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September 9, 2017 - 6:32pm
posted by James Burns in news, events, genesee, alexander.


History is on display for this weekend's Western New York Gas & Steam Engine Rally on Gillate Road in Alexander.


Tens of thousands are expected to visit the 220-acre grounds for antique engines of all types, classic tractors, music, food, a flea market and, if you are not careful, science and engineering excellence. Engines large and small are everywhere at this place.


The show is quite special. Families, farmers, children and gear heads are all in attendance. We believe no one who attended left disappointed. The festivities continue tonight through Sunday. Live music and a tractor tug-o-war are this evening. Sunday will feature a car show, music and a tractor pull.






September 9, 2017 - 3:44pm
Hey, kids! Join us on the third Monday of every month at the Richmond Memorial Library for a story, craft & snack. Ages 1-10 are welcome! Register online , by phone or stop in! 9/18 @ 6:30 pm- Rainbow Fish- Hear the story and make your own fish! 10/16 @ 6:30 pm - Corduroy - Make a finger puppet of this cute character after hearing his tale! 11/20 @ 6:30pm - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Make your own alphabet tree!
August 30, 2017 - 4:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in events, 4-H.

Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Fur and Feather Club is hosting a Youth Poultry Show on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Kennedy Building on the Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5056 E. Main Street Road, Batavia.

The show is open to all local youth ages 19 and younger, you do not need to be a 4-H member to participate.

Entries must be postmarked by Sept. 15, no day-of-show entries will be accepted.

Showroom opens at 7:30 a.m.;birds must be cooped by 9 a.m.

For complete show rules and entry form please visit: or contact the Genesee County 4-H Office at 585-343-3040, ext. 101.

August 30, 2017 - 3:24pm
Join us here at the Richmond Memorial Library for a variety of story times and other youth programs. We offer programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers! Sign up now for our morning story times every Tuesday 9:30am and 10:30 am & Wednesday @ 10:30 am. We have also added new monthly programs this fall which include a science based program and a crafty book club. Stop in , call or visit us online now!
August 15, 2017 - 7:18am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Here and Now, music, news, events, batavia.

The second annual Here and Now Festival will be held on Aug. 25 and 26 at Austin Park featuring more than 70 vendors, 13 food trucks and 14 musical artists.

Pastor Jason Norton said it is a coalition between churches and ministries, with corporate sponsorship, in attempt to bring unity.  

“There seems to be a lot of division between denominations,” Norton said. “We’re trying to see the walls torn down, where we can all come together for a time of worship.”

Here and Now is a revival of an event that happened in 1916. A group of five churches from the area built a structure out of lumber in the middle of winter, where Austin Park is currently located.

“We have the same spirit behind it,” Norton said. “This year, in commemoration of that, were doing the same thing they did, on the same ground they did.”

While the music groups are Christian, Norton said it shouldn’t stop people from coming because the genres vary from '70s rock, folk, rap and hard rock. Christian Cuevas, the runner-up from last year’s TV show “The Voice” will be performing on Saturday night.

There will also be many activities for children, including face painting, balloon animals, cotton candy and Kona ice.

On Friday, the doors will open for VIP ticket-holders at 5:30 p.m., with regular admission at 6. The concert will start at 7 p.m. and end around 11. On Saturday, events will run from 10:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. For a full schedule of events and full list of artists, click here

Norton said the concert will draw people from nine different states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont, along with people coming from Ontario and British Columbia, Canada.

“Right now, we have 1,500 tickets sold for Friday night,” Norton said. “We’re expecting every bit of 2,000 or 2,500 people to attend this year.”

More than 100 people from local churches are volunteering this year. Norton and his wife oversaw the event with 26 churches and ministries volunteering last year. A committee of 12 people from various churches along with volunteers from the region will help to make this event a success.

Tickets are $5 each to help cover the cost of the festival. If you would like to sponsor this event or advertise your businesses, call 297-3155.

"We hope that this will be a real blessing to the city," Norton said. "We hope people come down and see the city come together at this great event." 

August 8, 2017 - 4:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in events, charity.
Event Date and Time: 
August 29, 2017 - 4:00pm to 9:00pm

Come on out to Settler’s for a meal between 4 pm and 9 pm and 20% of your pre-tax receipt goes to Crossroads House. See you there!

