Illuminating Frank Bown

Posted December 20, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Architecture, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY

Tags: , , , , ,

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

The fourth Greenvale resident to be featured is Frank Bown.

If any of you lived in Fairport before 1970, you might remember the Bown block, a three-story brick building where the library and Village Landing are now. I’m Frank Bown, and that building was built by my father, George. He ran a carriage factory and blacksmith shop there for many years, and later we sold bicycles and automobiles there. But that was many years ago.

My father George was born in Canada, and came to Penfield when he was twenty-five to learn blacksmithing from his uncle. He moved to Walworth and ran a blacksmith shop there, and met my mother, Mary Jane Foreman. They had nine children, including me. I was the oldest, born in 1857. When I was 4, we moved to Fairport, into a house on South Main Street near the four corners. My father opened his carriage factory, and at first he worked alone. But as it grew, he built several outbuildings, including areas for construction, painting, a sales room, and an office, and eventually employed 14 people, including wood workers, iron workers, and painters. His carriages were known for their strength, durability, and elegance of finish. His carriages were shipped to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other states for both personal and business use. He built lumber wagons, delivery wagons, 3-spring wagons, and both top- and open buggies. His carriages won top prizes at fairs and competitions.

Frank Bown, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Frank Bown, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

In December of 1887, George faced his most serious setback. Most of his enterprise, including our home, was destroyed in a fire. The newly-formed Deland Hose Company was able to save several small portions of the property, but we were devastated to see all those years of work laying a pile of ashes. In 1888, my father bought land closer to the canal from C.J. DeLand, and built the building that would bear his name: the Bown block. He rebuilt his home on the original site, but moved the carriage factory to the new location right by the canal. We had a blacksmith shop, where I worked, a sales room for bicycles, and a carriage shop for carriages and wagons.

The new building housed many other businesses and shops in addition to our own, including a drug store and the library. The Post Office was relocated into the building from West Avenue, and my father served as Postmaster for several years. My father served the village in other ways, as well, including as village trustee, overseer of poor, and school board member. He and my mother were very active in the Raymond Baptist Church. He died in 1904, and my mother followed a few years later.

When my father arrived in Perinton in 1862, my wife Ella Ellsworth’s family had already been here for almost 30 years. Her grandparents, William Ellsworth and Irena Cady, were from two of Perinton’s earliest pioneer families. William and Irena bought a farm on the corner of Turk Hill and Ayrault, where they were very successful farmers. In fact, it is a sheep farm today and is still in the Ellsworth family. Ella’s grandfather ran one of Perinton’s first banks, loaning money to his neighbors at reasonable rates, and keeping people’s important documents, like deeds, in a safe at his house. Her grandmother, Irena, ran a school across from their house, and she was a skilled draftsman, renowned for drawing up plans for mills. She was also a land surveyor, and was a fine shot with a cross-bow, to boot!

Ella and I were married on New Year’s Day in 1880 when I was 22. Ella was very active in our church, the the Raymond Baptist church, and chaired the fund-raising committee for many years. We loved to entertain, and she hosted many special events in our home for our friends and for the church. She also helped me recover from emergency surgery in 1915 when I had appendicitis.

Bown Block in Fairport, New York.  Courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Bown Block in Fairport, New York. Courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

After my father’s death, my brothers and I continued the carriage and bicycle business, but in the nineteen-teens, we also began to sell automobiles. We sold Maxwells, Chalmers, Chryslers, and Chevrolets to the likes of Levi Deland, Martha Brown, and Will O. Greene, the newspaper man, and also provided a fully-equipped garage for servicing of vehicles. Cars needed more attention than wagons or horses, that is for sure! Business was booming in the 1920s. But we had two more fires, in 1920 and again in 1925. Having a blacksmith shop and garage was a recipe for danger, and in the second fire, our entire structure was destroyed, along with several cars that were on the property awaiting repairs. Luckily for us, this time around we had insurance to help rebuild, unlike my poor father. And when we rebuilt in 1926, we said goodbye to the blacksmith shop for good. There had been a smithy on site for almost 60 years, but with the advent of the automobile, there was so little need of it that we decided to forgo that part of the business.

In 1936, Ella and I celebrated 56 years of marriage! It was a special occasion, with our friends joining in to wish us well. In the fall of that year, I passed on at age 78. Ella died 3 years later. We loved our town, and served it well over the years, both the Ellsworths and the Bowns. The next time you drive by Village Landing, think of my father George and me, working over the anvil and producing the finest carriages and wagons available to keep Fairport moving in style.

