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August 2, 2016 - 4:41pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee, genesee county, history, Historical Society.

Relevant history of American life is abound in Genesee County, NY. The county is home to 12 historical museums, which are excellent ways to understand how people in these towns lived many years ago.

You don’t have to travel to The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to have an experience with American history. We recently visited all of the Genesee County historical locations with the hope of shedding a little light on the history and relevance of each town. See history come alive by visiting these places!
 

Alabama Museum, 2218 Judge Road, Alabama, NY (585) 948-9287

The museum itself is a neat place as it was originally an one-room schoolhouse. When you walk into the museum, you can see the big windows and high ceilings and wonder about the children and the education that went on in the building. Through the artifacts you will discover that Alabama used to have three gun manufacturers in its small town. There was a prominent citizen named Dr. Grant Neal, whose buggy is displayed at the museum. Part of the original Bason post office is also on display. Some people might find the museum’s vintage posters of “horse auctions” and old-time carnivals as interesting historical markers and how life was way back then. One small item that is still relevant today is a Christmas party invitation harking back to 1856 in regards to some soiree in Alabama. Gladly open by appointment only. Feel free to call (585) 948-9287.

Alabama Museum 22

(Alabama Museum was once a one-room schoolhouse.)

Alabama Museum 18

(Artifacts from days gone by.)

Alabama Museum 6

(Dr. Grant Neal’s buggy is on display at the Alabama Museum.)

Alexander Museum, 3350 Church St., Alexander, NY (585) 591-1204

Up on the third story of Alexander’s Town Hall (United States’ only three-story cobblestone town hall) sits the Alexander Museum. The building alone is worth the trip and makes for interesting photographs – bring your camera. A few items on display that are relevant in today’s world, include an old phone, record players and typewriter – which are all now part of our cell phones. Children these days would be baffled in the ways we use to communicate. In a section dedicated to tools, it’s interesting to look at the objects and try to guess their usage. The museum’s large open space is filled with their wide-ranging collection. From farmer’s tools to old record players, there’s a lot to absorb here. Please call to schedule a visit.

Alexander 1

(Alexander Museum is located in Alexander’s unique town hall.)

Alexander 2

(Alexander Museum is open by appointment only.)

Alexander 4

(Remembering those who served from Alexander.)

Bergen Museum,  7547 S. Lake Road, Bergen, NY (585) 494-0080

The Bergen Museum is a truly unique place. The museum resides in the former 1880 Hartford Hotels Livery Stables in downtown Bergen. It has been converted into a cozy, and well-done museum. Inside the old barn, there are a handful of interesting, life-size tableaus depicting, a blacksmith shop, a general store, school classroom and more. The goal of the exhibits are to have the artifacts tell the story. You really get an excellent sense of what it was like to shop at a store, studying in school or visit the local pharmacy. A local military exhibit includes war time posters, which capture people’s imaginations. The nicely crafted tableaux were created by museum’s volunteers.  Open every Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

Bergen Museum 13

(The Bergen Museum is inside a converted horse stable.)

Bergen Museum 9

(Display of a blacksmith shop at Bergen Museum.)

Bergen Museum 8

(See what a General Store looked like at Bergen Museum.)

Byron Museum, 6407 Townline Road, Byron, NY  Phone: (585) 548-9008

A cool surprise is that this museum is located in an old church that is right next to an old cemetery. The sanctuary of the former German Lutheran church is packed with countless items, including a lot of clothing and textiles. People who love fashion or clothes will enjoy looking at what people were wearing a hundred years ago. South Byron High School is well-represented with photographs and yearbooks. Behind the church, there is a large annex dedicated to items typical of a farming community. There are even a few local business and community signs spread throughout. The collection is pretty deep. Open Sundays 2 to 4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. Other hours are gladly accepted with appointment.

Byron Museum 15

(Byron Museum is located inside a former church.)

Byron Museum 2

(The sanctuary of the church is filled with historical items.)

Byron Museum 9

(At the Byron Museum, there is a large area dedicated to antique tools and equipment.)

