Tag Archives: Family

Basil Port of Call:Buffalo

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The Denis Sullivan where we got a cool Great Lakes Log Book showing lots of amazing history. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

BUFFALO — For a long time these vessels of the sea have been used to transport merchandise, conquer the wars, and provide safe travels abroad.

The Tall Ships of America Challenge came to the shores of Buffalo Waterfront on July Fourth Weekend. The Holiday weekend was packed with thousands of people wanting to get a glimpse of history and know what it was like to be on one of these magnificent ships.

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Historical photos inside the Denis Sullivan showed a real sense of what it was like below deck. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

My mother, Lisa Willis, and myself were lucky enough to become part of history. For the first time Buffalo held Basil Port of Call at its Canalside. There were 12 Tall Ships of America available (technically one was from Spain) and thousands of happy tourists.

An official passport was handed out to each ticket holder with a little information about each ship at port. My mother and I were there for opening day on July 5, and it was an intense adventure to say the least.

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The Pride of Baltimore II is an exact replica of the first Pride of Baltimore from War of 1812. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

We only saw half of the ships that day as it was beastly hot, but it is something we will never forget. The true meaning of all our family adventures is to take a lot of photos, explore a lot of hidden gems, and get to the point of total exhaustion. It is safe to say this adventure was a complete success.

The Tall Ships of America we saw are; Denis Sullivan, HMCS Oriole, NAO Santa Maria, Niagara, Pride of Baltimore II, and St. Lawrence II. The others at port were; Bluenose II, Empire Sandy, Picton Castle, Appledore IV, Appledore V, and Spirit of Buffalo.

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Many of the ships in port had cool old wooden steering like this. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The Denis Sullivan is based out of Milwaukee, WI. It is one of the newer vessels on the list. It is a traditional Great Lakes topsail schooner, which was most common at one time. It is used for the general public and educational purposes as well as private charters. It offers programs on history, sailing, ecology, marine science, and professional development for educators.

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It was fascinating to be on the oldest Royal Canadian Navy ship. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

HMCS Oriole is the oldest commissioned ship in the Royal Canadian Navy, and the longest serving commissioned ship. It is based out of CFB, Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was built in 1921, but now serves as a training vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy.

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NAO Santa Maria had the longest wait line of the day. It was so beautiful. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

NAO Santa Maria is an exact replica of the flagship Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492. It is based out of Seville, Spain. This gorgeous masterpiece was built in only 14 months and takes you right back in time over 500 years ago. This deep-water tall ship was built on the 525thAnniversary of the original Santa Maria 1492 Voyage. She launched on March, 15, 2018 as part of the historic replica fleet of NAO Victoria Foundation in Seville.

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The Niagara had the most flags on the ship. It also had a lot of neat historic cannons and other war memorabilia to symbolize War of 1812. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

US Brig Niagara is based out of Erie, Pa. It is a reconstruction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s historic wooden flagship that fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. This glorious reminder of our victory on the lake offers education and learning on the waters for the 22 trainees and 18 crew on board.

Pride of Baltimore II is a topsail schooner that serves as a sailing ambassador for the State of Maryland. It is based out of Baltimore, MD and supported by a non-for-profit organization. The Maryland Transportation Authority owns and supports the historic value of this vessel. This part of our seafaring history is a replica of the one that served in War of 1812. It launched in 1988 to replace the first Pride of Baltimore.

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Cannons were on both War of 1812 replicas to showcase what it would be like in those days. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

St. Lawrence II is a steel two-masted brigantine operated by teenagers for youth sailing programs. It is based out of Kingston, Ontario. She was one of three brigantines from the Canadian ports brought to Buffalo by the Buffalo Lighthouse Association in the 1980s.

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I imagine this is what it looked like on the original Santa Maria in 1492. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Perhaps, my favorite ship I was able to see that day was the NAO Santa Maria. I am completely fascinated by history, as anyone who knows me will find out. I feel like this one embraces the true meaning of Tall Ship. It is wooden, huge, and looks ancient. It makes me feel like I am entering a period film where a bunch of pirates are going to make someone walk a plank or keep them up in the crow’s nest. I was determined to see this ship even if it was the only one, I saw that day.

