Vol. 4, No. 43
Amidst the Gilded Age, American workers experience a spike in perceived prosperity as average wages rose above those in Europe and immigrants flooded into the United States. Yet, as the name suggests, the Gilded Age provided the outward appearance of growth and success while a run on currency, closing banks, and overextended industry led to a severe economic crisis extending from 1893 to 1897. The appointment of receivers for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad on the advent of President Grover Cleveland’s inauguration indicated a serious and extended financial situation looming on the horizon.
The issues facing many Americans, circulating around questionable capitalist practices, produced an environment in which political candidates such as William Jennings Bryan could rise to prominence. Born in Salem, Illinois to Silas and Mariah Jennings Bryan, young William became familiar with politics at a young age, his father aligning himself with Jacksonian Democrats and serving several terms as an Illinois Senator.… More
Volume 3, Issue 43
The trial of George Wilson, accused of murdering his wife Alice in 1887, remains one of the most infamous stories in Orleans County. His trial and execution is a tale filled with speculation and accusation, while the later story of District Attorney William P. L. Stafford is shrouded in spite and hatred following his upsetting defeat in the 1895 election for County Judge. Despite its popularity, much of the story exists as hyperbole and conjecture concerning Stafford’s motives following his embarrassing loss.
I was contacted by Gerard Morrisey following my article featuring John Newton Proctor and kindly reminded that the property, which was so scandalously sold to the Catholics by William Stafford, was in fact sold by his wife Clara. It is important to trace the lineage of the property itself to better understand the situation in which the Staffords were faced with in 1896. It is also important to note that in 1848, New York passed the Married Women’s Property Act that gave married women the right to own real and personal property that was not “subject to the disposal of her husband.”
John Newton Proctor entered the employ of William Gere upon his arrival in Albion and shortly after married Gere’s daughter, Orcelia.… More
Vol. 3, Issue 23
This postcard, sent February 27, 1912 to Mrs. D. C. Hopkins of Batavia, shows the Greek Revival house constructed for Alexis Ward in 1841. The postcard also shows the home of Alexander Stewart to the left. At the time this photograph was taken, the Buffalo, Lockport, and Rochester Trolley was in operation as the tracks are visible running through the center of State Street.
Alexis Ward was born at Addison, Vermont on May 18, 1802. His parents relocated to Cayuga County, New York when he was a very young boy and he attended the local schools in that vicinity before studying law at Auburn. He arrived at Albion in 1824, one year after his admittance to the bar, and was appointed Justice of the Peace shortly thereafter.
Ward was quite the “mover and shaker” in early Albion, playing an instrumental role in securing the charter for the Bank of Orleans, serving as the president of that institution for a number of years.… More
Volume 3, Issue 16
Born at Gaines in 1828 to pioneer parents, George Bullard was raised on the family farm and attended the local district schools in that township. Upon reaching the appropriate age, various resources indicate that he studied at the Albion Academy, Gaines Academy, and the famed Yates Academy. He read law with Cole Sawyer, in the years before law schools were commonplace, and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1857. Bullard commenced the practice of law with Benjamin Bessac and later worked with Henry Glidden, and John G. Sawyer.
In 1877, Bullard barely escaped death when his horse and buggy were struck by an engine on the New York Central Railroad. He and horse were narrowly missed by the train, but his buggy was smashed to bits. As a charter member of the Orleans County Pioneer Association and the Orleans County Bar Association, he was well regarded in the community as a respectable orator and frequently addressed the community at gatherings and events.… More
Volume 3, Issue 7
The records of Orleans County history are quite definitive concerning the role in which George M. Pullman played in the development of his famed sleeping cars. What appears to be left for interpretation is the specific role in which local politician Benjamin Collins Field played in that venture. It is clear that without the aid of Mr. Field that Pullman’s vision for the palace car may never have come to fruition.
