Tag Archives: Yates County

Books: Fight All Day, March All NIght

In 1862 twenty-one-year-old Morris Brown Jr. left his studies at Hamilton College to take up the Union cause. He quickly rose in rank from sergeant major to captain and acting regimental commander for the 126th New York Volunteers. Fight All Day, March All Night: A Medal of Honor Recipient’s Story (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2012) is the narrative of a young Civil War officer, as told through his letters from the battlefield and edited by Civil War historian Wayne Mahood.

In letters written to his family in Penn Yan, New York, Brown describes his experiences at war: the unseemly carping between fellow officers, the fear that gripped men facing battle, and the longing to return home. Brown’s letters also reveal an ambitious young man who not only wanted recognition but also wanted to assure himself of a financial future. Continue reading

New Books on Yates County History Published

The Yates Heritage Tours Project began in 2010 when four friends &#8211 all active members of the Barrington History Group, the Dundee Area Historical Society and the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society &#8211 got together with the goal of telling local history. They have published their first two books on the region, with a third on the way.

The first, a book on Jemima Wilkinson, The Public Universal Friend (the first American born woman to found a religious movement) titled &#8220The Unquiet World&#8221 features a companion audio CD self driving tour of historic sites relating to Wilkinson and her followers, the Universal Friends, who created a settlement on the New York frontier in 1788.

They have also published a small book titled &#8220Architecture in a Small Town&#8221 which covers architectural styles beginning with 1790 through today in Penn Yan, NY. The book lists each style with its characteristics and illustrations and includes a glossary of terms and a map showing the location of each structure. Though focused on Penn Yan, the book is a handy reference the architectural styles of buildings you find in other towns, villages and cities.

A third effort, &#8220Penn Yan and How It Got That Way&#8221 about the history of Penn Yan is expected to be released soon and will also include a companion audio CD walking tour of of Penn Yan’s Main Street historic district.

&#8220The Unquiet World&#8221 and &#8220Penn Yan and How It Got That Way&#8221 are written by Frances Dumas, Yates County historian and the public historian for both Penn Yan and Milo NY.

Yates Heritage Tours products can be purchased on their website or through local vendors such as Longs’ Cards & Books on Main Street in Penn Yan, New York and the Yates County Genealogical & Historical Society on Chapel Street. For more information you can reach Yates Heritage Tours via email at YatesHeritageTours@gmail.com or by phone at (315) 536-2491.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

Finger Lakes Museum Publishes New Guide

As part of its mission to serve as a gateway to the Finger Lakes Region, The Finger Lakes Museum has published the premier edition of Pathways, a full-color map and guide to attractions and historical venues throughout the 14-county area. The publication is a partnership venture with Life in the Finger Lakes magazine and is being distributed as a removable insert in the Summer 2011 issue, which will be on newsstands soon. It can also be ordered online.

In a prepared statement the museum’s executive director, John Adamski, said, “The Pathways guide will be a valuable resource for anyone who is traveling in the Finger Lakes Region and looking for something to do.” It provides a map and directions to major museums, historical centers, historic sites and villages, state parks, visitors’ centers, nature centers, scenic vistas, byways, hiking trails, and waterfalls.

He added, “This publication is the result of an enormous amount of work by a group of tireless volunteers in a very short period of time. The research and graphic design efforts that went into this project are incredible.” The guide is planned to be updated and published annually in time for the tourism and vacation seasons.

The Finger Lakes Museum is an initiative to build a premier educational institution in Keuka Lake State Park to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the 9,000 square-mile Finger Lakes Region. It was chartered by the New York State Board of Regents in 2009. The museum is operating from offices in a former elementary school in Branchport, NY (Yates County), which it purchased from the Penn Yan Central School District last January.

As part of its strategic plan, the Finger Lakes Museum has been forming collaborative partnerships with other historical and academic institutions in the region. Adamski said, “Pathways is the best way that we know of to direct people to the places where they can learn more about something that is of particular interest to them. And it has helped to cement some exciting new partnerships for us.”

