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May 22, 2015 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in world war i, war, history.


All of these local names, Dewey Sackett, Charles Votrie, James Hannah, Lee Kingdon, Willis Peck, Glenn Loomis, Florence Carney, John Arneth and many more. All young lives cut short in the War to End All Wars.

That was nearly 100 years ago. We may see their names on gravestones, or memorial markers or on honor rolls, but we know only the names. We don't know where they lived, where they worked, who they loved, what they dreamed or how they died.

They're war dead. That's what we know. So we honor them.

Former Le Roy resident Terry Krautwurst thought we should know more. We may read the names, but we shouldn't forget the people, so he has given us, residents of Genesee County, a gift -- a gift of remembrance.

For the past six years, Krautwurst has researched the war dead of Genesee County from World War I. He combed through newspaper articles and federal archives in St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., in an attempt to identify all of the World War I men and women from Genesee County who died while serving their country.

He's compiled biographies, complete with military service records, detailing those lives, lifted from newspapers and death records, concerning 78 people who died during the war while in uniform.

That's a longer honor roll than probably anybody ever really knew about.

It was discrepancies in honor rolls that prompted Kautwurst's research in the first place.

"In 2009, while researching the World War I career of my grandfather, Stanley Crocker, of Le Roy, I noticed that the number of names on honor roll lists of Genesee County war dead that had been published in area newspapers varied," Krautwurst said. "They varied not just in number, from 52 to 61, but also the names themselves varied."

Untangling the mystery of the lists became a passion for Krautwurst.

"It seemed only right and proper to set the record straight," Krautwurst said. "I decided to research and resolve the discrepancies and produce an updated and maybe more accurate list. I figured it would take me a few weeks."

Krauthwurst donated the research of his six-year-long research project to the Genesee County History Department last week.

"Terry has performed an invaluable service to the county," said Michael Eula, director of the history department. "This is a tremendous resource and I doubt it's going to be seen in many other counties around the country regarding the first World War."

The deeper Krautwurst dug, the more discrepancies he found, including misspelled names, incorrect dates, hometowns and military assignments.

He kept detailed files on each of the war dead and his records, and the stories he tells of each person, fills eight volumes that will be available to the public at the history department in County Building #2.

"This provides a wealth of primary source information to first and foremost family members who still may be still wondering what happened generations ago and researchers looking at the local impact of the first World War, so this is an incredibly rich and valuable addition to the county archives," Eula said.

Krautwurst photocopied more than 1,200 military documents, which in some cases, include eyewitness accounts of a soldier's death and letters from a fallen soldier's parents.

"Sometimes, when I opened a soldier's file, I found his dog tags, which I photographed," Krauthwurst said.

Flipping through the pages and reading Krautwurst's articles, you learn family histories, the schools that soldiers attended, where they worked before getting drafted or enlisting, what they did in their spare time and, importantly, how and where they died.

Some died in the fields of France or the hills of Italy. Some died in combat, others hours and days later after their mangled bodies were borne on a stretcher to some field hospital. Some died from disease and some died in accidents.

"What has caught my eye is the playing out locally of what historians have talked about for a long time regarding the first World War," Eula said. "For example, a number of deaths were not the result in combat. Somebody gets killed in an auto accident when they're training someplace in the country. It shows the complexity of the moment."

The archive, Krautwurst hopes, will help us know better the people behind the names who sacrificed everything in a war often remembered for its brutality and how it reshaped society.

"These people who gave so much were right on the edge of forgotten," Krautwurst said. "I just didn't want that to happen."


County Historian Michael Eula with the eight volume of World War I war dead compiled by Terry Krautwurst.




May 20, 2015 - 3:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, history, batavia.


The Holland Land Office Museum has replaced its decade-old banner with two new posters featuring Joseph Ellicott and Gen. Emory Upton.

The posters were created by Vinyl Sticks and sponsored by Ken Barrett Chevrolet and Cadillac.

Speaking of HLOM, June speakers:

Tuesday June 9th, 6 to 8 p.m., Genesee County Historian Michael Eula; Topic: Why do wars happen? Genesee County and the problems of human conflict 1775 – present

Friday June 12th, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Erica Wanecski; Topic: Health Resorts in the 19th Century

For more information call the Holland Land Office Museum, (585) 343-4727​ 

April 19, 2015 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Wiard Plow.

