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Genesee County History Department

November 3, 2020 - 11:40am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Genesee County History Department.

It’s safe to say that Michael Eula wishes that COVID-19 was “history.”

Eula, the Genesee County historian since 2014, said on Monday that “catching up from the closure” of the county’s History Department for more than two months due to the coronavirus will be his biggest challenge heading into 2021.

The office, located at County Building II on West Main Street Road, closed on April 22 and reopened in late June.

“The furlough seriously impacted the productivity of the department on both the records (management) side and the history side,” Eula said during a report given to the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee at the Old County Courthouse.  

While the department was able to meet all of its information requests, primarily through email and telephone, the number of volunteer hours “declined dramatically this year,” he said. “All in all, we did as well as we could expect.”

Actually, the county research library assisted about 300 people interested in local history, Eula said, generating about $980 in revenue in 2020. He also reported that volunteers donated about 470 hours, despite the interruption in service.

“These volunteers contribute enormously to the work of the History Department, which only has two full-time members (Eula, who doubles as the Records Management officer, and Judy Stiles, research assistant) and one part-time member who works in the Records Center,” Eula reported. “In conjunction with the full-time staff, volunteers assist with the indexing of records, the filing of historical documents, and the processing and storage of those primary historical documents.”

Eula said the department made 19 presentations (some via Zoom) on local history and conducted tours and responded to 279 information requests. He spoke on local history on four occasions to a total of 450 attendees, again utilizing Zoom technology.

As far as the Records Center is concerned, Eula said 181 cubic feet of obsolete records were removed and shredded, while 392 cubic feet of inactive records from county departments were transferred.

The Records Management program responded to 143 requests for records, and the Microfilm Lab produced 41 rolls of film for county departments, he reported.  Still, shelf space is not a problem, he said, as the department has four to five years of available shelf space.

Eula, who has a Ph.D., also has written a piece for the New York State Bar Association, Flexible Tradition: The History of the Courts in Genesee County, New York."

He is an honors graduate of Rutgers University, California State University, University of California and the Regent University School of Law. Along with more than 11 years of military service, he served as an administrative law judge in Riverside County, Calif., for 13 years. He is a Professor Emeritus of History at El Camino College in California.

June 8, 2017 - 8:58am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, batavia, Genesee County History Department, Emory Upton.

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At the end of May, the Genesee County History Department received a collection of $10,000 worth of Emory Upton documents from a donor from Georgia.

Michael Eula, Ph.D., the county historian, said the donation is a type that is usually received by large university libraries.

“We have a number of his papers here already,” Eula said. “These are all originals.”

Salvatore Cilella, of Atlanta, donated the documents.

The collection consist of 28 documents dating between 1862 and 1892. These include special orders, military passes and letters to friends and family.

Also included is a Western Union telegram from 1864. Upton wrote to his brother, Parley, about the wound he suffered at the Battle of Winchester.

Eula said there is no plan for the Upton documents to be put on display at this time.

“This is the sort of thing that UB would get,” Eula said. “I am proud to say that we have it here.”

Eula said Upton is one of Genesee County’s most famous people.

According to a history compiled by Eula, Upton was born on Aug. 27, 1839 on a farm near what is now in Batavia. He was the 10th child born to Electra and Daniel Upton.

Upton attended Oberlin College, transferring to the U.S. Military Academy, graduating shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861.

Being in his mid-20s, Upton rose to the rank of Major General by the end of the war.

“He had displayed his bravery and leadership skills at such noteworthy Civil War battles as Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg,” Eula wrote.

In 1868, Emily Martin married Upton in Auburn. She died from tuberculosis a little more than two years later in 1870.

After the Civil War, Upton became an educator and policy maker through his tenure as Commandant of Cadets at West Point and through his research and writing.

Upton published “A New System of Infantry Tactics” in 1867. His other famous work, “The Military Policy of the United States,” was published in 1904. It analyzed American military practices and examined the nation’s military history.

“Upton was more than a West Point graduate and a Civil War hero,” Eula wrote. “He was more than an accomplished scholar who met a sad end. He was instead a clear product of his historical moment.”

In 1881, Upton committed suicide while serving as the Commanding Officer of the 4th U.S. Artillery at the Presidio in San Francisco.

“Why had he taken his own life?” Eula wrote. “For some, it was believed that he never fully came to term with Emily’s passing. For others, it was the result of severe headaches which had become so overwhelming that the only recourse was this ultimate physical escape.”

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