In addition to the storekeeper, the lawyer, physician, and the like, this village is populated by talented artisans. The art of the cabinetmaker, tinsmith, potter and other craftspeople is created just the way they would have been in the 1800s. Each business, shop and trade building showcases the furniture, tools and other objects of the period.
Click the name of the building to for additional details.
Click the numbers in parentheses to view the building's location on our Intereactive Map.
Brewery and Hop House
Gunsmith's & Cabinetmaker Shop
Flint Hill Pottery
The Village Mercantile
Confectionary (former Physician's Office)
Hastings Law Office (30)
DeLancey Stow Insurance Office
Boot & Shoemaker's Shop
Thomson's Tavern and Store
built c. 1850, Lima, N.Y.
Over the "Genesee Pike" traveled tens of thousands of settlers, some staying to take up land in the Genesee Country, others going on to Ohio and Michigan. More importantly, agricultural produce could now reach the Albany market, bringing cash and a greater promise of prosperity to the Genesee farmer.
Turnpikes and side roads alike were dirt, made as level as possible by removing stumps and stones, and by plowing, scraping and filling. In the rainy spring, the roads were muddy and barely passable; in the hot summer, they were dusty and heavy with sand; in the wet times of the fall, rutted and muddy. The best season to travel was when there was enough snow to use sleds and sleighs. Large and sturdy bobsleds carried massive loads of freight over the frozen and snow-covered roads.
Maintenance of the toll roads was the responsibility of their proprietors. Originally, public highways were constructed by the land companies to encourage settlement, agents for the companies offering settlers land in exchange for work on the roads. Later, when the roads were taken over by the state, they were maintained by laborers hired with road tax money or by farmers who preferred to work out their road tax with labor.
The Rochester and Hemlock Lake Plank Road Company, organized in 1850, ran one of many plank roads in the Genesee Country. The 23-mile roadway enabled teamsters to draw heavy loads of timber to the sawmills and lumber yards in Rochester.
However, the plank surfaces did not hold up long under the heavy wear from the iron tires of the wagon wheels, the iron horse shoes, and the decay from the weather, and they soon required repair and rebuilding. Most plank roads were abandoned by the end of the Civil War period.
The c.1850 Toll House at the threshold of the Genesee Country Village was the southernmost of the two Rochester and Hemlock Lake Plank Road Company tollhouses that flanked the village of Lima in Livingston County. The toll keeper, his wife, three children and a boarder shared its two rooms, kitchen and loft.
Early Roads, Plank Roads & Tolls audio tour
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built c. 1835, Alloway, N.Y.
The success of some Genesee Country land agents was not matched by other large-scale speculators in wild New York lands. Among the long-range losers were Oliver Phelps, his partner Nathaniel Gorham and Philadelphia banker Robert Morris.
Land speculation was a hazardous business. Absentee landlords were soon disenchanted when their expectations for quick profits from wholesaling large tracts to land-hungry investors proved wishful.
Resident-agent Capt. Charles Williamson recognized that to boost sluggish sales, he would have to sell modest parcels to individual farmers. To expedite such sales, Williamson enlisted sub-agents to establish offices in other regions of his territory and to set about making "improvements." But time ran out on the freewheeling Williamson, and he was replaced with a more conservative and practical promoter, Robert Troup.
One of Williamson's sub-agents, who Troup retained, was 24-year-old Henry Towar. By 1794, he had built a gristmill, sawmill and clothiery (for carding and dressing spun wool) on the Canandaigua Lake outlet — and raised a log house for his land office.
First known simply as Towar's Mills, the settlement was renamed Alloway, after Towar's birthplace in Alloa, a town near Edinburgh, Scotland. When Towar arrived in Alloway, unimproved land was selling for $2 an acre and money was scarce. Payments could be made in wheat delivered to the gristmill.
With help from his brothers and sons, Towar prospered in Alloway. He built a handsome house. His village, strategically located on the main road connecting Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario with Geneva on Seneca Lake, seemed destined for importance. But the Erie Canal, and later the railroad, bypassed Alloway, which subsided into a quiet rural hamlet.