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Another glimpse into over 500 years of history on Santa Maria replica. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

It was my general feel of the public that they all felt the same way. I mean the other ships are beautiful, and I love them as well. However, the replica of Santa Maria is something that reminds us that there is still a little magic left in the world. I could feel the soul of the Christopher Columbus 1492 Voyage on that vessel as I wandered throughout its corridors.

Besides seeing the beautiful Tall Ships, which was the main focus of our adventure that day. We also were able to ride a double decker bus. I had 15 wonderful minutes to feel British. I even had The Beatles blasting through the radio as we drove through the harbor, and I sitting on the top could see the soul of the dark waters of Lake Erie.

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The Buffalo Double Decker gave me my dream of riding a real London bus for a few minutes. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Yes, despite major sunburn, possible dehydration, and extreme sun poisoning we both had a wonderful time at Basil Port of Call: Buffalo. It was the first time anything like this had been done in the shores near our humble homes. It is something we had dreamed of and thought never be possible in a million years. Just hope that next time they come to port we can see the other ships we missed that day on the rocky shores of Lake Erie.

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My mom Lisa Willis. It has been a huge dream of hers to see and aboard Tall Ships. I am glad the Basil Port of Call:Buffalo fulfilled that goal for her and myself. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

 

Mills Mansion honors Glory Days

By Jasmine Willis

MOUNT MORRIS — The community gathered for its annual historic festival that honors the father of the national pledge.

The Eighth Annual Glory Days was held downtown on June 8 for the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy.

Meanwhile, the Mills Mansion was honoring the founder of Mount Morris, Gen. William A. Mills with some Civil War reenactors and a new exhibit.

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Diana Bucknam talks about the “first flashlight” soldiers used in Civil War. It was a saddle candle to help them see in the dark. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim and Diana Bucknam, of Perry are the founders of the Civil War Reenactment “Fire on the Genesee” that has been a huge draw for tourism in two decades.

“We have done a lot of research over the years on the Civil War. We have grown up mostly getting the Union’s perspective, but it is always good to hear both sides of the story,” Diana said. “We have done this for about 23 years now. It has taken us many years of research.”

There are many things to consider when you take on certain roles for reenactments. You need to become the part of whoever you portray. You need to understand their side of the story.

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This candle was used when the young ladies were being courted in the Civil War era. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

For this the Bucknam’s have several items on display to show the Confederate side of the war. They have children’s toys, a family Bible from 1850s, a women’s gun, a musket, a saddle candle, and much more.

“We found that by that time period they were using the bayonets more for digging trenches. It was slowly becoming obsolete for fighting,” Tim said. “At that time the boys didn’t want to get that close to the enemy.”

The Confederate Flag has been misused over time according to the Bucknam’s after an intense research.

“The flags were meant to keep the soldiers in line. The one holding the flag would be shot within five minutes, and another soldier would take his place. This was how they kept the soldiers in line,” Tim said. “It is a shame the flags are being used inappropriately now. I looked into when the flags were made, and the purpose of why they were made. They all meant something different in those days.”

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This is an 1850s family Bible that shows what the importance of the Christian Revival was in that time. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim portrays a Civil War Confederate Chaplain, since he is a minister in real life this appeals to him.

“The Chaplains in these units were the largest Christian revivals in the country.  They worked with the soldiers in helping to guide them. They were around death all the time,” Tim said. “Most of these kids had never been more than 50 miles from home. Now they were 500 or 600 miles from home and scared to death in battle. The Chaplain’s job was to lead the way, bring them back to the Bible, and help them understand what was going on.”

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This is a beautiful 1911 dress showing the class of the ladies in that period. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Tim added there was a huge need for Confederate reenactors when they started doing this over two decades ago, so they decided to bring awareness to that. Now there are more Confederate reenactors than there are Union ones.

