Bicentennial Snapshot # 39 – Paddy Hill, Read’s Corners, Latta at Mount Read

Today our topic is Paddy Hill.

Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley
Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley

In 1878 Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley wrote in his journal “A miniature Ireland grew up here, free from the annoyances and the oppression of the Old Country. Industry secured prosperity. It has been a saying that if there is a good farm for sale, there is an Irishman with the money to pay for it.” The miniature Ireland he was referring to, of course, is what is still called today, Paddy Hill.

Emerald green from irishcentral.com

Between 1805 and 1830 the first stream of Irish immigrants came to Greece, some by way of Canada. They came from places such as County Fermanagh, King’s County, County Wicklow, and County Wexford. These immigrants were a relatively prosperous group of families who “left Ireland decades before the potato famines of the 1840s forced millions of Irish from their impoverished homeland.” Many of the men were skilled tradesmen such as stone masons, mechanics, and coopers.

Aerial of Latta Road at Mount Read, 1960s, from GHS

What they sought was land, something they were prohibited from owning in their native country. Unlike later generations of immigrants, these Irish farmers were able to purchase tracts of fertile acreage and establish themselves quickly as prosperous landowners.

By the second quarter of the century, orchards and grain crops crowned Paddy Hill and the farms prospered. Like The Rigney and the Whelehan Farm in the Picture to the right.

We will learn more about what Francis Howard Whelehan remembers about his family farm in next week’s snapshot.

Paddy Hill approached Mt Read Blvd., the 1920s, from GHS. On the left is the Rigney Farm, and on the right is a Whelehan Farm

Felix McGuire

Felix McGuire Memorial marker in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

One of the first Irishman to settle in the area was Felix McGuire. Born in County Fermanagh (Fer-man-a) circa 1770, he arrived in Greece between 1805 and 1807. He was a leading Catholic layman in his day in Monroe County and a “substantial figure in the history of the Town of Greece.” By 1810 he was elected as a path master for the town of Northampton. The Catholic tradition in Rochester and in Greece is that Felix was the man who brought the first priest to the Rochester district to celebrate Mass in 1818. He also was a founder of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Rochester in 1823.

Nicolas Read

Nicholas Read was a contemporary of Felix McGuire. A prosperous, well-educated Irish immigrant, he took up residence in Greece circa 1823. “Already a man of substance, he purchased a considerable amount of acreage on the crest and slopes of the highest point in the town of Greece between Ridge Road and the Lake, now called after him, Mount Read.” Maps labeled the intersection with Latta Road “Read’s Corners” before it was ever called Paddy Hill. A civic and religious leader, Read “served as justice of the peace for over twenty years, and for three years was one of the associate judges of the county. Many called him “Judge” Read because of his judicial positions. He was more widely known as “Squire” Read.”

Nicholas Read from Greece Historical Society’s Collection
Historical marker at Mt. Read and Latta, photo by Dick Halsey

The heart of the Irish community at Read’s Corner was their church and Felix McGuire and Nicholas Read were instrumental in its founding. Nicholas Read donated the land for the church and cemetery. Principally through their efforts, a frame building was begun in 1829. It was named St. Ambrose Church but was more commonly called “The Church in the Woods,” a name given to it by the local Native Americans. That was what the church was called before receiving the name Our Mother of Sorrows, It was the first Catholic church built in any rural area in New York State.

Diocesan historian Robert McNamara wrote: “The Irish were so numerous in the north part of Greece that for many years a long stretch of Latta Road on either side of Mount Read was flanked by an unbroken line of Irish Catholic farms. It is no surprise that the Mount came to be called “Paddy Hill.” But the Grecian Irish deeply resented this nickname, for “Paddy” was an ethnic slur.” But it is the name that lingers to this day. Judge Read was particularly active in fighting anti-Irish/anti-Catholicism sentiments.