Photos from Albert Kurek. He isn't sure where the photos were taken. There's a sign that says "Wiard Plows" and a "Le Roy Plows" sign. The men are NYS Troopers and the photos are from 1921, Kurek said.

March 21, 2015 - 10:36pm

The Daughters of the American Civil War sponsored a Civil War Ball on Friday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

The event commemorated:

  • 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812
  • 200th Anniversary of the Holland Land Purchase
  • 150th Anniversary of the End of the Civil War
  • 100th Anniversary of the City of Batavia

January 30, 2015 - 10:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history, hlom.

The Holland Land Office Museum opens a new exhibit at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, to commemorate 200th anniversary of the building it calls home.

The building was the third location built by Joseph Ellicott for the Holland Land Office, where Ellicott and his agents sold property to Western New York's first settlers.

That's why they call it the "Birthplace of Western New York."

Some of those first deeds, called indentures, will be on display in the new exhibit, along with surveying material as well as other items that made the land office a land office.

The exhibit will cover the entire period of land office history, including the War of 1812 and the impact of the Erie Canel on WNY trade.

Some of the exhibits will be affixed to panels covered with carpet (the better to hold Velcro) donated by Max Pies Furniture.

There's also information on how John Kennedy, the local educator and education reformer, saved the building for Batavia when Henry Ford tried to buy it and move it to his property in Michigan.

The exhibit kicks off a series of bicentennial events, including in May the burying of a time capsule. 

Fifth-graders from throughout Genesee County are being invited to write letters to their future selves to be buried in the time capsule.  

Any local resident can include a letter or other small item in the time capsule. Call the museum at (585) 343-4727 for more information.

The museum was first dedicated Oct. 13, 1894, and it will be rededicated Oct. 13 of this year.

Photo: Jeff Donahue, museum director, Jim Owen, museum board member, Phil Pies and Steve Pies of Max Pies Furniture.

January 27, 2015 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history.

Tony Mancuso shared with us another picture of old Batavia from his family archive. This shot is of a group known as the Batavia Archers. He doesn't know the year nor can he identify most of the people in the photo. He'd love to hear from anybody who can. His father, Joe Mancuso, is second from the left. The young lad looking like Robin Hood, near the center of the photo with the feather in his cap, is Jim DiSalvo, currently owner of Applied Business Systems and of the home on Fargo Road known for its annual Christmas lights display.

January 12, 2015 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history.

Tony Mancuso sent in this photo of his father, Joseph Laurence Mancuso, handing out NRA junior diplomas many years ago.

Tony's father did gun safety training and started Batavia Archers.

Tony said he doesn't know the other folks in the photo, but said it would be great to find out who they are. Recognize anybody? Leave a comment, if so.

September 22, 2014 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, history, hlom, p.w. minor.

Jane Read and Anne Marie Starowitz were at Holland Land Office Museum on Saturday morning setting up a new exhibition about the history of local shoemaker p.w. minor. 

The grand opening of the display is Oct. 2.

Employees and retirees of p.w. minor are invited to a preview at 3 p.m. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting at 6:30 p.m.

Many of the items in the display were provided on loan from The new p.w. minor.


July 13, 2014 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Oakfield.

Master Sgt. Jason Earle (retired), a former Genesee County resident, was visiting the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio when the word "Oakfield" caught his eye.

A bag of beans labeled "George W. Haxton & Son, Inc., Oakfield, N.Y." was in a display showcasing the USAF's efforts during the Berlin Airlift following World War II.

Earle said, "I'm quite sure there was a lot of war effort going on with the numerous factories the county had at the time, but nobody really thinks of what effect our local farmers had as well."

July 9, 2014 - 2:32pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

This is the last in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Arkansas, an unincorporated collection of houses and other buildings west of Harrison in Batavia Township, Boone County. It is nestled in a beautiful area of the Ozark Mountains.

At one time, Batavia, Ark., was an incorporated community. It had a post office, stores, hotels, a canning factory, a train depot, a stockyard, mills, a blacksmith shop, a school, and churches. Today, the railroad is gone, the post office closed, and only houses, three churches, and a small repair business still exist. A convenience store and the bar and grill into which it had recently been converted, were both out of business in the spring of this year.

