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Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association

Photos from the Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association Facebook page


Click this link  to watch a 4 minute slideshow of the Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association:


A special thanks to Ed St. George for documenting the history of this wonderful organization!

A Brief History of Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association

In 1956, several visionary members of the Sodus Bay Yacht Club (SBYC) joined together in a “Junior Sailing Committee” to explore the possibility for creating a youth sailing instructional program. Commodore Garrett Smith, Charles K. Bloomer, Richard Chittenden, Edward Sohmer, C. William Stuart and Lyman Stuart incorporated the Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association in March of that year and in 1959, it officially became a 501c(3) educational organization, completely separate from SBYC. This was a first-of-its-kind organization for youth sailing in the upstate NY area, as most all other similar programs across the United States were part of a Yacht Club’s organization, without the benefit of 501c(3) charitable status. Rhodes Bantams were chosen as the small boat for sail training. They could accommodate up to 4 students and provide experience with jib, main and spinnaker sails.


In the mid-60s, a small cottage on the east side of SBYC was rented annually from the Yacht Club for $200. Annual summer camp participation grew during the 1960s and 70s to almost 100 children, ages 8-18. In 1975, a small red cottage was purchased from Jerry Harris, owner of the neighboring marina to the east of SBYC, and a right-of-way was established with SBYC for access to the waterfront, as the property had no waterfront boundary. By the late 1970s, with support from donors and a regional foundation grant, SBJSA’s fleet of small sailboats grew to include (9) Rhodes Bantams, (5) Flippers, and (3) 420s, plus a used 22 ft. Aquasport center console powerboat for coaching and safety purposes.


In the 1980s, the camp operation was split into two daily half-days of sessions (A&B) and a new 2-hour daily bus run was established to help transport kids from neighboring towns in Penfield at 8 a.m., Pittsford, Perinton, Macedon, Palmyra, Newark and Lyons, arriving at SBJSA at 10 a.m. A racing program was established and camp instructors became certified under a new set of U.S. Sailing guidelines. Late in this decade, the daily A/B split schedule across 6 weeks was replaced by an all-day schedule that ran for two 3-week sessions. Early in this decade, all of SBJSA’s wooden sailboats were replaced by fiberglass models and by the late 1980s, the camp was utilizing a few Lasers and Optimist dinghies for instruction, in addition to 420s.


Thanks to funds raised during special events and generous individual and organization donations, including the Sodus Bay Yacht Club, the Sodus Bay Historical Society and the C.H. Stuart Foundation, SBJSA began a scholarship program in the 1990s that enabled less-fortunate children from nearby towns to attend summer sailing camp, an annual tradition that continues today. The Stuart Foundation also continued to support SBJSA and enabled a fleet expansion that included some JY-15s and additional Lasers and Optimists. Annual camp attendance of about 110 kids successfully continued. The racing program also launched a new “Travel Race Team” for Optimists that enabled some of SBJSA’s more competitive students to race against kids from youth programs at Yacht Clubs in our region.


With SBJSA’s 50th Anniversary approaching, a new Legacy Committee, chaired by Nancy Ghertner and Margaret Tiedemann, began planning in 2004 and soon established a goal of building a new Sailing Center facility in time for the celebration, along with some additional new boats for the fleet and a scholarship endowment fund. A large fundraising campaign began in 2005 and with generous donations of cash, materials and labor received from many individuals, families and local businesses, along with a $30,000 grant secured by NYS Senator Mike Nozzolio,, administered through the Town of Sodus, SBJSA demolished its old red cottage in 2006. A new facility, designed by local architect and supporter Mark Vande, began construction in 2007. John Hayslip and Dr. Lory Ghertner served as volunteer construction managers and coordinated a number of contractors and other volunteers to successfully complete the building in 2008. The new facility was officially dedicated as the “C.H. Stuart Foundation Sailing Center” in August during our Annual Family BBQ event. Designated funds from the capital campaign were also used to purchase (3) new 420s and (3) new Optimist sailboats, along with the establishment of a scholarship endowment fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation. The beautiful new building provided much needed space for equipment storage, a small workshop area and kitchenette, larger restrooms with showers and a large multi-purpose space for instruction, meetings and events.


By the end of the 2000s, SBJSA’s fleet had grown to include almost 50 boats, including (2) Boston Whaler center-console powerboats, and average annual camp attendance had also grown to about 135 students, along with a seasonal instructional staff of 12 high school and college students, plus approx. (3) CITs, or ”Counselors in Training”. For insurance and other cost reasons, the daily bus service had been discontinued, but kids from all over the United States were attending, usually as a result of family vacations and cottage ownership connections on Sodus Bay.


