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77 State Street

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77 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.

Albert J. “Bert” and Marie A. Scandling Bennett 
Owners/ builders (?): about 1901/2 to about 1906 

“A. J.” or “Bert” Bennett and his wife, Marie, moved into this house shortly after it was built at the turn of the last century. The house is one of the final homes built on this block, yet is still a historical property. The lot on which the property was built originally belonged to the Gillespie property, located just to the west of 77 State Street. No earlier homes or buildings had been constructed here. 

Albert J. Bennett, likely the son of Reverend Ira and Lovina Bidwell Bennett, grew up in the Wayne/Seneca County area of New York. His father was a farmer and also an itinerant Baptist preacher who eventually moved to Seneca Falls, New York, to assume the pulpit for the First Baptist Church. Marie Scandling was believed to be the daughter of Barnard and Catherine Scandling, farmers near Canandaigua, New York. 

Albert J. Bennett was a veteran of the Civil War, Companies I and C of the 3rd N Y Light Artillery. He enlisted as a private in September, 1862, at Auburn, New York and served for three years. In addition to defending Washington, D. C., he saw action in the Carolinas. Albert collected a pension for his service and his widow, Marie, continued to collect a pension until her death. 

After the war, Albert first lived in Wayne County and worked as a livery man. He and Marie moved to Brockport, where his skill in trading, handling and racing horses continued to serve as his occupation. He was a “horse man” his entire life. Part of his documented skills came on the race track, such as the one Brockport had during the heyday of the Brockport Agricultural Society. Many upstate communities had race tracks and meets scheduled throughout the summer months. “Bert” was apparently a mainstay of the racing circuit. For example, at the 1894 Cortland fair, he was entered in pacing races with his stallion, Valid, and in trotting races with his black stallion, Harry K., and his roan stallion, Billy Wood. Other village residents were also involved in training, trading and racing horses, so “Bert” was in good company while in Brockport. 

“Bert” and Marie had no children. They moved from the State Street house about 1906 but remained in Brockport.Albert and Marie are buried in the West Avenue Cemetery, Canandaigua, New York, where her family members are buried.

George Joseph and Margaret Josephine Doherty Shea 
Owners: about 1907 to before 1920 

George, the son of John J. and Mary Monahan Shea, was a Brockport native of Irish ancestry. Both his parents were born in Ireland. Margaret Doherty was believed to be the daughter of Michael Doherty of Fairport. 

George and Margaret adopted a son, Joseph F., who was born in 1912. Joseph was working as a gardener for a private family when, sadly, he died in his early twenties in 1934. He was laid to rest in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Brockport. 

George began a career with the Brockport post office in 1899 and remained employed there his entire life. He was a delegate to letter carrier conventions and rose to the rank of Assistant Postmaster, a position in which he served for twenty-five years, until his death. George was a member of the Brockport Bowling League, the Knights of Columbus and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was a life-long Democrat who served in various positions, such as election inspector. 

An abiding interest was his membership in the Harrison Hose Company, one of the companies comprising the Brockport Fire Department. Membership in one of the fire companies was an important civic and social rite of passage for generations of Brockport men (No woman were allowed at that time!). Volunteer firemen were held in great esteem. In looking at the membership of the Harrison Hose Company, one can’t help but notice the abundance of Irish surnames on their early rosters: Culhane, Kinsinella, Gleason, Foye, Michael and George Shea, for example. There was a time when membership requirements in a company were, so this author was told long ago, unwritten but commonly understood. One company, for example, was traditionally for professional men, one for men living south of the railroad bridge, and so on. Harrison Hose at one time certainly seemed to be the “Irish” fire company. Both George and his brother Michael were elected to various posts in the company over their years of service. 

There was a double tragedy for the Shea family in 1934. Not only did Joseph Shea die at a young age; George, after an illness of only one week, died of pneumonia at the age of 59. Was Margaret left alone to cope with this double tragedy? No obituary could be found to document her date of death. In Mt. Olivet Cemetery, however, no date of death is engraved on her tombstone. Perhaps close family members were left to see that this final documentation of her life was completed, as she was the last person in her immediate family to leave this earth. 

Joseph W. and Lillian Northrup; son Allen W. Northrup 
Owners: about 1920 to at least 1953 

Members of the Northrup family are scattered in this area and have made up some of the earliest families in western New York. Joseph is believed to be the son of Harry and Almira/Almyra Dauchy Northrup, farmers in Hamlin, New York. Harry was born in “Delaware,” probably the New York State county and Joseph was born in Cattaraugus County. Almira Dauchy Northrup was a regional native, born in Genesee County. The parentage of Lillian, Joseph’s wife, is unknown. 

Joseph was first a farm laborer and then a produce dealer before moving to Brockport later in his life. He was an active member of Brockport Grange Number 93 and served in various elected positions within that organization. Joseph and Lillian adopted a son, Allen W., who was born in 1893 and remained a village resident for most of his life. It was Allen who inherited ownership of this property from his parents and became a second generation of the Northrup family to live at 77 State Street. 

Epilogue 2014 

The footprint of this home, as seen from our existing village maps, remained remarkably the same in the early decades of the twentieth century. At some point in time between its initial construction in about 1902, and the map of 1924, a large carriage barn was constructed at the rear of the home’s lot. Was it “horse man” A. J. Bennett who built the barn? We may never be able to answer that question. The exterior of the property has changed since its conversion into a rental; a recent development in the home’s history. Siding, replacement windows and trims are recent modifications to the exterior of the house, which is now a vision of popular construction materials. Some day in the future, people will look at these materials and date the changes to this house, just as we can date the application of asbestos or aluminum siding. Under the exterior cosmetic changes is the heart of a one hundred and some year old home.

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