Our Rural Past

As a pictorial history, this Gates bicentennial publication strives to enhance the viewer's visual literacy about the structures that surround us. The careful observer will find evidence of Gates' rural past throughout the town. This chapter notes a sampling of the remaining barns and other farm structures standing today, plus some noted barns of the past.


According to the 1885 Rochester Business Directory and Monroe County Directory, most residents in Gates at the time were farmers or worked in associated occupations. The population was 1,988 people and the town's area was 12,060 acres. Two hundred-nineteen farmers were listed in the 1885 directory, with 20 more living in the area known as "Cold Water." Seventy-seven men were listed as laborers or had other occupations affiliated with farming: three blacksmiths plus another three blacksmiths at Cold Water, and six gardeners. Other farm related occupations included seedsman (Joseph Harris of the Harris Seed Company on Buffalo Road), fruit evaporator, cider manufacturer, cooper, threshers, wagon and carriage makers, teamsters, and cartmen.

In the 1917 Farm Directory and Reference Book for Monroe and Livingston Counties, there were 5,971 farms listed in Monroe County with a county population of 283,212. Most of the farms in 1917 were between 20 and 174 acres with 5,631 farms reporting a total of 4,663,352 domestic animals, of which there were 27,858 cattle, 20,639 horses with 116 mules, 166,149 poultry, 13,231 swine, 59,794 sheep, and 3,700 colonies of bees.

Principal crops in Monroe County in 1917 were potatoes, oats, wheat, corn, and hay, listed in order of the number of bushels produced. Although statistics for Gates were not reported separately, this snapshot of the county provides an overview of how important farming was to the area at the time.

Also in 1917, Gates town officers were Supervisor Samuel McAuliffe, Assessors Ernest Krieger and Ernst Genrich (who had a Lincoln Park address, which reminds us that Gates extended quite far into what is now the City of Rochester at that time), and Town Clerk Frederick Rupel of Campbell Park (now also part of the City of Rochester). The highway superintendent of Gates in 1917 was Albert Unger of RFD Gates. Post offices in the town were at Cold Water, Lincoln Park, and Rochester, with the additional RFD (Rural Free Delivery) of Gates.

In 1917, there were four justices of the peace in Gates: Sebastian Person and Samuel Jackling, both of Lyell Avenue; Frank McMichael of Lincoln Park; and Frank Beaman of Coldwater. Judge Person operated a grocery store at the corner of Lyell Avenue and Field Road (present-day Mt. Read Boulevard), which was then a part of Gates. Judge Person is the grandfather of two former Gates town justices, Patrick S. Egan and David D. Egan. In addition, David Egan also served as a Monroe County Court judge and a New York State Supreme Court judge. The sources for many of the historical details in this chapter are from Daniel Fink's Farms of the Genesee Country, 1790–1915, and the Gates Historical Society's valued scrapbooks.

Hinchey Homestead late 1800s
The Hinchey Homestead With the Original Barns: This picture, circa the late 1800's, depicts the scope of the Hinchey Homestead's barns and the familiar white picket fence, a remnant of which remains in place to this day. William S. Hinchey, a town pioneer for whom Hinchey Road is named, settled south of Gates Center circa 1810 on the farm near the present-day intersection of Hinchey Road and Howard Road. His son Franklin built the family homestead in the 1870s that stands today. It is the only structure in the town on the National Register of Historic Places. At the time this photograph was taken, Hinchey Road was a dirt path leading from Chili Road into central Gates and the farm comprised more than 300 acres. The homestead remained in the Hinchey family until the Gates Historical Society acquired the site in 2002. The society transferred ownership to the Town of Gates in 2004.
Photograph courtesy of the Gates Historical Society.

The Hinchey Homestead Barn: This is the last remaining barn at the Hinchey Homestead. This three-story structure has a stone foundation and much of the lumber used in construction came from old railroad cars, with some of the original railroad wording still visible on the beams.

Holstien Bull
Holstein Bull with Hinchey Homestead Farm Hand: The Hinchey family introduced the Holstein breed of dairy cattle to the Town of Gates. Note the small windmill in the background.
Photograph courtesy of Gates Historical Society

Reber Barn
The Reber Barn on Buffalo Road: This classic hill barn, which allowed access to both the upper and lower floors, is another local landmark no longer standing. Note the old stone foundation.
Photograph courtesy of the Gates Historical Preservation Commission.

Girl at Pump
Children Needed on Farms: Family farms depended on well water for home and farm use. Often, children had the task of pumping water for their home. To see an example of a kitchen pump complete with basement cistern and attic holding tank, visit the Hinchey Homestead at 634 Hinchey Road.
Photograph courtesy of Gates Historical Society

Summer Hay
Summer Brought Haying Season. One marvels at how this hay wagon was loaded with so much hay, and even more, how those two horses managed to haul this large load.
Photograph courtesy of Gates Historical Society

Pond Ice
Pond Ice for Refrigeration: Cutting and storing ice was important for Gates farms in the age before the electric refrigerator. Many farms had a small icehouse where ice packed in sawdust was stored until needed for the kitchen icebox.
Photograph courtesy of Gates Historical Society



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