July 28, 2017 - 8:30am

A local [email protected] fundraising walk will be held tomorrow Saturday, July 29th with registration starting at 6:00 p.m and a 1 mile casual evening walk starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Kiwanis Park on West Main Street Road in Batavia.  There will be a Silent Auction and more than 100 items/baskets that will be raffled off.  

Rachel Fisher, local [email protected] walk chairperson explains why she organizes this event.  “My daughter Maire, who is 5 years old, was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation and syringomyelia in 2014 and hydrocephalus in 2017.  In December 2014 Maire underwent a 6-hour brain surgery to help reduce the effects of the Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.  Surgery is not a cure and she will have annual neurosurgical appointments for the rest of her life.  Each day brings a new challenge as these conditions affect how her body responds to things like the weather, noises, light, and physical activities. 

My daughter and our family would really appreciate your support as we strive to find answers for individuals living with these disorders.  The goal is to help them live better, more pain-free days while raising awareness throughout the medical and lay communities.”

This walk is one of many around the country that will provide awareness, support, and important funding for the education and research programs of the Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation (CSF).  Chiari (kee-AR-ee) is a malformation in which the back compartment of the skull is too small, causing the lower part of the brain to hang down into the spinal canal, which prevents cerebrospinal fluid from flowing properly, causing a wide range of symptoms. Syringomyelia (sear-IN-go-my-EEL-ya) occurs when a cavity, or “syrinx”, is formed inside the spinal cord from fluid build-up. A syrinx may injure nerves, causing pain that is hard to manage medically.

Currently, the only treatment for Chiari and Syringomyelia is highly invasive and expensive surgery. There is no cure.

If you want more information or to register, visit:  You can also contact Rachel directly at [email protected] or 585-300-3159.

July 22, 2017 - 8:00am

Saturday, July 22nd - Farm Bureau Day & Bring Your Tractor to the Fair Day

  • 8:30am NIOGA Colored Breed Show (Show Ring)
  • 9am NIOGA Holstein/Open Class Dairy Show (Show Ring)
  • 9am ECYSS - Youth Breed Show (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 10am FARM STOCK TRACTOR - Bring Your Tractor!!
  • Enhanced Tractor * Garden Pullers (GRANDSTAND)
  • 1pm 4-H Goat Obstacle Course Contest (4-H Goat Barn) 
  • 1pm - 11pm Midway Open (Amusement Area)
  • 12pm Cowgirl Couture - Barrel Racing (Horse Ring)
  • 2pm 4-H Vegetable Contest (Kennedy Building)
  • 2:30pm 4-H Rabbit Knowledge Contest (Merton Building)
  • 3:30pm Small Fry Tractor Pull (Exhibition Building)
  • 4pm 4-H Market Animal Master Showman Contest (Show Ring)
  • 6pm 4-H Scavenger Hunt (Kennedy Building)
  • 6:30pm Empire State Pullers Tractor Pulls (GRANDSTAND)
  • 8pm -12am - Divided by Zero - Band (Entertainment Tent)
  • 8pm 4-H Non-Market Animals - Beef, Goat, Sheep & Swine Released
  • 8pm 4-H Non-Animal Exhibits Released

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.

July 21, 2017 - 8:00am

Friday, July 21st - Community Day & Thrill Night

  • 9am ECYSS - Showmanship Clinic (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 10am 4-H Beef Cattle Judging Contest (4-H Beef Barn)
  • 11am ECYSS - Judging Clinic (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 12pm 4-H Livestock Costume Contest (Show Ring)
  • 1pm - 11pm Midway Open (Amusement Area)
  • 2pm ECYSS - Showmanship (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 4pm ECYSS - Fitting Clinic (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 5:30pm 4-H Tractor Driving Contest - Via Pre-Registration (Kennedy Building)
  • 5:30pm - 10pm Under the Gun - band (Entertainment Tent)
  • 6pm NIOGA Jr. Showmanship (Show Ring)
  • 8pm Cowgirl Couture - Barrel Racing (Horse Ring)
  • 10pm - Exhibit halls & buildings close

