Leah Post Potter Norris             

 

t isn't often that a pillar of the community can simultaneously be the personification of "old money" and the scandalous behavior of the new generation; but Mary Leah Post (to use her maiden name) managed to do so.

She was a descendant of the first Posts to arrive in western New York, Abraham and his wife Leah Wynkoop. Abraham Post was the son of another Abraham, and was born at Saugerties in Ulster County at the end of the Revolution, in 1783. He arrived in the town of Seneca in 1805 and married Mary Leah Wynkoop in 1809. Their son Abraham A. Post was born in Seneca in 1810, and married Eliza (Fowler) Blossom in 1832; she was a native of Amsterdam in Montgomery County. Their son Charles Blossom Post was born at Flint Creek in 1838. He served as a musician during the Civil War in the Norfolk Brigade Band with a number of young men from Dundee in Yates County. After his discharge in 1865 he acquired an enormous estate, with land in New York and in Michigan. He was widely known as a breeder of fast horses, and an expert judge of horseflesh. He married Sarah Louise Childs in 1873 at Seneca Castle; the only child of this marriage was Mary Leah, named for her great-grandmother Mary Leah Wynkoop.

Young Mary Leah attended private schools in Rochester, and then a boarding school in Canandaigua. In 1914 she inherited 215 Main Street from her aunt, Leonora Post Banks. Leah had already married Rexford Leonard Potter, in 1906, and borne him a daughter, also named Mary Leah. Potter divorced her in 1913, and she remarried, to Ralph Thomas Norris, and bore him a daughter named Sarah Electa, in 1923.

Mrs. Norris ruled Penn Yan society. She was active in the Historical Society (when she died in 1951 she was its President), the Daughters of the American Revolution (she rose to be State Director), Children of the American Revolution, Colonial Daughters of the XVII Century, Magna Carta Dames and a number of other hereditary societies; she belonged to the New York State Women's Republican Club, Lakeside Country Club, Citizens' Historical Association and the Presbyterian Church. Besides 215 Main Street she owned 13 farms comprising more than 2000 acres, and a palatial summer residence on Keuka Lake.

Both her husbands were scions of the small group of oldest settlers in the region: Rexford Potter of Judge William Potter through his eldest son Thomas Hazard Potter; and Ralph Norris of Eliphalet Norris and his wife Mary Hathaway. It was Leah Norris who brought Eliphalet Norris' body back from Maryland, where he had died in 1821, for burial in City Hill Cemetery with his wife and children.

Of the characters in this tale, Mary Leah Post Potter Norris is buried with her great-grandparents in Sand Hill Cemetery in Seneca, not too far from where she was born; her parents and her grandfather Abraham A. Post are in Lake View Cemetery in Penn Yan. Her first husband Rexford Potter and his ancestors back to Thomas Hazard Potter and his wife Patience Wilkinson are also in Lake View. Ralph Norris, along with his parents, his grandparents and his great-grandparents (now) are all buried at City Hill, in the oldest cemetery in western New York.

 


Leah Post Potter Norris was associated with:

Other people:

   Andrew F. Oliver
   The Potter family

Sites and structures:

  215 Main Street
 160 Main Street
  158 Main Street

History:

  Turn of another century