History of Penn Yan, NY
From: History of Yates County, N. Y.
Edited by: Lewis Cass Aldrich
Published by: D. Mason & Co.
Syracuse, N. Y. 1892

HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF PENN YAN, THE SEAT OF JUSTICE OF YATES COUNTY.

This is in two parts, link to part 2.

In the northern portion of township No. 7, of the first range, better and more commonly known as the town of Milo, at a point near and about the foot of Ogoyago, or Crooked Lake, where the waters find an outlet through a narrow channel, and eventually discharge into Seneca Lake, nature provided a splendid site upon which civilized man might build up a thriving, prosperous village. That consummation has been reached, in fact was attained nearly three quarters of a century ago, but each succeeding year has witnessed some material improvement, some development of new resources, until by slow stages it has grown to contain a population of more than 4,000 souls, and is provided with all the enterprises, the industries and commercial advantages that can be found in any interior village in the Empire State.

Little did that worthy old pioneer, that steady going, honest plodder, follower of the " Friend," David Wagener, think or dream that on the tract of land bought by him in 1796, would ever be built up a municipality, and become the seat of justice of a county. But could David Wagener have lived a half score of years longer, and observed the march of improvement and settlement on his ancient estate, it is extremely doubtful if he would ever have consented to the adoption of that singularly odd and unique appellation of Penn Yan, for the little burgh. And it would have been an equally astonishing thing had that good and earnest pioneer been able to then look into the far off future and see standing where he built the primitive grist mill, on the south side of the outlet, a large four storied, modern structure, capable of manufacturing an hundred barrels of flour daily, when his own little mill could at best produce not more than one or two barrels in the same time. These, and a thousand and more of other changes might be recalled, to show the advancement in almost every branch of trade that has been worked in the last three quarters of a century. These comparisons are interesting to old and young alike; to the aged, for they show that the grand march of improvement and progress in this locality has kept even step with the onward movement elsewhere, and interesting to the younger generations, for it brings to them an understanding of how their forefathers lived, and against what obstacles they had to contend to establish themselves securely in life and leave a goodly inheritance to their children.

The founding of a village where Penn Yan now stands was the outgrowth of necessity, and not of design. It was a natural consequence. and not the result of speculative schemes. David Wagener bought the lands because they were desirable, and not that he is believed to have contemplated the building up of a village. But Mr. Wagener did not live to enjoy the substantial fruits of his purchase in this immediate locality. He died in 1799, and his estate in lands, on which the village stands, was inherited by his sons, Abraham and Melchior Wagener. In area the estate embraced 276 acres, lying both north and south of the outlet; that part north of the stream fell to Abraham, while his brother became the owner of the lands on the south side. Eventually, however, Abraham succeeded to the ownership of the whole tract.

To Abraham Wagener, therefore, attaches all credit for taking the initial steps that resulted in a substantial village corporation. In 1801 he took active measures in having surveyed and constructed a highway leading from Canandaigua to Newtown (now Elmira). This road soon became an established mail route, and a postoffice was located soon afterward at Abraham Wagener's house. He was the first postmaster, and the name of the office was Jerusalem, being, as this locality then was, within the district called Jerusalem.

On the first of January, 1800, Mr. Wagener moved into "town," and occupied a dwelling built the year before for his use. This was the first frame building erected on the village site, and stood where later was the Miles Benham tavern, the old structure forming a part of the hotel as afterward established. The building was burned in 1841. When Mr. Wagener came here to reside there were three log cabins within his tract, all standing on the stream called Jacob's Brook, and occupied by Indians and their families. These primitive inhabitants were tenants by the sufferance of Mr. Wagener, they having no title nor claim to the land they occupied. They are said to have remained for a time, but the constant arrival of white settlers caused them to retire from the neighborhood.