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.​

July 20, 2017 - 8:00am

Thursday, June 20 - Veteran’s Day at the Fair

  • 9am 4-H Dairy Cattle Show (Show Ring)
  • 9am Open Sheep Show (Old Draft Horse Barn)
  • 9am 4-H Horse Show - Games, Gymkhana Classes (Horse Ring)
  • 2pm 4-H Goat & Sheep Quiz Bowl (Merton Building)
  • 5-10pm Midway Opens (Amusement Area)
  • 5:30-7pm 4-H Market Animal Auction Buyers Dinner (Kennedy Building)
  • 7pm Genesee Speedway SPECIAL STOCK CAR RACES (Grandstand)
  • 7pm Karaoke (Entertainment Tent)
  • 7pm 4-H Market Animal Auction (Show Ring)
  • 7pm 4-H Horses Released
  • 10pm - Exhibit halls & buildings close

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.​

July 19, 2017 - 8:00am

Wednesday, July 19th - “Children’s Day - 4-H Family Night” Kids ride special $5 wrist bands 1-4pm

  • 9am Open Draft Horse Show - Halter Class (Horse Ring)
  • 10am 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest (4-H Dairy Barn)
  • 10am-2pm Home Depot Kid’s DYI Workshop (Entertainment Tent)
  • 12pm 4-H Sheep Show (Show Ring)
  • 12:30pm Small Fry Tractor Pill (Exhibition Building)
  • 1pm Open Draft Horse Show - Hitch Class (Horse Ring)
  • 1-4pm Midway Opens for Special Kid’s Day - $5 Ride Wrist Bands (Amusement Area)
  • 2-4pm Balloon Animal Demonstrations (Exhibition Building)
  • 4-10pm Midway Open (Amusement Area)
  • 5pm 4-H Hog Show (Show Ring) 
    Open Swine Show to follow 4-H (Show Ring)
  • 6pm Fair Queen Pageant (Entertainment Tent Stage)
  • 6pm 4-H Poultry (Merton Building)
  • 7:30pm 4-H Barn Dance (Show Ring)
  • 10pm - Exhibit halls & buildings close

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.​

July 18, 2017 - 8:00am

Tuesday, July 18th Senior Citizens Day/Rochester Regional Health United Memorial Medical Center

  • 9am 4-H Horse Show—Western Classes (Horse Ring)
  • 9am 4-H Market Hog Show (Show Ring)
  • 10am Open Class Rabbit Show (Merton Building)
  • 11am-1pm Home Depot Veterans DYI Workshop (Entertainment Tent)
  • 12pm 4-H Market Lamb Show (Show Ring)
  • 5-10pm Midway Opens (Amusement Area)
  • 4-10pm Faith at the Fair - Christian Music (Entertainment Ring)
  • 6pm North American Classic Six-Horse Hitch (Horse Ring)
  • 6pm 4-H Rabbit Show (Merton Building)
  • 6:30pm 4-H Market Steer Show (Show Ring)
  • 10pm Exhibit halls & buildings close

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.​

July 17, 2017 - 8:00am

MONDAY, JULY 17th “Emergency Responder Night” 

  • 9am 4-H Horse Show—English Classes (Horse Ring)
  • 9am Goat Show (Show Ring)
  • 11am 4-H Beef Cattle Show (Show Ring)
  • 12pm Open Beef Show (Show Ring)
  • 12pm 4-H Dairy Cattle Fitting Clinic & Contest (4-H Dairy Barn)
  • 5:30pm PARADE LINE-UP – Genesee Speedway Pits (Fairgrounds)
  • 6:30pm GENESEE CO. FAIR GRAND PARADE through the Fairgrounds
  • 7pm - Karaoke (Entertainment Tent)
  • 9pm Outdoor Movie (Hill behind Parmelee Building)

*This schedule is tentative and is subject to change at any time*

* Agricultural Awareness Exhibit * Livestock Exhibits * Air Sculpture – Transforming Balloons into Art (Exhibition Building), Chainsaw Carver—Elaine Foy.​

July 15, 2017 - 9:00am

Click here for a listing of daily events at the 2017 Genesee County Fair

March 24, 2017 - 8:10pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in events, Pavilion, music, education.



An ensemble of young musicians and choral singers from Wyoming and Genesee counties will be performing at the All-County Music Festival, sponsored by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators’ Association Inc.

The first performance begins at 2 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at Attica High School, Main Street, Attica. The second performance will be at 2 p.m. April 7 at Pavilion Central School, Big Tree Road, Pavilion.