An operational fundraising effort is presently underway in the form of The Finger Lakes Museum Founders Campaign. To learn more or to volunteer visit their webpage.

Finger Lakes Museum Buys Local School

The Board of Trustees of the Finger Lakes Museum has voted to purchase the Branchport Elementary School from the Penn Yan Central School District for $200,000 and the deal was closed the same afternoon at the Yates County Clerk’s Office. The school has been vacant for several years due to school district consolidation.

Museum board president John Adamski said, “The original plan was for the Finger Lakes Visitors Association to purchase the school and lease it to the museum on a 5-year interim basis during the startup phase of the project, after which time the museum would move to its new quarters in Keuka Lake State Park. But we have since realized the long term potential of the building and grounds as a research and education center, directly affiliated with the museum. That’s 17,000 square feet that we don’t have to build in Keuka Lake State Park.” The two sites are about a mile apart.

The school was first proposed as a temporary museum headquarters by Keuka Lake site proponents during the search for a location to build the project in 2009. When Keuka Lake State Park—one of 19 sites then in contention—was chosen last April, the school was included in the deal.

Museum personnel occupied the building last summer and fall under an early occupancy agreement with the Town of Jerusalem while the FLVA pursued arrangements to purchase the property from the school district. The museum staff has moved to other quarters for the winter months to avoid heating the entire building for three staff members.

Adamski said, “At first we looked at the school as a temporary office and warehouse for artifacts and collections while the project was being designed and built. But after conducting program definition and market studies, we realized that we could have some initial museum exhibits and programming ready there as early as next summer.” Plans now call for making investments into the school property to upgrade the heating and septic systems and to make the building more energy efficient. Converting the gym into a theater and auditorium is also being considered.

Adamski said that recent partnership discussions with officials at Keuka College confirmed the potential of the school property to become a research and education center, administered by the museum, the college, and other academic partners. “All of these factors contributed to our change in plans”, he said.

Finger Lakes Boating Museum Elects Officers

Trustees of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum that will be built on the Geneva waterfront in 2011 elected officers at their December Board of Trustees meeting.

Bill Oben of Bluff Point, a founding trustee, was re-elected as board president. Following a career in manufacturing management with Dupont and Kodak, he retired to Yates County where he has served on the boards of several other non-profit community organizations, including the Keuka Lake Association and the Yates County Genealogical & Historical Society.

Also re-elected to one-year terms were: Ed Wightman of Hammondsport, vice president- Bill Smith of Pittsford and Branchport, secretary- and Dennis Karalow of Penn Yan, treasurer.

Wightman, a native of the Keuka Lake area, is a retired college professor. In his retirement he restores Finger Lakes wooden boats. He is a past president of the boating museum and is a board member of Wine Country Classic Boats.

Smith, a registered professional engineer, Diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, retired from Malcolm Pirnie Env. Engrs. where he was responsible for design, construction and operation of water and wastewater utilities. A consultant in the environmental field, he teaches at RIT.

Karalow relocated to Penn Yan from Virginia where he was the owner and general manager of Connell’s Valet, a drycleaning business in Vienna, VA., for 30 years.

The boating museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva last fall to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with the Visitor Center. The building, which will be located on the current Chamber of Commerce site, is being enabled by a $3.5 million grant provided to the city by state Sen. Michael Nozzolio. Construction is expected to start this spring.

The other members of the 14-member Board of Trustees are Phil Beckley of Geneva, Dave Bunnell of Geneva, Mayor Stu Einstein of Geneva, City Manager Matt Horn of Geneva, Scott Johnson of Hornell, Sam Pennise of Hammondsport, Vince Scalise of Geneva, Keith Toaspern of Penn Yan, Al Wahlig of Hammondsport and Chris Bennett-West of Pultneyville.

The following committee chairs will serve in 2011: Collections, Oben- Communications, Beckley- Finance, Karalow- Membership, Wightman- Nominating, Wahlig- Resource Development, Scalise- and Site Development, Oben.

The boating museum has assembled a collection of more than 100 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. The collection is stored in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center on North Genesee Street arranged by the Geneva IDA and in Yates County.

Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility, but President Oben emphasized that there will be a lot more to the museum than viewing boats because education, restoration and preservation are the key elements of the museum’s mission.

Also featured will be boat rides on Seneca Lake, active on-water programs including sailing and small boat handling, interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design and construction of boats and boating history materials and programs.

The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”

Additional information about the boating museum may be found on its website.

Finger Lakes Museum Annouces Agreement

Finger Lakes Museum Board President John Adamski and Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Director Tim Joseph have announced that a ceremony has been scheduled to sign a Letter of Intent to start the process that will enable the Finger Lakes Museum to build its campus in Keuka Lake State Park. A joint Memorandum of Understanding listing the commitments of five other Keuka Lake State Park site sponsors, which were presented in the Site Sponsors’ Proposal last December, will also be signed at the same event. Those members include Yates County, the Town of Jerusalem, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, Keuka College and the Finger Lakes Visitors Association. A separate agreement with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce will be signed in a few more weeks.

The affair will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17 th at the lakeside
pavilion in Keuka Lake State Park and members of the News Media and the public
are invited to attend this unprecedented event.

The Finger Lakes Museum is an initiative to create a worldclass educational institution to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the 9,000
squaremile Finger Lakes Region, since the last glacial recession began some 12,000 years ago. Last April, Keuka Lake State Park was selected as the preferred location to build the project after 19 sites were submitted for evaluation by 8 Finger Lakes counties and the City of Geneva in 2009.

Under the Letter of Intent, the Finger Lakes Museum and the New York State Office
of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will initiate a comprehensive planning
process for the Museum’s facilities at Keuka Lake State Park. The planning process,
which will include public input opportunities and a full environmental review, will
develop a detailed concept design and site building plans.

The Board of Trustees has approved the design of a new logo for the Finger Lakes
Museum, which was created by InHouse Graphics of Geneva and will be unveiled at the event.

Finger Lakes Museum Selects Keuka Lake Site

On Thursday, the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to select Keuka Lake State Park in Yates County as the future home of the Finger Lakes Museum. The vote was unanimous with one abstention.

After nearly a year of evaluating 19 sites that were originally submitted, the Site Selection Committee, under the direction of chairman Don Naetzker, recommended two sites for the Board’s consideration: Seneca Lake State Park in and adjacent to the City of Geneva, and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport.

The idea to create a museum to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological history of the 9,000 square-­mile Finger Lakes Region was first floated in a Life in the Finger Lakes magazine article by John Adamski in March 2008.

After enlisting ConsultEcon Inc., a Boston­based market research firm in March, it was determined that the project is viable at either site although for different reasons. Board president, John Adamski added, “While the Seneca Lake site has significant advantages like a central location, the Board determined that the Keuka Lake site more closely met the requirements that were originally established in the Strategic Plan, especially as they relate to natural history programming.”

Among the advantages that he said tipped the scales in favor of the Keuka Lake site are the following:

• There is 700 feet of intimate lakefront with a level, sandy beach.

• The natural history element of the project is predicted to draw the most visitors. The rolling, hilly terrain, ravines, brook, woods, and areas of natural succession that exist there are ideal for wildlife exhibits in natural habitats.

• Several hundred acres of land are available for wildlife habitats and interpretive use—now or in the future.

• A 350­-car paved parking lot already exists.

• Keuka College has offered to add Museum Sciences to its curriculum
and become a partner in the educational aspect of the Museum.

• Yates County and Keuka­area business leaders have pledged over $2 million in start-up funding.

In addition, Adamski said, “The Branchport Elementary School, which is presently vacant, has been purchased by the Finger Lakes Visitors Association for use as the Museum’s base of operation during the project’s start-up phases. The building will provide 15,000 square­ feet for business offices and initial programming as well as storage for the acquisition of artifacts and collections.” Its 13­-acre site provides navigable water access to Keuka Lake.

He also stated, “Finger Lakes State Parks and the Finger Lakes Museum Project will undertake a joint master plan for the entire 620­acre park. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation has been very cooperative and enthused over the proposal and we look forward to working with them to bring the project to fruition.”