The local historians assert that the community was named about 1880 by Rowell Underwood who became the first postmaster and named the town after his hometown of Batavia, N.Y. They also claim that Underwood had worked for four years in Genesee County as a surveyor for the Holland Land Co. The latter claim seems improbable because the Holland Land Co. had ceased its operations in Western New York in the mid-1830s. If the claim were true, it would make Underwood at least 70 years old at the time he became postmaster in Arkansas.

July 8, 2014 - 1:07pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Iowa, an incorporated city of around 500 people located west of Fairfield in Jefferson County. The city (no, that is not a typo) is governed by a mayor and five councilmen.

According to local records, Batavia, Iowa, was laid out in 1846 by David Switzer, a county surveyor, for William McKee, Henry Crease, and Elijah O’Bannor, proprietors. Besides the proprietors, other early settlers included Henry Punnybecker, Joseph Crease, and Benjamin Abbertson. At that time, the community was named “Creaseville (or Creeseville)."

Seven years later, in 1853, in response to a petition presented to the State by William Hambrick with the unanimous consent of the people in the town, the name of Creaseville was changed to “Batavia.” Who Hambrick was, where he came from, and how he persuaded fellow residents to change the name is lost in history.

In a later Federal census, the same apparent Hambrick shows up in Western Iowa. In this census, he is identified as a German immigrant. This leads to the speculation that William Hambrick may have been a native of Passau, Germany, a city once named “Batavia” after the Batavii, the same Germanic tribe that temporarily gave its name to the Netherlands and, thus, indirectly to Batavia, N.Y. If this is correct, it would explain why Hambrick liked the name, but it still leaves a major mystery. How did Hambrick persuade the residents of Creaseville to change the name of their town, named after two of the first settlers, to the former name of a city in Germany?

July 6, 2014 - 1:35pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Wisconsin, an unincorporated collection of houses and other buildings southwest of Sheboygan in Sheboygan County.

Local historians regard 1851 as the year in which Batavia, Wis., was founded, although there appear to have been settlers beginning in 1846. They claim that the name originated from the many early settlers who came from near Batavia, N.Y. However, unlike other communities, the process by which this naming came about is not recorded.

Batavia, Wis., grew into a fair-sized village. By 1900, there were two dry good stores, one furniture store, one hardware store, a carriage and wagon factory, a hotel, a dance hall, two blacksmith shops, a tin shop, a boot and shoe store, two churches, two schools, a sawmill, a grist mill, a cheese factory, an undertaker, a seamstress, a cigar factory, an egg flume (egg-shaped water conduit), an ice house, and a butcher shop.

Over time, this Batavia shrunk to the status of a hamlet. The one remaining school, an elementary school, had recently closed as of 2013. Most of the businesses and other enterprises listed above are gone. Nevertheless, the homes are generally well kept and the residents, who now generally find employment in other communities, appear to be reasonably prosperous.

However, for the most part, Batavia, Wis., is one of those places where, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Although there are two or three side streets, the community mainly consists of a single main street. One descends a grade to a small creek, Batavia Creek, and then ascends another grade while leaving town.

July 6, 2014 - 1:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history, Elm Street.

Joseph Gottstine found four $1 coins in the front yard of his mother-in-law, Stacy Lynn Neureuther, Saturday afternoon. What makes them such a neat find, is three of them are silver dollars from the 1880s. One is a silver dollar from 1971.

Gottstine's metal detector tells him if the hunk of metal under the ground is likely a penny, nickel, dime, quarter or silver dollar. Neureuther's yard on Elm Street is apparently filled with coins, though Gottstine only dug out the dollars.

Neureuther is curious how the coins got there. The house was built in 1910. Could construction workers have lost them? Or did they just accumulate over time.

She looked up the value of the coins online and the 19th Century pieces may be worth about $65 apiece.  

Gottstine said he took up the hobby of metal detecting about a year ago and this is probably his most exciting find yet.

July 5, 2014 - 2:35pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

This is the fourth in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Illinois, an incorporated city of around 27,000 people located west of Chicago in Kane County.