The stream heretofore mentioned as "Jacob's Brook," a name by which it has ever since been known, has its source or head waters in the town of Benton, whence it flows into the village and passes through the business center, a few rods east of Main street, and discharges into the outlet in rear of the Russell & Birketi grist and feed mill. Concerning the derivation of its name, Jacob's Brook, there has for many years been a difference of opinion, some authorities contending that the name was applied in allusion to an old Indian who lived near the stream, and whose name was Jacob, while others assert that the name was given in reference to Jacob Wagener. The latter is probably correct.

For fourteen years after his appointment Abraham Wagener held the office of postmaster at his little village; but he was otherwise honored in public affairs. In 1808, he was appointed justice of the peace for the town of Snell, which then included all that afterward became Benton and Milo. This office Mr. Wagener held for about twenty five years, and from his long continued incumbency thereof became generally known as "Squire" Wagener, by which name he was called as long as he lived.

Abraham Wagerer, the founder in fact of the village, was in all respects the honorable, straightforward, public spirited citizen; a man of large means and much influence in the town. The land on which the court house was built was his voluntary gift, while also the main thoroughfare through the village was donated and laid out by him. Of course these things greatly enhanced the value of his property in the locality, but at the same time they forwarded the interests of other persons who, perhaps, were less able or less inclined to give than was he. Squire Wagener continued to reside in Penn Yan, as the village afterward was named, until 1833, in which year he moved to Bluff Point, where he occupied an elegant stone mansion which he had erected during that year. However, before his removal to Bluff Point, Squire Wagener built a second residence in the village, which stood on the land now in part occupied by the Knapp House, about where the dining room of that hostelry is situated. This dwelling is believed to have been erected in 1816, and to it was given the name of Mansion House. This name was preserved in after years, when the building was changed in character and occupancy and put to hotel use. In rear of the house stood the old famous Wagener apple tree, so called from its owner, the one who planted the seed, nourished and cultivated the sprout, and distributed its seed in return throughout the vicinity, the yield of which has always been known as the Wagener apple. Now the old Mansion House has become a part of the more modern Knapp House; the apple tree has been cut down that the land may be used for other purposes, and the founder of the village, its pioneer and most influential and useful citizen, lies buried in the old cemetery which his father gave to the people for the interment of their dead.

The Wagener lands proper extended from the outlet northward to the immediate vicinity of what is now called Court street, while still farther north was another tract which passed through the same descent of title and ownership, and eventually found its way to divers owners. It was upon the latter tract that the first village was established, at the point where Head street crosses Main street. The highway first mentioned formed the dividing line between the towns of Benton and Milo, as afterward established, but the village was built up without reference to town lines. Therefore, the little hamlet lay in parts of two towns, but for some years, and until Milo was set off, all the people voted and acted in the same manner as if but one town held their village. When Milo was separated from Benton the residents south of the east and west road voted for their own town candidates, while those north of the road were subjects of Benton and voted for nominees therein. And even to the present day, notwithstanding the fact that the village has become incorporated as a city of the lesser class, the residents north of Head street are yet Benton people and vote as residents of that town for town officers, while those south of the street are citizens of Milo and vote for officers therein. In addition to this the residents within the corporate limits of the village of Penn Yan choose their own officers for local government, and in the corporation elections the people of the town do not participate.

While Abraham Wagener was undoubtedly the most prominent and influential man in the village during the days of its infancy, there were others who contributed in no small degree, building up and improving the locality during the same period. Morris F. Sheppard was one of the persons worthy of mention in this special connection. Like 'Squire Wagener, Mr. Sheppard was a native of Pennsylvania. He also was a pioneer in this locality, one of the early settlers in the little hamlet, and one who became identified with its business interests when the settlement was founded. He started a tannery and also a fulling or cloth mill on his own lands, on Sucker Brook. These he conducted for several years, until the cutting away of the forest trees along the brook deprived him of a sufficient water supply, and thus compelled him to relinquish his manufacturing enterprises.

Mr. Sheppard was also the friend of and fellow worker with 'Squire Wagener, and it was through their joint efforts that the village became an important point at so early a day. These men were the leaders of what has been conveniently termed the Pennsylvania element of local population, while the opposition, the Yankee contingent, were under the guidance of Mr. Stewart. After the senior Sheppard retired from active participation in business he was succeeded by his son, Charles C. Sheppard, who appears to have inherited his father's business qualities, and who also was a man of worth and capacity, not only during the early days of village life, but in after years, even down to a time within the memory of now middle aged men.

