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June 15, 2017 - 2:14pm

Anne Marie Starowitz, coordinator of the Holland Land Office Museum History Heroes Summer Program, and HLOM Director Ryan Duffy.

Press release and submitted photo:

The theme for the 2017 History Heroes Summer Program at the Holland Land Office Museum is "Carnival Days." This year the children will work together to create a Penny Carnival and donate the money to a charity.

The program ends with the carnival and a multimedia production showcasing our local history with the children talking about historical places in Batavia. 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 18th and runs for eight weekdays, ending on Friday, July 28th.

The cost for the program is $25 a day for nonmembers 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. Deadline to register is Saturday, July 1.

June 4, 2017 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, Oderkirk Acres, agriculture, news, history.


Richard Oderkirk is still growing sunflowers this year, and vegetables and other flowers, but that big old barn that was once the backdrop for a scenic view along Route 33 in Stafford won't be there anymore to provide a touch of history to the six-generation family farm.

The barn was heavily damaged in a storm a couple of winters ago and this morning Stafford fire, with help from Bethany and South Byron, managed a controlled burn on what was left of the structure.

Oderkirk, along with his daughter, who currently lives in the old farmhouse on the property, was there to watch what was left of the century-old barn go up in flames.

Like a lot of old barns that have been lost over the years, this one long ago needed a new roof and it didn't get it, and that's the main reason it fell apart, Oderkirk said. The other barns on the property have been re-roofed.

The roof on this barn was added in 1922, Oderkirk said, because his grandmother for some reason wanted a gable roof on it. Oderkirk said he didn't know why she decided to make the change, but the barn was also enlarged at the time.

"My dad had mentioned the roofers kept the nails in the house so they were warm, so they worked all winter, or part of winter, putting the cedar shingles on," Oderkirk said.

The timber in the beams was still green when they were nailed into place, Oderkirk said, and when the hardwood dried around those nails the wood became hard as rock, he said.

"I can't even pull those nails out now," he said.

Previously: Sunflower farm adds beauty, but grower wants to sell produce









April 12, 2017 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, history, news.


The Town of Oakfield is 175 years old, and to celebrate yesterday evening, town officials dressed up in 1840s-era clothes for a special town board meeting.

The Town split off from Elba and became its own town on April 11, 1842 and by coincidence, the town board had a regularly scheduled meeting for April 11, 2017.

Resident Jay Wolcott, a sixth-generation Wolcott, an original founding family (bottom photo), shared some local history and Supervisor Carol Glor called the meeting to order with a recitation of the history of the formation of the first local governing body.

Highway Superintendent Alan Dennis talked a bit about why officials decided to hold this celebration.

"As a town board, we feel history and local history are important," he said.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, below, presented the town with an official Assembly proclamation commemorating the anniversary.

Photo: Code Enforcement Officer Mark Mikolajczyk, left, Highway Superintendent Alan Dennis, Councilman Tim Kabel, Town Clerk Melissa Haacke, Supervisor Carol Glor, Councilman Jim Veazey, Councilman Kim Wolcott and Councilman Matt Martin.






April 10, 2017 - 4:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
April 11, 2017 (All day) to June 10, 2017 (All day)

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the upcoming unveiling of our new World War One exhibit: “Over There to Over Here: 100 Years Later Genesee County in the Great War.” The exhibit is meant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI. It will display a number of military items connected to local residents, as well as, items from the home front.

April 8, 2017 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield Museum, Oakfield, history, news.


The Oakfield Museum opened for the season today and one of the new displays honors one of Oakfield's founding families, the Wolcotts.

Jay Wolcott, pictured, provided information for the display on the family's history.

Erastus Wolcott and Oliver Wolcott settled in Oakfield in 1801. Jay is the 6th generation of Wolcotts to live in Oakfield, a family that goes back 12 generations in America.

The Wolcotts over six generations in Oakfield have been farmers, business owners, and civic officials.

