State Street‎ > ‎

58 State Street

58 State Street

58 State Street
Brockport, NY

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

James Seymour
Owner: early 1820s

This home, identified by historian Helen Hastings as one of the oldest in Brockport, was owned and occupied by Seymour for about two years while his more elaborate home on Market Street was under construction. Perhaps Seymour himself built the house, or as Pelatiah Rogers was one of the active builders on this street during this time period and he was related to Seymour by marriage, it may be that the builder of this property was Pelatiah himself. Whoever the original builder, the quality of the home’s construction has stood the test of time.

The name Seymour is synonymous with the early history of Brockport. James purchased village land east of Main Street. He and his brother relocated their mercantile business to Brockport when the Erie Canal was built in 1823 after canal authorities decided to terminate a construction leg here rather than in Rochester. Coincidence may have had less to do with that fortuitous decision than the Seymour family connection with Henry Seymour, the state Canal Commissioner and cousin, for whom James first worked as a clerk. In addition to land speculation and his retail business, James served as Brockport’s first postmaster. Following his election as Monroe County Sheriff, however, James left Brockport and moved to Rochester.

Abiram Ransford
Owner: 1820s to 1918

Early residents Abriam and Abigail Ransford moved to Brockport along with their daughters Ellen, Elizabeth and Sarah, from Oneida County, New York, an intermediate stop on his life’s journey from Massachusetts where he was born. Ransford was a “hatter” with a business also located on State Street. Within ten years of his arrival he had bought out his business partners and by 1870, Abiram was retired with reported assets of $4,500.

Of the three Ransford daughters, only Elizabeth enjoyed a long life. Shortly before the Civil War she and Charles L. Taylor were married by Reverend Joseph Kimball, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. Her married life, unfortunately, proved to be short. In 1862, Charles Taylor enlisted as a sergeant in Company A; 140th NY Infantry and rose to the rank of 1st sergeant. After the Battle of Wilderness in 1864, two 1st sergeants from the regiment were missing. A search party was sent to the battlefield to identify and recover the bodies, which they were able to do because Taylor had dark hair and a beard while the other 1st sergeant was clean shaven with blond hair.

“Libby” Taylor was devastated by her husband’s death, and according to historian Helen Hastings, forever after left a light burning in a window at night so her husband could find his way home. She received a widow’s pension for the remainder of her life, which she spent in her family home on State Street.

Abriam Ransford died in 1875 but his daughter Libby lived until 1918. She, her husband Charles, and the rest of the Ransford family are buried together in the Brockport Cemetery, their individual stones surrounding a large granite memorial; an American flag decorating the grave of Charles, who found his way home from Virginia.

Frank Joseph Gleason
Owner: 1920s -1930s

No occupants were noted at 58 State Street in the 1920 Federal Census, perhaps because the property was part of an estate not yet settled. The next owner to live there was Frank Gleason, his wife Ellen and son William. Gleason was employed as a shoemaker for the Moore-Shafer Shoe Company. Although he lived a “stone’s throw” from James Seymour, one of Brockport’s founders, and Wilson H. Moore, co- founder of the company where he worked, Gleason perfectly represented a new wave of village residents, first and second generation immigrants and farmers/farm workers seeking employment by Brockport’s industries, which were established by pioneers such as the Seymours and entrepreneurs such as businessmen Abriam Ransford and Wilson H. Moore.

Unfortunately for the Moore-Shafter Shoe Company, their up-scale “Plus Ultra” shoes and eventual change of leadership proved its undoing. By 1930, Gleason had become a contractor either selling or dealing in construction cement.

Epilogue 2012 
Subsequent owners sold almost half of the original property for construction of a Park Avenue home. Original details of the front porch have been rebuilt and the home is now covered with aluminum siding. A garage was attached to the back of the house and the home itself has been divided into rental units. The original landscaping is no more but vintage photos show that aside from these modern “updates,” the exterior looks quite similar to the pioneer house of long ago. Even the side porch where Libby Taylor placed her lit beacon remains remarkably intact.

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