GLEANINGS FROM SOME EARLY LAND TITLE RECORDS
The end of the Revolutionary War marked the beginning of land investment in western New York State. Nathaniel Gorham and Oliver Phelps bough from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts all the land bounded on the west by the Genesee River, north by Lake Ontario, east by Seneca Lake, and south by the Pennsylvania border. Their surveyors laid out 102 towns, each of which was six miles square. Township Number Thirteen of Range Seven encompassed what is now Brighton which included the Browncroft and Elmcroft areas of Rochester.
In 1789 Phelps and Gorham deeded to Caleb Hyde, Elijah Northrop, Prosper Polly, Enos Stone, and Joseph Chapin:
"All that tract of land ceded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the State of New York and granted to us by said Commonwealth being Township No. 13 bounded westerly on the Genesee River. The first bounds being a small basswood tree standin in the east line of the Range of Townships adjoining westerly on said river and marked No. VII . . ."
which was approximately 18,900 acres. They decided that Township No. 13 should consist of three divisions, each in turn sub-divided into a number of quite large lots. In 1789 the five speculators assumed individual ownership of various parts of the property, with Elijah Northrop obtaining title to, among other areas, Lots 18 and 19 . . in other words, to the land now bounded by Winton Road on the west, Colebourne Road on the north, the Rochester City Line on the east, and a boundary line just south of Blossom Road on the south.
NORTH OF BROWNCROFT BOULEVARD
The area to the north of Browncroft Boulevard was included within the 219 acres of Lot 18. Thomas Creek entered Lot 18 at about the middle of its western boundary (approximately the corner of Winstead and Winton Roads), then ran easterly through the middle of the lot to Irondequoit Creek. At some early date a saw mill was established at the point where Thomas Creek entered Lot 18.
Enos Blossom took title to all two hundred and ten acres of Lot 18 in 1804. In 1814 he deeded 30 acres off the southeast corner to Sara, Wealthy, and Philander Perry. In 1817 he deeded "the bottom 3/4’s of Lot 18 to John and Solomon Hatch", reserving for himself "1/2 of the mill lot and 1/2 of the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging".
The title to the 30 acre property passed from Sarah, Wealthy, and Philander Perry through a number of owners to Icabod Smith in 1829 to Moses Smith in 1831. It was obtained by John Charlton in 1885 from his heir Susan Smith together with a 3 acre triangular wedge at the intersection of what is now Browncroft Boulevard and Merchants Road and an additional 20 acres going east of the 30 acre parcel. John Charlton was a nurseryman who also owned land and buildings on University Avenue and 15 acres of Lot 19 on the south side of Blossom Road. After his death in 1918, his four children dedicated one acre of the wedge of land at Browncroft Boulevard and Merchants Road to the City of Rochester for use as a park. His daughter Florence Leader continued to own the farm house at 116 Browncroft Boulevard until her death in 1978.
The plot of land that went to John and Solomon Hatch seems to have remained intact through a succession of owners - Amos Graves, Rueben Crosby (18818), Joseph Downs (1826), John Root (1827), Eber Hart (1835), Samuel S. Moore (1838), John H. Martindale (1876). After Martindale’s death in 1881, his estate sold off the land in two larger parcels, which covered most of the area north of Merchants Road, and three smaller pieces, which - together with the wedge owned by John Charlton - filled in the triangle formed by Browncroft Boulevard, Merchants Road, and Winton Road.
One of the larger parcels consisted of 31 acres that went to the Rochester Home of Industry, an institution for the protection and education of young ladies. Winstead Road and Marsden Road are in this area today. South of this, the second of the larger parcels, consisted of 41 acres sold in 1885 to John Shiel. It was kept intact as a farm until 1923, when the Shiel family decided to sub-divide, undertook to plant an elm tree on each lot, and appointed General Reality Service Inc., to sell lots in the tract to be known thenceforth as "Elmcroft". Elm Drive, Elmcroft (formerly Shiel Street), Berwick Road, Lanark Crescent, and Monticello Drive are in this area today.
The smallest of the areas sold consisted of a 165 by 254 foot lot at the Northeast corner of Winton Road and Browncroft Boulevard that went in 1884 to John Arend. It passed in two pieces to William and Elizabeth Hoster; in 1887 from Phillip Mack who had purchased it from Jacob Smith, and in 1895 from Rachel and John Kennedy who acquired it from Adrian Verslius. The Kennedy lot contained a house. The Hoster Family ran a hotel (saloon) at the corner for many years in the early 1900’s that later came to be known as Spies Hall after the marriage of their daughter and only heir, Minnie to Charles Spies.