March 31, 2017 - 1:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
April 11, 2017 -
5:00pm to 7:00pm

The Holland Land Office Museum will be holding an Opening Reception for the public to view our new World War I exhibit: “Over There to Over Here: 100 Years Later, Genesee County in the Great War. The public is inviting to view the new exhibit and learn more about local connections to WWI. Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are encouraged, but not necessary. To RSVP please call the museum at 585-343-4727.

March 1, 2017 - 11:01am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, pembroke, Pembroke Museum.

Continuing with our series, take a peak inside the Pembroke Museum located in the town offices at 1145 Main Road, Corfu (NY 14036).

Your visit is always welcome - call 585-599-4892 to schedule a visit!

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 22, 2017 - 2:23pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Oakfield, Oakfield Museum.

The Oakfield Historical Museum will theme their 2017 exhibits in honor of the town's 175th anniversary. As you'll learn in this short clip, the museum showcases a large variety of history including the town's Native American heritage and mining roots.

Your visit is always welcome -- call 585-948-5901 for a personal tour! Oakfield Historical Society, 7 Maple Ave., Oakfield; 585-259-4145.

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.


February 14, 2017 - 11:59am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in Le Roy, Jell-O, history, news.

There's no better way to celebrate National JELL-O Week than by visiting the JELL-O Gallery in Le Roy! “America’s Most Famous Dessert” was invented in Le Roy in 1897. Visit the Museum dedicated to all things JELL-O, and pick up unique JELL-O-themed souvenirs in their gift shop. 

The gallery is open Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours beginning in the Spring.

JELL-O Gallery, 23 E. Main St., Le Roy, NY; 585-768-7433.

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 13, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Le Roy, Historic Le Roy House, news, tourism.

Tour this mansion-turned-museum for over 100 years of unique history! The Historic Le Roy house was built in 1822 by Jacob LeRoy and later owned by the chancellor of Ingham University, which was the first female university in the United States to grant a four-year degree.

Learn more in this week's historical society feature and be sure to pay a visit! The museum is open Monday -- Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours beginning in the Spring.

Historic Le Roy House, 23 E. Main St., Le Roy, NY; 585-768-7433.

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

February 11, 2017 - 5:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, batavia, history, Ryan Duffy, news.


Ryan Duffy decided in high school that he wanted to work in a history museum.

Now, he's running one.

Duffy is the new director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia and yesterday the museum held a reception to welcome him to his new job.

He started Jan. 17 and said he's already fascinated by what he's finding in the museum.

"I go upstairs every day to work on some things and I find something new that I find I’m amazed that it’s here, that you would expect to be some place much bigger than here," he said.

One reason Duffy is going through the collection is he's trying to plan future exhibits, which he said may focus on local history, or he may explore cooperative efforts with other museums for exhibits with ties to Genesee County, but not specifically Genesee County. He's currently working on a possible World War I exhibit and he's found some items he was surprised might be part of the local collection, such as a war department document. He said he's also impressed with the range of military uniforms the museum owns, representing all branches of service spanning the history of the country.

To help get more people to visit the museum, he's exploring the idea of trivia nights and more family-oriented events.

Duffy, originally from Eden, received his BA in history from St. Bonaventure University. He received a master's dpegree in history from Bowling Green University and a Master's Certificate in Museum Studies from SUNY Buffalo State College.

"I’ve become more and more interested in local history as I’ve gone along, so I thought, ‘I’m still in Western New York -- it’s still my history in that regard,’ " Duffy said, explaining why he applied for the job when he heard HLOM was looking for a new director. "I still feel a connection to it and I get to do what I actually want to do.”

February 8, 2017 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, history, news.


I've been in the county's history department a few times but never noticed this sculpture before.

It's by Giovanni-Battista Lombardi, an Italian sculptor who lived from 1823 to 1880.

The bust was originally the property of the Dean Richmond family, and the last family to live in the Richmond Mansion, Watts Richmond, sold it to C.C. Bradley Sr., who donated it the history department in 1978.

