Yates County, New York

Businesses in the Town of Starkey

From the History of Yates County, NY
published 1892, by L.C. Aldrich

pg. 372 - 374, 381 - 386, 391 - 393

 

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Businessesof Starkey  

Theprincipal watercourse of the town is Big Stream. This stream enters the town on its westerly boundary, and flowing in asoutheasterly direction through the entire breadth of the town, finallydischarges in waters over a precipice of more than 100 feet into Seneca Lake,forming a beautiful waterfall.  BigStream, in those early days of which we write, and later, was a splendidwater-power, and furnished power for fifteen saw mills, four fulling mills (i.e.mills where wool was carded and cloth was dressed), two woolen factories andfive grist or flouring mills.  Themill privilege in West Dundee alone, furnished power for three saw mills, onegrist mill and fulling mill and tannery.  Nowin a drouth there is hardly there is hardly water enough to run a steam engine. The shrinkage of water in the streams is without doubt due to thedestruction of the forests.  Thereare now but two saw mills and two grist or flouring mills on the stream. The only grist and flouring mill in the town in running order is thePecha mill at Glendora.  The millwas built by James BARKLY of Geneva, NY, in the year 1837. Larmon G. TOWNSEND soon after its completion became partner and afterwardowner.  The original cost of themill was $16,000.  It was sold atauction in the year 1864, and bid off by H. G. STAFFORD for $1,030. Mr. STAFFORD sold it for $5,000 after putting on repairs costing $1,500.  The present owners have added many new improvements. The PECHAS, father and son, are English, and are practical millers, andthoroughly understand their business.  Themill has always been in good repute and is a great convenience to thesurrounding country.  The old Martin stone mill, still remaining, has beenabandoned, and of the remaining four mentioned, three were destroyed by fie andthe fourth was removed.  Just acrossthe town line in Barrington the late Clinton RAPLEE built a grist and saw milland his sons have added a large basket factory.  

RockStream, much smaller than the above, crosses the entire breadth of the town fromwest to east and empties into Seneca Lake at Rock Stream Point. 

Thetown of Starkey has an excellent soil well adapted to the cultivation of allkinds of grain, vegetables and fruit.  Thesoil is various, including sand, clay and loam. The cultivation of fruit has become one of the leading (if not theleading) industries of the town.  Largevineyards have been established along the shores of the Seneca Lake and inlandfor four of five miles.  The acresdevoted to grapes and other fruits can be estimated by thousands. Other fruits have not been neglected. Apples, pears, plums and peaches are raised in abundance, and the raisingand evaporating of raspberries has assumed large proportions. Strawberries, black berries, raspberries, as well as other fruitsmentioned above, are shipped in large quantities in their season. The fruit crop is the main reliance of many families for support, and thefreighting is a goodly source of profit to the railroads. 

CalebFULKERSON and Andrew HARRISON kept inns in 1808, the first in the town. John SEARS built the first grist mill. It was located east of Eddytown on lands formerly owned by General HURD,now by Mrs. YOUNGS.  Mr. SEARS found the stones used in the mill in a ravine onthe same premises, and picked and fashioned them into form himself. So far as known, John STARKEY built the second grist mill in what is nowDundee. 

Theearly merchants of Eddytown were Henry SMITH, James HUNTINGTON, Benjamin CHEEVER,John BOGART, Isaac P. SEYMOUR, King & Noyes, Harvey G. STAFFORD and GeorgeW. SUMMERS. 

ColSTAFFORD was for many years the leading merchant of the town.  He came to Eddytown in 1822 and engaged with Benjamin CHEEVERas clerk, and in 1827 became partner and subsequently purchased the business. He removed to Dundee in 1846, and was partner in the firm of Stafford,Martin & Co.  After that partnership was dissolved, he engaged in bankingand other business.  He waspostmaster under Fillmore’s administration. He lived to the great age of 88 and died November 10, 1891. 

