Angus house in Benton
(Reprinted from The Chronicle-Express January 18, 1954)
One of the most interesting cobblestone houses of the region is now numbered among the century owned farmsteads of Yates county. Located on the west side of Route 14, about three miles north of Dresden, it has been in the Angus family for well over 100 years and was built by Charles Angus, grandfather of the present owner, George Angus, sometime between 1832 and 1846.
What is more, the cobblestones that went into the home were picked up from the fields surrounding it, the mortar that binds them together was made from limestone gathered from the farm and burned on the hill just above the house, and then lumber grown on the place.
The reddish cobblestones are noticeably rougher than the water-worn cobblestones from Lake Ontario’s shore that were used in the building of the former George Earl home that stands on old Route 14, less than two miles north of the Angus home, and is now owned by E. S. Boerner. Mr. Angus was old that seven carloads of Ontario stones were drawn over to build this other fine cobblestone house.
From Scotland to Seneca Land
The Anguses have lived in the Seneca Lake section for 153 years and of course, have made their mark upon the land with one of Seneca’s prominent points south of the Angus home bearing their name. Walter Angus, great-grandfather of the present owner, came from Scotland to America in 1798, moving to the Seneca location in 1800, when according to family history, there was no one living on the road between Geneva and Dresden except a French family residing in what is now the Fred Powers place a few miles north.
Charles Angus extended his father’s holdings, acquiring an additional 100 acres in 1831 from a man named Carpenter. Here in a log house George Angus’ uncle, George W. Angus was born in 1832, and in 1846 William David Angus, father of the present owner, was born in the cobblestone house. An aunt, Maria Angus, was also born here.
On March 7, 1882, George Angus, who now lives alone in the home, was born in the same house. He has lived there ever since except for a decade when he lived on his uncle George’s place and worked it. The three farms that originally formed the holdings of members of the Angus family have since been divided into separate sections of about 60 acres each.
George Angus owns the homestead, Terry Dalton now owns the part that belonged to Charles Angus, and Seward Bartholomew owns the portion that once belonged to George Angus.
Stone Upon Stone
A surprising feature of the Angus homestead is that the walls are 18 to 20 inches thick and made of fieldstone also gathered from the surrounding land. Upon these rugged walls was arranged the veneer of cobblestones, the “goose eggs” that form the outside walls, the stones selected and so turned as to appear of almost exactly the same size, with a faint herringbone pattern formed by slanting successive rows in opposite directions.
The cornerstones, cornice blocks, and window ledges were brought in from Waterloo. There are 11 rooms in the house, with the wallpaper in the front hall, a classic bird pattern, over 100 years old and still well preserved. The back part of the house was built first and consisted of two large rooms, containing “bed sinks” or alcoves where the family slept. The distinctive and delicate lattice woodwork of the front porch is still in good repair for century-old wood.
Mr. Angus has always understood that the building of the Erie Canal that brought posterity to many persons throughout the region fostered the construction of these rather elaborate cobblestone homes. the majority of them were built between 1830 and 1855. Mr. Angus’ father owned and operated a tugboat on Seneca Lake, carrying grain in the good ship “Little Broadhorn” to Watkins.
Mother from Mag’s Mill
Mr. Angus’ mother was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Frey of May’s Mills and married William Angus in 1880, and she used to recall that Seneca Lake froze over in its entirety during one of her first winters on the Angus place. Mr. Angus himself recalls when it froze all the way to Watkins Glen some 40 years ago and in support of his statement quoted from the Yates County Chronicle of Feb. 18, 1914, where it was recorded that Seneca Lake had frozen entirely over in 1855, 1885 and Feb. 11, 1912.
The Fall Brook railroad was put through below the Angus home in 1876. There in the large 1890’s father and uncle sold coal at Angus station, where three passenger trains each way stopped daily,
The present owner of the Angus house was educated in rural schools and Geneva High School. Widely read, his interests are many and broad, and at 71 years of age, he still keeps four cows and faithfully works as much of the land as he is able.