Students from St. Joseph and Notre Dame, and Alexander, Attica, Batavia, Byron-Bergen, Elba, Le Roy, Oakfield-Alabama, Pavilion, Pembroke and Wyoming school districts compete for a chance to perform in this festival.

Performances include the Senior High Jazz Band Ensemble, the Elementary All-County Chorus, the Junior High All-County Band, and the Senior High All-County Chorus.











November 26, 2016 - 8:54am
posted by Julia Ferrini in events, rob thompson, Attica, alexander.



Four grisly murders were committed during an 18-month period between 1922 and 1924 in the tiny hamlet of Linden, near Bethany, between Attica and Batavia. An additional murder in 1917, in which the modus operandi (M.O.) and crime signature were identical, caught the attention of local author Rob Thompson as well. Not an enthusiast of unanswered questions, Thompson began to dig.

“It was a form of criminal reverse engineering,” Thompson said. “In 1917, 1922, 1924 and 1934 six people were butchered and the killer was never caught.”

Frances Kimball, Hattie Whaley, Tom Whaley, Mabel Morse and Ben Phillips in Attica, and “Ruth” in 1917, were all brutally murdered, yet the cases have remained unsolved for close to 100 years. That is until Thompson’s inquisitive mind took him to the Genesee County Historical Society “just to see what they had.”

In his second book on the subject – “The Twisted Tree -- Final Words on the Linden Murders” – Thompson, who will be holding a book signing at the Alexander Fire Department from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, believes he knows the name of the killer.

Thompson’s interest in the Linden murders began with a casual conversation. Sometime during the 1980s a small book – "The Linden Murders...Unsolved" by William F. Brown – was written about the murders, however, Thompson noted that is was a “just a review of the facts of the crime.” 

“I wanted to know why they weren’t solved. I didn’t set out to solve the case, but I wanted to know why...As far as I can tell, the case was never solved because people were getting killed because they knew who the murderer was. I also believe there were a few cover-ups in the case as well.

“I connected ‘Ruth’ to the others by M.O. and signature...nearness to the killer's workplace and all cases being kept together as though there were a link.”

He became interested in the subject because it was something that happened in the area. According to Thompson, the murderer would be considered one of the most prolific serial killers in New York State. Not only because the case was never solved, but because there were at least six – and possibly more – deaths. The murderer is in the top 10 group of serial killers in the state.

“You find little pieces of information and that gives you hope. If you don’t tell the stories, they are going to get lost. History will get buried if you don’t talk about it.”

Studying the existing case files and using modern profiling techniques, Thompson enlisted the help of Mark Safarik, a retired FBI agent and media expert on serial killers. Safarik was host to the NBC Universal show “Killer Instinct” which explored notorious crimes as seen through the eyes of an FBI criminal profiler.

"It was about control. These were not murders committed for financial or sexual gain. He also struck fear into the hearts of the other residents of Linden, likely preventing them from telling authorities enough to result in his arrest.”

While locals were fearful of going to the police, one theory Thompson suggested included a cover-up by the killer's wife, Lorraine, immediate family members and the killer’s doctor, Dr. Bradley. While he suggests all knew of his crimes, they were remiss to go to the authorities.

“I think Dr. Bradley knew Lorraine was messed up her whole life and his thinking may have been ‘am I going to send two women to the electric chair or move on with my life and let the authorities deal with it?’ They (police) knew where the killer was and he was under constant observation. Additionally, how can you convene a Grand Jury without any real hard evidence.”

Thompson’s theory suggests, after the murder of Kimball, the killer had come home and wiped his hands on his wife Lorraine’s dress.

“He transferred the blame onto her when he wiped his bloody hands on her dress.”

When Thompson spoke with Safarik, he went to him with photos and supporting documentation and asked him to give him an idea of the type of person he was looking for.

“To me, it didn’t look like delusional behavior, but had a pattern of behavior. He (the murderer) was cunning, manipulative, glib...he felt like he could get away with things when speaking with authorities. He gave clues. He said he couldn’t fire a pistol but he could fire a rifle, but they didn’t pick up on that. I hit all these points in the research.”

In 1934, Rochester Police Det. John McDonald had said Phillips died when a fire in the bedroom caused the sheetrock to fall on his head. However, the photo of the crime scene shows the man's head is caved in, yet the detective dismissed those injuries to anything other than the falling sheetrock.

