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Elizabeth Lee, part 1

I’m going to whine about the difficulties of historical research. The original owner of my house at 80 Glasgow Street was a widow named Elizabeth Lee. She is a perfect example of how historical records are often obscure or contradictory. According to her obituary, the former Elizabeth Case of Philadelphia was 89 years old when […]

Monument to the Fox Sisters

The Spiritualist Obelisk on Troup Street is one of the great attractions in Corn Hill. It once stood next to a Spiritualist church but there is some confusion about where that church was because the obelisk isn’t where it used to be. The story begins with a homicide. On March 31, 1848, two sisters Maggie […]

Daughters of the American Revolution

During the next year or so, don’t be surprised if you hear extended sounds of celebration from the Irondequoit Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. It’s been 125 years since its founding. 2020 will mark another anniversary—100 years since the group moved into the Hervey Ely House at Troup Street and […]

The Reynolds Family, part 4: The Library

On December 19, 1878, Abelard Reynolds “fell into the placid sleep that knows no waking” (they just don’t write obituaries like that anymore!). He was 93. His wife, the former Lydia Strong, died in 1886 one month before her 102nd birthday. Their youngest child Mortimer would not have the longevity of his parents but he […]

The Reynolds Family, part 3: Athenaeum

On June 12, 1829, a year after Abelard Reynolds opened his Arcade, sixty business leaders gathered in a room on its second floor to launch the Rochester Athenaeum.  Nathaniel Rochester became its first president, a title he retained until his death two years later. Each member paid a five-dollar fee to fund a library that […]

The Reynolds Family, part 2: Arcade

The winter of 1812-13 was a severe one. Settlers in the area surrounding the One Hundred Acre Tract hunkered down in their homes against icy winds and huge snowdrifts. Families rarely saw anyone beyond household members. An occasional visit from the local postmaster, Abelard Reynolds, was always most welcome. There wasn’t much mail arriving in […]

The Reynolds Family, part 1: Abelard

Modern day Rochester begins with the purchase of a one hundred-acre piece of land. In 1803, three wealthy veterans of the American Revolution set out from their homes in Hagerstown, Maryland. They came up through the Susquehanna Valley, found their way to the headwaters of the Genesee River and traveled along its western shore. They […]

Bogie’s Mother, part 2

If you missed it, read Bogie’s Mother, part 1. In the 1890s, Belmont DeForest Bogart courted the highly successful artist Maud Humphrey. The attraction was mutually intense and marriage seemed imminent. However, Maud was a feminist and an outspoken advocate of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony—too independent for Bogart’s taste. They broke up and seemed to […]

Bogie’s Mother, part 1

The cover of this year’s guide for the Holiday Tour of Homes features artwork by Maud Humphrey who, in the late Nineteenth Century, lived briefly at #5 Greenwood Street. An excellent artist, her work is often overshadowed by the fact that her son was movie actor Humphrey Bogart. Someone has traced a genealogy of mother […]

The Button House, part 3: Editha, Last of the Line

Editha Lois Button was the only child born to Nelson Lord Button Jr. and Alice Maude Goodger. She once described her father as “a playboy, a very precious boy, a handsome father, brought up to be a gentleman. Grandpa [Nelson Sr.] would never let him soil his hands….” Editha was similarly pampered. For many years, […]