Ryan Duffy is 18 months into his job as director of the Holland Land Office Museum and members of the Genesee County Legislature have taken notice of the improvements he's made to the local history destination.
Several members praised him Monday after he give his annual review report to the Human Services Committee.
"Two years ago or three years ago there was significant activity and concern about the museum," said Robert Bausch, chairman of the legislature. "I just want to compliment you. The issues that we raised are being addressed and addressed in a positive way. I just want to congratulate you."
During his presentation, Duffy laid out some of the activities at the museum, which include continuing the just-completed History Heroes summer camp, cataloging more than 8,000 items at the museum, bringing in more groups to use space at the museum for meetings, bringing in more guest speakers, and starting a Java with Joe morning speakers series.
Duffy also brought back the annual antique show at Batavia Downs, which this year had vendors from as far away as Syracuse and Binghampton and brought in 450 visitors.
The museum also continues to grow as a tourist destination. Duffy said in 2017, nearly half of all people who visited the museum were from outside Genesee County.
Duffy also suggested people start thinking about their Wonderland of Trees decorations. This year's theme will be "favorite holiday movies."
"You’ve done fantastic," said Legislator John Deleo. "You’ve energized everybody including the board."
During his presentation Monday, Duffy also mentioned two recent acquisitions by the museum.
Top photo: Six pictures of Gen. Emory Upton. The larger picture on the left is from the West Point yearbook when Upton was an instructor at the academy. The other five are of Upton during the Civil War, showing Upton as a young lieutenant fresh out of West Point through the end of the war when he was a brevet major general (brevet means a temporary promotion usually awarded for valor or exceptionalism; Upton was a brigadier general prior to the brevet promotion).
The photos were obtained from a private collector.
"The pictures show not only the change in himself over time but also his change in rank," Duffy said. "We didn’t have anything like that before. We had later things of him but not something tracing his career. We had the beginning and the end but not the middle."
Bottom photo: A painting of Henry Glowacki on a piece of ivory. Glowacki was a prominent citizen of Batavia in the second half of the 19th century and he had a pretty fascinating biography. Born in 1816, the son of a Polish general, Glowacki was promoted to major in the Polish Army at age 17. He was probably part of the November Uprising, when a group of young officers rebelled against Russian rule of part of their homeland (source). The officers were banished from Poland. He intended to make exile in Illinois but he came into contact with David Ellicott Evans, then manager of the Holland Land Office. Evans hired Glowacki, though he was still only 19 and didn't speak or read English. Within four years, he mastered the language and studied law under H. J. Redfield and he married Mary Redfield. He passed the New York State Bar in 1840 and became a prominent local attorney. He was chairman of the local Democratic Party, a recruiter during the Civil War, a Village of Batavia trustee, an original trustee of the NYS Blind School, and he donated land for the first hospital in Batavia.
Prior to obtaining the painting -- about the size of an egg -- the only pictures HLOM had of Glowacki were as an old man with mutton chops, Duffy said.
Museum staff located the painting while attending an antique show. It is etched on the back with Glowacki's name and his date of birth and death.
The museum already possessed his Polish army uniform and a paperweight he used while employed at the land office.