The image on the right is a pen and ink original art by noted cartoonist Frederick Opper (1857-1937), noted for comic strips “Happy Hooligan, Alphonse And Gaston, Her Name Was Maud” and others. Opper also drew political cartoons for William Randolph Hearst’s “New York Journal.” This single-panel cartoon dates to c. 1885, during the height of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment in America, and features a man with a bucket and paintbrush standing outside of a wooden shack decorated with shamrocks and Irish harp, with freshly painted “Down Wid Toyrunts! No More Irish Paupers Wanted In The U.S.” text. Irish woman looks out of the window as goat w/painted shamrock look on. Nightshirt w/harp image hangs off the post over the door like a flag. Opper has signed at the lower right. The lower left corner has a .5×1″ corner tip-off (not affecting art) w/2″ corner crease. Artboard has evenly aged some corner foxing and scattered dust soiling.

Printed in the New York Journal c. 1885
Frederick Burr Opper, 1857-1937

Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin from Mother of Sorrows Herald No. 2, Easter 1930, from GHS

Peter Larkin was born circa 1809 in Ireland and emigrated to this country around the age of 30. He, along with his good friend Joseph Fleming, succeeded Felix McGuire and Squire Read as leaders of the Irish Community of Read’s Corners. Before coming to Greece, both men worked on a number of canal projects around New York State and in Canada. In addition to his farm, Peter was a prosperous property owner around what was known as Greece Center—the Latta/ Long Pond intersection and where the Greece Town Hall campus is today. Peter was elected supervisor of the town three times: 1861–1862, 1872, and 1876.

Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, is now home to Lang Dental Group.

Lang Dental Group Posing in front of Peter Larkin’s Homestead
Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, now Lang Dental Group, photo by Bill Sauers

Joseph Fleming

Joseph Fleming Home, photo by Bill Sauers

We told you about Joseph Fleming and his home in Snapshot 31 – Notable Holmes in Greece NY.

Our Mother of Sorrows and Father Jean Louis Maurice

Larkin and Fleming recommended that a French priest, Father Jean Louis Maurice, or Father John Maurice as he anglicized his name, be made pastor of St. Ambrose and he was appointed in 1856. When it came time to construct a new church to replace the 30-year-old wooden frame church in 1859, Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming were the general contractors and Peter personally built the lentils and windows of the church. They donated their labor. Father Maurice was the pastor for 39 years until his death on Christmas Day, 1895 at the age of 83.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church, photo by Bill Sauers
Peter Larkin designed the lentils and frames for the stained glass windows sit in as seen in this 1991 D&C Photo of Paddy Hill Library
"Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming"
When you click on this image to view it full size you can see at the bottom in black text on this stained glass window it say “Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming” on the glass

This church continued to be at the heart of the Irish community.

Father Jean Louis Maurice
Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)

A highlight in the history of this community and its church was the centennial celebration in June 1930. Five thousand parishioners and former parishioners attended the ceremony. Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor were among the dignitaries helping to mark the anniversary.

In 1968 it was replaced by a new church just south of the cemetery. The congregation outgrew the little church at the corner of the Latta and Mount Read Blvd building a new church could give them more room for more members to attend services and around 1950 they added a Private Catholic school on the grounds years later to help with the number of congregational members growing because the town’s population was booming. But in the 2000s Mother of Sorrows school started to see a decline in admissions of students to the school which forced the church to sell the school building and in 2017 Rochester Academy Charter School bought the building and serves as their high school.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church from dorchurches.org

Paddy Hill Library/Rochester Academy Charter School

Black and White 1990s Picture of the Inside of Paddy Hill Library
Greece Public Library before the expansion of the children’s library area on the Greece Town Campus

The old church was leased to the town of Greece for the Paddy Hill Branch Library, “with the understanding that any inside adjustments necessary could be made, but that the old red-brick Romanesque exterior would remain the same.” The library closed circa 1999 with the opening of the new library on the Town Hall campus in 2000. There is a second library branch that opened up in the Dewey-Stone area but since COVID it has not reopened the small storefront location.

Between 2000 and 2017 it was used by the Greece Central School District as well for a short period for certain programs and offices due to building constraints of the district at the time. Today the building is owned by the Rochester Academy Charter School.

After Greece Central School District was done using it for some of the programs the district had running.

Look at this 1902 map and you can see that Read’s Corners is still surrounded by Irish family farms.

