In 1795, Daniel Penfield began purchasing land here in Township 13 Range IV and began building mills in 1800 along the falls area of Irondequoit Creek to encourage settlement. The population grew rapidly, and in 1810, this township and the adjoining township to the north, Township 14, were designated by the New York State Legislature as the Town of Penfield.
Penfield was the first of the seven east-side towns in the county to be established. By 1814, the census count was 1,874 residents, and it had reached approximately 5,000 people by 1840 when Township 14 was set off as the Town of Webster. The resulting population figure of around 3,000 remained fairly constant for almost a century, until World War II.
With the decline of milling in the mid-1800s, the principle industry in our community was agriculture. The Four Corners, where Five Mile Line Road crossed "the road to the mills" (Penfield Road), was the business and residential center of the town, but it did not become an incorporated village.
Suburban development escalated sharply during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, and the population count reached 23,732 in 1970. The present count is estimated at around 37,000, and with burgeoning growth of the nation's economy, suburban communities are once again experiencing rapid growth and development.
History Of Milling In The Penfield Area
Irondequoit Creek drops 90 feet as it flows from the area of the Linden Ave. bridge to the "Hollow," (what is now known as Channing H. Philbrick Park), and it was the waterfalls that attracted Daniel Penfield's attention. In 1795 he began his purchase of the entire Township 13 Range IV (to become Town of Penfield) of the Phelps and Gorham Tract.
His first mill, built in 1800, was rapidly followed by a number of others, some of them located just over the line in the next town, because Mr. Penfield reserved the water rights to control the activity along the creek. Flour was shipped by way of Tryon to Charlotte, then transshipped across Lake Ontario to Canada. When the Erie Canal opened, flour was hauled to Fairport and Bushnell's Basin for shipment to markets in the east.
Early settlers were encouraged by Mr. Penfield's policy of accepting wheat as mortgage payment. Wheat was more plentiful than cash in the early days. The years 1800 - 1840 were a time of rapid settlement and growth, which gradually declined as larger milling interests were developed along the Genesee River in nearby Rochester.
However, in 1846, downstream from the "Hollow", Samuel A. Rich built a sawmill that provided the lumber for a grist mill erected in 1848. This mill on Blossom Road, now the Daisy Flour Mill, produced flour and grain products through various ownerships until 1972. It is the only mill structure still standing in Penfield. Today, its machinery and leather drive belts still intact, it is a Penfield landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mills And Related Industries Along One Mile of Irondequoit Creek
Between Linden Ave. and Washington Street Starting at the "Hollow"
- Triphammer - Abram Bronson - 1800
- Sawmill - built by Eli Lyon for Daniel Penfield in 1800
- Sawmill - Jacob Westerman - 1872
- Ashery - a cash crop for settlers
- Oil mill and soap factory
- Distillery - Wm. McKinstry - 1804
- Yellow Mill - flouring mill - 1814, Daniel Penfield's - It burned, was repainted and became the White Mill
Old Washington Street
- Clothing mill - Josiah Kellogg - 1805
- Grist mill - Daniel Penfield - 1803
- Tannery - Fellows & Keyes - 1820
- Blacksmithy - Peter Auchampaugh
- Woolen mill - Levi Duncan
- Livingston Mill - flouring mill in 1836, later became Lawless Paper Mill
- Slaughter house - S. C. Carpenter
- Cooperage - Isaac Mott
- Ironworks - John Coles
- Forge - John Coles
- Sawmill and shingle factory
- Carding mill- 1835
- Tannery - Lincoln & Arey - 1852
- Sawmill - Rich, Lincoln & Lathrop
- Flouring mill - Andrew Lincoln - 1847
- Grist mill - Rich, Lincoln & Lathrop 1821
Because the course of the creek has been changed in recent years, it is difficult to pinpoint exact locations. Mills also existed in other sections of Penfield.