Vol. 5, No. 25
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, nearly 3,500 soldiers have received the Medal of Honor since its inception in 1862. Of those medals awarded, nearly half served with the Union Army during the Civil War. Between the conclusion of the American Civil War and World War One, 765 men received the medal, the largest number serving during the Indian Campaigns (426) and the smallest number serving in the Dominican Campaign (3) during the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic from 1916 to 1924. Of those 756 medals, 33 were awarded to Marines serving during the Boxer Rebellion, a nearly two-year uprising led by the Yihetuan (or Boxers) against foreign imperialists in China. Thomas Wilbur Kates, a native of Orleans County, was one of those men who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during this uprising.
Born on May 7, 1865 at Shelby, Thomas was the son of English immigrants Charles and Mariah Caple Kates.… 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 20
This image of Lt. Col. Henry Ludwig Achilles shows him garbed in his Union officer’s uniform taken sometime around 1862 at the studio of George Hopkins in Albion. A New Hampshire native, Achilles established himself in Rochester as a young entrepreneur and man of religious conviction. As an established tinsmith, he was responsible for starting one of the first foundries in Rochester where he engaged in the manufacturing and sale of sheet metal and tin. His early successes in business allowed him to contribute to the purchase of property for the construction of the First Baptist Church of Rochester of which he was a superintendent in the early 1830s.
When the First Baptist Church split into two congregations due to the overwhelming growth of the group, he assisted in establishing the Second Baptist Church in Rochester and was selected as one of its first trustees. As a respected gentleman in the city, he served a short term as town clerk of Brighton and local fire inspector.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 25
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park in Virginia and Gettysburg Battlefield Park in Pennsylvania, both with connections to local soldiers from Orleans County. Each visit was a moving experience and I thought perhaps I would share several stories of local men from our area over the coming weeks.
This image shows the gravesite of Pvt. Charles McOmber (misidentified as McCumber), burial number 2296.
Charles McOmber was born in 1844 at Carlton – his uncle Col. Calvin Otis was in command of the 100th New York Infantry and a noted architect in Buffalo. His father Van Rensselaer later enlisted with the 8th New York Cavalry at the advanced age of 54 and his brother Otis would serve with the 76th New York Infantry, spending 9 months at Andersonville Prison. Another brother Lorenzo would enlist with Orleans County’s 17th Light Independent Artillery, dying from typhoid fever in the summer of 1864.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 24
Taken around 1935, this image shows Orleans County’s last surviving Civil War veterans; now notice I did not write “last surviving Union veterans.”
Standing left is Robert Canham proudly wearing his Grand Army of the Republic ribbon. A native of England, Canham came to the U.S. at age 14 with his family and enlisted with the 3rd U.S. Artillery for three years before reenlisting with the 90th New York Infantry. At the time of his death in 1838, he was the last surviving Union veteran in this county at the age of 100.
In the middle is Henry Stockton. Also a native of England, Stockton enlisted with Orleans County’s 17th New York Independent Light Artillery for the final year of the war. He often told newspaper reporters that he was present at Gettysburg even though the regiment was formed nearly eight months after the battle.… More
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
Revisiting Old Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 1
This photograph depicts the surviving members of Company F, 108th Infantry of the 27th Division who served with the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War. Taken sometime in the 1920s, the image shows the men from Orleans County standing on the front steps of the Armory in Medina. When Woodrow Wilson announced the United States’ entry into the war on April 6, 1917, Europeans had been engulfed in total warfare for the previous three years and were wedged in a stalemate thanks to the evolution of military technology and tactics. When the men of Company F landed on the shores of France in the late spring of 1918, French and British troops had already started the process of forcing the Germans back across the Franco-German border. With the help of the A.E.F., the war would come to a conclusion roughly six months after the majority of U.S.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 9
A day to remember those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice over the last 239 years, Memorial Day serves as an occasion for each and every citizen to reflect on the freedoms that we enjoy. “Decoration Day,” as it was called, has its roots in the Civil War when loved ones decorated the graves of their dearly departed soldiers. Today, we continue that tradition by adorning the graves of our veterans with flowers and flags.
Over the next four years we will commemorate the passing of the centennial of the First World War. A horrific and deadly conflict that was said to be “the war to end all wars,” took the lives of several dozen Orleans County citizens over the course of nineteen months. Our families sent over 1,000 young men to face the horrors of war and upon their return, the physical and emotional scars would remain for the rest of their lives.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 3
ALBION – Pictured here is the family of John Galashan Sheret, Sr. of Albion. An immigrant from Newhills, Scotland, John came to Albion where he was employed as a block breaker. He later served as Secretary of the International Union of Paving Cutters of the United States and Canada.
Pictured in this photo (standing left to right) are John Jr., James, and Egbert. Seated, left to right: John Sr., Andrew, Marian, Anna, and Elsie. The photograph was taken circa 1906.
Egbert served with the Machine Gun Battalions, known as “Suicide Squads” during the Punitive Expedition in Mexico. Immediately following his return to New York City in 1917, he requested a transfer to the 3rd NY National Guard, Company F in Medina to serve with his brothers James and Andrew.
On Sept. 29, 1918, the 27th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces, containing the 108th Infantry and Company F, led a courageous charge on German defenses at the Hindenburg Line.… More