Up until the fall of 2011, SBJSA’s property was always “landlocked” and water access was limited to the small beach area that Sodus Bay Yacht Club had generously provided on its property for many decades. In 2011, after previous owners of the former Anchor Marine property (located directly between SBJSA’s existing property and the water) had been unsuccessful in selling it for several years, including a failed joint purchase by SBJSA, SBYC and the Village of Sodus Point, SBJSA was ultimately able to buy it directly from the private mortgage holder at a greatly reduced price. A generous bequest from the estate of a longtime supporter of SBJSA, Mr. Richard Brown, provided about 50% of the purchase cost early in 2012, and together with a bridge loan and some cash reserves, the purchase was completed in the spring of 2012, an historical moment for the organization to be sure!


In the fall of 2012, another major capital fundraising campaign began, led by Hank Stuart, to fund improvements and development of the property and also advance SBJSA’s overall programs. In 2013, a large project was completed to install a new sheetpiled seawall around more than 200 ft of the waterfront perimeter, now known as the “Richard Brown Waterfront”. Generous contributions from private donors, the C.H. Stuart Foundation and others over the next 3 years also enabled the purchase of new outboard engines for the fleet of 10 powerboats, (12) identical 420 sailboats in excellent condition from Hobart-William Smith College, growing the fleet to 70 boats, (2) new large storage sheds for Optimist and Laser equipment, a new transport trailer for 420s, and a few kayaks and stand-up paddleboards as part of a new summer camp “adventure” program that widened SBJSA’s curriculum.


In 2014 and 2017, memorial donations also funded a new, raised hardscaped area with flagpoles (the “Max Buzzell Awards Court”), a beautiful timberframe structure (the “Marcus X. Costich Racing Pavillion”) and a large custom concrete pad for playing a popular game (the “Heidi VanVoorhis 4-Square Court”). In the fall of 2014, an agreement was formalized with Rochester Institute of Technology’s Sailing Club for their use of SBJSA boats & facilities for 8 weeks in both the spring and fall, with over 40 collegiate sailors participating. As its “home base”, RIT continues to sail and practice on Sodus Bay to this day. In the summer of 2015, SBJSA & SBYC partnered to become the permanent hosts of the annual “Centrals on Sodus Regatta”, primarily a youth-centered event, keeping alive the Centrals One-Design Regatta that had been held annually in central NY for decades. US Sailing regional qualifiers for the Bemis and Smythe Youth National Championships were held as part of the regatta that year, chaired by Mike Foley. A record 88 boats and 160+ young sailors participated!


With the formation of a new “Liaison Committee”, led by Ed St. George and made up a few members from SBYC & SBJSA, in March 2017 a new agreement was unanimously approved by both Boards, establishing the framework and specifics for a long future of continued cooperation between both organizations.   Following the complete flooding of SBJSA property in 2017, a major project was completed to raise the nominal level of the overall property and re-contour it with many tons of stone, plus a concrete retaining wall and perimeter sidewalk work. In addition, after a comprehensive application and evaluation process in 2017, U.S. Sailing certified SBJSA as an officially accredited Community Sailing Center, a special distinction enjoyed by only about 45 of the over 600 existing sailing schools and community boating organizations across the United States! We are most pleased with this accomplishment, which says a lot about the quality of our programs and instructional staff, our attention to water safety, the condition of our facilities and fleet and the excellence of our curriculum.


In 2018, a significant new initiative was begun to widen SBJSA’s outreach and new overall purpose of providing “water access and education for all”. A Community Boating Program enables people of all ages, including individuals and families, to join SBJSA for a very nominal fee and utilize our fleet of boats for watersport recreation during specific summer hours of operation. The number of scholarships awarded to underserved youth in our area is significantly increased in 2019, and for the first time, Adult Learn-to-Sail instructional courses are available.


With all the investments in our facilities, boats and equipment and the work of many volunteers over the last 6 decades, we are well positioned to not only continue our longstanding core youth programs that have served thousands of children over that time, but also a new and enlarged audience of families and adult individuals in nearby communities. As the organization moves ahead into the next decade, continuous improvements will no doubt be regularly made towards the fulfillment of our Mission:


“SBJSA is committed to making the joys of sailing & other watersports available to everyone, building lifelong boaters and fostering responsible eco-awareness and stewardship of our natural resource, Great Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. Fun activities on the water are at the core of our educational/recreational programs and our community partnerships. Reaching out to both locals and visitors, including the underserved, we promote teamwork, leadership, community spirit and healthy lives.”Bay on Lake Ontario.

ctivities on the water are at the core of our educational/recreational programs & our community partnerships. Reaching out to both locals & visitors, including the underserved, we promote teamwork, leadership, community spirit, & healthy lives.



