seems quite unlikely that the house standing on this lot when it was
replaced by the bungalow-style showroom of the Lake Keuka Floral Company
in 1912 was never photographed, but that seems to have been the case.
The lot, from descriptions
of the larger Holcomb plot, must at least partially have been included within
it. Holcomb did add some land at his south edge to this lot after Mary Stoakes
acquired it. There is no recorded deed to Joseph Jones, the first known
owner of the property, from Wagener, Holcomb or Bordwell.
As mentioned, the first
known owner of this lot was the hatter Joseph Jones, one of the County's
very early settlers, who could justly be called one of Penn Yan's founders.
He sold it to Mary Stoakes in 1824, and her heirs sold it in 1837 to Stephen
Gilbert and John Bales.
Mary Stoakes was a
daughter of John Lawrence and wife of John Stoakes of Maryland. After Stoakes'
death she brought her children back to Yates County and apparently lived
in Penn Yan, not too far from the homes of two of her brothers. Her sister
Olivia Dorman also lived in the village, in the house next door to this
one, but apparently not until after Mary's death.
Mary remarried after
she acquired this property, to a man named Hendrick Miller. It's unclear
whether she had any additional children with him, but it seems unlikely;
Hendrick had children from a previous marriage, so after Mary's death it
was they as well as Mary's own (Stoakes) children who sold this lot.
Gilbert and Bales were
English immigrants who for many years served the community as gunsmiths
and gun manufacturers. Bales remained a bachelor his entire life, but Gilbert
(who was an expert woodworker) married Margaret Jane Hallet in 1843; she
ran a milliner's business in the house next door at #219. Their son John
Gilbert grew up in the gunsmithing trade and kept it up until mass-produced
guns made it unprofitable. The guns that Gilbert & Bales made were shotguns,
now rare and expensive collector's items.
The Gilbert & Bales
business began in what was described as "a little old red building"
near the northwest corner of Head and Main Streets; this must have been
part of the old Asa Cole tavern buildings on that corner, which were destroyed
in a fire many years later that also destroyed the Birdsall works that took
over that location.
In 1842 the business
was moved to a shop erected near the north line of their property on Main
Street. It was a small two-story structure that was sold many years later,
after the turn of the century and by a later owner, and removed to a site
on Court Street, where it was remodeled into a dwelling, at about the same
time as the old Jones house was razed and the new Lake Keuka Floral Co.'s
shop replaced it.
This was in 1913, and
the company rapidly expanded into the business of wholesale flower production.
Walter Wolcott's description of the business, written in 1917, states that
the showroom contained potted plants, ferns, palms and cut flowers; with
two large greenhouses in the rear, and two more about to be built. In a
photograph of the existing buildings, a large nursery of what appear to
be perennials and shrubs is shown. The proprietor, Lewis J. Brundage, was
a landscape designer as well as a florist, and was soliciting work in both
The showroom building
of course still stands, much altered in appearance, and is still occupied
by a florist's business. The greenhouses were sold some years ago and largely