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April 27, 2022 - 5:11pm
posted by Press Release in history, history heroes, hlom, news, batavia.


Press release:

The Holland Land Museum is proud to announce the return of its History Heroes Summer Program. The museum will be rocking this summer with this year's theme, History Rockin’ Around the Clock in the 1950s. The program runs five days from Tuesday, July 26th through Saturday, July 30th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have a child between the ages of 7 and 12, sign them up for rocking time living in the 50s. The cost is $25 per day per child, with discounts for siblings and museum members.

The children get a glimpse into what it was like to live in the 50s and their local history through numerous artifacts from the museum, such as a Sylvania black and white TV, various early telephones, a phonograph, record albums, 45s, and a phonograph needle. Also on display will be typewriters, early cameras, movie cameras, a transistor radio, ball-bearing roller skates, and a skate key. The children will compare what we had back then to what we have today; they will check out the clothing, learn about the history of the 50s and experience an old-fashioned ice cream soda and a cherry coke. They will play many games against each other to give them a sample of what baby boomers experienced. No cell phones are allowed. Instead, we will bring out the hula hoops, chalk for hopscotch, rope for jump roping, a can for kicking, marbles, and much more.

If you are interested in signing your child up for the Holland Land Office Museum History Heroes Summer Program you can contact the museum at 585-343-4727 or [email protected]. Further information and forms can be found on the museum’s website, www.hollandlandoffice.com, or the museum’s Facebook page.

Photo by Howard Owens. File photo of the History Heroes visit to the Historic Batavia Cemetery, including a visit to the grave site of Joseph Ellicott, in 2016.

April 18, 2022 - 11:11pm
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in history heroes, history, hlom, news.


The Holland Land Museum will be rocking this summer with this year's theme, The Fabulous Fifties. I am very excited to return as a teacher for this program. My goal is to give the children a glimpse into what it was like to live in the 50s.

We have many fun activities planned. First, we hope to display several artifacts from the museum, such as a Sylvania black and white TV, various early telephones, a phonograph, record albums, 45s, and a phonograph needle. Also on display will be typewriters, early cameras, movie cameras, a transistor radio, ball-bearing roller skates, and a skate key.   

This summer, the Holland Land Office Museum will recreate the 50s. The children will compare what we had back then to what we have today; they will check out the clothing in the attic, learn about the history of the 50s and experience an old-fashioned ice cream soda and a cherry coke.

We will have an outdoor day of play. The children will be divided into groups where they will play against each other to give them a sample of what baby boomers experienced. No cell phones are allowed. Instead, we will bring out the hula hoops, chalk for hopscotch, rope for jump roping, a can for kicking, marbles, and much more.

The children will have the Holland Land Office Museum as their home for one week. They will learn their local history by visiting the various rooms at the museum and looking at all the exhibits.

If you have a child between the ages of 7 and 12, sign them up for rocking time living in the 50s.   The program will run from July 26th to July 30th. Please contact Ryan Duffy, the Executive Director of the Holland Land Office Museum, at 343-4727.

Anne Marie Starowitz, Coordinator


April 10, 2022 - 3:43pm
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in batavia, agriculture, news, history.


Whenever the Peca kids would hear the clippity-clop of the horse’s hooves on our street, we knew our friend “Sugar” (his real name was Jimmy) was delivering milk for Branton’s Dairy. It was the year 1954, and we lived on Highland Park. The milkman would always give us time to pet the horse and give the horse a treat. That was such a great memory from our childhood. Later, when we moved to another location, we still excitedly waited in anticipation for the milkman. Gone was the exciting horse hooves sound, but it was replaced with a milk truck. There was this one Fargo Ware milkman, Mr. Barlow. All of the children loved him because he always had a smile for us. He would give you an orange drink if it was your birthday. Even though some of us had at least two birthdays a year, he never let on that he knew what we were up to.

Many changes have occurred over the years with the “milkman.”  In our early history, any farmer with a herd of cows could deliver milk. There was no fuss about sterile instruments or the butterfat content of milk. A homemaker could choose a milkman based on his route or the taste of the milk.

Many dairies delivered milk in Batavia. The three dairies that delivered the longest belonged to Augustus Branton, Warren Fargo, and Henry Ware.

fargo_trucks.jpgIn 1873, Henry B. Fargo started a milk route from his farm on Bank Street. 1907, his son Warren Fargo bought the farm and called it The Evergreen Farm Dairy. In 1907, he purchased the Coates home at 208 East Main Street. In 1912, he built a modern dairy plant behind 208 East Main Street home. This was where he installed milk pasteurizing equipment and machinery for making ice cream. For several years, his brother Robert ran the ice cream parlor and confectionery store in the old Main Street house.

In 1916, Warren Fargo sold the ice cream part of the business to Dewitt C. Hopkins and just focused on milk and cream. Cyrus and Wallace joined him in the industry, but the sons took over the company when Warren semi-retired. In 1954, the Fargo brothers built a small dairy store at 208 East Main Street in front of their dairy.  

picturefairfield.jpgWilliam H. Ware started the Fairfield Dairy in 1927 on his farm on Ellicott Street Road near Cedar Street. In 1928 John Witruk joined Henry Ware, William’s son, in building a modern mechanized plant on Cedar Street. In 1958, William Ware closed the Fairfield Dairy to join the Fargos and become Fargo-Ware, Incorporated.

In 1969, Genesee Farms Incorporated bought out Fargo-Ware, which was run under the Genesee Farms name. The owners were Richard and Robert Call. Alvin Scroger from Oakfield was the manager.

In 1889, Augustus Branton started his dairy business when the Fargos were setting up their milk route.   He bought an earlier milk route from Robert Earll and began to deliver milk to Earll’s customers. He moved from his farm on South Main Street to one on West Main Street Road two years later. Augustus’ two sons, John A. and Raymond, lived on the farm on West Main Street. John Branton delivered milk with his father and was in the milk business for more than 63 years. He married Isabell Kellogg of Stafford, NY, on October 19, 1921, and together they moved to a home at 12 River Street and built a milk processing plant behind their house. Mrs. Branton was very active in the business. During World War II, young men were off to war, so Mrs. Branton and their son and daughter delivered milk. In 1954 when her husband John died, she became the president of Branton’s and ran it with the help of their children Raymond J.  and Jean Branton and Richard and Sibyl Branton Zorn.  

Branton’s began pasteurizing milk in 1922 and in 1947 began to clarify and homogenize the milk. In 1952, Branton’s installed a new milk processing plant that weighed and clarified milk in one process. After the milk had been tested for butterfat content, it was pasteurized, cooled rapidly, bottled by automatic machinery, and stored until time for delivery. 

In 1959, Branton’s opened the dairy store on West Main Road.

brantons_dairy_store.jpgIn 1964, the last delivery horse, “Sammy,” retired as trucks delivered the milk. Branton’s was the last dairy to use horse delivery in New York State. In June 1974, Genesee Farms, Incorporated bought the dairy business, and only the dairy store on West Main Road remained from the 85-year-old Branton business. In December 1978, Genesee Farms bought the dairy store as well.

Hackett’s Milk and Cream were also in the business of delivering milk. Henry Hackett founded his dairy business in 1914, and his brother Edgar joined him in 1920. They felt the bottling of the milk needed to be conducted under the highest sanitary standards. The dairy plant was located on Oak Street.

Today we buy milk at almost any place in the area, from supermarkets, chain stores, gas stations, and our very own Northside and Southside Delicatessens.  

Photos courtesy of the Genesee County History Department

CORRECTION: "Robert and Richard Call owned Fargo-Ware Dairy. Oakfield Farms Dairy was owned by Albert Scroger who also used to deliver milk to homes. When Albert retired, his son Alvin took over the business and they merged with Fargo-Ware to become Genesee Farms Dairy, Inc. Alvin Scroger was manager of the business but he was also a 50% owner in partnership with the Call brothers."