April 2019   EStG

Black Community Plaque / Marker

Photo by Jim Wood

The Black Community Plaque is located at 7171 North Geneva Rd Sodus New York  in front of the Steger Haus restaurant.

GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 43.258392  Longitude: -77.014324

The Plaque reads:

Black Community – Free Slaves & Freedom Seekers Lived And Farmed In This Area. At Least 15 Men Served In Civil War 1861-1865 Several Died In Service William C. Pomeroy Foundation 2018  531

Historic narrative:
A small hamlet located just west of Sodus Point, New York in Wayne County was never assigned an official name – one that would be found on maps – but it existed as a place and touchstone in the lives of hundreds of African Americans from the early 1800s through the first quarter of the twentieth century and beyond. Its physical boundaries fell within Sodus School District #2 which was also referred to as the Maxwell District, taking its name from the mill site developed by William N. Lummis in the early 1800s. The Maxwell area got its name from Dr. Lummis in honor of the family name of his wife. Some vital records for its residents placed their birth place as “Maxwell.”

The Maxwell Settlement community began along what is now North Geneva Road just south of Margaretta Road and comprised approximately 60 acres.  In 1813 several men, women and children, who had been enslaved by Peregrine Fitzhugh, were freed following his death by his wife. Prior to abolition the community served as a safe-haven for refugees fleeing slave states. Many Maxwell Settlement residents helped those escaping the horrors of slavery on their harrowing journey to the protection of Canada. Various documentation indicates that some of those would return from Canada back to the Maxwell Settlement.

During the Civil War, over fifteen men who had at one point resided within the community or whose family would reside in Maxwell Settlement, joined the United States Colored Troops’ regiments to fight in the war. Five died in the service of their country.

• James A. Potter, husband of Margaret Newport, son of James and Chloe Potter; died while in service; 1st USCT

• William T. Lloyd, grandson of Thomas and Rosetta Lloyd; died in service, 8th USCT

• John Wesley Cortright, son of Prime Cortright, served in 11th USC Heavy Artillery; died while in service.

• Bradley and Elijah Gregor, sons of James and Almira Gregor, served in 8th USCT; died while in service.

Residents of the Maxwell Settlement contributed to 19th and 20th century community life in much the same way as their fellow townspeople, with the added burden of negotiating the dangers of structural, institutional and individual racism.


Here is a five part series of videos of the Dedication Ceremony for this plaque:

E A Button General Store – 1907


Photo from the Collection of Naomi Sill Taylor


Oct. 30, 1969 edition of The Record


The general store operated by E. A. Button on Sentell Street, Sodus Point, many years ago had an extremely varied stock of goods.


Nov. 6, 1969 edition of The Record


People In Photo Are Identified


Mrs. Harold Carson of Sodus, who was a customer at the Button General Store many times as a girl, has Identified the boy and woman in the photo published in The Record last week. According to Mrs. Carson, the boy is Willard Schuyler, who still lives on Sentell Street In Sodus Point, and Miss Elvie Button, sister of the late Harry Button, Sodus attorney and father of Fred Button, Sodus Central School teacher.




DoVille’s Ice Cream Stand – late 1940s


May DoVille had an Ice Cream Stand for many years in Sodus Point. It featured home made waffle cones that people still rave about 70 years later! Her ice cream stand would eventually become the Hots Point restaurant we know today. Photo courtesy of Dick Ransley.







Gail Wackerle remembers: I as a very small child used to go & stay with Aunt May ,& Uncle Hurd. They lived where P.J unisex beauty shop is today on Bay Street. I was small like 4 yrs old. Nancy Proseus, Paul & Else , helped run the ice cream stand. Paul did the popcorn, & Else scooped the seal test ice cream. I would help Aunt May with the home made cones. The great part was every cone that cracked , while she was rolling them into cones, I got to eat the ones that were broken. Yummy, yummy!!. If dad was across the street seeing or helping Uncle Hurd mend nets, or go to the lake for bait, mom & I would go see Aunt May till the stand closed. She had rocking chairs inside & a long showcase inside too. There was a little kitchen in the back, & Uncle Hurd would come across the street to eat lunch & dinner until they closed for the the room that is part of PJ beauty shop. There was a big upright piano, Nancy played that. Uncle Hurd played banjo, & we would all sing. Such fun times. I’ll never forget them. On the chimney, Aunt May would measure how tall we were getting every so often. She would mark it then ; isn’t it funny the things you remember & cherish? I had a long ribbon that was on a gift from Aunt May & Uncle Hurd marked on it;,it read 1948 xmas from them. I had it for many years on our own trees, at xmas. Who knows maybe it may be in the attic. We always weaved the ribbon with their name on every year. Great people back then.


