Historic Houses in Our Area
Town of Southport, Chemung County NY
Chemung County NY
Home Page More Historic Buildings Town of Southport

Historic Homes On The Old Plank Road
by J. Kelsey Jones, Town Historian
March 2009

How do we determine the age of the historic home that is still in existence today? Deeds rarely identified structures in the 1800?s and were merely a conveyance of real estate. Assessment records are often the best source to date a house, but those from the 1800?s, other than six years from 1799 to 1804 found in Albany, don?t seem to exist any longer for Southport or other towns in Chemung County. Thus, unless some information has been passed down, we often only guess at the age of many early homes in Southport. Often pre-dating sawmills, logs or ax-hewn beams found in basements, can be a good indication of earlier homes, of which there are several in Southport.

A company was organized on March 6, 1848, to build a plank road from the Lake Street Bridge to the state line along the entire route of present Pennsylvania Avenue, a distance of eight miles. A map was drawn up a month later depicting the route (see map), this being the first known map of Southport depicting residences and ownership along said route. The map identifies forty residences, two churches, and a sawmill, along with Seely Creek, Bird Creek, Dry Run, and Dug Hill. The road was built, though not without opposition from some residents (see Elmira Gazette, Thursday, June 8, 1848).

In the past, articles regarding the plank road and tollgates that existed have been written, but the focus of this article is to identify the homes on the original map.

Below is an alphabetical list of the names found on the map. If known, the names in parenthesis identify the owners of the house in 1848. Present addresses, all on Pennsylvania Avenue which extends to the state line, are given. More information is needed to determine the identity of four of the owners in 1848. The houses still in existence would be at least one hundred and sixty years old and some much older. For some of the homes, there are files at the town hall that give information on historic ownership, photos of both past and present, and other information collected throughout the years. For other homes there is no information, and further research is needed. If you think you may live in or have information on one of these historic homes please share and contact me at kjones@townofsouthport.com or 734-2838.

1.  Atkins, C. (Charles R. Atkins and Sophia Pedrick)
2.  Ayres (Edward A. Ayers and Elizabeth)
3.  Baker, B.
4.  Bartholomew (Philip Bartholomew and Elizabeth Hess or son Peter Bartholomew and Mary Knapp) ? 1748 Pennsylvania Avenue
5.  Beckwith, R. (Robert Beckwith and Julia Ann Marvin) ? 1444 Pennsylvania Avenue
6.  Benedict, H. T. (Henry Townsend Benedict and Welthea Miller) ? 1828 Pennsylvania Avenue
7.  Bovier (perhaps John Bovier and Margaret Anable or Ward Bovier and Rhoda Stowell) ? house no longer exists
8.  Brook, J. C. (James C. Brook and Electa Terry) ? house no longer exists
9.  Brown, J. (John Brown and Martha C. Waier)
10.  Dalrymple (Ephraim Dalrymple and Sarah Goodwin Edsall) ? 1214 Pennsylvania Avenue (house moved to present location from west side of road when Route 328 constructed)
11.  Evans, C. (Charles W. Evans and Jemima Miller) ? 1129 Pennsylvania Avenue
12.  Gibson, A. (perhaps Allen S. Gibson and Phebe B. King)
13.  Grover, J. (Joseph Grover and Sarah Gurnee) ? 1312 Pennsylvania Avenue
14.  Holmes, P.
15.  Howell, D. (David Howell and Julia Waier)
16.  Johnson, N.
17.  Jones. J. (Joel Jones and Mary Munn Ward)
18.  Jones, P. (Philo Jones and Jane Howell Carpenter) ? 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue
19.  Jones, R. T. (Raymond T. Jones and Mary)
20.  Jones, S. (Rev. Simeon R. Jones and Rachel Brougan)
21.  Kinyon, A. (now in the City of Elmira)
22.  Knapp, W. T. (William T. Knapp and Sarah Ann Benedict) ? 1801 Pennsylvania Avenue
23.  Marvin, S. (Seth Marvin and Matilda Jane McConnell)
24.  McHenry (Abraham McHenry and Ruth H. Brewster) ? 1112 Pennsylvania Avenue (house no longer exists)
25.  Miller, H. (Hiram B. Miller and wife Mary A.) ? perhaps 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue
26.  Miller, L. (Lewis Miller and wife Mahala) ? perhaps 703 Pennsylvania Avenue (house was moved across street to present location)
27.  Miller, S. (Shepherd Miller and Delany Barnhart)
28.  Nichols, D. (Draper Nichols and Amaryllis Warren)
29.  Partridge, S. (now in the City of Elmira)
30.  Pedrick, J. (Josiah Seeley Pedrick and Letty Maria or John Smith Pedrick and Hannah Maria Roushy) ? perhaps 1612 or 1614 Pennsylvania Avenue
31.  Pedrick, S. (Josiah Seeley Pedrick and Letty Maria or John Smith Pedrick and Hannah Maria Roushy)
32.  Show, E. ? perhaps 1330 Pennsylvania Avenue
33.  Sly, M. (now in the City of Elmira; house razed in 1961)
34.  Spaulding, H. C. (Henry Clinton Spaulding and Clarissa A. Wisner)
35.  Smith, J. L. (John Little Smith and Elizabeth Tuthill)
36.  Swan, W. (William Swan and Hannah McWhorter) ? 1238 Pennsylvania Avenue (house no longer exists)
37.  Townsend, J. (Josiah S. Townsend and Adaline McKibbin)
38.  Webb, F. A. (Festus Ambrose Webb and Sarah Crain (2)Rebecca Matthews)
39.  Wells, J. C. (John Calvin Wells and Jane Ann Reed)
40.  White, S. (Seth Marvin White and Sarah Roy)

