History of the Village of East Rochester, New York

by various authors

This book is made up of a series of eight articles related to the history of the Village and Town of East Rochester, NY. They are dated between 1917 and 1956. Click on the links in the Table of Contents to go directly to that article.



Its Growth, Development and Future Prospects—In Celebration of 20th Anniversary
Linn B. Tuttle

East Rochester Realities
June 16, 1917

Early in the year 1896, Walter A. Parce, a resident of Fairport and at that time interested in a general store in that village, conceived the idea of building a town on the present site of East Rochester. His plan seemed feasible to some Rochester capitalists and, associating with him Edmund Lyon and Dean Alvord of that city, he procured options on the Westerman and Lincoln farms, the former lying on the south and the latter on the north of the New York Central railroad tracks. There was at that time a small freight and passenger station standing near the railroad tracks and beside the Penfield highway (now Washington Street). Across the road from this depot stood a small school house, known as the school of district No. 9. These two small buildings, together with two or three farm houses, composed what was then known as the Penfield Station— the present site of East Rochester. One of these farm houses was known as the Westerman farm home, another as the Lincoln farm house.

A few months later a company called the Vanderbuilt Improvement Company, with Walter A. Parce, President, Edmund A Lyon, Vice-president, and Dean Alvord, secretary, was formed to promote the building of the proposed new town, and early in the year 1897 the farm property selected upon which to build the proposed town was purchased and it became known to those who were then residents of this part of the state that the company had succeeded in inducing the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company, which operated car shops in Rochester, to move their plant to this site. At about this time, the New York Central passenger depot, the same building which now stands at the foot of Main Street, was erected it being somewhat of a surprise to residents of this part of the state at that the New York Central Company should build such a station where there was no town. (The reproduction of a photo of the depot and a portion of the proposed town site shows the depot as it looked at that time and as it still appears, except for the changes made in the surroundings.)

About that time, H. C. Eyer, now the largest individual owner of real estate in this village, became interested in the project, and, with Messrs. Alvord and Lyon, came here from the city of Rochester on bicycles, which they peddled over the dirt highways, and surveyed the first streets. The promoters realized that as a beginning it would be necessary to get people interested—more than that, they must sell lots to prospective home builders, and in order to sell them lots, they must first be induced to come here. Therefore the promoters decided to hold a barbecue on the site of the proposed town, May 30th, 1897, being the date selected. The event was extensively advertised in the newspapers of Rochester and throughout Western New York, and circulars announcing the affair were also sent to residents of other parts of the state. On that day, the cornerstone of the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company's office building was laid with appropriate exercises, the late Hon. Horace McGuire of Rochester being the orator of the day. "Despatch" was adopted as the name for the proposed new town. A big crowd, estimated at from 10,000 to 20,000 people, was present, and, following the exercises attending the laying of the cornerstone, all were Invited to partake of refreshments furnished by the promoters. Beside the luscious slices of roast ox, 360 loaves of bread (fully twice the size of the present loaf), a number of barrels of hot coffee, and many boxes of cigars were served to the big crowd. At the same time lots were sold. We should have said, one lot was sold, ofr that constituted the amount of the real estate transactions of the day. This lot was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Frank R. Becker, the sale being made by H. C. Eyer. The lot is located on what is known as East Elm Street, and they soon had a substantial, comfortable home erected on the lot, where they sold the the property to S. A. Shantz and erected a beautiful home on South Main Street, where they now reside. Although the cornerstone laying and barbecue event was not a great success as far as the number of lots sold was concerned, yet it was a beginning, and soon after a number of others who were present that day bought lots here, and after a time, built homes.

George Evans' house on East Elm Street was the first house erected in the new town, and the store building in which B. J. Fryatt began business was the first business building. (This building is now occupied by the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Electric railroad as a depot, being still located on the same spot where it was built, on Wast Commercial Street.) A picture of this building will be found elsewhere in this edition.

Soon after, the Stowell building (now Geo. A. March's store) was built at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets, and in June of the following year, 1898, Abial D. Cook, an insurance agent of Penfield, became a resident of the new town and he was appointed postmaster of the then small hamlet. The receipts of the postoffice for the first quarter were $25.00. (In comparison, let us state that the receipts of the postoffice of this village the quarter just passed amounted to $3,669.36. It is now a postoffice of the second class and the postmaster has three assistants beside the delivery clerks.

Two years after the celebration attending the laying of the cornerstone of the M.D.T. Co's office building, the Vanderbuilt Improvement Company held what was known as "The Great Partition Sale," in which approximately 990 lots were offered at $250 each, H. C. Eyer, now a prominent business man of this village, being the leading salesman. Included in the Partition sale was the lot on which Hotel Despatch was then being built at an estimated cost of $20,000, and on another lot offered in the sale was the Westerman residence, the original Westerman farm house. (This residence property, located at the corner of South Lincoln Road and Elm Street, is now owned and occupied by Sidney Brown and family. These two grand prizes caused great interest among prospective purchasers of lots, and the drawing was largely attended. Ground was broken the same day for the Eyer building — not the present fine building now known by that name, but the building which, until destroyed by fire three years ago last February, stood at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets.

On a Sunday afternoon in the month of October, 1897, the few men and women, then living in Despatch gathered in the "Reading Room," and held religious services, and after that time union services were held weekly until December 1897, when the First Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated, with a membership of 40. Today the church has a membership of 350. As soon as the organization was perfected the society began the erection of the present church edifice at the corner of Main Street and East Avenue, the building being dedicated on December 17, 1901. Rev. Charles W. Cushing, D. D., was pastor at that time. Union Services continued to be held in this church until February 20, 1901, when those inclined toward the Baptist creed decided to withdraw and have a separate house of worship. The local Baptist church society was then organized with eleven members. Their services were held in the M.D.T. company's employees' reading room building, the little old, historic white chapel with red and blue lines extending around the bottom, the colors which identify the M.D.T. refrigerator cars wherever seen on the various railroads throughout the United States until 1904, when ground was broken on West Elm Street for a new Baptist Church, which was dedicated on December, 1904.

On the fifteenth day of September 1905, the Catholic church society was organized and the erection of St. Jerome's church was begun on June 15, 1906.

In March, 1910, the First Presbyterian church was organized, services being held in the Fire hall until the completion of the fine new church property near the north-east corner of Main Street and East Avenue, in January, 1916. About two years ago the Episcopalians of the village also decided to hold regular services, and for several months met each Sunday afternoon in the north side of the La Due Building on Main Street. In the fall of 1915, however, the society decided to build a church, and under the supervision of Arch Deacon Davis of Rochester a very pretty church building was erected just east of the Presbyterian church on East Avenue.

February 27, 1899, the Buchanan Brass Hardware Co., moved here from Buchanan, Virginia, and began the manufacture of brass hardware in a building which had been erected near the New York Central tracks on North Lincoln Road. A few months later the firm was reorganized and began business under the name of the Brainerd Manufacturing Company, with W. F. Brainerd as resident and general manager. Only five hands were employed in the factory at the start. Today the company employs about fifty hands and several salesmen on the road. The old factory building being found too small for the increasing business the company found it necessary to provide larger and better headquarters in which to carry on the business and, buying a fine factory site on North Washington Street, erected a modern factory of concrete construction, and moved into the same in 1909. Through good, efficient management, the business has continued to increase and the firm is now building a large addition to their factory.

July 8th, 1902 the Signal Oil Co., now the Pierce Company, erected a factory near the New York Central railroad, at the northeast end of the village. A few years later the factory was destroyed by fire and the company has since erected two factories in place of the one, and is doing an extensive business in the manufacture of vegetable oil products.

On July 14, 1900, ground was broken along the New York Central tracks in the eastern part of the village for the factories of the Ontario Drill Company.

Through the effort of Walter A. Parce, Messrs. Foster and Armstrong of Rochester, manufacturers of pianos, were induced to locate at this place, and on July 14, 1900, the erection of the big, modern, reinforced concrete factories west of Washington Street was begun. As soon as the factories were completed, which was nearly two years later, they were occupied by the Foster-Armstrong Co., which has since merged with the Chickering and Knabe piano companies under the separate name of the American Piano Company. This is said to be the largest and finest piano plant in the world.

East Rochester has now become the town that Walter A. Parce had a vision of back in 1897. During the past few years a number of new factories have been located in this village, being occupied by manufacturing concerns which promise great development. These include the Empire Weaving and Belting Co., the Rochlen Engraving Co., Lawless Bros.' Paper Mill, the Northway Trailercar Co., the Merkle Motor Wheel Co., The Empire Rolling Screen Co., and the General Filteration Co., the last mentioned being the latest addition to East Rochester's list of manufacturers.

George Evans was the New York Central railroad agent at this station for about five years prior to 1897, when the building of the town was begun. Mr. Evans is still master of that same depot, which was built by the Vanderbuilt Company the same year that the M.D.T. company's office building was erected (1898), and given the New York Central railroad. The freight receipts the first month after the new town was started amounted to about $100. The monthly receipts of the new freight depot, which the company has erected near the site of the old depot, amount to about $100,000 per month. The express receipts in 1898 amounted to about $25 per month, while now they amount to over $1,000 per month.

Although East Rochester is a factory town, in considering the extensive and varied manufacturing industries located here the fact should not be overlooked that East Rochester of today is also a very desirable residence town, as it has the best of schools, churches of various denominations, a beautiful public park, well-kept streets and, in fact, nearly all the advantages of a city without its disadvantages.

The village was incorporated in March, 1906, the first village president being T. J. Mitchell, and the trustees George H. Ano, Dr. J. M. Allen, J. J. O'Brien and Howard R. Worden. Emory D. Lapham was the first clerk of the village. At the annual election, held the following March, it was voted to change the name of the village from Despatch to East Rochester.

Realizing that fire protection was needed in the village, citizens met on the 7th day of March, 1898, and organized Despatch Hose Company No. l. Although the company at that time consisted of merely an ordinary basket brigade, fire buckets constituting their equipment, interest continued to increase and the membership grew until in 1899 the company joined the Northern New York Volunteer Firemen's association. As the village increased in population, other fire companies were organized, and today the village fire department consists of four efficient companies, including, besides Despatch Hose Company No. 1, the Eyer Chemical Co., Foster-Armstrong Co. to. 2 and the Ontario Hook and Ladder Co. There are now over 100 members of the Fire department.

The firemen held their first ball April 14, 1898, and the first community dance held in the new town was hold on February 24 of the same J era'. The first house social was held at the home of George L. Evans, who had just built the home on Elm Street in which he still resides. We are told by others who were among the early settlers that for several years after Mr. Evans' house was built, it was considered to be the best residence in town.

The first school of the new village wan conducted in the little old brick building on North Washington Street, which for a number of years past has been a part of the property of Bown Bros., dealers in evaporated fruits. Miss Frances Corkhill, who has ever since that time been employed as a teacher in the local schools, and is still one of the twenty-five teachers employed in the schools, was the teacher of the school, being assisted later by Miss Parker. In 1898 the erection of a four-room brick school building was begun on the site of the present grade building on East Avenue, and at the opening of school that fall it was made a Union Free School. Two large additions have been made on that building since that time and the interior of the building has been considerable remodeled, with the result that the building now furnishes well-lighted, commodious and comfortable school rooms.

