SONYEA — As a storyteller it has been my pleasure to get to the heart and soul of everything around me.

 

As you all know adventures are very important to my family, and I have shared many of them with you over the years.

 

Once I came down to this neck-of-the-woods to be your friendly neighborhood reporter I noticed the beauty found at Sonyea.

 

It became my mission to tell the story of what I discovered there, and in doing this I needed the help of someone who devoted their whole life to keeping it alive.

 

There are certain stories that come across the path of a storyteller that have a significant impact on their lives.

 

The story I did a couple years ago on the Craig Colony or Craig Development Center is one of them.

 

I met Leicester Historian Tom Roffe in August of 2015 to talk about the importance of the rich history found on what is now the Groveland Correctional Facility.  

 

My mother, Lisa, and myself went to the public side of the Craig Colony that exists near the Shaker Community. We explored what we were allowed to explore, and this got the ball rolling on the story.

 

As I saw the rows of graves, read the monuments, and took in the profound sadness of the buildings left standing it occurred to me these people deserved to have their stories told.

 

Roffe was thrilled someone from the newspaper business took interest in this part of our American history. He helped me get in to take some photos, and get more insight into what these people went through.

 

They had created an entire community for the people suffering from epilepsy. Roffe spent his life documenting this story before it all was forgotten, and was eager to get this on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Sadly, I had found out that Roffe passed away a year after that story had been written. His dream to see the Craig Colony buildings become part of the National Register of Historic Places had not happened.

 

This really hit me hard, because I was hoping that my story would help him get that accomplished, and that he would be alive to see it.

 

Ever so often we storytellers get a story that makes an impact on us. This story is one of them for me. I still want to see this beautiful part of our local history on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Some of these photos can be seen at the Dansville ArtWorks for their Winter Exhibit until Dec. 23. It is my hope that when you all look at these photos of our Craig Colony you remember the devotion of an historian and the reporter who tried to help him. 

 

A lovely Craig Colony Memorial has been put in place on Morley Road just off of Ridge Road heading towards Mount Morris. This cemetery holds thousands of the patients who perished at the famous colony. If you listen carefully you can still hear the voices of those left behind.

 

(Jasmine Willis is a Reporter for Genesee Country Express)