“So you had a detective come in and throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing and a DA who shot himself... there were so many conflicting stories, but once I matched up the signatures, I couldn’t help but make the connection.”

Thompson’s background in psychology, schizophrenics specifically, became the backbone to his research. While in Memphis, Tenn., he dealt with the most serious mentally ill people. Thompson called them the “most dangerous you can think of.” He worked in the field for 12 years, handling 50 clients a week.

“They weren’t in prison; they were the unmedicated. My job was to go out and bring them into the system. I worked with the police doing crisis stabilization, identifying the mentally ill. I can identify a pattern. You don’t necessarily need more than an image, a photo of the killer, to get a feel for the person.”

Pointing to one photo he notes the people around the murderer – he is standing in a dominant role, in front of everyone else, the 1924 victim was in the photo, barely seen in the back. Thompson says a photograph will tell you everything.

“It says a lot about a person's personality. Did that person’s personality match anything else about him? What about his hands? They matched the physical genetic deformity that was noted by his doctor.”

Among other clues Thompson found was at the same time Michael’s mother, Sophia, and sister, Julia, went to Detroit to visit another sister in September 1921, several arsons and crimes started to occur in Linden. When Michael was found guilty of those crimes, the judge’s house was set on fire. Witnesses say they saw two people enter the house and saw Michael leaving. Additionally, only two of the murders happened prior to his mother’s death.

Although the victims, witnesses, and the murderer himself have been dead several decades, Thompson believes that his research can contribute to closing the case. While he believes positively that he's identified the murderer, he noted what journalist Dan Hurbeck said about his certainty: “ ‘Don’t use 100 percent, use 98.6 percent.’ When guys like Hurbeck, who sat with Timothy McVeigh and looked into his eyes and knew what it was like to deal with these people said ‘You got it right man. This case is closed.’ I can be pretty confident I came to the right conclusion.”

Thompson’s conclusion stemmed from the killer's signature elements, a blitz attack, trauma to the head, overkill, and arson – Kimbell was hit in the head 22 times with a rock; Ruth’s face was beaten so severely, that to this day her identity is still uncertain; Morse’s head was crushed; and Phillips experienced blunt force trauma to the head.

The tough part was separating it all and putting together the process.

“The most interesting part of it all was discovery. Discovering something new – his marriage certificate, the cover up that Dr. Bradley hid, Julia and Lorraine’s involvement, what they knew but didn’t say. 

“In a small town everybody would have known everybody and they certainly would have known if a stranger got off the train and killed three people. And they would have likely known who the suspect was. There were a lot of gatherings at that time, so people talked.

“On the night of the triple murder, Morse’s son, Howard, who lived in Buffalo, got a call saying ‘you will never see your mother again.’ Then the caller hung up. Who would have had his number? Who would have known about the crime right after it had taken place?”

At one point in the investigation, Morse’s husband, George, was a focus because “Mable was allegedly romancing the younger farm boys.” 

In the end, George was cleared and Howard ended up owning the store, which closed about 26 years ago.

“There is a woman who lives in Linden and her father was born there. When the school closed he would travel to Attica to go to school. She said she remembers her father had said someone from Westinghouse (a factory in Attica) would ask him about the murders in Linden...what’s going on there? She believes it was the killer because he was working for Westinghouse and he knew the train’s schedule. She says her dad had said he was ‘very afraid’ of that man. She also says, that is all ‘makes sense now.’ ”

Thompson holds a college degree in English Literature and a bachelor of science degree in Human Services with practical experience.

“I liked solving puzzles and there is no greater puzzle than the human psyche. And if you can look at a person who is sleeping under a bridge and figure out the reason why – addiction, mental illness, a combination of both. Could the killer have been at that place? We don’t know because we know nothing about the first 27 years of his life.

“My goal is to write a history book that doesn’t read like one. The Linden murders is history. I’d like people to think about it (history) and ask questions. It’s to keep history alive.”

Other books by Thompson include:

    • “The Linden Murders...Solved”

    • “Notorious”

    • “The Prince of Java”

    • “Attica Gateway to the West”

    • “Attica Gateway to the Civil War”

    • “From Hell The Final Days of Jack the Ripper”

    • “They Fell Together” Emory Upton Biography (2017)

    • “The Emperor's Robe” (Ernest Hemingway biography due out 2018)











July 11, 2016 - 5:20pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in events, middlebury, Linden, batavia, World War II, Germany..



