history

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:32 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Castile, Letchworth State Park, history.

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A throng of people milled about at the Trailside Lodge at Letchworth State Park Saturday for The Native American and Pioneer Heritage Day festivities.

Highlights of the day included a performance by Gretchen Sepik portraying “The White Woman of the Genesee” Mary Jemison, Native American storyteller Perry Ground, Native American Flutes by Ken Wallace, and the Allegany River Indian Dancers, who showcased traditional songs and dances of the Iroquois.

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Monday, September 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Press release:

The Preservation League of New York is seeking nominations from local and regional preservation organizations, advocacy groups, municipalities and others for its 2018-19 list of New York State's most endangered places – Seven to Save.

Since 1999, the Preservation League has highlighted New York's threatened historic sites through its Seven to Save list. The program provides enhanced services from the League to bolster visibility and build support for preservation.

"Through our partnership with concerned groups and individuals, the threats to dozens of at-risk buildings, landscapes, downtowns, and neighborhoods have been reduced and in many cases eliminated by a Seven to Save designation and subsequent actions," said Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo. "The League is looking forward to providing strategic attention, extra effort, and new tools to secure the future of New York State's endangered resources for generations to come."

The League is looking for places that could benefit from the additional attention that Seven to Save designation brings. 

Program goals are to:

    • Spotlight important threatened historic buildings, structures, landscapes and communities;

    • Generate enthusiasm for the protection and reuse of threatened sites;

    • Identify options for the viable use of threatened sites;

    • Focus public attention on key statewide preservation issues;

    • Demonstrate the economic and community-building benefits of historic preservation;

    • Provide guidance, strategies and tools to alleviate threats to at-risk sites.

For more information about nominating sites and to request an application, call Preservation League Vice President Erin Tobin at (518) 462-5658, ext. 12, or via email at etobin@preservenys.org.

The deadline for nomination is Oct. 16.

Visit www.preservenys.org for previous Seven to Save designees.

The Preservation League of New York State invests in people and projects that champion the essential role of preservation in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, and the protection of historic buildings and landscapes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 5:25 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, history, Warsaw, Perry.

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There is one situated neatly on a side road between a row of houses, another is found on the grounds of a Village Park, the third one is in close proximity to Silver Lake.

“A lot of us drive by museums and historical societies and think, ‘I’ll have to stop there someday’ and then you may not get to it,” said Wyoming County Historian Cindy Amrhein. “They don’t know the wonderful things they are missing. Our county has a fascinating history when you see how each town had a part in its creation.”

Amrhein is talking about the inaugural launch of the Eat Your Way Through History tour. Although Amrhein organized and is the “head chef” for the tours, it isn’t a fundraiser for the County Historian’s Office, but rather to benefit the museums and historical societies in the county – both financially and visibly.

The motivation behind the tour is to bring awareness to what the county has to offer from a historical perspective. This undertaking is/was set over the course of four blocks: one in June, the most recent one held Saturday, one in September, and the final one in October. There was also a “free block” during the Wyoming County Fair.

The first stop on Saturday’s tour was at the Seth M. Gates House on Perry Avenue in the Village of Warsaw.

Warsaw was founded in 1803 by Elizur Webster, says Historical Society member George Almeter. While nobody really knows why the town was named Warsaw, it was the first in the country to create the Liberty Party.

“The first Liberty Party started in 1839 in a church on South Main and Livingston streets,” Almeter said. “The Town had its own anti-slavery newspaper, which eventually moved to Perry, and it was part of the Underground Railroad at its height in 1853.”

The newspaper was made out of rags in 1838, which preserved the text allowing an almost pristine copy to be predominantly displayed in the museum/historical society. The society also houses a completely intact cloak worn by a soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War.

The idea behind the Eat Your Way Through History tour was one Amrhein was kind of thrown into when she first became a historian in 1997 for the Town of Alabama.

“The supervisor needed a historian right away for this Eat Your Way Through History tour the then Genesee County Historian, Sue Conklin, had planned,” Amrhein said. “So, in a week I whipped something together. My town was dessert. I did everything apples and talked about the apple dryer in Alabama in the late 1800s. In Genesee (County) we only did one tour a year, over several years.

“Since this is the 75th anniversary of the Wyoming County Historian’s office and our publication Historical Wyoming, I wanted to do it up big. So I thought ‘why not do a tour but on a grander scale?’ So I guess you could say it’s like the Eat Your Way Through History tour from 20 years ago, but on steroids – all the county’s museums in one year.”

