Sheppard's first purchase: 1805


n 1805, shortly after he moved to what is now Penn Yan, Sheppard added to the land he held at the head of Main Street. Four years earlier, he had come up from Pennsylvania, married a girl from the infant settlement's first family, and built himself a double log house on ten acres his new wife's cousin gave him. Now he bought an additional four acres on the other side of the wide and muddy street that as yet had no name.

Only a year later he sold off half this land to Abner Pierce, a newcomer from Massachusetts who was a blacksmith; he was the first in the village, and the first in this part of the village that within a few years became the industrial heart of the settlement. The same day he bought his two-acre parcel, Pierce sold off the lot at the corner for the village's first store.

Some months later, Sheppard sold the other half of the parcel to John O'Brien, who was

the father and grandfather of later John O'Briens who became commercial stalwarts in Penn Yan. The first O'Brien built a house that evoked some vivid memories later on because it had a picket fence around it.

Sheppard never abandoned his interest in this parcel, however. He later reacquired much of it, and in fact built his "yellow house" there, not too far from the tavern stand that followed the old store. In the early 1820s he built "Mechanics' Hall," a five-story commercial extravaganza that contained a warren of stores and shops, and the hall of the Vernon Lodge, the area's first Masonic organization. Soon after Mechanics' Hall burned in 1826, Sheppard built his third and final home on the site, the stone mansion that still stands at 342 Main Street, near the south end of Abner Pierce's half of the original parcel.


 Above: The area shaded in yellow shows the approximate boundaries of Sheppard's 1805 purchase of four acres from Abraham Wagener. Layout of land parcels was complicated by the fact that the original surveys seem to have treated Main Street as though it ran due north and south, instead of about 20 degrees off this line. All these lots were at first described as though their Main Street frontage were identical in length to the west boundaries, which really did run north and south. All the lines between lots had to be adjusted sooner or later.


Morris F. Sheppard bought this four-acre lot from Abraham Wagener soon after he moved to Penn Yan.


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