(More after the jump. Click on Read More below.)

July 28, 2016 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in James Pontillo, South Swan Street, batavia, history, news.

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James Pontillo is doing some restoration work on one of properties, in this case, on Swan Street, and he dug up this slab of stamped concrete inscribed for J. McBride.

Pontillo thinks this was a marker for John McBride, a contractor or engineer in the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that the house on South Swan was once his residence.

The house was built in the 1880s or 1890s, Pontillo thinks.

There was a John McBride from Batavia born in 1862 who died in 1937. Online records indicate, though not conclusively, his sons were John McBride, born in 1892, and a Robert McBride, born in 1882. This McBride family does not appear to be related to the family that ran McBride Steel Plate Construction Company in Batavia for many decades, and whose patriarch was an immigrant from Ireland.

Pontillo also uncovered the remains of a granite hitching post.

He isn't quite sure what to do with this piece.He isn't sure if one of the historical agencies would be interested in it.

June 28, 2016 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city historian, history, news.

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City Historian Larry Barnes received his Volunteer of the Year award from the Batavia City Council at the start of Monday night's meeting at City Hall.

Barnes was named Volunteer of the Year earlier but was unavailable to receive the award.

The honor recognizes his many years of volunteer work as city historian, especially his efforts in support of the city's centennial celebration. 

Barnes said the award was really a shared award and recognized the many people and organizations who have helped him throughout his tenure as historian.

June 21, 2016 - 4:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, history, Announcements.

The Oakfield Historical Society’s Museum and Research Center is open each Sunday from 6/12 through 12/2, EXCEPT the dates 6/19 and 7/3 and 9/4 for holiday weekends.

The Museum is located at 7 Maple Ave., Oakfield, and this year’s exhibits include the U.S. Gypsum Company, the Company houses, Native American artifacts, early Oakfield artifacts, and the War Room – a tribute to those from Oakfield who served in the armed forces.

Our publications will be available for purchase during those hours.

Please see http://www.oakfieldhistory.org/ for more information.

June 9, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, news, history, batavia.

(File photos of last year's Penny Carnival held during the Holland Land Office Museum's History Summer Heroes program.)

Press release:

The theme for the 2016 History Heroes Summer Program is "Carnival Days" at the Holland Land Office Museum. This year the children will work together to create a Penny Carnival.

Each day of the summer program is packed with exciting and educational activities, field trips, games, crafts,and more!

The program ends with the carnival and a multimedia musical production showcasing our local history with the children taking on the persona of a famous Batavian.

The program begins on Tuesday, July 19th and runs for eight week days (Tues.-Fri.), ending on Friday, July 29th.  Time is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A snack is provided each day, but children must bring their own lunches.

The cost is $25 per day for non-members and $20 a day for museum members. The program is open to children ages 7-12.

Please call the museum at 343-4727 for more information and to save a place for your child.

June 3, 2016 - 5:44pm

A grant to pay for a historic marker for the boyhood home of Civil War-era Major General Emory Upton was approved, and the news was relayed to the Human Service Committee when it met Tuesday at County Building #2.

The Syracuse-based William G. Pomeroy Foundation agreed to provide $1,000 for a standard historical marker, mounting pole and shipping costs. Since 2006, the foundation's Historic Roadside Marker Grant Program has funded more than 282 markers in 46 New York counties.

The home at 9244 Upton Road in the Town of Batavia was built in 1823 by Emory's parents, Daniel and Electa Upton. The date has not been set, but there will be an unveiling ceremony/dedication after the marker is installed, attended by veterans groups, according to County Historian Michael Eula.

He has overseen the installation of three other markers during his tenure; there is a total of 19 in the county so far, one of which is in storage (for Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany).

The historian went on to outline what's happening in his department.

"I'm excited and optimistic about this department," he told the committee.

An average of eight visitors a month spend time in the History Department. Requests for information are up 2 percent; the only resulting uptick in revenue comes from copying fees. 

But the reputation of the Genesee County History Department is widening, Eula said, garnering attention outside the region, even outside the state.

