Israel Brown's plot

artin Brown of Bolton Connecticut, with several of his brothers and at least one sister, came to this part of New York up the Sullivan trail from Pennsylvania, having first moved to Vermont with their father. They all settled in Benton, with their wives and children and neighbors. Israel Brown was one of these brothers, and his sister Phebe married Perley Dean Jr., while one of the Brown brothers married Perley Sr.'s sister Jemima. As they all came up the Susquehanna into New York, they settled for some years at what was then called Newtown (now Elmira), in time to be counted on the first census of 1790. They arrived in Benton, some by 1793, some a little later, by 1802 or 1803. At least some of the men went back to Vermont to bring rolling stock, household goods and their farm animals. It is said that Martin and one of his brothers made the trip from Windsor Co., Vt., to Benton in 26 days in 1803. They had two loaded wagons, one drawn by three horses and the other by two yoke of oxen, and they drove along with them six cows and 33 sheep.

Israel Brown soon came to Penn Yan. He bought a half-acre plot from Abraham Wagener in 1819. The deed says there was already a house on the lot, "lately erected by William Richardson." The first purchases of land were on the Benton side of Head Street, beginning in 1814. The land lay between Robert Shearman's plot on the north and Jonathan Bordwell's on the east and south. Brown's tenure on this lot seems to have been somewhat ill-fated. In March 1819, on the same day he bought this lot, he gave a mortgage for the purchase money to Jared Munson. The land was already in foreclosure by September of that year, and supposedly title was passed by the Sheriff to William Shattuck at that time. As Brown had only paid $45 for it, and Shattuck gave him $224, it seems as though these were either friendly transactions or the house on the property was not so good.

In any case, Shattuck sold the lot to William Babcock for $200 in 1820, and in 1823 Babcock gave a quitclaim for $300 to Israel Brown, who had apparently been living there the whole time, through all these changes of actual title.

Brown offered the land for sale in 1825, described in his advertisement as "the lot next south of the Meeting House, about 1/2 acre -- containing a dwelling house and a small barn."

To make matters even more confusing, in 1826 Babcock again sold the property, which was now in foreclosure, to Eli Sheldon. It's described as the lot south of the Presbyterian church, where Israel Brown lately resided. Sheldon did not take title, because in January 1827 Babcock again gave a deed for this lot, to Isaac Genung of Barrington, for $450. Back in 1824 Genung had taken a deed for this same lot from Eliah Holcomb, who had lately purchased most of Jonathan Bordwell's very large 14-acre plot (the rest of it went back as far east as Jacob's Brook and south on Main Street as far as where 325 Main Street now stands. Bordwell had acquired his 14 acres in 1819, and the description clearly includes all of John Dorman's original four acres except that occupied by Robert Shearman; so apparently all the back-and-forth of Israel Brown's property were paper transactions, and the only thing exchanged was money.

The Israel Brown lot changed hands as a single large plot a half-acre in size that contained a single large house and its outbuildings (now 303 Main Street) until a subsequent owner sold its south half to Theodore F. Wheeler in 1868.


Israel Brown is known to have offered this half-acre lot for sale in 1825, at which time it included a dwelling house and barn. It had been part of Dorman's four acres, which was included in a much larger sale by Wagener to Jonathan Bordwell in 1814, then subdivided again into several more lots. Brown is known to have lived in the house on this lot all through several technical changes of title, and was sold separately by the man who acquired most of Bordwell's plot.

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This lot was part of what remained unsold in Dorman's lot until it was subsumed in a much larger plot of 14 acres sold to Jonathan Bordwell in 1814. It however kept its identity and was sold off separately by Bordwell's successor.

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