The city is governed by a mayor and 14 aldermen. Batavia, Ill., in its very earliest days, was a small settlement known as “Head of the Big Woods.” It was renamed “Batavia” in 1841 by Judge Isaac Wilson when he became the postmaster. Wilson, who previously lived in West Middlebury, Wyoming County, N.Y., had immigrated to Illinois in 1835. Historians in Illinois believe he wanted to honor Batavia, N.Y., where he would have seen service as a judge.

Batavia, Ill., is a very prosperous outer suburb of Chicago. The median home value in 2008 was $329,800 which compares to only around $85,000 for Batavia, N.Y. The estimated median family income in 2008 was $103,445. One reason for its wealth is its proximity to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

There is a variety of attractions for local residents and visitors alike. For example, the Fox River flows through the center of the community and there are numerous developments, including a performance center, that capitalize on this waterway. Batavia was once billed as “the windmill capital of the world” because of the number of windmill manufacturers in the city. Today, restored examples of the windmills are on display near the Government Center. Batavia also has a museum depicting local history that is situated in a restored train station.

July 2, 2014 - 12:57pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

Photos and story by City Historian Larry D. Barnes.

This is the second in a series of articles about the other communities, located east of the Rocky Mountains, that are named “Batavia.” This one is about Batavia, Ohio, an incorporated village of around 1,500 people located east of nearby Cincinnati in Clermont County, Ohio. The village is governed by a mayor and six-member village council.

George Ely is regarded as the founder of Batavia, Ohio. The community was laid out in 1814 by David Bryan and George Ely on land owned by Ely. Bryan was County Clerk at the time. Ely was a founding Mason and also served in several other prominent roles including those of County Sheriff and newspaper editor.

Eight years earlier and prior to laying out the community, George Ely erected a cabin on the bank of the East Fork of the Little Miami River, a stream that flows on the western boundary of present-day Batavia. He also built a water mill there, the first of its kind in the county. Later, he added a tavern and store.

George Ely is credited with naming Batavia, Ohio, but the historical record provides no direct indication of how he came up with the name. However, an educated guess can be made. Ely and his wife emigrated from New Jersey to Ohio in 1804. Their New Jersey home was close to Philadelphia and both of them were from wealthy families in that area. It is quite possible, therefore, that they knew Paolo Busti, head of the Holland Land Company’s American headquarters in Philadelphia. It is also quite possible that they knew James Stevens, head clerk of the Holland Land Company office in Batavia, N.Y., given that he was from the same area of New Jersey as the Elys. Furthermore, it is conceivable that they knew Joseph Ellicott and many others who, by 1804, had come from the greater Philadelphia area to reside in Batavia, N.Y. Given these likely associations, the name “Batavia,” was probably well known to George Ely. Perhaps he simply found the name attractive and chose it for that reason alone.

July 1, 2014 - 6:22pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history.

Batavia, N.Y., was founded in 1801 by Joseph Ellicott, surveyor and land agent for the Holland Land Company. Batavia was named after the homeland of the Holland Land Company investors who owned most of Western New York. At that time, their nation, the Netherlands, was called The Republic of Batavia.

Since then, at least eight other American communities have come into existence with the name, “Batavia.” They are located in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, Montana and California. However, none of these other communities had any connection to the Holland Land Company.

As City Historian for our Batavia, I am in the process of visiting the other Batavias to learn their history, visit with residents, discuss the origin of their name, and to take photographs. My first such trip was to Batavia, Ill., in the spring of 2011. Since then, I have also visited the other five Batavias east of the Rocky Mountains.

In the next few days, will carry a brief article and a few pictures pertaining to each of these places. As the reader will see, the other Batavias range from an incorporated community with 27,000 people to an unincorporated community with only a “handful” of people. As it has turned out, four of the six have direct historical links to Batavia, N.Y.

Larry D. Barnes

Batavia City Historian

June 2014

June 9, 2014 - 9:00am
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history, Batavia Centennial.

Batavia officially became a city on January 1, 1915 after having been an incorporated village since 1823. The transition involved a progression through several steps during 1914. During 2014, I will be acknowledging each of these events 100 years after their occurrence.