The one area of concern that keeps the historian up at night, in fact that gives him nightmares, is the very real prospect of running out of shelf space for documents and records.

"Worst-case scenario is three years of shelving left," Eula said, "best case, four maybe five years."

He is tasked with storing documents from the Probation Department, the District Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, and more.

But he has no idea in any given year how many documents will need to be archived.

It is only with the aid of a part-time microfilm clerk that he is "able to stay afloat."

"The more backup we have, the better I sleep at night," Eula said.

To that end, he applied for a grant last year to pay for more clerk hours to transfer documents onto microfilm. It was declined.

"I have to resubmit it," Eula said. "There is a learning curve on my part."

The specialized language of grant writing for record management is something he's still finessing, he admitted, noting that it is more challenging -- nuanced differently -- than that required for purely historical matters.

If he succeeds in getting grant money for more clerking assistance, he said he would like to retain the person now doing the job and already familiar with the department. Besides, he worries about confidentiality.

"Bringing in an outsider, a third party, raises confidentiality issues," Eula said.

After the meeting, Eula gave the Human Service Committee a tour of the History Department and County Building #2. With fans blowing and walls stripped of baseboards in many places, there was residual evidence of the flooding with occurred on a bitterly cold winter night when a frozen pipe burst and water damaged the building. It would have been much worse, but an employee happened to stop by over the weekend and caught the flooding early. 

A contractor is working to paint and retile and make other repairs and the county's insurer is paying for it.

May 10, 2016 - 6:00am
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, Emory Upton, batavia, news, history.

May 10th, 1864, Spotsylvania Court House: The Day A Man From Genesee County Made History

by Don Burkel (president, Holland Land Office Museum)

“I will carry those works” were the words spoken on May 10th, 1864 by a 24-year-old West Point graduate from West Batavia. He was about to become the third youngest Union Brigadier General during the War of the Rebellion.

Colonel Emory Upton, whose Second Brigade in the First Division, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac, demonstrated great tactical skill at the Battle of Rappahannock Station in November, 1863, was selected to lead twelve hand picked regiments of the Sixth Corps to break the lines of Confederate General Doles’ Georgia brigade, known as Doles’ Salient.

It had been decided that a column formation, made up of four rows of three regiments, 4,500 troops, rather than the old linear form, would have greater success in penetrating Doles lines. At 6:10 p.m., young Upton leading on horseback, advanced his troops double quick over 150 yards of open field, and without firing a shot advanced over the Rebel rifle pits.

His veteran troops held the enemy’s works for little over one hour awaiting support from General Mott’s division, which never came. As dusk approached, and without any reserves, Confederate General Ewell’s corps repulsed Upton’s forces. Without support Emory had no choice but to order the withdrawal of his regiments. His casualties amounted to 1,000 dead and wounded. The young Colonel, was slightly wounded, and deeply upset about the lack of support did capture several colors, a battery and 1,200 prisoners.

Captain Kidder, whose 121st New York Volunteers (Upton’s Regulars) participated in the attack said, “the men from the Green Mountain State think that there never was such a splendid man and officer as Colonel Upton.” Grant was also impressed by this young officer’s success, and ordered General Hancock’s Second Corps, of 20,000, to follow up with the same strategy on May 12th to assault the apex of the Mule Shoe, known as the Bloody Angle.

There was no relief for Upton as his Second Brigade regiments were called upon to assist Hancocks’ troops by advancing to fill a gap in the heavy fighting at the Bloody Angle. Due to Emory’s bravery and tactical skill, General Grant recommended that Upton receive his promotion to Brigadier General because of his meritorious and gallant service at Spotsylvania Courthouse.

The dedicated and ambitious Emory Upton was promoted to Major General of Volunteers after commanding a cavalry division in 1865. He earned a reputation for his leadership and tactical skills at the battles of Rappahannock Station, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Winchester, Selma and Columbus.

General Upton’s well-known book of tactics, military policy and ideas of reform would eventually change the structure and the efficiency of the army. We should honor this noble soldier from West Batavia for having changed the course of warfare. His place in history is duly noted in fields of Spotsylvania, Va., on May 10th.