On July 4, 1944, 1st Lt. Leonard B. Fuller had written in a letter home: 

Well anyway, as I set here looking at these pictures it sure brings back some swell memories of all the hell raising and work I have done around home there. The picture of Doug by the garage there is o.k.! I sure would like to have my picture taken in that same spot.

It was evident in Leonard Fuller’s letters that he was very homesick, as he wrote about it often. His father would send him pictures of the farm, complete with captions. The photo he was referring to was of his young nephew Dougie Fuller.

On July 7, 1944, his P-51 Mustang was hit by flak over Blankenhain, Germany. The exploding shells shot from the ground forced Fuller to bail out of his aircraft. During his descent, his parachute collapsed when he appeared to be trying to avoid some trees and a barn. Subsequently, he fell to his death and was buried in the Old Cemetery in Blankenhain.

On Sunday afternoon, under an azure sky dotted with large white, fluffy clouds, friends and family gathered at the West Middlebury Cemetery on Koppe Road, East Bethany, to honor Fuller. Just two days prior, a similar event took place in Weimer, Germany. 

Citizens from two different countries, divided by war more than 70 years ago, united to pay their final respects to an American soldier.

Around April 2015, Bernd Schmidt, a historian from Weimer, contacted Donna Bonning. Bonning, who had been working on a project for the Sons of the American Revolution, posted a photo of Fuller’s tombstone on the Findagrave website in 2006. Come to find out, Schmidt had seen the photo she had posted and emailed her. Through several exchanges of emails and after finding a treasure of letters, photos documents, and a few artifacts in Wayne Fuller’s attic, a nephew of Leonard’s, the puzzle pieces of the last days of a local veteran began to form a picture.

“I enjoy photographing tombstones and sharing the photos with others,” Bonning said. “Once in awhile I have come across stones that cause me to stop and take a second look. Leonard's stone was one of those. But my thoughts didn't drift very far beyond those engraved letters and beautiful wings. I never really stopped to think about what he was like as a person. What his life was like. Who his family was. What was the meaning behind those words...Forever Honored. Forever Mourned. 

“I found out what that meant the day I laid eyes on the Missing in Action and Killed in Action telegrams that Wayne told me about. I 'met' Leonard on the day we opened up a box from the attic and saw the black and white photo of him in his dress uniform.”

Leonard apparently had quite a sense of humor as well.

Dec. 20, 1942

Well, I just got my picture in the noon mail so when I get to the post office to get some airmail stamps I will send it home. Get a load of General McArthur in the ruff.

Jan. 1, 1943

I got a letter from Betty yesterday and she said that she received my picture. From what she said about it, I think I better get up there and take care of things. Me, I like to have people tell me nice things like that to my face. I suppose I will have to put up with it because I realize that I am quite naturally good looking. Well, why shouldn't I be good looking? Look at my mom and pop. I should get at least a quarter for that remark.

Not only did Leonard miss his home and family, he was also a very patriotic man. On May 28, 1944 he wrote:

Say, you know I wish a lot of people in the States could see some of these forces that go over into Germany day after day. Boy, it really gives me a thrill to know that I am fighting with an outfit like we have over here. When you can see a thousand bombers in the air along with as many fighters, it really gives a guy the idea that there are others around that are over there for the same reason. Every time I go over there I thank my lucky stars that I am an American all the way around. 

In a witness statement from Air Corps Capt. Leslie D. Minchen of the 357 Fighter Squadron, 355 Fighter Group, Station F-122 dated July 7, 1944, Minchen wrote:

I was leading Custard Squadron when we attacked fifty plus Me 410’s. Lt. Fuller was flying number three in my flight. The F/A led us over a town where we got heavy accurate flak at about 7,000 feet. Capt. Haviland, who was flying my wing saw him jettison his canopy, but did not see him get out. Lt. Fuller called me on the radio and said he was getting out. I answered his call and he said he was okay. I did not see him bail out. Air Corps Capt. Leslie D. Minchen.

In 1949 the pilot’s parents, Buell and Clara Fuller, traveled through the Iron Curtain (via Russia) to visit his gravesite and sprinkled dirt from the family farm on his grave – taking small comfort in the fact that he was resting in at least some American soil.

