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54 South Street

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54 South Street
Brockport, N.Y. 

History written by Carol L. Hannan, April 2013 
Photo Credit and Produced by Pamela Ketchum
© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – April 2013. All rights reserved.

George N. and Louisa Ellis Ruggles Chadsey
Owners/builders (?): possibly before 1852 to about 1861

The home located today at 54 South Street was formerly known as 20 Mechanics Street. It may or may not have appeared on the 1852 and 1858 village maps, which are somewhat confusing about exact home locations. In any case, the home in which George Chadsey’s family lived was built fairly early in Brockport’s history.

George N. Chadsey, the son of very early farmer Benjamin and Jane Burwell Chadsey, was identified in village directories as a “tinner.” According to “Records of William Spooner of Plymouth,” a genealogy of his wife’s family, George owned a business in the village. As for other civic or religious activities, none could be found in contemporary accounts. Wife Louisa was the daughter of Dr. Edward and Elizabeth Hinckley Ruggles of Clarkson.

George and Louisa married in 1855 and had four daughters: Ella Louisa or “Nellie,” Clara Antoinette, Jennie Amanda and Harriet Elizabeth. Clara married farmer Edward Altpeter. Just as his father had lived with him during his final years, George lived with the couple in 1892 and worked as a farm laborer. Harriet married E. W. Brigham and spent the remainder of her life in Brockport. Ella and Jennie never married but had various business ventures together, such as a “fancy goods” and millinery stores in Holley and Fredonia. George was visiting his daughter Clara in 1902 when he un-expectantly died. He, Louisa and daughters Nellie and Jennie are buried in the Brockport Cemetery.

William J. and Charlotte Whipple Coon
Owners: about 1861 to about 1872

The Coon family lived in what was still a Mechanic Street home. William, born in Cortland County, New York, married Charlotte, who was born in Madison County, New York and arrived here by 1840. Their ancestry is unknown.

George was identified in census documents as a wagon maker, carriage maker and carpenter and joiner between 1850 and 1870. Charlotte was a housekeeper. They had eight children, three of whom, unfortunately, died quite young, including John W. who died in 1836 and Henry B. and Otis E. who died within days of each other in 1843. Children from the same family who die within days of each other strongly suggests that they died from a communicable disease. Their exact cause of death, however, is unknown. The three brothers share a joint tombstone in Brockport Cemetery.

Son George B. was just 18 when he enlisted in the 13th Infantry of Company K on April 22, 1861. He was mustered out of service and died shortly after that from wounds received at the Battle of Gaines’s Mills, also known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor, in 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary P. married Charles Crammer and died in 1873. Alvah A. married Ida Blasier and died in 1905. Hattie L. married Edward Campbell. Sarah E. married Isaac Gorman and outlived her entire immediate family by many years. Ironically, 1880 census information tells us she was a 20 year old dressmaker living as a boarder in George Chadsey’s home.

Levi J. and Polly Maranda Orcutt Pease
Owner: possibly early 1870s to 1890

The exact dates are unknown, but Levi J. Pease was the next owner of this house. He was the son of early Clarkson pioneers George and Betsey Greene Pease, who emigrated here from New England in 1806. Maranda, as she was known, was the daughter of Sweden farmer Edward Orcutt and his wife Lovira Hawley. The Pease’s had no children but over the years his brother and mother-in-law lived with the family.

Levi’s father died the year he was born. He received a common school education and training as a shoemaker, an occupation he followed as a newlywed while living with his in-laws on their farm in 1850. By 1863, however, he had established himself in the grocery business in Brockport, and continued in that occupation for the remainder of his life. We know he had a store on Main Street near the canal bridge because he filed a suit against New York State in 1890, when he claimed the lowering of the high bridge did $5,000 damage to his business. At one time, his grocery business was known as Randolph & Pease.

Maranda Pease died in 1872 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery but Levi lived until after the turn of the century and was active in community affairs. After the 1877 fire which destroyed much of Market Street, one of the fire companies formed as a result was the L. J. Pease Hose Company #2. At a fire company review in 1878, George S. Morgan himself presented the company with a silver pitcher and village President George Cornes gave it a silver goblet.

Levi was a trustee of the Brockport Cemetery Association. In 1882, he was a member of the finance committee for the “jollification” celebration over the proposed building of a new harvester factory. The new brick building never materialized as the company moved to Batavia, Genesee County, because of its superior railroad transportation: the canal having become passé as a mode of transportation by that time. Levi was also a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and of Monroe Lodge, F and AM.

Successful in business and apparently a man of firm conviction, Levi and Fred Schlosser, Jr., our long-time Fire Chief, made a $1,000 wager on the presidential election of 1888 – with Levi correctly betting that William Henry Harrison would be our next president. Whether he collected on the bet was not reported.

By 1901, with his health failing, Levi traveled to Mt. Clemens, Michigan to undergo medical treatment. He died there at age 79 in 1902 from apoplexy (stroke) and paralysis. Having no children, the long retired gentleman still left a considerable estate to his nieces and nephews. The will was contested when it was learned that the bulk of the estate was left to a single nephew and an allegation of undue influence was made but later abandoned. Levi was laid to rest beside his long deceased wife in the Brockport Cemetery.