April 6, 2022 - 2:10pm
posted by Press Release in hlom, news, history, Alexander.


Press release:

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of its Java with Joe E. morning presentation group on Thursday, April 28 at 9 am. This month our Director Ryan Duffy will share the local connection of Joseph Burke and "The Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind. Burke was a backup musician for Lind when she traveled around the world with P.T. Barnum. Burke had a summer home in Alexander, NY where Lind visited several times. Come and enjoy free coffee and donuts and learn about this interesting piece of local history. The event is free to the public. If you would like to attend, please contact the museum at 585-343-4727 or [email protected].

February 25, 2022 - 1:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, Michael Eula, history, slavery, news, video.
Video Sponsor

Most history books neglect to mention the marginalized poor of the 19th Century and, perhaps, none were more marginalized than slave women and poor white women.

Genesee County in its early history was little different than the rest of the country in this respect.

"Until well into the 1950s, a typical historical treatment of our country usually excluded about half of the population, which is, of course, female," Eula said during a talk on Thursday morning at the Holland Land Office Museum. "The is an invisibility of women in many historical works."

Eula is uncovering some of that history in a book he's writing, The National is Local: Genesee County, New York, 1802 to Present.

"One example of this effort is the portrayal of the most invisible of women, at least for me, and that would include African-American slave women and poor white women," Eula said. "Both share common traits -- they have little power politically, economically. They lacked basic economic resources in both cases."

At the start of his talk, Eula noted that people often forget the history of slavery in New York prior to the Civil War.

"Contrary to popular belief, the dichotomy between a free North and a slave South is one that is not as pronounced as is usually depicted in a standard history textbook," Eula said. "The end of slavery in the northern states is far more complex than is typically assumed."

The emancipation of slaves in New York began early in the 19th Century but would take decades to complete.  There were slaves still in New York until shortly before the start of the Civil War.

In his talk, Eula shares what census records tell us about who owned slaves in Genesee County into the 1850s.

He also covers the plight of poor white women, who were often forced into the county's poor house/asylum. 

February 24, 2022 - 6:19pm


Article by Sharon Burkel
Batavia Cemetery Association

Many famous and influential citizens are buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue, and their stories are familiar to many. The founding families of Batavia: the Ellicotts, the Richmonds, the Brisbanes, and the Carys; the Confederate soldier Philemon Tracy and his uncle, Judge Phineas Tracy, who brought Philemon’s body back over enemy lines for burial; and the infamous William Morgan, the man who threatened to reveal Masonic secrets, was kidnapped and disappeared. But every stone in a cemetery represents the story of a person who played a part not only in the lives of their friends and family but also in building the fabric of the community. Sometimes their stories get lost in time, especially when there is no gravestone.

Such is the case of Watson Bullock, a Black entrepreneur, businessman, and activist who lived in LeRoy and Batavia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Russell Nephew, a Batavia resident who collects Batavia artifacts, contacted the Batavia Cemetery Association after he received a request from Glenn Hinson, Associate Professor of Folklore and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Professor Hinson is doing research on the Bullock family and inquired if Watson is buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue.  The cemetery’s old records show that Watson, his wife Martha, and four of his children rest in the northeast corner of the cemetery. Mr. Nephew and this writer walked the cemetery to find their graves, and discovered they are all unmarked.

Ruth McAvoy writes in her book The History of Batavia, “One family that contributed to the local area was that of the Watson Bullocks who for many years lived at 113 Liberty Street. The Bullocks moved to Batavia from LeRoy about 1880. For years, the Bullocks ran a drycleaning establishment and manufactured and sold bluing (which adds a trace amount of blue dye to white fabric during laundering to improve its appearance) in bottles that still turn up in local dumps. A manuscript history of the Free Methodist Church identifies Watson Bullock as the man who preserved the $50 from the sale by the church of the Holland Land Office and made sure that the money would be available when the Methodist Society was ready to purchase a new place of worship. He was also one of the founders of the Emancipation Celebration Society.”

Mr. Bullock was born in North Carolina sometime in 1844 and moved to LeRoy after the Civil War with his family, who were reported to be ex-slaves.  In 1871, a newspaper ad in The LeRoy Gazette shows he was cleaning and repairing clothes in LeRoy, which continued until he married the widow, Martha Butler, on May 6, 1878. She was a hairdresser in LeRoy. Business ads in The Daily Morning News indicate that in October 1878, they moved to Batavia to establish a dyeing and cleaning business at 104 Main Street; that in April 1880 they moved their home and business to the southwest corner of East Main and Cemetery Streets (now Harvester Avenue), and again in June 1880 to 6 State Street. The Batavia Daily News ads show they moved in July 1881 to 25 Jackson Street, in 1889 to 30 Liberty Street, in 1891 to 9 South Liberty Street, and in 1902 to 113 South Liberty Street, where they remained until Watson’s death on March 21, 1918. During these years the Watsons manufactured and sold liquid bluing, five different colors of ink for dyeing, created the “London Carpet Renovator” to clean carpets in place, repaired and cleaned clothes, and sold second-hand household items and clothes, books, notions, and patent medicines.

The Bullocks’ life was not easy. Professor Hinson relates that they lost seven of their eight children by 1890 and wrote, “That’s a long hard list…and with none living more than ten years.” Three of the children buried in the Batavia Cemetery died within four months in 1890 of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis): Hattie, on July 19th, aged 1 year, 3 months; Edmund, on September 2nd, aged 6 years; and Watson, on November 15th, aged 1 year, 7 months. The fourth child, Eva Estelle, died on August 4, 1871, aged 9 years.

An article by Alice Zillman Chapin in The Batavia Daily News dated Saturday, April 8, 1961, entitled “There is Civil War Issue Behind Church’s Centennial,” tells that a “mystery book,” which had been discovered in the attic of the Cattaraugus Free Methodist parsonage in 1959, revealed that the Batavia Free Methodist congregation in Batavia had been founded in April of 1861, not 1878 as they had previously thought. The Free Methodists were staunch abolitionists and had broken with the Methodist Episcopal Church throughout the United States.

Chapin writes, “It was an ex-slave from North Carolina, Watson Bullock, who was responsible for keeping the newborn Batavia Free Methodist Church on its feet. Under his leadership, meetings were held in two rooms of the house at the west corner of East Main and Harvester Avenue. Strangely enough, by 1880, the Holland Land Office entered the picture. The building was purchased by the Free Methodists from Ruth Bryan whose mother had conducted the Bryan Young Ladies’ Seminary there. Church meetings were held on one side of the building, which was, according to records, divided by a long hall. Apartments made up the other side.”

Chapin continues, “With finances somewhat shaky, the little band of Free Methodist pioneers sold their historical Land Office church to Kate and Edna Clapsaddle Lawrence…. With much foresight, the ex-slave, Watson Bullock, held the money from the Land Office sale in trust, feeling certain that somehow, someway, the Batavia group would be able once again to purchase their own church building. Church records show, interestingly enough, that there was some dispute as to how the funds should be spent, but Mr. Bullock staunchly guarded the money for four years. By 1893, with funds from the Bullock account, the half-completed property at Ellicott St. and Linwood Avenue was purchased. The Batavia Methodist Episcopal Church had abandoned plans for the building and put the unfinished structure up for sale. Originally the Free Methodists planned it as a mission to the foreign-born of the city but it later became their church home.”

Although they suffered unimaginable grief in the loss of their children, Watson and Martha were always concerned about their community and fellow man and faithful to their church. Articles in The Daily News reported they collected clothing for the “…suffering colored refugees of Southern Kansas…” after a nine-month drought in 1880-81, allowed their business at 9 South Liberty Street to be used as a District 6 polling place in 1891, and held Free Methodist prayer and home missionary society meetings at their different homes. In 1900, Watson was sworn in as an officer (Orderly) of the Salvation Army. He had a float in the 4th of July parade in 1907 and was elected as an alternate delegate for District No. 5 to the Prohibition County Convention in 1910. He donated 10% of his sales in December 1914 to the Belgian Relief Fund as the German-occupied country was suffering great food shortages in World War I. In 1917, Watson was elected chairman of the new Emancipation Celebration Society.

