Historic marker about beloved Albion girl gets a much-needed facelift

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 August 2015
ALBION –  She is the girl who “changed the face of the presidency.” But for several years the historical marker noted the home of Grace Bedell in Albion has suffered from flaking paint, making it difficult to read the sign.

Bedell is the girl who wrote to Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he grow a beard. Lincoln, then a presidential candidate, took her advice and was elected.

Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard took the marker’s sign down about two weeks ago and Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon historian, used a power wire brush to take off the rest of the paint. She then meticulously repainted the sign, including all of the lettering.

Ballard put the sign back on this afternoon with help from Jonathan Price, 18, of Kendall. Price is an intern this summer at the Cobblestone Society Museum, where Ballard is the director.

The sign on West State Street is next to Bedell’s home, which is now owned by Jim and Barb Passarell.… More

Medina Big Leaguer Strikes Out The Bambino

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 16

Sports enthusiasts from Medina will recognize the name Carl Fischer from his time as a major league pitcher in the 1930s. Albion residents are familiar with his newsstand, which retains his name to this day. Yet all of Orleans County can appreciate the contributions that Fischer made to this community after his years in the big leagues.

A native of Medina, Charles W. Fischer was born on November 5, 1905 and graduated from Medina High School in 1924. Following graduation he started his professional career with various minor league teams throughout the east coast before he transitioned into the limelight. Selected by the Washington Senators, Fischer debuted on July 19, 1930 in a 5-2 loss against the Cleveland Indians.

In 1932 the “Medina Mauler” was sent to the Detroit Tigers where he would experience his best days as a hurler. It was in that year that Fischer was said to have struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Sam Byrd consecutively in a game against the New York Yankees.… 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

New York Sun editor spent childhood in Gaines

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 13

The annals of local history are filled with the names of influential citizens who were either born here or lived here before moving beyond the political boundaries of our area to establish themselves on a much larger scale. One such man was Charles Anderson Dana, a name that few would recognize today.

This daguerreotype from the 1850s taken by Matthew Brady shows the staff of the New York Tribune. Seated left to right are George M. Snow, Bayard Taylor, Horace Greeley (once owner of the Ward House in Childs), and George Ripley. Standing left to right are William Henry Fry, Charles Anderson Dana, and Henry J. Raymond.

The son of Anderson Dana and Anna Denison, Charles A. Dana was born on Aug. 8, 1819 at Hinsdale, New Hampshire. At a young age, Charles was brought to Orleans County with his siblings where his father accepted a position as the overseer of a canal warehouse at Gaines Basin.… More

Renowned Gaines naturalist was purveyor of fine specimens in Chicago

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 8

This image shows the storefront of F. H. Lattin & Company in Chicago, Ill. Although this is not an image of a building in Orleans County, Frank Haak Lattin of Gaines operated this store as one of several specializing in the sale of natural specimens, instruments and supplies.

Graduating from the Albion High School in 1882, Lattin would spend several years teaching in Gaines. Lattin recognized the rich geological nature of the Orleans County region and collected a number of specimens from neighboring sandstone and limestone quarries.

In his earliest years as a collector he focused his attention strictly on birds’ eggs and started a publication called the “Oologist” in 1884. That collection of eggs became so extensive that it occupied two warehouses and at one time pieces of the collection were placed on exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago.

By the time of his retirement in 1896, he was regarded as one of the most well known dealers of his kind in the United States.… More

Founder of Santa Claus School also was a farmer


Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 4

ALBION – This photograph shows Charles W. Howard playing an unusual role; that of the secretary of the Orleans County Fair Association.

Taken sometime in the late 1910s, Charlie is shown standing on the race track of the old county fairgrounds in Albion. A number of men are lined up in the background, sitting atop the fence.

Born and raised at the family homestead on the corner of Route 31 and Gaines Basin Road, his earliest years were spent partaking in household chores and working the family farm. He was active in local agricultural societies and the Orleans County Fair Association for many years.

In 1926 Howard suffered injuries to his legs after falling from the top of a silo, 20 feet to the cement ground. After taking the plunge, he was rushed to the local hospital where it was discovered that he had broken his leg and broken bones in the other foot.… More