Owing to the rapid growth in population, this big building was, in a comparatively short time, too small to accommodate the children of the town, and at the school meeting in the fall of 1910 the taxpayers of the district voted to authorize the Board of Education to purchase the lots between the school building and the M. E. Church, which was done, and at a special school meeting held in February, the taxpayers voted to appropriate $30,000 for a high school building, the erection of which was begun early the following spring. The new building is 70 x 88 feet on the foundation, is of fire-proof construction, the outer walls being of buff tapestry brick. The building is modern in every respect, and its equipment the latest and best in every particular. The faculty of the schools of the village now consists of twenty-five teachers besides the supervising principal. Although provided with two large school buildings, at the beginning of the present school year, which opened last September, it was again found necessary to procure additional school room, and. the little, old, historic land office, known as "The M.D.T. Reading Room Building," was rented from the local M. E. Church society, which now owns the building. It is quite probable that additional school room will be necessary to accommodate the children of the village who are of school age, when school opens in the fall, and it will doubtless be necessary for the district to procure an addition to the school grounds and erect another school building within the next year.

During the early days of the town the wooded tract facing on Main Street was designated as a public park in the advertisements issued by the Vanderbuilt Improvement Co. Although the property had many advantages for a beautiful park, its possibility, naturally seemed more or less of a dream to the early settlers. But the dream, if we may call it such, came true in July of last year, (1916), when through the ability and generosity of Miss Kate Gleason, who had become interested in the Town's development and growth, the park was opened to the public, with appropriate exercises. For seven weeks previous to the opening of the park, the village board had a force of men cleaning up and improving the property; with the result that on the day of the celebration even those who had lived near the proposed park for a number of years were greatly surprised at the appearance of this natural beauty spot.


Written by
Mrs. Leo Genthner

March 10, 1934

In the year l893, Walter Parce, the founder of East Rochester, who was engaged in business in Fairport, was walking along one of the streets in Rochester when he met an old acquaintance who was then employed in the office of the Merchant's Despatch Car Shops, which were at that time located in the eastern part of Rochester.

Mr. Parce learned that the shops were about to be moved to some other desirable location. He at once conceived the idea of starting a new town by purchasing land along the New York Central tracks. He soon secured options on two farms that are now occupied by our business places and dwellings. These farms were known as the Westerman and Lincoln farms, the former lying on the south and the latter on the north side of the New York Central Railroad.

There was a small freight and passenger station located at the crossing of the Penfield Highway, now Washington Street. This was then known as Penfield Station. Across the road from this depot stood a small school house which is now used as a garage back of Andrew Bowen's office.

After three years the Merchant's Despatch Car Shops located here, and on May 29, 1897 the cornerstone was laid under the auspices of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. A few months later a company was formed with Mr. Parce as President and Edmund Lyon, Vice-President. The farm property was purchased by this company with the idea of promoting this village.

At this time the New York Central depot was built and now stands at the foot of Main Street. Edmund Lyon and H. C. Eyer, who were then salesmen for the Vanderbilt Improvement Company, pedaled their bicycles out here from Rochester over dirt highways and the first streets were surveyed. Mr. Eyer at this time was the largest individual land owner.

The promoters realized that as a beginning the people must be interested and the lots must be sold. Finally it was decided to hold a barbecue on the site of the proposed town.

On May 30, 1897, the great event occurred, which was extensively advertised in all newspapers and throughout western New York. The Hon. Horace McGuire was the principal speaker of the day and "Despatch" was the adopted name of the proposed town.

A crowd estimated at from 10,000 to 20,000 people attended this Barbecue. They were all invited to partake of the luscious roast beef, roast ox and hot coffee. Many boxes of cigars were given away. At this time lots were being sold, the first one being bought by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Becker. The lot is located on Elm Street, where Mr. Smith, owner of the Crystal Ice Company now lives.

Mr. George Evan's house, which is the next lot to Mr. Becker's, was the first house to be erected. The store and building in which B. J, Fryatt began business was the first business block. It is now occupied by the bus office on West Commercial Street.

Soon after the Stowell Building was built on the corner of Main and Commercial Streets. George March conducted a general store for a number of years which is now occupied by the Carpenter Hardware Company. In June 1898, Mr. Cook, then an insurance man of Penfield, became a resident and was the first postmaster. The receipts for the first quarter were $25. After two years a great sale of lots were offered at $250 each. Hotel Despatch was then being built at an estimated cost of $20,000. This was located at the corner of Commercial and Main Streets. About the same time ground was broken for the Eyer Building where our First National Bank now stands. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1914.

On Sunday, October 1897, the first religious service was held in what was then known as the Merchant's Despatch Reading Room, which was a sort of club room for the men who worked in the car shops. It was first located where the Eyer Building now stands at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets.

A varied and interesting history is told of this little building which was built by the Vanderbilt Improvement Company. It was used as a Club House, Town Hall and about every public gathering was held in the building Including Church services, prayer meeting and dances. In the meantime, in order to make room for the Eyer Building, the Reading Room was moved to the corner of Main and Elm Streets. A few years later it was again moved to Main Street at the rear of the Methodist Church, who finally bought the building. Later, as our Village Park was developed, the little old historical building was torn down.

In December 1897 the First Methodist Church was incorporated with a membership of forty people and in 1901 the present building was dedicated by the Rev. Mr. Cushing and Union Services continued to be held until February 1901, when those inclined toward the First Baptist Church Creed were the first to withdraw and in 1904 the Baptist Church, now located on West Elm Street, was dedicated.

On September 15, 1905 the Catholic Church was organized, the first service being held where Hoffman's Laundry now stands and later, in 1906, St. Jerome's Church was dedicated, which is located at the corner of Garfield and Commercial Streets. The Rev. Father Gefell was the first priest and is still at the head of the Church.

In March 1910 the First Presbyterian Church was organized, services being held in the Fire Hall, and in 1916 their Church was dedicated with the Rev. Greenaway as the first minister.

In February 1899 the Birchman Brass Hardware Company moved here from Virginia and began the manufacture of brass hardware in a building located on the north side of the New York Central track near Lincoln Road. A few months later it was reorganized under a new name of the Brainerd Manufacturing Company. In 1909 the business had grown so large that a new building was erected, a factory near the New York Central tracks at the northeast end of the village. A few years later this building was destroyed by fire and a fine new building was erected and an extensive business is carried on of vegetable oil products.

In 1900 the Ontario Drill Company located in the Eastern part of the Village north of the New York Central tracks near Lincoln Road. Through the efforts of Walter Parce, the Foster Armstrong Piano Factories of Rochester located here. This was in 1900 also. The factories are said to be the largest piano plant in the world. During the next few years a number of factories located here. These include the Empire Weaving and Belting, the Lawless Paper Mill, the Northway Trailer, the Merkle Wheel Company and the General Filtration Company.

The Village was incorporated in March 1906. The first President was T. J. Mitchell; the Trustees, George Ano, Dr. Allen, J. J. O'Brien and Howard Worden. At the annual election, the officers decided to change the name of the Village of "Despatch" to that of "East Rochester". The chief reason was that the factories wished to have the name East Rochester, because Rochester was so much better known than Despatch.

The Despatch Hose Company was organized in 1898, which consisted of a dozen or more fire buckets. Today we have a well-organized Fire Department.

The first school was conducted in a brick building on the north side of the track on Washington Street, now being used as a garage by Andrew Bowen's Lumber Company. Miss Frances Corkhill was the first teacher. In 1898 the erection of a four-room brick building was begun. Since then two other beautiful buildings have been built where about 1800 pupils are enrolled and 74 teachers are employed.

During the early days of the town, the wooded tract facing the park on Main Street was designed as the Public Park, and, in 1916, the park was opened to the public.

In 1898 the population was about 100 people. Today we have around 6500.

Our theatre building was built in 1917, a modern theatre, and adds greatly to the appearance of our Village.

The First National Bank was organized in 1913, the first President being H. C. Eyer.

Up until about 1912 the Village was confined between Washington Street on the west, Lincoln Road on the east, Ivy Street on the South and a few houses on the north side of the New York Central tracks. In 1912 the property known as the Ransom Farm, located in the southern part of the town, was divided into lots which at this time was a thickly-wooded tract of land, where as youngsters we used to gather wild flowers and pick huckleberries; and at the same time a tract of land west of Washington Street was developed and many houses were built. A few years later Concrest was developed by Miss Kate Gleason. The house we live in at the present time was the first house to be constructed south of Ivy Street and was built right in the woods, and was considered to be away out in the country at that time. This was in 1912.

Most of the above history was taken from on old newspaper write-up by Mr. Tuttle, the Editor of our Village paper for a number of years.

Now I will try to give a few of my own recollections of the early days. My father was here at the Barbecue in 1897 and purchased a lot on Elm Street and, in 1901, we came here to live.

The Village at this time could be very well called "mud patch" instead of "Despatch", as I don't think there were any worse streets in the country than here in our Village. The soil was a heavy, sticky clay, and, when wet, was almost impossible for horse-drawn vehicles to navigate and, in walking, you needed spikes in your shoes to keep yourself right side up. In Springtime, it was a common sight to see wagons in the mud up to their axles.

The first sidewalks consisted of old refrigerator car doors about two feet wide and six inches thick. These did very well for a while, until some of the boards began to break through and leave holes about six or eight inches deep. This, coupled with the lack of any lighting system, made it extremely hazardous to venture out after dark, without a lantern, or clothed in a football suit, boots, shin guards, etc.

The first street lights used were gasoline lamps, something like the Coleman lanterns that are used nowadays. There were just a few of these located on poles about twenty-five feet high with an iron bracket attached, supporting the lamp over the street. George Ano, a pioneer, and also the village blacksmith at that time, was the maker of the brackets. These lamps were raised and lowered by a rope and each night were filled, lighted and put out by an employee of the Land Company. These were used for a few years, but, for some reason, were later abandoned and for a few years we were without any lights at all.

About 1904, we had our first electric lights for house and store use. As the Village was not incorporated at that time, it was a hard proposition to get through and had to be done by individual business men. George Ano, Hi Winney, John Kane and Mr. Dygert, with the possibility of a few others, furnished the money for putting up the poles and wires. Walter Parce had the dynamo installed. This was located in the old grist mill, by the bridge on the Penfield Road. This dynamo was run by water power; hence, the dam and the formation of Spring Lake along the north section of the village. Quite often the lights went out due to the belt slipping off and the old saying here was "that a fish was caught in the wheel". In 1907, the first electric street lights were installed. They were 25 in number and were obtained by the vote of the people, the village then being incorporated.

Our original water system consisted of a spring and a pump house which was built right over the spring. There was a stand pipe located on Lincoln Road near Ray Worthing's Farm. This spring was located down a big bank back of Herman Muller's residence and is still in existence and is used occasionally by anyone who wants a good refreshing drink. The Vanderbilt Improvement Company built the water system. This Company also built the first sewer system, the outlet of which was on the south side of the New York Central tracks and into Irondequoit Creek.

The original site of East Rochester was certainly a desolate looking spot as there was hardly a tree to be seen except the wooded section in the south part of the Village, part of which is now the Village Park, and just two or three old houses scattered about on a very uninteresting piece of flat farm land. It is hard to conceive the difference between that time and now. Some of the old pictures I have will give you some idea of how it was in the early days. When the Village was laid out, trees were planted at the front corner of each lot line, these were Elm and Poplar trees placed alternately. The Poplars have since been cut down and the trees which now remain are the ones originally planted at the start of the Village.

The early life of the Village was that of a typical wildwest, mushroom town. People came here from all over but the majority probably came from the Adirondack section and Vermont, the balance were from nearer sections in this vicinity. Most were not over middle age and, as a rule, of the rougher class, but of the industrious type of person, seeking their fortune in the well-advertised new community. Hotels, saloons and pool rooms were the favorite meeting places of the working man.