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminating Charlotte Clapp, The First Perinton Town Historian

Posted November 26, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Architecture, Fairport NY, Medical History, Monroe County NY, Perinton NY

Tags: , , , , ,

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

Our third Greenvale resident highlighted is Charlotte Clapp, as portrayed by Anne Johnston.

Charlotte Clapp, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Charlotte Clapp, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Because of my dedicated service to Perinton, I became known as the “Town’s First Lady”. It is a title of which I am extremely proud. My name is Miss Charlotte Clapp. I suppose I should begin at the beginning, as they say. My father, Dr. Wesley Clapp, came to Fairport in the 1870s from Oswego County. He began to build up his medical practice and, by 1879, had met and married my mother, Roxa Jane Hodges. I was born in Fairport in 1884, the third of their five children.

Although I never married, my life was rewarding and very happy. My quest for knowledge led to many opportunities personally and professionally. In 1921, I became Perinton’s first Town Historian. Three years later, I was appointed Town Clerk for Perinton and served proudly as the first woman in that position. Thinking about it now, I seem to have led a life of firsts. Along with several others, I was a charter member of the Fairport Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1927. They even named me “Career Gal of the Month” in 1956! My passion, however, was for history. That passion was foremost in my mind when I, along with nine other women, founded the Perinton Historical Society in November, 1935. At the organizational meeting, I was named as the first Custodian of the Perinton Historical Society. My job was to record and preserve the artifacts and documents donated to the society, a position I undertook with zeal. I was also a member of the Fairport Historical Club.

Despite these professional successes, I did know my share of personal sadness. In 1911, my older brother, George, who was a coroner in Genesee County, died in a terrible automobile accident. George was on his way to the County Fair in Batavia and traveling at a great speed. Going around a curve, he lost control of his automobile and died almost instantly of multiple injuries. He was just 30 years of age. Our father was the first to hear the news. Father had traveled on the train hoping to surprise George. After stopping into a hotel he frequented with George, Father asked if George had come to dinner yet. The young fellow at the hotel was new and, not knowing to whom he was speaking, told Father, “No, and he never will. He has just been killed in an automobile accident”. That is how Father learned of George’s terrible accident. This was the first visitation of death in our family circle, and certainly not the last.

My oldest brother, Lewis, was the next to leave us, in 1914. We were so proud of our Lewis. He was a brilliant physician and a good man. Lewis died at age 33 following an operation for appendicitis, leaving a wife and two little daughters to mourn him. Father passed on in 1921, and my sister, Marion, died in 1933 at age 43. Marion loved to hike. When she didn’t return from a hiking expedition, a search was conducted. One week later, the body of my only sister was found at Hemlock Lake. The official cause of death was drowning. Those losses haunted my mother, who passed away in 1935. My youngest brother, Robert, died in 1980 at age 85. He and I were the only children in our family to live long lives.

It is rather ironic that I served the town so diligently as Town Historian, and yet my own home and its history

Clapp family home, formerly located at 15 Perrin Street in Fairport, New York.  Courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Clapp family home, formerly located at 15 Perrin Street in Fairport, New York.

were taken when urban renewal reared its ugly head in 1972. Our home at 15 Perrin Street, of which my father was so proud, had been in the family for over 100 years. I have a photograph of it here.  My father started his medical practice there. I was born in the house in 1884, and my parents raised five children in the warmth of its embrace. Yet, the proud history of the Clapp family could not overcome progress. I would not have been able to bear the sight of my ancestral home being torn down to make way for a parking lot of the new Village Landing. The only saving grace was that I had passed away in 1964, just three weeks shy of my 80th birthday. Even though I am gone, the work I have done on behalf of the town and of the Perinton Historical Society remains. I am proud to have lived a life of firsts, paving the way for those women who followed in my footsteps.

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Resources:

Perinton Historical Society & Fairport Museum:  http://www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org

Illuminating George C. Taylor and His Oil of Life

Posted September 30, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Fairport NY, Medical History, Monroe County NY, Perinton NY

Tags: , , , , , ,

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

Our second Greenvale resident highlighted is George C. Taylor, as portrayed by Bob Hunt.

