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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.