Akeley’s Legacy Threatened by Oil Drilling in Congo

Vol. 4, No. 27

The story of Carl Ethan Akeley is one of my favorite tales of a local boy who traveled beyond the boundaries of Orleans County to leave a lasting impact on the world. This prolific naturalist, taxidermist, artist, and inventor was born May 19, 1864 to Daniel Webster Akeley and Julia Glidden. He grew up as a child in the family home on Hinds Road where he took an early interest in the preservation of animal specimens. To his family, this “morbid curiosity” earned him the reputation of being “odd,” that was until he mounted his aunt’s beloved yellow canary that died one cold evening.

He entered the tutelage of David Bruce of Sweden, New York, an artist and taxidermist known locally for his mounting of bird specimens for E. Kirke Hart (now on display at the Cobblestone Museum). Akeley’s time with Bruce was short, the latter recognizing his pupil’s unusual proficiency and skill in the art of taxidermy.… More

Early Calls for Abolitionist Lectures Fell on Deaf Ears in Orleans County

Volume 4, Issue 4

As we near Black History Month in February, I was researching local African American families in Orleans County and attempting to assemble an understanding of this particular topic in local history. Without a doubt, it is an area that requires deeper research and is indicative of larger gaps in our understanding of how history was traditionally recorded; ideas of power and disparity. I am assembling a small display of local historical photographs pertaining to African American communities in Orleans County from the 1820s through the 1920s, which will be on display at the Hoag Library in February, but I thought it pertinent to recall some early pieces of abolitionist history in our area.

In 2015, the Orleans Renaissance Group erected a historic marker in Medina to commemorate the site of an address delivered by Frederick Douglass entitled “We Are Not Yet Quite Free,” on August 3, 1869.… More

Clarendon’s Settlement, a Fortunate Stroke of Serendipity

Volume 4, Issue 3

Of the New York State Historic Markers erected by the NYS Department of Education, the overwhelming majority cover locations deemed significant to the earliest history of Orleans County including Native American and pioneer sites. The marker situated at the Town Park on Holley Byron Road in Clarendon calls attention to one of the earlier settlements in our area.

The marker reads, “Farwell’s Mills, here Eldred Farwell, first white settler of town, built the first mills in Clarendon, saw mill in 1811, grist mill in 1813.”

While consulting several seminal publications on early Orleans County history, the spelling of Farwell’s name is clearly debated; here, the State Department of Education uses a shortened spelling. Arad Thomas records Farwell’s name as Eldridge in Pioneer History of Orleans County, New York, but this historian would prefer to reference Farwell’s name as spelled by David Sturges Copeland in his History of Clarendon from 1810 to 1888 where he records the name as Eldredge.… More

The Origins of Platt Street

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

Historic Marker to Designate Only Orleans County Soldier Killed at Gettysburg

Looking down towards Devil’s Den from the summit of Little Round Top. Pvt. Herbert Taylor and the men of the 140th would have experienced this view as they reached the peak of Little Round Top. Without hesitation they advanced upon the Confederates with great fury and bravery.

Volume 2, Issue 40

It was nearly one year ago that this piece was first published. Although I do not fancy reproducing work in such a rapid fashion, I thought it was fitting that this short story of the 140th New York Infantry at Gettysburg should yet again be featured as part of my weekly column. Saturday, October 8th at 11:00am, students from the Albion Middle School will dedicate an historic marker to the memory of Pvt. Herbert Charles Taylor of Clarendon who was killed on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg. It is rare to experience such a profound and symbolic gesture that will bring attention to the sacrifice of not only Taylor but of other men who gave their lives during the Civil War.… More

Reflecting on the Sacrifices of Our Veterans

The Soldiers & Sailors Monument, dedicated 140 years ago in the spring of 1876 contains the names of 466 soldiers and sailors etched on marble tablets; those men who gave their lives for the preservation of the Union buried both at home and on the battlefield. The monument stands as a testament to the beauty of our native Medina Sandstone and the pride and community commitment to honoring our veterans.

Volume 2, Issue 22

On May 26, 2016 the 7th grade class of students from Albion Middle School dedicated a beautiful granite urn, sugar maple tree, and bronze plaque affixed to a slab of pink Medina Sandstone. The task undertaken by Tim Archer should be applauded and imitated by teachers throughout the region as a heartfelt effort to educate students about the importance of becoming noble citizens.

Over 140 students stood on the very ground once selected by David Hardie and other area municipal supervisors for use as a lot for veteran burials.… More

Nation’s Oldest Patriot Rests in Clarendon


Lemuel Cook – Age 105

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 15

The history of Orleans County is sprinkled with the stories of our ancestors who served this great nation over the last 239 years. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is only proper to recall the service of those men before us who risked everything they had as young men. They took up arms against what they believe to be an oppressive government focused on unfair taxation and inconsistent representation.

One such hero of the American Revolution was Lemuel Cook. A native of Northbury, Connecticut, Cook enlisted near Watertown, Connecticut at the young age of sixteen. He was present for the Battle of Brandywine and at Yorktown for General Cornwallis’ Surrender in 1781. An eventual settler of Clarendon, “Lem” as he was known would earn the distinction of the oldest pensioner of the Revolution at the time of his death on May 20, 1866 at the age of 107.… More

Students at Clarendon School Pictured in 1902

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 2

This photograph taken June 2, 1902 at the Root Schoolhouse in Clarendon shows Miss Edith McCormick, age 22, with her students. Hanging in the window is a 45-star flag.

The school was located on the northwest corner of Munger Road and Cook Road (now Merrill Road). The Cook Cemetery is located across the road to the south.

1902 marked the conclusion of Miss McCormick’s third year of teaching. A party was held on the lawn of Mrs. Mary Cook where Adah Laskey, on behalf of the entire class, presented Miss McCormick with a “nice toilet case.”

Pictured left to right, back row: George Eggers, Jamie Andrews Bird, Bertha Cook Eular, Adah Laskey Russell, Lillian Robinson Carlson, Myrtle Maxon Heise, George Whipple, Earl Laskey.

Middle row: Otis Cook, Frank Ritz, Daisy Andrews, Genie Eggers, May Cook Johnson, Mabel Maxon Greenache, Carrie Eggers Eular, Nellie Chugg.

Front row: Eddie Eggers, Harvey Whipple, Clark Maxon, Guy Pridmore, Howard Cook.… More