Volume 3, Issue 10
Perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked story in Orleans County history is that of Silas Mainville Burroughs and the development of the pharmaceutical company that would become one of the largest in the world. The son of Silas M. Burroughs and Laura Bennett of Medina, Mainville as he was called by friends and family was born on December 24, 1846. At the age of five he suffered the loss of his mother and nearly nine years later his father, a Republican Congressman, died unexpectedly leaving an aunt and uncle to raise the young boy.
After attending local schools in Medina, Burroughs attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy where he qualified for graduation in 1877. His thesis focused on the development of compressed tablets as a more effective alternative to the traditional rolled pills; the former dissolved far better in water than the latter. Soon after he entered employment with John Wyeth as a salesman and travelled to London to sell pharmaceuticals.… More
Volume 3, Issue 2
One of Medina’s most prosperous businesses during the early portion of the 20th century was the Empire Couch Company established by Earl Card and Walter Marvin in 1901. Prior to establishing a factory in Medina, the small outfit operated out of Middleport with mild success. After the company purchased the Bignall Works facility and constructed a new building in its place, the business was sold to J. D. Smith.
With financial support from Alonzo Phillips, the company witnessed considerable growth during the following years. The original factory was a 40 foot by 140 foot building equipped with electric lighting, heat, and hot water but demand for merchandise forced the company to expand relatively soon after. This image shows the facility after that expansion, the photograph taken on March 20, 1913 as part of New York State’s assessment of land and property leading up to the 1913-14 expansion of the Erie Canal.… More
Volume 2, Issue 51
Taken sometime in the 1890s, this image shows a group of men preparing apples for shipment at Watson’s Farm on Route 31 outside of Medina (likely the farm of Dudley Watson). The man standing on the rights is identified as Milton Johnson, a day laborer from Albion. Barely visible are the hindquarters of a camera-shy dog that is occupied with something behind the crates and barrels of apples. Johnson holds a hatchet in his right hand as he stands adjacent to a barrel header.
Coopers would manufacture wood barrels for shipping apples by way of the Erie Canal or by train. Each barrel was required to have six hoops (the rings which held the staves together); two bilge hoops, two quarter hoops, and two head hoops; the quarter and head hoops are placed closely together. The presence of quarter hoops allows barrels to be stacked more efficiently and prevented them from splitting during shipment.… More
Volume 2, Issue 48
The history of Orleans County at the turn of the 20th century is dotted with snippets of crimes, both infamous and petty, covering intoxication and theft on one end of the spectrum up to homicide and murder on the other. With the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 came a decade-long period of crime and corruption marred by illegal booze manufacturing, rum running, racketeering, and murder. Local men, such as Horace Kelsey, were tasked with the role of Sheriff and found themselves responsible for many of these cases.
Kelsey was born on October 13, 1866 and was raised in Carlton and Murray, working on area farms as a young man. His earliest experiences with the criminal justice system resulted from his work as a custodian for the courthouse and jailor at the county jail. His name was put forth as a candidate for county sheriff in 1922, which he easily defeated his opponent, Charles Bacon of Medina.… More
Volume 2, Issue 44
Seventy-six years ago, on October 24th, the young men of Company F, 108th Infantry departed Medina for training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Led by four officers, the 129 enlisted men proceeded from the Armory on Pearl Street to the New York Central Railroad Depot. At the helm of the parade was Albion’s Sheret Post Band, acting as official escorts, and led by Gen. John S. Thompson the acting parade marshal. The young men of Orleans County were later dispatched to Camp Forrest at Tennessee in June of 1941 for war maneuvers, roughly five months before the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was a mere twenty-three years after the men of Company F were dispatched for federal service on April 26, 1917 during “The Great War” that these men of our “greatest generation” so bravely left their homes to defend the world against tyranny and oppression.… More
Volume 2, Issue 23
Memorial Day was a weekend for self-reflection for many Americans, while others find enjoyment in spending time with family, vacations, and cook-outs. One noticeable presence during this past holiday weekend was the outcry of citizens asking for the greater community to remember the true meaning of the day; an opportunity to honor those men and women who gave everything for our country. Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” stands as a statement that every American should memorize.
One thing that Orleans County does not lack is the appreciation and support of our veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces. In October of 2008, the Company F Memorial Committee dedicated a monument to the memory of those men who served out of Medina’s Armory with the 3rd N.Y. National Guard and the 108th U.S.… More
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. Just two years later, the men of Curtis Post Grand Army of the Republic dedicated a flag pole and M1841 6-pounder bronze howitzer cannon to the memory of their fallen comrades. Those same men committed themselves to ensuring that all indigent soldiers who found themselves interred within potter’s field be removed to this newly consecrated lot.
In conjunction with the ceremonies held on May 26th and Memorial Day, it may be fitting to share a few brief notes of interest pertaining to Civil War veterans from Orleans County.… More
Volume 2, Issue 14
On May 23, 1898, the A. L. Swett Electric Light & Power Company was incorporated by Albert Swett with a capital stock of $50,000. Swett, a prominent and respected entrepreneur in Medina, was quick to notice the local need for electricity. That need would be satisfied through a power plant constructed along the Oak Orchard Creek in the vicinity of the falls. Purchasing a parcel of land where an old mill had previously burned, Swett cleared the debris and constructed a plant to take advantage of the water power.
That plant was quickly overtaxed by the high demand for electricity and a steam plant was constructed to supplement the output of the first plant. Swett was an intelligent businessman with the foresight to purchase as much land along the creek as possible. Over the course of twenty years, he amassed a large holding of property to the north of Medina that would be used to expand his electric company.… More
Volume 2, Issue 8
This image shows the construction of the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway through Medina in 1908. Looking north, workers are in the process of laying tracks on Main Street towards Commercial Street where the rail line would turn west and run to Salt Works Road. The iconic clock tower of White’s Hotel can be seen in the background as well as a large advertisement for Daniel D. Holdredge’s crockery and undertaking business.
The earliest efforts to construct an electric interurban railway through this area started around the turn of the century. Discussion of forming a railway that ran from Batavia to Olcott through Medina were amongst the very first plans for a trolley system. However, the 1.7 mile Albion Electric Railway was the only successful line in these early years.
Chartered in 1905, the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway was a combination of the Albion & Lockport Railway, the Albion & Rochester Railway, and the Albion Electric Railway.… More
Volume 1, Issue 36
On July 4, 1817, New York State embarked on a crusade to complete the greatest feat in the history of modern engineering; a 363 mile ditch from Albany to Buffalo aimed at connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes. Eight years later this expansive project was completed and welcomed a vast number of packet boats and mule teams to its tow path. Improvements focused on repairing leaks and widening the canal began almost immediately in order to accommodate the flood of shipping traffic.
It was in 1903 that New York State authorized the redevelopment and massive expansion project that would turn the Erie Canal into the “Barge Canal.” Starting in 1905, this massive undertaking required thirteen years to complete and cost New York taxpayers nearly $100,000,000. The 82 locks located along the miles of canal prism covering 565 feet worth of elevation shifts represented an outstanding accomplishment for State engineers, but the expansive projects undertaken as part of Contract Number 65 in the western section of Orleans County was one that could easily rival any prior achievements.… More