Gambling flourished, as there was not much law. Everyone had 'work and plenty of money to spend, all of which went to furnish thrills for the early settlers. This life subsided to a certain extent as the Village grew. People bought homes and raised families. Churches were built and better influence was brought to bear upon the community.

I think I have told plenty for one time, although there are several other interesting facts that might be mentioned whether you believe it or not.


Contributed by Mrs. Rolla Rice at the Pioneer Dinner

Monday, March 7, 1949

The first thing I can remember of the change that was to come to our quiet rural life was a strange man coming to see father one night.

There was a lot of talking, father getting quite excited, but mother more thoughtful and reserved. We children could get the sound of a new word "option". There was the talk of money; a whole thousand dollars for our homes and more land being bought, for a new industry was coming, coming very near to us, even on our side of the railroad. A repair shops for railroad freight cars. Very soon we heard of the farms near the railroad on which options had been given. There was the Charles Westerman place, the old Lincoln farm, the Schlegel place and others. But, at that time, I think only those places were bought because of their nearness to the railroad.

Almost overnight the whole place was the scene of more activity than one could imagine. There were steam shovels, railroad switches built into the farm land, and teams and teamsters, so many that we just couldn't count.

Every available space that could house both animals and men was in use. Men slept in the Lincoln farm and some of the farmers fed them. There must be a place for these people to sleep and eat. Very soon the old Perinton Hotel was built and flourishing.

The building of the Despatch car shops had started something that moved on and on, getting bigger end bigger until it seemed that there could be no stopping of the steam shovels and the building. Houses and stores, churches and other minor industries seemed to call for each other, until a thriving Village stood where Charles Westerman's grain fields once bowed their heads to the sun.

One of Josiah Lincoln's farms was moved up the old South Road and became the first home of the Brass works, later the Brainerd Manufacturing Company. This firm came from the South - Virginia, I think, and brought most of their help with them. There were some negroes, the first some of we children had ever seen.

First Church Services

There were good times and sad times in our new town. The church was the center of our social activity. When Rev. Gwynn decided that there should be a place for people of all faiths to worship, he called upon father for they were great friends. Then there must be a man of good standing from the new town; so Mr. Gwynn called Burt Fryatt and, before one could get one's breath, they found an old organ and some chairs and the old Land Company's office became the scene of many other activities beside church services.

Now I was taking melodian lessons from Mrs. VanAlystine in Penfield and, so, as no one else could play the organ, I was chosen as organist. I could only play a few old hymns so we bad such hymns as "Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Saviour", and "Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed?" for Sunday morning, Sunday school and, with a few other "old tunes", as father called them, for Sunday night as well, also including all holidays, as Christmas and Easter. But what volume we had! We had sung them so often that everyone knew them and all sang. We had no choir.

But, later, a family by the name of Whittleton moved into our town and became a great asset to us. Mrs. Whittleton could play all the hymns. I still had Sunday school for a while.

The Whittletons had a son and daughter who could sing - sing solos and duets and, sometimes, if a great favor was given to us, we had the privilege of singing with this young Adonis. How happy we were if we were included in the service where Mott sang.

Newcomers Arrive

As time went on, people came to our busy town and became leaders in its activities. There were Steven Wilcox, Mr. Mitchell, the Vanderbilts, Wordens, old Dr. Fish and many others.

Sad Events Remembered

As I said before, we had our happy times and our sad times too. I think we will never forget the little Mitchell boy who was drowned in the water of a cellar of an uncompleted house on Commercial Street, nor the time that the Seaman lad went through the ice while skating on the Irondequoit creek, nor the Fitzgerald boy who tried to dynamite fish and lost his own life, the baby who was killed when a heavy table turned over on her in her home. How keenly we all felt for these people, for they were one of us. As they came to us we accepted them and they were our friends and neighbors, not too many people, but we knew them and loved them all.

Gay Parties Too

I remember a church social that was held at our house. Mother said that she would provide the sugar, but, when the time came to find the sugar box - it was a wooden box and held many pounds, it had quite vanished. After a prolonged search, I think it was found that Mrs. Whittleton was sitting on it. We wore long full skirts in those days and they served to cover the box completely. There were so many who came to our parties that there was very little room and so the young people were sent upstairs. There was no place to sit, as the older people had taken every available thing to sit on. So we sat on the bed, as close to each other as we could squeeze in. I wonder if there is anyone here tonight who was there when the old wooden bed caved in and we were all sitting on the floor with our legs and feet in the air over the side of the bed.

Car Door Sidewalks

One night, in the days of the old car door sidewalk era, my first fellow and I were walking home on said car doors. All went well until we came to an unusually broad and deep puddle of water. The water had undermined the old doors and they slid a little as we stepped upon them. About the middle of the puddle, one gave way completely and my first bean sailed away into deep water. He sank on his knees and grasped the sides of the old door with his hands. This pushed the forepart of the door under water and, while I stood aghast, I saw him right himself, but the old door went down and so did my first beau.

The Elite Dancing Club

I often think of the old Elite Dancing Club, formed by the young men of our village. How happy we were those nights when we bowed to our partners, do-so-doed, danced the Virginia reel and Paul Jones and, when at twelve o'clock, each man took his own girl and waltzed to the strains of "Home Sweet Home".

Horse and Buggy Days

There wasn't any transportation or any way of getting to other towns except by the local passenger trains which ran only three or four times a day and by walking. Yes, there was one other way. Our postmaster, a little man with a badly curved spine, owned a horse and cutter in the winter and top buggy in the summer, which could be rented for a dollar an evening. Mr. Cook did a thriving business in his single livery, reservations being made far in advance of all occasions.

I remember one night in the winter driving to Pittsford to a dance, using that same horse and cutter. Returning home in a snow storm, we suddenly found ourselves in the cemetery. As you remember, coming from Pittsford, there is a road leading from the main road in nearly parallel lines. Evidently the old horse had been there before, for he took us up the hill and down into the main road again, without a single twitch of the lines to guide him.

Villagers Become Leaders

But not all of our outstanding leaders came to us through the call of the new Village and its industries. Some were here before that time.

On Linden Avenue, only a short way west of what is now Washington Street, was a prosperous farmer, Frank Becker, by name. He sold his farm and with his wife and son, Arthur, moved into his new home on Elm Street. Mr. Becker later became foreman of the wreck shop and the son, Arthur, became General Manager of the whole plant.

As our school system grew, Mark Furmen, who lived near Fairport, brought his bride, Elizabeth, and became a leader in our education; later he was one of the four district superintendents of all rural Monroe County schools.

That school system has been the foundation of the education of many very distinguished men and women. Through its doors have come the youngsters who later became teachers, dentists, doctors, ministers, lawyers and even statesmen.

The O'Brien homestead was on Linden Avenue, just a little west of the Becker place. One of the first merchants afterMr. Fryatt was William O'Brien, brother of Jack, whom everyone remembers so well. We have every cause to remember him not only for himself but also for his very enjoyable family; a very lovely lady and their three children, one of which is our own Joe. I don't think I need tell you about him. From the time he was in rompers, he has been an outstanding leader in our community. One whom we are very proud to know and enjoy as a friend.

Then there was Charles Clark who did a thriving business in coal and livery. He had four children, three girls and a boy. Genial, friendly George Clark and his sister, Laura Perduyn, still live in the Village and we are glad to say that we have known them since school days.

There are many, many more, you know them too; Retta Gale, from Penfield, who has been a friend to many a down-hearted one and who took over and carried on the work of her loved one.

There are many footprints in the sands, some are deep and some make hardly an impression. But they are there, footprints in the sands of time.

I am not sure that all of us who were here before the coming of the Village have gained in wealth, but there are many more things more important to me than dollars and cents.

The feeling of friendliness, the companionship, the joy of knowing those who have made this Village what it is, is quite enough for me. And may this feeling continue to linger in all our hearts as long as we all live.


East Rochester, N. Y.

History written by Mildred L. Hopkins


To translate the history of any locality, or of any institution within a locality, is to portray a panorama of LIVING PEOPLE.

To portray such a panorama of living personalities upon a single canvas is a task requiring the skill of an artist. A mere scribe, however much he may appreciate the artistic touch of others, is in grave danger when he dabbles with colors, tints, and shades. He may use too bold a stroke here, and too light a one there, thus throwing into shadow the very part of the picture someone might wish to see.

We hope, therefore, that the word pictures herein painted may suggest others to you, which perhaps are hidden between the lines, for we are reminded that not only the STARS determine the success of the PLAY, but the COUNTLESS OTHERS who work behind the scenes.

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Someone aptly has said that "history is the story of one man leading and others following". The history of PARKSIDE CHURCH is a story of leadership and a story of loyal following. To read through the pages of our Church History Is to acknowledge our debt to Human Personality.

Human thought, human feeling, and human will have gone into the making of this INSTITUTION and they have left us with this HERITAGE, the WILL TO CONTINUE THE WORK WHICH THESE PEOPLE BEGAN. We are here to celebrate the continuance of this work through half a century.

Milestones of history with their attendant celebrations always provide a BOND that unites those Intimately concerned in a common interest. It is good to pause in retrospect before we push on toward the next milestone. May we have that "Mystic sense which Is the perceiving gift of appreciation", that between the lines of the record of events we may find the SOUL of this, OUR CHURCH.

We turn the pages of this story of the Past carefully and reverently, for we realize that we are treading on HOLY GROUND.

This is a record of Joy and Sorrow; Success and Failure; of Laughter and Tears. We stand on the mountain top with these people in their triumphant moments, and we trudge with them through the valley of their difficulties and discouragements.

The Heritage they have given us was bought with a price. Running through the "pattern of their years" is the golden thread of sacrifice, the royal blue of service and the scarlet band of undaunted courage, while the whole fabric is held together by the snow-white warp and woof of faith.

These personalities who walk across the pages of our Church History have given and given, not counting the cost, because they loved their Church and had faith in its purpose and place in our Community. When we have our fleeting moments of discouragement; when we are tasting the loneliness of defeated effort, we may have the assurance that we are "encompassed about with this so great a cloud of witnesses" and take heart.


Hardly had the little Community of DESPATCH been born, than the need for a Church was realized. There were less than a dozen families residing here but these early Pioneers "could not leave GOD out of their plans" as they sought to establish their homes in this new locality. The record tells us that one Sunday P.M. In the month of October in 1897 they gathered in the M.D.T. Reading Room, which stood on Main Street, for a Union Religious Service. These people, whose religious backgrounds were from many different Faiths, were lonesome for HOLY ENVIRONMENT and so came together each week in these Union Services. Ministers from the nearby towns often assisted. An outgrowth of these meetings was the organization of the FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF DESPATCH, N. Y.

On the evening of December 28th, 1897 thirty-one qualified voters met in the OLD FREIGHT HOUSE OFFICE ON WASHINGTON STREET 'for the purpose of incorporating the Church and electing trustees thereof'. Rev. Edmund J. Gwynn of the Penfield Methodist Church presided at this meeting. By a majority vote it was decided to incorporate under the name of "The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Despatch, N.Y." The incorporation papers were signed by Rev. Gwynn, Burton J. Fryatt, and Edwin A. Dancy on January 1, 1898 and were recorded in Monroe County Clerk's Office in Liber One of "Religious Incorporations" on page 446.

The following trustees were elected:

Reverend Edmund Gwynn, Pastor at Penfield, took over the work here until the appointment of a regular Pastor could be made.

In October 1898 the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed REV. CHARLES LAWRENCE, then a student at LIMA, as the first regular Pastor at DESPATCH, N. Y. He served one year at a salary of $5 per week.