Virginia Renzi-Minutolo remembers: I knew May and her husband Herb .It was Herb’s father who brought the cone making machine by riverboat to May. Herb had the boat rental business across the street from May’s. Cone stand.



For more information about the DoVille’s Ice Cream Stand click below:

Steuerwalds Silver Dollar – 1960


The pictures below show the Steuerwald’s Silver Dollar restaurant and the Chase family Coffee Shop as it appeared in 1960. The Silver Dollar was located on Greig Street where the Six Fifty restaurant is now located. The man in the second photo is Harold Ransley who was the pharmacist at the Rexall Drug store that was across the street. Photos courtesy of Dick Ransley



Memories of Steuerwald’s Silver Dollar restaurant 


Betsy Wahl remembers: It was called Steuerwald’s Silverdollar! Ed Steuerwald’s was the owner. He was a tough boss. Susie Ternoois worked there for a very long time. I don’t know how old she was, but it seemed like she worked there forever! I worked there as a teenager! We served breakfasts in the morning. Then hots, hamburgers, fries, and pizza for lunch and supper. We also served ice cream cones and popcorn. That ice cream was harder than a rock to serve!!!  I worked with my Aunt Jenny Jimerson. We made all of the homemade potato and Mac salads! There was a dining room with booths and tables on the right side of the restaurant. The dining room had real silver dollars in the middle of the red and white tiles on the floor. Kids used to steal them all the time. Eddie would really get upset about that!!! There was also a small arcade with games that we had to lock up at night. The left side had doors over the counter bar that would open up. So that we were serving people who walked by on the sidewalk. There were red wooden stools for people to sit on. There was an inside breakfast diner in the center. It was a fun job, for a teenager, because I got to see many of my friends and made lots of new friends. We had many regular customers, who would come every day. It was fun to visit with them. But we couldn’t talk too much or we’d get in trouble!!


Tim Frank remembers: My wife and I went there a long time ago. My wife screamed at a guy trying to dig one out of the floor with pocket knife.


Thomas Kirkpatrick remembers: Russer’s was a brand of hot dog. To the right and behind the phone  was an arcade with various pin ball machines. Eddie Steuerwald was indeed cranky. Put in the arcade but didn’t like kids hanging around (lol?) An elderly woman whose last name was Ternooris worked the outdoor grill and counter and inside was the silver dollar dining room with a linoleum tiled floor with silver dollars embedded in some of the tiles. My pony league team in 1961, 62 and 63 would go over there after our games in the adjacent ball park.


Richard Bennett remembers: Eddie Steuerwalds was the best place in town to get a white hot. My brother worked there in the 50’s


Sheryn Burnette remembers: Can still get White Hots. But now they are Zweigles not Russers. Terry’s favorite. Used to get Orange Crush and a Red Hot every week. I can still taste it. OC tasted better in the brown bottle


Memories of Chase family’s Coffee  Shop and Bait Store


Frank C Wackerle remembers: Bob Chase had Chase’s Bait shop in back and then he put in a restaurant serving breakfast lunch etc. Then put fireplace in and it became a local meeting place.  Bob Chase was a Wayne County Sherriff


Lynn Thayer remembers: I remember going in there as a little kid and looking at the minnows in the bait tanks. A scent you never forget.









Rexall Drug Store – 1965


The Rexall Drug Store was owned by the Knapp family and run by Carl and Jan Webster. It was open seasonally and was located on Greig Street across from what is now the Krenzer Marina store. It became  Natures Children from 1975-1993. The building has since been torn down and the property is owned by Krenzers now.  Photos courtesy of Dick Ransley.



Above photo: Popeye the Sailor


Above Photo: Big Jim and little Jim pose in front of the Rexall Drug Store (1965). Big Jim is Jim Swan brother-in-law to Henry Newport.





Frank Grosz remembers the “shocker” inside the store. It was a 1 penny machine that you pulled two handles and it would give you quite a shock! He liked to have the “city kids” on vacation hold onto him while he paid his 1 cent! It also had a soda fountain counter.



The original Rexall Drug Shocker! Photo courtesy of Rusty Schryer who owns it!


Fred Clevenger also remembers the shocker: I remember that it was at the counter; put a penny in it and hold one brass handle turn the other and it would Shock you and you turned it to see how much you can take


Kevin Herrick remembers: Yep, when it was natures children, they had a machine on the counter. You put in a penny and hold the handles, and as you pulled the handles apart, you would get a slight electrical shock. The farther apart the handles got, the more of a jolt you got……..test of either courage or stupidity, can’t remember which, but in hindsight and knowing me and how many pennies went in there, it was probably stupidity!