Close up of Paddy Hill on the 1902 Map
Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers

Today, the Whelehan’s Allyndaire Farm is the last of them on Latta Road. More about them in our next Snapshot.

Paddy Hill School / Common School District # 5

Equally important to the community was its school, which was and is located across the street from Our Mother of Sorrows Church. The year after the Town of Greece was established in 1822, a new local public school, Common School District No. 5 Town of Greece was set up on the west side of the half-intersection of Latta Road and the present Mount Read Blvd. There has been a public elementary school at this intersection since 1839, either here or kitty-corner from the church, making it the second oldest continuous location in the county. The Greece Historical Society received a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation to install this historical marker.

Historical marker photo by Bill Sauers
Paddy Hill School courtesy of Randy Phillips

With the school and their church established in 1829, the community “began to envision that intersection as the nucleus of a future village.” But the commercial hubs developed in Charlotte, and around the Dewey/Latta, and the Latta/Long Pond intersections. Even today the surrounding environs are predominately residential.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery

Very few of the early settlers around Paddy Hill chose to leave for other places; there were many marriages among the tightly-knit families. One only has to walk the quiet paths of Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery and read the names on the grave markers: McGuire, Read, Larkin, Fleming, Rigney, Bemish, Burns, Whelehan, McShea, Slater, Goodwin, Gallery, and Hogan. A who’s who of the early pioneers of the town. Many of the descendants of these families still reside in Greece.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

Thank you for joining us today, next week our Snapshot is about growing up on Paddy Hill.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 19- Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, What’s in a Name? Part 2

This week we explore some of the myths of some of the nicknames of the communities in the town. This week we look at street names, elevations, and finally the Hojack Line. Some have myths about the name, while some are named after a person or where one of the settlers came from and decided to call the Town of Greece their home.

Street Names of Greece

There are more than 1,050 streets and roads in the town. It should be no surprise that more than 80 of the street names in Greece are related to the farm families who lived along them. In 1935, town supervisor Gordon Howe proposed that some streets be renamed to honor early pioneers. The first change voted on by the town board was to rename what had been Sage or Ottaway Road to McGuire Road in honor of Felix McGuire who settled in Greece circa 1805. Here is a little bit from the Article written in the society’s newsletter by Bill Sauers you can read more by the link below the quote:

Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov
Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov

For the trivia aficionados, in the Town of Greece, there are only 25 Streets and 173 Roads but there are approximately 369 Drives, 160 Lanes, 94 Courts, 94 Circles, 40 Avenues, 25 Ways, 7 Boulevards, 21 Trails, and fewer of Commons, Coves, Estates, Landings, Boulevards, etc.*

There are over 80 streets named after the original farm families who lived there. We have some named for the seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn, but no Winter. There are animal streets: Fox, Deer, Hawk, Owl, Eagle. Several have female names: Judy Ann, Jackie, Laura, Roseanne, but very few have male names and there are 14 named after saints. There are “state streets”: Kentucky, California, and Florida, but no “State Street” (although one wing of the mall calls its self Main Street but that doesn’t count), and even some named after the pilgrims; (Miles) Standish and (John) Alden. Wood seems to be the most popular with 97 containing the word wood in them, but surprisingly, for a town once known for its orchards, only eight with Apple. Then there are 40 Creeks and 14 Brooks, but no Stream. We even
have one named after a card game, Canasta. Of course, some developers couldn’t resist sneaking in their own names: Willis, Britton, and Alfonso (DeNardo).

*The numbers are approximate and may vary somewhat from what is stated in this story.

June 1, 2018 – Streets and Roads by Bill Sauers | Greece Historical Society and Museum

Scott Road, Eddy Road, Mt. Read Blvd.

Scott Road

Scott Road was the section that ran from Stone road to Emerson St.

On Mount Read, a famous female pilot, and no it was not Amelia Mary Earhart, but Blanche Stuart Scott, she was a Pilot, Automobile Adventurer, Actress, a museum curator. Blanche Stuart Scott, America’s first female pilot, was born in 1885 on her grandparents’ farm in Greece located on the north side of Lexington Ave, the south side was in Gates. Reading from her unpublished autobiography during a recorded interview, she said.

