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79 Park Avenue

79 Park Avenue

79 Park Avenue
Brockport, NY

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

John and Mariah Hewett 
Owners: until 1833 

In January 1833, the Hewetts sold this lot to Hiram H. Hatch and wife. The price was $400, a reasonable amount for unimproved land. 

The Hewetts had a very early presence in the village but left little in the way of an imprint on Brockport. It was reported in the newspaper that the marriage of John Hewett and “Maria” Thorpe took place here. John Hewett was named as one of several “first class-leaders” of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Beyond that, however, nothing is known about this couple, except that they apparently didn’t remain in this area. 

Hiram Hammond and Adelaide Phoebe Woodruff Hatch 
Owners: 1833 to unknown 

Hiram Hammond Hatch, an early Brockport shoe dealer and his wife Adelaide built and occupied the house (presently 73 Park Avenue) still extant on what was possibly the northern half of this lot. At some time within twenty years of purchasing the property, it was either divided and the southern half of the lot was sold to Enos Chappell or Hatch bought and resold the neighboring corner lot. 

Hatch and his wife had no children but during their later years, after moving to Rochester, they adopted a daughter, Hattie A. (Adelaide?). In the 1880 Federal Census, Hiram was 75 years old, his wife was 69 years old and daughter Hattie was 20 years old. It was also noted in that census that Hiram suffered from paralysis. The Hatch family never returned to Brockport to live. They are, however, buried in the Brockport Cemetery. 

Enos Turner and Martha Perry Chappell 
Owners/builders (?): unknown to 1855 

By 1852, a home had been built on the corner lot of what was then Mechanic and Spring Streets. In their brochure, the Walk! Bike! Action Committee attributes the building of this home to Enos and Martha Chappell. The home’s abstract, however strongly it suggests that this is true, doesn’t include the date of transfer from Hiram Hatch to Enos Chappell. Either gentleman could have built the home. Hatch bought an unimproved lot but when Chappell sold the property, its purchase price had increased from $400 to $1,500 dollars. 

Enos and Martha Chappell, his second wife, married in October of 1854. By the 1860 Federal Census, they were living with Martha’s father, Asa Parker, probably in Asa’s house across the street. Enos’ brother, Guy, lived just down the street and around the corner in his own imposing home at 52 State Street. The Chappell family was well known and well-to-do. Brockport remembers the family with their namesake, Chappell Street. 

Father Ansel Chappell was born in Massachusetts. He was the farmer who famously demonstrated a McCormick reaper, then partnered with William Seymour in manufacturing the first locally built McCormick reapers which were produced by Seymour, Chappell and Company. Ansel and his son Enos became “merchants” rather than farmers. By 1860, Enos was employed as a “traveling agent.” 

Seymour, Chappell and Company existed for a few years, after which it was replaced by the very successful and lucrative Seymour and Morgan Company, which manufactured and sold reapers worldwide. Enos returned to farming. In 1861, he was elected Master of Monroe Lodge #173. In 1866, he was living in this area when he paid a federal excise tax (federal tax collected to pay Civil War debt) on his purchase of a gold watch. By 1870, he had left western New York for Michigan. 

It would be logical to assume that Enos, like so many of his contemporaries, followed the immigrant tide west to new lands and opportunities and that may, indeed, have been the case but 1866 was also the year his father Ansel and brother Thomas became embroiled in a “scheme to defraud” which was reported in none other than The New York Times. Ansel and Thomas were the primary culprits in the so-called “Canton Bank Swindle,” an unsuccessful misadventure to pass off worthless bank notes on unsuspecting individuals. Perhaps Enos was seeking farmland and anonymity alike in Michigan. In any case, neither he nor any members of his immediate family returned to New York. 

Enos Turner Chappell died on his birthday in 1911. The cause of death was paralysis. He was 84 years old. He and other family members are buried in Dowagiac, Cass County, Michigan. 

