Dr. Andrew F. Oliver                              


ocal sources repeatedly state that the two Oliver brothers who came to Penn Yan wereDr. A.F. Oliver  the only children of their parents. On the contrary, the Rev. Andrew Oliver and his wife Elizabeth Ormiston had at least eight children, and long and eventful lives which can only be summarized here.

Both Andrew and Elizabeth were born in Scotland and emigrated from there to the United States. It was said that Andrew was descended from the Oliver family who produced an Attorney General and a Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts at the beginning of the Revolution. I have seen no actual evidence of this connection. Apparently the young couple eloped (either before or after their arrival in the New World). Their eldest child was Mary Given Oliver, who was born in Saco, Maine (then still part of Massachusetts) in 1786.

Their second daughter was born at Londonderry, N.H., where Andrew had gone to study for the ministry, in 1788. Her name was Jane Freeman Oliver and she died single at her parents' home. Twin sons were born to the couple at Londonderry in 1791: William Morrison Oliver and Andrew Freeman Oliver; then a daughter Elizabeth Ormiston Oliver in 1793. Nancy Agnes Oliver was born in 1794 at Pelham, Mass., and another son in 1802 named Robert Ormiston Oliver.

Of these, only the twins came to Penn Yan. They were born at Londonderry, and young Andrew in 1814 married Margaret Sutphin at Springfield in Otsego County, where the family now lived and where in 1828 his father died. Young Andrew studied medicine at Springfield under Dr. Little when he was just a boy. He was licensed by the Otsego County Medical Society in 1813 and in March 1814 he was appointed by the governor as surgeon of the 9th Regiment, with which he briefly served in the war against Great Britain.

About as soon as he returned, in 1815, Andrew and Margaret went to Spencer in (then) Tioga County, and finally in 1818 to Penn Yan. On August 3o of that year he put a notice in the Penn-Yan Herald that he had opened an office for the practice of medicine at Giles Kinney's tavern at the crossroads now called Kinney's Corners, just west of Penn Yan in the town of Jerusalem.

At nearly the same time he bought an acre of land in Penn Yan, and presumably built his house at 204 Main Street soon afterward. He was appointed Surrogate of the County of Yates in 1827 by Governor Dewitt Clinton, and served in that capacity until 1840. In 1829 his wife died, and he remarried in 1832 to a widow, Almira (Marsh) Gilbert.

He received (unexpectedly) the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of the State of New York, in 1845, and was unanimously elected a permanent member of the State Medical Society in 1857, the year of his death. He had helped form the local Medical Society in 1823, was subsequently its president and for some years its delegate to the state body.

Dr. Oliver had these children with his first wife:

  • Peter S. Oliver 1818-1878; he married in 1864 Ann Maria (Clark) Brown, widow of James Brown Jr. of the Society of Universal Friends. The Brown daughters were raised in their house, now 158 Main Street. One of them, Elizabeth Friend Brown, married Edson Potter and built the house next door at 160 Main Street. It was through this latter couple that items belonging to the Universal Friend came eventually to the village of Penn Yan. Their son Rexford Potter was the first husband of Mary Leah Post, who owned 215 Main Street: this couple's daughter Mary Leah Potter was an heiress of her uncle Arnold J. Potter and contested his bequest of the Friend's portrait to the village.
  • William W. Oliver 1824-1902; he married Harriet Jones and followed his father's profession. They married in 1852 and built 200 Main Street, now known as the Oliver House Museum. They had three children, none of whom had children of their own: Jennie, born in 1853, who briefly married Smith M. Longwell in 1875, was divorced in 1878 and died in 1933; William A. Oliver 1857-1915, who was another physician and practiced out of his home; and Carrie, 1868-1942, who when she died gave the building to the village of Penn Yan to house the local Historical Society.
  • Margaret Oliver, 1829-1830.
  • Jane P. Oliver, 1816-1876; she married John L. Lewis Jr. and resided in the home of her father at 204 Main Street.

Dr. Andrew Oliver had this child with his second wife:

  • Elizabeth Oliver, born in 1837 and married yet another physician, Dr. Samuel Robbins. They moved to Glendale, Ohio, where her mother Almira Gilbert Oliver died in 1869.


Far right: A drawing of Dr. Andrew F. Oliver, in the collection of the Oliver House Museum. As he was the twin of William M. Oliver, presumably the latter looked a great deal like him.

This branch of the Oliver family was associated with:

Other people:

   William M. Oliver
   Leah Post Potter

Sites and structures:

  204 Main Street
  202 Main Street
 200 Main Street
  158 Main Street


  The County Seat