In the same connection there may be mentioned the name of Asa Cole, whose place of abode and lands lay within the town of Benton. Asa was a pioneer farmer, and in connection with that occupation opened and for years maintained a hotel or tavern at the head of the street. The establishing of the public house was an important event in the early history of the village, as its vicinity at once became a center of trade. Here the stage drivers were wont to stop for rest and refreshment, and here the weary traveler found a comfortable lodging. In those days the hotel was a popular resort for all classes of people, where the news from abroad was always to be learned, while the landlord himself was generally regarded as somewhat above the average of mankind.

But at last the worthies who constituted the influential portion of the little settlement found themselves involved in a serious dispute, all because they could not agree upon a proper and fitting name for their village. Numerous conferences were held, but public sentiment was so divided that no result could be reached. In the meantime various names were given the village, but most of them were applied in a spirit of derision. A number of the residents called the place Unionville, while to outsiders, who viewed the controversy from a distance, it became known as Pandemonium. The Pennsylvanians of the locality wished a name that would recall some locality of their native State, while the Yankees, the settlers who came from New England, possessed an equally strong desire that a name be given that would suggest a locality from whence they emigrated. However, this difficult problem was at length solved by the good offices of Philemon Baldwin, upon the occasion of a "barn raising." After the last rafter had been made fast in place Mr. Baldwin climbed up the frame to the plate and there addressed the assembled people. He referred to the dispute concerning the name, and then remarked that as part of the inhabitants were Pennsylvanians and part Yankees a compromise was fair to both factions, and suggested the name Penn Yan as sufficient for both parties. This proposition was agreed to and the christening was completed. The naming was soon afterward ratified in the change of the post station from Jerusalem to Penn Yan.

The "head of the street" remained for many years the center of business and residence, but as years passed away dwelling houses became more frequent along both sides of the highway leading to Wagener's mill. In fact it was not many years afterward that this locality began to assume the character of a hamlet. The vicinity of the outlet and the foot of the lake formed a highly desirable site for a village, for boat communication with points up the lake opened a thoroughfare of trade and travel in that direction. In i800 a road was surveyed from the foot of the lake about two thirds of a mile eastward, Joseph Jones, Ezra Cole, and John Plympton being the commissioners to do the work. Another road led from the Lee place to Wagener's mills constructed in 1806, and three years later commissioners Morris F. Sheppard and Charles Roberts laid out still another highway leading from Plympton's Bridge to the mills.

The opening of these roads was made necessary to accommodate the Milo people in getting to and from the mills on the outlet. But about the time the work was commenced, possibly earlier, another little settlement had sprung up near the foot of the lake. This locality at once became a rival to the hamlet at the head of the street. The tract was laid out in village lots and many improvements were made there. The name of Elizabethtown was given the place, and it boasted of a hotel, store, and several dwellings. The tavern was built by Wallace Finch, who was succeeded by Peter Heltibidal, and the latter in turn by George and Robert Shearman. Afterward it became known as the Kimball Hotel, but was torn down many years ago. Another hotel stood where Charles D. Welle's dwelling is erected, but that hostelry eventually was put to other uses, and now forms part of the houses of Mr. Wells and Calvin Carpenter. The name of this locality was changed in the course of a few years from Elizabethtown to Summer Site, and as such continued until it finally merged into and was absorbed by its more successful rival Penn Yan.

The little rural villages, one at the head of the street and the other at the foot of the lake, each trying for mastery in the matter of importance, could produce but one result, and that the gradual growing together and final dissolution of the name of the lesser burgh. The Wagener mills occupied a site about midway between them, and the natural tendency of travel and trade was in their direction. Abraham Wagener's dwelling' stood near the corner not far from the mills, and he of course drew improvements toward his own home. On the corner just north of his house was a store, but by whom built and by whom first conducted the writer knoweth not.

