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Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:16 am

Genesee County Bar Association celebrates past, looks to future on 100th anniversary

The steps of the Old County Courthouse will be the site of gathering for local lawyers, judges and legal professionals, along with several dignitaries, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Genesee County Bar Association (GCBA) on Thursday.

Thursday's ceremony will last from 4 to 6 p.m. at 7 Main St. in Batavia.

GCBA President Durin Rogers said it is free and open to the public, and that "everyone is encouraged to attend" (a gala event at Terry Hill's will follow, but according to Rogers, and it's already sold out).

Notables scheduled to attend include:

  • Hon. Eugene F. Pigott Jr. (keynote speaker), Court of Appeals justice
  • Hon. Paula L. Feroleto, Eighth Judicial District administrative judge;

  • David M. Schraver, president-elect of the New York State Bar Association;

  • Michael Ranzenhofer, New York State senator;

  • Stephen Hawley, New York State assemblyman; and

  • Mary Pat Hancock, Genesee County Legislature chairperson and New York State Association of Counties president.

GCBA is a voluntary association of professionals in the justice system working together to benefit Genesee County and to improve the practice of law locally.

According to a press release, the association was founded in 1912 and quickly got to work to address "a widespread feeling of discontent with the judicial system and the manner in which justice was being administered."

"We are very proud of where we have been, and even more excited about where the GCBA will go over the next several years," Rogers said.

According to Rogers, GCBA has grown tremendously over the past several years, making new initiatives possible for both members and the community.

Some of the association's offerings include continuing legal education (CLE) seminars for members, philanthropic efforts with local agencies, and the "People's Law Series," which Rogers described as "a forum for local residents to become more knowledgeable on particular areas of law."

"GCBA intends to continue its present offerings and is always looking for new ways to benefit its members and the public," he said. "My time is limited; however, having spoken with the president-elect of the association, Mary Kay Yanik, esquire, I know that she intends to focus on several civic functions that give back to the community during her presidency."

Here are some past GCBA members (photos courtesy of Lisa Scott, of the Batavia law firm Bonarigo & McCutcheon):

Barber B. Conable Jr. would go on to become a New York State senator and congressman, serve as a confidante to three U.S. presidents (Nixon, Reagan and Bush), and be appointed president of the World Bank, a position he held for five years.

Honorable Robert E. Noonan Sr. who served on the Supreme Court in the Eighth Judicial District from 1949 until the early 1960s. Afterwards, he was permanently appointed (after two temporary appointments) by Nelson Rockefeller, then-governor of New York State, to the Fourth Department of the Appellate Division.

Alice Day Gardner was the first woman to practice law in Genesee County. She graduated from the University of Buffalo Law Department in 1901, being the fourth woman in history to do so and the only woman in her class. As a female lawyer in the early part of the 20th Century, she was a pioneer. The article about her above was published in the Batavia Daily News in 1985.

For more information on Thursday's ceremony, call Rogers at 345-1205 or visit www.gcbany.com.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Redfield Parkway celebrates 100 years Saturday

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, celebration, local history, Redfield Parkway

Redfield Parkway, one of the City of Batavia's historic neighborhoods, has changed quite a bit over the years.

Photo provided by Jim Owen

Above is a picture from 1912, when it was first founded by Charles A. Williams (former Genesee County Sheriff and mayor of Batavia) and his then-partner, David Garrett.

Jim Owen, a Redfield resident known as "the mayor" to some of his neighbors, is part of the committee organizing the "100th Anniversary Redfield Parkway Program" on Saturday.

Other members are Linda Conroy, Kathy Owen (Jim's sister, who lives with him), Tricia Clark, Lori Wendt, Julie Mancuso, Jane Johnson, Lisa MacDonough and Alicia Kaus.

There will be a ceremony that is free and open to the public from 1 until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday is the rain date. It will include:

  • Music by the Batavia High School "Blue Bells"
  • Proclamations by Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, City Councilman Pierluigi Cipollone, City Councilman-at-Large Jim Russell, County Legislator Ed DeJaneiro Jr. and possibly Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (who is a former student of Owen's)

Wayne Fuller of WBTA will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Owen looks forward to celebrating Redfield's heritage with his neighbors and fellow Batavians.

"From an historical point of view it's neat to find out where we came from," he said.

At 1:45 p.m., a time capsule will be dedicated. Made by Redfield resident Rick Wendt, it will include news articles, a DVD of photos from Saturday's event -- to be made by Redfield resident Alicia Kaus -- a current phone book, literature on the street's history and much more.

