RANDOLPH — While some communities celebrate festivals or events, the town of Randolph is celebrating and preserving its history through the recent acquisition and placement of five historical markers.
According to local historians, obtaining the striking blue and yellow aluminum signs through the William G. Pomeroy Foundation on behalf of the New York State Historic Marker Grant Program, was no small feat considering the research involved.
Town historian Nancy Olejniczak said she began the grant application process in February of 2020. She said Randolph Historical Society trustees assisted in selecting the topics for the grant requests, which required thorough research to document the accuracy of every detail inscribed on the markers.
“The grant applications required ‘primary source documentation,’” Olejniczak said in explaining the sources used had to come from the time that the events occurred. For example, historical accounts written later were not acceptable sources.
“My experience with genealogical research and local resources was key to completing the grant applications,” she added.
After several reviews and revisions and additional research and submission of more documentation that lasted through the spring and summer, Randolph’s five grants were accepted and the signs were ordered in the fall.
Olejniczak noted the town highway department completed the installation of the markers in late December.
“I learned a lot about our local history in researching each location and hope that our residents and visitors to our town will enjoy learning more, as well,” Olejniczak remarked. “I hope that many will pause as they walk by the signs to appreciate the rich history of our community.”
Olejniczak said she had a head start on conducting her research as she had acquired the skills from her genealogy work and was familiar with the grant process.
“I knew what documents were out there for the town and what I would have to go through,” she said. “We went after the ones that I was fairly confident that I could find the documentation on.”
She said the sign for the Village Hall was the most difficult to research.
“Newspaper articles and the village minutes from the time lacked many important details,” she shared. “While we know that the two fire companies were housed in the building from the beginning, providing the acceptable proof was challenging.”
Olejniczak said Cattaraugus County Clerk Alan Bernstein provided important documentation for the Early Bank sign when he located a copy of the Randolph State Bank’s original Articles of Organization from 1874 at the courthouse. She said the bank building was likely erected at that time.
Another marker identifies the Dow Library on Jamestown Street, which now serves as the home of the Randolph Historical Society. In addition, articles in the Randolph Register provided abundant details about the library founded by Albert G. Dow Jr.
“The sign in front of the Municipal Building commemorates the founding of the Town of Randolph,” she added. “Staff at the state archives assisted in locating a copy of the legislative action that formed the town, and Town Clerk Gretchen Hind helped to locate the minutes from the first town meeting.“
And finally, she said the sign in front of Randolph Central School recounts the long educational heritage of the site known as Academy Hill.
The acquisitions of so many historical markers at once caught the notice of other historians in the area.
In the town of Allegany, Francie Potter, president of the Allegany Area Historical Association, said she was impressed the town of Randolph was able to acquire five historical markers.
“There is a tremendous amount of research that goes into each one,” Potter remarked. “We have (just) one in the town of Allegany at the Five Mile Cemetery” in honor of Oscar Wilber.
Char Sendlakowski of the Allegany Area Historical Association said other notable markers in the community include the Pomeroy marker in Lincoln Park in Olean which was sponsored by the Olean Chapter DAR and commemorated the suffragists’ parade and rally in Olean.
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, a private foundation established in 2005, is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and to raising awareness, supporting research and improving the quality of care for patients and their families who are facing a blood cancer diagnosis.
Since 2006, the Foundation has funded more than 1,300 historic roadside markers and plaques nationwide. For more information, visit www.wgpfoundation.org.