The Grant-Sherman campaign invades City Point

Check out Grant and Sherman’s latest adventure.

Rudely Stamp'd

IMG_3588 Gen. Grant and Gen. Sherman at City Point, Virginia

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA – Generals U.S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, as portrayed by GCC professors Derek Maxfield and Tracy Ford, fresh off the brutal spring campaign, set off on a fresh campaign to visit historic sites tied to Grant and/or Sherman on a tour that would take them to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

IMG_3405 Gen. Sherman at the Sherman House in Lancaster, Ohio

Beginning at the Sherman House in Lancaster, OH, Sherman visited the site where he was born and reminisced with staff about his life prior to fame.  A poignant story, marked by the loss of his father at age nine, Sherman would be adopted by Thomas Ewing – a friend of his father Charles Sherman, and he would move up the hill to the Ewing mansion.  A one-time Senator and Secretary of the Treasury, Ewing would arrange…

View original post 601 more words


Maxfield Lecture in Elmira to spotlight Civil War ancestors

Civil War Lecture at Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira

“Ancestors in Peace and in Pieces,” Derek D. Maxfield, Genesee Community College
May 3  7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Prof. Derek Maxfield will discuss the stories of his six great-grandfathers who served in the Civil War – all of whom wore blue. Four would survive and two would perish. But those who survived were far from well, and would struggle for the rest of their lives either physically, mentally, or emotionally. Their stories, while varied, are compelling and tell us much about what soldiers from New York and Pennsylvania experienced and how they made sense of their experiences after the war.


All programs are free and open to the public and take place at CCHS,
415 E. Water St., Elmira. Call 607-734-4167 ext. 205 for more information

2018 Orleans County Heritage Heroes Revealed

Awards Ceremony on April 27, 2018 at GCC’s Albion Campus Center

Albion, NY – The Orleans County Heritage Heroes Awards recognize the work and dedication of those who give their time and resources to preserve and protect the history of Orleans County for future generations.

The Heritage Heroes Awards will be bestowed upon the 2018 winners at a special ceremony on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7 p.m. at Genesee Community College’s Albion Campus Center in Albion, NY. The awards are co-sponsored by SUNY GCC and the Orleans Hub. The entire community is invited to come and help honor these important individuals.

“The Heritage Heroes Awards serve not only to honor deserving community members and thank them for their invaluable efforts, but to remind us all that the responsibility of preserving our heritage is incumbent upon the living generations,” says Derek Maxfield, associate professor of history at GCC and member of the Heritage Heroes executive committee. “It is an important undertaking that we all should share in.”

The 2018 Orleans County Heritage Heroes are:

Aaron Grabowski

Organist and director of Music at St. Mary’s Church in Medina, Aaron Grabowski has always had a passion for making music. However, Grabowski is more than a musician, he also builds organs. Prior to moving to Medina, he acquired a circa 1890s Barkhoff pipe organ, which was originally installed in Annunciation RC Church in Buffalo, built just a few years before St. Mary’s. When he joined St. Mary’s Church, it was evident to him that the church’s ailing electronic organ needed to be replaced.  Although the original pipe organ was removed from the balcony many years ago, the organ facade (consisting of exposed pipes and oak millwork) remained intact. Upon inspection of the organ loft, Grabowski knew a proper pipe organ, befitting of the church’s history and space could be installed. Grabowski and several other interested parishioners worked together and decided he would install his Barkhoff organ in at St. Mary’s, and do the work himself!  The Barkhoff was a perfect fit, given its age (built within a decade of St. Mary’s), classical voicing and having been designed by the same architect, Albert A Post. Grabowski’s dedication and hard work will fill the nave of St. Mary’s for generations to come.

Diane Palmer

Diane Palmer has always been a historian at heart and has long lent her talents and dedicated her time serving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Cobblestone Society & Museum. Currently a member of the Board of Trustees at the Cobblestone Society & Museum, Palmer recently coordinated two very successful historic tours – one of Cobblestone homes and the other a holiday tour of prominent local homes and churches. The December 2017 Holiday Tour included eight historical sites in Orleans County: the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, the Orleans Chapter DAR House and six residences entailing architecture ranging from Greek and Gothic Revival to Cobblestone.

Arthur Barnes

Noted local artist for over 30 years and constant advocate for the community, Arthur Barnes uses his artwork to celebrate Orleans County and its rich history. Barnes created a series of four large-scale murals depicting the Erie Canal which can be enjoyed in Medina, Knowlesville, Albion and Holley. Both a photographer and artist, Barnes highlights local tourism landmarks, such as the County Courthouse, the Culvert in Ridgeway and Mount Albion Tower. However, most of his work pays homage to the houses, barns and beautiful rural landscape of the area. These pieces serve to document Orleans County history as several of the houses and barns in his paintings are no longer standing. In 2000, Barnes bought a cobblestone building in Millville originally built as a Quaker meeting house in 1841. Barnes has repaired the roof and spent countless hours on additional improvements to spare what would have been an inevitable collapse of the building.

