1924 Sale of the Shaker Tract

Source: newspaper Wayne Democratic Press, October 8, 1924, Whole No. 5142.




Had Been Held 70 Years in D.W. Parshall Estate -
8,000 Apple Trees Occupy 250 Acres -
Tract Rich in Timber and Scenic Beauty -
New Owner Will Breed Fine Cattle.

On Monday of last week the property known for 100 years as the Shaker Tract, fronting on Sodus Bay, and for the past 70 years owned by the late D.W. Parshall and his heirs, in turn, was sold to Alvah G. Strong of Rochester, a grandson of the late Henry Strong, president of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Tract embraces 1,600 acres with large colonial master's house, large barns and other buildings including a saw mill and several tenant houses. About 250 acres are devoted to fruit - 8,000 trees. It is said that so much as $45,000 has been received from one crop of Shaker Tract apples. Large sums also have been realized from the standing timber and yet a vast area remains covered with remnants of the primeval forest - chestnut, walnut, beech, birch, maple, oak and other trees.

The Tract acquired its name in 1823 when a group of "The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming," commonly called Shakers, because like the Quakers, they become highly excited while at worship and their bodies tremble violently, came from New Lebanon, N.Y., and purchased 1,400 acres of land, skirting Sodus Bay, of Judge Nichols of Geneva, who had built a grist mill there before the Revolution. The Shaker Colony embraced about 30 men and women. They all worked and lived on the communistic basis each having an equal right to land, house and all else. They erected the principal dwelling and the old meeting house that still stand. Their orchards and gardens were celebrated and the Shaker meetings attracted many spectators from the neighboring farms and villages.

The Shakers held the Tract 15 years and then sold it to Adams, Duncan & Co., promoters of the Adams Canal which was to connect the Erie Canal with the Great Lakes.

When that enterprise fell through the land was sold to a colony of Fourierites, a French communistic sect, who had but a brief tenure before surrendering title back to the canal men.

In 1855 the late D.W. Parshall, founder of the Lyons National Bank, bought the Shaker Tract. From him it was handed down to his daughter, the late Mrs. Dwight S. Chamberlain, and from her the property descended to her children the surviving ones being Frederick W. Chamberlain and Mrs. John David.

Negotiations looking to the transfer of the property to Mr. Strong were begun by John David more than a year ago and carried on from time to time until culmination. It is understood that the late owners have reserved several choice water-front lots. The stately old house erected when builders built for the ages, still as sound and true as ever, have been the home of Mr. and Mrs. David in recent years. It has been modernized as to conveniences without interfering with original lines and colonial atmosphere which has been preserved by retaining furnishings of designs and woods now rare and of high value that figured in early family history.

Mr. Strong the new owner will make the Shaker Tract his summer home and, if practicable, will put the big farm to still greater usefulness. His plans include the breeding of high-grade cattle and other stock. The Tract is rich in fruit, timber and with miles of shore on beautiful Sodus Bay. For the erection of buildings for carrying out extensive plans Mr. STrong will not be obliged to enter the lumber market. With his saw mill and variety of standing timber he may produce his own material.

Somewhere on Briscoe's Point which is a part of the Shaker Tract have reposed for 133 years the bones of William Briscoe, a government surveyor who, by night and using the pole star as the true north ran the lines for staking out the Pre-emption road beginning at Baltimore and ending at the point of land extending into Sodus Bay where the surveyor died and was buried, his name thus having been perpetuated. Among the archives of the Shaker Tract is a fragment of a headstone bearing an inscription rudely done as if scratched with an iron instrument and so weather-worn as to be legible only by close inspection, as follows:

W. Briscoe
died May 21, 1791

It is to be expected that Sodus Bay will become still better known as a summer resort as the result of the new ownership of the Shaker Tract. Mr. Strong has a wide circle of friends in Rochester. Many of them will be interested in his late st real estate investment and upon visiting the valuable property with its many charming spots along the water-front will recognize their desirability as summer home sites. Important building operations will be begun by Mr. Strong next spring.

An inventory of the Shaker Tract and all property appertaining thereto made two years ago, each item being conservatively fixed, showed a total valuation exceeding $250,000. Mr. Strong paid $175,000 cash. He is many times a millionaire and not a new farmer for he has been, for several years, the owner of a farm, west and not far from Rochester, distinguished for fine cattle. With 1600 acres added to his department of farms Mr. Strong becomes one of the larger land holders of the state.

Mr. and Mrs. David will continue to occupy the main dwelling until April 1. There are 13 houses and 10 barns on the place. The ruins of the old mill built by Judge Nichols down on the creek in colonial days are still there. A contemporary of the mill was a warehouse and store built near the bay shore on Nicholas Point, now known as Hunter's Point, that was destroyed by the British in 1812.

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