Southeast quarter of Lot 37: 1799

ot 37 in the Seventh town, first range of Phelps & Gorham's Purchase comprises all of downtown Penn Yan; the whole length of Main Street from North Avenue (which is the line between Milo and Benton, the seventh and eighth towns) and the bridge across the Outlet, lies within the eastern half of Lot 37. Three quarters of the lot belonged to David Wagener by the time of his death, and made up the inheritance of his two sons.

The southeast quarter of the lot is one of those that was orginally given by George Wheeler to his son-in-law Robert Chissom in 1791. Chissom retained the other half of the land Wheeler gave him, the northwest quarter of the lot, but sold this one to Lewis Birdsall in 1794. Birdsall built a dam just above where Main Street now crosses the Outlet, and a sawmill above the dam, on the north bank, the same year. David Wagener bought the entire quarter-lot from Birdsall in 1796, and built a gristmill below the dam on the south bank. This was the first gristmill within the boundaries of what is now Penn Yan, and the farthest upstream.

Wagener died prematurely in August of 1799, when he was only 47 years old. His two sons inherited his property in Penn Yan. The elder, Abraham, who then lived some miles away a little north of where the hamlet of Himrod is today, inherited all of David Wagener's land north of the Outlet. The younger, Melchoir, inherited the land south of the Outlet, which contained the gristmill, and the use of the home farm as long as his mother lived, so he could support her. Rebecca Wagener, David's widow, died in 1811, and Melchoir sold his property to Jeremiah Jillett and moved to Pulteney, where he died many years later.

Meanwhile, his brother Abraham built a house on his new property, built a rival gristmill on the north bank, and sold off much of the land at the north end of Main Street in large chunks. In 1816 he built another house farther down Main Street, on the west side near where is now the corner of Main and Elm Street. Soon afterward this house was moved still farther south, to where the Knapp Hotel now stands, but back a short distance from Main Street. His farm stretched northward to where Elm Street now is, and he held this land stubbornly until 1836, when he sold all his land in Penn Yan and moved out to the tip of Bluff Point, pretty much as far from Penn Yan as he could get, with his second wife and large family of children.

Some of the land in the southeast quarter of Lot 37 was sold reasonably early on. David Wagener had given an acre on the east side of the street to John Dorman, and before his death sold Dorman an additional four acres, also on the east side. One or two stores were built south of Elm and (now) East Elm Streets, and a row of them on the west side above Elm Street. The latter burned in a spectacular fire in 1836. They were all wooden buildings and known as "Brimstone Row," at least after the fire swept them away. However by this time the village had incorporated, the Crooked Lake Canal was in operation, and commerce shifting from the north to the south end of Main Street.

By the time Wagener returned to Penn Yan (without his wife) in 1844, the die was cast and his old farm was now the commercial center of the booming village, with the lots above occupied by the best homes in Penn Yan.

 Above: Part of the southeast quarter of Lot 37. Main Street is shown on its diagonal course. The right boundary of the map is the east line of Lot 37, according, of course, to a modern survey. The mills at the foot of the street are all in Lot 32 in fact, but this site will treat them, and all the stores on the east side of the street as far south as the bridge, as though they were in fact in Lot 37. This is certainly where all the early settlers thought them to be.

Use this button to find out more about:

David Wagener
John Dorman
Jonathan Bordwell
Miles Benham
William M. Oliver

Use one of these buttons to find out more about the structures and lots within this plot:

144-150 Main Street

157 Main Street
158 Main Street
159 Main Street
160 Main Street
162 Main Street
163 Main Street
164 Main Street
165 Main Street
166 Main Street
167 Main Street
168 Main Street
169 Main Street
171 Main Street
173 Main Street
175 Main Street
177 Main Street


Use one of these buttons to find out more about the subdivisions within this plot:

East side of Main St., 200 Block:

West side of Main St., 200 Block:

East side of Main St., 100 Block:

Miles Benham plot
John Dorman homestead

West side of Main St., 100 Block:

Wagener's individual sales
John Dorman homestead