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57 State Street

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57 State Street
Brockport, N.Y. 

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

Pelatiah Rogers
Owner/Builder: 1826 to early 1830's

Pelatiah Rogers built several houses still standing on State Street, the most noted among them being the current Village Hall. Facing the house now known as 57 State Street, on the south west corner of Park Avenue is another of the homes constructed by Rogers. It undoubtedly retains more of the simple character and style of those early buildings. Rogers purchased a quantity of land from William Seymour, and resold properties as village lots. His final land transaction in 1837 was completed by an agent because the family had already moved from the village. Whether these lots were first improved with houses built by Rogers himself is unknown, but he completed a flurry of real estate transactions in the brief time he lived in Brockport.

Rogers and his wife, Mary, had ten children. We only know the names of some of their children, however, and the parentage of Pelatiah and his wife is unknown. Pelatiah himself was reportedly a native of Columbia County, New York. By 1820, the Rogers family had moved west to Clarkson, the settlement of which pre-dated Brockport’s development.

We know a bit about the Roger’s early years in Clarkson. While living there, Pelatiah’s registered “livestock mark” was a swallow tail on the left ear of his stock. He, along with the other early settlers, was assigned a portion of the roadwork; that is, the number of days he was expected to work on the road upkeep. His district was number twenty seven and Rogers was assigned eight days of work.

The construction of the Erie Canal prompted a migration of families to the newly established Village of Brockport, where, as previously mentioned, Pelatiah Rogers began building houses. He convinced his niece, Nancy Pixley, to move here and teach school, which was a stroke of good luck for both Nancy and Pelatiah. While living with her uncle’s family, she met and married William Seymour, one of the most successful and influential citizens of this newly formed village. Seymour had relatives in “high places,” such as the canal authority, which may explain why Pelatiah was empowered by New York State, in 1826, to act as an agent for village land owned by the canal
commissioners. His payment was 5% of the land sales.

The Rogers family’s westward migration was not yet complete, however, because Pelatiah and his family once again moved on to “greener pastures” in the early 1830's. Following the lead of his daughter, Sophia, and her husband, the Rogers family moved to Peoria, Illinois, where he and Mary purchased a 160 acre farm. His contribution to
Brockport was the homes he built so early in our history; still standing some 175 years after their construction.

James C. and Emeline Patterson
Owners: 1854 to 1860

Following the departure of Pelatiah Rogers, ownership of this home obviously changed hands but the identity of the new owner(s) remains unknown. The next documented owners were the Pattersons, whose names appeared on the 1861 village map. James and his first wife were living in Ogden in 1850. By 1854, he had married his second wife
and purchased multiple properties in and round Brockport.

“J. C.” Patterson, as he was known, lived with wife Emeline and their children at what was then number 13 State Street. His parents, James and Eliza, were born in Pennsylvania but he was born in New York. Emeline’s maiden name perhaps began with an “S” but is unknown, as is her parentage. The children living at home with the family in 1860 included Bessie, James and Norris. Catherine Kelly, a servant, was part of the household.

Patterson was a “boatman” both in Ogden and here, meaning he owned or worked on a canal boat. A later narrative about the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth commented that he was a “prominent politician and canal shipper.” Even if that account was embellished a tad, as was probably the case, Patterson was still obviously successful enough to afford a live-in servant and purchase a number of properties.

“J. C.” was active in a state-wide organization of boatmen known as the Erie Canal Association, which was formed in the early 1860's. It lobbied for the rights and interests of boatmen; such as dealing with “scalpers,” insurance and towing issues. Patterson attended conventions, addressed the assembled members and served on committees. Additional details of his business, unfortunately, could not be found.

It was not long before the Patterson family sold their home and moved to Oakland County, Michigan, where he and other family members are buried.

Dr. Linus Hascall and Sarah D. Doane Reynolds
Owners: early to late 1860's

Linus Hascall, referred to as “L. H.” was the son of Linus Junius and Alice Baker Reynolds. His father was an editor and newspaper publisher in Vermont before becoming a Baptist minister. Patterson’s siblings were equally educated and accomplished; brother Edwin was an attorney and United States Representative from Orleans County and sister Caroline was Preceptress of Middlebury Academy in Wyoming County. Sarah Reynolds was the daughter of Nathan and Harriet Barnes Doane. Her father was a farmer, superintendent of schools, town clerk and president of an insurance company.

The Reynolds had three children: Edwin Albert, Franklin Everett and Sophia Janette. “Janette” graduated from Brockport Normal and eventually worked there as a librarian for many decades. She never married. “F. Everett” lived in Brockport and worked as a druggist. Edwin moved to Detroit, Michigan.

