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51 South Street

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51 South Street
Brockport, N.Y. 

History written by Carol L. Hannan, February 2014 
Photo Credit and Produced by Pamela Ketchum
© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – February 2014. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Spaulding Randall
Owner/builder: about 1891 to 1918

Susan M. Spaulding, daughter of Hiram and Eliza Totman Spaulding, was a Vermont native. Her father was a farmer. From her mother’s side of the family, her great grandfather, Ebenezer Totman was a Revolutionary War soldier who died of wounds in the battle of West Point. With her marriage in 1861 to widower Billy Decatur Brown Randall, Susan allied herself with another long-time New England family. 

Susan and Billy had three children together: Hiram Decatur, Orland and Rose Evangeline, all born in Vermont. Sadly, their second son, Orland, died from influenza when he was a year old. Together with their surviving two children, Susan and Billy moved to Clarkson, where Billy was a farmer. After the 1877 death of her husband, Susan and her two children moved into her brother-in-law Myrick Randall’s home on Mechanic Street*. Her help running the household must have been appreciated, as Lucy Randall, Myrick’s wife, suffered from a documented medical infirmity, described as “softening of the brain,” on the 1880 Federal Census. After Lucy’s death in 1882, Myrick and Susan married. To recap this Randall marriage saga: Billy Decatur and Myrick Randall married sisters Ann and Lucy Kingsbury. First, Susan married the widower, Billy. Myrick became a widower and Susan then married him. Susan became a widow once again with Myrick’s death in 1891, and shared in his estate. She became the owner of part of Myrick’s property on South Street and built herself this house. 

Susan and her daughter Rose were living in the South Street home in 1898, when Rose married Brockport resident, Willis Arthur Matson, an attorney in practice here, in a ceremony described as a “brilliant affair.” After Rose left her home, Susan was kept company by her teenage grandson Barrett Decatur Randall, son of Hiram. The Matson family eventually moved to Rochester after Willis became an assistant district attorney and later, a partner in the law firm of “Harris, Beach.” It was then that Susan left her home and resided with Rose, Willis and their children, Randall and Millicent, until her death in 1918. Susan is buried in the Brockport Cemetery next to her first husband, Billy.

Willis Arthur Matson was born in October 1867 in New York, the only child of David and Charity Averetta. He had one son and one daughter with Rose E. Randall between 1895 and 1898. He died on October 4, 1929, in Rochester, New York, at the age of 62.

Rose E. Randall was born on January 18, 1872, in Woodstock, Vermont, the only daughter of Billy Decater "b. D." and Susan. She had one son and one daughter with Willis Arthur Matson between 1895 and 1898. She died on September 24, 1955, at the age of 83.

*see 92 Park Avenue for more on the Randall family

Hiram Decatur and Mary Lavinia ap Rees Randall
Resident: 1918 to about 1924

While his sister, did indeed make a “brilliant” marriage in many ways, and died a very wealthy woman, life had a different scenario in store for her older brother, Hiram. Named “Decatur” after his father and “Hiram” after his maternal Spaulding grandfather, Hiram Decatur Randall was apprenticed to his uncle and learned the jeweler’s and watchmaker’s trade. It had served his uncle well in life, and in the beginning, it seemed that Hiram would follow in his uncle’s footsteps as a successful and respected village businessman. The course of Hiram’s life had some twists and turns, which eventually led him away from his adopted hometown at different times in his life.

Hiram married, in Brockport in 1884, Sarah M. Barrett, whose parentage is unknown. Frequently referred to in newspaper accounts as “Sate,” or “Satie,” she and her husband, by 1890, had two sons: Barrett Decatur and M. O. [assumed to mean Myrick Oglvie] and could afford the help of a live-in servant, Angie Fox. Hiram had opened a jewelry store in Brockport. Hiram and his family may have occupied a house on South Street. Life seemed uneventful. The good times, however, didn’t last. 

By 1896, Satie Randall fled Brockport and her husband, taking her children and their live-in helper, Angie Fox, with her to her brother’s home in Chicago. She suspected her husband of unfaithful behavior and he, in turn, would later complain that she neglected her household, disregarded her duties as a wife, refused to provide him with meals and deserted the family home. Mr. Randall also demanded that Angie Fox be discharged and Mrs. Randall objected to that demand. A month later, while in Chicago, a new complication to this family dispute became apparent. Angie Fox was pregnant and she, moreover, claimed that Hiram Randall was the father of her unborn child. 