During the first twenty or thirty years of its existence the village of Penn Yan was rapidly increased both in population and industries. The people who located there represented all trades and professions incident to their period, but to mention each of them would' be a thing next to impossible. Some were prominent in local affairs, while others were conservative in both thought and action, and did not therefore appear conspicuously in the settlement. By 1817 or 1818 the place had acquired a population sufficient to warrant the starting of a newspaper - the Penn Herald - through Herald, through which channel the business portion of the community could proclaim themselves and their wares to the inhabitants of the region. But the one great event which gave to the old village its greatest upward start and brought to it a considerable population, was the erection of Yates County, and the designation of Penn Yan as the county seat. This occurred in 1823, and from that time dated the certainty of future growth and prosperity. With the establishment of the county seat attorneys came to practice at the courts; to get the quiet people into trouble and then kindly help them out again.

A writer of village history of Penn Yan, covering the period from about the beginning of the present century down to about 1832, informs us as to the principal interests represented at the head of the street, and from his reminiscences we are able to furnish the present reader with a fairly accurate list of the businesses conducted, together with the owners thereof.

Lawyers. - Cornelius Masten, George H. Green, William Shattuck, John Willey, Abraham P. Vosburgh, Thomas J. Nevens, Levi Lyman, David B. Prosser, Henry Welles, Welles & Treat, Everett Van Buren, Prosser & Winants, Prosser & Eno, B. W. Franklin, Henry M. Stewart, William Cornwell.

Merchants. - William Babcock, Hezekiah Roberts, Henry Bradley, Bradley & Bissell, Ira Gould & Co., Eli Shelden & Co., L. G. Budlong & Co., E. Mount, John Sloan, John H. Bostwick & Co., James W. Norris, William and John Brooks, B. Tyler & Co., Tyler & Fowled, Augustus Stewart, Milliken & Bradley, Wheeler & Sawyer, William T. Scott & Co., Moore & Coffin, Seabury Kissam, H. J. Lee.

Physicians. - John Hatmaker, Walter Wolcott, Uri Judd, Roscius Morse, A. Woodworth, Francis M. Potter, William Cornwell, William D. Cook.

Watchmakers and Silversmiths. - Frederick A. Seymour, Charles Scott, A. A. Terrill, C. H. Guiger.

Carriage Makers. - Melzer Tuel, Amaza Tuel, James Cooley, Timothy Brighten, Heman Squires.

Carriage Painters. - George Stimson, Charles Meeks, Edward Bowers, James I. Broom.

Carriage Trimmers. - John D. Applegate, Lewis Ingalls, Albert Little. Cabinet and

Furniture Makers. - Samuel F. Curtis, Amasa Holden, N. P. Hawks, William Morris.

House Painters. - Stephen Williams, Jacob Woodruff, Alexander Edson.

Mason. - Isaac Youmans.

Dentist - Joseph Elmendorf.

Saddle and Harness Makers. - James Sears, L. Himrod & Co., Charles P. Babcock, John C. Babcock, Charles Risden, William D. McAllister.

Carpenters. - Jacob Hovey, Hubbel Gregory, Abraham Prosser, Elipha Peckins, Rogers, John Horn, D. Reed.

Hatters. - Ebenezer Jenkins, Sutton Birdsall.

Grocers. - Higley & Haskill, Benjamin Remer, John Norcott, Henry A. Tyler, George W. Mason.

Baker. - John D. Applegate.

Tailors. - Lewis Vanderlip, J. Seymour, George Cooley, Luther Lee, Samuel Fullager, Henry M. Locke, Morris Earle, Milton P. Burch.

Shoemakers. - Hitchcock & Scofield, John Scofield, Joseph Elrnendorf.

Blacksmiths. - John Powell, Powell & Elliott, Powell & Simonds, Aaron Wood, Abraham Stetler, Reuben Stetson, James S. Powell.

Cooper. - Gideon Maynard.

Stoves, Iron, and Tinware. - P. Carson & Co.

Gunsmiths. - Gilbert & Bales.