The Daily News reported Watson’s death on March 21, 1918:

Well-Known Resident Died Following Stroke of Apoplexy

“Watson Bullock died about 6 o’clock this morning at his home, Number 113 South Liberty Street. He had been confined to his bed about ten days and it was believed that he suffered a stroke of apoplexy (cerebral hemorrhage).

Mr. Bullock was 73 years old and had resided in Batavia about 50 years, being well-known and respected. He was a trustee of the Free Methodist Church of Ellicott Street and was an active supporter of the Salvation Army. For several years he manufactured and sold blueing in wholesale and retail quantities and in recent years he had conducted a secondhand store. Besides his wife he is survived by son, John Bullock, a daughter, Miss Adeline Bullock, both of whom reside at home, and a stepson, George Butler of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bullock came north with his parents from North Carolina, where the family was in slavery before the Civil War. The family lived in Leroy for a short time, before coming to Batavia.”

Alice Chapin also wrote about Bullock’s passing, “Watson Bullock was widely loved and respected by townspeople of all faiths in Batavia. Readings in the ‘mystery’ record book tell that in 1918, when he died, the Free Methodist Church that he so dearly loved, was crowded with prominent people who came to honor him for his faithfulness to his God, his church and his community.”

On April 6, 1918, The Daily News reported the value of Watson’s estate as “…$4,650, of which $450 is in personal property.” ($85,650 today!) It was left to Martha as executrix and would go to the children at her death. Sadly, Martha Bullock died May 2, 1936, at the age of 89 at the Genesee County Poor Farm in Bethany.

The Free Methodists sold their building on Ellicott Street to Mt. Zion Baptist Church and built a new church on Bank Street in 1968, which is now Arbor House, part of Northgate Free Methodist Church. When the new church was dedicated, Dorothy Parker wrote in The Daily News on April 27, 1968, that according to a history written by longtime parishioner Mrs. Erwin Worthington, “Watson Bullock, an ex-slave who had operated a large dry cleaning business in Le Roy and Thomas Hill, body servant to a Confederate officer, were members of this early church.”  She also recounts that the Holland Land Office building was sold for $500, not $50 as McEvoy said and that the money was ‘…banked by Watson Bullock, rather than returned to the church conference as was customary. Mr. Bullock was determined to re-activate the church in Batavia.’”

For many years, it was thought that the only person of color buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery was a woman named Addy. The inscription on her stone reads, “For 46 years the faithful colored servant of the Reverend Lucius Smith and family. Died January 28, 1857, aged 50 years.”

The Association thanks Professor Hinson and Russell Nephew for bringing to light the story of the Bullock family and their contributions to the Batavia community. Every soul in a cemetery has a story, and they all deserve to be remembered.

Previously: In 1921, Matthew Bullock fled to Batavia on his way to Canada to escape lynching

January 18, 2022 - 11:55am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in batavia, history, news.


In 1834, an early jeweler, Jerome A. Clark, owned a jewelry store at 90 Main Street, Batavia, NY.  George Austin worked at Clark's jewelry store after school.  A few years later, Charles Prescott came to work as a clerk for Mr. Clark, and a friendship was formed between the two younger men. In 1885, the young men purchased the Clark estate business, which became Austin and Prescott. Mr. Austin died in 1914, and as part of his estate, $30,000 went to the village to develop a public park. Now you know how Austin Park got its name.  He left his interest in the business to William Hopp, who took over the company and moved to the Masonic Temple. Louis Weiner became the next owner, and in 1957 he moved across the street to the C.L. Carr Store where Robert Carr gave him a tiny corner next to the elevator for a workshop.  

Between 1887 and 1928, on the corner of Main and Jackson Street, C.C. Bradley opened a jewelry store. In 1909, Bradley bought the entire corner lot and built the three-story Curtis Building.  His modern jewelry store was located on the first floor.



Mr. E. R. Muller had been a watchmaker for Bradley and continued his association with Mr. Bradley until 1898 when he went into business for himself. Muller's first store was at 2 Jackson Street "called "The Little Shop Around the Corner."  In 1905, he moved to 57 Main St. Mr. Muller went to school in Germany and learned watch-making and repair there.  He was the father of Miss Zita and Hildred Muller.  (Zita Muller was the principal at John Kennedy School for many years in the early 1950s.) In 1917, Mr. Bradley sold the Curtis Building to the F.W. Woolworth Company and moved his jewelry store across Main Street to 96 Main.  \Two years later, in 1929, he sold the jewelry store to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mead, as well as, Mrs. Mead's sister, Miss Ann Francis. 


In 1925, Mr. Sam Blumberg bought Muller's business and ran it under Blumberg's or as the Gift Center on 57 Main St. until 1949, when it moved next door to 55 Main Street and leased 57 Main Street's Thing's Shoe Store.  Theodore Freeman later managed the Gift Center for the Blumbergs.  The Urban Renewal Agency razed 55 and 57 Main St. in 1966.

Looking at Batavia Directories from 1900 to 2015, I noted many interesting facts about our early jewelry stores.

In 1900, there were three jewelry stores in Batavia. In 1919, two more jewelry stores were added to the list.  The street number of 90 Main St., was home to many jewelry stores. Urban renewal took the entire north side of Main Street. Francis and Mead at 96 Main St., Ingraham Jewelers at 2 Main St., and Herb Brenner at 124 Main St. ("It's ok to owe Herb Brenner") were the few jewelry stores that stayed in the exact location.  Other jewelers from the area were William Hopp, J.W. Dabney, Warren Cole, Josiah Dabney, Samuel Blumberg, Gordon Way, Morways and Hall Jewelers, to name a few. Krtanik Jewelers was another long-lasting jewelry store in the area. 

Today, there are two jewelry stores in Batavia. Valle Jewelers, a family-owned business since 1951, located on 21 Jackson St., and Lambert's Design Jewelers operated by family members at 375 West Main St.  

So what was the connection I mentioned in the first sentence of this article? In 1969, a young gas station attendant pumped gas at Moretto's Service Station, an elderly gentleman approached him and said he needed some money.  He asked if he could get $10 for either a wristwatch or a pocket watch. $10 was a full day's pay.  The attendant chose the pocket watch. The gentleman gave up the watch with sadness and asked the young man if he could take care of the watch by keeping it clean and wound.  He also asked if he returned with the $10 could he get his pocket watch back.  The attendant said yes!  That was 52 years ago. This young man always wondered where the watch came from and felt terrible that the gentleman never came back for the watch. An engraving on the watch said the watch was made especially for J. A. Clark, Batavia, NY, by Paul Breton Geneva, Switzerland. In looking at an 1876 atlas was a picture of J. A. Clark's Jewelry Store. In addition, there was a map of early Batavia.  J.  A Clark's home was built at the foot of Jackson Street. Rumor has it that he could step out on the balcony of his third floor home and, with the help of binoculars, could check on the women working in his store.  


So where is the watch now? It is encased in a glass-domed pocket watch holder, sitting on an oak sideboard. You see, J. A. Clark's home was built at 1 Chestnut St.; that just happens to be the home of the unique pocket watch with the amazing story of coming home! The gas station attendant just happens to be my husband, Richard. We are thrilled to be the owners of this special pocket watch.


January 1, 2022 - 3:04pm


Growing up in Batavia, I remember walking down Ellicott Street and passing an impressive building covered with ivy. It seemed to be part of Batavia’s scenery. The building had belonged to Edwin Newton Rowell. 

