THE CORNING LEADER
Sue Moore stands in front of the Hornby Museum.
Family helped draw Moore to Hornby history
By DEAN SLACK
Special to The (Corning) Leader
Sue Moore is still amazed. “I never dreamed about being a historian. Back in high school if someone had suggested I might like to be a historian, I’m sure I’d have paid absolutely no attention. It never entered my mind. But it’s a funny world,” she said. “Now, here I am today, the Town of Hornby Historian, and loving every minute of it.”
It was a family connection that brought Sue and the almost 200 years of Hornby history together.
Lillian Adams, a cousin of Sue’s husband, J. Patrick Moore, for many years served as the Hornby town historian, and was instrumental in acquiring the old Hornby Forks schoolhouse which became the museum after the school was closed at the time of consolidation in 1957.
“Lillian often talked about the town’s history and the early settlers. Over the years she collected a huge library of letters, pictures and material on Hornby ... she never threw anything away,” Sue said.
In the course of helping to sort things out at Adams’ home following her death in 1994, Sue said she found herself becoming more and more interested.
“The more I read about the early settlers and what life was all about in Hornby in those early days when it sometimes took an overnight trip to get from Hornby into Corning, the more fascinated I became, so I applied for the position of town historian and was appointed in 1996.”
Sue’s road to Hornby started in Elmira where her mother’s family had lived for many years. Her recollections of life in downtown Elmira in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s are very positive.
“Those were different times; no neighborhood tension, nobody locked their doors. It was a quiet and fun place to live and grow up.”
She has very special memories of her grammar school years at St. Casimir’s School, now part of Elmira’s Holy Family Catholic school system. “Things were strict, firm discipline, no talking, the nuns ran a very tight ship and students developed excellent study habits.”
She remembered a guidance counselor when she attended Ernie Davis Junior High remarking about the outstanding study habits of St. Casimir students and the way they quickly adapted to a high school curriculum.
“When I was going to St. Casimir’s I often thought the nuns were too strict but looking back now, I realize how much their teaching methods have helped me.”
Sue graduated from EFA in 1971, “The height of the hippy era,” she said with a laugh, “it wasn’t easy to settle down. I went to Boston to look for work. It wasn’t long before I was back home where I shuffled through a series of small jobs but nothing I could really sink my teeth into.” She studied at Corning Community College and in 1978 was hired as a teller at Corning’s First Bank and Trust Company, now Fleet Bank. Her supervisor was Carolyn Adams who said, Sue was a natural, very efficient and customers loved her blossomy personality.
Sue said she enjoyed her work, especially the steady flow of people in and out of the bank. Her fondest memory of the job came the day she looked up from her position in the teller cage to see a young man standing at the elevator entrance just outside the bank door.
“I smiled and he returned the smile. I guess something clicked,” she said. “It wasn’t long before Pat Moore and I met, started to date and in 1984 we were married.”
J. Patrick Moore is a Corning area land surveyor and with the present upswing in real estate transactions his services are much in demand. Sue Moore works with her husband as a surveyor’s helper which means she’s the person down the road, across the field, or up the hill, holding the rod so Pat can determine exact property lines. “But that’s only half of it,” Pat said. “Sue spends a lot of time at the county clerk’s office in Bath searching for maps, information and data relative to properties we’re working on. It’s a very demanding job but she handles it like the pro she is.” On her frequent visits to Bath, Sue often spends time at the county historian’s office on genealogical research projects related to her work at the Hornby Museum.
“I guess you could say my work with Pat and my position with the museum go hand in glove,” she said.
Much of the museum work is done on a computer at the Moore home in Houghton Plot. Over time she has developed a database categorizing the extensive museum inventory dating back to the early 1800s when Hornby was first settled. Lillian Adams and others including Ruth Haradon, (Flashback June 4) collected a wide range of material: small farm tools and home implements, personal belongings, letters, pictures, and diaries all related to early life in Hornby.
“They did a truly amazing job of collecting and sorting things out but now with the computer I’ve managed to establish a near complete inventory that’s available though the Internet to people doing family research,” she said. The inventory is broken down into 20 different categories. “I also got help from the state of New York that helped me on arrangement of displays to make everything more viewable.”
Sue clearly recalls her first visit to the Hornby Museum shortly after Lillian Adams’ died. She was immediately intrigued by what she found but also recognized the need to for organization.
After she was appointed town historian, her first job was driving up to Hornby and entering in a notebook every single item in the place.
“It’s not a very big building, but Lillian and the people who worked with her did an incredible job of locating items that literally filled the old school house from wall to wall, but sorting everything out and getting it organized took time and a lot of hard work,” she said.
She said she often thinks back to her days at St Casimir’s and the part the nuns played in teaching her about organization and paying attention to detail.
The Hornby Museum is only a short drive from Corning. The best route is out Reynolds Avenue, bearing left at the Fish and Game Club onto the Hornby Road to Hornby Forks. Total distance is less than 10 miles. The museum is open to visitors only on Sunday afternoons during July and August.
Other accomplishments related to Sue Moore’s work as a historian include the chapter on Hornby she wrote with Milton Adams for Richard Sherer’s book on the first 200 years of Steuben County published in 1996. Last year Sue served as co-editor of a book titled, “Lillian’s Hornby”, a compilation of Lillian Adams’ monthly newsletters written for the Hornby Historical Society over a period of 25 years.
“It took some time to put it together, retyping and formatting everything she wrote, but it turned out to be a valuable collection of data on early Hornby and very helpful to people doing family research,” she said. The book is available in hard cover.
Sue’s busy schedule doesn’t allow much time for travel but accompanying her son Jared, an East High school student, to his lacrosse and hockey games has given her the chance in the last year to visit museums in Lake Placid and Jamestown. “I’d like to be able to visit at least one museum a year,” she said.
There is precious little spare time in Sue’s life but she said when she does get a few free minutes she enjoys nothing quite so much as relaxing with a good book.
“And more often than not,” she said with a grin, “It’s usually a book that has something to do with museums.”