Toward the end of his active career, Capt. Towar erected a smart little Greek Revival building for his land office. When its days as a land office ended, it served as a doctor's office, a butcher shop and a filling station. Today, it has reassumed its first purpose and has been provided with the tools of Capt. Towar's trade — maps, charts, ledgers, a letter press, a safe and surveying instruments.
Dealing in Land audio tour
built 1830, Elba, N.Y.
He might have been preceded by the innkeeper and the storekeeper, but the blacksmith was the first tradesman to set up shop in the emerging village. He supplied goods and services basic to the welfare of any early community, large or small.
Even the tiniest hamlet included at least one blacksmith. The smith shod horses, made hardware, repaired wagons and plows — everything of iron that the farmer or the villager could not repair himself. His trade was often combined with that of the wheelwright, with whom he might collaborate in making wagons and carriages.
Levi Rugg, whose shop is now in Genesee Country Village, was engaged in the two related occupations — smithing and wagon repair. His wagon shop was handy to the cobblestone blacksmith shop, then owned by blacksmith William Bradley. And Rugg's own smithy was across the street from Bradley's. This congestion of like and competing enterprises was common in the world of the blacksmith, and illustrates some of the economics of the early 19th-century village. There may not have been a blacksmith shop on every corner, but in the average village there were more blacksmith shops than cobbler shops.
Rugg eventually bought the cobblestone shop, moved his operations into it, and ran a general blacksmithing business there until his death in 1875. Two succeeding smiths worked in the shop until well into the 20th century.
Rugg's shop from Elba, N.Y., is representative of a nearly unique regional architectural expression — the cobblestone building. Beginning in the 1820s and until around the middle of the century, cobblestone structures were built in western and central New York State by the hundreds.
The carefully selected stones came from two principal sources — the shores of Lake Ontario and the drumlins left by glacial retreat. Students of cobblestone architecture recognize distinct phases in the art — from the first simple coursing of medium-sized cobbles, to the later patterned coursing of small and sometimes specially shaped cobblestones. The Rugg Blacksmith Shop, typical of the earlier phase, was built about 1830. The inside walls are rubble masonry.
Cobblestone Architecture audio tour
Reconstruction, c. 1803
built c. 1870, Greece, N.Y.
Beer was a welcome supplement to the Genesee Country pioneer's basic diet. Beer could be brewed on the farm or in the home, but by the middle of the 19th century, many villages in western New York included a brewery, a distillery or both.
Mumford and Caledonia — just a mile apart — each had a brewery in the 1830s. Alexander Simpson, owner and proprietor of the one in Caledonia, did a brisk business during the construction of the Genesee Valley Canal. He sent wagonloads of beer all along the route of the canal as far south as Olean, N.Y. In 1837, when the canal was completed, Simpson sold his business.
When Thomas Douglas (1771-1820), the fifth Earl of Selkirk, visited Geneva, N.Y., in 1803, he found 13 distilleries and one brewery in that pleasant village. The Scottish nobleman, who was traveling and observing industries in Canada and the United States, prepared drawings and descriptions of the Geneva brewery. His careful records were the basis for the design and organization of the reproduction 19th-century brewery at Genesee Country Village.
Portions of Rochester's old Enright Brewery (closed in 1907) and an early timber-framed structure near West Bloomfield, N.Y., were merged to form the present building. The big copper kettle on the third floor and all the wooden vessels and vats are arranged according to Lord Selkirk's account of "a modest facility for the manufacture of beer." The entire operation requires equipment on six different floor levels within the three-story structure.
The original Genesee Country Village brewery and all its contents burned in 1988. A reproduction, as indicated above, now takes its place. The wooden vessels and vats were reproduced by a Finger Lakes winery cooper. In the photograph, the Hops Drying House is at the right, and the hops field is behind the two buildings.
A Revolution in Drinking audio tour
Alcohol vs. Water audio tour
The Beginning of the Temperance Movement audio tour
built c. 1870, Dalton, N.Y.
