Publication: The Victor Herald
Victor, NY, United States
Locke Family's History
Closely Tied to Victor
by Sheldon Fisher
Irma Reed Locke, widow of Louis P. Locke, died March 12, 1960 at her home, Park Place, corner of Rowley Road and Route 96. The Rev. John C. Macklin officiated at the funeral services at the Cotton Funeral Home in Victor, Tuesday afternoon. Although ailing for some time, she survived her husband by five years.
Since she left no descendants, the passing of Mrs. Locke closes the book on a family prominent in this town (at the same home) since the land was cleared for settlement. Her family was noted for their leisurely and cultural way of life, akin to that of a southern plantation. Nevertheless, they were an industrious people, who also knew the art of finding time for friends and neighbors.
The grand old house, Park Place, was built by her great grand-father, Simeon Park, who cleared the land in 1808. He was so prosperous that he owned the land between Fishers and Victor, and as each child married he gave them a farm and built them each a house and barns. The lands, now owned by Strong, Benson, Phillips, and Lane, were once a part of this large tract. The late Dr. Laura Lane is a granddaughter of Hiram Park, a son of Simeon, who built her home. Alvin Hyde Park inherited the home place, and through good investments in western land, mills, cattle, and various other enterprises, became a millionaire.
Before she died, Irma Locke gave: the highlights of her family story. Very important to her was the entry of her grandmother's family upon the Park scene. One day the summer of 1830, Simeon Park's children came upon a family resting and eating their lunch on a pile of lumber by the roadside, just put there by Charles Fisher from his Fishers mill. The children became friends quickly, and the Park hospitality gave the traveling family shelter for the night, even though the upright part of the house was under construction.
The strangers' story was that they had left Orleans, Cape God, taken the packet boat on the canal from Albany to Bushnell's Basin, and were walking to Victor. They did settle there and build the house now owned by Roger Johnson, with lumber from Charles Fisher. This family was headed by Benjamin Freeman of Orleans, with his wife, Charlotte Wing, of Brewster, Cape Cod. The Freemans were directly descended from several Pilgrim families, through Governor Thomas Prence. The lure of the rich Michigan lands proved very strong, and so the Freemans left for Yorkville in 1842; but not until Alvin Hyde Parks had married their daughter, Susan Freeman.
Irma Locke had fond memories of her grandmother, Susan, as a most wonderful and patient personality with all of the grace of the lady she was. She said it was Susan who brought the New England culture and true hospitality o, the community. During her regime over his household, it became a noted social center. She taught many people music and art, and held art exhibits and musical recitals in the Park home.
The story of art in the area began with Susan, who trained her husband's nephew, John Park, who lived in what is now the James Benson House. He made and lost several fortunes as a portrait artist, Her daughter, Eleanor Park, produced many fine landscapes in oil. Alice was the most talented, and operated studios in New York, Rochester, and Chicago, where she did top-flight china painting. Irma's mother also did china painting, but was more busy raising a family and managing the home. Irma's sister, Vera, gained fame in water colors and operated a Studio in Denver, where she married.
The Freemans in Michigan were also in a golden age. Daughter Adeline had married Almon Preston, and industrialist from Battle Greek, the inventor of the wire nail, and the owner of the present Kellogg Cornflake properties. Although a legislator from Michigan, he raised a Civil War cavalry regiment called the Merrill Horse, which gained much fame. Their daughter, Adeline Preston, married William Fisher of Fishers. Now with closer ties between Fishers and Battle Creek, and improved rail transportation, the visits both ways became more frequent.
Reece Reed married Lottie Park, whose children were Vera and Irma. By marriages the Freemans and Prestons had expanded to Chicago and Denver. Son Frank Preston opened a school supply business in Chicago, and sold to his brother-in-law, E. W. A. Rowles School Supplies, now the largest in the field. Irma recalled with pleasure the big family gatherings in Orleans, Cape Cod, Fishers, Battle Creek, Chicago and Denver. She also recalled Almon Preston as a most distinguished looking man with his trimmed beard and high silk hat. He spent many of his summers at the Fisher homestead. The Benjamin Freeman home on Cape Cod is still owned by the Freemans as is Benjamin's 6th great-grandfather's home at Sandwich, where Edmond Freeman died in 1682. The present generation of Fishers still visit there.
In the fall of 1884, Adeline Preston Fisher was driving a horse and buggy down the road of Zimmerman's hill after a severe cloud burst. At the point where the water was roaring through the culvert, the horse was frightened and tipped the buggy into the swollen stream. Her few-months' old baby, Almon Preston Fisher, was washed
into the culvert. Reese Reed, who happened to be nearby, pulled the baby out by his long dresses and revived him. This act, Irma said, endeared her father to all of the family.
Reese Reed continued the good farming tradition of the Park family and became one of the leading growers of potatoes. He with the Lanes, Fords, Bakers, Shillings, and Aldridges, made Fishers the largest shipping point for potatoes on the New York Central System, up to World War I. It was Mr. Reed who developed the Rochester Rose, a high quality potato, for the Vick Seed Co. of Rochester. He is credited with several others but the names are lost.
Irma's husband, Louis P. Locke, was the son of Fred M. Locke, the inventor of the porcelain insulator and oven glass. Louis was credited with being a very clever machinist and inventor. The Lockes lived at Park Place from shortly after World War I. During World War II, Louis hired machinists to turn out electronic parts which he invented. Afterwards, he was one of the founders of the Stever-Locke Co. of Honeoye Falls, a very successful enterprise.
The many friends of the Lockes are saddened at the passing of this family which so long had been an important part of the local scene.