Mr. Rowell came to Batavia from Utica, NY, in 1888 with W.T. Palmer, a business partner. Together they started a small box factory business on the third floor at 66 Main St. called the Palmer and Rowell Company. Mr. Rowell suspected his wife was unfaithful to him with a gentleman named Johnston L. Lynch. He dissolved the partnership with Palmer and took a job as a salesman to keep an eye on his wife. Edwin seemed correct with this suspicion because he went home early and found Mr. Lynch with his wife one day. In a passionate frenzy, he shot Mr. Lynch three times. The shooting was considered a crime of passion and made headlines in The Daily News. Not serving any jail time, he divorced his wife and went back to being the head of his own company at 66 Main Street under the name of The E.N. Rowell Company. 

His company made medicine boxes exclusively for several years and later added cosmetic boxes.

Rowell bought a brick factory building in 1896 on Ellicott Street at the junction of West Main Street. It formerly housed the D. Armstrong Shoe Company. In 1912 Rowell had a fourth-floor building on the Ellicott Street site. In 1919 he bought buildings on Jefferson Ave. from K.B. Mathes to start making a line of cosmetic boxes. This building was referred to as Factory Number 2. He purchased land south of the main factory and built a separate power plant on the creek bank. Later he bought the former St. James Rectory from the Elks for a print shop and storage area. Rowell’s boxes were sold around the world.

E. N. Rowell died in 1929.   May Emke Rowell, his second wife, and former secretary became president of the firm. She was a great businesswoman and was in control of the business until she died in 1971. In 1980 the Rowell factory building was for sale, and the factory closed permanently in 1981.

The Kastenbaum’s are the current owners of E.N. Rowell’s former beautiful home. E.N. Rowell’s unique monument at Grand View Cemetery has the same brickwork as his home. 

Visit the Holland Land Office Museum to see samples of his boxes.

Photos are courtesy of the Holland Land Office except where noted.





Photo by Howard Owens from 2012


December 1, 2021 - 8:49am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in Edna Gruber, batavia, news, history.


In 1926 a young woman purchased Batavia's Central Hotel.  She renamed it the Palace Hotel.  The red brick structure was located just south of the New York Central Railroad tracks.  The hotel consisted of three floors.  The main living space for the family was five rooms on the first floor, with nine bedrooms on the second floor and six unused bedrooms on the third floor.  The stately hotel would soon be known as Edna's or the 'house of ill repute.' No one knows how Edna got into prostitution, but there is mention that she was raped at a young age.  She was determined never to allow another woman to go through that violent, humiliating experience.

Edna Geyer was born on July 28, 1882, into a poor family in Buffalo, NY. By the age of 13, she began working in a barroom scrubbing floors. At the age of 15, Edna married Joseph Gruber and had a daughter, Florence in 1901.

In 1935 Edna's daughter Florence died in an accidental fire in Sandusky, Ohio. The death of her daughter was traumatic for Edna. Florence had two children, William and Edna, ages five and three. They moved into the Palace Hotel to live with their grandma, the infamous Edna, upon their mother's death. 

It was difficult for young Edna to lose her mother, move to Batavia and live with her grandmother.  When young Edna's father Charles returned to Batavia to find his wife and children, Grandma Edna took him to the cemetery and pointed to her daughter Florence's headstone.  When Charles wanted to take his children back with him, Edna had him beaten and implied that if he didn't leave town now, then he never would. 

Edna was a powerful woman.  She had connections and was not afraid to use them. As a result, Charles seldom saw his children, except when Edna went to prison for a year for "operating a disorderly house." At that time, Edna asked Charles to come to Batavia and run the Palace Hotel until she returned.

Edna, as the grandmother, was obsessively clean and neat.  She maintained an immaculate house, scrubbing the kitchen floor and bleaching the sidewalk every single day.  She was not your stereotypical madam or your demonstrative loving grandma.  She was an alcoholic and would be drunk for days on end.  As a petite woman of 5 feet stature, she raised her grandchildren with very high morals.  Her grandchildren were completely separate from Edna's prostitution business. Her grandchildren said, "She tried very hard to save us from hurt. She didn't care if people respected her, but they had to respect her grandchildren." The children were never told what went on at the Palace Hotel.

It was challenging to grow up in the Palace Hotel.  Other children ostracized young Edna. If Edna thought her granddaughter was being shunned by her classmates, she had no trouble calling the family and asking the parents if their child had a problem walking to school with her granddaughter.  Just hearing the threat in her voice was enough to instill fear in her granddaughter's classmates.  Ultimately, Edna wanted to save young Edna and Bill from hurt.

Edna was a shrewd businesswoman.  When the earnings from the Palace were divided, she took fifty percent of the profits for herself, and 50 percent went to the girls to be shared with their pimps.

Young Edna and her brother, Bill's lives, were a contradiction.  On the one hand, Grandma Edna was very generous with gifts, but on the other hand, she had young Edna work on the muck to earn money for school clothes.

The Edna the public knew was different from the madam. Edna's generosity to children in the area was legendary.   In the 20s, Edna noticed three young girls living near the New York Central railroad in squalor.  She took the girls home, cleaned them up, fed them, found homes for the older children, and adopted the youngest.

Rather than Edna the madam from Jackson Street, you heard stories about Edna taking care of the less fortunate.  At Christmastime, she would spend hundreds of dollars on toys for children at the Children's Home, the local orphanage in Batavia.  She was known for purchasing communion dresses and suits for needy children of the neighborhood. She told sales clerks at Thomas and Dwyer to be on the lookout for children walking to school barefoot.  She would ask that they be fitted for shoes, and then she would pay the bill.  Edna would send men into McAlpine and Barton in need of a warm suit, and again, the clerks would fit that person and send the invoice to Edna.  She also bought uniforms for the police and fire departments.

Yes, Edna had politicians in her back pocket and probably was connected to the Mafia. She knew how to outsmart the local police and could be very strict and often cold. However, most stories about her described her generosity. She believed that you did not hurt someone who was already down but rather should help them. 

Edna died in 1953. Her granddaughter, young Edna, found her in their living room slumped over a chair.  The Palace Hotel was left to Edna and her brother Bill.  Today the building has been sided and made into apartments.  If only the walls could talk!

Photographs are courtesy of Edna's Gruber's Family and the Holland Land Office Museum.



September 15, 2021 - 1:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history.
Event Date and Time: 
September 15, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, located at 11115 W. Park Street in Pavilion. The presentation is entitled “Is it Dangerous to Believe Anything We Want to Believe in? The Plot to Kill President Lincoln and the Place of Conspiracies in Genesee County – and American – History.” 

August 27, 2021 - 11:25am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in history, batavia, news, bakeries.


Over the years bakeries found homes on the corners of many Batavia streets, especially Ellicott Street.  There was nothing like the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the store.  It was a smell of comfort.

One of the earliest bakers was Louis Uebele, who came from Germany and settled in Batavia in 1900.  He was responsible for baking all of the bread that was served at the newly built New York State School for the Blind.  His building was on the corner of Main and Center Street.  That location had several owners over the years and was known at various times as Henning’s, Williams’ Bakery, and Andrews’ Bakery.  There were other bakers who baked out of their homes for their neighbors.

In 1905 the Hiscutt Brothers, Arthur and Robert, started a small business at 240 Ellicott St.  The business expanded and the brothers bought a lot on Center Street south of the Masonic Temple.  In 1921 the Hiscutts bought the lot next door to be used as a garage and shipping room.  They delivered baked goods via horse and wagon even though automobiles were a new commodity.  The Hiscutt Brothers ran a very successful business for more than 25 years.  By 1932 the completion of chain store bakeries was cutting into their profits.  In 1937 the Genesee Trust Company took ownership of the business.  It was then sold to R. Walter Riehlman of Tully, NY.  He changed the name to The Table Top Bakery. 

Table Top Bakery renovated the former Hiscutts’ building.  Two delivery routes were established and the cream and orange International trucks could be seen on the roads.  Eventually, Table Top Bakery was servicing nearly all of Genesee County.  Two 300-loaf ovens were in use 24 hours a day supplying bread and other products to meet the needs of their customers.  A retail shop was maintained at the plant for the convenience of local shoppers who opted out of the delivery service.