All the dinnerware, napkins, and cups have the Eat Your Way Through History logo, and advertising for the event was made using modified ads from the 1950s. There are even passports, neck wallets to carry them in, trivia games, and gift bags.

However, before the bling was bought and the tour schedule set, Amrhein had to get the historians, the historical societies and the museums on board with the idea.

“Even though the plan wasn’t fully developed yet in my head, I tossed out the idea just to see if it was possible and if there was enough interest,” Amrhein said. “I wanted to try and include historians as well as historical societies even if they had no museum.”

For the tour, Laury Lakas, historian for Orangeville, teamed up with Sheldon Historical Society, which has a museum. Covington doesn’t have a museum but they have a historical society so they are holding the event at the old Town Hall. Additionally, there are two new museums without historical societies attached to them – Attica Preservation Foundation Museum in Attica, and the Perry Fire Department Museum in the Village Park in Perry (open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

“Five or six years ago we needed a place to put the antique trucks,” said museum curator Robin Poydock. “Instead of selling the trucks, we built a building.”

In addition to storing the 1937 truck – with a V-12 engine and straight pipes – which the department had purchased new at the time, it also houses a truck from 1915, photos, speaking trumpets (similar to a megaphone) and various other department memorabilia.

“The photos were in storage in the basement of the fire department and we found a photo of our first chief holding one of the speaking trumpets,” Poydock said. “Before the department was organized in 1887 there were bucket brigades. And when the department first started, there was 24-hour coverage. The fire hall was also designated as a fallout/bomb shelter.”

To organize an event that spans the entire county took a bit of finagling, Amrhein says.

“First I had to see which of our museums or historical societies or historians were willing to play. Then I had to coordinate around events they already had planned or do every year at the same time. I also wanted the route to be in some order where they were all fairly close to each other and then guesstimate travel time from one location to the other.

“If possible, I tried to end them in a spot that would encourage further exploration. For example, the tour we just had ended at the Pioneer Cabin, which is a beautiful spot by Silver Lake. The one in October ends in Castile, and that is close to Letchworth State Park. For some towns it just wasn’t possible for them to participate, and Pike we did by using the county fair museums.”

The Pioneer Association began in 1872 with a picnic, says association member Bob Murphy who was the guide at the Pioneer Cabin on Walker Road in Perry. However, it wasn’t until about 25 years ago that the association got its artifacts back after being stored at Letchworth State Park.

Along with the cabin, the last running one-room schoolhouse in Wyoming County is on the property – the building was brought to Walker Road out of LaGrange, a 2,000-year-old “meeting” tree from Covington also sits in prominent display, and the museum boasts the history of the infamous Silver Lake Sea Serpent.

On July 13, 1855, Joe McKnight had this to say about the serpent: It looked like a giant log coming toward the boat. The thing was a reptile about 80 feet long with eyes as red as hot coals. The serpent lashed out its tail and water flew four feet into the sky.

As the story spread, more people said they saw the serpent. Tourists packed nearby hotels and homes to get a glimpse of the beast but it always escaped into the foam, the legend says. Then as quickly as it came to be, the “monster” disappeared, never to be seen again on Silver Lake.

“The truth was, A.B. Walker built the ‘serpent’ with friends to stir up business at his hotels,” Murphy said. “But the story is based on an Indian legend about a monster in the sea.”

Another fun fact about the serpent is that it was built three different times, says Murphy. The contraption was stored in three different buildings, all of which had burned down destroying the “monster” each time.

Susan B. Anthony had once visited the museum and Franklin D. Roosevelt had been a guest speaker at the Cabin in 1945.

“Each tour stop has been different than the one before it,” Amrhein said. “The collections, the history to tell, the food, it’s all so unique. Our tourists are having a great time.”

This project was funded, in part, by a grant through the Arts Council for Wyoming County.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Amrhein said. “They are how it was possible to pay for most of the advertising and the printing of the passports. The revenue from the passport sales is divided up between all the museums and historical societies that participated.”

The passports were printed by The Arc of Livingston and Wyoming at the Hilltop Printshop in Mount Morris.

While there are three spots still available for the fourth block of the tour in October, Amrhein said she is already busy planning next year’s excursion.

Next year, grant willing she says, it will be a more independent tour spanning six months to coincide with regular museum and historical society hours. Participants will still get passports and prizes, however, closer to 120 to 150 people can join in the fun. (Eat Your Way Through History had to limit the number of patrons due to spatial concerns at the facilities.)

“The more players, the more our museums and historical societies benefit. There will be clues at each museum…a treasure hunt of sorts,” Amrhein said. “I don’t want to give too much away now though, but it will be called A Treasure Hunt Through History.