 

Dundee 

Thevillage of Dundee occupies the space of three-fourth of a mile north and south,and one and one-half miles east and west.  Ithas the old and new pre-emption lines for its eastern and western boundaries. The village is located in one of the most beautiful of the many beautifulvalleys of the State.  It occupies a central position in the town of Starkey, and isthe largest village in the township, and the second in the population in thecounty.  The population according tothe last census was a trifle over 1,200.  Dundeewas incorporated in 1848.  Of the250 voters within the village limits when it was incorporated only four areresidents now, and most of the others have passed into another state ofexistence.  The four remaining areHon. J. T. ANDREWS, V. OLDFIELD, C. h. MARTIN and Andrew HARPENDING, all welladvanced in years.  

Banks

The first banking institution was “Jep” RAPLEE’s exchange andbanking office opened in 1856; soon after it was changed into a State bank,1857, and moved to Penn Yan in 1858.  Thebank building and fixtures were sold to H. G. STAFFORD, who continued thebusiness until 1871, when it closed.  LewisJ. WILKIN opened a banking office in 1868 and continued in business until 1880,when he sold to the Dundee National Bank.  TheNational bank began business April 1, 1880, with a capital of $50,000, withJames SPICER, president; Morris F. SHEPPARD, vice president; and Frank R. DURRY,cashier.  Mr. SPICER still retainsthe office of president; the vice president, M. F. SHEPPARD, was succeeded by T.D.  BEEKMAN in January 1887. Mr. BEEKMAN is still vice president. The cashier, F. R. DURRY, was succeeded by George S. SHEPPARD, January 1,1881.  Mr. G. S. SHEPPARD held thatoffice until August 1882 and was then succeeded by G. S. SHATTUCK, who stillretains that position, November 1891. 

DundeeState Bank, February 28, 1882, Andrew HARPENDING, president; Lewis j. WILKIN,cashier.  Present officers, GeorgeP. LORD, president; William C. SWARTS, vice president; Lewis J. WILKIN, cashier;H. J. YOUNGS, assistant cashier.  Capital,$50,000. 

Thefollowing list of former business firms are given from memory.  There may be a few errors, and possibly some omissions, butthe list is nearly accurate.  Thefirms are given in the order of their existence as near as can be ascertained,and date down to a few years.  JonathanBOTSFORD, John STARKEY, Starkey & Simmons, Honey & Simmons, Doolittle& Simmons, Calvin HONEY (failed 1830), Simmons & Huson (Alonzo), BurgessTRUESDELL, Myron HAMLIN, Samuel HUSON, Newel F. MURDOCK, 1832, William and J. h.KINNAN, 1834, Ira FISHER (peddler), Huson & Lewis, Samuel KRESS, Huson &Simmons (G.W.), Caleb WESTCOTT, Lewis & Kress, W. B. HAMLIN, 1835, E. W.Lewis & Co., 1837, Miller & Huson, Cyrus MILLER, A. C. HARPENDING, 1835,Smith & Silsbee, James HOLDEN, J. D. Morgan & Co. (hardware), S. HUSON,1839, George W. SIMMONS, E. W. Lewis & Co (G.W.S.), Huson & Maltby, R.H. Murdock & Co., A Maltby & Co. (RAPLEE), Maltby & Bradley, Benham& Horn, s. S. BENHAM, Stafford, Martin & Co., 1846 (first time forMartin 1847), Eaton, Spicer & Co., Spicer & Chruch (failed), Hollister& Parks (failed), Morgan & Caton, Caton & Wickoff, James WATSON,Edmund H. PIERCE, H. B. NEWCOMB (failed), Valentine OLDFIELD, J. T. RAPLEE,William B. Hamlin & Co., 1849 (C.H. MARTIN), John CATON (hardware), F.Holden, Clapp & Crittenden, W. H. Sawyer & Bro. (E. L.), Eaton, Spicer& Co, A. Maltby & Co., (HUSON), David E. BEDELL, Horace KIDDER, JohnSPICER, ROTHCHILD (clothing), George P. ROSE (jewelry), two or there otherclothing stores a short time, A. WOLF (clothing), L. C. MURDOCK (drugs), Hamlin& Martin, Maltby & Mc Lean, Hiram MURDOCK, Smith & Benedict, Beam& Noble, W. BENEDICT, William SAWYER (clothing), Jacob KOONS, Smith &Kingsley, John BACKMAN, Horn & Benedict, C.R. TENANT, Smith & Headley,Morris GRANT (fire bug), Ira D. FOWLNER, Martin Vosburgh & Co., 1866, Green,Rhode & Knapp, C. E. SMITH, Woodward Bros., James HEADLEY, Luther BROWN,Rhode & Knapp, A. Maltby & Son, A. HOLLISTER, C P. Mc Leans & Co.,George Z. NOBLE, M. E. Bennett & Bro, George HARRINGTON, Harpending &Bro., Boardman & Tate, Martin & Vosburgh, R. Vosburg & Son. 

