Standing proudly on Main Street in Penn Yan is the anchor building of the Yates County History Center, the Oliver House Museum, one of three buildings comprising the YCHC. The Center, formerly Yates County Genealogical & Historical Society, is one of the oldest in NYS, has been actively collecting, preserving and interpreting history since 1860. Continue reading about us...

Open Tuesday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  Facebook   Instagram   Twitter     YouTube   Vimeo  

Divider Visit Us
Oliver House Museum
L. Caroline Underwood Museum
Scherer Carriage House Museum
Divider Exhibits
Events Calendar
Digital Resources
Divider Genealogy & Historic Research
Becoming a Member
Book Store
Article Archive
Divider About Us
Site Map

Research: Tales From the Atlas (#2)

Yates Past - November 2006

This is the second article in a series which is based on stories of people, places, businesses, etc. that come out of Yates County’s 1876 Atlas. The YCGHS is now in the process of ordering 100 reprints of that Atlas. A more detailed description of the reprinting project and an order blank can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.


Yates County’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity is in the midst of building or renovating their ninth house since they were organized in 1989. The current project is in Rock Stream in the Town of Starkey. A new house is being built on what started out as a wooded lot for an eligible family who now live in the Dundee area. In the process of excavating a foundation for the house, an iron object (actually, a few of them) was dug up that was clearly old and clearly man-made. Bill Bailey, who is Co-chairman of this particular Habitat project....and is also a former member of the YCGHS Board.... turned the object in at the Oliver House just last month. One of our volunteers, Mary Collins (the one called “Sherlock”) researched it and decided that it was a runner support or “stay” for an old horse drawn sleigh. Mary looked at the map of Rock Stream in the 1876 Atlas and, on the corner where the Habitat house is now being built was a blacksmith shop. A bit more looking through the Atlas turned up an excellent drawing of the business establishment.... Goundrey & Allen . It was more than a blacksmith business. As the drawing shows, it was mainly a carriage factory. Toward the back of the Atlas is a listing of some of the prominent businessmen and farmers in each township of Yates County. In the Starkey list are Benjamin Frank Allen (who came to Yates County in 1849) and John Goundrey (who was born in England and came to Yates County in 1857). Between Watkins Glen and Geneva (Halls Corners, Milo Center, Monterey) there were several Goundrey men who were blacksmiths....all born in England and all related.

Herbert Allen, a long time resident of Rock Stream and a relation to B. F. Allen, wrote his memories of the village many years ago. A copy is in our files here at the historical society. He wrote.....”Just across (from the triangle at the center of Rock Stream) on the south of the east-west road and west of the road to Reading Center was a sizable building where John Goundrey made carriages employing several men. Some of these buggies were still in use when I was a boy. They were much higher to climb into than the modern styles. One evening the carriage shop burned. Jim Harrington, a painter employed there, lived nearly a mile down toward the lake. He saw the fire and hurried up the hill on foot as fast as he could. He was a very excitable fellow and by the time he reached the little village, he was all out of breath and though he could speak scarcely above a whisper, he was yelling “Fire! Fire!” for all he was worth. Jim Archer came out and said to him: “Shut up, you fool! The fire is all out and everyone has gone to bed.”

Old time residents of Rock Stream will remember that Charles Brochu had a blacksmith shop at that same location at least into the 1930s.

Once again, I would like to ask any of you reading this to submit similar “tales”. There are many of us out there who have ties to the people who are mentioned in the Atlas or the businesses, residences, and farms which are illustrated.... even a name on a piece of property. You could tell the story of the people, the place, or even about how you used the Atlas to further your knowledge of your family history or local history in general. We could use them in our newsletter and, if we receive enough of them, combine them into a companion publication to go with the Atlas. If you feel comfortable writing the article yourself, that would be great! If not, send us the information and someone here will write it up. Send it to us by email, traditional mail, or just drop it off at the Underwood House. This is a chance for YOU to help us enhance and preserve important pieces of Yates County’s history.

by Rich MacAlpine

Open Tuesday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
107 Chapel Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527
Phone 315.536.7318 | Fax 315.536.0976
Email YCHC | Email Webmaster
Wednesday, April 5, 2023 | Copyright © 2023

A community museum where every story matters!

NYS History Trip Advisor