Barnett and Susan A. McDougall 
Owners: 1855 to 1856 

McDougall and his wife owned this home for a very brief time before selling it and moving to California. Barnett was a pioneering builder and architect in California where he and his three sons, architects all, established successful and lucrative practices. Examples of their works exist today, primarily in San Diego and San Francisco. 

Job and Margaret Cornell 
Owners: 1856 to 1864 

Job Cornell was born in Connecticut. He, his wife Margaret and daughter Elizabeth lived here briefly, leaving no contemporary accounts of their stay in Brockport. The house was sold by Margaret, his widow, after which she probably left the area as no other mention of her or her daughter could be found. 

Orlo B. (Burch?) and Jane Sabina Thomson Schouten 
Owners: 1864 to 1902 

A native of Lockport, Niagara County, Orlo B. Schouten was the only child of Stephen and Clarissa Burch Schouten, who died a short time after his birth. Orlo had nine younger half-brothers and sisters, some of whom lived with him and his family at various times. Jane was the daughter of Dennis and Esther Dowd Thomson, farmers in the Town of Sweden. 

The Schoutens had two children, Willis A. and Clara Esther Schouten Robinson who lived to adulthood but three sons, Orlo D., Clarence H., and Homer E. sadly died as young children. Only their daughter married. Clara graduated from the Brockport Normal School and Cornell University. Her only son, who never married, earned an undergraduate degree and Ph. D. from Harvard and became a professor of philosophy and languages at the University of Kansas; residing in a farming state although far removed from his grandparent’s vocation. Willis, or William as he was sometimes known, lived with his mother in their home at 25 Park Avenue. He worked as a book keeper. His last known employment was as a secretary in the Brockport Wagon Company when he was boarding at the Lark Inn, not long before his untimely death in his late thirties. 

Orlo Schouten was a village grocer and Jane was a milliner. It was rather unusual for village merchants of that time period to not be involved in civic or religious activities, but there are no such contemporary reports for the Schoutens. None of their deaths were reported in obituaries, which might have shed light on their interests and activities. Orlo died in 1889 and his wife died in 1902. He, his wife and four sons are buried in the Brockport Cemetery. 

Lewis Spencer and Katherine Brower Allen, his mother 
Owners: 1902 to 1920 

By the time Lewis S. Allen moved to the village, he had retired from his family farm in Sweden Township, where his parents, Katherine Brower and Lewis B. Allen moved after their marriage. Lewis S. was a farmer, unlike his father, who was school teacher and Sweden School Superintendent. He never married. His mother made her home with Lewis until her death and the Park Avenue home was owned jointly by them.

Allen was affiliated with the Baptist faith. He was a director of the State Bank of Commerce and a long-time member and president of the local Board of Health. According to his obituary, he was a wealthy and prominent village resident.

Reportedly depressed over his ill health, Allen attempted to commit suicide by jumping from a bridge into the canal. Changing his mind about the suicide, Allen tried to save himself by swimming to the bank, only to die from an apparent heart attack brought on by the exertion of his efforts. He was 59 years old.

Katherine Allen lived on in the home until her death, after which her daughters, Harriet Whipple and Frances Sammis sold the property. Lakeview Cemetery is Lewis’ final resting place.

James Wilfred and Mary Cather
ine McDermott Larkin
Owners: 1920 to 1952

James Wilfred Larkin spent the better part of his long and eventful life in the village, and Brockport was certainly left better for his service to this community. Born in Lockport to Patrick and Mary Ann Sweeney Larkin, James, his older brother Thomas and younger sister were living in Sweden with their mother by 1860. Why Patrick Larkin wasn’t recorded as living in that household isn’t known, but his son Thomas, at age 17, was a “boatman” just as James was when he enlisted in the Civil War three short years later. 

