Buisness Interest of Rome, NY in 1848
From: Our City and its People
A Descriptive work on
Edited by: Daniel E. Wagner
The Boston History Company, Publishers 1896


The following is a record of the major part of the business interests in Rome in 1848:

It should be borne in mind that the great fire in January, 1846, which originated in the shoeshop (up stairs) of John McCarrick, in a building then situated where the store of R. Keeney afterwards was, swept away all of the buildings on the northerly side of Dominick street from and including the American corner to a point a little west of the site of the Willett House. In that year and the next the burned district was mainly rebuilt, except that most of the buildings east of where Rufus Keeney & Son’s hat store was were not ready for occupancy until late in the year 1847 and some not until 1848. The Willett House was finished in the last named year and E. R Lewis became its first landlord, and a capital landlord and a prince of good fellows he was. He subsequently removed to Chittenango and kept the Spring House there, and not far from 1857 was chief clerk in the National Hotel at Washington.

In 1846 William Atkinson was in the clothing business in what became a shoe store next to the Willett House. Mr. Atkinson had clerked in Kingsley’s clothing store in Utica for four years prior to 1847 and in September of that year he came to Rome to start in business. Next east of Mr. Atkinson, Peck & Keeler were in the notion and dry goods trade. Subsequently Mr. Keeler went across the street and the firm of Keeler & Stokes was there established. About 1868—70 Mr. Keeler went to New York. Next east of Peck & Keeler J. Stalker was in the clothing business. He came from New York city in the spring of 1847 and subsequently located on the opposite side of Dominick street. In the store afterwards occupied by Mr. Atkinson, H. A. Wilcox and S. W. Mudge were in the dry goods and crockery trade. Farther east Elmer Brothers carried on a grocery and bakery. Where Wardwell Brothers are, Harmon Emerson was in the hardware business and over this store Dr. J. A. Cowles had his dental rooms.

In 1847 Daniel Cady had come up from the Armstrong block and located in Jeptha Matteson’s building where J. S. Dyett afterwards carried on business. It was considered in that year quite out of town, as it was the last dry goods store west on that side of the street. Mr. Cady kept dry goods and dealt extensively in merchant iron. H. D. Spencer, H. K. White, and Eugene Vogell were his clerks. Mr. Spencer came to Rome as his clerk in 1845 and Mr. White in the spring of 1846 and a few years later went into business for themselves. The firm of Spencer & White has ever since been in existence and is the oldest in that line in Rome.

On that side of the street T. J. Hyde and A. H. Edgerton were in the grocery business. Francis Bicknell was in jewelry trade near there and also J. S. Hovey. S. B. Stevens was in the boot and shoe business in the store afterwards occupied by M. M. Davis; he came to Rome in 1826. Robert Walker and Morris Chappell were merchant tailors in the store afterwards occupied by Robert T. Walker. Near by, Levi Scofil and Richard Dunning were together in the grocery and provision business. Jeptha Matteson was engaged in the cabinet and furniture business. He came to Rome in 1820 and started in the business in 1824. C. F. Williams and Jabez Wight were partners in the hat, cap, and fur business in the store long occupied by N. P. Rudd, and Rufus Keeney was then in their employ. J. A. Dudley and H. S. Hill were in the drug business where F. J. Hager & Co. now are. Henry Veazie was a merchant tailor just east of Dudley & Hill. Dr. J. M. Sturdevant had come from Lewis county that year and had his office in the Empire block, the same building where a quarter of a century later he was found dead in a chair in his office.

The American was kept by A. Rowe, whose rotund form and genial face will be remembered by some of the older Romans. Just around the corner on James street Frank Edwards was established in the boot and shoe trade; some years later he removed to the southerly side of Dominick Street opposite the Willett House. Next to Mr. Edwards, R. G. Savery was in trade. James Merrill, Sr., who built the Merrill block in 1844, was in the harness and saddlery business there in 1848, and Gordonier Freer was at work in the same building. Mr. Freer came to Rome in April, 1831, on the first canal packet that left Utica in that year. In 1848 Dr. J. V. Cobb had his dwelling and office on or near the site of the Sink opera house. On the grounds occupied by the Hill block and the Fort Stanwix Bank building, there stood the Northern Hotel then kept by Horace Putnam, father of P. R. and B. H. Putnam. Mr. Putnam was a genial and companionable landlord and had a large patronage from the surrounding country. Stanwix Hall was then kept by M. D. Hollister.

In the Armstrong block J. & E. B. Armstrong were in trade. Col. E. B. Armstrong became a Roman in 1826 and no man was more actively engaged in business or made a deeper impress on the material interests of the place than he. The law firm of Foster, Bennett & Boardman was in the same block, and H. W. Johnson was a law student in the office. He was subsequently deputy secretary of state. In the same block Henry Hayden and S. P. Lewis were in trade and Thomas Ball had just started a drug store there. In the upper story of that block the Rome Sentinel was published by C. Comstock and A. J. Rowley. Opposite that block and in the white store house on the canal, W. O. McClure was in the book and periodical trade, and 1. S. Parker was in the forwarding business.