“We were asked to come out for Glory Days and talk about the time Gen. Mills was here. My wife and I started this long ago to talk to people about the Civil War. We wanted to bring a better understanding to the war. We want to get them to study the history of that time period. We just want to educate people to look more into their history.”

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This is a lovely 1840s dress donated by Helen McKay Estate. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Mills Mansion Historical Society members Debbie Schmidt, Mary Lou Martello, Suzanne Dunn, and Carol Mixon worked on the new exhibit that honors period dresses from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

“We have a wonderful collection of clothes that have been beautifully preserved in a climate control room. We were interested in having a new exhibit out for June. We want to have one on antique tools for July,” Schmidt said. “It was like putting dresses on dolls. We all had so much fun working on this exhibit. It is interesting to see how tiny their waist and feet were in those days.”

Schmidt added the interns had everything very well documented when they were researching the items, so everything was mapped out for visitors on a sheet passed out for Glory Days.  There are 12 dresses on display the month of June that haven’t been seen in about four decades.

There is a Walking Tour of Mount Morris available at the museum as well to pick up and enjoy on a nice sunny day. It has 29 stops that take you from Main Street to Grove Street.

The Mills Mansion is located at 14 Main St. It is open for tours June to November, Fridays to Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. They can be reached at 585-658-3292.

 

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Mural enriches Glory Days

Inspirations Trail kick-off in Mount Morris with historic wall mural ceremony

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Rochester artist, Shawn Dunwoody and his little helpers, Gavin and Raylee Olsowsky. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

MOUNT MORRIS — A historic work of art has captured the hearts of an entire community as it encompasses the story of leadership, courage, freedom, family and hope.

The Mount Morris Wall Mural dedication ceremony took place on Glory Days, which honors the life of Francis Bellamy. Bellamy’s words became our nation’s pledge in 1892. The version we know, and honor today was revised in 1942 to include, One Nation Under God.

On June 8 Mount Morris Partners for Progress and the Village of Mount Morris teamed up to celebrate the near completion of the historic artwork.

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William D’Angelo talks about the importance of this mural to the entire community. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

William D’Angelo, Mount Morris Partners for Progress president welcomed everyone to the Eighth Annual Glory Days in honor of Francis Bellamy. D’Angelo thanked everyone who had anything to do with the project from the beginning; especially Shawn Dunwoody, the artist from Rochester who has worked on it for weeks.

“It is our ideas that are up on this wall. We never knew what it was going to be. We thought it might be patriotic. This is art. This is history. This is Mount Morris,” he said. “We can always hold our heads up high to say Mount Morris was the first to get something done in Livingston County.”

Mount Morris Mayor Frank Provo said this was a great project for the whole community to get involved in.

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When the mural is complete the entire wall will pay tribute to the men and women who led the way in Mount Morris. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

“There was a lot of public input. Shawn (Dunwoody) took those ideas and gave us something great. I like what we have. I like where it is going to go. I hope it will be a start for more art to come into the village of Mount Morris,” he said.

Mount Morris Supervisor Chuck DiPasquale has always been proud of his hometown.

“This makes me even more proud of Mount Morris. I love that people stop and ask me where to find the mural. I love that we have something like this being put up in our town,” he said.

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Gavin and Raylee Olsowsky helped paint the stars on the wall with Dunwoody. They were both proud to be part of the project. Their father is from Mount Morris. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The Livingston County Inspirations Trail will hit all nine towns in the county, but this is the first to incorporate the concept.  The hope is that other towns take the initiative for something similar on their walls.

D’Angelo said the trail is something bigger than Mount Morris. It is something that encompasses the entire county.

“It (Inspirational Trail) is supposed to bring people from the communities and from the outside to stop and take a look at each of the villages. Livingston County is one of the most beautiful regions in all of New York State, if not all of United States. It all begins at the county level,” he said.

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Ross Barnes is a baseball legend of Mount Morris. Many are still passionate about getting him on the hall of fame. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Louise Wadsworth, Livingston County Downtown coordinator talked about the importance of the Inspirations Trail.

