The Story of Brockport’s Namesakes: Hiel and Phebe Brockway

By on March 5, 2018

Presentation at the Morgan-Manning House, March 8

The Story of Brockport’s Namesakes:  Hiel and Phebe Brockway will be presented at the Morgan-Manning House on Thursday, March 8. The program will be presented by Mary Lynne Turner, exploring the lives and history of Hiel and Phebe Brockway for whom Brockport was named. It will include how Hiel brought packet boats and many other ventures to Brockport. It starts at 7 p.m. in the Victorian home at 151 Main Street. The Western Monroe Historical Society provides the evening free and open to the general public.  Refreshments will be served following the program

Turner provides a brief background on the program (edited and condensed):

Hiel Brockway and Phebe Merrill were both born in Connecticut in the mid 1770’s and married in 1798. In 1816-1817, they moved to the Town of Sweden with 12 children, and one more would be born there. 

Clarkson was actually part of what was called Murray Corners in the early 1800’s. It was situated at the intersection of two Native American paths, Ridge Road and Lake Road. They became well-traveled routes, and Hiel saw business opportunity in the area, especially since the long-awaited canal was going to become a reality soon. 

When it became clear that the canal was going to be dug about a mile south of Clarkson, Hiel bought a great deal of land on the west side of the Lake Road. In 1819, when the village was being formed, Hiel Brockway led the meeting where the name was decided. There was apparently very little discussion that the name Brockport would be appropriate, as he was the major land owner.

The canal reached Brockport in 1823 and provided a great opportunity for Hiel and other investors to provide the possibility of comfortable east-west travel without the difficulties in riding stage coaches and covered wagons.

He started the Red Bird Packet Boat Line, setting up a boat yard and a brick yard along the canal. Successful for a while, the packet boat line was not able to keep up with the new railroad in the 1840’s. 

The program includes a Power Point presentation by Gordy Fox, discussing packet boats in general. “I will discuss construction of these boats at a yard beside the canal,” he said. “Some of the topics will be:  types of wood used, planking and water proofing the boat, fitting out the interior, flipping the hull and launching. I built a model of a packet boat leaving it open to show construction of frames, chines, strong back, etc.”

These portraits of Hiel and Phebe Brockway, painted cc. 1825, hang in the back parlor of the Morgan-Manning House. Mary Lynne Turner will discuss mystery of how the portraits got to MM House since the Brockways were not related to the Morgan family. She will comment on the hairstyles, clothing and demeanor portrayed, reflecting the earlier Regency era rather than Victorian era styles. Provided photos

These portraits of Hiel and Phebe Brockway, painted cc. 1825, hang in the back parlor of the Morgan-Manning House. Mary Lynne Turner will discuss mystery of how the portraits got to MM House since the Brockways were not related to the Morgan family. She will comment on the hairstyles, clothing and demeanor portrayed, reflecting the earlier Regency era rather than Victorian era styles. Provided photos

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