Peter I. Vosburgh had two children who made an impact on Penn Yan: his daughter
Maria, who was Cornelius Masten's wife, and Abraham P., who was an early
lawyer, postmaster and politician. His future was cut short by his early
death in 1827; his wife remarried and became one of the village's best-known
and beloved matrons.
General Vosburgh had
been a friend and associate of Lafayette's during the Revolution, and had
received from him (as all Lafayette's officers did) a brace of presentation
pistols engraved with an eagle and thirteen stars, along with a plumed hat,
a sash and a sword. One of the pistols came into the possession of his daughter
Maria's son Abraham Vosburgh Masten; Cleveland saw it in the 1870s and desribed
Maria Masten's son
was of course named for her brother Abraham P. Vosburgh. He was a law partner
of Cornelius Masten's until his premature death in 1827. During the ten
years he lived in Penn Yan Vosburgh was the County's first District Attorney,
and Surrogate (the official who oversees estates and guardianships; nowadays
the County Judge is the Surrogate, but for many years it was a separate
At the time of his
death Vosburgh (like many people during that cash-poor age) owed far more
in debt than could be raised by sale of his personal estate. His executors,
who were his father, his widow, and Ebenezer Brown (whose house was the
one at 218 Main Street), sold two pieces of real estate to make up the difference.
One was a six-acre parcel in Benton and the other was the house he died
in, the one still standing at 227 Main Street.
His signature was of
the old-fashioned kind, with numerous flourishes below that he added even
when he was in a hurry. Sometimes they are quite rudimentary, but they are
He patronized local
merchants. His account for 1820-22 survives for Asa Cole, who owned the
inn on the northwest corner of the intersection. Cole ran a livery in conjuntion
with this establishment, and many of the charges are for renting a horse
or a horse and wagon: "Horse to go to Middlesex ... #0.38; Horse to
Patterson's ... .0.13; Horse & Waggon to Hathaways ... 0.50"; and
so on. He also bought brandy by the bottle and by the glass, "punch
& lemonade", cider and whiskey. He owed L. G. Budlong (a storekeeper
at the corners) for fabric: cambric, silk, "Green Baise", and
pellise, also white satin, muslin, padding, ribbon, linen, and "one
Bunch thred." From the shoemaker Alexander Hemiup (who lived where
the Oliver House Museum is now), he bought two "pair of fine shoes
for self," which cost him $5.00. He subscribed to a publication called
The New York Statesman, at $4.50 a year. And from Samuel Castner he purchased
apples by the bushel, vinegar by the gallon, butter at 35 or 40 pounds a
time, and cider by the barrel.
All this gives a picture
of what must have been an upper-middle class life during the 1820s. Vosburgh
and his wife had no children. She was born Elizabeth Henry, and after Vosburgh's
death, in 1834, she married Samuel Stewart Ellsworth, one of the leading
merchants of the time.Her parents were Robert C. Henry, who had been a surgeon
in the Revolutionary army; and Mary Hilliard, who died at Penn Yan in 1843.
The Stewarts had three children, one of whom survived to adulthood.
There are also accounts
that apparently arose from building his house: 1400 feet of 1 1/4 inch flooring,
"let it be the first rate of stuff"; and some loads of brick,
both in 1824.