A House and Farm on Buckman Road

Since 2021, I have been researching pioneer families for the two Town of Greece pioneer books. Discovery of relationships whether by family and/or location abound; this story is about location.

My 87-year-old mother, Veronica “Bonnie” Reilly Ward, grew up in her grandparents’ home at 163 Buckman Road. While researching the George Buckman family of Buckman Road for Book 2, I went looking for their home; old photos showed that it was two stories and white. The only other two-story home was my family’s brown house. It was time to visit the Monroe County offices to do a deed search. Sure enough, it confirmed while structural and color changes were made, my mother’s childhood home was indeed the old Buckman homestead.

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Buckman Homestead on Buckman Road off of the Ridge Road. 1902 Greece Map

George Albert Buckman (1861-1959) married Lucy Griffin (1860-1932) on March 14, 1883; two weeks later they bought this nine-acre farm property from Civil War veteran George Herman. George and Lucy raised their three children, James Burl, Homer, and May, who were born here between 1884-1889. The farm appears very prosperous with its large home, greenhouses, and numerous outbuildings, as well as an orchard. Once their children were grown and started marrying, this farm was sold. George and Lucy lived at several other residences in Greece before moving to Florida in retirement.

Of their children, the famous Homer, who married Alice Mitchell in 1906, would set his landmark milk and later dairy operation at Long Pond and Ridge Road. Oldest son James Burl married Lora Clarke in 1910, and they moved to Webster. J. Burl is best known for his business together with Loren Bonenblust selling and servicing cars under the business name Bonenblust & Buckman.

Youngest child May Newton Buckman married Pliny Thomas in 1913. They started their marriage in Greece, but moved to Oakland County, Michigan where they remained. May preserved her family photos for future generations, and her granddaughter Bonnie Stemen Fiser has graciously shared dozens of photos as well as their family stories with GHS.

Eventually the house and property were sold to Edward William (1877-1927) and Mary Katherine “May” Beck Reilly (1877-1951). Edward and May had married in 1895 and previously lived on nearby Stone Road. Like the Buckmans, they set about farming and raising their family. The couple had three children, Theresa “Ione,” James Ivan, and Bernard Leo, who died in 1904 at age 4.

Son James Ivan Reilly married Marie Susie Ras in 1928, the year after his father Edward’s untimely death when his horse-driven carriage was struck by a train. May had a stand where she sold her flowers, vegetables, and eggs. She also watched her grandchildren, Ione and Bonnie (my mom), while son Jim and his wife worked. When May died in 1951, Jim and Marie built a “modern” home on the frontage. They sold the farmhouse, but retained the land which was leased out. The property left the Reilly family in the 1990s.

For more about these families, see Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Volume 1 for Reilly, and Volume 2, coming out later this year, for Buckman and Beck. As always, we very much appreciate families telling us their stories and/or sharing photos preserving our early town pioneer history.

Then and Now of 163 Buckman Road

Then

A farm with a house and a vegetable garden

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163 Buckman Road circa1890s
A house with a tree in front of it

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163 Buckman Road 2023

Now

Then and Now: 163 Buckman Road circa1890s and in 2023.
Courtesy Bonnie Stemen Fiser (photo 1) and Jo Ann Ward Snyder (photo 2)

A group of people posing for a photo

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May, Burl, George, Lucy (Griffin), and Homer Buckman. Courtesy Bonnie Stemen Fiser
A group of people posing for a photo

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May Beck Reilly with granddaughters Ione and Bonnie Reilly, and son and daughter-in-law James and Marie Ras Reilly. Courtesy Ione Reilly Newman and Diane Newman Long
A couple of young boys posing for a picture

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Homer and J. Burl Buckman Courtesy Bonnie Stemen Fiser
A person in a long white dress standing in front of a house

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May Newton Buckman Thomas
Courtesy Bonnie Stemen Fiser
A child wearing a hat

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Veronica Reilly Ward
Courtesy Reilly Family and Veronica Reilly Ward
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Bernard Leo and Theresa “Ione” Reilly
Courtesy Reilly Family and Veronica Reilly Ward
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Ralph Francis: Black Activist and Abolitionist

In November, 2023, Marie Poinan did a program at the Charlotte Library on the history of the Charlotte ferries and their operators. She caught my attention when she mentioned that one of the first ferry operators was Ralph Francis, a black man about whom little has been documented. I was intrigued – a person of color operating a boat at the port of Charlotte during the turbulent decade between the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the Civil War? Could he have been involved in the Underground Railroad? Since I was preparing a program on the UGRR(Underground Railroad), I started researching Ralph Francis.