Historic Houses on Pennsylvania Avenue in Town of Southport, Chemung County NY - J. Kelsey Jones
Many Houses in this presentation are indicated on the 1848 Plank Road Map

Pennsylvania Avenue is eight miles in length from the Chemung River to the Pennsylvania State line. A portion is in the City of Elmira and the remainder in the Town of Southport. Going south from the city it passes through Southport Corners, Bulkhead, Pine City, Webb Mills, and Seeley Creek following the route of the old Plank Road.

The house at 703 Pennsylvania Avenue is at the Herrick Street intersection. Earliest recollections of Elmira's oldest residents take the house back to a period preceding 1871, when it stood near the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Perine Street, on the land of the late John D. Miller. The house is believed at least 100 years old. Shortly after the Miller home at 766 Pennsylvania Avenue was built in 1871, the previous Miller residence was moved to the site at 703 Pennsylvania Avenue. When the old house was built and by whom, Mr. Miller does not know. He recalls, however, that his grandfather's brother, Lewis Miller, once lived in the house when it was at Pennsylvania Avenue and Perine Street (Source: newspaper article undated from Aurelia Campbell scrapbook). This is believed to be the house on the 1848 Plank Road map occupied by Lewis Miller and wife Mahala (J. Kelsey Jones).
House at 766 Pennsylvania Avenue, formerly in the Town of Southport, now in City of Elmira. The house was owned by John D. Miller and Mary Ann Griswold in 1879. It is situated on the west side of Pennsylvania Avenue, the third house north of Perrine Street. The exterior of the home looks today (2008) much as it did from the 1879 sketch. The round portal windows on the third story are very evident today as they were in 1879, also the bay window on the south side. The house originally surrounded by farm land is now covered by streets of houses forming the City of Elmira and the nearby Town of Southport.

{Sketch is from the Four County History scanned by Joyce]

The house at 1019 Pennsylvania Avenue is related to have been built in the 1880's. The home boasts ceiling-to-floor windows and a wrap-around porch.
The house at 1107 Pennsylvania Avenue is a 15-room house, age unknown. It included a cupola on top which was removed about 1920.
The house at 1136 Pennsylvania Avenue at Bulkhead was torn down about 1980 for the Elmira Savings Bank. It was the home of Daniel Dalrymple and Emily Edsall where he died in 1895 and she in 1910. It passed out of the Dalrymple family in 1952 when grandson Edmund D. Miller died.