Candice Murszewski remembers: One cent candy!!!


Marcia Fowler remembers: Mr. and Mrs. Webster. Used to get 5 cent ice cream cones. What a treat to walk downtown and stop there.


Laurie Hayden remembers:  My dad used to take me for a vanilla ice cream soda, especially when I felt like things were just overwhelming. He always seemed to know when that little visit to Websters would cheer me up.
Bob Boise remembers: Great Old Fashioned Ice Cream Sodas served in real glass tall soda glasses!


Kay Pennycoff-Gwilt remembers: Mr Webster was the nicest man. Always made everyone feel welcomed!


Dawn Cole remembers: Best chocolate ice cream sodas ever!!


Lynn Murray remembers: Loved it !! I think I still have a couple 70’s magnets with their sticker on it. Always gave free candy.


Gail Wackerle remembers: Carl Webster & his wife operated it. It was open spring til fall. It had a soda bar , served milkshakes, delicious phosphates, lime cherry you name it. Had medicine over the counter stuff, it was wonderful. Comic books, you name it. A place to set, with round tables & the Coca-Cola chairs, newspapers, gifts, postcards, film and cameras. Just great. When Helfers Krenzers Marina burnt so did the drug store.


Stephen Francis Ferola-Pope remembers: I remember that place very well! Mr Ransley use to be the Pharmacist! I use to go there all the time as a kid!


Delores Johnson remembers: The drug store had the best hot fudge sundaes in SP. 


Patty Parsons remembers: So many marvelous memories of that drug and sundries store. A joy. The onyx soda fountain was the best. Who knows where it originated, but it shone like a precious jewel. Rare and beautiful, it covered the back of the store and I can still conjure the magic of Nancy Proseus Campbell dispensing life sustaining treats from it. Lime phosphates were my absolute favorite and I still cherish them whenever I can find an old soda fountain. Almost every night we walked to the drugstore, stopping to take a ride on the merry go round next door (where Krenzer’s boats now rest) if we could convince our parents to swing for the few cents it cost. They had us do odd jobs to save up for the treats of uptown Sodus Point. It is a wonder that any local boys survived adolescence after testing their budding manhood on the electric machine to the right of the door. What was that thing called and who could have thought that charging electricity through your bodies was a fun idea? But the boys ( and I suppose an occasional brave girl lined up to drop a penny in and try it. The Websters were the best and seemed to have any treasure that a kid could want in that tiny store. Carl Webster’s facial birthmark taught all of us to never fear a disfigurement. There was so much kindness behind it. And if we had poison ivy or painful sunburns or bee stings, he was right there with soothing assurances and a solution.
When the store caught fire that winter and my parents had to tell me that the soda fountain had been destroyed and the Webster’s would no longer be able to rebuild it as it had been, I cried. The feelings of being in that repository of wonders remain.


John Pitts remembers: Great photo, with Mr. and Mrs. Webster out front. They were really nice people, an icon of my childhood, like Pam, and all of us from “The Bar” gang. Remember reading comic books with Pam’s brother Doug (“Skip”) back on the magazine rack in the front corner


Ella Larsen remembers:  I remember going there with my mother and getting the red licorice dollars. My mother used to say the pharmacist was always elderly and she remembered him when she was young. Mom was born in 1917.


Judy Tuck remembers: I have fun memories. We stopped there for bags of snacks on the way to the beach.

Wrnkle Yacht – 1913

Wrinkle 750x


“Wrinkle” information by Ned Ludd


Launched on Sodus Bay August 21, 1913
Operated by Capt. Morley
65 feet in length
35 hp gasoline engine
Said to attain speed of 21 mph
Cost $12,000
On August 1, 1914 the Democrat & Chronicle reported: “The cottages at various points of the bay will be brightly illuminated in the evening and decorated with flags throughout the afternoon, adding much to the brilliancy of the day. The commodore has visited them all personally, and everyone seems interested.
Prior to the fireworks being displayed, there will be an illuminated motorboat parade, headed by the tug Cornelia, with the Manchester Band on board.
The Wrinkle and the Seabird will come next, followed by as many launches as can be secured for the parade. and from the present prospects nearly all the boats on the bay will join. The parade will move across the bay to the south shore then around Sand Point, where the launches will circle the Cornelia.
When the last boats have passed, the fireworks will be displayed from the east breakwater.
The general headquarters will be at the Sodus Bay Yacht Club. It is expected that many people will avail themselves of this opportunity of having a good day, and that many basket parties will be on hand.”
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Many thanks to Mary Lou Engels Ganio for the photo of “Wrinkle”, a postcard handed down in her family for generations.


