John and Mary Dickson House

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Built circa 1835 by John Dickson, a lawyer in West Bloomfield, and a member of the 22nd and 23rd United States Congress (1831-1835).   The house is listed on the National Register of historic buildings in 2008 and featured in Old House Journal (November / December 2007).  The property was originally a 242 acre parcel.  The house and land was sold to Sellick Dann in 1851, and then to Vinton Peck in 1853.  From 1853 well into the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the property served as a working farm.  Prior owners were H. Parmele and Patrick Riorden.  The 1904 New Century Atlas of Ontario County (page 102) indicates that this property was called Chestnut Crest and consisted of 120 acres and owned by Patrick Riorden.  Various owner maintained the house and surrounding land throughout the 20th century.  The current owners have restored the home and built a period federal-style post and beam barn to complement the house.

Significance of the Property

Based upon historical Ontario County deed transactions, there is strong evidence that suggests that this house was built for, and the residence of, Mr. John Dickson -- a member of the 22nd and 23rd United States Congress (1831-1835) (see Appendix N).  .  He served as member of the State assembly in 1829 and 1830 and was also appointed Judge Advocate of the 39th Infantry Brigade by Governor DeWitt Clinton in 1819 (see Appendix G).  John Dickson was born in Keene, NH on June 1, 1783 and graduated from Middlebury, VT College in 1808.  He moved to West Bloomfield to practice law in 1812.  In 1817, a deed transaction (Liber 60, page 143, see Appendix C, Item C-1) shows that John Dickson acquired a ½ acre plot of land through a $141 mortgage from Ebenezer Walden.  The plot was #8 on “the survey or allotment in the West Bloomfield village on the State Road”.  It can be speculated that this plot is where John Dickson established his law office.   John Dickson and his wife Mary moved to Rochester, NY in the early 1820’s and returned to West Bloomfield in 1828.  A letter to John’s daughter dated April 12th, 1832 (Attachment H) from Washington D.C. supports his involvement in government activities.  Ontario County records from 1832 (Liber 79, page 324) indicate that John Dickson acquired a very large 250 acre parcel of land through a $2000 mortgage provided by Ebenezer Walden.  This parcel as described in 1832 included the present day house location.  A rough outline based on the deed description is located in Appendix D, Item D-1.  After completing two terms of Congress, John Dickson resumed his law practice in West Bloomfield (1835).  In 1835, John Dickson makes a sizable $9,926 transaction to Hollam Hutchinson.  The lot described in the transaction in Appendix C, Item C-4 is 242 acres and appears to cover an area similar to what is described in the parcel description of 1832 (see Appendix D, Item D-2).  Because of the substantial sum of money paid, it is presumed that the building of John Dickson’s house was completed at this time.  The mortgaging of a portion the above sum of money ($4900) was accomplished through Ebenezer Walden in 1835 (Mortgage 25, page 267 – Appendix C, Item C-4).  In the transactions of 1832 and 1835, the south line of the property was bounded by other property owned by John Dickson along the State Route – possibly his law office mentioned above.  John and Mary Dickson’s property was sold to Sellick Dann in 1851 for $12,400.  The land as outlined in Liber 96, page 240 (see attachment C, Item C-5) totaled 260 acres and likely contained the house.  One year before John’s death in 1852 it appears that special provisions were being made with the selling of his property: “use of the small or Graham house…and the lot fenced in with until November next with the privilege of living and occupying it for one year thereafter for rent of $40, the use of the law office until November next and all the stoves except the cook stove in the kitchen of the best dwelling house”.  It is assumed that this “best dwelling house” is the current Campbell house residence.  In 1853, Sellick Dann sold the property, documented as 111 acres for $9,156 to Vinton Peck.  An outline of the entire property, which very likely contains the house and any associated outbuildings is in Attachment D, Item D-5.  The 1859 map (Appendix E) shows that the house and probably the surrounding land was owned by V. Peck (Farmer).  In the above mentioned transaction, (Appendix C, Item C-6) the land boundary includes reference to J. Dickson Law office on the “Main Rte.”  From 1853 well into the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the property served as a working farm.  Prior owners were H. Parmele and Patrick Riorden.  The 1904 New Century Atlas of Ontario County (page 102) indicates that this property was called Chestnut Crest and consisted of 120 acres and owned by Patrick Riorden (see Attachment L).  It was “considered one of the finest locations in West Bloomfield and the dwellings and grounds are embellished with chestnut and shade trees.  The buildings are always in the best of repairs and entire farm intellectually cultivated.  The water supply is obtained from the many unfailing wells, by wind mill power and running water brought to the stock barns.”  Henry Riorden, the son of Patrick who also helped on the farm in West Bloomfield, spent time serving as a clerk in Washington during Grover Cleveland’s administration as indicated by his obituary (see Attachment J).  Into the mid and later parts of the 19th century, portions of the land were sold off and the property was no longer operated as a farm; it served only as a residence.   The Campbell house is a special structure to West Bloomfield.  It is one of the oldest buildings that remain in the village and has been an architectural treasure to the townspeople and those passing on the main State corridor of Routes 5 and 20.  Sources  ·    Ontario County Mortgage and Deed Transactions:1817-Present (Appendix C) ·    West Bloomfield 1859 Map (Appendix E) ·    Photograph of “Business District” Ca. 1890.  House is in left side of photo. (Appendix F) ·    Appointment of John Dickson as Judge Advocate of the 39th Brigade of Infantry, March 24, 1819 (Appendix G) ·    John Dickson letter from Washington D.C to his daughter Hannah, April 12th, 1832 (Appendix H) ·    West Bloomfield Historical Society documentation on Hon. John Dickson (Appendix I) ·    Henry Riorden Obituary, October 13th, 1930 (newspaper source unknown) (Appendix J) ·    Memoirs of Mary Parmele Hamlin, who lived in the Campbell House (Source unknown)  (Appendix K) ·    Summary of “Chestnut Crest” taken from the New Centruy Atlas, Ontario County, NY dated 1904, page 102. (Appendix L) ·    1904 West Bloomfield Map (Appendix M)     Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Dickson, John (1783-1852) (Appendix N) ·    The Cyclopaedia of American Biographies comprising the Men and Women of the United States who Have Been Identified with the Growth of the Nation, edited by John Howard Brown: John Dickson (Appendix O) ·    Circa 1920-1930 photo of the house (Appendix P)

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