Owen said the tentative plan is to bury it near the pillars, with a stone made by Derrick Monument Co. of Le Roy marking the spot.

Copies of local historian William F. Brown Jr.'s book "The Story of Redfield Parkway: The Beginning" will be available for purchase for $5 from Owen.

Redfield Parkway: A quick history

Photo from Brown's "The Story of Redfield Parkway: The Beginning"

Redfield Parkway was named in honor of the family of Heman Redfield, a local politician, lawyer, landowner and one-time Le Roy Postmaster. His home, according to Owen, was where Batavia's Valu Plaza is located today.

Redfield was born in Connecticut on Dec. 27, 1788, but he lived in Genesee County for most of his life. A member of St. James Episcopal Church, he served as a warden and vestryman. He also helped build St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Le Roy.

He was elected to the New York State Senate in 1823, serving with Attorney General Martin Van Buren (before he became the eighth president of the United States).

A War of 1812 veteran, he fought at the battle of Queenston Heights at age 24.

On July 22, 1877, Redfield died at age 89. According to literature provided by Owen, his funeral procession was the longest in the history of Batavia at that time. He is buried in the historic Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue.

He had 12 children, and his family owned the land where Redfield Parkway now stands until 1912.

A postcard of Redfield Parkway from the 1940s. Photo provided by Jim Owen.

Redfield Parkway was a private street until 1928, at which point it became part of the City of Batavia. It has existed in its present state since 1966, when the last house was built.

Over the years, it distinguished itself not only by its beautiful flower beds, but also by the row of American flags running down the street's median. Appropriately, the flags would eventually lead the way to the Batavia VA Medical Center (they were stolen, but Batavia Downs is supplying new ones).

The Owens

Photo provided by Jim Owen

Owen and his sister are lifelong Redfield residents. Their parents, Frank and Natalie (pictured), bought the house in 1930 and the adjacent land in 1945. They bought the land from Edna Gruber, who was Batavia's "most famous madam" and well-known for her local charitable work.

Interestingly, 2 Redfield is technically 4 Redfield (anyone who drives by and looks closely will see that although the house has a "2" on it, the house right next door is 6 Redfield).

The vacant space to the right of the house is 2 Redfield. The Owens had lived at 4 Redfield for 15 years by the time they bought this space, so they just gave the same number to the whole property.

Here is a photo of the real 2 Redfield, a garden well tended by Kathy.

Celebration of a heritage

People can learn more about these and other stories on Saturday.

"(Our neighborhood) has a tradition that's been carried on for 100 years, and I hope it continues," Owen said.

To that end, he added that the neighborhood will be making an effort to save the pillars at the parkway entrance in the near future.

"They're 100 years old, and the mortar is coming out," he said.

At this point, the pillars are owned by the city. Owen said the repairs will cost about $16,000, and they are hoping for a grant.

For more information and for any updates, visit the Redfield Parkway 100th Anniversary page on Facebook.

Heman Redfield trivia

  • Redfield's daughter, Jane, was said to have been the first woman to cross Niagara Falls in a basket;
  • Some people trace his ancestry to the Mayflower;
  • His grandfather fought under General George Washington at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War.
Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

Chance to meet Frederick Douglas descendant at Batavia Peace Garden on Sunday

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, local history, Peace Garden

As part of an interstate tour focused on the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Northeast, 16 educators from California and Kenneth Morris, the great-great-great grandson of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will come to Batavia's Bicentennial Peace Garden around 3:30 pm on Sunday.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the office of the County Historian are planning an afternoon of educational entertainment that includes refreshments and costumed reenactments. It is free and open to the public, but people should bring their own chairs.

The Peace Garden is located at West Main St. in Batavia. It is right next to the Holland Land Office Museum, which is at 131 West Main St.

Event Date and Time

July 29, 2012 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

Chance to meet Frederick Douglas descendant at Batavia Peace Garden on Sunday

post by Daniel Crofts in announcements, batavia, local history, Peace Garden

As part of an interstate tour focused on the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Northeast, 16 educators from California and Kenneth Morris, the great-great-great grandson of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will come to Batavia's Bicentennial Peace Garden around 3:30 pm on Sunday.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the office of the County Historian are planning an afternoon of educational entertainment that includes refreshments and costumed reenactments. It is free and open to the public, but people should bring their own chairs.

