State Street‎ > ‎

94-96 State Street

94-96 State Street

94-96 State Street
Brockport, NY

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

Daniel D. and Deborah Williams
Owners: early 1870s to late 1890s

Village maps of 1852 and 1858 show no buildings near this site except for industries such as the Roswell Smith Mill and the Gordon Lumber Yard. By 1861, half a dozen houses were located near the intersection of Park Avenue and a building was located here, but this building, identified as belonging to a J. Smith, has no house number. Located between the Roswell Smith Mill at 26 State Street and the John Latta house at 24 State Street, the building could have belonged to one of two John Smiths living in the village, gentlemen who had homes listed in the Brockport Directory of 1863. Perhaps John Smith, a cabinetmaker, who lived at 5 State Street, operated a business on the Roswell Smith lot, where later we find a home owned by Daniel Williams.

By 1871, the Smith Mill was gone, Spring Street had been created and houses lined this section of State Street. Daniel, previously a carpenter according to census data, gave his occupation as “boating.” By 1880, Daniel was the captain of a “state scow,” benefitting from the presence of the Erie Canal, as had so many others before and after him. In 1894 he was elected village assessor, so perhaps by then he had retired from “boating.”

The Williams household in 1870 consisted of Daniel, Deborah and daughters Catharine and Florilla. A more complete picture of the family, however, is apparent from the Williams’ monument in the Brockport Cemetery. Four children are buried there with their parents: Lina, Luther, Kate and Lillie. By 1880, the house was filled not with children, but with four boarders.

Daniel passed away of heart disease in 1895, while sitting in a living room chair as his wife worked in her kitchen. Deborah died four years later.

A. G. King
Owner: circa 1902

A 1902 village map clearly identifies the owner of this home. So, who is A. G. King? He/she is not in the census, village directory, contemporary newspaper accounts, on genealogical internet sites or buried in a village cemetery. Who he or she was remains, for now, a mystery.

John W. and Viola S. Robinson
Renters: circa 1900s

John and Viola Robinson lived at 94 State Street but didn’t own the house. He was born in England and his wife was born in New York State. John immigrated to the United States in 1850, became a naturalized citizen and worked as a carpenter. He and his wife had 13 children, 9 of whom had passed away by 1900. Three of their children were son Shader and daughters Elizabeth and Nellie Raleigh, with whom John and Elizabeth lived after his wife’s death. Elizabeth Robinson worked in the Moore-Shafter shoe factory and her brother was a laster who later moved to Medina and ran a bakery. Their blue collar roots were shared by generations of village residents in future decades.

German G. and Kate L. Durkee Elliott
Renters: circa 1910 to circa 1915

German Elliott was a Hamlin resident who moved to Brockport and briefly rented this home. He described his occupation as a “salesman” in a grocery store. By 1915, he, his wife and three daughters had moved back to Hamlin, where he was a “merchant,” but not for long. By 1918, he had joined the workforce at Kodak Park in Rochester, where he bought a house. German and his wife eventually moved back to the country where they lived out the remainder of their long lives.

George J. and Emma L. Baker Ronk
Owners: circa 1916 to 1926

George and Emma Ronk moved to this area from Binghamton, New York, where he was employed as a plumber. They bought a 116 acre farm in Clarkson, which they sold in 1916. They then moved to State Street where George, according to census data, engaged in raising poultry. That might seem to be an incongruous occupation for a village resident, and it could be that Ronk’s poultry was quartered elsewhere, but there are residents today who remember when cows, horses and chickens occupied back yards and lots in and near the village.

With Emma and George lived Jerome Baker, Emma’s father, and a roomer. It seems they had no children.

George died at his home in 1922 and left an estate valued at $2,000. Emma, however, lived a very long life. Her final years were spent in the Fuller Nursing Home, where she died at age 96. She and George are buried at Lakeview Cemetery.

Edward and Lena Plummer Ward
Owners: 1926 to 1930s

The Ward family moved here from Medina in 1926, the year daughter Marjorie graduated from high school and entered Brockport Normal. Marjorie had graduated by 1930 and was employed as a public school teacher. Lena passed away that September and was buried in Lynhaven Cemetery near Lyndonville, New York.

Ward William, Frances L. Grace and family
Owners: 1930s to 1990s

Ward Grace was originally from Kentucky. The 1940 census identified him as working in a canning factory. A long time village employer, The Quaker Maid facility was owned by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. In its day, the factory processed local fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes into jams and ketchup, the processing of which would envelope the village in a savory aroma. Workers living in the village could walk to the plant, which was especially important during war-time rationing when employees such as Grace were a precious commodity.

With the Graces lived Frances’s brother, Stanley, who worked as a book keeper at an “optical company.” The Rochester based Bausch & Lomb Company contributed substantially to the war effort, as well, during World War II.

Epilogue 2012
The Grace family lived in this house for many decades. It was owned by Marjorie Grace in the 1990s, by which point the home had been converted into a duplex with separate apartments on the first and second floor. It remains a rental today.

Although never a grand home occupied by residents who made exceptional historical contributions to village, it is an example, like so many others, of a solidly built family residence housing factory workers, immigrants and laborers tied to Brockport’s past commerce and industries such as the Erie Canal, Moore-Shafer Shoe Company, and the Quaker Maid factory. In a later era, which is also now disappearing, its owners were factory workers for world-class manufacturers such as Kodak and Bausch and Lomb.

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