On this date 100 years ago, June 9, 1914, Batavians went to the polls to vote in a referendum on the proposed charter that would make Batavia a city. Earlier in the year, there had been two different proposals before the State legislature with one providing for a city government run by a city manager and five nonpartisan councilmen elected at large. That proposal failed to gain sufficient support from assemblymen and senators. So, the proposal now before voters in Batavia was a second one which had passed the Assembly and Senate and had been signed by the Governor. This second proposal featured a mayor, six city wards, and a council person from each ward, all with party affiliations.

Earlier in the year, a straw vote had been taken among Batavians on this second proposal, but many questions had been raised about the voting procedure. While the second proposal seemed to have voter support at that time, there was enough doubt about the matter to warrant voting again. Consequently, when the second proposal was passed by the Assembly and Senate, it had been amended to require a referendum on June 9th. If voters failed to again support the proposal at that time, Batavia would not become a city despite approval by the State legislature.

And so, on June 9th, Batavians once more went to the polls. The turnout was not very high, resulting in only a little more than half of the ballots normally cast in village elections. It was not clear what that might signify and it made some supporters of the second proposal a little nervous.

As it turned out, no one needed to worry. One-thousand and seven ballots were cast, with 795 yeas and 212 nays. Thus, after several years of discussion and debate, Batavia was finally going to become a city. All that remained was to elect the new government in upcoming December elections. Who would be elected to serve? In six months, I will let you know.

May 15, 2014 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in history.

We published photos of Whiskey 7 over the weekend from its refueling stop at the Genesee County Airport and shared that the plane is leaving today for France to take part of D-Day anniversary ceremonies.

This morning, The New York Times published a lengthy story about the plane and the historic trip.

The five-person, all-volunteer aircrew is packing life rafts, survival suits and other safety gear in the event of emergency. “There will be five of us onboard,” said Mike Lindsay, the crew chief, “and five parachutes.”

The farthest the Whiskey 7 has flown recently is to Wisconsin for an air show. But Mr. Lindsay and his fellow airmen say they are confident, even if the men they intend to honor are a little less so.

“I think it’s kind of nuts,” said Richard Ladd, 89, a local Veterans of Foreign Wars member who jumped out of a similar C-47 on D-Day as part of the 101st Airborne. “They’ve got more guts than we have.”

May 15, 2014 - 12:01am

Great and great-great nieces and nephews of Gabriel De Fabbio were at the Holland Land Office Museum this evening for a ceremony honoring De Fabbio and Paulo Busti.

De Fabbio was a resident of 38 Center St., Batavia, when he joined the Marines. He was killed in Vera Cruz during the Mexican-American War in 1914. One hundred years ago today De Fabbio was buried at the St. Joseph Cemetery in a huge public ceremony, the largest funeral in Batavia history (see the front page of the Buffalo Evening News from 1914 for photo depicting Downtown Batavia on that day).

Pictured are Joan Tresco, Kailyn Tresco, Peppi Palmer, Paul Tresco and Kay Emanuel.

A wreath was placed in front of the marker, erected in 1915, in the side yard of HLOM honoring De Fabbio, by Michelle Fuller, Jeff Donahue and Barb Toal. Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented a resolution honoring De Fabbio. HLOM board VP Garth Swanson gave a presentation on the life and military service of De Fabbio.

Paulo Busti was the principal agent of the Holland Land Office starting in 1800 and gave Batavia its name.

Frank Penepento played horn accompaniment just outside the museum while Anne Marie Starowitz inside read the lyrics to a song sung at De Fabbio's funeral.

Tom Cecere

May 10, 2014 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Genesee County Airport.

An honest bit of history was parked at the Genesee County Airport for a time this afternoon. Whiskey 7, a Douglas C-47 that actually dropped paratroopers on the beaches at Normandy, June 6, 1944, stopped for refueling on its way back to Geneseo. 

The aircraft "has been all over" said Naomi Wadsworth, the pilot. It's currently owned by the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo. After the war, it was sold to Capital Airlines, then Frontier Airlines, and then it was flown commercially in Alaska then South America before returning to the U.S. to be displayed in museums. The folks in Geneseo acquired it in 2006. 

Wadsworth said they've actually located one of the paratroopers who jumped from the plane on D-Day.

The plane is returning to Normandy on Thursday for the 70th Anniversary of the famous battle. The crew has raised enough money for fuel to make the trip there but still needs to raise money for the return flight. Six bucks buys a gallon of gas. To find out about making a donation, visit





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