This year, each block tour was $12 or all four blocks for $45.

“It’s been great fun and the museums are doing an awesome job,” Amrhein said. “I’m thankful our historical societies and museums have gone all out to make this event a success, and so far, the ones I’ve talked to are on board for next year. And who doesn’t like a treasure hunt, right?”

The Eat Your Way Through History project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Arts Council for Wyoming County.

For more information about the tours or the Historian’s Office call (585) 786-8818.

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Monday, July 31, 2017 at 5:24 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, history, Historian's Office, Warsaw, cemetary.

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Sometimes…there just isn’t any family left to maintain the gravestones of deceased relatives.

So who cleans and repairs the tombstones?

“Sometimes nobody,” said Wyoming County Historian Cindy Amrhein. “Many of the incorporated cemeteries do their best, but it is difficult with limited funds. Other cemeteries are considered abandoned; there is no association who cares for it and no recent burials are happening. New York State law only requires those to be mowed by a town twice a year.”

Just last week, Amrhein and about 25 people participated in the workshop "Grave Matters" – a program that provides volunteers training in gravestone preservation techniques through classroom instruction and hands-on demonstration. The program is provided by the Western New York Association of Historical Agencies (WNYAHA).

The classroom portion of the program was held at the United Church of Warsaw on South Main Street. Participants then traveled south down the road just a bit with WNYAHA Administrative Coordinator Terry C. Abrams to the Warsaw Pioneer Cemetery for the hands-on portion of the workshop.

“They (WNYAHA) have been holding the workshop for nine years,” Amrhein said. “Terry asked me this spring if I would serve on the board. When the topic of where to hold Grave Matters this year came up, it was suggested to hold it in Wyoming County since it has never been presented here.”

Since most repair projects are done by volunteer groups, Amrhein says proper techniques are important in maintaining the integrity of the stone.

“When thinking about repairs keep it realistic on what you can do without machinery or other equipment,” Abrams said. “A sand and gravel mix tamped down is really all you need to level out a sinking stone.

“You’ll want to get the lichen and dirt off the stone because, over time it will eat away at the stone – especially limestone. And it’s also important to keep vegetation around the stone to help with preventing erosion.”

The new recommendation for cleaning is a product called "D/2 Biological Soluntion." It is biodegradable and doesn't damage the stone or the ground, says Abrams. However, he also noted that the product can be costly.

(A website called gravestonecleaner.com sells a one-gallon jug and one-quart reusable/refillable combo of D/2 for $55. Larger quantities are available; there are also instructions on the clean for cleaning gravestones with it.)

“From a historical standpoint, our office has tombstone inscriptions from every cemetery in the county since they were first written down in the 1950s,” Amrhein said. “Some of the old stones can be difficult to read without proper cleaning and repair. Methods have changed as we learn more. The way it used to be done, in some cases, has inadvertently caused more damage to the stones. Knowing the right way can be shared with others especially if a volunteer group plans to work on a particular cemetery.”

However, whether a person or group can repair or clean a gravestone for a non-relative, depends on who owns the cemetery, Abrams says.

“Generally, if a person performs a reasonable search for next of kin and can't find one, the person can go to the cemetery board and make the request to repair the stones.”

When a headstone is in fairly good condition, it can be a useful tool for the Historian’s Office as well as genealogists.

“When we are researching an event, a headstone may be the only clue we have at the moment about the person,” Amrhein said. “A headstone, or lack thereof, can tell us if those involved moved out of the area before they died, or if they are in fact buried in the county and when they died.

“Sometimes the stone is already knocked over and the piece you need is really there just underneath the surface of the dirt where the grass grew over. It was fascinating to watch our instructor, Brian Daddis, reset a stone back to level again and to clean it off.”

Daddis is the owner of Brian Daddis Masonry Restoration out of North Tonawanda.

Gone are the days of bolting metal straps to the stones to hold them together – only to later have rust deteriorate the stone around the mended area. Gone are the days of cleaning the markers with bleach or spraying on shaving cream in order to read them, says Amrhein.

“All of those things help in a tombstone's destruction.”

In addition to the Historian’s Office, Warsaw Town Historian and Assistant County Historian Sally Smith hosted the event. Other sponsors included Carmichael & Reed Monument Co., Robinson & Hackemer Funeral Home, and Lantz’s Bulk Foods, all of Warsaw.

For more information about WNYAHA visit http://www.wnyaha.org/

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Monday, April 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Attica, history, GCC.

