The East Bloomfield Historical Society recently uncovered and received items of local interest for its collection of documents, artifacts and objects at the Academy Museum, 8 South Ave., East Bloomfield.
St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Victor donated a 166-year-old headstone fragment with ties to this region’s pre-Revolutionary days.
Abigail Metts was born in 1773 in New England, and moved to Ontario County in the earliest years of settlement. Her husband, William Comstock, is recorded as the first Euro-American to settle in what is now Farmington. William, born in 1770, died in 1850 and was interred in the Friends cemetery in Pumpkin Hook.
Abigail went to live with her daughter, Matilda Martz, in Bloomfield. She died in 1852 and was buried in what would become the Martz family plot in the Bloomfield Cemetery. It’s not known why she was not buried with her husband in the Quaker cemetery. Eventually, her granddaughter, daughter and son-in-law would be buried in the Martz plot.
A stone was erected for Abigail, but was replaced with a larger monument bearing the names of all four deceased. The fragment was found in a Victor storage shed, likely through the monument company in the 1890s when Matilda and her husband, Daniel, were buried in the Bloomfield plot. The old stone likely was removed and sent to Victor, where it was stored and forgotten until it was noticed by John Butler, who manages the operations of St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
Butler contacted Babette Huber, historian for the town of Victor. She researched the stone, and found that Abigail was interred in Bloomfield. At Huber’s suggestion, Butler reached out to the Museum to see if it wanted the fragment.
“John’s discovery is just intriguing,” said Leif HerrGesell, executive director of the Academy Museum. “There are very few objects that relate to those first settlers that still exist, and even fewer that are available for public viewing.
“Abigail and William are part of a really small group of New Englanders who came here at the end of the 18th century, and we owe John, Babette and the St. Patrick’s Cemetery our thanks for seeing the value in that stone and taking action. The story of the stone and the woman it was made for are examples of how mysteries surround us.”
The Museum recently discovered an envelope containing an assortment of artifacts were found in the west lawn. None of the objects are related and the exact location of where they were found is unknown. They were dug from the ground by an unknown volunteer with a metal detector in the 1990s and never catalogued into the collection. The envelope said, “Artifacts dug up w. help of metal detector in cemetery area of the west lawn of the Academy.”
The most interesting of the six objects is a 17th-century sacred heart ring. The bronze ring was gifted from Jesuit priests who lived among the Seneca in the mid- and later 1600s. The rings were a present to Native Americans who converted to Catholicism by the Black Robes, as Jesuits were known among the Seneca.
The Museum does not know how the ring came to be lost in the area; however, Bloomfield was the location of numerous native occupation sites over the centuries.
The last item is a document entitling 2nd Lt. Myron Adams, of the Union Army, to prize money for his role in the naval battle of Mobile Bay. Fought in 1864 in Mobile, Alabama, the battle helped secure Union control of the Deep South. Mobile Bay was one of the last ports open to Confederate blockade runners smuggling supplies to the Confederate States. Prize money resulted from the sale of captured ships, and was paid to the crew and officers of the victorious ship.
Adams, serving as a signal officer aboard the USS Lackawanna, was thrust into the battle when the screw sloop-of-war attacked the CSS Tennessee. Adams is thought to be the only U.S. Army officer to receive prize money from a naval battle. The paper receipt from the U.S. Treasury shows that Adams was paid $261.43 after taxes.
The Museum is closed for the season, and will reopen on April 1, 2019. Anyone needing specific research or genealogy assistance during the winter can call (585) 657-7244 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays-Fridays.