The road leading past Thomas Lee's house to David Wagener's
Mill in Penn Yan is mentioned in a survey of November 1800, when a new
road is described as intersecting it. Interestingly, Lee isn't mentioned
in this survey by name, where the road is merely described as running from
"Waggoners Mills" past the residences of Susannah Clamford and John Lawrence.
The first mention of Thomas Lee's place in the early town of Milo road
surveys is in 1806, when a road intersects another "leading from Thomas
Lees to Waggoners Mills near the Widow Clamfords." This is the road, now
Yates County Rte 1, the Himrod Road as an extension of East Main Street,
that Joshua Lee remembered helping as a boy to chop through the woods.
All early roads in the area were laid out and constructed in this way,
by local freeholders who were assessed so many days of labor on the roads
each year based on how much property they owned. Once the surveys were
officially entered in the town's records, the roads so built became the
property and responsibility of the municipality.
This is certainly one of the County's earliest roads, leading as it
did from the neighborhood of Richard Smith's mill at the falls of Keuka
Lake Outlet, where a bridge carried the highway between Geneva and Bath
across the stream, to a crossroads hamlet three miles upstream, the as
yet unnamed Penn Yan and David Wagener's gristmill.
All the people mentioned in the survey are well-known early settlers
of Milo, originally drawn here by the teachings of the Public Universal
Friend, though none were official followers of hers. John Lawrence was
from New Bedford, Massachusetts, a Revolutionary veteran and a prosperous
Quaker shipbuilder. He built an early store and by 1800 had a gristmill
of his own, also on the Outlet (a perennial stream with the lake as an
inexhaustible reservoir, with a drop over its 6-mile length of more than
David Wagener was a native of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He built
the first public house in our county in 1791, near the falls of the Outlet,
a place mentioned by the Duke deLiancourt in the memoir of his 1793 travels
on the New York frontier; in 1794 Wagener bought a sawmill at the site
of modern Penn Yan and in 1796 built a gristmill on the Outlet's south
bank. He arranged for what is now Main Street to be surveyed through the
woods to his mill, recruited a physician and other settlers, and made sure
his many daughters married well. The estate inherited in 1799 by his two
sons comprised much of the future village's industrial and commercial areas,
and the elder son, Abraham, was the first postmaster and later first mayor
of Penn Yan.
Susannah "Clamford" was David Wagener's sister. Her first marriage was
to Peter Supplee, and her second to John Clumberge, a man whose surname
was impervious to all future generations' attempts to spell it. Widowed
twice, she had a place of her own along the highway where she lived out
the rest of her life. She is buried near her brother, whose burial in 1799
was the first in what is now Lakeview Cemetery, owned by the village of
Penn Yan and added this year to the National Register of Historic Places.
Thomas Lee was one of dozens of veterans of the Revolution who came
to this county after the war and the subsequent settlement of the Senecas'
claim to the land. His father Nathaniel Lee was a native of Ireland who
settled near Fishkill, married and died there in 1793, aged 98. Thomas
was his eldest son, born in 1739. He came to what was then called Jerusalem
in 1790, and died there in 1814, at the age of 75.
Click on this map for a larger map and text on the residents along Tom Lee's highway.