If the pioneer settler hit a moving target with his big smoothbore flintlock fowling piece, he was lucky. Birds had to be shot before they took to the wing. If, for mechanical reasons, the pioneer's gun couldn't hit anything at all, it could be taken to William Antis who, in 1790, set up a gunsmith shop in Canandaigua, N.Y. Antis could repair the gun or sell his customer a new one for $8 or $9 dollars. A second-hand fowling piece could be had for $2 or $3.
In 1803, the Remington Arms Company developed a system to mass produce gun parts and by the 1820s, the firm began to supply those parts to gunsmiths like Antis. The state of the art changed significantly as the gunsmith gained access to the technology of the day.
Since the gunsmith was the most skilled tradesman in the community, his apprentice had a lot to learn. The master gunsmith was an accomplished woodworker and joiner. He could repair or replace gunstocks. He could forge metals, and knew how to heat-treat metals — both ferrous and non-ferrous. The skills and tools of the jeweler were required to make springs. To decorate patch boxes, the gunsmith had to be a fairly competent engraver.
The gunsmith shop at Genesee Country Village was moved from Dalton in lower Livingston County, where Jonathan Thompson with his brother, Joseph, ran a general repair business when they were not busy farming. In the small shop, Jonathan made and repaired guns when the occasion arose.
The tools and equipment now in the shop came from the Amos Wood gunshop in North Hamden, N.Y. Wood apprenticed under A. D. Bishop of Decatur, N.Y. Examples of guns made by the two men are almost identical, as may be seen in those displayed within the shop.
A skilled woodworker demonstrates in this shop.
built c. 1850
Wagons would have been useless to the first settlers of the Genesee Country because there were no roads. If somehow the Yankee emigrants on their exodus from the stony hillsides of New England rode as far as Schenectady, N.Y., in wagons, they rode them no further. From that jumping-off place, they would travel either by water or over old Indian trails by packhorse.
As more settlers arrived, the old Iroquois trails were cleared of underbrush and widened sufficiently to permit the passage of an ox-drawn cart or sledge. During the 1790s, these primitive roads were gradually upgraded and new ones were surveyed and built.
There was work for the wagonmaker in the Genesee Country. He was not far behind the blacksmith in setting up shop in the larger villages, often locating near the smith on whom he depended for iron tires for his wagon wheels and iron runners for the sleighs and bobsleds he made. The blacksmith might make minor wagon repairs, but the skills of the wagonmaker/wheelwright were required to mend a broken wheel.
The settler's initial demand was an ox-cart, rather than a wagon. A two-wheeled cart was more maneuverable over and around stumps and boulders in newly cleared fields — only one pair of wheels to manage and protect. If the pioneer had not brought such an indispensable vehicle with him, the wagonmaker could make him one.
Then, in time, as his fortunes progressed, the farmer could go to the wagonmaker for a 4-wheeled wagon — to be horse-drawn to and from the fields and back and forth to the village. The farm wagon was so constructed to permit the box to be lifted from its wheeled undercarriage and mounted upon a pair of bobsleds. Heavy loads could then be easily moved over frozen fields and roads during the winter.
The wheels of a farm wagon were of such a height to enable it to clear furrowed harvest-fields, the outcroppings of bumpy meadows, rough and rutted lanes, and gateways trodden deep in mud by cattle. But they should not be of too great a diameter lest the box be too high for pitching hay onto it or for loading sacks from it onto a man's shoulders. Necessity shaped the requirements for the wheels, shafts, axles, carriages, boxes — everything. The American farm wagon at its evolutionary best was a useful and portable example of folk art — carrying, in addition to the farmer and his cargo, a distinctive beauty in which form followed function.
Reconstruction, c. 1845
In the kitchens and pantries of the village are scores of examples of the Genesee Country potter's art, both lead-glazed earthenware (also called "redware") and salt-glazed stoneware. These relics survived generations of everyday use for food preparation and storage in the 19th-century before drawing notice from collectors, antique dealers and museum curators.