For every well-known conductor and stationmaster such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, there were dozens more men and women who remain unknown or about whom there is little information. Out of necessity, secrecy was the very essence of the UGRR. Those who helped enslaved people on the run faced serious consequences if they were caught; they could be fined thousands of dollars and/or imprisoned for many years. Therefore, very few kept written records or any kind of documentation, making it difficult for historians to verify with any certainty the people involved in the network.

Between 1850 and the beginning of the Civil War, almost 150 enslaved people passed through the Rochester area each year on their way to Canada. Two of the “Railroad” lines led to Greece, either at Kelsey’s Landing near the lower falls or the port at the mouth of the Genesee River in Charlotte; at that time both were located in the Town of Greece. Ralph Francis had a hotel at Kelsey’s Landing and then a tavern at Charlotte during that time. Coincidence? Perhaps. However, Francis had a history of activism.

Kelsey’s Landing historical marker in Maplewood Park
https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=58198
Reynolds Arcade in 1840

Born in New Jersey circa 1811, Francis was living in Rochester by 1840 and according to the 1850 census he lived on Greig Street (or Greig Ally) in the Third Ward, where the majority of free people of color resided. He was a barber and with Benjamin Cleggett operated Francis & Cleggett Barber Shop, one of several shops owned by abolitionists, both black and white, in the Reynolds Arcade. Frederick Douglass’ North Star office was across the street to the south and the Eagle Hotel, where people could get the stagecoach to Charlotte, across the street on the west.

In 1843 Francis helped Douglass organize a four-day conference on black suffrage in New York State and in 1846 he was a main speaker at a second conference. There were two letters to the editor published in the Daily Democrat in which he advocated for the right to vote for all black men. At that time free black men who owned $250 worth of property could vote in New York State; Ralph Francis easily qualified with holdings worth $2,000. In the early 1850s he worked to get Rochester’s city schools desegregated.

To my mind it makes sense that he was engaged in getting enslaved people to Canada. Canadian vessels had a major commercial presence at both Kelsey’s Landing and the Port of Charlotte. When his former business partner Cleggett died in 1917, his obituary in the Democrat & Chronicle stated that he was likely involved in the UGRR.

Port of Charlotte 1856
Notice in the Daily Democrat, June 14, 1854
Notice in the Daily Democrat, June 14, 1854

Francis disappeared from the Rochester landscape circa 1855. He was gone from Charlotte less than a year after opening his saloon there. Both of his parents and his nine-year-old nephew, all who resided with him, died in 1854. A bathhouse that he erected at the beach in July of 1854 was burned down by an arsonist in August. Marie Poinan used her genealogy expertise and found him living in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Was that arson a warning? Was someone about to turn him into the authorities for violating the Fugitive Slave Act, causing him to flee to Canada? We may never know, but I’ll keep looking, hoping to find out more about him.

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Christmas Greetings Cards 1875-1900

Greeting cards for the Christmas season were very slow to gather popularity in the United States prior to the Civil War ( 1861-1865). The first commercial Christmas card was introduced for the season of 1843 in London, England. It wasn’t a success for several reasons. In the early 1870s, a German immigrant by the name of Louis Prang opened a color print shop in a suburb of Boston, MA. Prang could turn out prints using twenty-some varied color plates to produce a stunning product not seen before in the United States. By the mid- I 880s other print shops started using the same process and the appeal of the holiday greeting card grew each year. In the earlier years, the subjects followed the English style of subjects: flowers, elegant ladies, children, animals, and birds of every description, all posed with a bower of varied blossoms. The Christmas greeting was often in a small, simple line near the top or bottom. The fringed, embossed, and beribboned era was the fashion, with larger print styles from 1886 into the 1890s. Santa had appeared and was mentioned before the Civil War, but seldom appeared until the last years of the 19th century. The Christmas tree would also make its appearance then, but the Poinsettia was unknown until about 1901.