It's striking because the veil looks so natural from a slight distance, but step closer and you see it's also marble.

The technique was popularized by sculptor Rafaelle Monti (1818-1881).

Based on a Google search, Lombardi seems to have made several copies of this bust. This one is dated 1866. The Metropolitan Museum of Art lists one in its collection from 1869. Earlier versions seem to exist as well.

February 8, 2017 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, news.


The Genesee County History Department has received an interesting donation. It is a surveyor's transit that once belonged to Joseph W. Holmes.

Holmes was born in 1831 in Alabama and would eventually become the village engineer for Batavia. He became a preeminent engineer in Western New York, according to Michael Eula, director of the History Department. He was also an inventor, manufacturer and served one term representing Genesee County in the NYS Assembly.

He died in 1919.

The transit probably passed to his son, Glenn D. Holmes, also born in Alabama, in 1873, and a graduate of Batavia High School and Cornell University. He eventually became city engineer for Syracuse.

A resident of Hamilton discovered the transit along with some books that belonged to Glenn D. Holmes in his residence and made the donation to Genesee County. The transit is inscribed with the name of Joseph Holmes and "Batavia, NY."

It bears a striking resemblance to a transit Holmes used in a patent filing in 1883 for modifications and improvements to a transit for the purpose of better acquiring an accurate solar time. In an article on the evolution of the transit, Holmes is cited as one of several inventors who made modifications to the device during that era.

“This instrument is a wonderful example of the place that engineers held both in Western New York and indeed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," Eula said. "Engineers were really at the forefront of economic modernization that was taking place around the country."





In the collection of material donated was a sales receipt from Joseph W. Holmes.


January 31, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in Alexander Museum, alexander, history, news.

Enjoy a peek inside the Alexander Museum located in the only three-story cobblestone town hall in America. The museum's large open space is filled with a wide-ranging collection - from farmers' tools to old record players, there's a lot to explore here.

To visit, contact Historian Katie Goodman at 585-591-1204 or by email to schedule a tour.

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

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

January 24, 2017 - 12:17pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in byron, Byron Museum, history, news.

A unique feature of the Byron Museum is that it is located in an historic church -- the sanctuary of the former German Lutheran church is packed with countless items, including clothing, textiles, photographs and yearbooks. Behind the church, there is a large annex dedicated to farming equipment and items. To tour this museum, call town historian, Bob Wilson at 585-548-9008.

Visit to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions.

January 18, 2017 - 2:08pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in history, Alabama Museum, Alabama, news.

The Chamber's tourism staff recently visited each of our Genesee County history museums, so that we could better share with visitors our unique history. Most of our towns and villages have preserved vast collections of local history that are waiting for you to explore. Many of the historical societies are run by volunteers, so you'll just need to call ahead to schedule a most welcomed visit.

In this video, you'll learn about the Alabama Museum in Alabama, NY. Contact Alabama Historian Joseph Cassidy at 585-813-2812 to schedule a tour.

Check back each week to learn about another local museum!

The Alabama 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 Basom 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.

Alabama Museum, 2218 Judge Road, Alabama, NY; 585-813-2812.

Visit to learn more...

November 29, 2016 - 6:12am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee county, history, news, tourism, hlom.

If you have a history lover or a curiosity seeker on your holiday shopping list, the gift shop area of the Holland Land Office Museum (131 W. Main St., Batavia) is going to be your best friend this holiday season.

Genesee County is blessed with rich American history. The county’s location and people have made significant contributions to the history of our country. The Holland Land Office Museum has a great gift shop that features many local history books and local history items for sale. It’s refreshing to see such a nice array of offerings.

You can visit the gift shop area Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take a look at some of our favorite items:











Visit to learn more...
November 15, 2016 - 9:00am
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
November 13, 2016 -
1:00pm to 3:00pm

Exhibits on U.S. Gypsum Company, company housing, Native American history, and Oakfield’s war time contributions.

