Dr. Arthur Davis (1877 – 1951)
Dr. Davis came
to Pittsford from the Pennsylvania coal mine region shortly after the turn
of the century. He took over Dr. Doane’s office in
the house on North Main Street at #17. The office was in the back
wing of the house that was later occupied for a long time by Willis and
According to Madge Lusk and Una Hutchinson, Dr. Doane moved his office
into the Copeland Building In Rochester and expected his patients to follow
him, but they did not! After three years Dr. Davis razed the old house
on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Monroe and built the big
house now found there.
Mrs. Davis, Gertrude B. (1884-1959) was described as a pleasant and generous
lady. She was a trained nurse. They had four children, Ruth, Everett, Clarence,
and Mary Catherine. Mary died at the age of 6 in September of 1922. Ruth
lived in Geneseo after marriage. Everett married Janet Thomas and ran a
diner in Webster and Clarence became a doctor.
Una recalled that Mrs. Davis baked many delicious cakes for the library
parties that were held down on the Herb Hutchinson lawn. Both she and the
Doctor were stalwart supporters of the Methodist Church and donated many
items which are still in use in the United Church of Pittsford that merged
with Baptist and Methodist congregations.
Dr. Davis was active in many town affairs. For years he was an enthusiastic
member of the Business and Professional Men’s Club known as the "Saints
and the Sinners’" since it was made up of ministers under one
name and attorneys and doctors under the second name. This group will be
frequently mentioned in the annual brochures.
Frank Shearer recalled that at one time the doctor became enthusiastically
certain of the future of Haydon Gold Mine stock in Canada. He tried to
get Mr. Windsor, the bank manager, to join in and promote and, perhaps,
Eldred Loughborough also, but, apparently nothing great or nothing really
bad ever came of it.
Ted J. Zornow served as secretary of the School Board for many years and
he reminds us of the fact that Dr. Davis served on that board for at least
May Spiegel said that Dr. Davis was opposed to dieting, that is for weight
control, and he insisted upon this for his family. Dr. Davis, like many
men who grew up in the 19th century, was very heavy and also he smoked
cigars. We know more about the deleterious effects of excess weight and
smoking than when the doctor was young and formed his opinions. Perhaps
he should have had ten, or more, good productive years if he had followed
the modern precepts of health.
There have been a number of doctors in the community of Pittsford and
for the next few articles, I shall be concentrating on their stories. This
article will focus on Dr. Hartwell Carver, a very colorful character.
Dr. Hartwell Carver (1789 - 1875)
Dr. Hartwell Carver was a descendant of John Carver of Mayflower and Plymouth
fame. Hartwell was born in Rhode Island in 1789 but his family moved to
New York State when he was five years of age. He attended Hamilton College
in 1813 and was graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1816 and came
to Pittsford that year. A former historian says that he lived, for a short
time, on West Jefferson Road . This old place was razed when James Gillis
built the large home at #65 where C.L. Whiting lived for many years. In
June of 1828, Dr. Carver purchased an acre of land from David Sutherland
on Monroe Avenue and built the striking Gothic revival home that is currently
there at # 41. This home was a remarkable change from the Greek Revivals
and the Colonial revivals found in this village. He had seen this style
in New York City, copied the architecture and built the house of bricks
which were immediately covered with board and batten siding.
Dr. Carver practiced medicine for 50 years, but was often away for extended
periods. He traveled to Europe and England and studied medicine in those
places. He became enamored with the railroads in those places and in other
parts of this country. Dr. Carver had a dream about connecting the east
coast of the United States with the west coast and spent considerable sums
and effort trying to make this dream a reality in the form of a continental
railroad. After many years and considerable effort by thousands of people,
the dream did become a reality and Dr. Carver was present at and participated
in driving the golden spike at Provo, Utah.
Dr. Carver died in 1875, and is buried in Mr. Hope Cemetery. It is said
that he has the tallest monument in that cemetery which was paid for by
the grateful Union and Pacific Railroad.