How’s everyone feeling today? Any coughs, colds, asthma? Stomach problems, kidney problems, liver problems? Cuts, bruises, burns? Chapped hands or lips? Earache? Toothache? Rheumatism? My Taylor’s Oil of Life [hold up bottle] can be used to cure almost any ill! Inside or out, my liniment is good for what ails you…and your horses and cows, too! Good for man or beast! Good for horn distemper, galls, caked bags, cracked teats, botts, and bellyache.

My father, Alonzo Taylor, began making Dr. Taylor’s Pain-annihilating Liniment in Cato, Cayuga County in 1848, when I was a school boy. I’m his son, George C. Taylor, and I worked in the family business from its very beginning. After my schooling was over, I helped run the company, and I took it over in 1861 when my father died. I moved the Taylor Company here to Fairport in 1866. The Civil War years had taken a toll on business, but things rebounded in the late 1860s.

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

In addition to manufacturing my father’s liniment, which I marketed under the name “Taylor’s Oil of Life,” I expanded my company’s offerings to include many fine and useful products, including flavored extracts, laudanum, perfume, blackberry cordial, cough syrup, breath sweeteners, bluing for laundry, and shaving soap. We made many other popular products over the years. My business was very successful, because I was always ahead of the trends and made quality household products people could use.

My decision to move my business to Fairport was a good one. Business became so good, in fact, that I built a new 3-story brick factory with offices on the corner of North Main Street and High Street in 1873. It was called the Taylor block for many years, and that building still stands today. The railroad had a spur that came right to my building, and I shipped my products all over the country. My wife Wealthy, my daughter Lois, and I lived upstairs. I employed many local residents in the manufacture of my wares.

In addition to my own business, my building housed several retail shops on Main Street, including a grocery store, a meat market, and a barber. I also let the Fairport Coronet Band use one of the upper rooms to practice each week. I believed in building up Fairport and helping other businesses thrive. A strong business community makes for a prosperous town, and everyone benefits from that.

I also believed that an informed community, one that is well-versed in the issues of the day, both locally and nationally, is the back-bone of a strong democracy. To that end, I founded Fairport’s first newspaper, The Fairport Herald, in 1871. Of course, the George C. Taylor Company was one of its prime advertisers. Papers need advertising to thrive, and businesses need to advertise! It was a win-win situation for Fairport and the Taylor Company. But I only operated the paper long enough to get it established, then sold it about two years later. It flourished, and the community was the better for having it. Every community should have its own paper!

During the 1870s, my ever-expanding sales strained my facility’s capacity for production, so I had to enlarge my building several times. I needed more commodious facilities to produce all the fine household products my customers had come to expect from the George C. Taylor Company. In 1887, the famous showman Buffalo Bill Cody took his Wild West Show to London for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He sent me the following letter:

Gentlemen, for some time past I have used Taylor’s Oil of Life in our stables with marked success and during our recent ocean trip from New York City to London it was almost indispensible. Kindly forward me 18 large bottles immediately and I will remit upon receipt of invoice.
Yours truly,
W.F. Cody

It was an honor and a pleasure to aid someone so famous as Buffalo Bill. But my life was not only about my work, as rewarding as that was. My wife Wealthy and I were active in town, especially in the temperance movement. We did not drink or smoke, and believed in moderation in all things. I was universally acknowledged as a man of sterling character. Here is a portrait of me in my later years. My beautiful wife Wealthy departed this life in 1905. We had been married 40 years, and I was not used to being alone. So a few years later I remarried, to Miss Minnie Burchaskie of Fairport, in 1907.

Although I never belonged to any of the churches here in the village, I helped regularly with their various charitable causes, and helped

George C. Taylor's headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

George C. Taylor’s headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

promote the general welfare of the town. I used my hard-earned wealth to improve the lives of those in Fairport. In 1908, I was elected president of the village, which was both an honor and a responsibility. I wanted to make the town more conducive to business in general, and to manufacturing in particular. The role of government is to help businesses thrive, and that in turn allows a community’s residents to thrive. I was not able to implement all of my plans, though, as my term was cut short by my death in 1909.

The George C. Taylor Company continued to operate after my death, with products such as vanilla extract, aspirin, shaving cream, shampoo, facial creams, and toothpaste. By the time the company was closed in the 1950s, it had been a fixture in American households for over 100 years, and it all began with Taylor’s Oil of Life.