October 15, 2016 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Oakfield, news.


Bill Chase, a tour guide today, stands on "the big rock" near the site of what was once one of the largest Native American settlements in the region, on property now owned by Lamb Farms in the Town of Oakfield. The rock may have served as a grinding stone for the Indians, but there is little evidence to support that supposition. At one time, Town of Oakfield considered moving the stone into Triangle Park.

The visit to the big rock was part of four tours today of 30 people each to the site known to later generations of Seneca as Tegat Ainea Aghgue, or town with two forts.  It's the first time the Oakfield Historical Society organized a tour of the site and it proved to be hugely popular. All four tours were sold out and another 30 or 40 people wanted to go on the tour.

The location of the other fort has never been confirmed, but the Oakfield fort was occupied for about 100 years during the 12th and 13th centuries.

The fort was located on the banks of a creek in an area that may have been cleared of trees by fire. Evidence suggests that the Indians waited for new saplings to grow big enough and tall enough to serve as a fence for the fort. They also dug a ditch around the five acres of the fort.

Reverend Samuel Kirkland first visited the site in 1788 and found large trees growing in the area, but the mound and ditch were clearly visible. 

Sixty years later, E.G. Squire mapped the fort, even though part had been cleared by that time for farmland. 

The woods were filled with trees of enormous size and age, he reported. 

Kirkland may have found the second fort, but it has never been located since.

In 1958, a team from University at Buffalo, led by professor Marion White, assisted by amateur archeologist Stanley Vanderlaan, dug a portion of the site and discovered the remains of three longhouses. 

Many residents have known about the area their whole lives and one person on the tour said for a long time it was still possible to find arrowheads in the farm field right after the spring plowing.

The land is privately owned, but that doesn't stop motorcyclists and ATV riders from using the trails in the area. 

The guide reminded everybody they should not visit the site without permission. There may come a day in the future when archeologists want to return, perhaps with better and more sophisticated equipment to help uncover more about the lives of these early settlers. 


The embankment to the right is part of the ditch that surrounded the fort.



This white oak -- the white oak is what gives Oakfield its name -- is possibly the largest and oldest still standing in Oakfield. It's more than 300 years old. Each member of the tour was offered an acorn from a white oak to take home and try and grow. 







October 4, 2016 - 12:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in history, GCC, news, civil war, Announcements.

Press release:

The History Club at Genesee Community College is planning an educational spring break trip to Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding area in March. In an effort to support the experiential learning opportunity and raise the necessary funds, the club is hosting a special event at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building at the GCC Batavia campus.

"Four Days After Appomattox" with General Robert E. Lee will take the audience back in time to the end of the Civil War just days after Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. General Lee recounts the war and imagines a future for himself and his countrymen.

"Tom Schobert's impression of Robert E. Lee is the very best historical impression I have ever witnessed," said Derek Maxfield, GCC associate professor of History and History Club advisor. "I have seen the 'Four Days' presentation several times and am always profoundly moved by it. He really captures Lee's character and manner and gives a spellbinding presentation."

The very moving program features Thomas Schobert, a Robert E. Lee impressionist of many years' experience. Schobert began his impression on the eve of the Civil War Sesquicentennial in 2011. Prior to donning the famous gray uniform, Schobert had been a longtime Union re-enactor doing a medical impression. Schobert brought to his impression many years of military experience in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

"It seems so appropriate to host the Lee presentation when the History Club has determined to go to the Richmond, Virginia area on spring break," Maxfield added. "I am excited by the prospect of taking the Club to Richmond and Washington, D.C. There are so many great historical sites we could visit! The problem will be the selection process given the limited amount of time, and raising the necessary funds."

Tickets for the event are $15 each or two for $25 and will be available at the door; cash and checks only. To reserve tickets, contact Derek Maxfield at [email protected] or by calling (585) 343-0055, ext. 6288. Ticket-holders will have an opportunity to have their picture taken with General Lee at no additional charge after the presentation.


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