Be sure to visit the Holland Land Office Museum and view the Upton collection.

April 26, 2016 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, history, news, batavia.

Submitted photo and press release:

The History Heroes Summer Program for the Holland Land Office Museum was established in 2011. It was our mission to immerse children in their local history and provide them with a foundation to understand how their hometowns fit into their history.

In four years, the History Heroes Summer Program has evolved into an experience where the youth of Genesee County can explore their roots and prepare for their futures as educated young citizens. 

The theme for the 2016 History Heroes Summer Program is Carnival Days at the museum. This year the children will work together to create a Penny Carnival. The program ends with the carnival and a multimedia musical production showcasing our local history with the children taking on the persona of a famous Batavian.

Each day of the summer program is packed with exciting and educational activities, field trips, games, crafts, and more! The program begins on Tuesday, July 19th and runs for eight days, ending on Friday, July 29th. The cost for the program is $25 a day for non-members and $20 a day for museum members. The program is open to children ages 7-12.

The program is staffed by Jeffrey Fischer, interim director for the Holland Land Office Museum, and Anne Marie Starowitz, a former elementary teacher, along with a certified art and music teacher, a profession photographer, along with volunteers from the community.

Please call the museum at 343-4727 for more information and to save a place for your child.

April 5, 2016 - 4:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in history, Emory Upton, news.

(File photo of the Upton house on Upton Road from Landmark Society of Genesee County.) 

There ought to be a historical marker on the site of the boyhood home of swashbuckling Civil War-era Major General Emory Upton.

That's what Genesee County Historian Michael Eula thinks, and it's why he asked members of the Human Service Committee on Monday for permission to apply for grant funds to pay for a marker at 9244 Upton Road in the Town of Batavia. Members unanimously agreed to grant permission.

Eula plans to apply for the Historic Roadside Marker Grant Program offered by The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which since 2006 has funded more than 282 markers in 46 New York counties. If awarded, the grant will provide $1,000 for a standard historical marker, mounting pole and shipping costs.

The Upton Road house which features stunning, leaded windows of stained glass and beleved crystal, was built in 1823 by Emory's parents, Daniel and Electa Upton. His sister, Sarah Upton Edwards, updated the house in 1890 to the shingle style it is now. (In 2011, the Landmark Society of Genesee County presented current owners Joan Bird and William Steininger with awards for Interior Renovation and Stained Glass Window Restoration.)

Emory was Daniel and Electa's 10th child, their sixth son. After growing up on the farm, he studied at Oberlin College under famed evangelist Charles Finney and was then admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1856. (He had his face slashed there in a sword fight in cadet barracks, said to have begun over offensive remarks made about his relationship with African-American girls at Oberlin College.)

His patinated likeness in full regalia looms large at the monument on the city's westside where Main Street and Ellicott Street join. But there's actually little heft to his biographical record, according to Eula, who told the committee that outside of a thin and rather superficial biography written by Stephen E. Ambrose, "Upton and the Army," little has been written about the man himself.

His brilliant and impactful career as an influential Army reformer, war tactician, military strategist and policy maker is well documented in compendiums, magazine articles, and through his own authorship.

This includes a book called "The Life and Letters of Emory Upton," which includes the meticulously deciphered and transcribed letters that Emory wrote during his worldwide travels to Persia, Turkey, India, China and Russia where he feasted opulently with royalty, how else, and met with great leaders at the behest in 1875 of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Both the book of letters and the Ambrose book are out of stock currently at the Holland Land Office Museum, but they were reordered a week or so ago and should be back on the shelves soon.

If the Pomeroy Foundation approves the grant, there would be a ceremony featuring veterans groups at the dedication ceremony, Eula said.

With all the documentation about Upton available in Genesee County, and given the lack of a meaty tome about his life, will a book be forthcoming? That's the question Committee Chair Rochelle Stein asked Eula.