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminating Joseph S. Kelsey, Civil War Soldier

Posted July 1, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War, Civil War Soldiers, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

We begin with the life of Civil War soldier Joseph S. Kelsey, who was portrayed by Craig Caplan:

My name is Joseph S. Kelsey, and I’d like to share my story with you. My father, Asa Kelsey, was an early pioneer of my hometown in West Camden, New York. I was the third of Asa and Amanda Higbee Kelsey’s seven children, and the only son. Oddly enough, my first wife, Mary, and I had seven children – six sons and one daughter. I came of age just as the Civil War began.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey.  Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

In 1862, I felt it my duty to enlist in the war effort, and so I mustered into the 146th New York Infantry. Nearly 3 years of my life was spent fighting the rebels before mustering out at the end of the war. We fought ferociously at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, at the battle of the Wilderness…and then there was Gettysburg. I witnessed that fool Confederate general George Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. You see, I was an ambulance driver then, and stationed at the rear of our Rochester boys in the 108th New York Infantry. I could see the whole line from Little Round Top to Peach Orchard. The cannonading preceding the charge was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It still gives me night terrors sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones and was only injured once during my service – when a horse kicked me and I broke a leg. Still, I was more fortunate than my brother-in-law, Oliver Clarke.

Oliver was with the 94th New York Infantry. He was captured in June 1864 and spent nearly a year at Andersonville Prison. He survived, though, and married my youngest sister, Josephine. Have you ever heard of Mount McGregor? It’s the cottage in Saratoga County where General Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs. That great patriot died at Mount McGregor in 1885. After the General’s death, my sister and brother-in-law spent 53 years as caretakers at the cottage. Sometimes, I’d travel there and assist them with their duties. It was awe-inspiring to be in the same rooms where General Grant spent his last days on this earth. Word is Mount McGregor has been turned into a museum to honor that remarkable man.

In 1881, I became a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Fairport Post #211, along with my friend and comrade Chester

Joseph S. Kelsey

Joseph S. Kelsey

Hutchinson, from whom you’ll also hear this evening. The Grand Army was first formed after the Civil War to allow veterans to meet with each other and reminisce about their war efforts. Later, the organization became a powerful political group and advocate for veterans’ rights. Seven United States presidents were Civil War veterans, and many of them came to power due to the strength of the Grand Army. I’m proud to have been a part of that organization, and I served as Commander of the Fairport post for a number of years.

After the war, I spent time farming and working as a carpenter to support my large family. We had moved to Fairport in 1873, when I bought the house at 177 South Main Street in the village. Soon after, I decided I liked the newer house next door at 173 South Main Street, at the corner of Summit Street. Mary and I raised our children in that house and we lived there happily for many decades to come.

I’m very proud of my family. My six sons have made names for themselves. We lost my eldest, George, in 1898. He had enlisted for service in the Rochester Naval Reserve in July, 1898. After enlistment, George had passed examination as a bayman, a non-commissioned ship’s officer who is employed in the sick room. My wife and I received a letter from George telling us about his experiences and that he had been transferred to a naval hospital in Portsmouth. Soon after that, George was taken seriously ill with typhoid fever and news of his death quickly followed.

Marion, my third son, was master of the steam freight packet William B. Kirk and also ran excursion boats up and down the canal. The “William B. Kirk” was the last canal boat piloted on the Rochester section of the Erie Canal, and my son was at the helm. Marion was a canal boatman for over 50 years. In 1927, he rode the first Rochester & Eastern interurban railway through Rochester’s subway. My fifth son, Roy, was also a canaller.

My youngest son was born in 1884, just a year before General U.S. Grant passed on. We named our boy Grant in honor of the great general. Our Grant worked for the American Can Company here in Fairport and was President of the Fairport Automobile Club in 1922. Grant’s brother, Harlow, was also an automobile enthusiast and opened his own garage at 150 North Main Street in Fairport.

Mary, my beloved wife, died in 1913 at our home at 173 South Main Street. We’d been married nearly 49 years. The following year I married a widow, Esther Hare, who had seven children of her own. In 1926, I lost Esther after 13 years of marriage. Though I felt their losses keenly, I continued my work with the Grand Army of the Republic and dedicated my remaining days to keeping the history of our war efforts alive until going to my reward in 1929, just shy of my 93rd birthday.