The work of regional potters has also earned the attention of archaeologists. Of the several sites excavated by the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the best documented are the Alvin Wilcox Pottery (c.1825-62) in Ontario County and the Morganville Pottery (c.1829-1900) in Genesee County.
The lead-glazed earthenware produced by these and other early 19th-century rural potters included crocks, jugs, jars and bottles; plates, bowls, pitchers and porringers; milk pans and butter churns; candle and cake moulds; drain tiles and flower pots; chamber pots and spittoons.
The country potter worked hard. For his earthenware products, he dug the clay from a nearby pit, ground it in a pug mill (sometimes horse-powered), turned the simple shapes on his wheel, applied the lead glaze, fired them in his kiln, and then sold them at the pottery or carried them to storekeepers who would pay the potter in cash or goods.
With the completion of the Erie Canal, stoneware factories producing the familiar light-colored and blue decorated wares were established in towns along the waterway. Clay could be brought in from Long Island and New Jersey, and the stoneware products were shipped out readily on the canal. Stoneware was fired at higher temperatures, which fused the clay so that it did not have to be glazed, although a salt glaze was commonly used. The insides of stoneware vessels were coated with "Albany slip," a brownish-black clay wash, to provide a smooth finish.
Fortunatus Gleason, Jr., and his son, Charles, operated the Morganville Pottery in Stafford Township, Genesee County, until about the time of the Civil War. By then, most of the rural earthenware potteries in the region had succumbed to competition from the larger stoneware factories, but the Morganville Pottery turned away from jugs and jars, concentrating on earthenware flower pots and drain tiles for which there was sufficient demand. Through a succession of family-related potters, the Morganville operation survived into the 20th century. Some time after the pottery was closed, the structure was moved and adapted into a dwelling.
Excavations at the Morganville site by the Rochester Museum & Science Center in 1973 uncovered the building's foundations as well as the floors of two kilns, one inside and one outside the building. Also found were quantities of earthenware fragments which have helped to identify and document surviving examples of Morganville pottery.
The archaeologist's report and an early 20th-century photograph of the old building formed the basis for the replica of the Morganville Pottery at the Genesee Country Museum. The wares produced in the museum pottery follow closely documented examples of those turned out by the 19th-century rural potters of the Genesee Country.
The reproduction pottery created on site is sold at the Flint Hill Country Store. Selections include redware, Albany slip ware, Bristol ware and wood-fired salt glazed stoneware items ranging from pie plates and tankards to jars and jugs.
Redware, Stoneware & Glass audio tour
built c. 1835, Tyrone, N.Y.
The drug store as a separate enterprise made a surprisingly early appearance in the Genesee Country. In the outlying areas, the only source of drugs would be the doctor, except for some herb concoctions or nostrums a wife or midwife might stir up. The doctor, for the most part, prepared his drugs in his own office and carried a supply of them in his saddlebag.
In the larger villages, however, there was sufficient demand to attract the services and skills of a man versed, if not professionally trained, in the art of preparing medicines, remedies and drugs. Many of the druggist's compounds were prepared with no other guidance than a Pharmacopoeia, a massive tome giving Latin names, ingredients required, quantities needed, methods of preparation, the condition to be remedied and the hoped-for results — everything but how much to charge.
Early in the 19th Century, the village pharmacist was likely to find himself in competition with the village doctor, both of whom were accustomed to prescribing and selling medicines for their customers and patients. But by mid-century, pharmacology and medicine evolved into separate and more scientific professions.
Along with a wide assortment of remedies and medicines that the pharmacist measured and mixed in his shop, he carried an impressive array of patent medicines. In addition, he often handled painters supplies, colors for oils, window glass and perfumery.
For more than a quarter of a century, the building now housing the Drug Store stood vacant near the Finger Lakes hamlet of Tyrone, a few miles from the Altay Store. Like other hamlets that have been by-passed as travel routes are altered, Tyrone retains much of its 19th-Century character. The building, c. 1840, is representative of the Greek Revival temple form, adapted to serve commercial purposes.
built c. 1825, Roseboom, N.Y.
