Online News. Community Views.

>> Download <<
The Batavian Mobile
Droid | iPhone

Recent comments

Community Sponsors


July 28, 2017 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, State Police, history, news, notify.


The first troopers to deploy in Western New York was in Batavia's Exhibition Park in September 1917, so Al Kurek thinks it's appropriate that displays celebrating the 100th anniversary of the New York State Police be held at the same location, now known as Batavia Downs.

"I started collecting historical memorabilia after I retired in 1990 and I've been doing it every day since then," said Kurek, who lives in East Pembroke. "This is our 100th anniversary and we have an active retired trooper organization in Batavia.  We meet monthly and we decided to put this together as our last hurrah before we hit, oh, I don't know what you want to call it, but, you know, we're all in our 70s and pushing 80s."

There are vintage patrol cars, motor cycles and uniforms on display, as well as the accouterments of the trade, from billy clubs, pistols and handcuffs to crime scene cameras and forensic tools. There are also historical documents, including photos and info on every trooper to work in Troop A.

"We've got videos and memorabilia from the 66 and 77 snow storms, Kurek said. "We have a little bit on the Attica riot. We have the 3407 plane crash in Clarence, the 1980 Olympics, which everybody kind of likes. We've got a canine that will be here today and tomorrow -- nothing on Saturday -- but we have a German Shepherd here on Sunday."

The exhibition is open today, tomorrow and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. each day.

Kurek also invited troopers and their families to bring in any items related to the history of Troop A.  






July 28, 2017 - 9:13am


The History Heroes program at the Holland Land Office Museum held its annual penny carnival on Thursday. Children participating in the summer program were able to set up their own carnival attractions and then play the games together.



July 24, 2017 - 12:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
August 17, 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to present “Lincoln’s Secret Visit” by Joyce Thompson-Hovey. The presentation is based on a close examination of a novel written by a Batavia native about her grandmother’s life, her mansion, family history, and a supposed visit by Lincoln on his inaugural journey to Washington, D.C. in 1861. The mansion still stands today on Route 20 east of Alexander, NY.

July 20, 2017 - 11:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in history heroes, hlom, history, news, batavia.


Students participating in the Holland Land Office Museum's History Heroes program this summer are learning about World War I.

Recently they visited the Richmond Memorial Library and Batavia Showtime Theaters. There are 40 children enrolled in the eight-day program.

Info and photos provided by Anne Marie Starowitz.


July 17, 2017 - 12:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in history.
Event Date and Time: 
August 9, 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

The Holland Land Office will be hosting Toby Jewett from Fort Niagara who will be giving a presentation titled “War of 1812 on Lake Erie.” The presentation will discuss the importance and effect of Commodore O.H. Perry’s victory over the British on Lake Erie to the Great Lakes area during the War of 1812. Included in the discussion will be types of vessels, armament, and tactics used by the Navy during the War of 1812.
During the presentation there will also be a display of War of 1812 artifacts by local reenactor John Della Penna from his collection.

June 29, 2017 - 9:49am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Temperance Hill, Stafford, news, history, preservation.


There is a pile of rubble located at the bottom of Temperance Hill on Route 5, where one of the oldest properties in Stafford, dating back to the early 1800s, used to stand.

A piece of history was forever lost last Wednesday morning when the property was demolished, according to Linda Call, a member of the Stafford Historical Society.

“We, as the Stafford Historical Society, feel badly that this piece of history is no longer something we can go look at,” Call said.

The property was built by Worthy Lovell Churchill, a colonel who commanded the 164th Regiment of State Militia during the War of 1812, when he came to Stafford in 1803. Churchill served as the Genesee County Sheriff between 1820 and 1825. Garth Swanson, the Stafford historian, said the house was built no later than 1805.

Swanson said he has lived in the area for about 25 years and has never seen it occupied.

“I know the house was in conditions beyond repair,” Swanson said. “But, it’s a sad loss of an incredibly significant piece of history. He was one of the founders of Stafford.”

Churchill’s child was the first child born in Stafford and could have possibly been born in the house, Swanson said.

The house was used as a public house, with a tavern and dining room on the first floor, with rooms and living quarters on the second floor.

“It was a very significant house,” Swanson said. “It served as a public house for a number of years.”

In 1820, the house was sold to Persis Prole Bell and her husband, who died in 1828. Persis was the first woman to receive a driver’s license in Genesee County, according to Michael Eula, Ph.D., the county historian.

Persis remarried a man named John Hitchcock, who transformed the house into a temperance house.

Swanson said the hill was later named Temperance Hill.

“The house saw both ends of the spectrum,” Swanson said. “One end there was alcohol in the early 1800s and then it went to no alcohol at all.”

Call said the house served as a two-family house during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

“There used to be a sprung floor dance floor that was used for parties and dances,” Call said. “Travelers would stop and stay upstairs. It’s sad to lose it as a property.”


Above is a hand drawing in an Atlas of the house, provided by the Genesee County History Department. 





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.


Subscribe to




Copyright © 2008-2016 The Batavian. Some Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

blue button