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118 State Street

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118 State Street
Brockport, N.Y. 

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

Robert and Mary Jane McKee 
Owners: 1870s to mid-1890s 

By the early 1870s, the residential character of the eastern section of State Street was more clearly documented by maps and census data. The resident of this property was Mary Jane McKee, whose identity required much research, given the woeful inaccuracy of records documenting her surname. “McKey,” “Mackie” or “Mackey” were commonly seen variants of her name. An English native who arrived here by way of Canada with her Irish husband, Mary Jane spent most of her life in Brockport as a widow. No census data could be found to list the entire McKee family, but there were at least three children who were identified by later enumerations: Carrie, Mary and William J., who was still living with his mother in 1870. Carrie married Alexander Chambers, Mary lived in the Kingsbury household as a young girl but wasn’t identified as a servant until the 1875 census and William, the youngest child, became a butcher. 

Robert McKee, an Irish laborer, enlisted as a Private in Company G of the 105th NY Infantry on March 16, 1862. According to town records, which are difficult to read, he deserted on July 5, 1863. However, in an article from the Buffalo Evening News from 1894, Robert McKee, Co. G. 105th NY Infantry was wounded at Fredericksburg; taken prisoner at Gettysburg and spent a year in the infamous Andersonville prison. The town allowed “relief” of $166 for Robert’s family, which seems odd, if he had, in fact, deserted. The 1864 village directory listed a Robert McKee, of 14 Lyman Street, as a volunteer serving in the 105th NY Infantry. He died in 1868 and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery, with a notation of his company regiment on his tombstone. It was the mission of the surviving Civil War veterans to ensure that their honorably discharged brethren were provided with a proper burial and a headstone, another indication that he had not deserted his unit. 

Widowed and with a son to support, Mary continued to live on State Street. She had no apparent means of support in 1870 but by 1875, her son was employed and living at home, daughter Mary was working as a servant and living with her and daughter Carrie and her employed husband were also living in the household. In addition to the family members, the household included two boarders. 

By the 1892 New York Census, Mary Jane was living with her daughter Carrie and son-in-law on Clinton Street and she was, at age 68, working as a nurse. She lived with her daughter and son-in-law until her death in 1900, when she was laid to rest in the Brockport Cemetery, united once again with her husband after 32 years. 

James and Susan Wright Bendle
Owners: by or before 1900 

James Bendle and his parents Richard and Ann Bendle, all English immigrants, were living in the Brockport area at least by 1860, by which time James had married Susan Wright, who was born in Ireland. Richard was a common laborer but his son had a trade and was employed as a “moulder.” (A moulder was a carpenter skilled in the art of making decorative trims.) They were living together in a working class neighborhood, probably north of the canal, at the time of the 1860 Federal Census. 

By the time the Bendles moved into their State Street home, James was retired. He had apparently done well in life, as he owned several building lots as well as his home, which by now, along with the neighborhood, had undergone substantial changes. Long gone were the steam mill, tannery and slaughter house that had previously surrounded the area. Gordon Street had been established and the surrounding area had become almost exclusively residential, featuring homes in keeping with its decidedly more upscale character. This home’s original lot size had been doubled, a large barn had been built at the back of the lot and the house, now with two and a half stories, had a substantially altered footprint from the simple rectangular home of earlier times. Jennie, the daughter of James and Susan, a widow with two children, lived with her parents. Jennie had been born in Canada, which again tells us that the Bendles migrated from their homeland to the United States via our northern neighbor. Susan Wright Bendle lived just a short time in this house and passed away in 1900. Her husband James passed away in 1905. They were buried in the Brockport Cemetery. Ownership of the home then passed to Jennie Bendle Bordwell.

Jennie W. Bendle Bordwell and son Melvin Camille Bordwell 
Owners: 1905 to mid-1940s 

Jennie Bordwell, the widow of Franklin Camille Bordwell, took ownership of and continued to live at 118 State Street with her two children, Susan M. and Melvin Camille Bordwell, after the death of her parents. Her late husband had been a “machinist” in Brockport. He was the son of Camille Joseph and Melissa Bordeau Bordwell. “Joseph” Bordwell, who never went by his first name, was an inventor and employee of Seymour, Morgan and Allen. From the early 1870s to the late 1800s, Bordwell “assigned” numerous harvester inventions to the company. No wonder his son worked with machinery --- mechanical skills obviously ran in the family. 

From the patents he earned, we learned something else about Joseph. He signed his name with a “mark.” Joseph Bordwell, in fact, came to Brockport as a teenager with “two shillings in his pocket and no knowledge of English.” Immigrants like Joseph Bordwell, the Bendles and the McKees made Brockport their home and Brockport, in turn, gave them all a better life. 

Susan Bordwell, daughter of Jennie and Franklin, married George Henry Prince a jeweler, and moved with him to Geneva, New York. Melvin, or Camille, as he was also known, stayed in Brockport. He married Ruby S. Davis of Oneida, New York, and continued to live with his mother on State Street. He worked for a time as a clerk in the nearby Capen piano factory, then as a cabinet maker and finally as a carpenter. He and Ruby had a son, Franklin Camille Bordwell. 

Jennie Bordwell passed away in 1911. Her obituary described her as a highly respected, long-time village resident. She and her husband, parents and in-laws Camille Joseph and Melissa S. Bordwell are buried in the Brockport Cemetery. Melvin passed away in 1944. His burial location and that of his wife are unknown.

Epilogue 2014 

The exterior of this home, especially its porch, retains its decorative wooden details. The barn at the back of the property still stands. This house, of course, bears no resemblance to the original home. The simple, rectangular home seen in early maps is gone and in its place is the house with bay windows and additions first seen on the 1902 village map. Who made the changes and transformed the earlier dwelling into the impressive home of today? Who bought the additional land and built the barn? It probably wasn’t Mary Jane McKee, the widow. More likely, it was James Bendle who made these changes in the homestead. The house is now a carefully maintained duplex with a landscaped and fenced lot.

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