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Resources:

Perinton Historical Society & Fairport Museum:  http://www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org

Grant Cottage: http://www.GrantCottage.org

 

Armstrong-Bacon Hall

Posted June 16, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War Soldiers, Monroe County NY, Pittsford Cemetery, Pittsford NY

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John Buckley Bacon, courtesy of the John Bacon Family

John Buckley Bacon, courtesy of the John Bacon Family

Driving down Main Street in the village of Pittsford, one can feel the history. The four corners are anchored by three historic structures: the Wiltsie & Crump building, which was constructed in 1886; the Phoenix building and the Parker building. Just south of the four corners, the massive structure of the Town Hall, built in 1890, presides over South Main Street.

However, there’s a building at 19 South Main Street that has been a fixture in the village for even longer than the Wiltsie building and the Town Hall. Constructed about 1815 as a tavern operated by Samuel Hildreth, subsequent owners have used it as a meeting place and grocery store. Many remember the building as the home of Burdett’s Food Market. Today, 19 South Main Street houses Breathe yoga and Rocky Greco’s salon.

Charles H. Armstrong operated a grocery store out of the building in the 1870s. In the mid-1880s, Charles sold the store to John Buckley

Armstrong-Bacon Hall, 19 S Main Street, Pittsford, NY

Armstrong-Bacon Hall, 19 S Main Street, Pittsford, NY

Bacon, a Civil War veteran who was new to town and looking for a business opportunity. Buckley, as he was known, went into business with his brother, Conrad Bacon. After a short time, Conrad returned to his home in Connecticut, but Buckley remained in Pittsford and his business at 19 South Main Street flourished.

A diagram of the structure dating to 1885 details the structure plan. The south side of the building had 1, 259 square feet devoted to the store. A stairwell outside the store led to a second floor meeting room, which was used for large gatherings and as a ballroom. A dwelling on the north side of the structure was 36’ 7” wide and sat quite deep on the lot. The ice house and cobblestone smoke house stood behind the dwelling, and a well and a 1,200 square foot barn were behind the store.

Walter Rose delivering groceries for the John B. Bacon store.  Bacon's son, Howard, rides along.  Photo taken c 1893.  Courtesy of the John Bacon Family.

Walter Rose delivering groceries for the John B. Bacon store. Bacon’s son, Howard, rides along. Photo taken c 1893. Courtesy of the John Bacon Family.

On September 29, 1904, the people of Pittsford were startled by an explosion that rocked the area. The smoke house behind 19 South Main Street had been converted to an acetylene gas plant. When E. T. Tracy, the clerk at Bacon’s store, arrived at the building and opened the door, the buildup of gas exploded, blowing the roof completely off and severely burning Mr. Tracy. Another clerk, Charles Hinterleiter, was able to put out the flames by using a chemical extinguisher.

In 1905, John Buckley Bacon sold the store to Phillips and Agate, who continued to utilize the space as a store. By the 1930s, Burdett’s had opened their doors and remained in business for many decades, becoming the longest-running store in the history of the building.

*Note: This article was first published in Historic Pittsford’s Summer 2014 newsletter.

“Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” Exhibit Debuts at the Fairport Historical Museum

Posted April 29, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War Soldiers, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY

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2013 was the year of Downton Abbey.  My previous post extolled the virtues of the show’s interesting characters and elegant costumes.  As Director of the Fairport Historical Museum, I had the opportunity create a “Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey” exhibit featuring costumes that came directly from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) and which represented the witty Dowager Countess, the demure Lady Sybil and the elegant Lady Grantham, among others.  Due to the tremendous response to that exhibit, I’ve entered the PHS closets once again to bring even more costumes to light.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

In 2014, the Fairport Historical Museum celebrates weddings.  Our newest exhibit, “Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” showcases twelve wedding gowns from area brides. Six dresses come from the PHS collection, while an additional six are on loan from their owners.  Wedding announcements and bridal photos accompany many of the gowns and serve to personalize each bride’s story.  Here is the story of our 1903 bride, Alice Beaumont, who has the distinction of having the earliest wedding gown in the exhibit.

Alice M. Beaumont, the daughter of Edward F. and Emma Sahlman Beaumont, was born in June, 1881.  She grew up on George Street in the village of Fairport, New York, and it was in the parlor of that home that Alice and George H. Warner were married on October 1, 1903 beneath a beautiful arch of evergreen and floral decorations as eighty friends and family members looked on.  Dressed in white lansdown trimmed with Irish lace, the bride carried a bouquet of white roses to meet her groom.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903.  Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903. Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

George H. Warner was the son of George S. and Lena Peglow Warner.  George S. had served during the Civil War  in the 16th U. S. Infantry.  George S. and Lena had seven children, of which George H. was number four.