Helen C. Amsden
Owner: 1890 to 1898

The Pease property was sold for $800 to Helen C. Amsden in 1890. Helen was married to Lewis H. Amsden, the son of Isaac and Abby M. Reed Amsden, natives of Massachusetts and Vermont, but only her name was on the property’s deed when she died. Helen’s maiden name and ancestry are unknown.

In 1863, 17 year old Lewis enlisted in the 22nd New York Calvary and became a bugler in the Civil War. In 1870, he was still single and living in Hamlin with his widowed mother while working in a blacksmith’s shop. Whether he and Helen had married by 1885 when his name was listed in the Brockport directory is unknown. By then, he had become a painter.

Helen Amsden worked as a servant while living in her village home. It’s unknown whether she and Lewis had children. Lewis moved to Rochester and then to Michigan after a stay in a national military hospital located in Tennessee. Helen died in 1897 and Lewis, who worked as a painter in Michigan, married a housekeeper at a veteran’s home in Detroit where he lived during his final years. He died of stomach cancer in 1911 and was buried in the home’s military cemetery. Helen died in Brockport but her burial location is unknown.

James Montgomery
Owner: 1898 to 1900

Following the death of owner Helen Amsden, the home was sold by a referee to village resident James Montgomery, who lived on Spring Street and who owned multiple properties nearby. By the 1900 Federal Census, the property was owned by Charles Baker. The exact date of the transfer is unknown.

Charles Henman and Ellen M. Case Baker
Owners: about 1900 to 1926

Charles H. Baker was the son of Ogden farmer Erastus D. and Sarah French Baker. He was born in Gates and lived in various Orleans County locations before coming to Brockport. Ellen was the daughter of William Harrison and Polly Ann Hutchinson case, who lived on a small wheat farm in Sweden.

In 1862, Charles enlisted in Company M of the 3rd New York Calvary, for which he was paid a $100 bounty by Monroe County. He rose to the rank of Corporal but was captured during “Wilson’s Raid,” a massive cavalry operation throughout Alabama and Georgia in late April, 1865. Baker spent months in the infamous Andersonville prison but survived the ordeal and returned to Spencerport.

Following his marriage to Ellen, it appears that Baker was a farmer in Ogden, then moved to Orleans County and worked as a carpenter. He and Ellen had six children: Charles H., Louisa, Ada, Grace, Bert C. and Marcus Philip. Only the youngest son, Marcus, remained at home with his parents when they lived in Brockport. The fate of Charles and Louisa is unknown but Ada married and moved to Buffalo. Grace married and lived in Holley. By the time of his mother’s death in 1924, Bert was living in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Youngest son, Marcus, had an interesting and eventful life. As a young man in Brockport, he and two friends were arrested for stealing and reselling beans from a Sweden granary. Immediately afterward, Marcus enlisted for the first time in the army hospital corps and embarked on adventures across the world and later in the American west, before returning home six years later.

After settling in Brockport, Charles continued to work as a carpenter. Marcus was a photographer; the first of his many occupations. Ellen never engaged in employment outside of her home. We know the family was affiliated with the Methodist Church. Other than that, we have little idea what other interests they enjoyed.

Charles died in 1901 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery. His widow continued to live in the South Street home. She was sharing the house with a boarder, Margaret O’Connell in 1910. Ellen died in 1924 in Buffalo where her daughter Ada and son Marcus lived, but her funeral was held in Brockport at the Methodist Church. Ellen was buried beside her husband in the Brockport Cemetery.

Robert Rollin and Isabela Jane McCurdy Whipple
Owners: 1911 to 1952

Robert “R. Rollin” and Isabella “Bella” Whipple moved to Brockport about 1906, after a Christmas visit to his parents, the Reverend Robert F. and Lucy Stevens Whipple. Bella, who was born in Canada, was the daughter of John and Theresa MacLennan McCurdy. Her mother died at a young age. Both of the couple’s two children, Valeda Antoinette and Robert M. were born near Malone, New York.

Robert Whipple was reportedly persuaded to move here and take employment in the Capen Piano factory, as he was a carpenter. While his children took advantage of their new hometown to earn teaching degrees, Bella tended to their home, although she had trained as a dressmaker in the late 1890s while she lived near Watertown, New York. Robert’s father was a retired Methodist minister but we don’t know if Robert and Bella joined the local congregation. The family lived a quiet life without documented community involvement. Valeda and Robert M. both left Brockport for teaching jobs in other states.

Robert Whipple died in 1938 and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery. His widow died in 1952 and is buried by his side. Bella had transferred ownership of her home to joint ownership with her children before her death. They sold the property to Frank and May Epke.

Epilogue 2013
Now in its second century, the house that began as part of Mechanics Street and became part of South Street remains a well-tended single family home, at least temporarily occupied by tenants while owners work in Canada and maintain a village presence with a Main Street apartment. The house is now clad in new 
siding and surrounded by a picket fence.

© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan - April 2013. All rights reserved.