Quintalino and Lucia (Zinni) Prospero had a bakery on Ellicott Street.   Mr. Prospero was a skilled baker who emigrated from Abruzzo, Italy, and ran the Prospero Bakery at 421 Ellicott Street in the early 20th century.  Mr. Prospero trained Mr. Colangelo who later opened a bakery on Ellicott and Mr. Saracini who opened a bakery on Liberty.  Unfortunately, there was a fire at Prospero's bakery in the mid-1930s that resulted in the closing of the bakery.  Prospero's Bakery was the original Italian bakery in Batavia. It was remembered as the bakery that sold day-old bread for one cent to the poorer families.  

Colangelo’s Bakery was located on Ellicott Street and was commonly known as the Ellicott Bakery.  It was originally called Alexander Colangelo’s Bakery.  In the ‘30s there was a second Colangelo’s run by Nicholas Colangelo on 119 Liberty Street.  Nicholas Colangelo’s bakery closed in 1937 and Alexander Colangelo’s bakery was open until 1973.

Casmir Stomper came to Batavia from Poland in 1925.  He became familiar with the locals when, with a basket of bread over his arm, he went door to door making deliveries in the neighborhood. In 1930 he opened a Polish bakery at 208 Swan Street.  He later moved his bakery to 400 Ellicott. The bakery had a deep stone oven; an oil burner heated the bricks.  This way of baking was considered outdated and so were the wooden boxes that were used for the rye bread to rise.   Stomper’s customers did not notice the outdated equipment; they just wanted their famous rye bread. His son Jack ran a bakery on Oak Street. After his father died he moved to the Ellicott Street Bakery and continued the tradition of baking rye bread using the old family recipe. Stomper’s was known for the hearth-baked bread and many Polish delicacies such asrugalske, plechunki, placki, bobka, and piatzek.  All of his goods were made from scratch.  He learned his baking skills from an Army baking school during WWI and he also attended a national baking school in Chicago. Jack’s wife Veronica died in 1986.  He lost interest in the bakery and his customers were left without their famous rye bread and cakes.

Grundler’s bakery was a popular bakery run by Louis Grundler and later his two sons, Louis and Harold.  The shop opened in 1934 but Louis Grundler had been selling baked goods in Batavia long before that.  He came to Batavia from Bavaria when he was about 16 years old to work at Schwab’s Bakery in Rochester.  In the late ‘20s, he ran a bakery on Jefferson Avenue in Batavia called Scott’s.  He was looking for a business to buy and eventually found one in Oakfield.  About 1933 Mr. Grundler came back to Batavia and sold baked goods from a shop at 12 Main Street.  He continued to bake in Oakfield and brought his baked goods to Batavia by trucks.  A year later he leased 52 Main Street and moved his business and all of his equipment to Batavia, the mixing and kneading machine, bread slicer, the bake ovens, and the rest is history.  While on shopping trips to Batavia, many county residents would stop at the bakery to pick up a loaf of salt-rising bread, its buttery dinner rolls, or one of its specialty pastries.  Grundler’s Bakery served Batavia for more than 30 years.

Saraceni bakery was located on 245 Liberty Street and was built by Arthur Saraceni. Mr. Saraceni baked in his home at 119 Liberty Street from the early ‘30s.  The new shop was a little cement block building, which he called The Bake Shop.  He sold bread and buns until 1956 when he sold out to Frank Pellegrino.

Francesco Pellegrino, who was the patriarch of the Pellegrino Family, bought Pellegrino Bakery located on 245 Liberty Street from Arthur Saraceni in 1955.  Graziano Pellegrino had a bakery business in Reggio Calabria, Italy.  In 1955 he came to America.  His father Francesco put him in the bakery business with his brothers Rocco, Frank, Joseph, and Carmen.  They ran the bakery until 1974 when Graziano suddenly passed on. Graziano’s sons Frank, Rocco, and Vincent, along with Mama Angelina, took over the business and ran it in the proud Pellegrino tradition. Eventually, by 1980 Frank was left to run the business.  He moved the business to Center Street then in 1986 to Liberty Street across from the Pok- A- Dot.  He built a beautiful new building and the business tripled.  In 1991 Pellegrino Bakery closed.  In 1999 Pellegrino brothers Frank and Vincent were back with a new building, baking their famous Italian bread, rolls, doughnuts, pizza, pastries, and cookies.  In 2001 the business closed.   The building and property were sold and the building became the home of Ficcarella Pizza.

Once again a delicious part of our history is gone, but what is left are the scrumptious memories of warm bread, rolls, doughnuts, pastries, and many other delicacies that are perhaps not good for a person to consume in large quantities!  Long-time Batavia residents can almost close their eyes and still remember the aromas as you opened the door into these treasures of Batavia’s past.

Author's Note: Not all bakeries are listed in this article but would love to hear from those that were missed.



August 18, 2021 - 8:47am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in history, County History Department, news.


I always loved teaching fourth-grade students their local history. Using the historical places that house our history was the best way to make their history come alive.  Many people in Genesee County have visited the Holland Land Office Museum, Richmond Memorial Library, and the Historical Batavia Cemetery that sleeps our famous Batavians.

However, the one place I want to highlight is the Genesee County History Department. I recently researched my church there, and I was reminded about a wonderful friend and County Historian who suggested I do a project on the prominent people who settled in this area. I loved the idea, and hence our Famous Batavian Project was born. All materials came from this department. This project was only made possible by the directorship of Mrs. Susan Conklin.  She was the County Historian from 1980 to 2014.  Mrs. Conklin created individual folders for each student on their person.  She continued to do this for my students for the next 17 years. The project required students were to write a report and present their person to family and friends in a historical building.  

Recently a former student, Erin Suttell, brought over to our home a bin of records, pictures of clippings on her great-great grandfather's ice business from the 1800s.  She wanted to know where she could find information on her relative's business. So, I introduced her to the History Department. As a result, the Citizen's  Ice Business picture and many more paper items will now be housed and preserved at the History Department.  Thank you, Erin, for sharing Bernhardt Suttell's early ice business. 

I spent many months looking through files, books, directories, and photographs for my book. Ms.  Judy Stiles, a research assistant, was a continuous support and helped with my research. Ms. Ruth Koch is the Records Management Clerk.  Records Management handle about  4,440 square feet of County records every year and provides ready access to County Agencies in need of records. 

Michael Eula is the current Genesee County Historian and has taken the department in many new directions. The History Department regularly participates in local, statewide, and national, local history efforts. Examples:     Dr. Michael Eula wrote a legal history of Genesee County posted on The Historical  Society of the New York Courts website under "County Histories." This includes every County in New York State.

The History Department maintains an information booth at the Genesee County Fair.

Eula will be giving two upcoming presentations. One is at the Richmond Memorial Library on August 17th at 7 p.m. before the Genesee Area Genealogy Society and is open to the public. 

The second upcoming presentation is at the United Methodist Church in Pavilion on September 15th at 7 p.m. before the Civil War Roundtable and is also open to the public.

He is working on a book accepted by the State University of New York Press, an extended cultural and political history of Genesee County between 1802 and the present.

The History Department was featured in the June 2021 Western New York Genealogical Society Journal.

The History Department answers dozens of information requests generated by residents, residents of New York State outside of our County, and people from various states stretching to the west coast and the Midwest.

It regularly works with local historical societies, such as the Stafford Historical Society.

This is what you will be invited to when you enter the building. You can find cemetery records and newspaper microfilm from 1822 to 1997. In addition, there are atlases and maps from 1854 to 1900 and tax rolls on microfilm from 1850 to 2013.   Another section has genealogy files. Also, county and municipalities histories, church records from 1891-1937, city and county directories 1869 to 1980, and obituary records from 1891 to 1937 are shelved here.   Finally, military records, school documents, architectural files, photographs of over 10,000 images can be found in the History Department.