Wool Carding and Cloth Dressing. - Morris F. Sheppard, Higley & Haskill.

Tanners. - Morris F. Sheppard, Henry Hubbard, Hubbard & Warner.

Butchers. - Nathan E. Lacey, Lyman H. Newton.

In 1824 and the years following, the newspapers, or at least one of them, published at the village, was called the Yates Republican. Its editor and proprietor was Edward J. Fowle. At the time or during the period first mentioned, a number of hotels were in operation at the head of the street, prominent among which was the "Penn Yan Hotel, Stage House and Livery," Major Asa Cole, proprietor. On the opposite side of the highway and on the corner was Luman Phelps's Inn." Mr. Phelps died in the business and was succeeded by David H. Buell, and still later by Dr. Jeremiah B. Andrews. Another public house in the same locality was that known as "Smith Cole's Inn."

Among the men who were prominent in public and local affairs, and dwellers within the village proper at an early day, were William Babcock and Elijah Spencer, who were members of Congress; Aaron Remer and Morris F. Sheppard, members of Assembly; Cornelius Masten, county judge; Abraham P. Vosburgli and Edward J. Fowle, surrogates; William Babcock and Henry Bradley, county treasurers; Abner Woodworth, Edward Genung, Robert Buell, and Luther Winants, justices of the peace.

Of course the readers will not be led into the belief that the persons and firms above mentioned were in business at the head of the street at the same time, for such was by no means the case. They were in business during the first thirty or thirty five years of the present century, constantly coming and going as is the custom at the present day.

The year 1832 or thereabout found the village containing a population of about 1,500 persons, and although the head of the street continued thereafter for some time as the chief center of trade, along down Main street, particularly on the west side, was a number of residences the places of abode of the three prominent citizens as it is now. There were two churches, the Presbyterian and Methodist; the former well up the street, while the latter stood west of the site now occupied by the church of that denomination.

The court house stood about on the same ground as does the present building, and was built in fairly close resemblance to that now in use, though not quite so large. Where is now the residence of John S. Sheppard stood a hotel building built originally it is said by a retired English sea captain, and which was called "Washington House," but afterward remodeled and put to use as a boarding and select school, and then called "Yates County Academy and Female Seminary." At this time the postoffice occupied a small one story building standing about where is now the residence of George C. Snow. The incumbent of the office was Ebenezer Brown.

The lower part of the village acquired an advantage over the upper part through the location and survey of the Crooked Lake Canal. The purpose of this waterway was to furnish boat passage from Crooked Lake to Seneca Lake, a distance of eight miles. The act authorizing its construction was passed by the legislature of 1828, and the canal was ordered built by an act of the following year. The work of construction was commenced in 183o, and fully completed in 1833. This consummation brought business to the lower end of the village, and correspondingly depressed trade up at the corners. The coming of the freight and packet boats became as common a thing as was the stage and mail coach, but the arrival of the former meant more than the latter. A hotel was soon afterward built for the accommodation of the boatmen. It rejoiced in the odd name of "Owl's Nest," and stood on Seneca street just west of Jacob's Brook.

One of the more prominent men at the lower end of the street, during the period of which we write, was George Shearman. He came to the village in or about 18o8 or 'o9, and from that time forth was closely identified with its business interests. He had a store, standing very near the corner of Main and Jacob streets, and was in trade something like twenty five years. On the land know occupied by Hon. George R. Cornwell's block Mr. Shearman built a hotel, the American, which will be remembered by many of the present residents of mature years. Mr. Shearman also was proprietor of a potash works and a distillery; likewise a mill on the outlet. In fact he built and established two mills and two distilleries. He contributed toward the building up of his part of the town as much as any man during that period.