Maxwell Settlement

photo-2-Copy 750x
Photos of descendants of the Newport family that originally lived at the Maxwell Settlement as depicted in the February 1, 2009 edition of the Democrat and Chronicle:


The following information about the Maxwell Settlement comes from Marge Perez who is the former Wayne County Historian. The “colored settlement” as it was often referred to at that time was located on North Geneva Road across from  what is now the Steger Haus:


On the Outlots of Sodus Point:
The Making of an African American Community in Upstate New York


A small hamlet located just west of Sodus Point, New York in Wayne County was never assigned an official name – one that would be found on maps – but it existed as a place and touchstone in the lives of hundreds of African Americans from the early 1800s through the first quarter of the twentieth century and beyond. Many local residents simply referred to it, in the vernacular of the time, as the “colored settlement.” Its physical boundaries fell within Sodus School District #2 which was also referred to as the Maxwell District, taking its name from the mill site developed by William N. Lummis in the early 1800s. The Maxwell area got its name from Dr. Lummis in honor of the family name of his wife. Some vital records for its residents placed their birth place as “Maxwell.”


The heart of the community occupied a portion of land that had been divided into eighty 10 acre lots in a survey completed in June 1813 by Joseph Colt and in deeds identified as the “out lots.” The out lots straddled the main road leading south from Sodus Point (then called Troupville) to the settlements at Lyons and Geneva, now called the North Geneva Road.


The settlement was concentrated on about 60 acres, comprised of Lots 10, 11 and 12 in the 3rd and 4th Ranges of the out lots. Little remains of the physical fabric of this community except an abandoned road bed going east from North Geneva Road down to a creek, perhaps one small house, and an unmarked burying ground (now in the middle of a field across the creek). What does remain is the collective memory held by the children and grandchildren of the last residents of this once vibrant community that was home to generations of African Americans. And because those who hold the memories are aging, it is more important than ever that the story of this community be documented and shared.


In 1800 the census recorded only 52 households within the entire town of Sodus which at the present towns of Arcadia, Lyons, Williamson, Ontario, Marion and Walworth. It appears that at most six households, containing 40 persons, were actually counted by the census takers as being in the immediate Sodus Bay area. The Moses Sill household of ten persons, included two free persons of color and one slave. Ten years later the territory that was the town of Sodus had shrunk to include the present towns of Sodus, Lyons and Arcadia and the population was numbered at 1957, with 37 enslaved blacks and 37 free persons of color.


The first Southerner to reach Sodus Bay with his slaves was Captain William Helm of Virginia, who arrived about 1801. By 1803, Helm had relocated his base of operations to Bath, New York, leaving a small contingent of slaves on Sodus Bay, under the charge of his brother Thomas Helm. Following closely behind Helm was Peregrine Fitzhugh, who had purchased land on the western shore of the bay, bringing with him about 35 slaves.


It is the Fitzhugh slaves that would form the nucleus of the African American settlement of Maxwell. The African American settlement on the out lots of Troupville began to take shape sometime after the death of Peregrine Fitzhugh.


Main Families:


Abraham and Ven Bradington – daughters – Molly, married Alexander Lee; Nancy, married Joseph Wilbur, Margaret, married Robert Provost. Abraham Bradington left his 20 acres of land within the settlement to his three daughters and two grandchildren of a deceased daughter. Last of that land sold off in 1950s.


David and Polly Cooper – children – Ellen/Nelly, never married; Julia, married Taylor; Betsy, married Cornelius Hardin; Benjamin, married Julia A. Allen; George, may never have married; Sally A., married Titus Newport. David Cooper once paid taxes on 20 acres, but no deed was found. In 1855, daughter Nelly Cooper purchased a little less than 4 acres, which appears to be carved out of those 20 acres. The last of that parcel was sold in the 1920s or 30s.


Tom and Rosetta Lloyd – children – Jane, married Mr. Anthony; Lancaster, Thomas W.; Luther Abram; Julia, married Philip Newport; Margaret, Betsey, Henrietta. Jane, Lancaster and Luther A. all purchased land within the settlement.


William and Sarah Jane Newport – children – Titus, Hiram, married Sylvia Taylor; Philip, married Julia Lloyd; Polly Ann, Richard McKinney; Chloe Jane, married Charles Oakley; Margaret, James A. Potter; William, Mary, married John Wooby. Only deed located for purchase of land in settlement was by Margaret Newport Potter.


