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74 Park Avenue

74 Park Avenue

74 Park Avenue
Brockport, NY 

History researched and written by Carol L. Hannan
© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – August 2012 All rights reserved

Levi Ward and wife
Owners: 1850 to 1851

This home, like all but one of the homes on this block, appeared on a village map of 1852. Perhaps it was constructed ear
lier, as land records show the home lot was bought and sold in rapid succession, beginning in 1850.
As Levi Ward and his wife owned the property for just a year, there is a good probability they were land speculators, not homebuilders. Which Levi Ward, however, owned the property? There were several men of that name living in the vicinity at the time of this purchase: Deacon Levi Ward of Batavia, Dr. Levi Ward, the the Deacon’s son who moved to Bergen and by this time was living in Rochester and Levi Ward the farmer. The Deacon was fairly old to be speculating in land, the farmer was not wealthy but the doctor, a successful Rochester resident at this time is the most likely investor. Unfortunately, we can only speculate, we can’t be certain. It seems likely that the property was disposed of too quickly to be a residence and all of the varied “Levis” lived elsewhere, not in the village. 

Peter Follock and wife 
Owners: 1851

Here again, we probably have a land speculator purchasing and then dividing the property into smaller building lots, as the Follocks also sold a lot next door to John Raleigh, an early home owner. There is no record of anyone named Follock living or buried in or near the village and the property was resold very quickly.

Asa and Minerva Freeman Perry 
Owners/builders (?): 1851 to 1852 

One last rapid transfer of title saw Asa Perry and his wife in possession of this property. This, however, is the time frame in which a home was definitely on the lot, as the structure was documented in our earliest available village map. If only the first Brockport maps had included the owner’s names, we could state for certain whether Asa and Minerva built and lived in this home. However, we do have, for the very first time, owners who left records of their lives in and about the village.

Asa Perry was living in Sweden beginning in the 1820s. His parentage is unknown but he was born in Massachusetts and the newspaper account of his marriage to Minerva said Asa was “of Boston.” As for his occupation, we have no records of his early endeavors but in the 1860 Federal Census, as a widower living with his daughter and son-in-law, Asa declared he was a “saloon keeper.” His interests apparently included political activities as he was named in a newspaper list of Sweden residents – in a call to the “Young Men of the County of Monroe” to meet in Rochester and further the “cause of democracy.”

Minerva’s parents were Truman and Hannah Dow Freeman. They had also moved west from New England. She and Asa married in Brockport. Together they had one daughter, Martha, who was born in 1828 and married Enos T. Chappell, son of one of Brockport’s well-known early residents, Guy Chappell. Minerva died in 1855 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery, where her monument also names her husband. He, however, isn’t buried there. When Enos and Martha Chappell moved to Michigan, Asa moved there with them. He is buried in the shadow of his daughter and son-in-law’s monument in Riverside Cemetery, Dowagiac, Michigan.

Milton and Sophia Randall 
Owners/Builders (?): 1852 to 1855 

If Asa Perry wasn’t the original builder of this home, then we know that Milton and Sophia were, as the house was in existence by 1852. This couple was the first to spend more than a very short time as owners, which certainly makes their case as homebuilders more persuasive.

Milton was the son of Joseph and Laura Morgan Randall, who came here from Connecticut. He and his twin Morgan and younger sibling Maynard owned and worked farms south of the village on the Niagara escarpment, near the present location of Lakeview Cemetery. Major Milo Starks, a casualty of the Civil War, lived near them and recalled fond memories of his friend Maynard Randall in a letter he wrote while stationed on the front lines. Sophia Randall’s parentage is unknown. She and Milton had one son, Wallace, who was born in 1854.

Milton Randall was elected a Justice of the Peace for Sweden in 1829 and he remained in this area at least until 1860, when he and his family appear in the Federal Census, but by 1870 they had again moved west. All three brothers and their father relocated, first to Illinois and then to Kansas. Milton’s sister Betsey, his mother Laura and his stepmother, Mercy, are buried in the East Sweden Cemetery, far from their Connecticut roots and farther still from the final resting place of the remainder of their immediate family.

Franklin Bancroft and Melissa Hinman Pierce 
Owners: 1855 to 1858 

Franklin Bancroft Pierce, son of Moses and Mary Barron Pierce, was born in Massachusetts to a prominent colonial family. His wife, Melissa was the daughter of Jonathan and Mary Dandridge Bancroft Barron. By the early 1840s, they had met and married in western New York, where Franklin was a blacksmith. At the time of his Civil War draft registration, Franklin’s occupation had changed to “mechanic” and later in life he became an “engine builder.” The couple had three children: Mary, Franklin, and Newton, born in 1856 in Brockport.

The entire Pierce family, their sons and daughter Mary with her family, moved first to Ohio and then on to Michigan, where they were successful and noted pioneers. Brockport native Newton Barris Pierce graduated from college and became a professional plant pathologist in California; researching plant diseases (Pierce’s Disease) and publishing a number of books on his research. It was Brockport’s loss that this accomplished and successful family chose to “go west”.

Susan M. Smith, Mrs. H. E. Smith
Owner: 1858 to 1866 

The village map of 1861 names Mrs. H. E. Smith as the owner of this property. The deed identifies Susan M. Smith as the owner. Elisha Legrange Andrews’ obituary identifies Mrs. H. E. Smith as his daughter but that daughter’s name was Cordelia, not Susan. It’s a conundrum without resolve – and the final confusing fact is that the next owner of this home was Legrange Andrews himself.

