Story of Rev. Dykal Highlights Accomplishments of Polish Americans

Vol. 4, No. 41

October is Polish American Heritage Month, first celebrated in 1981 by the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia. It is an opportunity to call attention to the accomplishments of the roughly 9.5 million self-identified Polish Americans in the United States. In Orleans County, the Poles found employment in the local sandstone quarries scattered along the Erie Canal, just as countless other immigrant groups had in prior years.

I was given this photograph of an unidentified priest several years ago and through a bit of luck was able to identify him as Rev. Leonard F. Dykal of Albion. Dressed in his cassock and wearing the liturgical biretta, the three-peaked hat common of Roman Catholic clergy prior to Vatican II, Dykal appears to be relatively young. I would presume that this image, printed on a postcard, was taken around or shortly after his ordination.

Leonard Dykał was born at Albion on April 30, 1889 to Frank and Mary Lubomska Dykał.… More

The Angelus Bell

Vol. 4, No. 37

Some of the best local history stories are those that are rediscovered and built upon by each historian. While organizing a collection of newspaper clippings, I stumbled upon a particular story that holds a special place in my heart. “Why the Bell Rings,” vol. XXIX no. 1 of Bethinking of Old Orleans authored by Bill Lattin recounts a story relating to St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Albion. His discovery of a newspaper clipping within a scrapbook led him to write a short piece about the Angelus Bell.

As a young boy, I can recall the frequent tolling of the bell at our parish on Brown Street. In my naiveté I thought for sure that the evening bell was a simple curfew reminder, but over the years I have developed an appreciation for the deeper meaning of the scheduled bell tolling. Even though the bells now stand silent, except for the Sunday call to service, the story is an important one centered on tradition and faith.… More

Gandy Dancers Provided Maintenance Services to Local Railroads

Vol. 4, No. 33

This rather interesting photograph shows five men working as part of a section gang along the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Railroad. It is believed that this particular crossing was located somewhere in the town of Kendall and the photograph was taken September 11, 1897. The men appear to have stopped for dinner (the midday meal) as several metal pails appear on the car. One of the young men appears to be holding his pocket watch as if to show that it is noontime.

The Lake Ontario Shore Railroad was chartered in 1858, and like all great projects, was delayed for nearly ten years until the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad Company was formed on March 27, 1868. It would take another three years before construction commenced at Red Creek, New York and within two years the railway was operational from Ontario, Wayne County to Oswego. The rails eventually stretched to Kendall but the Panic of 1873 forced the company’s mortgage bonds to be called in early, which drove the railroad into bankruptcy.… More

Sacred Heart of Jesus Served Medina’s Polish Community for Nearly 100 Years

Vol. 4, No. 23

Shortly after starting my tenure as County Historian in 2015, I wrote a short piece about a photograph of Sacred Heart Church given to me by Mary Ann Tillman of Albion. I stumbled upon the photograph again this week and thought that perhaps my initial article on the subject was rather short, lacking a more detailed account of the earliest years of the parish.

In the early 1970s, Helen Allen compiled a thorough record of historical accounts from various churches throughout Orleans County. She notes that Medina’s first Polish settlers came to the area in the early 1880s in search of work within the area’s sandstone quarries and factories. Facing language and cultural barriers, the growing community lacked a space for meeting their spiritual needs so local Poles attended St. Mary’s Church until a priest was available to say Mass in their own language.

Ks. Stanislaus Bubacz (Ks.… More

Center of Albion’s Polonia was home to works by famed muralists

Volume 3, Issue 53

During the holiday season, I often think back to the years I spent as a young boy, enjoying Christmas with family and friends; simpler times. The memory that remains fresh in my mind is Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mary’s Assumption on Brown Street in Albion. We would walk down the street to church and visit with parishioners, young and old, before walking to my grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner. I always remember being enamored with the beautiful artwork that adorned the ceiling of the nave, but at that time I had no idea of the significance of the paintings, who completed the work, or what the paintings depicted. I am sure the question of how an artist managed to paint on such a high ceiling was the predominant thought circling in my head.

Starting in the 1930s and continuing through the 1940s, the Polish Catholics in Albion realized as they neared their golden jubilee that the interior of the church was in need of considerable improvements.… More

Centuries Old Church was Once Worship Site for Orleans County’s Polish Community

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

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

Albion Catholics Celebrate Mass at Hughes’ Alley

Revisiting Old Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 3

It has been over 175 years since the first Irish celebrated Mass in the home of John Walsh in the Village of Albion. With an influx of Irish Catholics during the 1820s and 1830s as well as the flock of German Catholics who arrived several decades after, it was deemed necessary to construct a permanent house of worship for the immigrant community.

It was Rev. Patrick Costello of Lockport who first visited in Albion around 1840 to celebrate Mass. Throughout the following decade, the Catholic community of Albion would meet their sacramental requirements thanks to a visiting priest from Lockport or Rochester who would visit on a monthly basis. In cases of baptism, matrimony, or illness, a priest would be called upon to administer the appropriate sacrament as time allowed.… More

Early Albion Catholics Practiced at North Main Street Site

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 12

Irish Catholic immigrants flocked to Orleans County as early as the 1820s and 1830s, well in advance of the Great Famine of 1845-1852. The Irish in Albion and Medina quickly found work within the newly established sandstone quarries located throughout the region, yet no house of worship existed to meet their weekly sacramental requirements.

Around 1840 Rev. Patrick Costello of Lockport visited Albion to celebrate Mass in the home of John Walsh, an early Irish settler in the village. The earliest Irish population was small, consisting of the families of Samuel McCaffrey, Denis Sullivan, Patrick McMahon, Bernard Flaherty, Thomas Crean, and Felix McCann, the latter a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo. The community rented space in the Burrows Block on Main Street and priests held monthly services from Lockport or Rochester. These priests were also called upon to administer the sacraments of baptism and matrimony.… More

A century ago, Club 469 was popular saloon in Albion

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 10

ALBION – Operated by Mathew Ciszek, an Austrian-Polish immigrant, the old “Club 469” served as a saloon and bottling works for the community of East State Street during the first quarter of the 20th century.

A 1910 Orleans County Business Directory entry indicates that the business had expanded considerably and the Ciszeks were dealing in coal and wood in addition to the saloon and bottling business. After Mathew’s untimely death in 1910, his son Frank took control of the business.

This image, taken sometime between 1910 and 1915, depicts the interior of the bar room of Ciszek’s Saloon located at 113 East State Street. The original bar rested along the west wall, was moved to the east wall later on, and finally returned to the west wall with the opening of the Crooked Door Tavern.

Along the foot of the bar rests several spittoons as well as a luggage bag balancing on the foot rail.… More