Civil War Soldiers with ties to Settlement:


• James A. Potter, husband of Margaret Newport, son of James and Chloe Potter; died while in service; 1st USCT
• William Newport, son of William and Sarah J. Newport; 29th Connecticut
• William T. Lloyd, grandson of Thomas and Rosetta; died in service, 8th USCT
• Charles Cooper, grandson of David and Polly Cooper, 8th USCT, Sgt.
• Prime Cortright and three sons – family lived in Huron, but had ties to Sodus through marriages; Prime buried in settlement cemetery – Prime, John Wesley and George Whitfield Cortright served in 11th USC Heavy Artillery; William Freeman served in 38th USCT. John W. Cortright died while in service.
• Six sons of James and Almira Gregor – family lived in Walworth, Ontario and Sodus between 1820 and 1870. David and Samuel Gregor served in 11th USCHA; Bradley and Elijah Gregor served in 8th USCT; Abram Gregor served in 43rd USCT; William Wilson (stepson of James, son of Almira) served in 31st USCT. Bradley and Elijah died while in service; Abram died within a few months of his return from service.
• Joseph Bulah, married to granddaughter of Tom and Rosetta Lloyd, 11th USCHA.
• John G. Hill, married granddaughter of Tom and Rosetta Lloyd, 11th USCH

• Margaret Newport, daughter of William and Sarah J. and sister of William Newport (who also enlisted in 29th Conn.) married their brother John Wooby. The Wooby men were children of John and Clarissa (Jacobs) Wooby, who lived in Canandaigua, then in Sodus, then Clyde and finally settled in Lyons. If I counted correctly there were a total of 6 deaths among the 18 men.



Maxwell Settlement Involvement in the Underground Railroad


I’d categorize it as substantial circumstantial evidence that the Maxwell settlement may have served as “safe haven” for freedom seekers. . Polly Ann and Chloe Jane Newport (daughters of William and Sarah J. Newport) both worked for Dr. Wm. Cooke (1850 census); Polly Ann married Richard McKinney, who traveled from Loudoun Co., VA – they married in Canada in 1858 and returned to Sodus about 1863. Chloe Jane married Charles Oakley and they also moved to Canada – don’t have any proof that Charles was a former slave, but he may have felt in danger. There is the story of Charles Dorsey, who married a granddaughter of Abraham Bradington, daughter of Molly and Alexander Lee, escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1836 and thought to have gone from Philadelphia to Canada about 1838, but may have returned to Sodus by 1840. There’s another story about Robert Provost, husband of Margaret Bradington Provost, taking freedom seekers by wagon from Pultneyville (Cuyler’s home) to Sodus Point, but I haven’t found any proof of it. It would have been natural hiding place for UGRR travelers, waiting for transportation by water to Canada. I have a vague memory of a clipping which refers to Elijah Allen transporting fugitives – think it came from Green’s scrapbook – will have to see if I can find it. Elijah was a Stockbridge Indian and may have been of mixed race – he was tied into the Taylor family, which also had ties to Gregor families – also Indian and mixed race families.


The following two photo are from

Uncovering  the Underground Railroad, Abolitionism, and African American Life in Wayne County, New York, 1820-1880

by Judith Wellman and Marjory Allen Perez, with Charles Lenhart and others

 Sponsored by the Wayne County Historian’s Office, Peter Evans, Historian


Maxwell Settlement Geneva Road, east side, corner of Halcus Road (across from Steger Haus) Town of Sodus, New York   Significance: African-American settlement established on the outskirts of the village of Sodus Point as early as 1817, by people who were formerly enslaved.

E Cooper Home 750x

Possible home of E. Cooper
Maxwell Settlement, Geneva Road
Looking north, April 2008

E Cooper Home 2  750x


If you would like to learn more about the Underground Railroad experience in Wayne County, New York, I highly recommend:


