory, Dr. Brown also served in Texas and the Washington Territory up until the start of the Civil War.… More