In October 1899, Rev. George Spencer was appointed to take over the work at Despatch, together with Pittsford and Brighton. He resided at Pittsford and had the assistance of JAMES JAMESON, a Lima student. Our part of the annual salary was $150.

In 1900 REV. J. F. L. RASCHEN was sent here, and he remained for one year at a salary of $4D0. The total membership at this time was about 32, although many attended who were not members. Much hard work was done by this small group. It was during this year that the building program was launched. Throughout the first three years the Church had held their meetings in the M.D.T. Reading Room and later on the Third Floor of the EYER BUILDING, so the need for their own Church Building was keenly realized. A lot 100 ft. by 14O ft. on the corner of Main Street and what is now East Avenue was granted by the Vanderbilt Improvement Company, and a modest structure was built at a cost of approximately $7000

In 1901 DR. CHARLES W. CUSHING came to DESPATCH and labored here for three years. A kindly scholar and earnest Christian was this Pastor, who yearned over the spiritual welfare of his Parish. Not too strong physically and advanced in years, he sometimes found it difficult to wade through the muddy paths of a PIONEER COMMUNITY to call on his FLOCK, but his devotion to the cause of his Christ won for him a place in the hearts of his people, and the respect of the entire community. While here he celebrated his 80th birthday on June 10, 1901}., at which time he was given a purse of $172. One member of our Church la the proud possessor of a candle from Dr. Cushing's Birthday Cake.

It was on Tuesday, December 17, 1901, during Dr. Cushing's Pastorate, that the Church was dedicated. There were 46 members at the time of dedication. This service was of interest to many Brighton and Rochester friends who had been watching the progress of the first church in the little Community of Despatch. The record tells us that a committee was appointed to "furnish carriage for these friends from Brighton" to the Dedication. Dr. Isaac N. Dalby, Presiding Elder at that time, Dr. Chas. N. Sims, Chancellor of Syracuse University, Dr. Chas. E. Hamilton, Pastor of First M. E. Church of Rochester, Dr. John T. Gracey and Dr. T. J. Bissell all took part in the services of the day. The Ladies served supper to those who remained for the Evening Service.

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Throughout these early days the "Despatch Special" carried many news items about the activities of this First Church. The Social and Religious Life of the Community centered about the Church, and every issue told about some activity. It might have been a 10¢ Supper, a Spelling Bee, a Candy Pull, a Box Social, or "The Merry Milkmaids", but it surely was given space in the much-read columns of the weekly paper. What happened to this little Church Family was of Community interest, even to the struggles with the heating system. The files of the Special remind us that back in 1903 the furnace was a problem, which supports the theory that history certainly does repeat itself. How triumphantly the report came one week that "the new chimney and the changes in the boiler have solved the problem of a warm church".

One Group which was very active and is worthy of mention was "The Gleaners Class" taught by Mrs. Fish, who was Managing Editor of the paper at that time. Many of our East Rochester residents, who now attend the Church of their own Faith have memories of good times and good friends among "The Gleaners". We have a Church Window to remind us of the part they played in our early history.

Dr. Cushing was succeeded by Rev. L. M. Bristol in 1904, Rev. J. H. Olmstead in 1905, Rev. Geo. Schlenker in 1908, and Rev. E. S. Beacom in 1909.

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After much planning and thought a parsonage was built in 1907 at a cost of approximately $3300. The parsonage lot was deeded to the Church by Mr. Frank Hamilton. Prior to this time the Church had rented a parsonage on what is now West Avenue.

In December of 1905 a long-felt need of the Church was fulfilled when a beautiful Bell was presented by Mr. & Mrs. R. J. Nash. The Church Tower had long been standing ready for this instrument which henceforth would call worshipers to the Services in the Little Church on the Corner. How fitting that this First Church Bell should be the one to first sound forth to our Village the glad tidings of V. J. Day.

Meanwhile, the founding of the Baptist Society and several years later the Presbyterian Society resulted in the transfer of some of our people and in 1909 our Village boasted three Protestant congregations and the newly-organized Catholic Parish.

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In the year 1911 the Thoburn Chapter #927 of the Methodist Brotherhood was organized with Dr. B. S. Partridge as its first President. This organization of Christian men was a power for good in our Church and Community for a number of years. Regular prayer services were held for men and teams went about the village doing personal work. This became a strong Laymen's Movement, proving the importance of Lay activity and the part it can play in the affairs of the Church.

The membership grew steadily and splendid leadership emerged. A fine spirit pervaded the activities of the Brotherhood, and the men were held together by a strong bond of Fraternalism. Newcomers to our Fellowship were heard to call this a Men's Church. The original Brotherhood Quartet of McGregor, Hitchcock, Newcomb and Wagner will long be remembered for its fine musical contributions.

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Meanwhile, Rev. W. W. Dailey had come to East Rochester in 1912, and was followed by Rev. F. C. House in 1917, Rev. J. L. Finger in 1923, Rev. A. A. Fortner in August of 1927 and Rev. James T. Haugh in 1928.

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In 1913 a Series of Union Evangelistic Services were held under the direction of Rev. Milton S. Rees of Rochester, N. Y. These Services created a spirit of friendliness which spread over the entire Community. To use the words of an observant, non-affiliate, who was prominent in the affairs of the village, "East Rochester became a changed Town; the people were somehow different".

With the Watchword "Not by Might, nor by Power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts", together with a splendid unified effort, many new members were brought into the three cooperating Churches. About 78 joined our own Fellowship on one Sunday Morning.

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The keen foresight of Church officials led to the purchase of the Reading Room Property in 1915 at a cost of $1000. This, together with the original property, gave the Church a lot facing 100 ft. on East Avenue and 240 ft. on Main Street.

The small building, known to many as "The Reading Room", which had been moved some time before from its former site to this location, was used as a Meeting Place and Club Room for the Steuber Class, a Class of young Men under the able leadership of Harry Steuber.

This same Reading Room, a replica of which we have through the courtesy of Mr. Truman and Mr. Beal of our High School Faculty,has a unique history of usefulness for it has served many purposes. This first building in the village began as an office for the Vanderbilt Improvement Company. Later it served as the First Post Office, a Store, a Reading Room and Lounge for M.D.T. workers, a Community Church, a school, a S.S. Class Club Room, and a Village Library. When someone needed a place for evening classes in English for our Italian citizens, the Church granted the use of this building, and, when the Episcopal Society was first organized in 1914, they were given the use of this historical landmark for their temporary place of worship.

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Beginning in the year 1911}., the grim spectre of war was hovering over our world. During the years of 1917 and 1918, we watched the sons of our Village leave for the training camps. About fifty young men went from this Church, sixteen from one Sunday School Class.

Dr. H. C. Potter, who was Superintendent of the Primary Department of our Sunday School, was among the number of physicians who entered the service of our country. The flags in the Chancel were presented to the Church in memory of Dr. Potter. The American flag was the gift of the Furman Class, while the Christian flag was given by Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Frank Dixon, Dr. Potter's sister.

Our devotion to our country and the cause of Freedom became of primary importance. The Brotherhood of this Church dedicated a Service Roll and held a Flag Raising Ceremony on the afternoon of April 14, 1917. Rev. Horace G. Ogden of Rochester gave the Dedicatory Address to a large group of citizens assembled on the Church lawn.

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It soon became apparent that more room was needed for the rapidly-growing Sunday School, which, from a report of April 12th, 1915, had an enrollment of 346 and an average attendance of 245. Therefore, plans were made to build a Sunday School Unit "to the south of and adjacent to the present church building", with the idea in mind of some day completing the entire structure of a modern edifice. This was begun in 1923, and, after busy days and nights of work for everyone, the cornerstone was laid May 4, 1924, and on May 24, 1925 the Sunday School Unit was dedicated. Bishop Adna Leonard gave the Dedicatory Sermon and the Prayer was given by Dr. F. H. Coman, District Superintendent at that time. This was during the pastorate of Rev. J. L. Finger to whom much credit is due for able leadership.

The name of the Church was changed to Parkside Methodist Episcopal Church of East Rochester, New York in April of 1924. Later, when the Methodist churches of this country merged, the name became what it is today, "Parkside Methodist Church".

Rev. Fortner only labored with us a few successful months when he was granted a leave of absence because of illness. Rev. Haugh came as a supply to finish Rev. Fortner's year, and then was returned as regular Pastor for two succeeding years.

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Following Rev. Haugh were Rev. John H. Sondmeyer in 1930, Rev. R. T. Doherty in 1934, Rev. A. E. Matthews in 1937, Rev. Earl L. Winters in 1941 and. our present Pastor, Rev. George E, Manning in 1945.

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In 1934 Mr. C. P. VanLone retired from active duty on the Board of Trustees and was given a Testimonial Dinner in recognition of his service Mr. VanLone served his Church in many ways from its early beginning, and more than once occupied the pulpit when the Pastor could not be present.

In 1942 Mr. James H. Cairnes, who had served our Church for many years in many capacities, resigned because he was moving to another locality. Resolutions expressing appreciation for the loyal support of Mr. & Mrs. Cairnes were adopted and presented to them at a Church Night Dinner, February 16, 1942.

Mr. Howard R. Wordon has served this Church as Trustee since 1900, and has been President of the Board since 1907. Coming to our Village in 1898, he has given his loyal support to this Church throughout the past fifty years. The Church is proud of the Service Record of these kindly gentlemen whoso interest in their Church and Community has been manifested in so many ways.

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Throughout the course of years changes were made in the physical structure of the Sanctuary itself and it has passed through the process of renovation several times.

The corner pulpit and circular arrangement of seats that had been so cozily unique in the days of a smaller congregation were sacrificed to make more room. In December 1915 the pulpit rostrum was moved to the "center of the north side of the Church"; cork linoleum replaced the floor carpet; the choir loft was remodeled and. the seats were rearranged in conformity with the changed pulpit. With these changes and redecorated walls, the occasion called for a Reception which was held on January 28, 1916.

In the early 30's the Church was the recipient of a gift of fine workmanship in the form of pulpit furniture, Communion Table, and Baptismal Font. Mr. Alaart, a cabinet maker, presented the Baptismal Font and spent many hours of labor on material which was donated by four members of the Furman Class. These pulpit furnishings evidence his pride in his Church. Laymen gave freely of their time in more redecorating and once more our Sanctuary was in good repair.

During all this time and In the years succeeding, the heating system presented a problem, until it was decided to build a new chimney and change the boiler to another location. Night after night, in the summer heat of 1942 found men working on the excavation for the new boiler room. On November 24, 1942 the Church "consecrated the fruition of these sacrificial gifts and the toil of human hands" in a fitting ceremony. In the words of the Poem of Dedication:

Perhaps the greatest physical change in our Church occurred a few years ago, in 1942, when the Chancel and front of our Sanctuary was modernized. Departing from the former idea of a Center Pulpit, the present arrangement was instituted.

We are indebted to Rev. Winters, Pastor at that time, for the general plan, and for the Lectern which he built and presented to the Church, Much volunteer labor on the part of both men and women was given, and many beautiful gifts were presented. Day after day foundMr. William Potter working with the Pastor and others in bringing to realization this dream of a modern Sanctuary.

Pews were purchased from The Concordia Lutheran Church in Rochester, and the lights were donated by the Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation. Again the walls were redecorated, this time by a painting firm of Rochester, and the floor was painted by some of our own laymen.