The one-and-a-half story frame structure housing the Millinery and Dressmaking Shop was built in Roseboom, N.Y., about 1825. Like many small buildings in country villages, it was put to various uses over the years.
By the middle of the 19th century, a ladies' hat trimming and/or dressmaking shop might be found in a small New York State town. It would be a means for a widow or otherwise single woman to eke out an existence. In addition to the wares she made to order, she did alterations, and she would supply small items for the home seamstress.
Married Women, Single Women & Widows audio tour
Women in Business audio tour
built c. 1805, Stafford, N.Y.
Containers have always been a necessity in households. They were a matter of survival to the settlers. On the farm, baskets were handy for light, dry and loose things; earthenware jugs and crocks were fine for liquids; iron kettles contained the simmering stews and soups, heating milk and boiling ashes.
But wooden vessels of various forms, sizes and capacities were required where nothing else would do — or do as well — in the country and the town. Wooden buckets drew water from the well to the kitchen and barn. They were used to carry feed to the calves and milk back to the kitchen, and to collect and carry sap from maple trees. There were wooden wash tubs, butter churns and butter firkins. Without some or most of these wooden wares, the farmer-settler and his wife were inconvenienced.
There were not quite as many demands for wooden containers around the village homes, but flour, sugar and salt were kept in them, and every well had its wooden bucket. The storekeeper received flour, fish, rum, molasses and pork by the barrel. Barrels traveled in the other direction carrying apples, cider and vinegar. The Altay Store shipped butter and eggs to Elmira and New York City in wooden barrels.
The cooper made and supplied these round wooden containers. Some farmers did a little coopering during the winter, turning out barrels, tubs and buckets. Others made only the staves that could be used for barter or, even better, sold for vitally needed cash. Barrel staves were one of the most important exports from the Genesee Country to Canada in the early 19th century.
As the economy and trade of a settlement grew, there was work for the full-time cooper. The "tight" cooper made barrels for cider, vinegar, whiskey, beer and meat. The "slack" cooper, less expert, made barrels that did not need to be watertight. The cooper "rived" (split) the staves from pine or oak blocks, beveled and jointed them to fit together, shaped the bottom to fit the "crove" (groove left to receive the bottom), and banded the whole affair together with hoop poles of hickory or oak. It was not easy work.
Sometime around 1805, William Rumsey built this structure along the Ontario and Western Turnpike in what is now the Town of Stafford, N.Y. Rumsey was a surveyor for the Holland Land Company and, until his death in 1820, he was one of the most influential settlers of the area.
This unusually sturdy construction is of special interest, the hand-hewn members being formed into trusses. Because of the unique character of the framework, portions have been left exposed. The building is presently used to exhibit the tools and equipment of the village cooper.
Coopers, Buckets & Barrels audio tour
built c. 1840, Geneseo, N.Y.
This building is currently closed for renovation.
Spring Creek has a brief run — from the Big Springs in nearby Caledonia north for just over a mile, where it joins the Oatka Creek a short distance from Genesee Country Village. The creek may be short, but it has long been regarded as a premier trout stream. By the middle of the 19th century, its fame among sportsmen led to the establishment of several fishing clubs along its banks.
In 1828, the remarkable stream drew to its banks a man who would soon win the attention of sports fishermen. John McBride, newly arrived from Scotland, settled his family in Mumford. McBride excelled as a maker of lures for fly fishermen, and his dressed, or tied, flies found a ready market.
McBride was assisted by his daughter, Sarah, became as well known as her father for flies, and better known for her scientific studies of aquatic insects. As a result of her observations, Sarah McBride dressed her flies "after nature." She won acclaim for her articles published in national journals and for her flies, which won awards at an international exposition.
In this building the simple tools and materials for deception the fly maker used have been assembled to demonstrate the art designed to fool the fish and delight the sportsman. In addition, there are examples of rods, reels and tackle that would have been found in the 19th-century tackle shop. The Genesee Country Village's c.1840 fly tyer's tackle shop and dwelling is from Livingston County, N.Y.
built c. 1830, Rush, N.Y.