Roy Bubb

Teacher and historian, Roy Bubb added author to his resume when he penned Memories of Manning Corners: History of the Bubb Family and its Neighborhood 1931-1942, which is a retrospective on growing up in Orleans County. In 1986, Bubb retired from The SUNY College of Brockport after 25 years of service providing the best possible learning environment to future educators. In the late ‘60s, Bubb co-created a simulation program that received recognition from the National College Association. Since then, Bubb has published nearly a half dozen books including his 2017 work, The Family Scrapbook, An Era in Clarendon and Holley-Murray’s History. Proceeds from Bubb’s many works benefit both the Madison Historical Society in Madison, NH, and the Clarendon Historical Society in Clarendon, NY.

Receiving the Bill Latin Municipal Historian Award – Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman

Since 1980, Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman has served her community researching information, collecting names and dates, archiving and cataloging, and writing as the Town of Carlton Historian. Former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin knew Hoffman as an invaluable resource, one who would always have the answer. For many years Hoffman was a regular columnist for the Medina Journal-Register reporting the “goings on” in Lakeside. She developed special displays in the Carlton Town Hall and was an avid collector of archival material that continues to aid and educate future generations.

Receiving the Bob Waters Lifetime Achievement Award – Marsha DeFillips

One of the longest servicing municipal historians in Orleans County, Marsha DeFillips has been the Holley-Murray Town historian for over 40 years. Very active in the Holley-Murray Historical Society, DeFillips was influential in establishing the Murray-Holley Historical Society Museum in the old train depot and has led multiple talks and workshops and helped many residents trace their own familial roots. Recently DeFillips teamed with Melissa Ierlan to present “Digging up your ancestors online” which is a public workshop designed to encourage and guide individuals down their own genealogy path. One of the signature accomplishments during her term as town historian has been her creation of an Index of personal names in Landmarks of Orleans County. To do this, DeFillips spent many months combing through and extracting every name mentioned in Isaac Signor’s 1894 publication, developing a permanent record of history.

The award ceremony on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7 p.m. will be held in GCC’s Albion Campus Center located at 456 West Avenue, Albion, NY 14411. The event is free to attend and open to the public, but seating is limited. A reception will follow the ceremony featuring light refreshments.

For more information on the awards or the ceremony, contact Jim Simon at (link sends e-mail) or Prof. Derek Maxfield at (link sends e-mail) or by calling the Albion Campus Center at 585-589-4936.

Lecture to examine Trail of Tears

Danny Hamner

GCC adjunct professor Danny Hamner

Genesee Community College’s History Club presents GCC adjunct professor Danny Hamner to discuss “The Removal Crisis of 1832: How Nationalism, Political Ambition and the Electoral College Shaped the Trail of Tears.” This presentation, part of the Historical Horizon’s Lecture Series, will take place on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in room T102 if the Conable Technology Building at the Batavia campus.

Hamner will discuss how the “Trail of Tears” is often remembered as the inevitable tragedy of an indigenous people swept aside by the rising forces of modern America. While there certainly were large historical forces transforming America in the early 19th century, the removal crises of the period were ultimately shaped by the personalities, politics and needs of the movement. The mix of personal ambitions and zealous nationalism linked the destiny of the Cherokee Nation to Henry Clay’s presidential aspirations with catastrophic but not inevitable results.

The event is FREE and open to the public.

For further information contact Prof. Derek Maxfield at or call 585-343-0055 ext. 6288.

GCC’s History Club Hosts Warren Skye in Albion

“Indigenous Peoples: Echoes of History and Culture”

BATAVIA, NY (03/21/2018) Albion, NY– Genesee Community College’s History Club welcomes Warren Skye, an Outreach Specialist for the Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC) and a member of the Deer Clan from the Tonawanda Seneca Nation on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the GCC’s Albion Campus Center.

The History Club would like to invite the entire community to join us at the Campus Center located at 456 West Avenue in Albion. This event is free and open to the public.

Skye will present “Indigenous Peoples: Echoes of History and Culture” as part of GCC’s Historical Horizons Lectures Series.

Skye has extensive experience in higher education as a full-time faculty member with three Western NY colleges. With his passion and his expertise in the areas of social work practice, cultural competency and indigenous issues, Skye is shining light on the experiences of indigenous peoples in the region.

Skye’s talk will focus on the historical and cultural experiences of indigenous peoples from the Colonial period to the present with an emphasis on the Iroquois Confederacy and how listeners might consider placing themselves in the footsteps of native tribal men and women.

For further information visit (link is external) or contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616 or via email at

Shivering through a tour of Antietam


GCC History Club at Antietam National Military Park

SHARPSBURG, MD —  After a pleasant drive through Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains (within a few miles of Camp David), the GCC History Club invaded Sharpsburg, Maryland for a bracingly cool tour of the Civil War battlefield there.

