Saturday, May 16, 2009

The War of 1812: The Niagara Frontier and Joseph Ellicott

A mere 13 years after the first pioneers came to Western New York, the region was struck with fear as war came to the Holland Purchase. Land sales became difficult in a war zone and the unknown of factor of how long it was going to last and which parts of the Purchase was going to see fighting.

Batavia, as the frontier capital, was a staging point for supplies and troops. Many of the homes in the village, including Joseph Ellicott’s, were turned into makeshift hospitals. Back yards and farmers fields became encampments and settlers donated food and provisions to help the Army.

The period of the War of 1812 is an important era in the region’s history. As we near the bicentennial of the War of 1812, look for many more publications about the momentous event.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

HLOM Lecture Series: Lincoln and the Free Soil Movement by Garth Swanson

On February 25, 2009, Prof. Garth Swanson gave a public lecture at the Holland Land Office Museum titled, Lincoln and the Free Soil Movement.

Mr. Swanson is a Professor of History at Genesee Community College. He put Lincoln in perspective, discussed his views on slavery and dispelled some of the Lincoln myth. He also discussed some of Lincoln’s ties to Western New York.

Mr. Swanson is a very animated speaker. He didn’t need a mic for the lecture, but I was able to convince him to us it so that it could be recorded. He moves his hands a lot, and some of his words may not have been picked up by the microphone. I apologize in advance.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous: #1 Jell-O

In a LeRoy, New York kitchen in 1897, a carpenter named Pearle B. Wait, while experimenting with fruit flavored products discovered a formula his wife called Jell-O.

Wait sold the formula to another local businessman named Orator T. Woodward for $450 and under the Woodward’s family leadership, Jell-O became America’s Famous Dessert.

Jell-O became a household word and was manufactured in LeRoy until operations were moved to Dover, Delaware in 1964.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous: #2 Barber Conable

Known for his honesty and integrity, Barber Conable started his political career as an organizer with the city of Batavia Republican Party and rose to the top of the political world.

Born in nearby Warsaw, Wyoming County, he moved to Batavia to practice law. He didn't want to hang his shingle in his hometown because his brother was the County Judge and he didn't want to have any conflicts of interest.

After his election to Congress, he became know as the Congressman who wouldn't take a contribution to his campaign fund for more than $50. As a leader on the Ways and Means Committee, he helped write the tax laws of the 1980s.

Following his retirement after 20 years of service in Congress, he returned home to Genesee County. Less than a year later, he was called back to services, this time as the President of the World Bank, a position he held for five years.

After his second retirement, he came home again and became involved in local affairs. Mr. and Mrs. Conable became active in the Holland Purchase Historical Society and other community organizations.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous: #3 The Disappearance of William Morgan

In September 1826, a bricklayer from Batavia, New York disappeared. His disappearance caused a national sensation. The Freemasons were blamed for the disappearance because Morgan was a man who wanted to be accepted into the Masons, was rejected and threatened to disclose the rituals of the secret society.

His disappearance led to the formation of the first third political party in American history, the Anti-Masonic Party.

Freemasons claim Morgan jumped on a boat in Lake Ontario and disappeared forever. The Anti-masons claim the Freemasons murdered him by tossing him in the Niagara River.

The important part to remember is the political upheaval caused by the disappearance of one man.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous: #4 The Holland Land Company

The first big business to come to Western New York was a group of six Dutch banking houses that formed a stock holding company called the Holland Land Company.

The Company purchased 3.3 million acres of Western New York forest and through their agent, Joseph Ellicott, built town, villages and cities.

They were the driving force behind the creation of Genesee County and without them, the Western New York landscape could be much different.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous: #5 Emory Upton

During the Civil War, many men from Genesee County answered the call to keep the Union together. In our countdown we've already met two of the County’s Civil War Heroes, Charles Rand (#14) and Ely Parker (#11).

Genesee County’s most famous Civil War soldier was Emory Upton. Upton was born into a farm family in the town of Batavia in 1839. He rose to the rank of Brevet Major General. After the war, he was commandant at the United States Military Academy at West Point, wrote books about strategies and tactics, and toured the world.

He became an expert on military policy and known as one of the reformers of the United States Military and influenced to policies of the United States Army throughout the 20th Century.

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