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GCC Associate Professor of History and History Club Advisor Derek Maxfield presents a $250 check dotated by the History Club to Attica Historical Society President Dean June.

Press release, photo submitted:

In response to the recent flood at the Attica Historical Society Museum, the Genesee Community College (GCC) History Club is sponsoring a fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 6 called Historians for Attica Historical Society. The event will feature five one-hour history programs and will take place on the lawn of the Attica Historical Society, Main Street, Attica. Guests may purchase tickets to individual programs for $5 each or purchase an all-day pass for $20. Young people under 14 years old get into all programs free. All proceeds benefit the Attica Historical Society and Museum.

Back in February, Dean June, the president of the society, looked down toward the basement door when he was entering the museum and noticed a lot of water coming from under the door. He pushed it open to find more than two feet of water standing in the basement. He does not know exactly how long it had been like that. The sump pump and other safety mechanisms had failed.

As a result, boxes of artifacts including many books were under water. Mold had already set in on the walls and boxes. The society had to discard many artifacts and books that were irreplaceable. Moreover, they had to spend almost $10,000 to clean up, cut out and replace walls, and to seal the basement.

The daylong event will feature:

    • 9 to 10 a.m. -- "History and Politics in 140 Characters or Less: Considering Andrew Jackson in the Age of Trump.” Speaker, Danny Hamner, Adjunct Instructor of History, GCC;

    • 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. -- "Upstate New York State Suffragists and Radical Reform.” Speaker, Melinda Grube, Ph.D, Adjunct Instructor of History, Cayuga Community College.

    • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. -- Panel discussion: "Living Living History: Becoming Someone Else.” Moderated by Derek Maxfield, associate professor of History, GCC. Panel includes: Melinda Grube, who portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Tom Schobert, who portrays Gen. Robert E. Lee, and Al Parker, great-grandnephew and portrayer of Eli Parker, aide-de-camp of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant;

    • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. -- Lunch;

    • 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. -- 19th century stories and music by David Armitage and Dona LaValle;

    • 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. -- Civil War Demo/Lecture;

The sounds system for the event is being provided courtesy of Kirk McWhorter of Penny Whiskey.

Pre-sale tickets will be available from the historical society and available at the door on the day of the event. To purchase tickets or for more information call (585) 591-2161.For more information about the individual programs, contact Derek Maxfield at ddmaxfield@genesee.edu

Parking is available behind the Stevens Memorial Library, at the historical society, or in the Presbyterian Church parking lot across the street.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at 9:43 am

The Preservation League of New York State is seeking nominations for its 2017 Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards. These awards recognize significant achievements in historic preservation throughout the state. The nominations must be submitted digitally by Feb. 10. The awards will be presented in May.

"Preservation and reuse of our historic buildings is fundamental to the economic revitalization of our cities, towns, and villages," said Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo. "The restoration of our historic neighborhoods, Main streets, and underutilized buildings continues to create jobs, provide housing, promote tourism, stimulate private investment, and conserve energy, resources, and open space. Our annual Awards program allows us to highlight projects that offer new examples of best practices in historic preservation."

The League especially encourages nominations that may provide case studies or models incorporating energy efficiency, adaptive reuse, or New York's Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.

To review the guidelines and download a nomination form, visit www.preservenys.org. For additional information on the awards contact the Preservation League office at (518) 462-5658, ext. 17; or via email at awards@preservenys.org.

The 2016 Excellence Award recipients were: The Renaissance Albany Hotel (Historic DeWitt Clinton Hotel), Albany; Apple Store, Upper East Side, Manhattan; United Nations Campus Headquarters Glazed Façades Replacement, Manhattan; Babcock Shattuck House, Syracuse; Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial, Saratoga Springs; 845 Commons (Historic Mica Insulator Co. Building), Schenectady; T. G. Hawkes Glass Co. Apartments, Corning; and Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

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Just a couple of hundred yards apart on Route 20A between Royce and Snyder/Syler roads, Varysburg, are two New York State Historical Markers. Each marker memorializes the enemy of the other. 

One was placed in the 1930s, it reads: Stony Brook Glen – Refuge of Mary Jemison and the Seneca Tribe during General Sullivan’s Raid 1779. The Senecas were allies of the British.

The other was unveiled Oct. 15 during a ceremony held at the Richards Pioneer Cemetery, Route 20A, and recognizes Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Richards and the Richards Pioneer Cemetery in Orangeville. Richards was fighting for freedom from the British.