"I don't want to promise something I can't deliver," Eula replied, not altogether convincingly. He did acknowledge talking about the prospect with other local historians, and it's clear he deems the subject worthy of the effort.

See more about Emory Upton here.

November 6, 2015 - 9:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thomas Rocket Car, batavia, history.

rocketcarnov52015.jpg

Caked in decades of dust, pockmarked with dings, dimples and rust, the Thomas "Rocket Car" was tucked snuggly into Dick McClurg's garage Thursday afternoon and Ken Witt smiled like a child who just got his first bike.

"She's finally back home," he said.

Witt, like other members of the volunteer crew who helped retrieve the car from a barn in Lockport, where it's been stored since 1977, admitted he's had a few sleepless nights in anticipation of bringing the car back to Batavia.

"That has been exciting, the last couple of days, when we were getting these guys coordinated, all of us were saying, 'It's coming home,' " Witt said. "We've all been waiting to get it here."

The Thomas "Rocket Car" was designed by former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas. He and Norman Richardson, a talented welder and body man just out of high school, built the car in a rented garage near Main and Ellicott Avenue in 1938. The design, and several innovations in the car, such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, were dreamed up by Thomas while working on his 1935 thesis for the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich.

Once the car was built, Thomas tried to interest any one of the Big Three in Detroit to move the car into production. But whether the automakers felt threatened, or because of the prospect of the World War, or it would have been too expensive to retool, all three companies took a pass. One Detroit executive reportedly told Thomas that his car was 10 years ahead of its time. Thomas went onto a successful career in Buffalo with the maker of the Playboy automobile, and he apparently kept the Thomas car and drove it for some time.

When the car arrived at McClurg's, Witt took an odometer reading: 96,296.

The car was acquired by a group of local antique car buffs, including Witt and Dick Moore, from Gary Alt, of Lockport.

Alt, whose antique car collection consists of a dozen Chevys from the 1930s, found the Thomas wasting away in a field in Batavia in 1977 when he drove out here with the intention of buying a 1934 parts car. When he saw the Thomas, he had no idea what it was. He'd never seen it before or heard of it, but he knew it was unique and worth saving, so he bought it and the parts car and hauled them back to his farm property near Lockport.

The car has been stored in a barn since, and Alt sort of became the car's historian. He tracked down Charles Thomas and Norm Richardson in Buffalo and interviewed them and acquired a binder full of documentation on the car. He wrote an article about the car a few years ago for an antique auto magazine, which is how Witt and Moore became aware that the car still existed.

"It's time to go to another home and let someone else enjoy it," Alt said of his decision to finally sell it.

The local group will restore it, with McClurg heading up the task at his Old World body shop on West Main, and when the work is complete, hopefully by July, the car will be donated to the City of Batavia so it can be put on public display and hopefully become a tourist attraction.

Alt clearly relished showing off the car to the buyers when they came to pick it up Thursday. He told them all about the grill work, the engine, the solid fenders, the blue leather interior, the periscope, the original die kit and showed off the dozen or so original pictures he had obtained. He's taken loving care of it, even if he never got around to restoring it himself.

It has, however, been restored once before, probably in the 1950s, though it's unclear who might have done that work.

The current grill is not quite the original grill designed by Thomas (McClurg will restore the grill to its original design), and while it's apparent the original color of the car was maroon, it was painted red when it was restored. That red faded to pink during the years prior to 1977 that it sat outside.

Those years in a field also took its toll on the chassis. The undercarriage is nearly rusted through. The only thing holding it together is the car's solid body, though it's rusted at the edges. The frame will likely need to be refabricated, but the restoration crew has a leg up on where to turn, potentially, for the work: Graham Manufacturing.

In all the paperwork saved by Alt is a complete list by Thomas and Richardson of every piece of material that went into building the car and where it was sourced. The original frame was fabricated at Graham, as it turns out.  

McClurg, who is officially retired from the auto restoration business, is used to working on cars for which there are thousands of companies, meaning a supply of spare parts, but with the Rocket Car, there's only one. But McClurg said that won't be a problem.