The Village Mercantile, from Hart's Corners, Monroe County, is an early 19th-century building which was recast in the 1840s with quaint and unconventional Greek Revival details. In the 1990s a wing was added on the right side of the original building and today serves as the home of the museum's costume department.
built 1820-1830, relocated 1850, Caledonia, N.Y.
A rural village was fortunate if there was a printer in its midst, particularly if the printer had the temerity and energy to print a newspaper. The printer was fortunate if he gained enough subscribers to support the paper. He was particularly lucky if at least some of his subscribers paid in cash.
The bargaining instinct was strong in country settings. Advertisers and subscribers alike were prone to bring the printer garden or orchard, products a chicken or maple trees in exchange for notices of a cow for sale, a horse that had strayed, a new arrival of merchandise at the store or a new line of printed cottons at the draper's.
A bushel of apples, perhaps, was good for a six-month's subscription to the weekly newspaper, which carried advertisements on all four pages (including the front page), legislative reports, the proceedings of Congress, poetry, anecdotes, letters from abroad and month-old "news" and editorials reprinted from distant and foreign papers.
Whether it was putting together a newspaper or printing broadsides and handbills, the printer set the type and well-worn woodcuts by hand. He then locked the form with wooden quoins, placed it upon the bed, applied ink with a leather tampion, laid down a sheet of paper, and pulled the big handle on the press. The printed sheet was then hung to dry.
The printer's equipment consists of a mid 19th-century Washington type press, several cases of old typefaces and woodcuts, a proof press and many other early items gathered from area print shops.
The two parts of the Printing Office were once separate shops along the main street of Caledonia, N.Y. They were moved in 1850, and joined to a larger house. There, one served as the dining room and the other as the kitchen. The Greek Revival front portion dates from about 1835; the rear section is older, c.1820.
In 2002, the Printing Office was converted to that of an abolitionist newspaper, patterned after the American Citizen, first published in Warsaw and Perry, N.Y. On select weekends, visitors can witness a dramatic 1841 encounter between escaped slave and abolitionist William Wells Brown and a rural printer sympathetic to his cause as the two discuss whether the printer will publish Brown's memoirs.
Small Town Newspapers & Printers audio tour
Newspapers & Literacy audio tour
built 1818, interpreted 1830s, Caledonia, N.Y.
In 1809, Sylvester Hosmer, one of five sons of physician Timothy Hosmer, married Laura Smith, one of the daughters of innkeeper Major Isaac Smith. The major's tavern, known as the Forest Inn, was a log building situated alongside the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike, a few miles west of the Genesee River crossing near Avon, N.Y., on New York State Route 5.
Following his father-in-law's death in 1814, Sylvester Hosmer became its proprietor. Accommodations and food were pronounced excellent by those who stopped at the log inn while travelling the main route through western New York.
Business was good and in 1818, Hosmer replaced his log building with the two-story Georgian-style frame structure that now looks across the Genesee Country Village Square.
The inn has seven fireplaces. The brick-floored kitchen and storerooms are on the ground level and are accessible through a covered entrance on the right side of the building. The first floor includes a taproom (reached through an entrance on the left side of the building), a public dining room, a ladies' dining room and a ladies' sitting room. On the second floor are the landlord's own quarters, four private sleeping rooms, and a combined meeting room/ballroom.
The old inn was occupied as a residence in its later years, although it was being used as a granary when the museum acquired it. The yard behind Hosmer's contains a wagon shed and Hosmer's old brick-lined ice house. The ground-floor kitchen is staffed on some special event weekends by one of the museum's talented open-hearth cooks.
New in 2012 are 1830s Tavern Dinners scheduled in the spring and fall. Currently, Sept. 7,8 & 21 are available from groups of 15 or fewer.
The Challenges of 19th-Century Travel audio tour
Murder on the Road audio tour
Legends of a Soldier's Death audio tour
built c. 1848, interpreted 1852, Altay, N.Y.