Pioneer High School student Elsie Herold opened the ceremony with a stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” More than 120 people including Assemblyman David DiPietro, members of Daughters of and Sons of the American Revolution, Hoisington’s New York Rangers in Revolutionary War era uniform, local and county officials, and members of local veterans organizations attended the dedication.

Richards was born May 28, 1757 in Dighton, Mass.. He served in the Vermont Militia during the Revolutionary War under Lt. Charles Richards in Col. William William’s Regiment of Militia. He served from 1777 until 1782 when he was discharged from service. Following his stint in the militia, he returned to Dighton and married Sibbel Paull on Nov. 28, 1784. 

The Richards’ moved to Putney, Vt., after the birth of their first son in 1786. They lived in different areas in Southern Vermont and had nine more children. 

In the early 1800s, the oldest sons James and Peter, headed west on foot. Over time, they purchased seven parcels of land totaling 286 acres – around the area of where the cemetery now sits – from the Holland Land Company. At that time, the parcels were part of Genesee County. 

After his wife died in 1811, Richards moved to Orangeville to live with his sons. On Sept. 11, 1825, he died and was buried in the family cemetery.

James, Peter, and another of Richards' sons, Paul, were active in local government, each serving several terms as supervisor for the Town of Orangeville. Additionally, Paul served as town clerk for several years and was influential with the formation of what is now Wyoming County. He was also appointed as the county’s first judge in 1841.

When Nicholas Fisher and his brother were little boys roaming around on the nearby farm, they came across the “little” cemetery.  

“It (the cemetery) was overgrown and pretty much forgotten,” Fisher said. “It was abandoned really. In 1984, in keeping with a promise to his mother Mabel Spink, Paul Spink, great-great-grandson of Daniel Richards, began taking care of it. Then after I retired from my career in 2000, and moved back home, I began helping him restore it.”

Fisher is a member of American Legion Post 449 out of Michigan, and the Wyoming County Joint Veterans Honor Guard.

The Historical Marker Program in New York began in 1926 as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration. At that time, markers could be acquired from the State Education Department (SED). While funding through a regular state appropriation had run out around 1939, coordination of the program was continued by the Office of State History of the Education Department into the 1960s.

In 1960, responsibility for erecting and maintaining the markers was officially reestablished with the SED.

For more information about the history of the Marker Program click here

For more information on other historic places in Wyoming County click here

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Monday, October 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, announcements, Warsaw, contest.

Press release:

The editors of Historical Wyoming have long realized that there are several untold stories throughout the county. These stories – about people, events, buildings and the everyday happenings of rural people – enrich the folklore and heritage of the county. Subsequently, they decided to “reboot an essay contest from 30 years ago.” 

The contest is open to all current and former Wyoming County residents 50 years old and older. The entries must be submitted by Oct. 31.

Because our own lives have been spent largely in one area of the county, many of the stories have escaped our attention, say the editors. It is their opinion that every person has a story that is dear to them and when circumstances allow, they like to tell it.

“We are especially interested in our citizens in the 50-plus age group as their memories are more likely to reach further back into the past and it is from this past that traditions, folklore and our heritage are created,” said Wyoming County Historian Cindy Amrhein. “To encourage the 50-plus folks of our county to write down these stories, the editors of Historical Wyoming are sponsoring an essay contest.”

With the permission of each author, all prize-winning essays will be published in the magazine. Additionally, a chosen number of non-winning essays may also be published in the future with the writers' permission. All essays will be judged by a select committee. 

The contest is divided into three age groups:

    • 50 to 60 years old;

    • 61 to 70 years old; and

    • 71 years old and older.

All winning entries will be printed in the Historical Wyoming during 2017, which marks its 70th year. Winning writers are only required to grant first-time print rights for both the hard copy and digital editions. Four months after publication of your story, it story can be submitted elsewhere for reprint, crediting “First appeared in Historical Wyoming, Vol. XX No. XX, Month XX 2017.”

In each of the three age groups the following additional prizes will be awarded:

    • First Prize – a three-year subscription to Historical Wyoming, 1870 Wyoming County Directory (reprint), and a copy of “Letchworth State Park” by Thomas A. Breslin, Thomas S. Cook, Russell A. Judkins, and Thomas C. Richens (Arcadia, 2008);

    • Second Prize – a two-year subscription to Historical Wyoming, and the 1870 Wyoming County Directory (reprint); and

    • Third Prize – a one-year subscription to Historical Wyoming.

The rules:

    1. Who may enter: This contest is open to all present and former residents of Wyoming County who are 50 years old and older.

