Phelps during his lifetime was known as a prosperous farmer. He married
Lovina, the youngest daughter of James Spencer Sr. and inherited the old
man's homestead farm; it became so associated with him that it was almost
always called "the old Phelps farm" in 19th century narratives.
It is as an innkeeper
that he was best known in Penn Yan. He ran the inn or tavern that John Dorman
built on the southwest corner of the Head Street intersection with Main
Street, across from Asa Cole's Penn Yan Hotel on the northwest corner. It
must have been quite a lively neighborhood.
He died in 1823, age
55, just as Penn Yan was becoming the county seat of Yates County. He was
no doubt involved in the agitation to start the new county, and it seems
a little sad that he had to die so young and never see his ambitions in
this direction satisfied. It was certainly good for business.
His widow, Angelina
Spencer Phelps, outlived her husband by 20 years. The couple had five children: