Roy “Bud” Taylor has created a digital record of Newfane history that is distinctive in many ways.
First of all, he created it in an e-book format, which is available by download or on flash drive.
Second, a good portion of the sale of the document benefits the Newfane Historical Society and the Newfane Free Library – it’s the purchaser’s choice.
And third, he invites readers to add to it, noting that it’s a living document.
“It’s been a labor of love,” said Taylor by phone from his Scottsville home. “When I started this project, I would find bits and pieces (of history) and wanted to organize them.”
Taylor was 8 when his family moved to Newfane, and he attended the Coomer Road Country School and then graduated from Newfane High School in 1957. He then went on to graduate from the University of Rochester and made a home in the Rochester area, retiring as a mechanical engineer.
“But I still have a place in my heart for Newfane and consider it a remarkable town,” said Taylor, now 76. “It is in the center of Niagara County and the original Ellicott Transit Line passes right through it, where the high school is now. This line was used to lay out the lots by the Holland Land Co. in the early 1800s.
“My recollections are really frozen in the history of 1957, when I left, but my parents lived there and I visited (after moving to Rochester),” he said. “I knew Newfane intimately at that time, but it has changed tremendously since then. I just wanted to fill in the blanks. I have learned so much about the town that I never knew before.”
Taylor began his project in 2013, largely conducting research through his computer and compiling the information he gathered. Some items are borrowed from other local history books and articles, while the document also includes personal family stories, photographs and newspaper clippings.
The project grew and grew and now contains nearly a gigabyte of information.
Taylor so enjoys researching history that he’s eager to teach others how to do the same.
“I would love to get some younger people interested, so they could add to this,” he said. “To that end, Will Blackley, an intern at the Niagara Historical Society, and history student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, wrote a section about how the Eighteenmile Creek was guaranteed water flow and the pollution problems that entailed.”
A bonus for e-book owners includes a guide on how to conduct research at www.fultonhistory.com, to search for family news or any community events that happened anywhere in New York State.
Taylor said his e-book is set up “kind of like Wikipedia, because it’s an ever-growing, changing body of information. It has to be open, so that corrections can be made when discovered.”
Readers are encouraged to contact Taylor with corrections.
“It’s like an apron,” he said. “I don’t know when to tie the strings. I just keep finding things and everything is fascinating.”
Taylor said he hopes to “wrap up version two in the spring, which will include stories told to me by other people.”
He received grant money to purchase 100 flash drives for the historical society for this project, through the efforts of Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, and said he’s sold about 40.
Anyone interested in a flash drive, for a $16 donation, should contact the Newfane Free Library at 778-9344. Anyone interested in the download – a $10 donation – may contact Taylor at: email@example.com. He will provide version two free to e-book owners when it is ready.
And while he said he’s winding down in his search for new material, Taylor said he is eager to hear from anyone with information on the Newfane Grange, to which his family belonged. The building is long gone, and the property it stood on is now the south parking lot of the Newfane Town Hall at 2737 Main St.
“I cannot find any good photos, including photos of its interior, so I did a sketch of it (from memory),” he said. “It was the center of town activity for so many years. I’d like to hear from anyone with memories or snapshots of it.”
In a small side business, Taylor said he’s also available to teach others how to research local histories or genealogies for a nominal fee. He said he finds old local newspapers a good start.
“I like to teach others how to search for things themselves,” he said.