Elisha Legrange* and Mary Jane Carpenter Andrews
Owners: 1866 to 1871

Elisha Legrange Andrews, the son of Timothy A. Andrews and Wealthy Ann Spafford married Mary Jane Carpenter, daughter of Cyrus and Hannah Jenne Carpenter. Both families hailed from New England states and both migrated west to Brockport during its early history.

Cyrus Carpenter and Legrange, as he was commonly called, were both painters and Legrange was additionally identified as a glazing and paper hanging specialist. According to Charlotte Elizabeth Martin, however, Legrange was also building houses on Monroe Avenue. In a newspaper account it was reported that “the houses of Legrange Andrews and Frank Williams on Monroe Street” were reaching completion and the street seemed destined to be very pleasant. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 24 Aug 1885, p. 3)

In 1893, Legrange was an inspector of elections in the 2nd election district. According to his obituary, he was also a member of the I.O.O.F. which sent its members “in a body” to his funeral. 

Legrange and Mary Jane had five children who lived to adulthood and two who died relatively young. He lived to age 79 but became quite feeble for several years before his death and died in Dr. Graham’s Hospital in Rochester. Mary Jane, on the other hand, lived an exceedingly long life and died at age 97 in 1925 at the "Massey Home." It seems as she, too, may have been in poor health at the end of her life, as an 
incompetency proceeding was initiated by her daughter Cordelia Smith. There was also a court proceeding by Mary Jane against Cordelia “restraining the plaintiff from collecting money.” (The Daily Record, 18 Jul 1925, no page, col. 2.) With her death, the conflicts ended and Mary Jane was buried in the family plot at the Brockport Cemetery, High Street, Brockport. 

Elizabeth Merritt Prentiss 
Owner: 1871 to 1921 

After a rapid succession of owners early in its history, the house, now 24 Park Avenue, was occupied for many years by the Prentiss family. Although Elizabeth Prentiss was married at the time of purchase to William Bridge Prentiss, a retired farmer, his name wasn’t on the deed. The property was hers and hers alone and she lived there for the remainder of her life.

William was born in Pulteney, Steuben County to John Adams and Thankful Hotchkin Prentiss. William’s father was a grape vineyard farmer and his grandfather was a Revolutionary patriot. He moved to Parma and farmed there before relocating to Brockport, where he was a 
village merchant for about ten years before his retirement. With him in his grocery business was partner John R. Davis, his 
brother-in-law. The dissolution of Prentiss & Davis didn’t end William’s community involvement. He was a member and president of the Sweden Board of Health for over two decades until his death in 1910. 

Elizabeth Merritt married William at her home in Parma. She and her husband had one son, William M. (Merritt?) 
who unfortunately died as a young man. She was a member of the Baptist Church, where she taught the Normal Young Ladies’ Bible Class for twenty-four years. 

The Prentiss' golden wedding 
anniversary was celebrated with a reception at the home of John D. Burns, Esq. and an estimated group of almost three hundred friends and attended the gala. There was a golden color scheme and fourteen-piece orchestra to entertain guests from Brockport and the vicinity. Even Elizabeth's bridesmaid of so many years before sent her a congratulatory letter. 

William died at his home in 1910 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery next to his son. Elizabeth lived on in her house until her death in 1920, when the family was once again united in death. 

Bert A. and Anna Thompson 
Owners: 1921 to 1948 

Bert and Anna Thompson bought the house at 74 Park Avenue from the estate of Elizabeth Prentiss. They had moved from Rochester, where Thompson owned a barbershop, to Hamlin, where he was the manager of a machine shop, to Brockport, where he was a bookkeeper at an auto shop. From their first house on Beach Street, the Thompsons and their two children, Maude and Floyd, moved to Park Avenue. 

Bert Thompson became a bookkeeper for the Village of Brockport, then ran successfully for village clerk; working at that job for 24 years. Thompson labored unsuccessfully on a village committee to attract a shoe company to the vacant Moore-Shafer plant in the 1930s. In 1948, he advertised a household auction for the contents of his home, which he had recently sold. Bert and Anna are buried at Lake View Cemetery in Sweden Township. 

Epilogue 2012 
Gerald Woodrow and Lillian C. Bird purchased the Thompson home. It continues to be a single-family residence. At some time during the ownership of Elizabeth Prentiss, a carriage house that remains intact today was constructed facing Union Street. The home was “updated” at some time with cedar shake siding, which is now painted in deep, colorful hues. A picket fence sets off extensive perennial plantings. 

© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – August 2012 All rights reserved

* There are variations found for his name, including: L. E. Andrews, Elisha Le Grange Andrews, Lagrange Andrews, Legrange Andrews and Elisha L. Andrews.

From Landmarks of Monroe County, NY by William F. Peck (1895) Part III, p. 108 - 109

Andrews, L. E., was born in Windham county, Conn., a son of Timothy A. Andrews. The family are of English extraction, and were among the pioneers of Connecticut. Our subject was educated in the common schools, and is a self-made man. In 1840 he came to Monroe county and settled in Parma, removing in 1846 to Brockport, where he engaged in house painting, glazing and paper hanging, with which business he has always been identified. In 1847 he married Mary J., daughter of Cyrus Carpenter, and their children are Edward, Mrs. H., E. Smith, Mrs. J. F. Harris, Mrs. F. E. Williams and Mrs. O. D. Humphrey.