South Clinton Crossing Was Busy Intersection for Agricultural Shipping

Vol. 3, Issue 24

This photograph, taken sometime around 1900, shows the New York Central Railroad crossing at Clinton Street in Albion looking east towards Main Street. The photographer is standing on the platform of the train station on Clinton Street in an attempt to showcase two important businesses in the vicinity.

On the right is the business of Morgan & Linson, started in 1887 by Benjamin Franklin Morgan who purchased the operation from Sheldon & Warner. Morgan, a son of William Pitts Morgan and native of Gaines, then brought Lyman Sewall Linson into a partnership in 1890. Linson was an 1876 graduate of New York University who attended the University of Pennsylvania to study law before working out west in the railroad industry. His return to Albion and entrance into the partnership with Morgan likely brought a level of expertise required for shipping goods by way of rail. The pair dealt in coal, mason’s supplies (lime and cement), and produce, focusing specifically on the storage and shipment of apples and beans.… More

Orleans Hotel Site of Prohibition-era Raids

Vol. 3, Issue 22

This photograph, taken around 1920, shows the dining room of the Orleans Hotel located on the southwest corner of East Bank and Platt streets. After the Platt House burned in the early, Charles A. Harrington constructed this building in 1862/3 and operated it as a hotel. The business was originally known as the Orleans House, but records seem to indicate that the name changed to the Orleans Hotel in the 1890s when Anson R. Dunshee took ownership of the building.

Fresh on the coattails of the 18th Amendment, the United States was “enjoying” the consequences of Prohibition when this photograph was taken. Other interior photographs of the Orleans Hotel show a bar void of liquor bottles and barstools. It is no surprise, perhaps, that in 1922 the Orleans Hotel was one of six local businesses raided by Sheriff Scott Porter under the suspicion of selling illegal intoxicating liquor.… More

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

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

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

Albion Erects First Electric Pole Nearly 130 Years Ago

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

The Orleans Republican: Albion’s Pioneer Publication

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

Dowd’s Newsroom

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

Reynolds & Flintham Furniture and Undertaking

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

Albion man was critical to helping George Pullman become railroad mogul

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