The Beaumonts also had a Civil War veteran in their midst.  Alice’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Beaumont, served in Co. A, 8th New York Cavalry.

Alice and George became parents in 1908 upon the birth of their first son, Leon.  Three more sons, Hollis, Vincent and George Maxwell, would follow within the next seven years.  George supported his growing family by working as a foreman at the American Can Company.

1915 was a dreadful year for Alice Beaumont Warner.  On May 19th her mother, Emma Sahlman Beaumont, died.  Three months later, a motorcycle accident ended the life of her grandfather, Frederick Sahlman.  Then in October Alice’s aunt, Elizabeth Sahlman Bort, was killed in an automobile accident.  In the midst of this sadness, Alice gave birth to her fourth and final son, George Maxwell Warner.  Little George must have been the only bright spot in this annus horribilus.

The Warners lived at 25 Woodlawn Avenue in Fairport for the majority of their 66 year marriage, which ended only with George’s death on March 25, 1970.  Alice Beaumont Warner died twelve days later.  They were buried at White Haven Cemetery in Pittsford, New York.

Alice is just one of the brides represented in this exhibit.  I invite you to visit the Fairport Historical Museum, located at 18 Perrin Street near the Village Landing, during regular open hours (Sundays and Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., Thursdays 7:00-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00-11:00 a.m.) to view these exquisite wedding gowns and to read the announcements of nuptials from the past, when “O Promise Me” was a popular wedding song and the Green Lantern Inn was the fashionable place to hold a wedding reception.

Inspired by Downton Abbey

Posted December 3, 2013 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY, Rochester NY

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Over the past two weeks, it seems as if I’ve been living and breathing Downton Abbey.  Not that I’m complaining.  Since the first season of Downton, I’ve been mesmerized by the characters and the intrigues but also, more importantly, by the elegant costumes and history of the time period.

Bruce, Alastair003Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a special luncheon presented by WXXI featuring Alastair Bruce, OBE, historical advisor to Downton Abbey.  It was an intimate gathering – just me, my friend Suzanne Lee, and 400 other fans of the show.  What a time we had!  This was Mr. Bruce’s only presentation in the United States and, I’m very proud to say, it was held in Rochester, New York.  Captivating the audience with charm and wit,  Mr. Bruce regaled us with stories about the making of the show.  Who knew that Rob James-Collier, also known as the dastardly servant Thomas Barrows, is an amazingly nice guy in real life?  Or that the actors sometimes get tired of being told to tilt their heads differently or to sit up straighter?  If I came away with anything from the presentation, it was to watch for the little details going on in the background of the show.  Did you ever notice the servants measuring how far each chair was from the table?  Those are the details that go into creating a show of such high caliber.

This week, I have the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the Barnes & Noble in Webster, New York, for their Downton Abbey event, where I will display and discuss seven Downton Abbey inspired costumes from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) which were recently exhibited at the Fairport Museum.  The PHS has an impressive collection of over 1,000 costumes and accessories from the mid-1800s through modern times.  My original plans were to create a different costume exhibit for the museum.  However, once I saw the black gown, an inner voice that sounded much like the Dowager Countess said, “My dear, you must display Downton Abbey.  Nothing else will do!”  B&N Flyer 2013002After that, the costumes nearly jumped out of the closet.  There was an exquisite gown which would have been stunning on Lady Grantham.  Sweet Sybil was represented in white and blue, while Edith’s no nonsense attitude manifested itself in a black sheath dress.  Lady Mary wore a classic long, black gown complete a net jacket embellished with thousands of small beads.  Even Mrs. Hughes and Lady Rose MacClare were represented in the exhibit.

Although the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Fairport Museum has ended, you still have the opportunity to see the fabulous costumes at this one time event at Barnes & Noble, located at 1070 Ridge Road in Webster, New York.  It promises to be a fun evening.  Our friends from the Rochester Historical Society, whose own Downton Abbey exhibit opens today, will also be there.  So will Kristen Zory King of Writers & Books, who will give a short presentation about why the female characters of Downton Abbey draw us in.  Stop by on Thursday evening, December 5, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. to gaze at these exquisite pieces of history that were once worn by women from our own community.


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