    2. Closing date: Contest entries must be postmarked on or before Oct. 31

    3. What to write: The topic of each essay submitted must deal directly with Wyoming County.

    4. Length of essay: The length of each essay submitted must be 750 to 3,000 words. The essays must be legible. Illegible manuscripts will not be accepted. If chosen, slight editing of punctuation or grammar may be done prior to publication.

    5. Subject: Use only one subject per essay. You may enter more than one essay. Please number pages and write the title on top of each page.

    6. Cover page: Each essay entered must have a cover. In the center of the cover page please type or print the title of the essay and underneath, your age or birth year.

    7. Compile: Staple the corner of your essay together with cover page, and a small envelope in back with a slip of paper inside with your name, address, zip code, and telephone number (email address optional) on it. Do not put your name on the essay or cover page. You will be assigned a number. This will ensure that the entries are anonymous and the judges critique solely by the merits of the story.

    8. Where to send entries: Send all entries – one essay per envelope – to:

Senior Citizen Essay Contest, Office of Wyoming County Historian, 26 Linwood Ave., Warsaw,14569.

Theme ideas: 

    • Farm life – planting crops, maple syruping, livestock care, milk industry;

    • Nature and landscape – wildlife, hunting, parks, businesses, buildings no longer standing;

    • School days – memories as a student, scouting, 4-H, and other forms of education;

    • Experiences – during the Great Depression, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War;

    • Influential people – family doctor, ministers, lawyers, teachers;

    • Natural events – floods, tornadoes, snowstorms, drought;

    • Cultural events –circus performances, traveling shows, plays; and

    • Recreational – fairs, swimming, boating, camping.

Essays are not limited to any of the above topics.

The judges will select winning essays according to the following criteria:

    1. Human interest – of interest to people outside your family and acquaintances;

    2. Focus – must center specifically on some aspect of Wyoming County life and history;

    3. Historical relevance – about Wyoming County and its people and history;

    4. Conciseness – not long-winded;

    5. Clarity – easily understood;

    6. Narrative quality – a good story, well told; and

    7. Accuracy – true and correct.

Keep a copy for your records. Essays will not be returned. If possible type all essays or print in legible handwriting.

Entrants will be notified by mail of the winning entries prior to Dec. 31. Winners will be announced in the January 2017 issue of Historical Wyoming.

For more information call the Wyoming County Historian’s Office at (585) 786-8818 during weekdays 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or email at camrhein@wyomingco.net

Friday, May 27, 2016 at 11:41 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, events, Arcade.

The Arcade Historical Society will be hosting Walking with Heroes at Freedom English and Freedom Welsh cemeteries, on the corner of Osmun and Freedom roads, Freedom, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

There will be a dedication of a veterans’ monument by the American Legion and VFW, Main Street, Arcade, at 2 p.m.. Living veterans, auxiliary or family members will be by the graves of several deceased veterans and tell their stories to visitors on this self-guided tour. More than 100 veterans lie in the adjoining cemeteries from pre-Civil War era, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

For a complete list of the veterans at the cemeteries visit, www.arcadehistoricalsociety.org(on the events page), or see their Facebook page.

This event is an annual collaboration of the Arcade Historical Society, the Arcade American Legion, V.F.W. posts and Auxiliary, with the assistance of Freedom Town Historian Lorna Spencer and her Deputy, Sherry Bernard.

The Historical Society, 331 W. Main St., Arcade, is open from 1 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays. For more information about the society visit www.arcadehistoricalsociety.org or call (585) 492-4466.

Friday, May 27, 2016 at 11:39 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, history, Arcade.
Event Date and Time: 
May 29, 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm

The Arcade Historical Society will be hosting Walking with Heroes at Freedom English and Freedom Welsh cemeteries, on the corner of Osmun and Freedom roads, Freedom, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

There will be a dedication of a veterans’ monument by the American Legion and VFW at 2 p.m., Main Street, Arcade. After that you can take a self-guided walking tour of veterans’ graves.

Friday, September 4, 2015 at 11:27 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, preservation, Warsaw, Perry, Attica, Arcade.

The Preservation League of New York State is seeking nominations for its 2016-17 Seven to Save list.

The League is looking for places that could benefit from the additional attention that Seven to Save designation brings. Although all types of properties are eligible for nomination, the League especially encourages the nomination of places that can serve as case studies or models pertaining to the following categories:

  • Threats to sites with an arts or cultural use, either as a past use (e.g. opera house) or current use;
  • Threats to sites relating to a specific cultural heritage (e.g. African-American, Latino, Native-American); or
  • Threats to historic resources built after World War II (e.g. buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, public- and private-sector complexes).