An organ was purchased from the Christian Advent Church of Penfield by the Married Couples Class, and every few days brought some new gift to add to the beauty and worshipful atmosphere of the Sanctuary. At the entrance of the Church hangs a beautiful picture of Christ given by Mrs. Paul Huyett, formerly Miss Thelma Ellison, in memory of her mother. The Aisle carpet was the gift of the Young Adult Class and the Chancel carpet was given by an anonymous donor. The drapes and kneeling cushions were the work of Mrs. Wm. Marr and Mrs. Foster Thayer. On the Altar was placed a beautiful Bronze Cross, given by Miss Effie Harnish in memory of her mother; matching Candle Holders given by Mrs. Charles Newcomb in memory of her husband and Bronze Vases by an anonymous donor. On either side of the altar stand pedestals, the gift of Mrs. Rhetta Fryatt, and aside the Chancel are the Palms which were given by the Vashti Class.

It was a proud day when Parkside Church looked and behold all things had indeed become new.

Rededication Services were held one Sunday in November 1944.

Dr. Harold McIlnay, District Superintendent, preached at the morning service and Bishop Flint gave the Dedicatory Sermon in the afternoon. This was followed by a Reception in the Church Parlors.

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Again the war clouds gathered and anxious days followed. Once more Service Flags and Honor Plaques appeared in churches. One by one we missed our faithful ushers and choir members as again our sons marched off into the service of their country. This time our Service Flag, presented by the Mom's Club of our Church, bore 83 stars, and two of that number paid the supreme sacrifice.

Those were days to try our FAITH and ENDURANCE, when "Life seemed a WILD STORM in which we survive only by chance". But the PREACHED WORD brought HOPE to troubled hearts and carried a MESSAGE of ULTIMATE PEACE under the BANNER OF CHRIST.

Time and space will not permit in this resume a complete story of the Organizations of Parkside Church, but their importance demands some recognition.

The Women's Society of Christian Service, with its earliest beginnings in the Ladies Aid Society, has been a bulwark of strength throughout the years. From an early record we learn that the Ladies raised $300 of the $400 paid the Minister one year. This "financial auxiliary" of the Official Board has continued its good work. Passing through the change in organization, it became the Federation, and later a combination of this and the two Missionary Societies resulted in the present organization known as the W.S.C.S.

The story between the lines here will call to mind memories of loyal service from so many women who gave time and labor in these branches of Church work.

Parkside Church Choir has played an important part in the worship services of this Church. It had its beginning under the direction of Mr. C. E. Lane, who, with Mrs. Lane as Organist, gave faithfully of time and talent for many years, Mr. Lane's personal Church Diaries hold names of a large number of people who at some time have belonged to the Choir. Their attendance record bears testimony of their faithfulness. Besides directing the Choir, Mr. Lane served the Church as Sunday School Superintendent, Trustee, Financial Secretary and Recording Steward. His complete and accurate records as Recording Steward have given us many facts about the early days of our Church.

The Sunday School with its important constituency of boys and girls has always presented a challenge. One Minister, upon looking over the field, sold, "It is an opportunity, God given.... Children - children everywhere".

Down through the years this challenge has been accepted by many teachers and officers who have believed that the strength of the Church lies in its YOUTH. Because of their belief, we have had able leadership in this all-important phase of our Church work.

The Epworth League and the Junior League, beginning as Senior and Junior Christian Endeavor Societies, have given splendid training in leadership to many young people who have found it useful 03 later they carried on the duties of their LIFE WORK.

If you find your way up the stairs on a Sunday morning to the little Library room, you will surely see the familiar face of the Sunday School Librarian, who for years has faithfully taken care of our supplies. His continued length of office, broken only when in the service of his country, is on a par with the record of those trustees, stewards, Sunday School Superintendents and Teachers who can boast "seniority rights" in a business that pays dividends not measured in dollars and cents.

The organized Sunday School classes have figured largely in the history of this Church and their contributions to its success have been legion. The Furman, Vashti and Dorcas Classes have a long record of usefulness and gifts of money and furniture have come through the channels of each of these groups. The Married Couples Class, organized in the early 30's, has taken its share of responsibility in both gifts of time and money.

This story of "service rendered" continues to the present time. The past year has boon one of great accomplishment. Under the able leadership of Rev. Manning, together with generous concessions on the part of our creditors, the indebtedness of our Church has been greatly reduced. Sacrificial giving became the order of the day.

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The names on our membership record include many who now are pioneer in a Celestial City. We have tasted many times the cup of sorrow at the loss of those who have meant so much in the life of our Church and Community.

Typical of these leaders is Mark Byron Furman, whose influence was felt by so many who knew him as teacher, superintendent, church official advisor and friend. His passing left a vacancy not easy to fill, expressed so well by those lines:


But those people live on in the lives they have influenced, and their work will continue throughout the years.

We have spoken all too briefly of those who served our Church in pulpit and parsonage but these consecrated lives have been woven into the fabric of our years. There have been eighteen regular appointments since this Church was incorporated, but counting Rev. Gwynn and Rev. Jameson who assisted Rev. Spencer, we have had the services of twenty ministers. This has meant an average pastorate of less than three years.

Each one of those men brought his own individual abilities and made his own contributions to the whole pattern of events. Each had particular problems to solve and a mission to fulfill in the brief time he remained here. In recognition of the work of all those AMBASSADORS of CHRIST, we say with the prophet Isaiah:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth Peace, that bringeth good tidings of God, that publisheth Solvation, that sayeth unto Zion, THY GOD REIGNETH!"

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As our only Pioneers erected a modest structure, so we who succeed them have builded a modest history through this half century. We boast no aristocracy save the aristocracy of usefulness. All through the past 50 years of its existence, Parkside Church has maintained the policy of an open door to Community needs.

Humbly, but gladly and freely, this building has been offered to the Community for many purposes, among which were: FIRST AID RO**S, EVACUATION CENTER, CHILD CARE CENTER, RED CROSS LOAN CUPBOARD !"ACE, SCOUT ROOMS AND WEEK DAY RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CLASSES. Physically equipped to meet the needs, and centrally located, we have acknowledged our fitness to answer these calls and have counted it a privilege to be used.

Thin is as it should be. We hove been the recipient of much generosity through the years, and our willingness to serve our Community will justify the existence of PARKSIDE CHURCH in the Village of East Rochester and vicinity. Freely we have received, freely let us give.

We have paused at the halfway mark in our Century of Progress to look back over the years, but now we must face forward again. These personalities whoso lives were expendable in the Cause they sponsored are looking to us to carry on the work which they began. Who can say what the Future will be? The physical structure begun so long ago has not yet readied its completion - "The Modern Edifice", dreamed of and planned for, and the Mission of the little group met together fifty years ago has not altogether been accomplished. There is still room for pioneering; our frontiers have not yet been exhausted.

We have at the present time a splendid corps of workers who are trying to take up tine torch which these others have passed to them and light the way to a FUTURE brighter and more glorious because of past accomplishment and future opportunity. Their names will appear in later history under the heading "THEY ALSO SERVE".

In this year one thousand nine hundred forty-eight we bow in humble silence as our listening ear catches the words of the Prayer which our Church breathes forth on this her ANNIVERSARY DAY:


A Brief Historical Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of East Rochester

Written and submitted by:
Mrs. Nora M. Robinson (charter member), 112 West Elm Street, East Rochester, New York

The clock of time ticks away the years and now the First Presbyterian Church looks back over a period of 25 years, weaving into our community life a variation in its social order of things.

We, the people of East Rochester, noting the rapid growth of the town, thought it necessary to establish a third Protestant church, to be known as a Presbyterian church when organized. It was under a sky of disappointment and prior discouragement we met together, 85 in number, and held our first Sunday service in the Village Fire Hall October 2$, 1909, with Rev. Mr. Pollock preaching to us.

We continued to hold these meetings 22 successive Sundays, the following ministers officiating: Rev. Pollock, Rev. Dr. Coit, Rev. Dr. H. H. Stebbings, Rev. Mr. Rodney, Rev. Brandon Greenaway, Rev. G. B. F. Rallock, Rev. Dr, J. M. Kitteridge, Rev. Mr. Campbell. Also Mr. Eddy and Mr. Rugg and Rev. Robert Drysdale.

During this period two union services were held, the Baptists uniting with us in a Christmas service and we uniting with them in a patriotic service.

The organization of various branches of church work soon took place, namely the Sunday -School, the Prayer-Meeting and also a Women's Society.

The Sunday-School was organized Sunday, November 7, 1909, with 61 persons present and a collection of $2.02. Rev. Dr. Coit was present on this occasion. The following is a list of officers and teachers, chosen to perfect this branch of church servitude.

The following persons pledged their support to act 83 teachers: Mrs. A. O. Rogers, Mrs. H. C. Stone, Mrs. Chas. Erwin, Mrs. W. B. Ransom, Mrs. W. L, Blighton, B. J. Vanderbilt, J. T. McCarty and also a Bible-class.

Much interest was developed in this line of church work, the children responding to their duties, with a Christmas entertainment and they were given a Christmas tree.

A voluntary choir under the leadership of Mr. W. L. Blighton provided music which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed by the congregation. The prayer-meetings were held weekly at the homes of the members of the congregation with an average attendance of 18 or 20 persons. Much good was received from these meetings.

The third branch of church work was the women's organization, details of this organization and work to be given later in this brief sketch of church history.

The average attendance at these church services in the Fire Hall was 137 and the amount of the collection was $385,45 for this period of 22 Sundays.

The official organization of a church commission took place at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Evans of East Elm St. The meeting was opened with prayer by Rev. Mr. Coit who proceeded to advise and instruct the organization as a commission to operate under the rules and regulations of the Rochester Presbytery. Accordingly, a committee was chosen to meet and petition the Presbytery for a place of honor on its roll, to be known as the First Presbyterian Church of East Rochester and to assume whatever duties might devolve upon them as a church unit, which God had seen fit to bless in his manifold goodness to us,the children of men, in our efforts to serve and maintain the gospel. The said committee,together with 10 representatives (ministers), petitioned this executive body to accept an honor roll of charter members. This roll was made up of 64, presenting certificates from various churches, 31 who asked to be received on confession of faith and 14 who were baptized. This meeting convened February 22, 1910. The pact of true Christian fellowship was solemnized by the clasping of hands while singing "Blest be the tie that binds".

The list of Charter members is as follows:

Rosetta Abigal   Emily Bickal
Clarence Archer Edith Blighton
Henrietta Archer Rachel Bradley
Raymond Archer Laura Brayman
Voight Archer Florence Coryell
Helen Bacus Elizabeth Courtney
George Bauer Florence Erwin
Sara Beckwith Alex Estey
Minnie Estey Earl Perkins
Anna Evans G. M. Perkins
J, Murray Franklin Harold Perkins
Florence Ford Abram Robinson
Mary Ford Nora M. Robinson
Robert Ford Mrs. Bertha Rogers
Willis Ford Alfred Schoonmaker
Frank Forgham Fannie Schoonmaker
Isabelle Forgham Blanch Stone
Harriet Gillman Henry Stone
Annie L. Gray Gertrude Thurston
Edward Gray Sara Thurston
Alfred Harris Addie Vanderbilt
Ellen Harris Barton Vanderbilt
Sadie King Adrian Versluis
Mollie King Nettie Versluis
Jno. Krier Alice Waud
Mary Laughlin George Waud
Cora McCarty Alda Perkins
Harry McCarty Jennie Perkins
J. T. McCarty Levi Perkins
Amelia March Frances Phillips
George March Edith Young
Jessie Mitchell Effie Young
Laura Nudd Clarence Young
Alice Perkins  
Pearl Allen Ada Hagerty
Christine Becker John Hodges
Frank Becker Albert King
Wm. L. Blighton Charles King
Lawrence Charbonneau Christine (March) Mabry
Voigt Charbonneau Thomas J. Mitchell
Byron Coryell Leland Ransom
Chas. G. Irwin Gertrude Ransom
John Ewing Fay Saxton
Olin D. Gray Charles Thurston
Melvin Hickock Denby Waud
Thomas Holland Fredrick Winterbotham
Jennie Hall Velma Winterbotham

Following the reception of these persons duly assembled was the selection and ratification of persons to act as officers of the newly-organized church. The executive branch consisted of the presiding pastor and three regular chosen members to be ordained a3 elders. Barton J. Vanderbilt, J. Murray Franklin and Abram Robinson were chosen to act in that capacity. Next in order was the choice of deacons. Raymond Archer and G. M. Perkins were chosen, and also a board of trustees.