Dr. J. Walter Crews (1872-1932)
Dr. Crews was a Canadian, and he graduated from Queens College in
Toronto with his M.D. degree in 1902. He came to Pittsford not long after
that. His wife was Editha or Elishna (1877-1971).
When he first came he owned the house at 49 South Main Street, which he
sold to George and Lena Thomas. He then moved to a house on Church Street
behind Tousey’s market. Next he purchased the Geare house on the
southwest corner of Monroe Avenue and Washington Avenue at #25. Then he
sold this to John Schoen in 1913 and moved into the house at #27 immediately
west of the Geare house. It has been said that #27 had once been a barn.
Dr. Crews was well liked and respected as a doctor. Kathleen Lord reported
that he attended Jim Harmor before and up to the time of his demise, and
Jim willed his home at #33 North Main Street to the doctor. He served as
the school physician for many years.
Harlan Knickerbocker speaks of the fact that Dr. Crews was their family
doctor after Dr. Carpenter died. In 1918 Harlan had the Spanish Flu, and
Dr. Crews said that it was OK for Harlan’s mother to give Harlan
some whiskey. Harlan said that the gossip of the time observed that Dr.
Crews advocated whiskey for the flu and lost none of his patients while
Dr. Davis forbid whiskey and lost some of his patients.
Unfortunately, in September 1932, at the age of only 60, the doctor suffered
a fatal heart attack at home.
Dr. Paul Carpenter (1845-1918)
In February of 1881, Dr.
Carpenter married Hariett Acer, a member of one of Pittsford’s oldest families. They had no children. The
Carpenters resided at 19 Monroe Avenue in a house which Harlan Knickerbocker
understood had been built by one of the early members of the Welch family.
It was across the street from John Steele’s home. The Little
House stood at the sidewalk on the northeast corner of the lot. The
used this building as his office for a time, but then moved the
office into his large home. Much later this little building was threatened
demolition but was saved by the efforts of the Pittsford Historical
Society, and was moved across the street to sit on the southeast corner
Steele lot. At the time of this move, the Steele home was owned
and occupied by Stuart and Nancy Bolger. The Little House is now owned
Pittsford, Inc and serves as the headquarters for that organization.
The Carpenter House was demolished when the Post Office building
was erected there. The Post Office moved to a new building at the corner
of Marsh Road and Route 31 on October 22, 1990.
Carl Spiegel remembers the Doctor as a well-mannered and highly respected
man. He recalls that the Doctor served on the water board with Thomas Spiegel
for the village when the water system was introduced. The Doctor also served
in various capacities for or on the Village Board.
Harlan Knickerbocker was brought into this world by Dr. Carpenter, and
knew him well in later years. He describes him as tall and slender. Harlan
understood that Dr. Carpenter had been a minister in earlier years, going
all the way back to the Civil War. The Doctor’s horses were brought
to the Knickerbocker farm for clipping.
William Critchley was his hostler, and he lived in the barn on the property.
Nancy Brown (Allingood) served as the maid for many years. Harlan recalls
that Nancy helped his mother at the Episcopal Church suppers. Nancy was
very well liked by the townspeople.
Harriett Acer Carpenter (1856 – 1934)
Una Hutchinson describes her as small, dainty, and pretty. She had
a fine personality. She read all the time and was interested in everything.
She would stand for no pretense and could be caustic.
She was an avid Democrat and fortunately, for her, the vote for women
did come in time for her to cast her vote.
Mrs. Carpenter disliked her neighbor, John Steele for the following reasons.
Mr. Steele liked to fraternize with "aristocratic" people and
felt the Carpenters fit this role. Mrs. Carpenter resented that and also
the fact that he would "borrow" Nancy when he had parties where
he wished to put on airs, and he never paid her. Another story says that
when Harriett died, John came to the Carpenter house and with no permission,
helped himself to some of the household goods that he coveted.