Born June 12, 1816 at Dorset, Vermont, Ben was brought to Albion around 1828. His father Spafford was a marble dealer and operated a business out of the Lockport area for a number of years in conjunction with his son Norman. As a young man, Ben read law with Alexis Ward of Albion before his admittance to the bar. He worked with his father’s business, engaging in headstone lettering and marble cutting before determining that politics was of interest.… More
Volume 2, Issue 46
120 years ago, on November 3, 1896, Republican candidate William McKinley defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan as President of the United States during a period known at the Fourth Party System. The United States was amidst an economic depression with origins in the Panic of 1893. President Grover Cleveland’s efforts to deal with this crisis led many Americans to withdraw funds from banks and investors across the globe sold stocks in favor of investing in gold-backed funds. Questions surrounding low prices, low profits, high unemployment rates, and ongoing labor strikes plagued the part platforms. Most important to the outcome of the election was Bryan’s support of a currency backed by gold and silver in an effort to push for inflation to reestablish a declining economy.
In this political cartoon published on the front page of the New York Herald, September 6, 1896, we see a stoic William McKinley atop a chariot drawn by a team of horses.… More
Volume 2, Issue 7
This picture, taken sometime around 1920, shows Weston Wetherbee standing with his homemade telescope behind his home on Ingersoll Street in Albion. Also pictured is Wilbur Phillips (left) and John Gilmore (center).
Weston Wetherbee was born January 24, 1857 at Barre, NY to Weston and Mary Ann Wetherbee. In his earliest years, Weston was employed as a carpenter and became proficient in the construction of windmills. During the later portion of the 19th century, Wetherbee continued his work as a windmill salesman and mechanic.
It was during this period of time that he served as a Justice of the Peace and Barre Town Supervisor. During his time in Barre politics he served as Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. He was elected to the position of Orleans County Sheriff in 1904, a position which he held for three terms. It was around this time that Weston and his wife, Julia Goff, moved to the Village of Albion to their home on Ingersoll Street.… More
Image courtesy of The Fort Dalles Museum in Oregon
Volume 2, Issue 4
Born July 26, 1822 at Albany, New York to Rufus and Margaret Bullock Brown, Joseph Lee Bullock Brown received his early education in the Albany area. He later attended the Albany Medical College where he graduated from that institution, likely in the early 1840s and shortly after the establishment of the school in 1839.
Appointed physician at Clinton Prison in 1845, the year after the institution was established, Dr. Brown remained in that position for nearly three years before he removed to Detroit, Michigan to practice surgery.
In 1849, he received an appointment as a surgeon with the U.S. Regular Army and received a commission as Assistant Surgeon from Zachary Taylor the following year. Stationed at Ft. Dalles in the Oregon Territory, Dr. Brown also served in Texas and the Washington Territory up until the start of the Civil War.… More
Volume 2, Issue 2
Last week’s article on Noah Davis sparked a few questions from the community regarding some of the other men in the photograph. Joseph Cornell, Julius Royce, Charles H. Moore, and Norman Field were all active members of the Albion community, involved in local politics, and respected businessmen in their professions.
This image is of Charles Henry Moore, a native of Manlius, New York who moved to Albion in 1843 at the age of 25. Initially he engaged in the mercantile business for approximately two years before he decided to pursue a career in engineering related endeavors. Moore was responsible for building the central road through Orleans County and was responsible for widening the Erie Canal in the Albion area.
Moore’s activities with the Erie Canal involved a partnership with George Pullman that allowed the men to profit from the relocation of roughly 20 buildings, all moved to make way for a wider canal prism.… More
Standing (l-r): Charles Henry Moore, Julius Heath Royce. Seated (l-r): Joseph Mason Cornell, Judge Noah Davis, Norman Spafford Field.
Volume 2, Issue 1
Taken sometime in the early 1880s, this image shows five of Albion’s most prominent and well respected citizens. Heavily engaged in commercial interests and local politics, we would consider these men as the “movers and shakers” of their time.
Seated center is the Hon. Noah Davis, one of the most notable attorneys and politicians from Orleans County. Born September 10, 1818 to Noah and Freelove Davis in New Hampshire, Noah was brought to Orleans County at a very young age and received his early education in the public schools of this area. After studying at the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary at Lima, NY, Davis studied law for a brief time in Lewiston before his admittance to the bar in 1841. Several years of practicing law at Gainesville and Buffalo concluded his endeavors in that region and he soon returned to Albion.… More