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After Thoughts by Jim DeVinney

Recalling Corn Hill's Illustrious Past

Jim DeVinneyBefore he retired, Corn Hill Historian Jim DeVinney produced many award-winning shows for PBS.  He earned his first Emmy for an adaption of the Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities.  He won two more Emmys as writer of shows for the highly acclaimed documentary series Eyes on the Prize, which chronicled the history of the Civil Rights Movement; one of his shows in this series was also nominated for an Academy Award.  After that, Jim went on to produce more historical documentaries for the PBS series American Experience earning another Emmy as part of the writing team for “The Kennedys.”  His American Experience program, “The Wizard of Photography,” describes how George Eastman built the Kodak Empire.  It can still be viewed in one of the galleries at the George Eastman Museum.  Jim has been Corn Hill's historian since 2014.

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, […]

The Button House, part 2: Witchcraft and Fire

In September 1628, Matthias Button arrived from England at Salem, Massachusetts. Within five years, he moved to Boston and is listed among that city’s earliest settlers. It was a difficult life as sickness claimed several children and Button’s first three wives. The third wife reportedly died of “fright and exposure” after John Godfrey, a Mathias […]

The Button House, part 1: Origins

After moving into Corn Hill four years ago, I sometimes took evening walks through the neighborhood. I often ran into the late Janet Mlinar, patrolling the streets with her trusty camera. Two years ago we took note of the house at 97 Tremont Street. It was for sale and Janet seemed eager to learn more […]

William Kimball

Henry Suggett opened his tobacco shop on East Main Street in 1846. In 1864, he welcomed William Kimball as a partner and the company became known as Suggett & Kimball. In September 1867, Suggett retired from the business and passed his share to his partner. Then, on October 30, Kimball transferred both business and property […]

Josiah Bissell Jr.

Nathaniel Rochester, William Fitzhugh and Charles Carroll, the trio who famously purchased the One Hundred Acre Tract of land that grew into the city of Rochester, were Southerners from Hagerstown, Maryland. As such they were an anomaly. For the most part, the earliest settlers in Western New York came from New England, bringing with them […]