“I want to thank Greg O’Connell for saving this wall for us. It was about a year-and-a-half ago I had my first meeting with a group of people from around the county. I really wanted to do an Inspirational Trail, which would bring people from every community through the whole county.  Kathy Link and Linda Gray put their heads together and decided that Mount Morris was going to be the first one,” she said. “I am so proud they picked Shawn Dunwoody to be the artist for this. He is the perfect person to do the first mural. He brought the whole community together. He really put everyone’s ideas on here, and it reflects the entire community. This is the standard for the rest of our towns to come up too.”

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Mary Seymour Howell was instrumental in helping Susan B. Anthony with the Women’s Rights Movement. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Shawn Dunwoody, Rochester artist, said he has been truly honored to work on this project.

“This has been a fantastic journey. I want to say thank you to all of you. This is not about what I am painting. This is about who you are in Mount Morris. I wanted to be that tool to put your voices out here. When I heard this was going to be the first piece on the Inspirations Trail, I knew it had to be something,” he said. “I went in with the intention that this is the first of many other things that will happen throughout the county. It needs to hit hard. It needs to be strong.”

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Gen. William A. Mills founded Mount Morris. His mansion is now a museum for the historical society. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Dunwoody said there were several meetings that took place to get this going. He met at the school several times to talk with the students too.

“I got great information about the history of the town. I got great information about how it all developed into what it is today. I walked away from these meetings with so many ideas and so much spirit. I realized the strength of Mount Morris is developing new families. It has always been open about family and creating change,” he said. “I went with Francis Bellamy’s original pledge, because his vision was that he wanted any country to be able to salute and pledge their country. It is all about extending the world family, which is in the heart of Mount Morris.”

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New Family was the inspiration for the entire mural. The above photo is that of WWII Veteran Charles Peritore. He recently passed away, so this is how his family wanted to honor him. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Dunwoody wants the community to gather once the project is complete and sign the bottom of the mural. It all belongs to them.

One thing that really made the day touching was the entire Charles Peritore Family showed for the ceremony. Charles Peritore, a WWII Veteran, passed away recently in Mount Morris. His family had him honored by placing his image on top of the mural for everyone to see.

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The entire Charles Peritore Family came to honor him at the wall mural ceremony. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

“I get goosebumps every time I look at it,” Charles Peritore Jr. said. “I love coming over to see it, so I can look at him. We found a color photo of dad to give to him, so he could copy the image for the mural. We are very proud of dad, and he was a very humble man. He was very well known in Mount Morris. We brought everyone down to the ceremony to see the mural. We are all very honored to have dad up on the wall.”

The mural should be done within a couple weeks. Future plans include more historic figures, Letchworth falls, Mount Morris Dam, and more. Dunwoody is able to focus on the project by staying in an apartment provided by Greg O’Connell as he works on his masterpiece. The legends that have made their home on the wall include; Gen. William A. Mills, John Wesley Powell, Ross Barnes, Mary Seymour Howell, Mary Jemison, and Francis Bellamy.

 

Old Fort Niagara: History of America

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You are now entering Old Fort Niagara. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

YOUNGSTOWN — Along the banks of the Niagara River rests an important part of our American history that has withstood more than three centuries.

After two previous posts had failed to make it through the harsh brutality of war the French established Fort Niagara in 1726. It has forever been known as “The French Castle” for its impressive architecture.

The British gained control over the famous fort after a 19-day siege during the French and Indian War in 1759.

Afterwards, during the American Revolutionary War, the British were forced to give the fort to the United States in a treaty signed in 1796.

However, the British managed to capture the fort once again in 1813 during the War of 1812. Once again, the United States were able to get control of the fort in 1815 at the end of the war.

After this last conflict it became a place to train soldiers from the Civil War to Korean War. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard represents the only military still present on the site.

Old Fort Niagara was restored between 1926 and 1934. It is operated today by the Old Fort Niagara Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Admission fees, Museum Shop sales, grants, and donations provide support for the operation of the site. Membership in the Old Fort Niagara Association is open to all.