The illustration of the residence and buildings appeared in "History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties New York" published in 1879.

House at 1214 Pennsylvania Avenue at Bulkhead. The house was owned by Ephraim Dalrymple and Sarah Goodwin Edsall on the 1848 Plank Road map. In 1959 the house was moved to its present location for the traffic intersection of Routes 328 and 14. In 1985 the house was sold outside of the Dalrymple family.
House at 1238 Pennsylvania Avenue south of Bulkhead that was the home of William Swan and Hannah McWhorter on the 1848 Plank Road map. It became the home of Edward Dalrymple Roy and Jennie Lind Power. It was torn down, and the Pennsylvania Avenue United Methodist Church is now on that location.
Picture below shows house fully intact. At right, we see partial demolition. 
House located at 1282 Pennsylvania Avenue known as the Greatsinger house in later years. The house was razed by controlled fire on November 12, 1978. The house contained 13 rooms.
House at 1312 Pennsylvania Avenue between Pine City and Bulkhead. The house is related to have been built about 1830 by William Lowe and Hannah Smith who acquired the land on 31 March 1826. It became the residence of Joseph Grover and Sarah Gurnee who were the owners on the 1848 Plank Road map.
House at 1317 Pennsylvania Avenue. Property was conveyed in 1895 by William Grover to Jerome Barnhart and Mary Ann Sheive. The house is related to have been built in that year by Jerome and Mary Ann's son Austin Ellsworth Barnhart and wife Anna B. Burleigh. However, on the 1900 census enumeration Jerome and Mary Ann were residing in Southport, but Austin and Anna were still living in Jackson Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania and their daughter Louise related she moved to the house in 1906. The house contains 8 rooms and two large halls that divide the house. There are stained glass windows and the cupola has a bay window that follows through from the cellar to the third floor. The house contains elaborate carved chestnut woodwork inside; with a carved chestnut and ceramic tile fireplace in the living room and a chestnut staircase.
House at 1317 Pennsylvania Avenue north of Mountain View Drive
House at 1444 Pennsylvania Avenue and Beckwith Road. On the 1848 Plank Road map it was the residence of Robert Beckwith and Julia Ann Marvin. The house is related to have been built in 1840 and contains 17 rooms and 3 bathrooms plus a utility room. Three fireplaces are in the house. The Marvin Cemetery is adjacent to the house.
1538 Pennsylvania Avenue