PresentBusiness Firms – In the dry goods trade the firm of C. P. Mc Lean & Co. isthe oldest.  Mr. MC LEAN commencedbusiness about thirty years ago in a partnership with Augustus MALTBY. The present firms commenced business in 1872. the firm are doing a large and apparently a profitable business. They keep a general stock, including all articles sold in a countrystore.  Wall & Murdock are inthe same trade.  They are young men,very ambitious, and are selling a large amount of goods.  Mr. WALL came from Grand Rapids, and was a clerk for Martin& Vosburgh several years.  Atthe present time there are four grocery stores, Floyd LUDLOW, John C. KOONS,James HEADLY, and Charles WIXON, all reliable and prospering.  The clothing business is represented by L. D. WEST and SamuelLEVI; both carry large stocks and have a custom deportment. A. T. GAY is doing a tailoring business at his dwelling. The boot and shoe business is represented by John H. KNAPP and GeorgeKINGSLEY.  The dry goods andclothing houses have shoe departments and are doing a good business in thatline.  The two millinery and fancygoods stores are conducted by George H. HARRINGTON and Mrs. Clary FINCH, whereattractive assortments of goods can be found at all times, and at reasonableprices.  Charles TENANT and LeviSPROUL represent the jewelry business of the village. The two drug stores of W. T. MILLARD and S. A. PRICE, with theirextensive assortments would compare favorably with those of our largest cities. L. C. DAVIS has a variety store. 

Thebuying and shipping of grain and fruit, which before the building of theSyracuse, Geneva & Corning Railroad, was merely nothing, has become thelargest business of the village.  Threelarge elevators were erected near the depot. They are owned by C. SWARTS, W. S. EARNEST and Charles WATSONrespectively, given the natural grain and fruit market fine facilities for thepurchase and shipping of cereals.  Eachof them are doing a lively business.  TheGOBLE brothers, Charles, George and Harry, erected on the completion of therailroad, near the depot, a large planning-mill. This is one of the most important manufacturing enterprises of thevillage.  Charles ROWLAND occupiesthe old location of the Dundee Manufacturing Company, and makes a specialty ofthe manufacture of the Dundee chilled plow. All other work in the foundry line receives attention. 

HarrisonHOWELL, successor to Strader HOWELL (his father), is proprietor of the barrelfactory on Union street.  The demandfor fruit barrels the present season has been so great that he has had ordersfor barrels a month ahead, and it was not unusual to see a line of a dozen teamswaiting their turn.  He also has alarge basket factory, giving employment to a large number of girls and boys. 

TimothyLYNCH, William HAMILTON, William PAIGE and J. RUDDICK compose the quartette ofblacksmiths, all in a huddle on Union street. Two wagon shops, Jesse C. KNAPP and J. BAKER in the same neighborhood,With Rowlands foundry complete the manufacturing and mechanical interests ofUnion street. 

Up tothe month of November 1843, the town had been without a newspaper.  In that month the want was supplied by Gifford J. BOOTH whoissued the first number of the Dundee Record. Some time in the firs years of its publication, William BUTMAN became apartner and the firm of Booth & Butman continued the publication until 1847. At that time Edward HOOGLAND became owner and editor. Mr. HOOGLAND was an old newspaper reporter and had worked on the New YorkHerald.  The Record,under Mr. HOOGLAND’s management was a spicy and readable newspaper, and hisretirement form the editorship of the paper was regretted by all his patrons. Mr. HOOGLAND removed to Kansas where he remained until his death, whichoccurred many years ago. 