James served in the 22nd New York Cavalry. After being discharged for injuries, he re-enlisted and served to the end of the war. For the remainder of his life, he was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, serving in a variety of leadership positions. Larkin faithfully attended reunions and encampments of the 22nd New York Volunteer Cavalry Association until, with their numbers reduced by death to a handful of the faithful, the unit met one last time in 1928, wrote a “will” to bequeath their memorabilia and disbanded. Also a member of the Monroe County Civil War Veteran’s Association, Larkin served in various leadership roles there, too, such as chairman of the Pension Committee. From Muster Roll Abstracts we know that Larkin was 5'9" tall, 
had blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion. His occupation at the time of enlistment was “boatman.” Brother Thomas’ obituary explains the occupation, stating that he owned and operated the Oclemena, the first steam packet freight on the canal in this area. We assume that younger brother James was similarly employed. 

Larkin was a member of the Western New York Volunteer Fireman’s Association, which he helped form. He was elected President of the association three times and held many other leadership positions, as well. He was one of the organizers and founding members of Brockport’s Harrison Hose Company, having previously been a member of the Pease Hose Company before it was disbanded.

Larkin was a Democrat and active in politics. He was elected by his party to be a con
gressional delegate for the Town of Sweden in 1890. In 1898, he accepted the caucus nomination for the inspector of elections in his district but always ran unsuccessfully for office. Not put off by his defeats in the heavily Republican district, he turned his attention to village politics and ran for “President” of Brockport in 1906 on the People’s Ticket, defeating the incumbent, A. M. White of the Citizen’s Ticket. A heavy vote was tallied, and his surprise victory was won with a large vote cast in spite of a raging snow storm on that March election day. Larkin won with 471 votes as opposed to White’s 225 votes. His finally successful electoral victory was commanding. 

Beginning with his teenage employment as a “boatman,” Larkin earned his living through a variety of occupations. For the first fourteen years of his life in Brockport, he was a manufacturer and jobber of cigars. In 1883, the newspapers reported that he had opened a new restaurant and billiard rooms. He was appointed by the United States President as Brockport’s postmaster and served in that position for a number of years. 

Larkin is perhaps best remembered, however, as the owner/manager of the Lark Inn, formerly located next to the railroad tracks on the section of Park Avenue which was then known as Railroad Avenue. With his wife’s help, Larkin ran the hotel until the day in 1913 when the adjacent barns of the Brockport Hotel caught fire. Fanned by winds, the flames spread to the Lark Inn, burning it to the ground. The adjacent Brockport Hotel, railroad depot 
and Moore-Schafer Shoe Company were damaged by fire or smoke but survived due to the quick reaction of village firefighters.

Alas, the business of one of their own succumbed to the he flames. The resilient Larkin survived as well, although insurance did not cover his losses. 

Ever active and always civic minded, Larkin’s activities included, in addition to all of those previously mentioned, membership and leadership roles in the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Rochester Elks and the Brockport Knights of Columbus. In 1917 he served on a committee and participated in its house-to-house campaign to raise funds for the Brockport Red Cross and in 1918, Larkin was a member of a committee
to promote the sale of War Saving Stamps.

James Larkin and Mary 
Catherine McDermott married at the Church of the Nativity in Brockport. Fifty years later, in May of 1928, they celebrated their golden anniversary. They had two children, Wilfred James and Helene Mary. Wilfred became a clerk with the U. S. Immigration Service. Helene graduated from Brockport Normal, worked as a teacher and in 1929 married Samuel S. Shortridge. James died in 1930 at age 84, his wife passed away in 1952 at the advanced age of 93 and his daughter died in 1973, also at age 93. 

All lived long lives; none more eventful than James, who demonstrated amazing courage, industry and leadership skills which benefited his country and adopted home town beyond the duration of a long and remarkable life. 

James, Mary and daughter Helene are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery along with his father, Patrick, brother Thomas and Thomas’ immediate family. The final resting place of Wilfred is unknown.

Epilogue 2012 
In 1952, this home was purchased by Thomas and Dorothy Burns, by which time, according to their son, the property had become, as we say, a “fixer.” 
Today, however, in its second century the home has probably never looked better with the extensive landscaping and exterior hardscape improvements made by the current owners. All historic houses should be so fortunate.

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