Since 1999, the Preservation League has highlighted New York's most threatened historic sites through its Seven to Save list. The list provides enhanced services from the League to bolster visibility and build support for preservation.

"Through partnerships with concerned groups and individuals, threats to dozens of at-risk buildings, landscapes, downtowns and neighborhoods have been reduced and in many cases eliminated by the Seven to Save designation and subsequent actions," said Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo. "The League is looking forward to providing strategic attention, extra effort, and new tools to secure the future of New York State's endangered resources for generations to come."

For more information or to request an application call Erin Tobin, the League’s director of preservation, (518) 462-5658, ext. 12, or via e-mail at etobin@preservenys.org. The application deadline is Oct. 13. 

Visit the Preservation League’s Web site at www.preservenys.org for more information on previous Seven to Save designees.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 3:07 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, Fourth of July, Bennington.

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"Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” So said John Stark in a letter to his comrades in 1809 commemorating the Battle of Bennington.

While the slogan “Live free or die,” is perhaps more familiar than the battle itself, the Bennington Flag memorializes the event in which the Town of Bennington got its name.

According to the National Park Service, the British put in motion an ambitious campaign designed to isolate New England from the rest of the colonies. The goal was to crush the American rebellion.

For two months, General John Burgoyne led his army down the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor toward Albany with apparent ease, capturing several American forts along the way.

However, in August, he desperately needed provisions, cattle, wagons and horses. Burgoyne then sent an expeditionary force to the town of Bennington, Vt.. 

In the meantime, Stark and a force of 1,400 militiamen left New Hampshire to traveled to Manchester, Vt.. Stark got word of Burgoyne’s raid on Bennington and moved his force there.

Between Aug. 14 and 16, the British Army and its Canadian, Indian, and Loyalist supporters faced Patriots defending their new found independence. While the victory may have seemed to have been a minor one for the Patriots, it contributed to the defeat of the British at Saratoga a few months later, and thus helped decide who would win the Revolutionary War.

Stark is credited with the victory for the colonists citing his actions in the Battle of Bennington contributed to the surrender of Burgoyne’s Northern Army.

The Bennington flag is a version of the American Revolutionary flag with slight differences:

    • There is a large ‘76 in the canton;

    • The arrangement of the 13 stripes has the white stripe being the outermost color as oppose to the red one;

    • The stars have seven instead of five points;

    • The blue canton is shorter than on other flags.

According to local legend, the original Bennington flag was carried off the field by Nathaniel Fillmore, of Bennington, Vt., and passed down through the Fillmore family. At one point, Nathaniel’s grandson, President Millard Fillmore, of East Aurora, had owned the flag. 

Another legend claims the flag belonged to the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, and well as Gen. Stark. This version is the most accepted story of the Bennington Flag.

One legend of the flag’s origin claims that the original Bennington Flag was carried off the field by Nathaniel Fillmore, a resident of Bennington Vermont, and passed down through the Fillmore family, and was, at one time, in the possession of President Millard Fillmore (East Aurora), Nathaniel's grandson. Another claim is that a version of the flag belonged to the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, as well as General John Stark, and it is this one that is generally accepted to have been at the battle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 10:02 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Business, history, Wyoming County Tourism.

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(Photo submitted)

Press release:

The Haunted History Trail of New York State is a statewide collection of haunted inns, ghost hunts, ghostly events and everything creepy, and Wyoming County wants to add your creepy location to this trail!

Not just popular at Halloween, paranormal events and activities are a growing trend across the world and a popular attraction for tourists, reports the Wyoming County Chamber and Tourism Office. Tourism Promotion Agencies (TPAs) from across New York State have joined together to create a statewide trail of haunted locations to market to both the group and leisure travel market.

To qualify as an official Haunted History Trail location, you must provide either a guided tour or an overview of your ghosts for the visitor, and must fall into one of the following categories:

    • Guided Tours – Any location that offers a guided tour of their haunted activity. Not a regular history tour. This would be by appointment only, and not tied to a specific date on the calendar. (Haunted restaurants that tell the story of their ghosts to guests as they dine would also qualify here.)

    • Ghost Hunts – any location that allows groups or individuals to investigate the haunted location. By appointment is okay. This usually occurs during evening hours, and is not tied to a specific date on the calendar.

    • Ghostly Events – any seasonal or themed event that is tied to a date on the calendar. Example: cemetery tours, haunted hayrides, Halloween-themed events, etc. 

    • Creepy – any oddity that does not fit into the above three categories. (You can check out this section on the Haunted History Trail Web site for examples from across the state.)