But, however gratifying it might be to the reader to refer to each and every of the old buildings and enterprises of Penn Yan during the first half century of its history, the space already used in that connection warns us that we must pass to another branch of the subject and give some attention to things that were and are, as well as to those of which it can only be said that they have been. The old buildings are nearly all gone, some by the ravages of fire and other elements, while many have been torn down, having become unsightly and not well adapted to the uses of later occupants. The first buildings were mainly frame structures, built in rows, having room enough in many cases for a half dozen or more tenants on the ground floor, while the upper floors were occupied by lawyers and doctors, tailors and other light tradesmen. And after the destruction and removal of the first and possibly the second series of buildings of frame, the owners along the businees streets commenced to build with brick.

According to the best recollection of older citizens of the village the first brick yard was situated out west of the village proper, near and just beyond the present sand bank, while another of about the same period was near the foot of the lake. But about the year 1820, as near as can now be determined, a brick yard was started on the south bank of the outlet near the site of the present planing mill. Dr. Rayment, Erastus and Albert Page are said to have been among the early proprietors at this point. The clay supply, however, soon became exhausted and the owners moved to a more abundant field across the highway Lake street, as now laid out. A yard was in operation here for more than thirty years, and the brick there made were used in building many of the older residences and blocks now in the village. It was discontinued about twenty five years ago. The imported bricks and "bats" were afterward used in filling depressed places, and were covered over with earth. Lake street, along where the yard was in operation, was in this way built up to grade level.

Speaking of these depressions recalls the most noticeable one in the village, that at the foot of Main street, starting near the north end of the Knapp House block and extending south across the outlet. In front of the block the foot passenger descended several steps, like stairs, and thence was a gradual decline down as far as the mills and the canal, while on the opposite side of the outlet was a sharp ascent before level ground was reached. The present mills stand at least fifteen feet higher than did the Wagener mills, and the bridge has likewise been raised to grade. All the space between the Knapp House and the laundry is "made land."

Incorporation of the Village. - After the lapse of about thirty years from the time of the first improvement within the limits proper of Penn Yan the village was found to contain a sufficient population to justify its people in assuming municipal character. In fact such course became necessary in order that certain established interests might be protected; that there might be regulated its internal police; that a fire department might be established and controlled, and that necessary improvements might be made without first obtaining the sanction and consent of the town of Milo, the people of which town were not willing that their moneys should be appropriated to uses of improvements from which they derived no substantial benefit. To accomplish this end the citizens of the village caused to be presented to the State legislature a bill which was enacted into a law on the 29th of April, 1833. The enacting clause was as follows:

"All that district of country hereinafter described shall be known and distinguished by the name of the ' Village of Penn Yan,' that is to say, all that part of the town of Milo, and all that part of the town of Benton, in the county of Yates, bounded as follows; Beginning at the northeast corner of lot No. 37, township No. 7, first range, thence south 213 degrees east, eo chains, 50 links, to the northwest side of the highway leading by Samuel Gillett and Robert Shearman's to the Crooked Lake; thence along the northwest side of the highway, south 16 1/2 degrees west, 15 chains; thence 38 degrees west, 2 chains to the north side of Gillett street; thence on the north side of the highway, south 59 degrees west, 27 chains, 42 links; north 213 degrees west, 26 chains to the south side of lot No. 37; thence along said line north, 88 degrees west, 37 chains and 62 links to the southwest corner of said lot; thence along the west line of said lot, north three degrees, 27 minutes east, 64 chains to the town line between Benton and Milo aforesaid; thence along said town line south 80 degrees east, I chain, 25 links, to the southwest corner of lot No. 64, in township No. 8, first range.; thence along the west line of said lot, north 3 degrees, east 24 chains and 25 links; thence south 87 degrees east, 49 chains; thence south 3 degrees west, 24 chains, so links, to the place of beginning."

The second section of the act declared that "the inhabitants of said village shall be a body corporate by the name of Trustees of the Village of Penn Yan.'"

The first annual meeting was provided to be held on the first Monday of June next (1833), at the court house, at which time the voting population were authorized to elect five trustees, one clerk, one treasurer, three assessors, one collector, one police constable, and five fire wardens. The seventeenth section of the act divided the village into three fire districts, viz.: District No. 1, to include all that part of the village lying north of Court street; No. 2, to include all the village lying south of Court streets, and its east and west continuation, and north of the outlet; No. 3, to include all that part of the village lying south of the outlet. But the village of Penn Yan at the present time includes a much larger area of territory than was embraced within its original limits. This extension was made necessary by increasing population and business interests, while many who were originally outside the village sought to be admitted therein that they might have the benefit of its excellent school system, as well as other advantages not accorded them as residents of the township.

