HISTORY MYSTERY: Moyers Corners
Although there is a discrepancy between different resources of the age of this house, this photo from an unknown source had 1871 as to when it was taken. Tax records say it was built in 1860. The 1855 Census for Nathan Teall, the first post master, says it was wooden. The 1875 Census for Abram Moyer says he lived at that address and since it is called the Moyer homestead on Moyers Corners, we accept that he probably built it. My story about one family who owned the property comes from Louise Brand Gillespy at age 86.
Louise was born in 1932 to Philip and Edith Brand, the fourth of five children. The others from the oldest were: Kenneth, Jeannie, Irene and Grace the youngest. She says Ken was always the boss over his four sisters. Their father was a share cropper, working on other peoples’ farms; the earliest she remembers was on Seventh North (now Henry Clay Blvd.), then on Mud Mill Road. Here she remembers Verna Scriber (Hughson) and Ruth Lewis as her neighbors. In 1939 when Louise was 16, Phillip bought the Moyer Farm, which she thinks was about 100 acres at that time. They grew everything without a tractor at first, just a horse to plow the fields. The milk from the cows they sold in Syracuse and the pigs they butchered and smoked in the brick smoke house next to the brick outhouse behind the main house. They could still be seen there into the 1990’s.
Although a large house, the four girls all slept in one bedroom upstairs in double beds. A chimney went up through their room but she remembers freezing in winter and roasting in summer. All five children had chores to do on the farm but it was fun and didn’t seem like work. Of course, in summer they canned for the winter, especially tomatoes and strawberries, and made jelly and preserves. When he did buy a truck, Philip would spread lime on local farms with help from Kenneth. Also, they always had a big garden stand in front of the house to sell vegetables. A farmer on Henry Clay Blvd, would bring his melons for them to sell. (This farmer years ago told me his melons sold so well, he had the mortgage for his farm paid off in two seasons.) They also would occasionally take their chickens and eggs to the Farmers Market.
The children attended Belgium school on Gaskin Road just off Route 31. The original building was a log schoolhouse built in 1809 and in 1812, it was replaced with a frame building. When Louise attended, there were two rooms – the little room for first to fourth grade and the big room for fifth to eighth. For high school, Louise and Grace went to Baldwinsville. Irene and Jeannie attended North Syracuse because they had already started before the move to Moyers Corners. After finishing school, Louise worked at Morris Machine, a defense plant in Baldwinsville for $.25 an hour, considered pretty good in those days. She wanted a job at the “Munitions Dump”, now Radisson, but it was so secret and impossible to get a job there.
In 1946, her sister Irene married Ellis Bort and they moved into the Moyer House. Prior to that in 1945, Philip had put in two inside bathrooms. He added an entrance on the east side of the building to an apartment on the second floor for them where Irene also had her beauty shop. In 1947, Louise married Cecil Gillespy and they moved into the front west part of the Moyer House. Their parents had an apartment in the front east part of the house. It became a three family home.
Just north of the house was where Louise and Cecil had their own little garden., strawberries being their favorite crop. However, Philip donated that piece of his farm so that the first Moyers Corners Fire Department station could be built in 1948. Her brother, Kenneth started it and her son-in-law, Thomas Delasin, years later wrote a book on the 50th Anniversary. When the present station was built on the west side of Route 57, the old station was rented out and in 1989 it burned down. Until her death, Irene lived in her home on a piece of the farm on Route 31 and Louise lived in her home on a piece of the farm on Route 57 until her death.
Dorothy Heller, Historian