An excerpt from an article written in the Farm Journal, May 1951, recounts the visit of Buell and Clara and a description of the events which lead to the first lieutenant’s demise:

The cemetery comes into view...The caretaker’s cottage is only a few feet from their son’s grave. Ten “foreign” solders are buried in the little plot: French, Italian and one American – Leonard B. Fuller. 

A wooden framework encloses the Fuller grave, within which a fine-leaved boarder of green, carefully trimmed, sets off a bed of marigolds. Grouped around the white cross are delicate waxen blossoms of tuberous begonias...

...The villagers watched the two planes fighting to a finish. Suddenly the American plane was hit, and from it parachuted the pilot. He seemed to be maneuvering to avoid a clump of trees and a barn, to land in a cleared filed beyond. About 200 feel from the ground, the ‘chute suddenly collapsed and crashed to earth. They rushed to help him, but he had died instantly...

“The passage of time doesn’t make these things easier,” said Genesee County Historian Michael Eula, Ph.D. “His life resonated with me on several levels. I saw, in photos, a man shouldering responsibilities a young man should never have. They rose to meet the challenge of war.

“The conflict was not to be seen as what it was against, but what it was for...Freedom to enjoy liberties...The war was about a daily reality of what one was sure of and familiar: To return home for a meal, their girl, family, and friends. The ultimate tribute would be that maybe someday, the sacrifice of those like Fuller’s would be to avoid the sacrifice of so many of young people. May they never be forgotten.”

Leonard flew 40 missions in the P-51 Mustang and logged in 180 combat hours in a four-month time period.

According to, North American Aviation originally designed the Mustang in response to a British (England) specification. The first prototype was started in April 1940 and was delivered to England for test flights by the end of 1941.

The first Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1710 engine. While it was a good engine, it didn’t operate well at high altitudes. 

In April 1942, a British test pilot, Ronald Harker, while impressed with the plane, suggested that it would be a natural fit with the Rolls Royce Merlin 60-series engine – well-suited to high altitudes. The first Merlin-equipped Mustang, the P-51B, flew in November 1942. At 30,000 feet, the plane reached 440 mph, almost 100 mph faster than the Allison-equipped Mustang at that altitude. 

As it worked out, Craig Wadsworth, of the Geneseo War Planes Museum, was instrumental in having not one, but three P-51s do a “flyover” during the memorial ceremony.

“When I spoke with the pilot for Quick Silver at the airshow, Scott 'Scooter' Yoak, said he was going to bring along a few friends,” Bonning said. “Could it be any more amazing than that? In spirit I think of Leonard and two of his fighter pilot friends. One being Francis Eshelman who took the very last picture of Leonard’s P-51 – named MYRT II; and the other being Joe Engelbreit, who wrote a letter home to Leonard’s parent’s a month after his plane was lost. He still had no idea that Leonard was declared KIA (killed in action).

“When I see the one (photo) of Joe I imagine that he is looking to the sky and thinking of his friend and hoping his friend makes it back okay. They all flew in the same missions together.”

In a letter dated July 8, 1944, Air Corps Capt. W. H. Rush sent a “Missing Aircrew Report” to Commanding Officer, 355th Fighter Group, AAF Station F-122, APO No. 637. It stated in part: 

On July 7, 1944, at 0635 hours, Lt. Fuller piloting aircraft OS-E, took off from this field on an operational mission with the 357th Fighter Squadron. His call sign was Custard 82... This office had no radio contact with Lt. Fuller during the flight.

When Lt. Fuller failed to return to this base with the 357th Fighter Squadron, this office immediately notified combat operations.

Every effort was made to contact Lt. Fuller...

Leonard was born in May 1921 in Linden. He attended Linden grade school, graduated from Batavia High School in 1939, and belonged to the Bethany Grange. He enlisted in Air Corps on Oct. 20, 1942 in Buffalo. He trained in San Antonio, Uvalde, San Angelo and Mission, all in Texas.

On Oct. 1, 1943 he was commissioned second lieutenant. On Feb. 29, 1944 he sailed for England and was based at Steeple-Morden Field with the 8th Air Force 357 Squadron, 355 Group, 65 Wing Fighter. 

At the time of his death, he was credited with destroying seven-and-one-half planes and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.