“My name is Blanche Stuart Scott and I come from a pioneer family, a Rochester pioneer family, who came to Rochester in eighteen hundred and ten.  And settled out on what was then the old Scott Road and is now Mt Read Blvd.”

Blanche Stuart Scott

The land that was the Scott Brothers lot is now where Delphi Automotive a division of General Motors is located today and is now located in the city of Rochester.

1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.
1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.

Eddy Road

Eddy Road ran from Stone road to Latta. The road was named after Thomas Eddy who lived at 3205 Mount Read Blvd.

Thomas Eddy Homestead

Mount Read

At the corners of Latta and Mount Read on the Southeast corn where Our Mother of Sorrows Church was the land once owned by Nicholas Read a pioneer family of the town of Greece and the Paddy Hill area which we will cover more in a later snapshot either on Our Mother of Sorrows Church and or Paddy Hill. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1920s that the entire stretch from Buffalo road to Latta Road would become Mount Read Boulevard.

Elevations in the town

Below is the list of different elevations in the town listed from the lowest point to the highest point the town. If you want to explore the elevation where you live you can check out the site topographic-map.com which is a great digital representation of the data from the United States Geological Surveys topographical data with color-coded elevation lines blow is low elevation and very red is higher elevations.

  • The lowest Elevation in the town is 243 feet and that is along the ponds at the lake which covers all the beach hamlets along the lakefront.
  • Mt Read at Latta Road Elevation is 345 above sea level.
  • North Greece Elevation at the intersection of Latta Road and North Greece Road is 338 feet above sea level
  • The spot where the Native American fort and Hanford Tavern were at Maplewood drive at Bridgeview drive is only 386 feet above sea level.
  • Barnard / Dewey Stone Area is 400 feet above sea level
  • King’s Landing Elevation is 415 feet above sea level
  • Ridge Road at Apollo Drive Elevation is 441 ft above sea level.
  • West Greece Elevation is 455 feet at the Hoosick Cemetary.
  • Ridgeway ave right at the entrance to Ridge Road Fire District Station #3 is 525 feet above sea level.
  • South Greece Elevation at School 12 at Old Ridgeway and Elmgrove Road is 525 feet above sea level.
  • The highest point in the town is where the BJ’s Wholesale Club is located on Bellwood Drive which is 558 feet above sea level.

Hojack Line / Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad /
Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line
and New York Central Railroad

If you are in your 30s or older at least once in your lifetime saw the swing bridge rotate for the trains to cross over the Genesee River at Port of Rochester. The Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad began operating in 1871. Ownership and the name of the railroad changed hands over the years including the Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line and New York Central Railroad. But it was colloquially known as the Hojack line. There are to this day speculations of how the line became known as the HoJack Line.’

Hojack Line Myth # 1

“It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his mule-drawn buckboard was crossing the tracks when the mule stopped and wouldn’t move.  When the farmer saw the fast-approaching train, he began shouting, “Ho-Jack, Ho-Jack.” Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the “Ho-Jack.”

Hojack Line Myth #2

According to a story published in the Greater Greece Post in 1965, “when it was necessary to hurriedly assemble a train crew in the wee small hours of the night, the call Ho Jack would boom through the halls of the rooming houses where railroad men stayed.”

Hojack Line Myth #3

A farmer, turned train engineer by the name of Jack Welch would yell Whoa, Jack when he stopped the train as if he were still stopping a horse. It was picked up and passed on as Hojack.

The More Plausible answer to the Hojack Line Myth

From a scientific standpoint if you listen to the sound of a train whistle as the sound travels thru the air it sounds more like hojack or Whoa Jack but even this could be seen as a myth to the nickname of the line.

Want to Explore More on Snapshot 19

Consider the following the following books for more information on the information in this snapshot:

The Hojack Line Remembered Oswego to Lewiston by Richard Chait is available in the gift shop at the museum and where ever books are sold just not available in our online store.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Volume 1
Eight Miles along the Shore
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