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Our tour guide Toby is explaining to us about the importance of the different cannons used in battle. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

When you think of all the battles and conflicts that took place on the grounds of this fort it makes you appreciate military history even more.

 

The last time I was at Old Fort Niagara it was back in the late 1980s, and there was not much to be seen. It was not nearly as advanced as it is nowadays. It was a breathtaking sight to be there more than 30 years later to see what the association has done with this historic gem now.

 

My mother, Lisa Yvette and I went back and saw a museum and gift shop had been established in a magnificent building across the parking lot from the Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse.

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The Historic Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse. It is a beacon in the storm. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Within the museum we were able to see the story of the fort unfold with photos, uniforms, documents, and items dug up from the ground by archeologists. Also, there was the original Old Fort Niagara Flag that had been taken by the British long ago. It had been hidden away in Scotland since the early 1990s. Now it is finally back where it belongs at Old Fort Niagara.

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The Original Old Fort Niagara Flag had been captured by the British. It was later taken to Scotland. We got it back in the early 1990s. It was restored and now sits behind glass in the museum. It is 25 feet tall, and has 15 stripes and 15 stars. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

They also show you a 15-minute video talking about the rich history of the fort, and the importance of what you are about to witness as you walk around the grounds.

Once we were out and about to take in the sights of the gorgeous fort and all the history that she had to offer our guide (Toby) gave us a quick story about her.

It was at that moment we realized that a lot had changed in 30 years. This was not going to be the same experience we had three decades ago. We saw that the towers, powder room, and the castle itself had been furnished with items that took us back in time.

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The French Castle is the oldest building still standing at the fort. It has withstood every battle for 300 years. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

As I walked through the castle, I saw a chapel, officers’ headquarters, military kitchen, trading post, and so much more. We were able to see the castle come to life. We could hear the echoes of times long ago. We could feel the souls of those who had come and gone from within those walls.

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The Jesuit Chapel is across the hall from the trade post. It was a lovely sight. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

On a decent day you can clearly see Fort George across the river and the shores of Canada in the distance. This beautiful view can best be seen on the third floor of the towers and where the cannons rest.

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Across the way is Fort George. This a view from the cannons. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

We noticed a couple reenactors were giving demonstrations outside on the grounds. One had the British uniform and the other was wearing the French uniform.

This is our renactor who spent most of his life doing this kind of work. Photos by Jasmine Willis.

The French reenactor said he had been doing this his whole life, and for the last eight years he had taken it on as a profession. His sister mended the uniforms and his parents got the family tradition started long ago.

He was very passionate about what it means to bring history alive, and about what it means to wear the uniforms and be the part of a soldier. He talked about the epic battles they would get to reenact with hundreds of them out on the grounds right after Fourth of July.

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A view from the third floor of the towers. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The last thing we did before we ended our adventure at Old Fort Niagara was pay our respects at the cemetery. This is the final resting place for those who fought and died for our freedom from the American Revolutionary War to WWII. The thing that touched my heart the most was the decorated tomb of the unknown soldiers who rest there.

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Here is a decorated tomb for the unknown officers and enlisted men who lost their lives in battle here. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

There is passion and heart that still rests on the shores of the Niagara River. If you wish to take part in the rich history take time to visit Old Fort Niagara. For more information including hours, ticket prices, and events go to https://www.oldfortniagara.org

 

Sgt. Devin Snyder: A Legacy to Remember

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By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The sound of bagpipes offered a bittersweet reminder of a brave young woman who laid down her life for country and freedom.

The Seventh Annual Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember was held at the Wayland American Legion on June 1. The Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation donated $17,500 total to three different causes. First, the Livingston County Mounted Patrol Unit received $5,000 going towards a new training arena being built in Mount Morris. Second, the K.I.A. Memorial Roadmarch received $2,500 to help with their veterans’ outreach. Third, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department received $10,000 to help with K-9 Unit.

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Mounted Patrol Commander John Morgan and Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty at the Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Sgt. Snyder was killed-in-action on June 4, 2011 in Afghanistan. Ever since that tragic day her family and friends have worked hard to keep her memory alive. This ride honors her legacy in every way.