In September 1950, his remains were brought to the United States and buried in the family lot in West Middlebury Cemetery. 

Although Wayne didn’t know his uncle, the loss of the man hit him at the laying of the wreath, and noted, with a slight twinkle in his eye, that part of his plane is buried with him.

In a recent email sent to Bonning, Schmidt wrote:

After 72 years we in Germany also wish to think of the victims of this war because we have these so-called enemies to THANK for our freedom and the ending of the war.

The old and young inhabitants of Blankenhain where Leonard crashed on July 7, 1944 and where he was buried for some years are very interested in information about Leonard. After all, the crash in their town is also a part of their history. And hatred and being enemies are long forgotten.

This past week…on July 8th, residents and guests of Blankenhain held a ceremony of remembrance for American Airman Leonard Fuller at the Old Cemetery in Blankenhain where he was buried for six years. Up until recently he was almost forgotten and unknown. However he now has a name again; we know his story and the suffering of his parents. Leonard is also not forgotten in Germany.

See related: Honoring the sacrifice of a fallen hero










Editor's note: The above two photos were submitted by Donna Bonning.

July 7, 2016 - 8:00am
posted by Julia Ferrini in events, middlebury, Linden.


(Photo submitted by Donna Bonning.)

On this date in 1944, 1st Lt. Leonard B. Fuller’s P-51 Mustang was hit by flack in Blankenhain, Germany. The exploding shells shot from the ground forced Fuller to bail out of his aircraft. During his descent, his parachute collapsed when he appeared to be trying to avoid some trees and a barn. Subsequently, he fell to his death and was buried in the Old Cemetery in Blankenhain. 

In 1949 the pilot’s parents, Buell and Clara Fuller, traveled through the Iron Curtain (via Russia) to visit his gravesite and sprinkled dirt from the family farm on his grave – taking small comfort in the fact that he was resting in at least some American soil.

At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, an Honor Guard ceremony will be held for the first lieutenant at West Middlebury Cemetery, 4949 W. Middlebury Road, East Bethany.

On Friday, a similar ceremony will be held in Blankenhain. 

In April 2015, Bernd Schmidt, a historian from Weimer, Germany, contacted Donna Bonning and told her he was very interested in the Fuller family and asked if she had any information on them. Bonning was working on a project for the Sons of the American Revolution when she posted a photo of Fuller’s tombstone on the Findagrave website in 2006. Schmidt had seen the photo and contacted her. Through several exchanges of emails and after finding a treasure of letters, photos documents, and a few artifacts, the puzzle pieces of the last day of a local veteran began to form a picture.

From an initial email from Schmidt:

We generations after World War II (I was born in 1949) have another view (of the war) and (would) like to change the minds about enemies. 

We like to remember for all victims of the stupid war. Finally, all Germans were happy that the Allied (Forces) finished it (the war) in 1945. Our town and area (was) surrendered peaceful(ly) without shots (fired).

I (have) know(n) about Leonard Fuller a long time. Friends told me about the U.S. pilot who was killed in 1944. But it was an accident with parachuting. (Some Allied (soldiers) were killed from Nazi officials. Terrible and again(st) Geneva (Convention).

The parents of Leonard came to East Germany in the Russian Zone to look for the grave of their son. Really, they found it in a good condition. Kind people were watching for it. I think, later Leonard was reburied to bring to the States or on a Military Cemetery...

In September 1950, Fuller’s remains were sent home to Linden.

Recently, Schmidt let the family know that the citizens of Blankenhain would like to hold a remembrance ceremony at the Old Cemetery where Fuller’s former grave was located. According to Bonning, it appears that Fuller and his parents are “local legends in a way and an early part of Blankenhain’s post-war history when it was plunged into the horrors of Communism.”

At the ceremony July 10 in Middlebury, Assemblyman Steve Hawley will be in attendance. Additionally, Genesee County Historian Michael Eula, Ph.D., and Professor Garth Swanson will make a few remarks. Sarah Thorton will also read a speech by Schmidt.

After the ceremony there is going to be a large display at West Middlebury Baptist Church located across the road, which will include many of the photos, letters and artifacts belonging to the Fuller family. It tells the story of his life and sacrifice, and that of his family.

June 30, 2016 - 12:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in events.
Event Date and Time: 
July 28, 2016 - 11:30am

WHEN:        THURSDAY July 28, 2016


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