The village organization was made complete by the election of officers provided by the act of the legislature, which officers, when qualified (the trustees), passed and adopted ordinances for the government of the village, regulating the police and health departments, and providing for adequate protection against the loss and destruction of property by fire. The officers chosen at the election above referred to were as fellows: Trustees, Abraham Wagener, R. N. Morrison, Russell R. Fargo, Morris F. Sheppard, and John Brooks; assessors, Eben Smith, J. W. Squier, E. J. Fowle; clerk, Henry Eno. The whole number of votes cast at the election was 252. Abraham Wagener was elected president of the board of trustees.

In this connection it would be desirable to furnish a succession of the principal officers from the organization of the village to the present time, but such a list is impossible from the fact that the old minute books have been lost. In the office of the village clerk there are found two books of proceedings of the board, covering the period from about 1852 to the present time, but the most persistent effort has failed to discover any earlier record. Therefore rather than to furnish a partial list of village officers it is deemed preferable to give none at all.

The village of Penn Yan was incorporated in 1833, and by that proceding it was in part separated from the mother town, Milo, yet not wholly so. The officers who govern the town have a certain control and jurisdiction over the village, and both join together in the election of township officers. The village is subject to taxation for the benefit of the whole town, and the township outside is in the same manner subject to taxation for certain village improvements. In addition the village raises a. fund by tax on its own property, which is devoted to the maintenance of its special institutions and for its own special benefit. The people of the village vote the tax which creates this fund and the trustees expend the same according to their own judgment.

The early pages of the present chapter have been devoted mainly to the history of the village prior to its incorporation, but the question naturally arises, what can be recorded, as its history subsequent to that time? It is absolutely impossible to supply to the reader the name of every proprietor of a business, or to follow correctly the changes that have taken place with each succeeding year since 1833, but the village and its people have certainly made a history, and an important and interesting history it has been. It is written in the existence, past and present, of every church society, each school building, and the multitude of scholars who have passed through its course; written in every business block and manufacturing industry that has been built up during the last sixty years. Therefore these must be the subjects of narration on subsequent pages.

[Penn Yan School History]


[Penn Yan Church History]

The Fire Department. - The present excellent fire department of the village had its origin in the little embryo organization that came into spontaneous existence during the early years of Penn Yang history. No sooner did it become an assured fact that this place was at some time to become a village, than the inhabitants began casting about for some means of protection against fire. The first organization of any sort was the famous bucket brigade, not a mythical, but a real, live company, whose duty it was, and enjoined upon it by ordinance, to repair at once to the scene of conflagration, armed and equipped with at least one stout leathern bucket. At that time the local laws also prescribed that every householder should keep a bucket in some convenient place within his domicile, and in case of fire whatever male person should be present was expected to take his place in the line and "hand the bucket."

With the rapid growth in population and its consequent increase in number of buildings, it soon became necessary to provide other and more effectual means for extinguishing fires, and this led to the purchase of the old famous engine called the "Cataract;" but the bucket brigade was by no means abandoned, as the Cataract had but little greater power than a large "squirt gun." However it was the implement of the period and was the first engine appliance of the village, and as such was in use for about a score or more of years.

In the fall of 1835, after the burning of the old court house, the village authorities, for Penn Yang had then been incorporated, took measures looking to the organization of a fire department. A meeting was held and Thomas H. Locke was chosen chief engineer of such a departwent as should be formed. He at once called for volunteers for a company of fire fighters, and it was not long before the ranks were well filled. About this time the trustees authorized the chief to proceed to Rochester and there purchase an engine suitable for the requirements of the village. The old brake engine, called the "Neptune," was the result of Mr. Locke's mission, together with a good supply of leather hose. The Neptune was first called into service on the occasion of the burning of "Brimstone Row," so called, extending from Wheeler's corner north to Hanilin's store. Of course a hose company was formed to operate in conjunction with the engine.