Dineen Snyder, Devin’s mother, said it is always a bittersweet day for the family.

“This event always helps us. We want to get her name out there as many times as possible. She was important to us and was the sweetest person. My son, Damien surprised us today by being here,” she said. “He and his wife, Angel came all the way from Washington.”

Damien Snyder, Military Intelligence officer is stationed in Washington with his wife, Angel, Military Police officer, and two sons, Devin and Teaghan. He was closest to his big sister, Devin and followed her into the military.

“We met a couple months in Colorado after Devin was killed-in-action. We decided to get together after being stationed in Georgia. I know all about Devin’s story, and how much she means to Damien,” Angel Snyder said. “I feel like Devin has always been a part of my life. Whenever Baby Devin is sad, we will put him next to a photo of his Aunt Devin, and he will start smiling.”

Damien Snyder said his parents Ed and Dineen Snyder have warmed up to the idea of having a grandson named after their daughter.

“Growing up I was very close to Devin. I knew when I had a child, I wanted to name them after my sister. It was my wife’s idea to name our first child after Devin. We didn’t know if we were going to have anymore,” he said. “It is great to be here today for this. I am glad I was able to make it back home.”

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WWII US Navy Cpt. Charles Bernard McAllister joins the Faces of the Fallen. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

There are three new Faces of the Fallen this year; WWII US Navy Cpt. Charles Bernard McAllister of Hornell, Vietnam War Sp4 Russell C. Mann of Cohocton, and Civil War Pvt. Edwin “Edmund” Ackley of Springwater.

“It is a wonderful event that we love doing every year. It brings out all the community support. There is always a lot of work that goes into it. The Wayland-Cohocton school helps out a lot. The softball, soccer, and track teams help out every year. We always have a lot of teachers and staff help out,” Post Commander Kevin Mark said. “We have three new Faces of the Fallen this year. We are working on getting a lot more. These ones had family come out just for this. The Mann and McAllister families were here. This is for people in the local areas that have died in combat. We find their stories, photos, awards and medals for the Faces of the Fallen.”

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said he was honored to be part of the memorial event today to honor a fallen hero.

“They invited us down here to be part of this event. We are honored to be here. When we are done here, we will be loading the horses up and taking them back to Geneseo. We are going to be in the Nunda Parade as well,” he said. “They told us they would donate money to the Mounted Patrol, so we wanted to bring the horses down to show them.”

John Morgan, Mounted Patrol Unit Commander said these donations go to help with things they wouldn’t normally be able to get.

“We are working on getting a new arena built in Mount Morris. The county bought a new plot for K-9 training, range, and horse training,” he said. “We hope to get started on that new arena in the summer. There will be a section used for horse training, where we do a lot of sensory training with them. We own our own horses and keep them at our farms. We have been using Hemlock Fairgrounds for training, and they have been really great to work with.”

SGM Jason Jaskula started K.I.A Memorial Roadmarch to honor a Battle Buddy named Staff Sgt. Christopher Dill who was killed-in-action on April 4, 2005 in Iraq. On Nov. 23, 2012 Jaskula held the first K.I.A. Memorial Roadmarch for his fallen friend. He walked a 22K carrying 60 pounds of Memorial Rocks. It took him three hours and 20 minutes. He raised $4,000.

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KMR gets donation from the Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Money raised from the Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation will go to help with the KMR Gold Star Mother’s Pantry and local community veterans’ groups in need.

Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard talked about the K-9 Unit. Specifically, he talked about K-9 Devin and K-9 Twiggy.

“This year we had some hard truths to face with K-9 Devin. We found out Devin had contracted a nerve disease in his spin, and we had to retire him. Poor Deputy (Tom) Nybeck had felt like he lost a partner. You don’t understand what it is like when you have a K-9 riding in back with you. It is a bond you can not describe. We went and saw the folks from the foundation when we knew K-9 Devin would no longer be able to continue. They immediately jumped up to get us another K-9,” he said. “They went up to Rochester with Sgt. (Shawn) Shutt and Deputy Nybeck and picked out Twiggy. Twiggy is now halfway through his certification process.”

