History, Artifacts, and Chicken at HLOM

By Stacey L. Smith

I did my service learning project at the Holland Land Office Museum here in Batavia. I went there three different days for four hour shifts. My first day there Jeff, one of the workers at the Holland land Office, had me watch a ten minute video on the history of Genesee County. I learned a lot about the area that I live in; Western NY was claimed by both Massachusetts and New York in the late 1700. In the 1780’s an agreement gave ownership to Mass, but NY held governing rights. Robert Morris from Mass purchased four million acres of land, and sold the land to the Holland Land Company. This land, however, was territory of the Iroquois and home to the Seneca’s’. With the Big Tree Treaty of 1797, the Holland Land Company obtained rights to the region and the Seneca’s’ retained 200,000 acres of land for a reservation.

After I finished watching the video, I was pared with another worker – Shannon. Together we worked on counting inventory. The museum is in the process of cataloging the inventory into a new system so there would be an accurate count of what was in the museum. The museum houses a lot of thing that combined the whole history of western NY. There is stuff on the Native Americans and settlers of the Genesee Valley region. In the attic of the museum there was so much stuff that needed to be counted, but we didn’t even get that far. That day we started on first floor cataloging the gift shop. There are books on the history of the Holland Land Purchase, trinkets, maps, memorabilia, and toys for children. We spent the whole day counting the items in the gift shop and logging them into the new catalog system.

On my second day, I labeled envelopes to be sent to the members of the museum. I spent the whole day doing that. I was given about 20 pages of papers, with about 30 members’ names and addresses on them. I got through about five pages in the four hours I was there. I don’t know what was going to be sent out to the members, but I assumed that because the chicken BBQ was coming up, it was to inform the members of the event.

On my third and last day at the museum, it was the day of the chicken BBQ, which also featured a book sale. I spend the day making plates for the customers that come through the museum. It was cold, but it was fun, and the company was great. It was a great turn-out! The museum pulled in over $400 from the book sale and $700 from the chicken BBQ.

I had a really good time volunteering at the Holland Land Museum, and have made plans to volunteer again in the future. The museum is planning to have many events and is hoping to reach out to a younger audience in hopes of getting teens and children interested in the history of Genesee County. There is going to be a breakfast with Santa coming in December. In January there will be another chicken BBQ and book sale. There are even talks about dinner and a movie night to bring in a younger audience and to bring in money for the museum.

Stacey L. Smith is a sophomore at GCC, and will graduate next May. She hopes to go on to a four-year school with plans to teach math and history at a middle school.


About Derek Maxfield

Associate Professor of History Genesee Community College
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