House at 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue. Possibly the Hiram B. and Mary A. Miller residence on the 1848 Plank Road map. Located south of Dry Run in Pine City.. Photo taken 2003.
An airplane view of 1605 Pennsylvania Avenue, taken about 1960. As you can see, I had made a "Merry Xmas" message in the snow a day or two before.
-Susan Mullin Watkins
This one is a postcard of the house where I grew up, at 1605 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was built around 1910 to replace an older house, which burned (photo to come). Bird Creek runs along the south edge of the property. This photo was probably taken before 1920. There were about 8 acres with it in my memory of the place. Originally it was a a fruit farm, called Willowbank Farm (as on the postcard). My grandparents, Francis Rappleye Baker and Lois Templer Baker, bought it in 1948. My parents (Newell Disbro Mullin and Elizabeth Baker Mullin) and I moved there in 1956 right after the death of my grandmother. Susan Mullin Watkins
I found this attached photo in an old trunk in the Dutch style barn behind the house at 1605 Pennsylvania Avenue. According to Mr. Edsall, an older man who lived in the Pine City area and did some yard work for my grandfather, this was the original house built on that property, located on the flat next to the plank road. Edsall said that this house burned down when a boiling kettle of maple syrup overturned in the kitchen, spreading fire everywhere. I can't vouch for this story one way or the other. Perhaps someone can verify it from the photo. Susan Mullin Watkins
Joyce -- Mr. Edsall, the old fellow whom I mentioned with the photo of the alleged original house at 1605 Penn Ave., Southport, (Old Plank Road), also told us this: That during the time the original house stood there, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and a room for this purpose had been built in the ground, in the high bank on the Bird Creek side of the property, between the old Dutch barn and the garage. He said the door to this room was in the west-facing barn wall, carefully disguised --or the door could have been in the east-facing wall of the garage basement, he wasn't sure.
Of course Evelyn Cizek (Storch) and I spent many hours digging around in the bank, and knocking on the barn and garage walls with hammers (until my father yelled at us to cut it out), but we never discovered any evidence to prove or disprove this story. The barn wall was very carefully built, as you can see in this more recent photo of the barn's creek-facing (south) side. I sold this house in 1986 to Dr. Mark and Sandra Gibson, so I don't know what they may have discovered one way or the other about this tale, which I related to them. Whatever, it's a good story I hope that it was true.  -Susan Mullin Watkins.
Joyce --here is a photo of the house and the alleged Underground Railroad area  at 1605 Penn Ave (Old Plank Road). I took this photo about 1958. I'm only sending this in case there is any verifying data you know of. The photo is looking at the garage and its foundation, and the adjacent hillside that old Mr. Edsall said was where the alleged hideout was located (there or closer to the barn, which is to the right of this view). Use any of this as you wish. 
-Susan Mullin Watkins
Kelsey's notes on 1605 Pennsylvania Avenue: There is no house there on the 1853 map. There is a house there on the 1869 map. However, a house on the other side of the road and south of Bird Creek is shown as a much larger structure on the 1869 map which was the house of William Brown. Immediately north of the site of our interest was the Wells Tannery and Wells Brown & Co. On the 1870 census Lewis M. Wells and William Brown had separate households and both had high real estate and personal estates for the times so either could have had the means to build such a home. Also, there were several families enumerated as working in their tannery. By 1880 both Brown and Wells though only middle aged were enumerated as retired so they evidently made their fortunes. I went by this evening before it got dark and the side of the house with the sidewalk could have been the north side as it looks like a large porch on the right side in the photo which could have been the road side and why we begin to see the rise of the slope to the left of the house where the stone steps now are going up to the hill to the present house.
House at 1630 Pennsylvania Avenue in Webb Mills. The house was built about 1850 by Samuel Cassada and Elizabeth Dunham. The small windows adjacent to the main entrance have etching on them with the inscription "Baldwin - date of 1851."
House at 1748 Pennsylvania Avenue, which was the Bartholomew residence on the 1848 Plank Road map. Photo from 1993.
Located at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue at the hamlet of Seeley Creek. Philo Jones and Jane Howell Carpenter residence. House predates 1848 when it appears on Plank Road map

J. Kelsey Jones

Undated photo of 1801 Pennsylvania Avenue from Beverly Roy Agin in Circleville, Ohio. Her great grandparents, the Power family resided there. Also, a 2001 photo of the same house. This was the residence of William T. Knapp and Sarah Benedict on the 1848 Plank Road Map. The house is presently owned by John Bower of Horseheads and has two apartments.
Photograph of the house and small gas station business that existed at what is now 1828 Pennsylvania Avenue, Town of Southport. The photograph shows the dirt road, now Route 328, sometime after the plank road was abandoned. The automobile in the distance is traveling south and approaching the state line only a few feet away. The apple tree beside the road near the poles and automobile is the location of the Kelly family burial site across from probably what was their home, which house is still in existence, and a portion of which can be seen among the trees near the automobile. The road is much wider now.  The portion of the house in the photograph with the Kendall
Motor Oils sign, which was probably the kitchen, was replaced by a porch and kitchen. The original part of the house sits on logs that are neither hewn or sawed and sits on a parcel originally settled by the Kelly family about 1802.

J. Kelsey Jones

Same as house above - undated - Now referred to as 1828 Pennsylvania Avenue - very close to the state line. 

Chemung County NY
Published On Site 7 OCT 2008
By Joyce M. Tice