In 1886 John S. Miller bought 7-1/2 acres which encompassed everything, except the lot mentioned in the last paragraph, between Browncroft Boulevard, Winton Road, Merchants Road, and a line parallel to and about 450 feet east of Winton Road. Ella and James Kingsbury bought the Miller farm in 1906 and decided in 1911 to subdivide it into a tract called "Kingsbury Subdivision", with Kingsbury Street dividing it. Upon the purchase of the area by William C. Green in 1916, the lots were redrawn, Kingsbury Street became Quentin Road, and the tract was designated the "W.C. Green Re-Allotment".
Sandwiched between the Miller farm and the Charlton wedge in the Browncroft Boulevard, Winton Road, Merchants Road triangle was a 3 acre parcel of land that was purchase in 1885 by Jerome Bence. By 1918 the ownership of this land had passed to John Gery whose house was on Merchants Road. By 1927 this land had been split into the Frank and Alice Siller Subdivision on Browncroft Boulevard and the DeCarolis Subdivision on Merchants Road. However Browncroft Realty Corp. owned the Browncroft lots between 1921 and 1927.
SOUTH OF BROWNCROFT BOULEVARD
The area to the south of Browncroft Boulevard was included within the 210 acres of Lot 19, which had been deeded to Elijah Northrup in 1790. He disposed of this property in three major parcels.
In 1814 the "top", or northern most, 60 acres were sold to Job E. Smith who lost it in foreclosure to Benjamin Davis (1815). William Taylor transferred in 1816 to Amos Graves, who transferred to Joseph Bloss in 1818. It was split into two sections (one of 50 acres, the other of 10 acres) in 1840. The 50-acre section (fronting on Winton Road and Browncroft Boulevard) was owned successively by Ezra Roseburg (1840), Mortimer A.F. Harrison (1840), Stephen L. Francisco (1844), Otis T. Peters (1844), Stephen M. Corwin (1844), and the Brown Brothers Company (1894). The 10-acre section (fronting on Winton Road where Dorchester Road meets it today) went to Samuel O. Cogswell, was transferred three times between 1840 and 1901, and was deeded in 1903 by William Sornberger and his wife, Lucy, to Charles J. Brown. Brown turned this land over to his Brown Brothers Company in 1909. This area transversed by Corwin Road, Windemere Road, Ramsey Park, Gramercy Park and Dorchester Road and the northern part of Newcastle Road today.
In 1812 a 50 acre parcel constituting the southwest corner of Lot 19 had been sold to Levi Hoyt. That parcel encompassed what is known today as the Wintondale Subdivision, which is bounded by Winton Road , Blossom Road, Arbordale Avenue, and the southern lot lines of Dorchester Road houses.
Even earlier, in 1802, a 100-acre parcel constituting the southern and southeastern part of Lot 19 had been sold to Joel Scudder. The western half of this parcel thereafter passed through the hands of Hosea Parkhurst (1808), Janna Holton (1822), Elisha Miller (1835), and Charlotte Calkins (1867). Charlotte Calkins deeded small parcels to various individuals including a 15-acre parcel south of Blossom Road (which was bought by John Charlton in 1885) and an area of 27.46 acres north of Blossom Road which was owned successively by Charles Salmon (1880), William R. Corris (1881), Erwin Terrel (1888), and Brown Brothers Company (1919). Yarmouth and Beresford Roads traverse this latter area today.
The eastern half of Joel Scudder’s parcel was owned and Transferred in 1820 by Phillip Moon to Albert Blakeslee. It remained intact until 1872 despite 12 changes in ownership. In 1872, however, John R. Olmstead sold the 28 acres of the parcel north of Blossom Road to John S. Kramer. Kramer sold 10 of those acres in 1873 to Abraham DePotter who (1) subdivided the land in about three of those acres along Blossom Road and established DePotter Street (now the Blossom Road end of Croydon Road) and (2) sold the remaining northern section of his land to Frank J. and Bertha J. Geyer who, in turn, sold it to Brown Brothers Company in 1914. The remainder of the Kramer land was used as a farm until, following the death of its owners, it was disposed of by Supreme Court order in 1901 and was acquired by Brown Brothers Company. This land encompassed the Newcastle Road lots (from Dorchester Road south) of today.