Park Avenue‎ > ‎

92 Park Avenue

92 Park Avenue

92 Park Avenue
Brockport, NY 

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

Myrick Ogilvie & Lucy Melvina Kingsbury Randall
Owners/builders(?): 1849 to 1891

The original plot of land located at 18 Mechanic’s Street, on which this house still stands, was sold by neighbor Henry R. Seldon in 1849 to Myrick and Lucy Randall. Most probably, the Randalls constructed the original brick dwelling in the fashionable Greek Revival style between the date of purchase and 1852, when the house was documented on a village map.

Myrick O. Randall, a jeweler, watchmaker and silversmith by trade was born in Vermont in 1817 into the large family of Nathaniel and Betsy Randall. His father was a farmer, so obviously at some time early in his life, Myrick was apprenticed in his future trade. He was not the only Randall to learn these skills, as brother Nathaniel was his business partner in Woodstock, Vermont. The partnership of Randall & Randall may not have lasted long but the skills learned by the two brothers were passed down to succeeding generations of family members, with Myrick later serving as the master craftsman to a nephew, his own sons and others, as well.

According to his obituary, Myrick moved to Brockport in 1834. He married Lucy Melvina Kingsbury about 1839. Three of their children grew to adulthood in the village. The Brockport cemetery reveals that additional children were born to the couple; twins Bertha Maria and Beulah Mary, who sadly died shortly after their birth. To the household were added nephew Hiram D., a jeweler’s apprentice and son of Myrick’s deceased brother Billy Decatur Brown Randall, also a jeweler, as well as Susan M. Randall, Billy’s widow and their daughter, Rose. In time, Myrick’s daughter Lucy Bianca, her husband Charles F. Muller and their two children joined the household as well. Apprentices and servants also lived at the house, so although their own family was relatively small, Myrick and Lucy’s household was expansive and as noted on later maps, a large addition was built at the back of the home.

Myrick, the master jeweler, taught his skills to sons Rudolphus Ogilvie and Eugene, who worked in his father’s shop on Main Street. Eugene A. unfortunately died at age 30, but Rudolphus lived a long life, although far from Brockport. At age 18, Rudolphus moved to New York City to further study watchmaking, after which he moved to Gadsden, Alabama. He married an Alabama woman in 1860, then enlisted as a private in the Civil War, and became a native Brockporter fighting for the Confederacy. He never returned to his home state. Lucy Bianca Randall married Charles F. Muller, a Pennsylvania native and Civil War veteran who fought for the Union. Muller was a book keeper while living in Brockport. After moving to Michigan, the family settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Lucy, or Bianca, as she was always known, died in 1896.

To Myrick we owe a debt for championing the village to Horatio Nelson Beech, founder of the Brockport Republic newspaper. Very shortly after replying to Beech’s inquiry about the suitability of Brockport for establishing his paper, Beech moved here, opened his successful business and become a very prominent village resident. The letter documenting Randall’s part in establishing the Brockport Republic here was given to the paper’s owners in 1925 by Myrick’s grandson Hiram, former village resident and third generation family jeweler when he returned to his hometown for a visit.

We know from contemporary newspaper accounts that Randall was nominated in 1872 as a Prohibitionist candidate for the 3rd election district in Monroe County but he was apparently unsuccessful in his run for office. He was elected “President” of the village in 1874, after which he seems not to have pursued additional elective offices.

Myrick O. Randall, a master of his crafts and successful in his trade, left a substantial estate when he died of cancer in 1891, including property deeded to his surviving children. Ownership of the family home passed to Susan M. Randall, who, in his obituary, was referred to as his widow. Susan was the second wife of Myrick’s brother Billy Decatur, who had first married Lucy Randall’s sister, Abigail Kingsbury. Susan and her children resided in the Randall household in 1880, while Lucy was still living. However, according to the 1880 Federal Census, Lucy also appeared on the “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent” schedule. All was not well with Lucy, who was described as having “softening of the brain.” Lucy Melvina died in December of 1882 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery. Myrick and Susan M. Randall were married in January of 1884, according to a notice in the Brockport Republic.

Susan M. Spaulding Randall
Owner: 1891 to about 1900

Following the death of her husband Myrick, the original Randall property, very substantial in size, was gradually divided into parcels. Susan Randall became the owner of a brick house facing South Street*, which was built on the western side of the original lot. There was additional land to the west of the home, as well, which at some later date was also separated from the original lot. Eventually, a house was also built on the subdivided lot just south of the original home.

Susan M. Randall continued to live in Brockport with her son Hiram Decatur and daughter Rose Randall until shortly after the turn of the century. Hiram* became the owner of her home on South Street and a village jeweler like his uncle and cousins, opening his own store in 1890. Scandal enveloped him, however, with a bastardy suit brought by the overseer of the poor seeking financial support for the child born to a servant from his home. Although he was swiftly found not guilty of the charges, his wife divorced him none-the-less and, loosing custody of his children, he moved to Maine. With the departure of Hiram, the Randall jewelers in Brockport were no more. Hiram’s son studied the law and moved to Oregon.