"Rust doesn't care," McClurg said. "Everything is there to work with. You either have to refabricate or work with what's there. It's just got to be done. It's all labor intensive."

Once the car was out of the barn yesterday, Witt got to see the car all the way around for the first time, and he admitted to a sense of awe and wonder.

"It's unimaginable to me, and I've been collecting cars since the early '60s, to think that really, a couple of guys, Richardson and Thomas, were able to do this, because many of the sheet metal things were handcrafted," Witt said. "We've even unloaded the tools used when this was crafted, when it was shipped, and to think of the engineering, it was truly 10 years ahead of its time."

rocketcarnov52015-2.jpg

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Norm Richardson with the Thomas in a photo that was part of Gary Alt's collection.

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Norm Wright, left, Dick McClurg, Ken Witt, Dave Salway and Gary Alt.

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Back home in Batavia ... 

rocketcarnov52015-12.jpg

Ken Witt checks the odometer.

November 4, 2015 - 3:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in County History Department, history.

There are a lot of people passionate about local history, and more and more are getting clued into what the Genesee County History Department has to offer, according to Michael Eula, the county historian.

Visits and phone calls to the county's history department have increased to 1,243 so far this year, up from 1,181 a year ago. There are 1,812 volunteer and student projects connected with the department, an increase on last year's count of 1,761. There were 163 requests for genealogies and local history projects, a significant increase over last year's total of 86.

There has also been an increase in donations of artifacts to the department, Eula said. There have been 22 donations so far this year, compared to a total of 15 the year before.

Eula attributes some of the increased interest in the department to a Web site with more information about what's available, but Eula said since becoming director he's made it a point to make the department more visible. He's had booths and displays at numerous community events.

"We encountered a number of people at the Genesee County Fair, for example, who didn't know the department existed and now we're seeing them here because they became interested in coming to see the library and what we have," Eula said.

A few nights ago, Eula spoke to the WNY Geneology Association at its meeting in Buffalo and gave an overview of what Genesee County has to offer searchers and those kinds of events help generate more use of the department's collection, and for genealogy, and more fees for the department.

The artifact donations range from newspapers and family mementos to souvenir Batavia Muckdogs' programs.

"The donations give people more material to work with," Eula said. "This is a very rich county in terms of its history and the number of people who are very passionate about understanding the local history and how it connects to national, wider developments."

October 26, 2015 - 4:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, Announcements, history.

In honor of New York State History Month, which is celebrated the entire month of November, the Genesee County Federation of Historical Agencies, Western New York Association of Historic Agencies (WNYAHA) and the Genesee Community College History Club are teaming up to sponsor "History Day" at GCC on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the College Forum.

The aim of the event is to promote awareness of all of the historical assets in Genesee County and is free and open to the public.

Museums and historical agencies from all over Genesee County will set up booths for visitors to explore. In addition, there will be local history books on sale, craft demonstrations, reenactors from different periods in history, firing demonstrations and much more.

The GCC History Club will also provide a photo booth where attendees can have their picture taken with impressionists of Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

"I am very excited about History Day!" Derek Maxfield, GCC's associate professor of History said. "We did this a few years ago and it was very well received. It is a great way for the public to learn about what our county has to offer in museums, historical societies and historical assets."

New York State History Month was created by the New York State legislature in 1997 and represents an opportunity for historians to assert the vital importance of preserving and learning about our state's history. It is also a time to engage with the public through programs and learning opportunities about the history of New York State and the ways in which we can help preserve our history.