Storekeeping in the country was a challenging business. It is no wonder that many country stores were partnerships. Someone always had to mind the store.
The goods and services offered during store hours were indispensable to the well-being of the rural community, central to its economy. But work behind the scenes when the shutters were put up was just short of endless. The little cash that came in over the counter had to be counted and put away; accounts had to be gone over; the store's own bills had to be paid; and orders had to be prepared.
Judging from the bundles of invoices, statements, and order records that lay stacked in the upper storeroom of the Altay Store when it was acquired, founding partners Roswell Sheperd, Josiah Jackson and Charles Clark had a complicated tiger by the tail. In addition to the normal handling of hardware, footware, groceries, notions, tools, books and clothing over the counter, the partners operated a gristmill and sawmill and shipped butter, eggs and other fresh foods from the country to Elmira and New York City.
The Altay Store stocked most of the same staples as the old frontier trading post and sold or, like the old trading post, bartered them away. However, operations like those of the partners in the little hamlet of Altay were many times more complex than those at the pioneer trading post.
The Altay Store was built about 1848 when new owners took over the business. The structure's deep frieze, heavy cornice and pilasters declare its debt to the Greek Revival style.
The store, located in the tiny Finger Lakes hamlet of Altay, closed its doors in 1899, and for the next 70 years the building stood unused. When it was dismantled and moved to the village in 1970, it had suffered from disuse and decay, but there had been only negligible change to the interior. Its counters, shelves and cupboards, although empty, were still in place. They are now stocked with hundreds of items of general merchandise corresponding to the store's own records from 1852. Many of the store's receipts and business records from the 1840s-1860s were found intact in the building's attic.
Impact of Canals & Railroads audio tour
built c. 1840, South Valley, N.Y.
No place emits that warm, nostalgic feeling better than an old-fashioned confectionary with its colorful jars, bottles and trays of sweet delicacies.
Such a location is now found in the historic village at D.B. Munger & Co.
Part exhibit, part true confectionary with fancy treats for purchase, the historic village opened its confectionary in June, 2014, in the former Physician’s Office. (Dr. Frederick Backus is now taking care of patients formerly handled by the Doctors John Sterriker Sr. & Jr.)
Visit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to purchase freshly baked authentic or historically inspired delights such as Chelsea buns, fruit tarts, elderberry or other seasonal fruit hand pies or the ever-popular rosewater currant cakes, sugar tea cakes and maple cakes (cookies).
A number of the bottles on exhibit are replicas of those found in several mid-1800s shipwrecks more than a century after the vessels went down. In some cases, the food was still edible.
built 1848, Mt. Morris, N.Y.
As soon as settlement built up in the Genesee Country, there was work for the lawyer. While many agreements were of the handshake variety, the clearing and conveyance of land titles required the service of a lawyer if there were any complicated issues involved.
Lawyers were needed to draw wills, execute deeds and mortgages, sort out and help resolve cases of disputed ownership. The lawyer was often called upon to represent landlords, land agents and mortgage holders in the actions against the delinquent farmer-settler. As one historian noted, "Lawyers served a society which by its political nature was litigious."
When towns and villages were being organized, the lawyer was needed to prepare the formal documents. Many country lawyers embarked upon political careers and were elected to the state legislature or assembly. Some went on to become congressmen, some became judges and some grew rich.
After an apprenticeship as a clerk in an established lawyer's office, George Hastings came to Mount Morris, N.Y. in 1829 and hung out his shingle. For 36 years he enjoyed a successful practice, in the course of which he distinguished himself as a political leader, congressman and judge. The Hastings Law office now in the historic village was built around 1848.
built 1825, interpreted 1870s, Clyde, N.Y.
The association between DeLancey Stow and, his father, William Stow, (both of whom also practiced law) and the insurance business began when the elder Stow built the one-story office for his legal practice and insurance business in the thriving canal town of Clyde, N.Y. in 1825. This was early enough for the Stows to call their quaint building "The Oldest Insurance Office in the United States," a claim subject to challenge, perhaps.
