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Agate Family History

Taken from Times Union newspaper article October 14, 1925:

The 87th birthday anniversary of John Agate was celebrated on Thursday at the family residence by a reunion of the children of Mr. And Mrs. Agate.

Mr. Agate is perhaps the oldest life-time resident of this town, the fifth of seven children of the late John S. and Emily Beers Agate, who also were born in Pittsford. William and Mary Agate, the grandparents of John Agate, left their native home at Sussex, England in the fall of 1794. It was in 1795 that they came to Northfield, now Pittsford, from Albany by ox-cart and the same year built a log cabin on land east of this village which, until recently has been owned by descendants.

The log cabin remained until after the birth of four of the grandchildren. Mr. Agate was the fifth child born in the new house. It is standing intact today; also the schoolhouse No. 3 of the town of Pittsford in which Mr. Agate appears is the same as when he started his studies, at the age of seven years.

Mr. Agate yielded to "the wanderlust" when 17 years old and took a trip to Wisconsin where friends who had lived in Pittsford had made their home. He told of thrilling experiences in the "wilds of Wisconsin" when he met a company of Indians on the road; but fortunately, they proved to be a peaceable tribe at that time. This section was "the far west" and the railroad did not extend as far as his destination, the railroad farthest north being in the vicinity of Milwaukee. But he did not remain long there and returned to the family farm home.

It was in 1863 that he and his brother, William Agate, started in the malting business in Pittsford which developed into a large plant. In 1910, the entire property, including the residence of William Agate, adjoining the malt plant was claimed by New York State for development of the barge canal. This left the residence of John Agate on the bank of the Barge Canal when the new waterway was completed. The family continued to live there until a year ago when they purchased a residence on Washington Avenue.

Mr. Agate remembers when tallow candles furnished the only light for the home and he said that in the winter time, "It used to take most of one's time to snuff the candles and keep putting wood on the fire to keep warm", for wood was their only fuel. He also recalled the making of matches at home, the process being to take sticks and dip them in melted brimstone. They had to be put in a fire to ignite them, not being able to secure a light by friction. He said "The Auburn branch of the New York Central railroad is just about my age", and that almost everything is new since his youth time, including all modern farm equipment, etc., telegraph cable, etc.

Mr. Agate was one of the pioneer settlers on Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks, when the nearest road was Boonville. People who visited that section of the Fulton chain of lakes then sent their baggage on "buckboard stage" or went by row boat from Old Forge, the nearest supply station. He said the buckboard often carried the baggage and the passengers went on foot.

The Agate Camps at Fourth Lake were built by the brothers at least 40 years ago, and are occupied each summer by members of the families. Last summer, Mr. and Mrs. Agate spent a number of weeks with their son and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Elroy Agate. In the camp, Mr. Agate spent many seasons there hunting, trapping, and fishing and says that the trout were plentiful in early days.

Mr. Agate was married June 17, 1872 at Glen's Falls, the bride being Mary Austin. Their children are Mrs. Edith Agate Crump and E.T. Agate both of Pittsford, also John H. Agate of Washington DC, all of whom were with them for the birthday anniversary.

Mr. Agate has been a life-long supporter of the Republican Party and his first vote for a presidential candidate was for Abraham Lincoln. He never failed to cast his vote for every nominee for president since then. He also attended the convention in Cleveland when Calvin Coolidge received his nomination.

Agate Notes from Isabella Hart in 1978:

William and Mary Agate came to Pittsford in 1795. They built a log house on Thornell Road.

A son, John S. Agate had two sons and one daughter, Emily. John married Mary Jane Austin, William married Anna Sutherland, and Emily married Edward Gaskin.

John's children were: Elroy married Emma Sikes of England (no children), John married Nellie Watkins, Edith married Gilbert Crump son of Angelo and Caroline Crump.

William's children were: Helen married to Chester Reed (one daughter), Donald died at age 4.

All of above have died except Emma (died 1981).

John and William owned the Agate Malt House and grist mill until the Barge Canal took the property. At that time the frame section of the brick home was moved to 20 Rand Place. William then built a stucco house at 21 Rand Place. John lived in the brick house which had been next to Williams at 27 North Main Street (now the home of Ted Zornow -1999) John and his wife, Mary, moved to 14 Washington Avenue to live with son Elroy and Emma. Elroy was a surveyor and Emma was a nurse. John, Jr. lived with his wife, Nellie at 21 Rand Place until they moved to Washington, DC. Edith and her husband lived in Brighton, but after his death, she also lived at 14 Washington Avenue until her death in 1961.

Emily Agate married Edward Gaskin whose father was R.E. Gaskin who had a large and imposing home about 107 South Main Street. It burned down.

Edward and Emily had one daughter, Emily who never married and one son, R. Edward who married Florence Hill. He was a surveyor; they had three sons and one daughter. Irving married Dorothy Koomen, Morris (Ted) married Inez Schoonerman of Marion, NY, Ned married Jeanette Koomen, and Helen married Kopft.