October 15, 2015 - 1:04pm
posted by Holland Land Office in history, Fall Festival, food, drinks, live music, reenactors, kids games.
Event Date and Time: 
October 25, 2015 -
1:00pm to 5:00pm
Sunday, October 25th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, the Holland Land Office Museum will be at the Willow Bend Inn at 3489 West Main Street Road to celebrate our annual Fall Festival! Live music provided by Red Creek. Delicious food and drink specials all afternoon. Costumed re-enactors will be firing off rifles and sharing local history. Activities and games for children, and a basket raffle of local produce and more for adults. $5.00 cover at the door, FREE for kids.
October 6, 2015 - 12:48pm
posted by Jamie Lindsley in history, Oakfield, psychic.
Event Date and Time: 
October 29, 2015 - 7:00pm
The Oakfield Historical Society is proud to present our fall fundraising event: Group reading by Frank R. Lord, New York State's youngest and most accurate registered psychic, clairvoyant, medium, and spiritual advisor.  $20 per person.  Tickets available at Warner's Flower Shop or by calling Dar at 585-948-5500 or Laurie at 585-259-4145.  Location is in the new community at Oakfield Town Hall - 3219 Drake Street (route 262). Frank offers spiritual guidance with emphasis mainly on what the past, present, and future hold for the individual who seeks the answers they need.
October 6, 2015 - 12:35pm
posted by Jamie Lindsley in Native Americans, arts and crafts, history.
Event Date and Time: 
October 6, 2015 - 7:00pm
The Oakfield Historical Society will host a presentation by longtime community resident Bill Chase on Native American crafts at the Village of Oakfield office.  All are welcome.
October 2, 2015 - 1:14pm
posted by Holland Land Office in history, travel, family, driving, Museum.
Event Date and Time: 
October 3, 2015 - 10:00am to October 4, 2015 - 5:00pm
Spend Saturday and/or Sunday visiting these local museums. Get your passport stamped at each museum you visit and win a discount at a local restaurant or other merchant. Fun, educational, and just plain interesting!  Participating Museums include:
  • Medina Historical Society
  • Medina Railroad Museum
  • Oakfield Historical Society
  • Alabama Historical Society
  • Attica Historical Society
  • Alexander Historical Society
  • Holland Land Office Museum
  • Stafford Museum of History
  • Bergen House: Barn & Livery
September 29, 2015 - 9:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thomas Rocket Car, batavia, history.

thomasrocketcarsept282015.jpg

davehowe_sept282015.jpg Backup cameras on cars, they're practically standard features on new cars and soon they'll be required. You might say, they were invented right here in Batavia, but long before cars even had air bags.

Oh, those were first dreamed up, in a fashion, by a Batavia inventor, too.

Charles D. Thomas, born in Batavia in 1910, grew up to be a car designer and his dream car was Thomas Rocket Car. Designed to be sleek and powerful, Thomas also dreamed of a car that was affordable and safe at a time when safety wasn't a high priority in Detroit. 

So he invented the "Ventriscope": a periscope-type of device that gave drivers of the world to their rear. He also came up with the idea of extra padding in the passenger compartment to protect occupants in a crash. Your car has four-wheel independent suspension. That didn't exist in 1938 when Thomas built his Rocket Car, which did have four-wheel independent suspension. 

When Thomas showed off his car in Detroit, experts agreed it was at least a decade ahead of its time.

You might say Charles Thomas was the Preston Tucker of Batavia, but it was also Tucker's failure to bring his own car to market as a mass-produced automobile that also doomed the Rocket Car. When Tucker failed, investors were scared off of such a unique and inventive conception of motoring. 

There was only one Thomas Rocket Car ever made. It was built in an auto shop about where Dunn Tire is now. A group of antique car buffs think it's time for this unique piece of Batavia history be returned to its rightful home, but it will take the cooperation of the City Council to make it happen.

Local businessman Dave Howe, owner of Charles Men's Shop and the Masonic Temple building, and an antique car collector, represented the group of would-be Rocket car restorers at Monday's council meeting and said the group has a simple request: That the city agree to accept the car, once it's fully restored, as a gift and agree to keep it and display it for the public.

Howe said he and the group believe the car will be a tourist attraction since its well known to auto history enthusiasts and car collectors and will give Batavia a unique perspective on the city's history.

The council will consider the request at its next business meeting.

Accepting the car as a gift will cost the city nothing, Howe said, and outside of keeping it clean and acquiring antique car insurance, which Howe described as inexpensive, the ongoing expense for the city will be minimal.