The Erie Canal had just been completed when William Stow set up his ventures. Life insurance might come along later, but William Stow did well enough selling fire, accident and marine insurance. After his son, DeLancey, was admitted to the bar in 1862, the two worked as partners for nearly 20 years. When the elder Stow died in 1880, DeLancey Stow carried on until his own death at age 83 in 1925 — ending just a century of "business as usual" in "The Oldest Insurance Office in the United States."
built c. 1820, East Avon, N.Y.
As often as other members of his family went barefoot, the pioneer farmer himself, for the rough work of chopping and clearing the forest and to keep his feet from freezing in the winter, needed a pair of boots. While his wife could make him new clothing she could not replace her husband's boots when they gave way, and to repair a leather boot properly required special tools and skills.
Leather from local tanners was cut into pieces, which were sewn by village women in their homes to form the uppers. The bottoming was done by the shoemaker in his shop using waxed linen thread and needles made of pig bristle. After about 1830, the new fangled way to assemble shoes with wooden pegs became popular in the Genesee region.
While the shoemaker was capable of providing the community with a wide range of choices in foot wear, from elegantly finished riding boots for gentlemen to lightweight fabric slippers for ladies, the most common type of shoe was the "coarse shoe" with an inch-thick sole.
A village of sufficient size offered a livelihood for the journeyman bootmaker who would settle down and open a shop. The workshop could be almost anywhere, even in a corner of his house. The bootmaker's work required very little space, enough for his benches and perhaps a table.
About 1820 in East Avon, N.Y., a young lawyer built this small frame building and established his practice. According to local legend, the lawyer left the village on horseback one day with an important sum of money. While the horse returned, the lawyer and the money were never seen again. A bootmaker later occupied the place.
African-American Artisans in Rochester audio tour
built 1808, Riga, N.Y.
Joseph Thomson, from Peru, Mass., erected a one-and-a-half-story building along the well-traveled road to Braddock's Bay at what is now Riga Center, N.Y. His partner, David Tuttle, remained in Peru minding another store and sending supplies to Thomson, who was busy establishing a trading post in their new building on the western New York frontier.
Food and refreshment were available to those journeying through the area or coming to Thomson's for supplies. Drovers passing to and from the Niagara region found lodging for the night in one of three upstairs bed chambers.
A large arched ceiling meeting room or ballroom on the second floor could accommodate additional overnight guests when the place was crowded. A large brick oven in the basement baked bread for nearby settlers whose rude dwellings did not boast ovens.
Thomson's old place, which served as a store and post office, meeting place and bakery, came from Warren Adams, whose family held the property since acquiring it from Thomson's heirs in 1845.
The War of 1812 in the Genesee County audio tour
The Evacuation of Buffalo audio tour
Women Tavern & Storekeepers audio tour
built 1849, Garbutt, N.Y.
Tailor-Made to Ready-Made audio tour
Monroe County in the Civil War audio tour
built c. 1860, Buckbee's Corners, N.Y.
Among the "workmen of the road" who made their peripatetic way about the Genesee Country were the candlemaker, the tailor, the weaver and the cobbler. Another nomad appeared as soon as the condition of the roads permitted — the tin peddler, the original "Yankee peddler."
Doing very little tinsmithing himself, he was a peddler, not a craftsman. However, journeymen tinsmiths did set up shop in some Genesee Country villages.
The tinsmith retailed some of his shiny output; some was painted and decorated, and wholesaled to the storekeeper. Now characterized as folk art, particularly fine and rare examples of "tole" — as painted tin is called — have brought as much at auction as an honest tinsmith might earn in a year, or a sharp Yankee peddler in six months.
The lengthy but vain search for an old tinsmith shop led to the substitution of an abandoned blacksmith's shop from Buckbee's Corners, a crossroads in West Chili, New York.
Yankee Peddler audio tour
Except for special events,
GCVM is now CLOSED
for the season and will
re-open May 13, 2017.