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K-9 Twiggy with Sgt. Shawn Shutt at the event. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS
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Dineen Snyder offers photo to Deputy Tom Nybeck for K-9 Devin. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Allard offered some kind words about K-9 Devin and all the ways he touched the department. He loved fast food, the art of escape, and getting into shenanigans.

Crystal City Pipes and Drums out of Corning played the Bagpipes for The Seventh Annual Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember. The ride went on with great success at noon with the American Flag held high over N. Main Street.

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The Snyder Family: Dineen, Ed, Damien, Baby Devin, Angel, Baby Teaghan, Natasha, Baby Korey, and Kinsley. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

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A Memorial Day Tradition

By Jasmine Willis

Once the journey started there was no telling where it would end.

That is how we have always done things when it comes to our family adventures. It is about the journey, stories, and paths we take along the way. It is about discovering a piece of something we lost in the rubble of our past.

Normally I venture out for my traditional Memorial Day adventure alone. I visit my grandfather, PFC Donald M. Willis’ graveside. I often leave him beautiful flowers and a flag to tell him how much he is loved and missed. It is how I honor a soldier who fought in WWII. He is my soldier.

This year was different. This year we had three generations on the adventure. I had my mother, Lisa Yvette and my grandmother, Verna Jean on the journey with me. We had a much more meaningful result this way.

This is where our story begins…

Cemeteries hold the remains of those we have lost and loved along the way. They are the keepers of a life well lived. They have echoes of the mourners, evidence of the caretakers, and sadly neglect of time. Often you will see ancestors’ stones crumble to dust, and the names will fade until you are the only one left to recall the story of a faceless stone.

That is why I am lucky to have brought two genealogists along for the ride as we had to visit three cemeteries. We went to Woodlawn in Wellsville, Fulmer Valley in Independence, and Until the Day Dawn in Angelica.
First, we went to Woodlawn Cemetery for my grandfather, Pfc. Donald M. Willis and my great-grandparents, Martin B. Willis and Ernestine A. Willis.
It is here I left my grandpa, who has always been the reason for my passion to keep veterans’ stories alive, a Primrose, heart marker, and American Flag marker.

I spend several moments there telling him how much he still means to me.
Afterwards, we soldiered on to the bending roads of Hallsport, past the weary old homes, and up the tired green hills of Independence, to the quiet Fulmer Valley Cemetery.

It is here that my grandmother shares the story she holds close to her heart. The story of the Adams’ and the Church’s who rest among the big green trees that offer it shelter.

Verna Jean points to a small stone with a lamb etched into it so carefully, “That’s my baby, and your uncle Jamie.” James Bruce was a day old when he died, and he has a small stone placed next to his grandparents. This is where my grandmother, Verna Jean plans to make her final resting place. She wants to be buried with her baby boy.

Ina and Raymond Church are right next to Baby James. On the other side of Baby James is my great-aunt Christine Edwards, Verna Jean’s little sister who died in 1995. Little James Bruce is surrounded by family in his little plot sheltered by trees.

On the other side of the cemetery is the Adams. Simon Burrill Adams, my great-great-great grandfather who died in 1919 had built a homestead on a hilltop that would withstand the test of time. More on that later. Along with him are his family buried next to him. Sally, wife, and children; William, Herbert, Cora, and Addie Geneva. Addie Geneva married William Henry Church and are my great- great grandparents. They are parents of my great grandfather Raymond Church.

The next cemetery would bring us to the sleepy town of Angelica were much of my family can be found.

Until the Day Dawn Cemetery holds my warriors from the Civil War Era. My mother, Lisa Yvette had to break this part down for me since at first, I was very confused.

We had several roots dig deep into the soil of this resting place that had raged against the dying of the light.