Final Stop, FREEDOM! by Marj Perez

Maxwell Settlement Cemetery – Rediscovering Our Past

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Photograph of Prime Courtright buried in the Maxwell Settlement burial grounds. Photo courtesy of Tom and Martha Lightfoot. The Maxwell area got its name from Dr. Lummis a long time ago in honor of the family name of his wife.
Have you ever wondered how Sodus Point history that was believed to be forever lost is still being rediscovered? This is a story that gives you an idea of how it is done.
This story illustrates many of the ways in which history can be rediscovered. It is seldom easy but like a detective on a cold case, unrelated pieces of information can sometimes fill in the puzzle and crack open a case. The process of this particular rediscovery can be broken down into these parts:
Painstaking research
Coordination of research efforts by multiple interested parties
Photographic evidence
Computer research and software enhancement of photographs
The group effort started on July 19, 2017 when Marjory Allen Perez gave a presentation on the Underground Railroad at the Sodus Point Village Hall. Marj is a former Wayne County Historian who has a passion on researching Wayne County African American history including involvement in the Underground Railroad and has spent years painstakingly going through County census and deed records in an effort to gather an impressive amount of information. For more details on the information she has gathered see her published work with Judith Wellman (Uncovering the Underground Railroad, Abolitionism, and African American Life in Wayne County, New York, 1820-1880 by Judith Wellman and Marjory Allen Perez) and her new book Final Stop, Freedom! In her Sodus Point presentation, she told specific family information of a number of the free black families that lived in the Maxwell Settlement on Geneva Road approximately across from what is now the Steger Haus Restaurant. The Maxwell settlement consisted of free blacks but was known to harbor and aid “freedom seekers” as part of the Underground Railroad in our area. Interestingly enough, Marj’s research indicated that some of the members of the Maxwell settlement, as well as freedom seekers that were harbored there, made the trip to Canada and sometimes came back during the days of the Underground Railroad.
During the question and answer segment following the presentation, Martha and Tom Lightfoot asked about information regarding the burial ground (believed to have been members of the Maxwell Settlement) located in the middle of a field on private property presently owned by Charles Duncan. Marj had few details about it but was eager to learn more and see any photographic evidence.The Lightfoots related that they had visited the burial site a few years ago and had photos showing a couple of headstones that they would be willing to share.
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The Maxwell Settlement burial site located in the Duncan flat field. Note a cemetery stone is visible. Photo courtesy of Bill Huff taken in the 1960s.
The following day after Marj Perez’s presentation, my wife and I met with Bill Huff, Jr. for breakfast. Bill Huff is a life long resident of Sodus Point and a professional photographer who has amassed untold thousands of photographs of Sodus Point. As is often the case, Bill had brought along three photo albums he had taken over the years. One of the albums had photographs of headstones. When we asked Bill where he had taken the headstone photos, he told us that they were from the burial ground in the field near where the Maxwell settlement was located! Bill went on to say that one of the headstones used to have a GAR flag holder and he remembered as a boy that someone would put a flag in it on Memorial Day. After telling Bill about Marj Perez’s presentation, he let us scan in the photos and we were off to the races! The gravestones in the black and white photos were very difficult to read and only a letter or so were readable. We then brought the scanned photos into my Windows Live Photo Gallery. After enhancing the photos and trying various lighting schemes we could begin to make out letters (see next 3 photos).
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Thomas Loyd 672x
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Photos courtesy Bill Huff, Jr.
As we were now seeing letters and trying to figure out names, I vaguely recalled having come across a web site, years earlier, that mentioned names buried at this site. After searching, I finally found it again.
THE FOLLOWING ARE CLARK RECORDS (written in 1882, so references made to property owners of that time, not the present):
Clark records circa 1882: Another place where the colored people buried their dead is on the east end of the former Boyd farm, the one now owned by the Sergeant Brothers on the Old Geneva Road. It is difficult to see why this place was selected rather than one in the vicinity of the settlement. It is now only a clear plat about two rods square, with neither stone nor signs of graves. The plow has yet spared the place and at the present writing (1882) it is in the midst of a cornfield. In the nature of things it can hardly be saved from general cultivation many years longer. It is very near to the east line of the farm and thus but a short distance southwest of the barn belonging to John Bates which stands on the lot on the south part of his farm. The following persons were buried there and probably others: Thomas Lloyd and three of his children, Margaret, Betsy, Henrietta; two children of Mary Lee, Jane and William.
We now had the pieces in place to verify that Thomas Lloyd and Henrietta were buried there based on both historical and photographic evidence but what about this third headstone that seemed to have the name Courtright on it? Marj Perez knew who this person was and had been looking for his final resting place. Prime Courtright served during the Civil War in the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored) and died Feb. 25, 1890. This explained why he was not mentioned in the 1882 information. At this point from the historical info and photos we now knew the identity of 7 people who were buried there.
The icing on the cake came about a week later when Tom and Martha Lightfoot shared their photos that had the benefit of being digitized at a much higher resolution than the 1960s photos and were in color. See the next 3 photos:
Prime Courtright 1 750x
GAR 750x
TL Rosetta 750x
The first two photos confirm it being Prime Courtright and show the Veteran’s Flag holder. The third photo shows that Rosetta (wife of Thomas Loyd) was also buried there which was not mentioned in the 1882 write up. This makes 8 people that we now know are buried at this site.
So we went from knowing only a rumor that black families from the Maxwell sttlement were at this burial site to now being able to identify 8 of them. I believe we are probably missing some names but who knows when some tidbit of information may show up. One final note on this topic. Edie and I ran into Charlie Duncan who owns the field where the burial site is located. He mentioned that he has had a dream to have this site cleaned up and preserved for the future perhaps as a scout project. I believe that the Lightfoots and my wife and I should once more visit this site and if headstones are still there that this dream should be made a reality.
Written by Bruce Farrington August 2017