The cards of that early period were relatively expensive, depending on the size and extra “added fluff”. It might seem odd that most holiday cards were not mailed but hand-carried to the recipient’s door with a calling card attached. Only the out-of-town card with an added note would be mailed to Uncle Bert and Aunt Minnie who had moved to Michigan or Cousin Bertha now living in Auburn, near her daughter, Theodora. The 20th century and the coming of the colored postcard and penny postage brought the steady growth of the entire greeting card industry into al­ most the present day. Cards with envelopes again became the norm just before 1920. We now have greeting cards of all types offered online via computer. But why rely on just online Greeting card companies’ offers when you can create your own greetings and send them via the computer using a combination of email, and/or social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin, Pinterest, Tumblr or the next big social media service that comes along that allows you to Christmas or other types of messages that you want to share with your online “friends” around the world. From hand delivering your Christmas greeting cards to relatives, friends, and neighbors in the 19th century to electronic delivery in seconds (well, sometimes a bit longer) in the 21st…….to the “friends” you might never meet!

Here are some cool Pinterest ideas for digital Christmas cards and posts and other Holidays as well from PosterMyWall Pinterest PinBoard.

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Marketing to Farmers From the 1850s to the 1900s

Cover of the Genesee Farmer
Cover of the Genesee Farmer
Hiram Sibley & Co. Seed Box, Used in the C.W. Barnes Store, 1882-1888, Located in the General Store at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan
Hiram Sibley & Co. Seed Box, Used in the C.W. Barnes Store, 1882-1888, Located in the General Store at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan

Prior to the Civil War (1861-65) the farmers in Greece got the latest information concerning all aspects of farming from fellow farmers or a number of monthly publications such as The Genesee Farmer (founded in 1831) or Moore’s Rural New Yorker (founded about 1849). Both papers were published in Rochester and both were priced at $3.00 per year ($3.00 in 1849 would amount to $93.75 in 2015). Both were issued monthly. Advertisements were generally quite small and very often without an illustration of the product. Each issue might be carefully kept and in many cases were bound into book form. Our GHS archive has two bound volumes of Moore’s Rural New York from 125 years ago. The Greece farmer, if he had the money, could become a member of the Monroe (County) Horticultural Society, founded in 1830, or take off a day and attend the Monroe County Fair with his family to see the exhibits and mingle with local fellow farmers.

Just a few years after the close of the Civil War, especially in the northern states, manufacturers began to pro­ duce and distribute consumer goods on a national scale. The big problem was the lack of an advertising medium that was on a national scale. The few national magazines published then were comparatively expensive and not always widely distributed, except in larger urban cities. The mail order companies Montgomery Ward began as a tiny business in 1872 and Sears-Roebuck some 25 years later.

Close up of the Bill of Seeds in the Hiram Sibley & Co. Seed Box, Used in the C.W. Barnes Store, 1882-1888, Located in the General Store at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan
Close-up of the Bill of Seeds in the Hiram Sibley & Co. Seed Box, Used in the C.W. Barnes Store, 1882-1888, Located in the General Store at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan

A bit of a “eureka moment” occurred in the early 1870s. Colored lithography had been invented in Bavaria, Ger­many in 1835 and by 1839 it was introduced in the United States. The process involved numerous printing plates, each having a different color of ink. By careful registration, amazing full-color prints could be easily and inexpen­sively reproduced. Copies of famous works of art, religious and secular scenes were now offered for framing. The “eureka moment” occurred when someone decided to print advertising cards of modest size as Chromolitho­graphs to be inserted in package goods, mailed, and handed out…….and ….. they were FREE! A collecting craze soon started for these colorful gems, often traded and pasted in appropriate scrapbooks. Every shopkeeper had a group of handouts supplied by the wholesaler which carried a stamping of his business and address. National and international expositions, and county and state fairs, all joined in handing out trade cards by the thousands. The Greece Grange (The Patrons of Husbandry) #311 was founded in 1875 and through meetings and lectures, it brought the local farmers into a fraternal-like setting, making it an ideal place for lectures and demonstrations of the latest is farm improvements. The captive audience was perfect for the distribution of appropriate trade cards brought to the gathering by the friendly lecture salesman.