For more information on what qualifies as a trail location call Meghan at the Chamber at (585) 237-0230.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 2:39 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, Warsaw.

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Four establishments were at the birth of most any town: a blacksmith, a hotel/tavern, a church, and a school. During the 1800s, when towns were developed in Wyoming County, the lots were divided to ensure the town had both a school and a church. Land was given to both, in quarter-acre lots. It was an incentive for people to settle in the area.

“It was the ‘build it and they will come mentality,' ” said Wyoming County Assistant County Historian Cindy Amrhein. “There wasn’t any real settlement in this area before 1802. It wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that an influx of people came here. The war bankrupted the country and the only way to pay soldiers was to give them land.”

Prior to 1812, settlers in the Wyoming County area were mainly tradesmen – blacksmiths and both grain and wood mill operators. Additionally, hotel/taverns were set up along the major routes. According to Amrhein, the Holland Land Company paid people to set up taverns and hotels along these routes. 

Wyoming County didn’t officially become its own until May 19, 1841. Prior to that, it was part of Genesee County, which was created in 1802. According to Amrhein, any records for Wyoming County prior to its inception in 1841 are kept in the Genesee County archives.

The Wyoming County Historian’s Office is a part of Wyoming County Government and belong to the Government Appointed Historians of Western New York. Additionally, New York is the only state in the country where it is mandatory that every town, city, village, and county has a historian. The historian’s office has files on both families and businesses dating back to the county’s origins.

“We are the only county in the state that publishes a quarterly magazine,” Amrhein said. “It’s been in publication since 1947 and comes out in January, April, July and October.”

Recently the office received a diary that is dated "for 1875." It was written by a girl who signed her name as Matie. When something comes into the office that is odd or intriguing, it piques the historian’s interest. 

“Who was this 14-year-old girl? How did this teen live? What were they like?” Amrhein said. “I had this vision in my head that the streets rolled up at 7 p.m. and they went into the house. There’s a nostalgic look of the past, but when you go and research something; it’s a mind-bender. It’s different from what we would expect.”

Life was so different, yet there were so many similarities. Matie writes:

Feb. 5, Sun. Garcia Andrus, Mort Cole, Will Andrus and Luella Matthews went to a lecture to Warsaw and on their way back got tipped over and Grace skinned her fall all on one side and they turned and went back to Warsaw and got blood washed off and Mort some sampler on her face and then started home again. Grace’s father did not know her when she came home. Matie Cole.

Feb. 19, Fri. Presbyterian church had a festival, Alvira G. Hathaway went home with C. Cooley or he with her.

“They hung out with friends, had crushes on boys and there were lots of dances,” Amrhein said. “They had horses – they didn’t drive – that was their form of transportation. They also got grounded from using their horses, too.”

Armenia also thought their kids were always chaperoned, when in fact, they went out and interacted with their peers on their own. There was quite a bit more responsibility and it wasn’t up for debate. Their lives appeared tougher.

Matie, it turns out, was Mary Cole, of Perry. Just from reading tidbits from the diary, the historians were able to determine where Matie was from and then gathered other information from newspapers and census records. According to their research, Matie was one of the first female bankers in New York State, and quite possibly, the country.

“Sometimes information just doesn’t fall into your lap,” Amrhein said. “Oftentimes it’s stumbled upon. At one point in our research, we came across a girl from Pike who ran away to join the circus and ended up being an actress. Sometimes, like the diary, things do fall into your lap. However, most of the time, you collect pieces of information and put the pie together. You find one little clue and you go from there.”

The Wyoming County Historian’s Office is located at 26 Linwood Ave., Warsaw. They are open from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All Wyoming County newspapers can be found at www.fultonhistory.com.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, history, Perry, event.

Perry native Jon Bucknam has a passion for history. The US Navy Veteran has decided to put that passion into practice by spearheading the Perry Historical Society.

“I want to show people where this town came from and what we are losing everyday if people don’t stay connected to our past,” Bucknam said. “I invite everyone to visit and see all the wonderful things that are in store for the grand opening of the first ever historical society.”

With the help of the Wyoming County Chamber and Tourism, a ribbon cutting will be at noon, Saturday at 121 Water St., Perry. According to the chamber, there have been three attempts at opening a historical society: first, in the 1890s, the second in 1903, and the third in the 1930s. 

Bucknam, a historian himself and ‘wounded warrior’, said he’d rather focus his energy on what he enjoys to keep his mind off his own war related issues.

For information on the Perry Historical Society, call Bucknam at (585) 969-4128 or (585) 322-2284.

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