The church equipment and property was of very scanty proportion and had to be placed in readiness for church service as each occasion demanded. Many gifts to facilitate the work of the church were presented: pulpit and lamp by Messrs. Waud and Laughlin; a bible by Bcrantom and Wetmore of Rochester; a communion set by popular subscription; hymnals and psalter by the Rochester Third Church. All these mark the beginning and date back a quarter of a century and are ever dear to the hearts and minds of us who ore present on this occasion to answer present to the roll call of that date, February 22, 1912.

The next in order of interest was the call for a pastor, and, instinctively, our thoughts and minds went out to Mr. Greenaway who had come here from Britt, Iowa to preach to us. He took his chair as moderator of the session and was duly installed as pastor.

Prior to his taking up his residence in our town, it proved a necessary procedure to secure a suitable manse, and this could be accomplished only through the purchase of property which proved a realistic incentive in the financial order of things in the initial life of our church. It was counted as a most successful venture at that time. To Mr. Greenaway we ascribe the honor of being our first pastor. His enduring fortitude and perseverance in the great desire for a house of worship resulted in the purchase of land and the collection of funds for a church building. This proved a great cheer and blessing meted out to us as a congregation in the laying of the corner stone by Dr. Taylor in 1915 in the presence of many people representative of Rochester and East Rochester.

Preceding this was the excavation for the building. This was participated in by about 100 men of our village who had provided themselves with the implements necessary together with 5 teams to mark the beginning of a church home. Mrs. Greenaway and Mrs. Becker were sponsors for the ladies and most efficiently turned the first two shovelfuls of earth, and today we are proud of our church home built on cooperative principles, as all tradesmen donated valuable services which resulted in a fine edifice of for greater value than could have been expected, for, considering funds procured and otherwise advanced, the cost is estimated at from $10,000. to $12,000. exclusive of donated services and materials which were of great proportion.

The ladies' organization is known as "The Willing Workers" and had its origination and first meeting at the home of Mrs. Sara Thurston on West Chestnut Street. Mrs. Thurston was chosen as the First President and to her is ascribed the honor for the first church service in the Village Fire Hall that memorable date of October 24, 1909. The other officers chosen were: Mrs. B. J. Vanderbilt, First Vice-President; Mrs. Lottie Ketcham, Secretary; Mrs. A. Robinson, Assistant Secretory and Mrs. George Waud, Treasurer.

During Mr. Greenaway's pastorate our financial interests were most enthusiastically carried on by the ladies, who served public suppers and conducted a holiday sale which has become an annual event, besides other activities that lend a humorous picture of events that were fast making history of our early church.

Another branch of servitude was inaugurated into our church life when the missionary society was organized under the name of the Martha Greenaway Missionary Society in honor of our first pastor's wife. We enlisted ourselves on the roll of missions of the Rochester Presbytery, and we are proud to relate that we have always met the apportionment assigned to us and resigned ourselves to the task of befriending the poor in our midst. God has blessed our endeavors, and we feel that our reward is great; as the promise Is given - "Bread upon the waters cast shall be gathered at last". This, and the Divine command to go preach the gospel, please the Master.

The next red-letter day in the history of our church was January 23, 1916. The program of that date is as follows: Dedication sermon by Rev. Robert J. Drysdale of Mount Hor Church; the men's rally in the P.M. conducted by John B. White of Gates; evening service conducted by Rev. W. L. Stone of the First Church of Rochester.

Time and memory pass before us in review and a sense of humor adds zest to the many pictures that make up history dear to all who brand themselves as Presbyterians, a name worthy of a place in the history of every community, and, as true Americans, we enjoy the tradition of love of worship and freedom.

Mr. Greenaway's pastorate terminated January 1918.

The Rev. Henry Snyder of Fayette, New York was the second pastor of Fast Rochester church and convened with the session as its moderator and pastor July 7, 1918. The most important events of his pastorate consisted in the persistence of church ethics or standards in spite of the handicaps of war that disrupted all social, standards of living throughout the nation.

During his pastorate the church was decorated. The organization of the brotherhood brought new life into the activities of the church. The organization of the Dorcas Society who are classified as "Good Samaritans", ministering cheer to the sick and the "shut-ins". Both these organizations are complimentary to the welfare of the church, Rev. Snyder's term as pastor of the East Rochester church terminated December 8, 1921.

The Rev. Fred O. Scurrah of Canton, New York was the third pastor called to minister to the First Presbyterian Church of East Rochester, January 28, 1922. The call was accepted and he took his place as moderator of the session and pastor of the people April 9, 1922 and continued to serve in that capacity until June 1932. During his pastorate an earnest christian worker and friend of the congregation, wishing to be remembered by her deeds and generosity, provided a legacy to be used in the purchase of an organ to grace the sanctity of God's house. Miss Sara Coryell was the benefactor of this beautiful memorial ;hat was dedicated June 29, 1924 as a reminder of Christian servitude.

There is another whose name adorns the pages of our church history, He, wishing to do his bit for the Master in the golden days of life, was Mr. Goldie, who appreciated the fullness of God's mercy in leaving a Legacy to the church he loved.

A proud moment was ushered into the history of the church when the burning of the mortgage took place on October 13, 1929 with special music and ceremony.

From the organization of the church to the present time, many articles of church equipment have been presented by individuals, societies or various groups of church workers. Kitchen and dining-room equipment were given by ladies' organizations. Communion linen, baptismal bowl and communion plates were given by the Dorcas Society, A pulpit bible was given by the Young Ladies' Sunday School Class, This brief sketch is complimentary to all donors.

November 1932 marks the leadership of Rev. Robert Schwenk as pastor and counselor of the people of the East Rochester church. Reorganization of all branches of servitude have been effected, a much increased membership roll and added interest in all spiritual requisites has manifested itself.

A Boy Scout unit, Young Peoples' Forum and also a Service League have been added to the social organizations of the church, and all departments show greater interest. Plans for further development of the church have been formulated and await a more opportune time for their fulfillment. Although depression holds its grip on the citizens of East Rochester, the Presbyterian Church has pictured the Glory of God inside and beautified the surroundings outside. The present membership numbers 382.

Now that we are assembled this twenty-fifth year to do homage to our God for his great blessings to us, may we leave with the same cherished thoughts as those with which we began.

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

As a summary to this brief historical sketch, we count the First Presbyterian Church of East Rochester a valuable asset to the community of which it is a part. We need no disguise, as to its purpose in the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our neighbors, for we are founded on the convictions of our forefathers, who built a program which is the heritage of every true American, who is proud to enlist under the banner of Christianity bearing the name of Presbyterianism.



The first Lawless Paper Mill was built on the Penfield Dug Road by D. T, Lawless. At this time they used straw to make paper. His brothers in Marcellus would take a hay rack and horses to buy straw from the farmers. Then he would come here and sell it to D. T. Lawless. At one time he had difficulty in getting to the Mill because of bad roads. It was at election time, so the contestant in order to get votes, immediately saw to it that the road was improved.

This building burned and was replaced once. Just one little incident to show the honesty of D. T. Lawless. When ho was rebuilding, he bought lumber of Andrew Bown. Didn't pay for it so Mr. Bown canceled the debt as they were good friends in Penfield. Years later Mr. Lawless came to pay the bill. He wasn't satisfied on the amount as Mr. Brown hadn't included the interest.

Tho two sons David and Michael Lawless bought of Pierce Oil Company the property where the Mill now stands. That was done in 1917. The Mill had two cylinders and was capable of producing twenty ton of paper a day. This paper was heavy weight and used for wrapping paper as will as corrugated boxes.

In 1919 another addition was made which enabled them to make what they called Box Board. One addition after another has been added which means more cylinders, and able to do more work. In 1920 they wore able to produce 40 tons of paper a day and now they do 110 tons of paper a day.

David's sons John and Matthew and Michael's son Robert, are interested in the business now. John's older brother has charge of the plant in Tonawanda.

They do all their transporting by trucks. They have thirteen trucks and 23 trailers. They cover the territory between Cleveland and Hew York. Most of it is in Hew York State. DuPont in New Jersey buys heavily from them. Endicott Johnson buys about 3,000 tons of paper a year. They make up their own boxes. Their daily output about 200,000 boxes a day.

Besides making paper for boxes and shipping cases, they have developed a paper which is free of sulphur. This is used in the silver and jewel boxes. Their chemists are working on a paper that may be radioactive free.

The Oneida Community Silver people buy their entire stock from Lawless.



This company was originally started in 1897. The Pierce family, father and sons were the owners. The elder Mr. Fierce and his son Harvey were the original workers and owners of the company. An honorary title was bestowed on Harvey in 1902. He was an educator, and interested in the welfare of the community. Their first office was in the Chamber of Commerce building in Rochester. They would come out here each day by train and walk down to she plant. At this time they were crushing mustard seed, producing mustard seed oil which wasn't too successful.

Mr. Pierce had six boys and four girls. Finally Thomas and Stewart came to work with their father and brothers to get the business established. The name of the company was then changed to Fierce Brothers.

Their building burned to the ground in 1906. They rebuilt. In 1907 the company was incorporated under the name of The Pierce Company. At this time two other brothers became interested as stockholders. They were Duncan and Dennis Fierce.

During those formative years the principal product manufactured was voiete, a rubber extender made from vegetable oil.

Around 1914 the company branched into the manufacture of blown oils which were made from corn, rapeseed and castor oils. These oils were used in finishing artificial lather and real leather, for automobile upholstery and for furniture, also patent leather, which was being used extensively at that time, for shoes, bags, belts, etc.

There was a great amount of curiosity surrounding the Pierce plant during these early years. Dr. Fierce had the windows covered with newspapers etc. The residents of Despatch and later of East Rochester seemed to believe that something very mysterious or secret was being manufactured in this plant. Stories ran wild as to what was being made there. Visitors were not made too welcome and the stories grow larger and larger. There was really nothing so mysterious. True the process was a secret and the Pierce's intended to keep it so. Furthermore, they were too busy to stop to visit with visitors in those early hard years.

These products made up the principal part of the business until 1910 when a refinery was installed for refining vegetable oils such as corn and peanut oils, which are used in making salad and cooking oils.

In 1918 the plant was added onto and a beautiful new offioe was built.

During World War I, one of the biggest commodities was medicinal castor oil, which was sold in great quantities to the U. S. government and to others. The heavy blown oils were used in marine engines, business thrived way beyond anyone's expectation during the 20's. They shipped over a million and a half barrels of oil that year. Then, of course, came the depression. The Pierce Company had its troubles as most all other companies. However, with all their difficulties, which were not all financial, they ware able to pull through and hold their own again.