Utilize their genealogy assistance, local history assistance, request public presentations, and tour this hidden gem.

Please visit 3837 West Main Street Road,

County Building 2.

[email protected]

(585) 815-7904



August 5, 2021 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in glom, batavia, history.
Event Date and Time: 
August 18, 2021 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of its Guest Speaker Series. Join us on Wednesday, August 18th at 7 pm at the museum as we welcome local history professor and author Derek Maxfield. Mr. Maxfield will be discussing his book on the Elmira Civil War prisoner camp that was nicknamed "Hellmira" due to its deplorable conditions. Copies of his book will be available for sale and there will be an opportunity for the author to sign any copies. Admission is $3 per person or $2 for museum members. If you plan on attending please contact the museum at 585-343-4727.

August 5, 2021 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, history, batavia.
Event Date and Time: 
August 12, 2021 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of its History Trivia Night @ the Museum. Join us Thursday, August 12th at 7 pm at the museum to test your knowledge of Napoleon Bonaparte in honor of his birthday on August 15th. If you would like to attend please contact the museum at 585-343-4727. Admission is $3 per person or $2 for museum members. You can also join via Zoom, to find the link please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website at www.hollandlandoffice.com.

July 24, 2021 - 11:43am
posted by Press Release in history, news, hlom, history heroes, batavia.

Press relaese:

It was so nice to be able to have in person events back at the museum this past week. It felt like things are finally getting back to normal, for the first time since March 2020.

Thank you to Steve Kruppner for his wonderful concert Wednesday night (in case you missed it check out this link HLOM Concert Series: Steve Kruppner - YouTube) and Erica Wanescki for her informative presentation on polio.

Be sure to come out to the museum on Wednesday, July 28th to see Bill Kauffman discuss his new edited work "The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable."

We have now reached 85 percent of the way to our membership goal of 200 people for 2021. If you know of anyone who hasn't joined the historical society yet and is a fan of local history tell them to check us out. Our members are our best ambassadors. Again, thank you everyone for your support for 2021.

This Month:

If you would like to join us in person for any of our events please preregister by calling the museum at (585) 343-4727.

  • Wednesday, July 28th 7 p.m. - Guest Speaker: Bill Kauffman "The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable." Admission is $3/$2 for museum members. Also available via the Zoom link below. Meeting ID: 813 4537 8772  Passcode: 494343. The presentation will also be livestreamed on our YouTube channel courtesy of Paul Figlow.

Upcoming Summer Events:

  • Thursday, Aug. 12th 7 p.m. - Trivia Night @ the Museum "Napoleon Bonaparte"
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18th 7 p.m. - Guest Speaker Derek Maxfield, "Hellmira"
  • Thursday, Sept. 9th 7 p.m. - Trivia Night @ the Museum -- "Pan-American Exposition"
  • Saturday, Sept. 18th 2 p.m. - Guest Speaker Rob Thompson, "Batavia's Body Snatchers"
  • Thursday, Sept. 23rd 9 a.m. - Java with Joe E. with Jennifer Liber Raines, "Forgotten People, Forgotten Places"
  • Thursday, Sept. 30th 7 p.m. - Guest Speaker Chris Mackowski, "A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse"
  • History Heroes Summer Program:
    • Saturdays July 24th, Aug.14th, Aug. 21st, Aug. 28th, Sept. 4th 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the museum "Fun in the Roaring '20s."
    • Children ages 7-12 can come and join us and learn all about the 1920s through art, music, dance, medicine, sports & leisure, cultural movements, transportation and much more.
    • Activities will include period arts & crafts, walking tours to various sites in Batavia, and even a trip on the Arcade & Attica Railroad.
    • The program is $10 per child with discounts for members and multiple children. Limit to 16 children each day. Visit the museum's website and social media sites for more information.

Artifact Video Series:

This week's video details the history of our Herschede Hall Grandfather Clock from the White Family. Holland Land Office Museum Artifact Video Series: White Family Grandfather Clock -- YouTube. If you missed any of the previous videos there are links on the homepage of our website and Facebook page. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel, Holland Land Office Museum.

Joseph Ellicott Book & Gift Shop:

We are always adding new things to our inventory. The store is available at the following link HLOM Gift Shop Site.

This week's focus is a popular title that we recently got back in stock "The Linden Murders...Solved" by Rob R. Thompson ($15).

"Countless have speculated over the years and still, even today many wonder was there a maniac wandering the backroads of Genesee and Wyoming counties? Was he, by modern definition, a serial killer? Was his identity known, but his neighbors too fearful to expose the name behind the deeds?

Did he die alone in his Attica home clutching ever last to the haunting memories of his bygone days? Did he, before the final sheet was pulled offer even the lightest of hints? Did his wife know...did his mother...brothers and children know the secret behind the face at Christmas dinner?"

AmazonSmile Program:

AmazonSmile donates .5 percent of every applicable purchase made through the AmazonSmile website. You can assist us through this manner by following the link below and choosing the Holland Purchase Historical Society as your noprofit of choice: smile.amazon.com.

Call for Volunteers:

We are in need of more volunteers to keep the museum going strong. If you have just a few extra hours and have an interest in history consider donating your time to the HLOM:

  • Assisting with museum membership
  • Museum events (setup/take down, refreshments, tickets)
  • Landscaping & Gardening

Promoter members: Eric Adams, Mr. & Mrs. Brian Daviau, Thomas & Marcia Duffy, Matthew & Jessica Jolliff, and Dr. Paul Stomper.

Business Sponsors: Genesee Patrons Insurance Co., Kleen All Company, Liberty Pumps, and Marchese Computer Products.

Thank you and have a great weekend!

July 11, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in Anne Marie Starowitz, education, teaching, news, history, Le Roy, batavia.

When I began this article, I wanted to write about my second retirement from teaching. I was going to share my beautiful memories of the 1,000 students I have taught.

I wanted to talk about the fantastic field trips, classroom drama productions, learning about local history, and using the Holland Land Office Museum as a textbook. I was about to begin to expound on those treasured memories when my train of thought took me to what it was like to be a teacher for over five decades. 

It was 1972; I was a lucky college graduate to have a teaching job. I was a young unmarried woman and my maiden name was Anne Marie Peca. It was a time of miniskirts, long hair, and the Viet Nam War. You just left your college and were entering your classroom with so many new things to learn.

You had to hand in a lesson plan in advance for the administration to review, learn how to set up your classroom, learn your students' names, spell them, and locate the faculty bathroom. In your first year of teaching, you learned right along with your students.  

Everything was new, and it was so exciting and overwhelming.

You had to know where to find films for your filmstrip projector and how to thread a 16 mm movie. If you needed copies for your students, you made and ran off a ditto on a ditto machine.

You never slept the night before the first day of school, no matter how many years you taught.

My first job was at Wolcott Street School in LeRoy (in 1972, inset photos above and below). I have so many treasured memories from my five years of being on their faculty.



























My next teaching adventure was being a nursery school teacher at the YWCA. This allowed me, now Mrs. Starowitz, to teach but also be home with our daughters.

In 1985, I was hired to be on the faculty of the Batavia City school system. I spent the next 34 years on their faculty as a teacher and then as a substitute teacher.

I ended my career this year as a teacher at St. Joseph Regional School, where I graduated from eighth grade in 1964.

Over the years, teachers were required to change with the times. Many innovations such as teaching strategies, behavioral plans, grade-level subject changes would be introduced, and as a teacher, you were mandated to add them to your curriculum. 

As far as technology, a teacher could now have a cassette tape player instead of a record player, and possibly one computer in the classroom using floppy discs.

Later on, there were groups of computers in a classroom, and today most children have a Chromebook as their personal computer.

There was a new classroom configuration called the multiage classroom, where you would have two classes in the same room. There was also looping where you take your class from one grade level to the next. 

The Education teacher needs has also changed over the years. There is so much a young teacher needs to do before they have a classroom.  