It starts with three brothers; George B. Willis, Araunah Frances Willis, and Daniel Willis who all fought in the Civil War. Araunah and Daniel fought in Virginia. George B. was part of the only Calvary Unit who held back the south from getting into Gettysburg. They all fought bravely and were brothers to my great-great grandpa Martin Grover Willis. They were all sons of Araunah Shaw Willis who is said to have fought in War of 1812 and helped provide horses for the Civil War. A proud father he must’ve been to have his boys fight the good fight and come home to share stories of victory.

Col.6th Cal. Araunah Phippen, an ancestral cousin, son of Lydia Willis Phippen.
He fought in the Civil War with such perseverance that runs fluid in our bloodline. He had three horses shot out from under him in the heat of battle, and never gave up the fight. Once he came home, he was Sheriff of Angelica.
Col. 86th Regt. Simpson Travis, brother-in-law to Araunah Phippen, fought the heated battle in the Civil War only to come home and be a judge.
Several other members of our family line rest in this cemetery and have many stories to tell of a life well lived. However, these are the ones that provide me with the inspiration I needed most.

Now before this journey can end, we must take you back to the Adams Homestead. In the lush green valley, there is an old house that has withstood the test of time. It was built in the 1800s by my great-great-great grandfather Simon Burrill Adams for his growing family. He was a simple potato farmer who lived off his land and raised his sons and daughters the way he knew how. He was a gentle man with an open heart for those who called him a neighbor and a friend.
Simon and his sweetheart, Sally raised three sons; Anson Abyram, William, Herbert, and two daughters Cora and Addie on this land.

He would make his own maple syrup and tend to the animals in the barn as the children did various chores keeping the homestead busy with life.
Upon his death in 1919 his son, Herbert and daughter-in-law, Margaret, took over the farm. It regained its busy hum of chores and farm life as life soaked in the sweet sounds around the home a father built.

My grandma, Verna Jean, loved her great uncle Herbert and told us stories as we walked around the echoes of what remains.

It was last owned by my grandma’s cousin Bill Church who passed away recently. Now the future of the Adams Homestead is going to be in the hands of The Amish. We hope they will respect the history of the family homestead, and not do too much change to its old bones.

There are in fact four family homesteads still standing, and yet none are in the family anymore. The Adams Homestead, Church Homestead, Sherwood Homestead, and Vossler Homestead are perched at the locations of family ties now owned by strangers. However, grandma told me the Church Homestead is still part of the Bill Church estate, but who knows the future of this family home.

The Church Homestead is a true gem indeed since it once belonged to William H Church and Addie Geneva Adams. My great grandparents Ina and Raymond Church were married and lived there having their first four children; Lytle, Clair, Muriel, and Lenna. Once they moved to a 50-acre farm down the road they had Hilda, Verna Jean, and Christine. This was the quiet life of a farm community in those days.

In the old days you would pass down your homestead to your son or daughter, and it would live on for several generations. Those wooden boards would hold true for children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and so on. It was not just a home for those in the time, but a home for the ages. Once those children grew, they would move down the road to build homesteads of their own to create legacies that would last like their fathers.

This is how it was and how it came to be that three generations found themselves on a Memorial Day adventure through the bending and quiet roads of towns long forgotten.

Coming home 

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The Adams Homestead on Memorial Day. Photo by Jasmine Willis

Hello my fellow bloggers, friends, family, and any other readers I still have.

I know it has been ages since I wrote anything on here.

It has been a long journey.

I found my way back home … Well close enough!

I spent much of my childhood in a sleepy village, and for a long time I just wanted to go back.

It’s funny how life turns out.

We all have someplace we are striving to get to, and the whole time all we want to do is go home.

I am a reporter in Dansville Ny now, and I have discovered something about myself here.

We are all put on this earth to accomplish something.

I have always felt like my job is to dig up the lost stories, and breath new life into them.

This has been a beautiful journey.

I have written stories about abandon, broken, lost, and forgotten moments in time.

The freedom I have in embracing all the rich history that rests in this valley is inspiring.

It has awoken  the historian in me, and as I said once before they are the keepers of our past.

Here is to a million more stories that capture the heart and soul of the world.

I will try to send you more thought provoking stories soon my dear readers.