very early 19th-century
settlement needed a blacksmith, and the infant Penn Yan was no exception.
Abner Pierce was as far as can be documented now, the first within the village
limits. He was in addition a very well-known local character.
David H. Buell, who remembered him from his youth, wrote many years later
that "Few men had a more extended acquaintance through this section
of Old Ontario than Abner Pierce. He was the blacksmith of a large center
of that business, and after the death of Robert Chissom in 1806, who was
the pioneer settler and tavern keeper on the site of the Dr. Uri Judd residence,
now S.S. Ayres, Mr. Pierce opened a public house, all of which with some
very prominent peculiarities, gave him a wide acquaintance."
Pierce was born in January 1769, in western Massachusetts. His wife was
Laurana Spooner, sister of Frederick Spooner who was a pioneer of Benton
and Milo. They raised seven children in their house on Main Street, at the
front of the lot where 346 Main Street now stands; they were Abner Jr.,
Mary, Priscilla, Frederick, Hope, Ann and Hiram. The younger ones were born
there. Frederick, named for his grandfather Spooner, married Maria, daughter
of Keziah Sabin who lived for many years across the street in Morris F.
Sheppard's old double log house.
The house, said Buell, stood just above a huge pine tree that stood in
Main Street, one of at least three big pines that were landmarks in the
settlement. One other stood in front of what is now 102 Main Street and
was the namesake of Amasa Tuell's Pine Tree Grocery; another stood at the
foot of Main and was the site of the gathering on the occasion of christening
the place "Penn Yan." This last tree was later cut, but a ten-foot
stump was left, and Abner Pierce cut a face in it that must have illustrated
one of the "prominent peculiarities" that Buell remarked on.