At Antietam National Military Park we met up with Albion’s own Kevin Pawlak for a guided tour of the field.  An expert on the battle, Pawlak works nearby at the Mosby Heritage Area and often gives battlefield tours and kindly made time for our little band.

To this day, the Battle of Antietam, which took place Sept. 17, 1862, stands as the single bloodiest day in American history.  More than 23,000 men were casualties of the battle after just a little more than 12 hours of fighting – blue and gray.  Although most historians would call the battle a draw, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s force abandoned the field – leaving thousands of Southern troops behind and retreated back into Virginia.  This allowed Union General George McClellan in a position to claim a victory – enough of a victory for Lincoln to issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.


Kevin Pawlak explains the significance of the Bloody Lane to students

The History Club heads back to New York tomorrow, wrapping up a five day trip.  Reports suggest that we will be welcomed home with plenty of snow.

History Club escapes Virginia Snowstorm to seek shelter in Gettysburg


GETTYSBURG —  The Nation Weather Service posted a Winter Storm Warning for Monday in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and the locals shifted into “the sky is falling” mode.

Sure enough, morning brought snow — about two inches with some light snow still falling.  The roads were mostly clear.  We got on 81 north and ran into a light squall and some slushy road.  Through this we passed no less than six accidents – including two roll overs.  In Western New York, such concern over a few inches of snow would be laughable and the only folks who would have had accidents were the truly foolish.

The weather did cause the club to cancel plans to visit Harper’s Ferry in WV and we made our way back to Gettysburg where we visited the village for a time and then dined at the famous Farnsworth House.

Dating back to 1810, the Farnsworth House was there when the Battle of Gettysburg took place.  There are still minie balls and artillery shells stuck in the masonry of the house.  During the battle Confederate sharpshooters used the house for a time.  It is said to be one of the more haunted houses in the town and functions as a Bed and Breakfast and restaurant today.

Signs of Spring greet History Club at Monticello


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Spring has not exactly arrived in Virginia, but early flowers like these daffodils and some large buds on the trees give promise that soon the green season will be ushered in.  Meanwhile the members of the GCC History Club had to bundle up for a cool day on the mountain Thomas Jefferson called home.

Venturing to Monticello today, a three hour car ride from Gettysburg provided some extra shut-eye for much of the club.  Bright sun at the hotel gave way to a cloudy day in the Shenandoah Valley with a temperature around forty.  Before the end of our day on the mountaintop, it would warm up a bit.


History Club Members at Monticello.  From left – Alex, Alexis, Megan, Mr. Jefferson (honorary member), Jamie and Curtis

We hiked up the mountain from the visitor’s center and first visited Jefferson’s grave site and watched as junior high students made a game of trying to land coins on the different levels of the pedestal and obelisk, like they were at a home town carnival.  The History Club advisor was reportedly not amused.

After making our way to the big house, we toured the mansion with a very knowledgeable guide before descending into the basement for a self-guided tour.  This area was largely the staging ground for what happened upstairs and was the exclusive domain of Monticello’s enslaved population.  It contained the kitchen area, wine cellar, beer storage, ice house and more.

Before making our way back down the hill we toured Mulberry Row, which was largely made up of the cabins for the slaves, and viewed the garden area.  After a much needed break at the visitor’s center, we viewed the African-American burial ground which was located literally in the middle of the parking lot of the visitor’s center – from removed from the burial ground for Jefferson and his descendants.

Next up: the plan for Monday was to see some Civil War sites in Lexington before making tracks for Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia, but the National Weather Service just posted a winter storm warning for the Shenandoah Valley, which might receive 3-8 inches of heavy wet snow, which may alter our plans.  Stay tuned.

2018 Gettysburg Campaign underway


Club president Bobby Washington gives the order to fire.

GETTYSBURG – The 2018 GCC History Club Spring trip is underway!  We arrived in Gettysburg, glad to flee from the blanket of snow being dropped at home.

This morning the gang hit the battlefield, not exactly at dawn.  Sadly, the weather the North and South encountered in July 1863 did not brighten our prospects for a fine day.  Still, it was sunny and would climb to the mid-forties by the afternoon – no snow encountered anywhere on the field.

We began the day, appropriately, to the west of town along the Chambersburg Pike and discussed the circumstances surrounding the beginning of the encounter at Gettysburg.  I noted as we passed Gen. Lee’s HQ near Seminary Ridge that the hotel that long sat nearby was entirely gone and the ground restored so well that you would never know it had ever been there.

As the day progressed we visited the Confederate line along Seminary Ridge, the Round Tops, Devil’s Den, the Wheat field and Peach Orchard, and the center of the Union line near the Angle before giving in to the urge for sustenance.

After lunch our little band made a solemn visit to the National Cemetery and the Union position on Cemetery Hill.  By this time the crew was dragging and a cease-fire needed to be called.

Next up: we venture to Charlottesville, Virginia, tomorrow to pay our respects to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.