The Peace Garden is located at West Main St. in Batavia. It is right next to the Holland Land Office Museum, which is at 131 West Main St.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Le Roy native's 'Documente' exhibit is more than just paintings

The painting above is titled "The Clash of Cultures," in it artist Tom MacPherson shows us some of the dynamics of his family history.

It's part of a new exhibit at Genesee Community College's Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery called "Documente: The Italian American Family Album," which includes original egg-tempura portraits, old-fashioned furniture, photographs, music and stories. It will be on display through Aug. 27.

"Clash of Cultures" depicts MacPherson's two grandmothers in 1940s Le Roy. Grandma MacPherson (foreground) was a Methodist (the ribbon around her waist reads "Methodist Church of Le Roy") of Scottish ancestry, whereas Grandma O'Geen (Gugino) was Italian and Roman Catholic.

While Grandma MacPherson stands outside, Grandma O'Geen stands secure in the "bastion" of her Catholic household (behind the front door), with Swiss Guards from the Vatican guarding the entrance, St. Peter (the first Pope) standing by her side, and Pope Pius XII (upper left) keeping watch overhead.

Born in Batavia and raised in Le Roy, MacPherson now teaches studio art at SUNY Geneseo. His family history is kind of a microcosm of Le Roy's overall past.

His Scottish forebears came to Le Roy in 1801, before it even became a town.

"They were the ones who set the tone for what the local culture would be all about," MacPherson said. "And then my Sicilian relatives had to blend into that."

From the MacPhersons' immigration from the Scottish Highlands to the O'Geens' (who changed their name from Gugino to more easily fit in with American culture) immigration from Sicily in 1896, "Documente" is a detailed panorama of the artist's roots.

Included are the adventures of intrepid MacPherson aunts, elderly Italian aunts praying their Rosaries, the persecution of Italian immigrants by the Ku Klux Klan in Le Roy, and the experience of fathers and uncles in overseas wars.

Scenes re-creating household decor circa 1940-60 add three-dimensional reality, an intimate visit into the artist's everyday world at that time. 

Here in "The Pioneer," MacPherson depicts his bold, adventurous great-aunt Kitty standing on the rocks of her ancestral Scotland.

"No, I'm Not Colonel Sanders" depicts great-uncle Rossolino Barone. Like all of MacPherson's portraits, this is based on a family photograph -- in this case, of uncle "Ross" at a family wedding in the 1970s.

In the background is the drug store that he owned in the Rochester suburbs, and overhead are angels borrowed from Fillipino Lippi's "Madonna with Child and Saints."

MacPherson incorporates images from Italian Renaissance art into his portraits in order, in his words, to "infuse my relatives with their heritage."

"I wanted my Italian relatives to be able to relate to their heritage," he said. "And I wanted (the Renaissance elements) to say something about their personalities."

In the case of uncle Ross, the angels are showering roses on him for the kindness he showed other people.

Great-aunt Catherine MacPherson is the subject of "The Conversion of Great-Aunt Catherine." Catherine was an Army nurse during World War I, and she converted to Catholicism in France after seeing the bravery of the priests and nuns who took care of the wounded and dying.

She is set against the background of her ancestral home in the Scottish Highlands, and the overhead image represents her conversion (when she "saw the light").

The subject of "The Walking Dead" is MacPherson's father, Neil Lewis MacPherson. According to the written description next to the portrait, Neil came back home a "changed man" as a result of his experiences in World War II. MacPherson chose to illustrate this by appropriating the figure of death (right) from German artist Hans Baldung Grien's "The Three Ages of Death."

Here are a few other "Documente" displays:

A series of photographs in honor of MacPherson's cousin, Frank O'Geen.

"La Vita Mia"

"What Ya Gonna Do?" (a portrait of an aunt surrounded by religious icons)

"The Adventures of Great-Uncle Pete" (To view a video explaining this one, click here.)

Having explored the history of the two sides of his family in this exhibit, MacPherson is now working on a book on the subject. He hopes to have it published within the next few years.

Roz Steiner gallery is located at 1 College Road in Batavia and is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Gallery Director Shirley Tokash Verrico always welcomes group tours (though children's groups may not be appropriate, as some of the images are more suited to adult audiences).

For more information, email Verrico at [email protected] or call 343-0055, ext. 6490.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Kids get hands-on history lesson at Harvester Cemetery

Even the fierce, sizzlin' heat couldn't keep this crew inside yesterday, as Holland Land Office Museum kicked off its eight-day "History Heroes Summer Program" at Harvester Cemetery. 

