Pierce's purchase from Sheppard, 1805


bner Pierce is described more or less flatteringly in various accounts of the infant village, but there's no dispute that he was the first blacksmith to settle here. Of course smiths were as necessary to viable settlements then as filling stations and garages are now; perhaps more so, since they made and repaired far more than horseshoes and running gear for vehicles.

Pierce's shop was located at the southeast corner of his property, fronting on Main Street in the shade of a huge pine tree that features rather prominently in some of the reminiscences mentioned, particularly as it stood at least partially in the right of way.

It is said by at least one commentator that it was Pierce who took up the slack when Robert Chissom, the village's first settler and only tavernkeeper, died unexpectedly in 1806. Taverns in those days were more than just bars and way-stations; they always had at least a small stock of other goods for sale, and as yet Penn Yan had no other store.

In any case, Pierce sold the corner lot to storekeepers, and within a few years it became a well-known (and presumably well-used) tavern house. By about 1815 there were either stores or taverns on all four corners, and others along both streets. The mills were nearly a mile away at the foot of the street; a few commercial ventures were fighting for light nearby. Practically all the activity took place around the intersection of Main and Head Streets, still both without official names. Abner Pierce moved on before all this prosperity arrived, for he lost his remaining land to debt in 1814.

Above: The area shaded in pale yellow is Morris F. Sheppard's purchase of 1805. The northern half, shown in a slightly darker shade, is what Pierce bought soon afterward, and within days he in turn sold the lot at the corner to Seeley and Baldwin for a store.

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Abner Pierce bought half of Morris Sheppard's parcel west of Main Street; on the same day he sold part of his purchase for the site of Penn Yan's first store.

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