In 1937 the Baker Castor Oil Co. of New York and New Jersey became interested in the company and bought it. The name was then changed to the Pierce Oil Products corporation. Although the Fierce Brothers were not connected with the company at this time, it was considered a wise move to retain the old name with a slight change.

In 1950 The National Lead Co. took over control of the Baker Castor Oil Company, thereby acquiring The Pierce Oil Products Corporation also. Today The Pierce Oil Products Corporation operates as a subsidiary of The National Lead Company with the same personnel operating and conducting the business in East Rochester. As of 1950, with the exception of some who are now on retirement under the company's retirement plan. The plant after almost sixty years still operates on the same site on which the first little plant was built.

Clarence Melious - 1914 - retired 1954
George Petrie - 1917
Stewart Pierce


Written for the "Study Club"
Lucile S. Saunders

February, 1956

On January 18, 1896 an item appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle claiming, on reliable authority, knowledge that options on 480 acres of land had been obtained in the Town of Penfield in the interest of the Merchant's Despatch Company. The paper further stated that the company would erect on the land a new factory, at which freight cars would be built. There was already such a factory on the east end of Rochester near Culver Road which was employing 200 men. (They called it "East Rochester" since it lay east of the overhead on Culver and west of the railroad crossing on Winton.)

For some months rumor had been prevalent that this shop was too small and a now location was being sought. Rumor also claimed that Depew, which city had sought the Merchant's Despatch factory, was unsuitable because at certain intervals water had to be brought from other places to keep the shops running. It was whispered that the inactivity of the Niagara Falls Power Company had something to do with the decision of the Merchant's Despatch Company's location at Penfield. There was the promise of the best of water power, and the not busy Niagara plant promised them an electric plant of their own. No grading or blasting would be necessary in connection with the construction at Penfield. This was an important item in locating so large a plant.

In the option on the Penfield property, running along Irondequoit Creek, were already located five mills including a paper mill and two flouring mills. If these mills should be purchased,the entire water power of the Irondequoit Creek would be at the disposal of the railroad company.

This company, under the name of the Merchant's Despatch Transportation, had been established in 1857 as a branch of the American Express Company. It was now organized in 1871 as a Joint Stock Association, engaged in transportation of freight under agreement with the railroads. The car equipment began in 1871 with the purchase of 225 29-foot box cars, followed by the purchase of additional box and fruit cars. In 1883, the company built its first two refrigerator cars. Ten years later it had added one additional refrigerator car - but the demand was beginning to come in for additional cars. The Company had a repair shop on the siding of the New York Central railroad at Goodman Street where about 400 employees were working. At the Culver Road plant 200 additional men were employed. With new orders pouring in, a new plant seemed vital.

On January 21, 1896... three days after the item came out in the Democrat & Chronicle, a gentleman "who is in the position to know" and who "has just returned from New York City told a Committee of the Chamber of Commerce that the locating of the factory at Penfield Station was certain; that papers were already signed." He further related that James C. Fargo, President of the M.D.T. Company, had discovered some two years ago the advantages of the Penfield site and had sent an agent at that time to secure options on the desired land. Mr. Walter Parce of Fairport had carried through successfully and had obtained options on property aggregating 480 acres. The Land Company had agreed to give the Railroad Company about 40 acres of this land for their present use.

The building plans had been discussed and in general terms the buildings were to be built of brick; they were to be designed by a well-known architect. They would occupy 32 acres of land and actual work would be begun very slowly. The sidetracts for the buildings would leave the main track just below the Signal Tower near the Penfield Station.

In April a meeting was hold in the village of Penfield at which propositions were submitted and plans were offered for establishing the M.D.T. Company's works in the town of Penfield and also plans for building a model village alongside the Central Railroad tracks. The people of the town present at the meeting included the well-known producer dealers, the Bown Brothers, Charles Westerman, Josiah Lincoln, Charles C. Raymond and other prominent men. At the meeting, those present were extremely reticent about giving information to the public so that only meagre details were learned by the Press. But it did not appear that any considerable obstacles would stand in the way. It would have a great influence in developing not only the town of Penfield, but the neighboring towns of Pittsford and Fairport as well. The growth of such suburban towns could not fail to contribute to the general prosperity of the city itself.

The Factory was to be located at the site of the Penfield Station about two and a half miles south of the Village of Penfield proper and, aside from Down Brothers establishment, there was practically nothing but land surrounding it. About 35 acres of land northeast from the Station on the opposite side of the highway from Bown Brothers was to be mapped out for the factory buildings. The land was owned by Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Trenaman, but options on both farms had been given to the Parce-Fargo Land Company. Plans for a model village which was to extend over some 600 acres were ready and options on other land had been secured for the new development.

Urgency for the construction of the new village was pointed out since the workers, who were to produce the new refrigerator cars and do much of the work for the railroad which had formerly been done in the West, would need nearby places in which to live. An electric car line from the city was also proposed. This car line would extend 8 miles from the city to Penfield Station, with a spur taking in Pittsford on the way and perhaps going on to Fairport about three miles from Penfield. Options on real estate along both sides of the proposed line had been secured and these options, added on to the extensive options already obtained for the building of the village, brought into the hands of the Land Company most of the farm land from Brighton to Fairport.

The Penfield Press of May 16, 1896 warned the parties in Penfield who were holding out for exorbitant prices on their options that, if they did not come down to a reasonable figure, "the large fish - the M.D.T. would escape their net owing to the weakness of a few of the meshes." Penfield was warned that Fairport might easily win the "rare prize" if the Penfield "people should be so blinded to their interests as to block the wheels of progress which would bring prosperity and business activity to a whole community."

In the "Fairport Mail" under date of May 7, an article contains the same warning delivered by Walter A. Parce, one of the head promoters.

"The high price asked for, by some of the Penfield property owners, will only bring about the certainty that the shops will never be moved to the Penfield location unless some of the property owners take a reasonable view of the matter and offer and persuade others to offer their holdings at a reasonable figure," "If the shops do go to Penfield, it Is estimated that 800 or 900 men will be given employment; the Rochester Railway Company will run a line taking in the Villages of Penfield, Fairport, and Pittsford,"

As this obstacle came up and pressures would not persuade all the farmers to sell, another serious problem was raised. There were no places for the 1000 men to live and, if the shops were to be built first, the building of the village might be so delayed that employees and their families would be hard to locate. The two lumber companies in the city (tho Hollisters and the Craig Companies) were offering great inducements to keep the company in Rochester.

A clever suggestion in the Penfield Press of June 4» 1&96 was made to the assessors of the towns of Penfield, Perinton and Pittsford that, since each property holder had been offered $200 an acre for their land and still they were holding it for more, the assessors do their duty and assess the property for what had been offered for it in cash. Mr. Parce had worked for three years securing the options on the 1100 acres to be donated to the Land Company, and yet they could not come to terms with some of the land owners. There was a difference of $18,000 between the land company and the land holders. In desperation a compromise was reached with the Westerman family who were still holding out for $250 an acre. They were to got $230 for two farms of 120 A each, and the rest of the farmers agreed to take $180 an acre. This left the difference at $6,300. This amount the Penfield people undertook to raise by subscription.

A meeting of prominent citizens was held and a committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions. The committee members were A. H. Bown, George March and George H. Harris. They raised the money and the transfer of 35 acres of land and $10,000 cash was made to the M.D.T., accepting in return $30,000 in stock. Other participants well known to East Rochesterians were A. W. Palmer, Dr. Trescott of Fairport, C. N. Leonard, Dr, Humphrey, C. C. Raymond of Penfield, I. K. Lincoln, I. Austin, J. Chase, W. H. Brown and W. A. Wescott.

On June 16th, 1896, Penfield celebrated the signing of the deeds with bell ringing of both school and churches. When Parce and George Harris arrived at the meeting from Rochester and were joined by Josiah Lincoln, bonfires, the boom and blaze of cannon and fireworks, bands and merry music serenaded the event.

The Despatch Company, a powerful corporation with a capital of three million dollars had succeeded in getting its new site near the Penfield Station with a track frontage of 1800 feet. It is true that 87½% of its three million dollar stock was owned by the New York Central Railroad, but the officers of the M.D.T. were practically the same as those of the American Express Company from which the Merchant's Despatch was organized. The newly-created office of General Superintendent of the new plant was filled by the appointment of J. W. Musson who was to have full charge of construction of the plant as well as its management.

There was to be a main building 125 x 600 feet, another 125 x 300 feet, a blacksmith shop, a machine shop 100 x 200 feet, a storage house 60 x 300 feet, a paint shop, a power house and an office centrally located. The M.D.T. were to have about five double track spurs for the storage of cars awaiting repairs. These tracks were to be in the rear of the shops and were planned so that they would not detract from the appearance of the landscape. It was intended that at this plant the work planned was to keep in repair upwards of 10,000 cars owned and operated by the Despatch Company. Later they planned to build refrigerator cars, since they owned the Wickes refrigerator patents. These cars were to be used exclusively for the transporting of fruit and dairy products, as well as a large business in beef. After each trip these cars had to be made clean and pure by a chemical process in order to make them fit for the next trip. It was the thought of the M.D.T. that all these shops should form a nucleus for a thriving industrial community of four to five thousand people.

As soon as the railroad shop contracts were signed, the Land Company or Vanderbllt Improvement Company was incorporated with a capital of $800,000. This syndicate of capitalists was headed by Walter Parce, President; Edmund Lyon, Vice-President; Dean Alvord, Secretary and was composed of many other important men from New York City, from Rochester, Fairport and Penfield. It had been Walter Parce who had conceived the idea of a car shop and a now town built out of the rich farm land for a mile and a half along the Irondequoit Creek. It was he, who, riding on the New York Central train from Fairport to Rochester, overheard a discussion about the need of the New York Central car shops for more room.

It was he who interested James Fargo in the project. It was Mr. Parce who in three years lined up the options on the 1100 acres surrounding the acres donated to the M.D.T. He also interested Edmund Lyon who was connected with Eastman and the Northeast Electric Companies. Edmund Lyon persuaded H. C. Eyer and Dean Alvord to join him in a bicycle tour from Rochester over dirt roads and rough farm land, after which, at the conclusion of the tour of the whole site, they joined enthusiastically the Vanderbilt Company, becoming two of the largest property owners.

Dean Alvord hold to plot the village and the newly-engaged W. C. Gray, Engineer, worked with him. They measured the water power in the Irondequoit and found a remarkable steady flow of around 500 horsepower. While this was deemed sufficient to furnish light for all purposes and power enough to operate an electric road connecting Penfield, Pittsford, Brighton and the new village, it was considered advisable to build a dam on the creek that would give a 112 ft. fall, increasing the power very greatly, just to be on the safe side. W. C. Gray was also responsible for the naming of most of the village streets, so many of them after trees, with the North and South streets after Presidents.

Names of the other prominent men in the Vanderbilt Company Include Walter Hubbell, Frank P. Crouch, Harvey F. Remington and Erikson Perkins.

From June 1896 to April 1897, uncertainty and excitement fluctuated as plans neared completion. Following the signing between the M.D.T. and the Vanderbilt Company in June, the local Presses made headlines with reports... first, that all was well with the new village; but the next day, that the company had changed its mind and the plant was to be located in Depew. It was alleged that the system of macadamized roads, existence of natural gas, plenty of water, a site furnished free, and, most important of all, material means of taking care of the workers had changed their plans. The Penfield people were aroused to fever heat when the suggestion of changing the name of the new village was raised. In July a mass meeting held in the Penfield Town Hall denounced the movement and drew up a set of resolutions protesting the unfairness of changing the name and setting forth the reasons why the name of Penfield should be kept. That village had raised $7,000 out of their own pockets to bring about negotiations by which the Despatch Company would locate there. They had built the railroad station on the New York Central. Certainly some consideration should be shown them. Arguments and rumors kept up all through late 1896. On the third of April '97 the contract award for construction of the M.D.T. was given to James Stewart & Company, of Buffalo, for $118,370. This put a final end to rumors and bickerings.

The rural scene soon assumed the appearance of a thriving boom town. The date of May 30th '97 was set for the laying of the corner stone of the new office building of the M.D.T. At that time an old-fashioned barbecue was held and an auction sale of lots was advertised all through western New York. Throngs of people drove in carriages, phaetons, buggies and lumber wagons through the deep dust stirred up in the sandy acres through which heavy wagons had been hauling building supplies. A holiday was given to all workers on the plant. Their families had joined their menfolk for the splendid celebration promised, A program was given in the morning and a reception followed. Many eminent men were present and probably as many as 10 to 15 thousand people. The auction did not prove popular. People were too uncertain about the new town. The only lot sold that day was to Frank Becker, a lot on Elm Street where Mr. Smith (the ice man) now lives. Women and children grew tired as the day progressed. Faces, dresses and shoes that in the morning were clean and shiny were now gray with dust and begrimed with the remnants of the family lunch baskets. But the advertisement of the barbecue and the sale percolated through the countryside and it was not too long before letters with down payments, queries, and return visits showed that the new town had captured the imagination of many working people. The cornorhouse on Main and Ivy was hastily thrown together and became a popular boarding house. Stores and shops of one-story construction began to appear.

The first car built at Despatch was completed March 29th, 1898. By 1899, six buildings were completed for the M.D.T. They included an office, a wood mill, a wood erecting shop, a blacksmith shop, a paint shop and a sheet metal shop. The repair work was done on the line with no cover against the weather at all. About 400 employees had been brought in from the East end of Rochester and others who came in by trains from the eastern towns and villages (Canandaigua, Palmyra, Macedon, Fairport) made the personnel around 700. There were 17 trains a day that stopped at the little Penfield Station, bringing in and returning the workers at night. A "stub train" arrived from Rochester at 6:45 A.M. and returned at 6:15 P.M. The most popular train was the "Patsy White" made up at Newark, New York, which got to Despatch at 6:00 A.M., went on to Buffalo, returning at 7:00 P.M. to take the workers home. Another favorite train from the point of view of the villagers arrived at Despatch at 6:15 P.M., headed West and returned Eastbound at 11:00 P.M., just right for dinner and the theater in the Rochester city, Mr. Phillips, who built the boardinghouse which was described as first in the village, was one of the regular commuters. He came from Palmyra, N,Y. He built the house on the corner of Main and Ivy directly opposite the present Memorial Library.

The Management of those early car shop buildings contain some names well known to many. Robert H. Parks, who died less than a year ago, was General Manager; Frank Finney, Foreman, Wood Erection Shop; William Brokenshire, Charge of Wood Mill; J. J. O'Brien, Foreman Air Brake and Car Repairs on the line; Edward Thurmon, Foreman Door Shop; George Diem, in Charge of Paint Shop; George Burrows, Foreman Sheet Metal Shop; Frank Snyder, Foreman Blacksmith Shop; and Frank Becker, Inspector.

In 1899, Frank B. Aymond came from St. Charles, Missouri as Superintendent. He brought with him Walter Thurmon, his father and three brothers, Robert Rice, G. Hohn, Curran Mabry, LaDue, Scheetz and Schuler. With the coming of Aymond, William Brokenshire was made General Manager of the plant and J. J. O'Brien, General Foreman, The Company received its first order of cars in 1900, building 100 flat cars for the National Canadian Railway. Two baggage cars were built for the B. R. and P. Railroad.

By 1903 there was general prosperity in the plant. Many men were working overtime and were buying homes with their good pay. The pay of the men came every two weeks, being brought in by the New York Central road in a pay car. It took quite some time to pay in cash all of these 700 to 800 employees. A raise to the 13¢-an-hour men brought their pay up to 15¢ an hour. The only trouble in this year was a strike in the Paint Shop where a Mr. DiRienzi was Manager. They objected to the poor paint they were given. The strike brought about better paint for the shop. In 1904 they had an order for 500 standard box cars for the Boston & Maine Railroad. With the order for produce cars for the New York Central, work was assured for the entire year.

In 1906 the Village of Despatch was incorporated. The first Mayor was Thomas J. Mitchell, who, as a builder and contractor, built so many of our well-made homes. The Trustees of that first Board were George Ano, Dr. J. M. Allen, J. J. O'Brien, Howard R. Worden, and the first Clerk was Emory Lapham.

Streets and sidewalks were among the first order of business of the Village Trustees. To replace the old wooden car doors laid end to end to form the sidewalks, bids were asked for concrete walks. Mr. George Pettit, lowest bidder, was awarded the contract in 1907 and time alone would preserve the romantic old door walks.

A flurry on Wall Street in 1907, sometimes known as a "rich men's panic", drove paper currency into hiding. People were afraid to take it and, for a time, the Despatch Company paid their employees in gold. It was most annoying, for the gold dollars were not as large as a dime, and woe to the man whose pockets were apt to have holes or even one dropped stitch. The general complaint soon led to payment every two weeks by checks. These checks wore cashed by Mr. W, A. Parce in the depot. But, again, the long lines of employees waiting for their cash made pay day a more tedious chore than one can imagine today. Some idea of the volume of business done by the M.D.T. Company may be derived from the fact that employees of the car shops were paid nearly $25,000.00 at a pay day in 1909. (This sum was for two weeks' pay, of course.)

The annual village election held one year after Despatch was incorporated asked the voters to approve the change of the name of the village from Despatch to East Rochester. For the reason that the business firms thought the name East Rochester easier to use in buying and selling, the voters acceded to the Trustees' request and East Rochester, a thriving suburban town, eight miles from the four corners in Rochester, came into being March 1908.

The year 1909 saw great prosperity in East Rochester. Robert H. Parks, Manager for the Shops, announced an order of 600 new box cars added to the one received two weeks before, making a total of 1600 cars to be built as soon as possible. This was enough to assure a busy Winter and, consequently, a prosperous season in the Village. In November the New York Central Railroad adopted a pension system for employees which would become effective on January 1, 1910. Under the system adopted, the employees are retired on reaching 70 years. If they had been in the service of the company continuously for ten years preceding their retirement, they would be entitled to a pension. If for twenty years, the amount of the pension would be 1% for each year of continuous service based on the overage rate of pay for the ten years preceding retirement. This means a railroad pension for a man with 40 years' service and an annual income of $3,000 a year would amount to $1200. The same year, 1909, saw a new steel plant completed for manufacturing car sills, the refrigerator cars had been entrusted to several gangs of four men who built them on barrels and shoved them onto trucks by hand. So many hand methods seem ridiculous to us now. For instance, these gangs of four got $16.20 for every car they built up from the beginning. Only the door and refrigerator tank were excepted. The more cars built - the greater the pay. Therefore, there were all kinds of dodges worked in order to get a car that did not need too much repairing. Theoretically, the cars were to be taken as they came along the line. But bursts of speed, or stalling, could often control the car they rated, so the men learned many ways of playing for more money. One thing they all dreaded... that was a bolt broken off and stuck in the car. There was no reaming machine. If a bolt stuck or any part became clogged, one of the partners had to run the whole length of the erection shop to the blacksmith shop, heat a rod hot, then run back to ream out the clogged parts. He must run all the way lest the rod cooled. Since the machine shop was 300 ft. long and the blacksmith shop another 300 ft. long, the trip could be ludicrous to watch as well as costly to the four partners who were so unfortunate. The tanks that went into the refrigerator were built by hand in the shops. Mr. Hallett, of East Commercial Street, the father of Mrs. Madge Lindsay and Mrs. Rose Mullen, was a tinsmith and had charge of building these tanks. The father of Miss May Chesbro (who has taught in our schools for more than 25 years) also worked on these tanks.

Although immense boilers generate power for the shops, many machine were driven by electricity furnished by the Despatch Heat, Light and Power Company. Beginning with 1909, all new machinery in the new steel plant would be equipped with electric power. This necessitated a new addition to the shops and likewise added 200 more men employed in the plant, making a total of 1100 employees in 1910,

In 1912 L. S. West came from the Eastern railroad center in Boston to assume the General Managership of the plant. Superintendent Parks had been In control nearly 14 years and the plant had grown greatly. Mr. West lived in the house rented from Mr. Curran Mabry, the house which Mark Furman later purchased.

The M.D.T. decided on December 31st, 1912 to sell their refrigerator cars, which they had built, owned and operated, to the New York Central Railroad. They had acquired over 6300 refrigerator cars. By selling those they ceased to be a transportation company and private car line. In 1913, Mr. West was made Superintendent and Art Becker was promoted to be General Manager, George Steuber was made Shop Superintendent. Many other changes were made but lack of time prevents their enumeration.

In 1922 the Steel Fabricating and Assembly Plant was increased considerably in size and equipment, larger wheel and axle department installed, blacksmith department increased; also the Paint Department, wood erection shop and wood mill were made larger. A dry Kiln building was constructed.

In 1928 the M.D.T. was divided, the M.D.T. being assigned to the West Yard and the D.S.I. (Despatch Shops, Incorporated) was put under Walter Thurmon, Foreman in the East end. All heavy building was to be done in the East End; the light repairs go to the West Yard.

When the depression of 1929 hit the plant, it brought about laying off of many employees who had never worked anywhere else. Cars were no longer needed for shipping and for two long years the only work centered about repair to the American Express cars and repair parts for railroad rolling stock. By 1931 heavy duty equipment was in rwgular demand both in this country and abroad. The Steel Plant felt the urge to enlarge and the Air Brake Department was considerably increased and, finally, the Electric Power plant was forced to enlarge correspondingly in size and equipment.

Construction in the following years included express cars, hopper cars, gondolas, box caboose cars, etc. and developed in sales of miscellaneous fabricated car parts to the railroad.

In December 1936 the parent New York Central formed a subsidiary refrigerator car operating company and the company name changed to Despatch Shops, Inc.

The Company engages in construction of various types of railroad freight cars, and general repairs to cars, together with railroad supplies. They have a capacity of 36 new steel sheathed box cars or 24 new self-clearing hopper cars, or 15 refrigerator cars plus any other type of car, per diem. The property comprises 123 acres.

In 1947, due to scarcity of materials and manpower, about 1200 were employed - at peak production approximately 1600. In 1945 an average of 163 trains passed through the growing village of East Rochester daily.

In October 1955 all land, buildings and equipment of Despatch Shops, Inc. and adjoining Merchants Despatch Transportation Corporation were leased by the New York Central Railroad. It was done with the purpose of taking care of all New York Central car equipment. The top management passed into the hands of New York City people with the replacement of some local people, retired, but many foremen, supervisors and managers, grown up within the company are in important places.

The roster of employees runs to 1700, many of whom are Puerto Ricans or men who worked at the Buffalo plant of the M.D.T. The car shops today (1956) have the reputation of paying higher wages than almost all other heavy industrial plants near Rochester. During the past ten years lay-offs and unemployment have been quite rare. There seems to be plenty of work and safety measures have lessened the danger of accidents very greatly. Safety glasses worn in some of the shops are compulsory and are furnished to the men free of charge. Promotions are more often made from within the organization than from outside. The shops have a local union which is not very aggressive but it seems to stand behind its members which is desirable.


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