Program coordinator Ann Marie Starowitz (pictured below) took a group of 7- to 11-year-old kids to the cemetery to sketch the gravestones of famous Batavians. Afterward, they went to the Richmond Memorial Library to learn more about these people.

Starowitz said the tour was expanded to become an eight-day program this year. Last year, it only lasted three days.

Between now and July 22, the kids will learn about local history through research and hands-on activities like making their own butter, a mini-archeology dig, candle making and building a miniature log cabin home.

Here are some photos of the kids sketching gravestones (in most cases the photos are of the student and the gravestone he or she is sketching):

Courtney Biegasiewicz, 11, sketches the tombstone of William Morgan.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Many perks at GoArt!'s 'Picnic in the Park' this year, including author from Bethany

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, books, local history, picnic in the park

Abigail, age 7, showed us her cat-face Monday at GoArt!'s annual "Picnic in the Park." She had just been to the face-painting booth.

While I was there taking pictures, I ran into some, shall we say, figures of historical interest.

Jacob Richardson came dressed in the get up of a Revolutionary War soldier, complete with weapons and an old-fashioned belt (which soldiers needed to keep all their materials together, since their uniforms had no pockets).

Richardson was there to represent "Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship," a program of Batavia Assembly of God Church.

Also, a horse and carriage ride, just like the old days.

Also, Genesee County native Lynda Breckenridge Gaetano, author of the "Up South" series, was there to promote her books.

Gaetano now resides in Austin, Texas, but was raised on a dairy farm in Bethany. Her books are set in Genesee County and, all total, span a time frame ranging from the early 1800s, when pioneers first came to the "woody wilds" (as worded in a promotional pamphlet produced by the publisher, Blue Stocking Press) of Genesee County, up until the time of the World War II years.

They include a mixture of folk tales, real life stories and local history, all told from the perspective of a wizened sugar maple tree.

Gaetano has published her work in three volumes: "Spring," "Summer" and "Autumn." She hopes to publish the "Winter" volume soon.

Monday, July 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm

'Up-South' and

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, books, local history, picnic in the park

Abigail, age seven, shows us her cat-face at GoArt!'s annual "Picnic in the Park." She had just been to the face painting booth.

While I was there taking pictures, I ran into Genesee County native Lynda Breckenridge Gaetano, author of the "Up-South series."

Gaetano now resides in Austin, TX, but was raised on a dairy farm in Bethany.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

"Coming to America" at Woodward Memorial Library

post by Trisha Riggi in LeRoy, library, local history, program

On Tuesday, March 22 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Greg Kinal, Pembroke Central High School teacher and local historian will conduct this interesting exploration into the life and times of European immigrants at the turn of the century. Registration is required. Please call 585-768-8300.

Event Date and Time

March 22, 2011 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Friday, December 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Local historian invited to 'revisit' Batavia with new book

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, larry barnes, local history

Representatives of Arcadia Publishing have been traveling to communities across the country for at least 10 years for their "Images of America" series, and last winter they approached Larry D. Barnes, Batavia's resident historian.

According to Barnes, the South Carolina-based publishing company, which published another book on Batavia -- simply titled "Batavia" -- about 10 years ago, wanted to "take another look" at the city and its history.

Barnes' book, "Batavia Revisited," will explore different topics and feature different photos -- of which there are about 220 in all -- from the first book. It covers many of the major events that reshaped the city's appearance, including:

  • The relocation of the railroad tracks to the outskirts of town;
  • The construction of the Oak Street Bridge; and
  • The Urban Renewal of the 1960s and early 1970s

As a book that relies heavily on the use of photographs, "Batavia Revisited" is mainly focused on the period from 1860 onward. However, Barnes includes an introduction dealing with Batavia's earlier history, which goes back to the early 1800s.

"I also try to straighten out some misinformation over the years (about Batavia's history)," Barnes said. "For example, I've found over and over again in my research, that the person most people think built the Old City Hall had been dead for two years (before it was built). It was his son who built it."

Barnes is a retired Genesee Community College professor and a volunteer with the Genesee County History Department. He taught psychology, but describes history as a "second career."

"It's a personal interest of mine," he said. "I do a lot of (historical) writing and research."

The book will be on sale starting Jan. 17, and will be available for purchase at Present Tense books on Wasington Avenue (and probably at the Holland Land Office Museum as well).

For more information on the book, please visit its page on Arcadia Publishing.

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