There were so many beautiful memories as a teacher, but there were also tragic memories. The saddest memory was losing a student and attending the funeral. There are never any words for those tragedies.

On Jan. 28, 1986 my fourth-grade class watched Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, go into space to die in an explosion on the NASA space shuttle "Challenger."

I taught through the Viet Nam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq War, war in Afghanistan, and the 9/11 terrorism attacks. I taught children how to behave in a fire drill, evacuate a building, and practice a lockdown drill. This past year, I taught 18 students sitting 6 feet apart wearing a mask — socially distanced learning during the coronavirus pandemic -- so many changes.  

The one thing that is a constant is how many hats that a teacher wears. Yes, you have a curriculum of what to teach, but you have to earn your student's respect before you can teach.

They are so intuitive; they know if you care about them. At times you are a parent, a nurse, and a therapist. We wear these hats proudly, and today my hat is off to all the excellent teachers I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. They indeed are heroes. I love this saying, "If you can read, thank a teacher!"

I can't end this without mentioning all the beautiful children I have taught over the last five decades. Those 1,000 students have left an imprint on my heart. To those students, thank you for giving me a lifetime of cherished memories. It has been an incredible ride.

"The greatest sign of success for a teacher...is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.' "

-- Maria Montessori

Two inset black and white images above are from O-At-Kan LeRoy Yearbook 1972.

Photo below, Mrs. Starowitz's last class -- from St. Joseph Regional School​ -- in a teaching career spanning more than five decades.

July 7, 2021 - 11:56am

Press release:

On Wednesday, July 28th at 7 p.m. the Holland Land Office Museum is proud to welcome our next presenter for our Guest Speaker Series. The museum welcomes back local author Bill Kauffman as he debuts his latest work "The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable, 1968-1984."

Kauffman is the editor of the work, which is a compilation of entries from Congressman Barber Conable about the machinations of Congress and the American government at the highest level.

Admission is $3 per person or $2 for museum members. The presentation will also be available via Zoom, the links can be found at the museum’s Facebook page or website.

Copies of the book will also be available for sale.

July 1, 2021 - 2:38pm
posted by Press Release in news, history, batavia HLOM, July 2021, Canada Day, Steve Kruppner, polio.

Press release:

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of its History Trivia Night @ the Museum. Join us on Thursday, July 8th at 7 p.m. to test your knowledge of our neighbors to the North, Canada, in honor of Canada Day celebrated today -- July 1st.

If you would like to attend please contact the museum at (585) 343-4727. Admission is $3 per person or $2 for museum members. You can also join via Zoom, to find the link please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website.

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce another concert at the museum. Join us on Wednesday, July 21st from 7 to 9 p.m. as welcome local musician Steve Kruppner as he plays an outdoor concert at the museum.

The concert will feature various genres of songs that can be summed up as "Americana." The concert will be outdoors weather permitting. If you would like to bring your own chair you are welcome, but seating will be provided. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held inside.

Admission is $5 or $4 for museum members. If you are interested in attending please call the museum at (585) 343-4727.

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of its Java with Joe E. morning speaker series. Join us Thursday, July 22nd at 9 a.m. as we welcome Erica Wanescki as she details the history of the treatment of the disease polio in Western New York. Java with Joe E. is free to attend.

If you plan on attending please call the museum at (585) 343-4727. The presentation will also be available via Zoom, to find the link please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website.

June 13, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by David Reilly in batavia, nostaglia, history, news.

My life in the teen years growing up in Batavia in the late 1950s and early 1960s was a mix of trying to please my parents and teachers while also attempting to be more independent. Of course, this is true of young teens pretty much anywhere at any time.

My friends and what they thought and did became all-consuming it seemed.

When I was 10 and going into the fifth grade, we moved from the Thomas/Ellicott Avenue area across town to North Spruce Street. After some begging and whining (and maybe some fake crying) my parents agreed to let me continue at St. Mary's School on Woodrow Road, even though it would involve solving some transportation issues.

Most of my friends still lived on the west side of town and at first, I didn't see as much of them except during school.

The exception was Charlie, my partner in shenanigans, whose parents built a big house on East Avenue. Their basement was so big at one time they considered putting a bowling alley down there. They also installed a fountain in their front yard, which featured spraying water that changed colors. Older teens used to park in front and make out until the police shooed them away.

So, Charlie was right down the street and then as we got more toward 12 or 13 years old my friends' and my parents allowed us further range on our bikes and the gang was back together again.

A huge kid advantage to living on North Spruce was having lots more outdoor room to play and horse around. At that time, we were the last house on the northeast side of the street. North Street ended at our corner. All around us were woods, which today is the Narramore and Allanview Drive area.

Charlie vs. Dave

We had a big back yard and Charlie and I would spend hours out there playing whiffle ball. He was the New York Yankees and I was the Milwaukee Braves. We'd designate certain areas for singles, doubles, triples and home runs and we'd play entire nine-inning games, even to the point of writing down lineups and batting orders.

We had some epic games and even a couple fights because Charlie was not a good loser.

In 1957 the Braves won the World Series and I got to lord that over Charlie, for a year at least. Back then the games were in the afternoon and one day, to my immense surprise and everlasting admiration, my mom let me be “sick” and stay home from school to watch the game on TV (in black and white of course)

The Braves moved to Atlanta in the '60s and I've not had a favorite baseball team since.

A number of years ago I started collecting 1957 Milwaukee Braves memorabilia and I now possess all the Topps baseball cards from that team as well as signed baseballs from the four Hall of Famers who played for them that year: Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Red Schoendienst.

Into the Woods

Our house became a popular gathering spot with my friends because what kid doesn't want a woods to mess around in? Especially in the summer, we'd spend a lot of time out there. We'd play chase and someone had built an awesome tree house and we'd actually have “wars” where we threw rocks at each other. My friend Ray got clonked in the head one time and as my mother bandaged him up her comment was, “You guys already have rocks in your head.”

Another nutty thing we'd do is light fires in the dry grass and then put them out just before they got too big. Anything for excitement, I guess. One time though we came home to find fire trucks out there. A kid down the street had started a fire, but it spread too fast and he panicked and ran away. Neighbors spotted the smoke. He got caught of course and his dad may or may not have lit a fire on his behind.

Fort Reilly

Right on the edge of the woods and our property we built a “fort."

Constructed of an old piece of plywood, some 2x4s, and a bunch of old sheets and bedspreads, it was place to hang out and sneak cigarettes.

Most of our parents smoked like chimneys, but it was "Do as I say, not as I do.”

We used to play poker for smokes, but most of the time the cigs we gambled with were ones we pilfered from our parents.

As we got a little older our parents agreed to let us occasionally “sleep out” in the fort. Of course, very little sleeping took place.

I was especially bad about being able to nod off. Usually, what happened was it would start to get light and I'd sneak off to the house and go to bed. My friends would wake up, see I was gone and just get on their bikes and go home. I deservedly took a lot of mocking over that.

A really bad incident that happened out there involved my younger brother Dan. I had already gone into the house (again) and was sound asleep.

Apparently, when the other guys woke up, they decided to start a fire in a pit we had dug. They couldn't get it going so little brother went in the garage to get some gas.

You can predict what happened next: the gas caught fire as he poured it and in trying to jump away, it spread to his face.

I woke up to screaming. I ran to the kitchen along with my parents and there was Dan with his head in the sink splashing cold water on his face.

My father, dressed in his nighttime attire of tank top undershirt and boxers, tried to go get dressed, but my mother literally pushed him out the door to go to the hospital. He was lucky to get his pants on.

Fortunately, although he was in pain for a few weeks and had some nasty looking scabs, Dan recovered fully with little or no scarring.

Our fort was decommissioned by General Mom Reilly and we had to find somewhere else to hide out.

Tanks for the Memories

One of the things we used to do on our overnight “fort” escapades was go wander around the streets.