The group interested in restoring the car is really only interested in purchasing it (the car and all its parts have been located, but not yet acquired) if the city is willing to accept the gift.

September 26, 2015 - 1:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, history, batavia.

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Assemblyman Steve Hawley presents a proclamation today to Jeff Donahue, director of the Holland Land Office Museum, during a rededication ceremony on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Holland Land Office. 

Dr. Roger Triftshauser, a retired Navy rear admiral and former chairman of the County Legislature, gave the keynote address.

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August 26, 2015 - 11:23am

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that applications are now available for municipalities and not-for-profits seeking grant money for historical and art preservation projects through the Technical Assistance Grant Program.

Grants will not exceed $3,000 per project and are only available for short-term, stand-alone ventures that seek to preserve cultural and historical heritage.

“I am excited to announce that applications have been released for this grant program,” Hawley said. “New York is one of the most historically rich states in the nation with structures and stories dating back to our existence as one of the original thirteen colonies.

"As a supporter of history and arts in our schools, I am proud to promote this endeavor and thank the New York State Council on the Arts and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor for their support. I encourage local historical groups and municipalities to take advantage of this opportunity and continue their tradition of preserving New York’s amazing history.”

The deadline for fall 2015 grant applications is Sept. 8th and interested applicants are required to call the Preservation League of New York State at 518-462-5658, ext. 10, to discuss potential projects. More information on the grant application process can be found at http://www.preservenys.org/tag-2015.html

August 4, 2015 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, civil war, history.

Press release:

GCC has founded a new history club, which is proudly sponsoring a new lecture series called Historical Horizons. Starting this September, and continuing on each first Wednesday of the month, a different dynamic speaker will be offering new topics about historical events, people, places and topics that continue to impact the world today. 

The club is a follow up to the college's successful Civil War Initiative, established in 2011, which has included numerous lectures, encampments, parades, Victorian balls and the Heritage Heroes recognition ceremony in Orleans County.

"The success of the Civil War Initiative continues with the GCC's new History Club and our Historical Horizons Lecture series," said Derek Maxfield, GCC's associate professor of History. "As the end of the Civil War Initiative approached, many people asked me, 'So what's next? Does that mean no more lectures? No more living history events?' Thankfully with the support of our new History Club, we can continue the lecture series, and open it up to any historical topic. It is my hope that we can build on that in the future and support living history events and heritage festivals."

The Fall 2015 semester lineup for the Historical Horizons speakers includes:

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 / Batavia Campus / T102

Tom Schobert, president of Buffalo Civil War Roundtable and Robert E. Lee impressionist, will kick off the series with "The Alamo – The Myth, the Reality...and John Wayne!" Like other high-profile events in American history, the story of the Alamo is shrouded in legends and myths. This lecture will cover the known facts as well as the legends and lore, and also how John Wayne got involved.

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7 / Batavia Campus / T102

Kristopher D. White will present, "Hell's Half-Acre: The Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania." White, co-author of "A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House," is an adjunct professor of History at Allegany Community College, and also co-founder of Emerging Civil War online journal. He will explore the reasons for this bloody battle, the innovative tactics used to break the Confederate lines, and tell the horrific tales from the men who were trapped in a no-man's-land between two armies.

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 / Batavia Campus / T102

Jim Simon, GCC associate dean of Orleans County Campus Centers, will explore how the philosophy of history impacts politics and culture in a talk entitled, "The Philosophy of History: What does it Matter?" From the recent Supreme Court case legalizing gay marriage to the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol, Simon will discuss how history informs students, teachers, citizens and policy makers in the 21st Century.

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 / Batavia Campus / T102

In "Recalling Reconstruction: The Ugly Story of a Splendid Failure," Derek Maxfield, GCC associate professor of History, will discuss the end of the Civil War and how President Lincoln counseled his generals not to gloat in victory and to avoid bitterness and animosity. "Let 'em up easy," he said. Lincoln did not live to oversee the Reconstruction, which wound up taking a dark turn.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Maxfield also encourages attendees to stay tuned for other dates at Genesee Community College campus centers.

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