J. J.DIEFENDORF became editor and owner of the Record, in 1853 and held theposition until 1857 or 1858, when it was sold and David BRUNER became the editorand owner.  In 1860 the entire plantof the Record was destroyed by the fire of November 30, and Henry BRUNERbecame a partner in January 1861.  TheBRUNERS sold out toe George D. A. BRIGEMAN in the fall of 1862. BRIDGEMAN made a Democratic paper of it and supported Horatio SEYMOUR forgovernor.  The change was notpopular and he sold at the first opportunity to “Elder” J. M. WESTCOTT. Under the management of Mr. WESTCOTT, it did not thrive, and at his deathit came into possession of his grandsons, who sold it to Dr. NOBLE, and afterhaving a half dozen or less owners, it was merged in the Home Advocate,and the Dundee Record, was a thing of the past. The next paper was the Dundee Herald, published by Dennison &Hobson.  It was short lived and wasfinally sold to a Mr. ROBINSON.  In1869 Mr. ROBINSON traded the Dundee Expositor with George D. A. BRIGMANfor the Penn Yan Express.  BRIDGMANconducted the paper for one year, and in March 1870, he stopped its publicationand moved the material to Penn Yan.  Hethen repurchased the Penn Yan Express of ROBINSON, took the material ofthe Expositor and moved to Charleston or Savannah. 

EarlyMerchants -  In the year 1808 or1809, Benjamin POTTER built a double log house on the west side of Main streetjust across Big Stream.  Thebuilding was occupied as dwelling and tavern, and was the first public house inwhat is now the village of Dundee.  Twelvefeet north of the house he located his blacksmith shop. The twelve feet between the buildings was enclosed and occupied byJonathan BOTSFORD, known sobriquet of “Ducklegs,: or Ducklegs Johnny.” This was the first store in what is now Dundee. The place had no name then (it was before the Harpending’s Corners era)and was sometimes called Stark’s Mills.  OnJohnny’s antecedents it is known that he was the son of Jonathan BOTSFORD, whocame with the Universal Friend and was one of her adherents. It is safe to assume that his business was not a success, for after hisstore had remained closed for two days, the door was forced and BOTSFORD wasfound hanging by the neck stark and dead.  

Potashin those early days was the main reliance of the merchant.  It was about he only article that commanded cash, and wasmarketed with difficulty.  The timeof which I am now writing was long before the building of the Erie Canal, andthe only water communication was by the way of the Seneca and Oswego Rivers toLake Ontario, and the market was Montreal. 

Soonafter BOTSFORD’s suicide, we find John WALTON occupying the same premises. He afterward built a store and dwelling combined, south of the Big Streamnear apple trees on the old fairground.  Thebuilding remained until a few years since, when it was taken down. Mr. WALTON was a native of Nova Scotia. His business, though small, was a paying one- at least he paid. Itwas managed with the most rigid economy. 

Theonly public conveyance of the times was the four house “tally-ho” stagecoach, and the fare was six cents per mile. To avoid this expense, Mr. WALTON traveled the distance to and from NewYork or Albany on foot to make his purchase, saving about $40 each trip. He became involved in lawsuits and was compelled to close his businessand leave the town.  He returned to Nova Scotia, where he remained until hisdeath, which occurred many years ago.  AfterMr. WALTON closed his business the hamlet was for some time without a store. Eddytown monopolized the business and was the most important placebetween Geneva and Elmira (then Newtown).