Although the Museum will be built on lands leased from Finger Lakes State Parks, it will remain a privately­-owned and mostly privately­-funded not­-for­-profit educational institution.

Finger Lakes Museum Site Selection Narrowed to Two

First there were nineteen. Then there were five. Now there are two. John Adamski, president of the Board of Trustees of the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum, said today that the Site Selection Committee has referred two sites to the board for further assessment. They are the Geneva/Seneca Lake State Park site along the lakefront in Geneva and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport in Yates County. Both sites offer lake frontage.

No longer in contention is the Bush Farm in Ledyard, the Wells College campus in Aurora, and Sampson State Park in Romulus. Sponsors of those sites were informed of the decision last Friday and in a show of commitment and dedication, each pledged to continue supporting the project.

Adamski said that a great deal of effort was put into proposals from the five site sponsors and that each had to be fairly evaluated. Site selection committee members logged more than 150 hours in multiple site visits, committee meetings, and deliberations, not to mention the uncounted miles that were driven.

The committee has asked the board to consider a comparative marketing study to help determine which of the two remaining sites would be the most viable due to concerns for the long-range economic stability of the project based on its location.

Adamski said, “The advantage that the Geneva site has is its central location, which is close to the Thruway and halfway between Rochester and Syracuse. The benefit of the Keuka Lake site is its intimate lakefront and wilder setting, which is more conducive to outdoor wildlife exhibits.” Plans call for natural habitats to showcase native wild animals such as bald eagles, beavers, black bears, coyotes, foxes, otters, and the unique Seneca White Deer.

The proposed $40 million Finger Lakes Museum is planned to be primarily funded by private donations and corporate grants. A committee is currently working on a fundraising program.

B&Bs With Underground Railroad Connections

Throughout January and February, Americans celebrate the history and accomplishments of African-Americans with Martin Luther King’s birthday in January and Black History Month in February. In recognition, BedandBreakfast.com has described Bed & Breakfasts that were once associated with the Underground Railroad, the informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to free states, Canada, Mexico, and other countries with the aid of abolitionists.

Here’s a list of those in New York State:

Escape Guest House, Brooklyn, NY: This B&B is just a short stroll from Plymouth Church, the “Grand Central Depot” of New York’s Underground Railroad. According to church history, slaves traveling to Canada were hidden in the tunnel-like basement beneath the church sanctuary- you can still visit there today. The church’s first pastor, Henry Ward Beecher, was a dedicated abolitionist and younger brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe, famous author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Merritt Hill Manor, Penn Yan, NY: One of the first houses built in Jerusalem Township, the land where this B&B sits now was deeded from the Seneca Indians in the Gorham/Phelps purchase. It was once used as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves, heading north to freedom in Canada.

Saratoga Farmstead, Saratoga Springs, NY: Former owners and abolitionists Clarissa and Benjamin Dyer used the farmstead to connect to the Underground Railroad. According to some, a young black boy and his enslaved mother died while hiding in the attic. Legend tells that for many years thereafter, each time someone tried to climb the attic stairs, the boy’s ghost put an arm out, tripping the intruder and protecting his mother. During a session with a visiting expert on the paranormal, these ghosts were released to &#8220the next level,&#8221 and visitors can now navigate the stairs safely.

Crooked Lake Review: Finger Lakes History Journal

The Crooked Lake Review is a local history magazine for the Conhocton, Canisteo, Tioga, Chemung and Genesee River Valleys, and for the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario Regions of New York State. Crooked Lake is the old name for Keuka Lake, an unusual Finger Lake because it is shaped like a &#8216-Y’.

According to the their website, the Crooked Lake Review &#8220is a review of the accomplishments of the men, women and families who settled in these regions, built homes, cleared farms and started businesses. It is also a review of the present work and aspirations of the people who were born here or who came to live here.&#8221 The first issue of the Review was published in print in May 1988, but since 2006 the Review has been published as an online blog.

Comments and suggestions on the journal are welcome at:

The Crooked Lake Review
7988 Van Amburg Road
Hammondsport, NY 14840