Taken from Times Union newspaper article
October 14, 1925
The 87th birthday anniversary of
John Agate was celebrated on Thursday at the family residence by a reunion
of the children of Mr. And Mrs. Agate.
Mr. Agate is perhaps the oldest life-time
resident of this town, the fifth of seven children of the late John S.
and Emily Beers Agate, who also were born in Pittsford. William and Mary
Agate, the grandparents of John Agate, left their native home at Sussex,
England in the fall of 1794. It was in 1795 that they came to Northfield,
now Pittsford, from Albany by ox-cart and the same year built a log cabin
on land east of this village which, until recently has been owned by
The log cabin remained until after the birth
of four of the grandchildren. Mr. Agate was the fifth child born in the
new house. It is standing intact today; also the schoolhouse No. 3 of
the town of Pittsford in which Mr. Agate appears, is the same as when
he started his studies, at the age of seven years.
When 17 years old, Mr. Agate yielded to "the
wanderlust" and took a trip to Wisconsin where friends who had lived
in Pittsford had made their home. He told of thrilling experiences in
the "wilds of Wisconsin" when he met a company of Indians on the road;
but fortunately, they proved to be a peaceable tribe at that time. This
section was "the far west" and the railroad did not extend as far as
his destination, the railroad farthest north being in the vicinity
of Milwaukee. But he did not remain long there and returned to
the family farm home.
It was in 1863 that he and his brother, William
Agate, started in the malting business in Pittsford which developed into
a large plant. In 1910, the entire property, including the residence
of William Agate, adjoining the malt plant was claimed by New York State
for development of the barge canal. This left the residence of John Agate
on the bank of the Barge Canal when the new waterway was completed. The
family continued to live there until a year ago when they purchased a
residence on Washington Avenue.
Mr. Agate remembers when tallow candles furnished
the only light for the home and he said that in the winter time, "It
used to take most of oneís time to snuff the candles and keep putting
wood on the fire to keep warm", for wood was their only fuel. He also
recalled the making of matches at home, the process being to take sticks
and dip them in melted brimstone. They had to be put in a fire to ignite
them, not being able to secure a light by friction. He said "The Auburn
branch of the New York Central railroad is just about my age", and that
almost everything is new since his youthtime, including all modern
farm equipment, etc., telegraph cable, etc.
Mr. Agate was one of the pioneer settlers
on Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks, when the nearest road was Boonville.
People who visited that section of the Fulton chain of lakes then
sent their baggage on "buckboard stage" or went by row boat from Old
Forge, the nearest supply station. He said the buckboard often
carried the baggage
and the passengers went on foot.
The Agate Camps at Fourth Lake were built
by the brothers at least 40 years ago, and are occupied each summer by
members of the families. Last summer, Mr. and Mrs. Agate spent a number
of weeks with their son and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Elroy Agate. In the camp,
Mr. Agate spent many seasons there hunting, trapping, and fishing and
says that the trout were plentiful in early days.
Mr. Agate was married June 17, 1872 at Glenís
Falls, the bride being Mary Austin. Their children are Mrs. Edith
Agate Crump and E.T. Agate both of Pittsford, also John H. Agate
of Washington DC, all of whom were with them for the birthday anniversary.
Mr. Agate has been a life-long supporter of
the Republican party and his first vote for a presidential candidate
was for Abraham Lincoln. He never failed to cast his vote for every nominee
for president since then. He also attended the convention in Cleveland
when Calvin Coolidge received his nomination.
Agate Notes From Isabella Hart in 1978
William and Mary Agate came to Pittsford in
1795. They built a log house on Thornell Road.
A son, John S. Agate had 2 sons and 1 daughter,
Emily. John married Mary Jane Austin, William married Anna Sutherland,
Emily married Edward Gaskin
Johnís children were: Elroy married Emma Sikes
of England (no children), John married Nellie Watkins, Edith married
Gilbert Crump son of Angelo and Caroline Crump
Williamís children were: Helen married to
Chester Reed (one daughter), Donald died at age 4
All of above have died except Emma (died 1981)
John and William owned the Agate Malt House
and grist mill until the Barge Canal took the property. At that time
the frame section of the brick home was moved to 20 Rand Place. William
then built a stucco house at 21 Rand Place. John lived in the brick house
which had been next to Williams at 27 North Main Street (now the home
of Ted Zornow -1999) John and his wife, Mary, moved to 14 Washington
Avenue to live with son Elroy and Emma. Elroy was a surveyor and Emma
was a nurse. John, Jr. lived with his wife, Nellie at 21 Rand Place until
they moved to Washington, DC. Edith and her husband lived in Brighton,
but after his death, she also lived at 14 Washington Avenue until her
death in 1961.
Emily Agate married Edward Gaskin whose father
was R.E. Gaskin who had a large & imposing home about 107 South Main
Street. It burned.
Edward & Emily had one daughter, Emily
who never married and 1 son, R. Edward who married Florence Hill.
He was a surveyor; they had 3 sons and 1 daughter. Irving married
Dorothy Koomen, Morris (Ted) married Inez Schoonerman of Marion, NY, Ned
Jeanette Koomen, Helen married Kopft