“L. H.” first studied medicine with two physicians in his native Vermont before graduating from Castleton Medical College as a doctor of homeopathic medicine. “L. H.,” his family and Doane family members moved to Virginia before the Civil War. They fled north when hostilities broke out, except for a brother-in-law, who was engaged in espionage activities for the Union. “L. H.” bought this home a few years after moving to Brockport from Holley, New York, in 1860.

The Reynolds were members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. “L. H.” belonged to the Monroe County Homeopathic Society. Linus died of consumption in 1891. He, his wife and children Edwin and Sophia are buried in the Brockport Cemetery.

Watts Gardner and Family
Owner: 1860's to 1891

The “Gardner Place” as noted by one historian, was occupied for many years during the summer by its owner who lived and worked in New York City. That reference was to Watts Gardner, the surviving son of Eliza Ann Deming and Orris H. Gardner. The family resided in this area for decades before Watts purchased this home. Orris was a postmaster and business owner in Orleans County before moving to Sweden, where he made brooms. The Demings were from Connecticut. Watts was a businessman in New York City. He made frequent trips to the continent but the exact nature of his work is unknown. His mother and unmarried sisters Mary and Emeline lived in the State Street home after the death of Orris.

Watts sold the property in 1891. His sister Emeline had moved to New York City, where she died in 1888. Her obituary stated that her burial was in Brockport but efforts to find the final resting place of Emeline or the rest of the Gardner family were unsuccessful.

Charles Van Eps Family
Owners: 1891 to early 1900's

Charles Van Eps, a village hardware merchant and tinsmith, purchased this home and immediately began an extensive renovation of it, including partially tearing down the original structure. What resulted from his efforts was a grand Victorian house with elaborate embellishments and an expansive front porch. Not only do we have a photo of the redesigned home, courtesy of Van Eps family descendants, we can also compare the outline of the home as rendered on early and later village maps. The simple home constructed by Pelatiah Rogers underwent a remarkable renovation.

William Blythe Van Eps and his wife, Cornelia Alexander Smith lived in the renovated home, which was just down the street and around the corner from his father’s house on what was Mechanic Street. Cornelia’s parents were Platt Gilbert and Eunice Belinda Maples Smith of Ogden. Platt was a farmer. The Van Eps had no children but at various times, young relatives lived with them.

William worked with and succeeded his father in the family hardware business, a Main Street fixture for over forty years. He sold the business shortly after the turn of the century, moved to Ogden, lived with his father-in-law and worked as a tinsmith in a “heating apparatus shop” according to the federal census. He and his wife later moved to Rochester where he continued to work as a tinsmith or sheet metal worker for the rest of his life.

Detailing the career or documented interests of a wife in the relatively early history of the village was unusual but Cornelia Smith Van Eps was an exception to the norm. She was an early expert in the area of nutrition and wellness, which she described as “hygiology.” Her lectures across western New York also covered the topics of weight control and longevity. Surviving her husband by many years, she died in 1955 and was buried beside her husband in the Van Eps plot at the Brockport Cemetery.

Augustine E. and Bridget Louise Murdock Tulley
Owners: early 1900s to 1945

Augustine Tulley was the son of Irish immigrants Bartley and Margaret Tulley. His father was a laborer who lived in Avon, then moved to Mt. Morris, New York, where Augustine met and married “B. Louise,” as she was known. Louise was the daughter of John and Mary Murdock. John was an immigrant laborer. His three daughters, Mary Ann, Kate and Louise, contributed to the family income by working as dressmakers.

Augustine Tulley, while in Mt. Morris, was a partner and perhaps co-owner of the American Hotel. He advertised extensively, promoting the sale of liquors and continued to be a retail merchant of alcohol after moving to Brockport. Shortly after the turn of the century, Tulley opened a restaurant which must have been successful, as the 1915 census also gave his occupation as “restaurant.” Tulley was even able to purchase the commercial block where his business was located.

The Tulley’s had two daughters, one died as an infant and Margaret E., who died as a teenager. Mrs. Tulley was a homemaker after her marriage. As for civic involvement, none could be found. Augustine died in 1929, leaving an estate of over $60,000. His widow, Louise, continued to live at what was then 59 State Street, where she passed away in 1945. The family is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Epilogue 2013

From a simple, early village dwelling to its reincarnation as a grand Victorian home, this structure has since changed substantially once again over the passage of time. Gone is the front porch and trim of the Victorian remodeling. Wooden clapboards appear to be covered with once popular asbestos siding. The much larger village lot on which this house was constructed was divided about the turn of the century, a not uncommon practice in Brockport and what appears to have once been a substantially larger front lawn seems reduced in size today, probably because State Street has been made wider through the years. The house is now a multi-unit college rental.

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