Entries by histedit

Ballots for a Divisive Election

My most sincere gratitude is extended to Donna Burdick, historian for the Town of Smithfield, and Melissa Irelan, historian for the Town of Clarendon, for their help in research. Local history in Orleans County tends to be….local. Being rural, it’s not that we are cut off from larger currents of history, but our connections tend […]

“Things move on about as usual in Gaines.”

– Emeline Colton, in a letter to her daughter, Oct. 29, 1863 It is somewhat unusual in local history to have first hand accounts of everyday life from 150 years ago. Folks generally wrote brief diary entries, oftentimes citing “fair weather” and little else. Any letters we have tend to have been written from someone […]


Searching for Robert

Local historians are dependent upon a certain amount of luck. The stories we tell draw from a variety of sources. In Gaines, nearly all official town documents went up in flames in 1910. It was a tremendous stroke of bad luck; because of that, we have almost no town paperwork from the 19th century. On […]

Greetings from Eagle Harbor!

This postcard from around 1910 is a little bit misleading. In it, Eagle Harbor appears to be a quiet, shady little hamlet. In fact, Eagle Harbor was a busy place at this point in time. This photo was probably taken from the canal bridge, and looks north on what is now called Eagle Harbor Waterport […]

Adversity & Fortitude

I am grateful to the assistance of John Long in sharing his memories of Bill Densmore and the ’44 fire. A. Willard “Bill” Densmore (1890-1964) loved farming. Despite suffering the misfortune of two barn fires in less than twenty years, he rebuilt each time because he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Around 1929, during his […]

A Different View of Rt. 279

This photo shows a view of Rt. 279 as seen from Ridge Road looking south. Judging from the leaves on the ground, it seems to have been taken about this time of year. The main road intersected the Ridge as it does now, but the photo shows a lesser-worn path leading east to the Ridge. […]

Going to see Colonel Roosevelt

These photographs of Teddy Roosevelt were discovered in the course of filing materials in the historian’s office at Gaines Town Hall. No information is recorded on the backs of them. Accompanying notes indicate they were donated by Dan Hatch. Although Theodore Roosevelt never spoke in our township, folks from Gaines made sure to see him […]

Happy Independence Day from Gaines!

The above photograph of an unidentified boy, most likely taken in Gaines, comes from a small photo album that belonged to Virginia Lattin Morrison. Below is a photo of Virginia found in that same album. She was a longtime resident of Gaines. Coincidentally, today was Virginia’s birthday. She was born July 4, 1906. In 1919, […]

Building a Better Brick

Note: I am deeply grateful to Dee Robinson for her overall encouragement, her suggestion of this topic, and for her assistance in researching it. The New York State Fair, held Oct. 1-4, 1867 in Buffalo, was a disappointment in some ways. “The grounds, unfortunately, presented a rough surface—appearing as if tread up by cattle in […]