“The Johnston Harvester Co. and the Great Fire of 1882”

By on February 4, 2019

Program at the Morgan-Manning House February 13

On Wednesday, February 13, the Morgan-Manning House will be the scene of a program entitled “The Johnston Harvester Co. Fire of 1882.” The presenters will be Gordon and Peggy Fox who will supplement their comments with PowerPoint pictures. The event, sponsored by the Western Monroe Historical Society (WMHS), starts at 7p.m. at the Victorian mansion located at 151 Main Street, Brockport. It is free and open to the public and will end with refreshments.

Gordy and Peggy Fox pause for a photo in the Morgan-Manning House office while planning their February 13 presentation. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

Gordy and Peggy Fox pause for a photo in the Morgan-Manning House office while planning their February 13 presentation. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

A fire on June 19, 1882, destroyed the Johnston plant and killed two men. The Rochester Fire department sent men and equipment on a train to Brockport. The railroad closed the line to other traffic and the trip of 17 miles took 19 minutes.

Brockport experienced an economic slump for years due to 500 employees out of work. Some moved to Batavia where the new Johnston Harvester Plant was opened. By 1920 they were making 65,000 harvesting machines per year, selling them all over the world.

Gordon (“Gordy”) and Peggy Fox became involved in the Morgan-Manning House in the early 2000s. The WMHS board of trustees awarded Gordy its first Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award in May, 2016 “For extraordinary leadership and labor in the renovation and maintenance of the Morgan-Manning House for more than ten years” and serving many years as finance chair and board treasurer. He is now the board president.

The couple has always been interested in history through reading, they said. According to Gordy, their life-long interest was sparked by their frequent trips to Peggy’s relatives in North Carolina. The family was still living in a farm built in 1887. Peggy’s maiden aunt was “a non-stop teller of local history” and would take them all over the area to places steeped in fascinating history and folklore. “That made historians out of both of us!” Gordy said.

For information, call the WMHS at 637-3645 or visit http://www.morganmanninghouse.org/.

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