In the building where was erected the Dyett block, H. M. Lawton and R. S. Doty were in the grocery business and also were partners with Mudge, Langford & Co. in dry goods and hardware trade further up the street and around the corner on Dominick street. Mr. Lawton first came to Rome in 1842. Glen Petrie was in the meat business in the Dyett block on the canal. He came to Rome in 1832 and learned the trade of butcher with James Farquharson, then in that business on the old canal. William McPhee was a merchant tailor in the same building, and J. B. McHarg was in business up stairs. Alva Mudge, P. B. Langford, and Frank De Ryther were of the firm of Mudge, Langford & Co. Mr. Mudge was for many years a conspicuous figure in the business interests of Rome.

Fort Stanwix Bank was started in 1848 and was located on the corner where Lawton & Co.’s store was. David Utley was its first presi dent; W. N. Nellis, cashier, and H. G. Utley, teller. On the second floor overhead Comstock & Beach were together as attorneys and their only law student was David E. Wager. On the third floor of that block the Roman Citizen was published by Alfred Sandford and George Scott. J. P. Fitch was editor. Judge G. H. Lynch was admitted to the bar a year or so before and he and John Stryker were law partners and had their office near that of Comstock & Beach. Where the First National Bank is now located, Nathaniel Mudge had a dry goods store in 1848. O. D. & C. P. Grosvenor had a bookstore where is now the Armstrong store.

W. H. and Z. Hill and William L. Howland were in company in the dry goods trade where H. W. Mitchell was afterwards located. Overhead Frost & Utley and C. M. Denison had their law offices. In the third story of that block was Tibbits Hall where the courts were held in 1848, while the court house was being built. It was the only public hall in Rome in those days. In the Checkered store afterwards occupied by G. N. & J. G. Bissell, G. N. and J. G. Bissell and Benjamin Leonard
were partners in the drug business. Timothy N. Kellogg was their clerk. Some old citizens may remember the witticisms and practical jokes of genial Tim Kellogg. Overhead, Drs. H. H. Pope and H. H. Beach had their office. Next beyond was the store built by H. G. Giles and where he was in the stove trade in 1848. Farther west and next to the Central Bank building was the Arcade where the post-office was kept by Jay Hathaway. Drs. A. Blair and T. J. Bergen were partners and had their office there.

James H. Carroll, who came to Rome in 1830, had a boot and shoe store in the Arcade, and G. E. Cone, who first came to Rome in 1837, was Mr. Carroll’s foreman. Perkins & Ailport were together in the dental business Andrew Gilbert had a barber shop in the Arcade, Mrs. S. Mallison a millinery store, and J. B. Smith a daguerrean gallery. On the ground now occupied by Spencer & White, Jacob Stevens kept the Farmers’ Hotel in a wooden structure, and had since 1835. Farther on John Harrington had just started a saloon. Still farther west L. E. Elmer and J. M. Root were in the bakery business and near by A. Spencer, who came to Rome in 1838, was in the stove business and with him as employee was J. D. Ely. Mr. Ely, when a boy on June 27, 1839, came to Rome on the first train of cars which ran over the road west of Utica. Benjamin Lehmair had a dry goods store near by and Daniel Sterns had a grocery nearly opposite the Willett House; in that vicinity also George Alexander and Alva Briggs were in the furniture business.

Joseph Higgins had a blacksmith shop where he continued many later years, and Col. J. B. Bradt was in the same business, but found time to attend to politics. He was a resident of Rome from 1828. Woodman Kimball was a master builder and an influential Whig; B. C. Dean was in the same business, as also was D. B. Prince. John J. Parry, jr., was then just coming to the front as a master mechanic and builder and an active Democratic politician. V. O. Amidon was express messenger. E. M. Hinckley railroad ticket agent and the first one in Rome, and G. W. Swan was telegraph operator and clerk in the postoffice. Daniel Petrie was a Rome constable. A. W. Cole was a painter and glazier and George P. Russ, who came to Rome in 1846, was learning his trade with Mr. Cole. Orson Wheeler was a manufacturer of plows and Albert Soper and W. R. Simmons had a lumber yard on the canal near Washington street and a carpenter shop on Liberty street east of James. J. M. Orton was in the furniture business and A. A. Pavey in the notion trade. Harrison Jacobs, who came to Rome in 1825, was in the forwarding and grocery business on the canal. N. H. Leffingwell and B. B. Hyde were in the forwarding business in the old red storehouse, and A. Ethridge and W. Northrup were in groceries in the white storehouse opposite the Armstrong block. In that year Mr. Ethridge was for the first ±ime elected supervisor and Frank De Ryther town clerk in the Democratic town of Rome.

The only public school then in the village was taught by C. W. White in the school house on the site of Zion church. E. H. Shelley was town superintendent of schools, and the trustees were J. D. Gage, R. G. Savery, and Elon Comstock. The Rome Academy was started that year with Rev. S. R. Brown, principal, and J. S. Townsend, assistant. Miss S. Jennings was preceptress and Miss Cadwell assistant, with Miss Sarah G. Sill in charge of the primary department.

Thomas, Court and Embargo streets were unoccupied west of Washington street, and George street was worked only as far north as Court street. There was only one dwelling on the west side of Washington street (the Presbyterian parsonage) between the dwelling of the late M. L. Brainard and the dwelling of J. B. Jervis. There were only two or three trains each way on the Syracuse and Utica Railroad and the New York papers did not reach Rome until thirty-six hours after their issue.

While these notes do not, probably, cover every business interest at Rome at the date under consideration, they give a good general idea of the situation.

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