Divorce proceedings immediately followed this discovery, but that was not all that happened: Hiram Randall was arrested on the charge of bastardy and taken to court by the local Overseer of the Poor, who wished to recover support payments for the Fox baby. A trial ensued, with Mr. Randall claiming that the charges were false and nothing but a scheme to facilitate his wife’s divorce action. After the evidence was heard, it took the two justices approximately five minutes to reach their verdict. Hiram Randall was found not guilty. Satie Randall, however, continued her divorce proceedings and a legal battle ensued over custody of the children. Hiram was ordered to pay fifty dollars for his wife’s legal defense and provide her with three dollars a week in alimony. Thus did the first Hiram Randall marriage implode in a most spectacular and widely reported fashion. 

Hiram moved to Niagara Falls, opened a jewelry store and remarried in 1895. His second wife was a divorcee, “Lavinia” Rees. Hiram and Lavinia, returned to Brockport shortly after the turn of the century and moved into the brick house on South Street. He opened a jewelry store and also sold musical instruments. The business was not a success. By 1918, Hiram was listed as a laborer. He and his wife later moved to Clarkson and he became a farmer. 

Lavinia and Hiram had a son, Horace. Alas, his marital woes were not behind him. By the time Horace was five years old, he and his mother were living with her family in Niagara Falls. Lavinia was claiming to be a widow, although Hiram was very much alive. Hiram moved to Maine and apparently chose not to remarry again, but seemed to have a long-term relationship with another woman. He returned to Brockport at least once, bringing with him a very old letter written long ago by his uncle, in which Myrick Randall encouraged a friend to move to the village and open a newspaper here. For Hiram, however, his life in Brockport had long since come to an end. He lived past the date of the 1940 Federal Census and was assumed to have died in Maine.

Charles A. and Helen G. Crowley 
Owners: about 1924 to about 1929 

The Charles and Helen Crowley family lived briefly in this home, according to census records and Rochester directories. He was an “entry clerk” and she was a housewife. They had a daughter and two sons: Ruth, Paul and Eugene Crowley. All of the children were young and going to the public school during their short tenure in Brockport. Within several years, the Crowley’s moved to Rochester. 

Evarts “Pete” Miller and Elsie May Sheret Blossom 
Owners: about 1929 to about 1933 

“Pete” Blossom, son of Peter Abram and Rosetta “Zetta” Gliddon Evarts Blossom, moved to Brockport when his father decided to make a career change from education to publishing. Peter Blossom bought the village newspaper, the Brockport Republic-Democrat, which he ran as owner and editor until the responsibility was assumed by his son. 

After serving his country in World War I, “Pete” Blossom married Elsie May Sheret in 1923. She was the daughter of John and Anna Sheret. John was a native of Scotland. “Pete” and Elsie had two daughters. Pete was very active in newspaper affairs, as his father was before him. Elsie was a member and at one time president of the Brockport Garden Club. Together they had two daughters. The Blossom’s time at 51 South Street was short and they then moved to a Main Street home, before moving to Tucson, Arizona. 

The Blossom family is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in the Town of Sweden.

George S. “Chubby” and Beulah Smith Churchill 
Owners: about 1933 to at least the 1950's 

George S. “Chubby” Churchill was the son of Frank W. and Minnie M. Mowers Churchill. Frank was a farmer who was born in the Utica, New York area. “Chubby” Churchill, as he was always called, was one of nine children. He worked first as a driver for a lumber company, then as a private chauffeur for the Cold Storage Company, according to census information. His wife, Beulah, worked as a stenographer for a lumber company in 1930. The Churchills had no children. 

By 1940, the Churchills had apparently subdivided the home into two family units. Thomas Law, his wife, Daisy and daughter Elizabeth also lived at that address as renters. Thomas was a granite cutter at the local monument company. 

“Chubby” is best remembered as a life-long, very involved member of the Capen Hose Company, one of the four companies that once comprised the Brockport Fire Department. He survived his wife by several years and is commonly thought to have been a generous benefactor of the Capen Hose Company. He and his wife are buried in the Garland, New York Cemetery. 

Epilogue 2014 

The house that Susan built is actually one of the “younger” homes on South Street, where the Randall family owned both homes and property. They certainly have the longest and most interesting history of ownership, as compared to the owners following them, although “Pete” Blossom, as owner and editor of the local paper, held a good deal more community influence in his day. The Randall family and the Brockport Republic-Democrat have both long since departed the village which was changed by their presence, but the brick house at 51 South Street stands to remind us of their time here. The Randalls, with their various marital and legal woes, also “graced” the pages of that local newspaper very frequently. Such is the irony of the home that Susan built.

© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan - February 2014. All rights reserved.