Thenext merchant in order was John STARKEY.  Mr.STARKEY was a native of Maryland, but came her from Seneca County. He built a store on the west side of Main street, on the brow of the hillwhere Nathan SAYRE’s dwelling now stands. This building afterward moved on to the Presbyterian church lot, andafter being occupied for mechanics’ shops, gambling rooms, and dwelling, waspurchased by the Presbyterian Society, a “lean-to” was attached to it and itwas used as a meeting house.  Theold building was destroyed by fire in 1860. Mr. STARKEY was an able, enterprising and successful merchant. The lateNehemiah RAPLEE made his debut in this place as clerk for Mr. STARKEY. In company with his brother-in-law, Clayton SEAMANS, Mr. STARKEY builtthe old red grist mill, the second grist mill in the town, near the Big Streambridge on Main street.  The mill wasburned a few years since.  Soonafter it was completed, SEAMANS sold his interest in the mill to his partner,and about the same time another brother-in-law, Samuel KRESS, became a member ofthe firm.  On April 6, 1824, thetown of Starkey was organized.  Itwas taken for the town of Reading.  Inhonor of Mr. STARKEY it was given his name, and he was the first supervisorelected.  After remaining inbusiness a few years the firm of Starkey & Kress was dissolved. The mills and other real estate were sold to Nehemiah RAPLEE;consideration, $9,000.  Mr. STARKEYremoved to Starkey’s Corners, which was considered the more eligible businessplace, there built a store, and for a time left the hamlet again destitute of amercantile establishment.  Afterresiding in Starkey’s Corners for some years, Mr. STARKEY removed to thevillage of Lodi, where he remained until his death.

Honey& Simmons – In the year 1824 Samuel HARPENDING erected on the southwestcorner of Main and Union streets, in what at the time was a pasture lot, a oneand a half story frame store of the firm of Honey & Simmons. The inevitableashery belonging to the store was on Union street. The firm remained in business about three years, when it was dissolved. HONEY built a new store on the corner of Main and Spring streets(“Potash lane”), and carried on the business alone, SIMMONS continuing thebusiness at the old stand with _______ Doolittle, first, and later with SamuelHUSON as partner. 

In thespring of 1831 Samuel HUSON erected on the northeast corner of Union and Waterstreets, on the site of the store now occupied by Wall & Murdock, and othersin the Murdock block, a store and dwelling. The land up to that time had been used for farming purposes. Mr. HUSON managed his business discreetly and it was a success. His ambition was not so much to do with a large business as to do apaying one.  He was very popularwith his patrons and well liked by his employees. About two years after commencing business Edwin LEWIS was admitted aspartner, forming the firm of Huson & Lewis.   This firm continued two years when Mr. LEWIS retired and George W.SIMMONS was admitted as partner in the form of Huson & Simmons. This firm did a thrifty business for several years and closed out theirgoods to Cosad & Carmon, who removed them to Junius, Ontario County. 

NewellF. MURDOCK’s former residence was Mc Lean, Cortland County; his business,tanner and shoe and harness manufacturer.  Beforecoming to Dundee he had been engaged in the mercantile business about fouryears.  He came to what was thenHarpending’s Corners, in the year 1832, and rented part of the corner store ofMyron HAMLIN (there were tow stores in a building 28 x 40). HAMLIN occupied the other room.  Inthe year 1833 he built a frame stone on the east side of Main street, on thesite now occupied by John H. KNAPP.   Apeculiarly of his was that he never insured his buildings. This policy worked well for many years, but in the end proved disastrous. In all of the large fires he suffered loss. The loss included three blocks of stores, his private dwelling and otherbuildings, all uninsured.  He diedin 1861, after a mercantile experience of over thirty years, a man universallyrespected.  His death removed one ofthe landmarks of the village. 

CyrusMILLER was a wool-carder and cloth-dresser when most of the family clothing wasmade at home.  He purchased ofBurgess TRUESDELL his store and goods in the year 1834. Mr. MILLER was a limited merchant.  Hisstock was limited and so were his sales; one-half pound of tea; and otherarticles in proportion, was the limit he would sell to one person. He “did not want to break his assortment.” This was in the early days of his mercantile life. Later, he was not so limited.  Fireand water ruined him.  A canal boathaving on board his fall purchases sank, and soon after his store was burned. This finished him as a merchant.  He,honest man that he was, surrendered his property to his creditors and began lifeanew.  The last heard from him, hewas practicing medicine in some western State. 

