Willy Stower’s depiction of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, based solely on reported accounts of the disaster
Vol. 4, No. 15
April 14th marks the 106th anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic and although I share a common surname, I can assure you that Dr. Robert Ballard is no direct relative of mine (that I am aware of). On that fateful day in 1912, the exquisitely decorated vessel struck an iceberg at 11:40pm and was fully submerged within a matter of three hours. Of the 2,224 passengers, over 1,500 perished in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean nearly 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, making it one of the most devastating maritime disasters in modern history.
Over the years, newspapers have recounted the stories of survivors while paying tribute to the victims as each landmark anniversary passes. Of the most notable local residents connected to the catastrophe, the story of Lillian Bentham of Holley is most frequently recalled.… More
Evangeline Brewster Johnson
Vol. 4, No. 14
After a three-year stay in Medina, Frances Folsom became one of the area’s most beloved young women after her marriage to President Grover Cleveland. Yet I was hoping that March would provide me with six Saturdays to write about notable women from Orleans County, but I suppose that I should not feel limited to writing about such subjects to a single month!
The only lasting local memory of Evangeline Brewster Armstrong exists within a stained glass window at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Holley. The window reads, “Presented by Mrs. Evangeline A. Johnson A.D. 1894” featuring an image of St. Paul “posed in this window holding a book and pointing upward to heaven as though he were giving a benediction,” as described by C.W. Lattin. Evangeline was born in 1865 at Rochester, New York to Edwin Rutherford Armstrong and Martha Gifford, who were married on August 13, 1857.… More
Volume 3, Issue 46
On November 6, 1917, half way across the world, the October Uprising was in full swing as the Bolsheviks led a revolution against the Tsarist government of Russia. In the United States, New York voters decided that it was time to extend suffrage to women.
Orleans County was at the center of suffragist activity and notes pertaining to Susan B. Anthony’s visits to the area can be found within the local papers. As early as October of 1859, Anthony attended a local women’s rights convention along with Frances Dana Barker Gage and Hannah Tracy Cutler, noted abolitionists and movers in the women’s suffrage movement. In a later visit on January 22, 1894, Anthony spoke at the Court House, along with Mary Seymour Howell and Mary G. Hay, on the subject of extending suffrage to women by amending law at the constitutional convention. The event led with a symposium on the subject of equal suffrage and involved a number of notable suffragists.… More
Revisiting Old Orleans, Vol. 2, Issue 1
In February of 1913, State Engineers visited Holley to inspect the Erie Canal as a possible location for a terminal; officials were accompanied from Rochester by Assemblyman Marc Wheeler Cole. After taking taxis to Brockport, the group boarded the B.L.&R. Trolley, eventually arriving at the Holley lift bridge. The State Engineer noted that the only potential location for a terminal was this small stretch of vertical wall, which was likely too small to serve in that capacity.… More
Volume 2, Issue 47
Over a century ago, Orleans County was dominated by the Medina Sandstone industry which was directed by Edward Fancher of Albion for a number of years. Born January 6, 1854 to John and Effie Bogardus Fancher, Edward engaged early on in the quarry business gathering much of his knowledge from Charles Gwynne. After the untimely death of his wife Lucy in 1892, Edward remarried to Ida Baldwin the following year and raised his young family in the Hulberton area.
On February 20, 1902 a new quarry syndicate was established in the area, uniting nearly 50 quarries sprawled throughout Orleans County. The Orleans County Quarry Company was incorporated with $2,000,000 in capital and employed over 1,200 men. Initial startup funds were directed towards operating the quarries, paying salaries, and most importantly, developing the infrastructure to support the refinement of stone, sale, and transportation across both railroad and the Erie Canal.… More
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
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 29
Born June 27, 1854 and a Kendall native, Henry Dwight Bliss was the son of Edwin and Mary Seymour Bliss. Receiving his earliest education from the one room schoolhouses of Kendall, Henry moved to Holley as a young man where his father was to take over as manager of Luther Gordon’s newly constructed lumber and coal yard. Bliss grew up around the construction and lumber business so it was only natural that he would attend the Rochester Business School after assisting his father with accounting and bookkeeping duties at the yard. Henry decided quickly that the merchant business wasn’t for him and he left the business school in Rochester after one year.
Bliss redirected his focus towards bigger and better things, starting in 1876 when he enrolled at Cornell University. Three years later, he transferred to the University of Rochester where he graduated in 1880.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 28
A recent article in the Orleans Hub centered on Assemblyman Hawley’s 8th annual Patriot Trip to Washington D.C. and other important national landmarks, including the Gettysburg Battlefield. I had the pleasure of visiting Gettysburg for the first time in nearly 10 years, a trip I last made as a senior in high school. Naturally, a new perspective and better understanding of the historical events of July 1st through the 3rd left me with a different impression of the site.
The monument to Col. Patrick Henry O’Rorke features a bas-relief set in granite. Standing over eight feet tall, the marker rests atop the spot where O’Rorke was killed. His nose is polished as a result of visitors rubbing it for good luck, although he had little luck himself that day.
Upon Little Round Top rests a large monument dedicated to Col. Patrick O’Rorke, the site where New York’s 140th Volunteer Infantry made a valiant and daring charge down upon Hood’s Texans.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 21
As the parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Holley prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of their parish, it is also worth noting that the physical building will celebrate its 110th birthday this December. Taken prior to 1939, this image shows the interior of St. Mary’s Church as it would have appeared shortly after the dedication of the building in 1905.
The Catholic population of Holley first celebrated Mass around 1850 when Revs. Donnelly and O’Laughlin of Brockport ministered to the inhabitants of the region. Services were held at the old stone school located on the corner of Main and Albion Streets and then at the home of Fenton Whalen until a site on Canal Street was purchased from John Connery. It was under the direction of Rev. John Castaldi that the old frame church was erected on this site and the Holy Cross Cemetery purchased.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 14
This image shows the horse barn owned by Dr. George C. Kesler of Holley. The photographer directed his camera to the southeast while standing on the north side of East Albion Street.
The house in the background belonged to Dr. Kesler and was situated along the bend of White Street. The barn itself was located on the corner of East Albion and White Streets.
George Kesler, a native of Kendall, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College on March 25, 1892. After his return to Orleans County, he started his practice in Holley on Main Street at a location west of the hotel. He married Agnes O’Neil and the couple made their home at this site in 1893. Kesler outlived his three wives, Agnes, Ana Wilson, and Ada before his own death in 1937.
Advertising as a Veterinary Surgeon and Dentist, his ads regularly featured the line, “All diseases of animals scientifically treated – open day and night.” The gentleman kneeling in front of the fence seems to have coaxed the horses to pop their heads through the windows for this photo.… More