I. Richard Reed
Many “well-seasoned” Niagara County residents still have fond memories of Niagara County’s first official county historian, Clarence Lewis. The man who followed in Mr. Lewis’ big footsteps, Irving Richard Reid, was equally dedicated and well-liked throughout the county. Taking over for the retired historian “emeritus,” Reed took over the historian’s office in 1971 and faithfully served in that capacity until August 1984.
Reed came to the job with a love of history he had nourished since childhood. He was born in Niagara Falls and went on to be a Coast Guard veteran after World War II. He once remarked that he was so pleased with his dream assignment, that he would have paid the county to do his job, instead of the other way around. Even before becoming the county historian, Reed had enjoyed researching and writing about Niagara County’s role in the Civil War. He published several short biographies of Civil War soldiers and penned a 214-part weekly series for the “Niagara Falls Gazette.” While researching Civil War dead, Reed was often seen “prowling” area cemeteries and offered that many of the county’s old tombstones had become his “good friends” as they yielded up lost information concerning the local patriots who served our country during the war.
After becoming county historian, Reed started a comprehensive cataloging system of the thousands of files that contain information about current and past Niagara County citizens, families, letters, vital records and much more. Reed also created an index of county census records from 1800-1840. One grateful patron once offered that Reed could locate information in 30-seconds that would take someone else days to find. During Reeds tenure, he was also charged with the responsibility of moving the Historian’s office across the street from the County Court House to the Civil Defense Building on the corner of Hawley and Niagara streets. That was no easy task as the county’s collection of archives had burgeoned to thousands of paper records that needed to be properly filed and moved.
Someone once offered that old historian’s never really leave their jobs, they just put away their scissors. The same could certainly be said for Richard Reed who retired from his position in 1984 with his boots still on. After more than a decade of service, Reed passed the scissors to Terry Lasher-Winslow who became the county’s third official historian.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094