In thespring of 1832 Col. J. J. SMITH bought of Burgess TRUESDELL the lot on thesoutheast corner of Main and Seneca streets, on part of the purchase nowoccupied by W. H. MILLARD’s drug store.  Heerected a frame store, which he rented to William H. and Joel H. KINNAN. The KINNANS came from North Hector, where their father resided, a wealthyfarmer.  Some of the family stillresides in that locality.  The firmappeared to sell a large amount of goods, but failed to make their business apaying one, and after a struggle of two or three years they were obliged tosurrender.  This was the second failure at Harpending’s Corners. William returned to North Hector and engaged in farming, and Joel H.removed to Westfield, Chautauqua County, and engaged in his former business,with what success the writer is not informed. Both of the partners have been dead several years. 

WilliamB. HAMLIN was born in the town of Salisbury, Conn., where he resided until hecame to Dundee.  His father owned alarge tract of land on which William worked in the summer, and taught school inthe winter, as was the custom with farmers in Yankeedom in those days. His first experience in mercantile affairs was as a clerk for hisbrother, Myron.  This was in 1835. The succeeding year he purchased his brother’s business, and for morethan thirty years conducted one of the largest business concerns in YatesCounty.  The first years of hisbusiness life he pursued a very conservative policy. In the year 1842, six years from the time he commenced business, hissales were only seven thousand dollars, and he was in a small way making money. If he had continued this policy, the natural outgrowth of his Yankeetraining, increased his business as his capital increased, his success wouldhave been assured.  The next year, 1843, his sales were more than doubled,amounting to $16,000.  This suddenincrease may not have been to his advantage. He became possessed with the idea of selling a large amount of goods thanany other concern in Yates County.  Hehad great energy and was very ambitious.  Hisindustry and powers of endurance were wonderful, and all his efforts weredirected to this one object, larger sales; profits were incidentals,although really his profits were larger than are now obtained by merchants. Mr. HAMLIN’s business increased further than his capital and he wasforced to raise money at ruinous rates of interest. This, with large running expenses, was the cause of his failure.  His credit was always of a high order up to the day of hisdisaster.  Hi had failed, but he hadaccomplished his purpose.  His saleshad increased every year until they amounted to over one hundred thousanddollars, the largest amount ever reported to the revenue assessor in YatesCounty.  In conversation with thewriter after his failure, Mr. HAMLIN said in substance: “I have been thinkingover the events of my past life, and I am pretty well satisfied I have hadthings pretty much my own way.  I ammuch better pleased with my career than I would have been if it had been likeMr. _____”, mentioning the name of a very successful man whose business hadbeen much smaller with a handsome fortune as the result.  C. H. MARTIN was connected with Mr. HAMLIN in business from 1842 to 1864,ten years as a clerk and twelve years as a partner.  The firm was Hamlin & Martin. 

AnthonyC. HARPENDING, one of the most successful merchants of Dundee, commencedbusiness in 1835 under very favorable circumstances; he had the prestige of thefamily name and was backed by his own and his wife’s family, both wealthy. He had abundance of capital, and unlike most of the older merchants, wasnever pinched for means to carry his own business. He soon gathered a valuable lot of customers, many of whom he retainedthrough all they ears of his mercantile career. He was systematic, looked closely to the details of his business and keptall well in hand.  His business wasusually managed with great caution, but he sometimes took risks that resulted inloss.  The question of Mr.HARPENDING’s place as a merchant may be a mooted question by some. I know of no better test than success and making success the standardwould place him in the front rank of the older or younger merchants of Dundee. The result of his business made a better showing than that of any whopreceded or followed him, that notwithstanding heavy losses by fire andotherwise.  Mr. HARPENDING built a bloc of three brick stores on the westside of Main street; they were burned in the fire of November 1860. He then built two frame stores on the same premises. In the same fire he lost almost his entire stock of goods, which resultedin heavy loss.  His death whichoccurred in 1880 removed one of the most prominent merchants of the county.

 

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