The Cataract was kept in a small shanty on Head street, and the Neptune became the possession of the lower end of the street, being kept in an engine house which stood just west of where the Shearman House is located. Subsequently another brake engine somewhat similar to the Neptune was purchased, and then the department began to assume more tangible shape and form. There were two engine companies, No. I and No. 2, and their cooperating hose companies. These fire department equipments supplied the village for many years, and until the purchase of the steamer in 1872.

In 1864 a charter was granted the village, and in the act then passed provision was made for a regularly organized and well appointed fire department and its commanding and governing officers. By the act the trustees were authorized to appoint one chief engineer, two assistant engineers, and three fire wardens; also to procure fire engines and other necessary and convenient apparatus, and to organize fire companies and provide for and maintain the same. Under this regime the chief and his assistants were chosen by the village trustees, a system that was continued in force until 1873, when another law was passed which provided that the engineers and secretary of the fire department should be elected by electors of the village, a system that is in effect at the present time.

Keuka Engine Company was organized in October, 1871, with eighty three members. This body then petitioned the trustees to be allowed to organize themselves into a fire company, provided they were given charge of engine house No. 2 and engine No. 1. The petition was headed by Morris F. Sheppard and followed by eighty two other strong men. The result was the organization of the now celebrated "Ellsworth Hose Company," so named in honor of Gen. S. S. Ellsworth, of Penn Yan. Originally this was an engine company, but partook of the character of a hose company in 1872 by the regular detail of a number of its members to act as hosemen.

Ellsworth Hose Company now numbers full forty men. It is or has been provided with uniforms for both active duty and parade occasions. The officers of Ellsworth Hose are as follows: President, John Underwood; secretary, John Cramer; treasurer, George Brooks; fireman, Fred Swarts; first assistant, A. J. Obertin; second assistant, Ralph Brown. The company meetings are held twice each month.

Hydrant Hose Company had its organization in 1866, under the original name of Hydraulic Hose Company, but afterward changed to its present designation. The company now numbers forty members, but its duty appears somewhat abridged in that it is not called into service except in case of fire on Main street, there being no hydrants on any other village thoroughfare, the regular hose duty being performed by Ellsworth Hose Company, which operates with the steamer throughout the fire district. The officers of Hydrant Hose are as follows: Foreman, Andrew McKay; first assistant, Peter Curran; second assistant, Arthur Jessup; secretary, William Holloway; treasurer, George C. Snow.

Hunter Hook and Ladder Company, more commonly known as the "Truck" Company, was organized in its present character in 188o, the same year in which the truck was purchased. Like the other companies the truck has forty members, and is officered as follows: President, Richard Willoughby; secretary, E. A. Chapman; treasurer, J. O. Smith; captain, George Wilkins; first assistant, F. Crane; second assistant, P. Carley. This company was named in honor of Charles Hunter, of Penn Yang.

The present Penn Yang Fire Department comprises, as will be seen from what has been stated, two hose companies, one hook and ladder company, both with necessary apparatus, and one second class Silsby steam engine, the latter being in charge of an engineer and fireman. The department officers are as follows: Jay T. Parker, chief engineer; Andrew C. Harwick, first assistant; Frank McAdams, second assistant; H. E. Bell, secretary and treasurer.

However desirable it might be to furnish a complete succession of chief engineers of the fire department since Squire Locke's appointment, such a list cannot be given on account of the loss of records. But there can be recalled the names of many persons who have served in that capacity during the last twenty five or thirty years. In 1863 Charles Elmendorf was chief, and was succeeded by Abraham Miller. From that until the present time there have served as chiefs, among others, these persons: David G. Gray, Oliver C. Knapp (1871), R. F. Scofield, Charles Bell, Charles Hunter, W. S. Bruen, Jay T. Parker.

[Penn Yan Bank History]

[Continue to part 2]

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