What was the attraction of the modest, Chromolithograph, trade card? The full-color image was the big draw. The ubiquitous Currier and Ives prints of the period were hand colored and often varied in the quality and variety of colors used. The mania for the vibrantly colorful giveaways lasted for almost twenty-five years and finally faded away in the early 1900s.

Shown here above is a group of typical trade cards all slanted toward the farmer. Some were clever as the fold-down of the couple showing their huge cabbages after a shot of Cracker’s Buffalo Phosphate or the moveable images of the W.H. Rowerdink Co. Several Rochester printing companies of the era produced trade cards as well as colored seed packets for the numerous seed companies in Monroe County. The two better-known local printers of that long-ago period were Mensing-Stecher Co. and the Karle Lithographic Co.

The colorful trade cards of 5 to 7 generations ago still turn up at local antique shows. Even an occasional worn scrapbook, when opened, explodes with the bright colors of the trade cards inside. Someone carefully saved and pasted the cards in an album that might have been purchased at the Phelp’s Store in N. Greece about 1885…….

The Henry Ford Museum at the Benson Ford Research Center has at least 3 catalogs of Hiram Seeds Catalogs from 1879, 1884, and 1886 as well as some of the original packages of the seed packs from the 1882-1888 time frame, and the seeds either shipped from Rochester, NY or Chicago, IL. and you can see the search on Hiram Silbey by clicking on this link here: Hiram Sibley search on Henry Ford Collections.

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1066 Long Pond Road- THE BRITTON FAMILY HOMESTEAD – “FROM THE HISTORIAN’S FILE”

South side of 1066 Long Pond circa 1904- The Brittons standing on a stone wall.

Coming to Monroe County in the early 1800s, the Britton Family were early settlers in what was then called Rochesterville.

Alanson Phizarro Britton, the ninth child of thirteen, was born in the tiny village in 1820. While in his teens he ran a line boat on the Erie Canal and later he managed a Toll Gate on the plank road in Brighton which became East Avenue. While boarding at the Toll Gate house he met and later married, in 1849, a school teacher named Laura Lewis. By 1853 he became interested in a plot of land in the town of Greece. The first dwelling, on about 1.02 acres he purchased from John and Lydia Beal, was a log house. A small portion of this land had already been deeded for use as a schoolhouse to Greece Common School District #9 by the Beals. Shortly after the Civil War, Alanson began building the present Italian ate style home on the property. The timbers were cut from trees on the property, hauled to a sawmill, cut into useable lumber, and brought back to the building site.

The Britton farmstead, completed about 1870, was well known for its Hubbard Squash. By 1875 the Brittons had sold about an acre of the southern portion of the land near Maiden Lane to the Meth­odist Church for $700. Laura and Alanson raised four children, of which the two eldest died fairly young.

Mr. Britton was the Town of Greece Supervisor five different times from the late 1870s until 1901. By mutual agreement, elected supervisors only served a two-year term and retired but could run again after a two-year gap. Of all the 19th-century supervisors, Britton seems to hold the record for the number of times served. Alanson had a long life, dying at the homestead in 1912; Laura preceded him in 1910 with an equally long life. They are buried in the Falls Cemetery on Ridge Road. The Britton homestead is now about 140 years old and is again up for sale with 1.6 acres of the original 102 acres from 1853 remaining. House # 1066 is listed on the “101 historic sites in The Town Of Greece” and awaits a new owner who loves being surrounded by “friendly ghosts” of an important Greece family!

The Front view of the A.P. Britton Home Stead facing North East, Taken October 1, 2010 by Bill Sauers
The Front view of the A.P. Britton Home Stead facing North East, Taken October 1, 2010, by Bill Sauers
The Front view of the A.P. Britton Home Stead facing North, Taken October 1, 2010, by Bill Sauers
The Front view of the A.P. Britton Home Stead facing North, Taken October 1, 2010, by Bill Sauers

Photos, Data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office, Greece Historical Society

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