Susan moved to Rochester and lived with her daughter Rose Randall Matson, where the Rochester directory never failed to describe her as Myrick’s widow. When she died in 1918, Susan was buried beside her first husband, Billy Decatur, in the Brockport Cemetery, which is also the final resting place of her second husband, Myrick, for the Randall brothers and the sisters they married were not parted in life or death.

*see 51 South Street for more on the Randall family. 

Henry Edward and Leota Robinson MacArthur
Owners: about 1900 to 1920s

Henry E. MacArthur, a second cousin of General Douglas MacArthur, was born in Mt. Morris, NY and came to Brockport to study at the Normal School, from which he graduated in 1898. While a student, he lived with his uncle, Theodore S. Dean, with whom he studied the law. Henry continued his uncle’s private practice after Dean’s death.

MacArthur was a civic minded resident who was a founding member of the Brockport Kiwanis Club. He was the Kiwanis President in 1928 and 1929 and in 1933 he was elected, without opposition, Lieutenant-Governor of the Fifth Division of the New York State Kiwanis. He was noted for his near perfect attendance at local meetings. MacArthur was also a member of the Monroe Lodge F. and A. M. in Brockport and the Brockport Presbyterian Church. He practiced law in the village for 43 years and also served as village clerk. MacArthur served as President of the Normal School Alumni Association in 1934-35. The Board of Trustees of the village published the “Ordinances of the Village of Brockport” in 1902 which was compiled by MacArthur.

It was during the ownership of their Park Avenue home, in the early 1900s, that the MacArthurs divided the original plot of land for the final time, selling the southwest corner of their land to Daniel M. Reed and his wife. Reed constructed a classic shingled bungalow on the lot.

MacArthur married Leota B. Robinson, daughter of the Reverend William B. Robinson. They had no children. Leota survived her husband, who collapsed and died suddenly while speaking on the phone in 1949, by which time they had sold their Park Avenue home. Their burial location is unknown.

John and Harriet Mae Thomas Palmer
Owners: 1920s to 1929

John Palmer, the son of Frank W. Palmer, grew up in the village and, like his father, worked as an unskilled laborer his entire life. He was married by a Presbyterian minister to Harriet Thomas at a small home ceremony in 1913. With a wife and child to support, John claimed an exemption from service in World War I. He and his family owned this home for a relatively short time but lived in the village for the rest of their lives.

Henry John and Margaret Shea Michaels
Owners: 1929 to 1972

Henry J. Michaels, son of Augustus and Margaret, grew up in Brockport, and with his brothers and sisters, began work at a young age in the Moore-Shafer Shoe Company. His first wife, Margaret, was born in the Irish Free State according to census data. They had one son, John Henry aka “Jack” who fought in World War II and returned to live in Brockport. Following his wife’s death, Henry married Kathryn, a welfare investigator for Monroe County.

At the outbreak of World War I, Michaels was still making shoes at Moore-Shafer but he also stated that he was a musician. We learn from his draft registration that he was tall, with a medium build, brown eyes and black hair. As a single man without an exemption, he was inducted into the service.

Margaret and Henry bought the Park Avenue property with a $1,700 mortgage from the First National Bank of Brockport in 1929. By that time, he was employed by New York State and worked in various jobs related to the canal, such as buoy light tender, canal patrolman, inspector and tug boat pilot. While working as a patrolman in 1924, Michaels was assaulted and stabbed when he attempted to eject a trespasser from canal property, an event that did not dissuade him from continuing his employment.

Michaels was very active in the American Legion and was elected to a variety of offices, including Commander of the Brockport Post. During a membership drive in 1931, he and his committeemen succeeded in recruiting every Brockport World War veteran as members of the local post. The post was an active one, even raising funds in 1929 to purchase an ambulance for the Brockport Hospital.

Michaels was at one time a member of the Nativity Church Dramatic Club, where he directed an eleven-piece orchestra to accompany “The Arrival of Kitty” to excellent reviews. He was also a member of the Lions and the Brockport Fire Department.

The Michaels are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Brockport.

Epilogue 2012
The home at 92 Park Avenue remains beautifully cared for over one hundred and sixty years after its construction. The carriage house originally seen on early village maps has been replaced by a modern two-car garage. The brick house has long been painted white and is complemented by dark wooden window shutters.
A major hurdle to overcome in researching his home was the identity of owner “Biancia Miller,” whose name appears on a 1902 village map. In fact, there was no such person. Lucy Bianca Randall Muller, who was never referred to as “Lucy,” inherited the properties from her father.

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