We weren't really doing anything bad like vandalism, but rather just looking for some excitement. For example, if we saw car headlights coming at 1 in the morning, more than likely it was a police car on patrol. So, we'd dive into the bushes like we had escaped from prison. If it turned out not to be the cops, we were disappointed because it just wasn't as thrilling.

At some point on one of these ventures we ended up on State Street by the National Guard Armory. Sitting there next to the building was a genuine military tank. It was not a World War II leftover like you would see in front of a V.F.W. or American Legion. I'm pretty sure it was a real working tank that they must have used for training purposes.

The unbelievable thing was that they left the tank unsecured.

We would climb up, open the hatch and go inside. We would look through the slit visors and I seem to recall a periscope we would play with. Hopefully, the guns weren't loaded or operational because I don't even want to think how that could have ended.

This was at the height of the “Cold War” so it seems odd that the National Guard wasn't concerned that some “Commies” might take the tank and topple the Upton Monument or something.

Today, there is a fence around the Armory and most likely lots of security cameras to identify any surreptitious anarchist types who might be up to no good. Not to mention goofy teenagers.

What put an end to these early teen hijinks? Three things: summer jobs, getting driving permits, and interest in girls. You can't really leave work at the hot dog stand at 2 a.m. and head over to climb around on an Army tank.

But teenage mistakes kept getting made.

On my very first real date with a girl I took her to see Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds,” one of the scariest movies ever. I think it was a coincidence, but soon after that she moved out of state.

I guess it's a good thing to grow up and mature (although some never do). But those teen years certainly provided me with some good stories to tell when I got old.

June 6, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in history, batavia, news, nostalgia, mom-and-pop stores.

Memories have a way of making you shed the years and return to the times when you were young. Life was simple and uncomplicated then. It doesn't matter what decade; many of us share a similar memory of a corner grocery store in Genesee County.

They all were a little different in size but carried the same items. It depended on where you lived, and this determined which store was considered your grocery store. At one time, there was a mom-and-pop store on almost every corner.

My memories date back to the late '50s when I was in grade school, and my brothers and I would take our Red Flyer wagon and walk to the Red and White store on Ross Street.

We would load up the wagon with pop bottles that we could return for money. If we had 20 bottles, we could earn 40 cents, and that could buy a whole bag of candy!

The excitement was when you would ask to see the box of penny candy. You could choose from many sugary treats such as Chum Gum, Pixy Sticks, Tootsie Rolls, wax lips, Bazooka bubble gum, and Safety Pop suckers, to name only a few. For a nickel, you could also buy a giant chocolate bar.

When was the birth of the mom and pop stores? One advertisement for such a store dated back to 1841. The ad stated that G. Diamond had a store that sold groceries and liquor. In 1871 Dailey's store was located at 28 and 30 Main St. In 1877, Charles G. Huggins had a store at 64 Main St. called Choice Groceries. Combs and Kerslake had a meat market and grocery store in 1889. Another store, L.C. Lorish Store, was located at 21-23 Jackson St. in 1890.

The Oriental Company at 43 Main St. sold tea, coffee and baking powder. There was a Jones Central Market at 5 Jackson St., J.S. Callahan Grocery at 26 Main St., and Kellogg Grocery on Oak and West Main streets. The Phelps Store was located at 113 Main St. The Flatiron Cash Grocery building was moved from Pearl Street to another retail location on the same street.

In 1921, five Market Basket Stores open in Batavia, 103 Jackson St., 5 State St., 29 W. Main St., 500 E. Main St., and 440 Ellicott St.

Caito brothers had a store at 56 Main St.; they sold fruits and vegetables. John S. Brown of 18 Main St. served customers from 1890 to 1928. Casey Brothers store at 118 Main St. was the longest-running store. They were in business for 40 years.

The city directories for 1939 show there were 25 mom-and-pop stores operating that year. In 1940 there were 23 stores open. The figures jumped dramatically in 1947 to 42 stores. In 1959 there were 22 stores, and then in 1968, there were only 19 stores. By 1975 there were 21 stores, and in 1988 there were just five. Sadly in 1995, only two stores remained.

The names of the stores often changed, but the locations stayed the same for many years. An example would be the store on Oak Street. In 1939 it was called Burch's. Later it became Reinhardt's, then the Short Stop.

Do you remember going to a store on Washington Avenue that you had to walk downstairs to the basement to reach the store? In 1947 it was owned by Regina Murphy and was called Downy's. I remember the store when it was known as Quartley's. Guastaferro and Pelletteries owned a store at 103 Jackson at different times. Johnston Food Store was located at 106 W. Main St. Later this store was called Corrigans.

On Main St., there was Ashes Grocery and Peter's delicatessen. On the corner of Bank and North streets was Lambert's Northside Grocery. That was where my friend Cathy and I, on a snow day, walked in a blizzard to buy Beatles cards in the '60s.

There were two stores on Ross Street -- 13 Ross and 132 Ross. The latter store changed hands many times from John Lowe to Howard Lentz, Samuel Caito, Hart and Hart, Red and White, Cummings, and then to Say's Grocery. You can't forget Perk's Red and White on the corner of Hutchins and Ellicott. Scaffetta's was on the corner of Maple and Evans Street.

Leo J. Happ had a store on Washington Avenue. Pappalardo's was on the corner of Otis and Ellicott. We must also remember Sikorski's on Hutchins and Rubino's, Wandryks, and Nick Abraham's meat market.

I remember Bill's Meat Market at 208 Swan St. Like many others, I would go in there and buy my meat in the '70s. Bill would let you charge your purchases, and his bookkeeping method was unique. He would use meat-wrapping paper to record what customers bought and owed. When you paid your bill, he would cross off your name. Previous owners were Casimer Krause and Edwin Kiebala.

The store at 162 Jackson also had many owners. Sara Brown and Charles McNall were owners of this store in the '60s.

On the corner of Liberty and Ellicott streets was a store that had many owners. In 1937 Rose Maniace was the owner; it later changed hands and was called Bennett's Grocery. It later became known as Pieo Grocers. Salvadore Marchese and later the Riccobonos owned it for many years. Another fond memory I have was going in there as a young girl and watching my father buy Italian cheese for our Sunday meals. Now known as Southside Deli, it has been a landmark in this area for many years.

The Marchese brothers were always associated with the grocery business, and their names date back to 1925. They also owned National Food Company, Big M Store, and Marchese Food Land.

The one store that was a constant was Granger and Company. That was the tall building located at 17-23 Evans St. This was where most of these mom-and-pop stores bought the food items to sell. Granger's was a wholesale grocer and served small grocery stores and restaurants. It was initially a mill where flour was made and also had two roundhouses on the property.

Today, the last roundhouse is a UR Medicine Primary Care office.

As with the birth of the mom-and-pop store, we also have their deaths. One by one, these little landmarks would close their doors, taking with them the memories of family-owned establishments. Inevitably the big stores came to Batavia. Loblaws, Super Duper, Star Market, Jubilee, and Tops were the big names in grocery stores.

Today we have Tops Friendly Market, Save-a-Lot, and Aldi for grocery shopping. We still have corner stores, but larger supermarkets usually own them, not individual families.

I was inspired to write this story about the early stores because my father-in-law worked at Granger's for 47 years. He knew where every mom-and-pop store was located and all of the former owners by name. He had wonderful stories to go along with each store; I only wish I had written them all down.

This article is dedicated to Henry F. Starowitz Sr., the wholesale grocer who kept the mom-and-pop stores' shelves filled with groceries.

Please note that this article only contains the names of the stores for the years: 1939, `40, `47, `59, `61, `68, `75, `88, `95, and 2000. This is just a sampling of the mom-and-pop stores that were in Batavia. I know that all of the hamlets, villages, and towns in Genesee County have their mom-and-pop store memories, too.

This article is from my book "Back In the Day, Snapshots of Local History, The Way I See it."

Photos from the Genesee County History Department and Holland Land Office Museum.

Editor's note: Slight changes have been made to reprint this article.

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