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June 3, 2016 - 5:44pm

Emory Upton's boyhood home to get historic marker, county historian tells Human Service Committee

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.

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