Until the late 19th century and even into the 20th, Pittsford was primarily an agricultural community. Yet Pittsford can boast of being one of the oldest manufacturing communities in what is now Monroe County.
Simon Stone, one of the two founders of the town that became Pittsford, established a gristmill in 1791 on Irondequoit Creek about one and one half miles east of what is now Pittsford Village. The mill was at the point where the creek now passes underneath the Erie Canal at the Great Embankment. This was the beginning of the milling industry in all of Northfield.
Soon after building the gristmill, Stone erected a sawmill. With the arrival of this mill, trees could be turned into logs and logs could be tuned into boards and those boards could be used for building frame houses, thus giving the community a more settled look - a more permanent look, which would attract more families and grow into a thriving place.
Simon Stone operated this mill for 14 years after which it was sold to Caleb Nye who sold to John Mann within 3 days. Perhaps Caleb Nye decided quickly that a miller's life was not for him. John Mann enlarged the mill and did much more business than had Stone or Nye. Mann's flour became quite famous throughout the early pioneer settlements.
John Mann operated this business until his death in 1826. In 1827, Mann's heirs sold the Mill and all of the property to Emerson and Richardson, which at that time comprised 53 acres. Eventually Emerson sold his interest to his partner Richard Richardson. After Richardson became the sole owner, he purchased more property and increased its size to 85 acres in the area that became known as Cartersville.
On the present East Street about 20 yards from Route 96, stands an Historic Marker announcing that Cartersville was located near this spot where there had been a large basin and "turn-around" for boats. Here besides the Mill and a warehouse that had been erected by Richardson, was a Distillery operated in 1857 by Samuel M. Spencer. The basin was an offshoot of the canal in which boats came in to load flour and produce, and also to unload corn for the distillery and to take on cargos of barrels of whiskey. The canal boatmen had a clever trick for getting whiskey without paying or leaving a trace of their escapade. They would drive a thin caseknife between the staves of the barrel and spread them just enough to let the liquid trickle out. They then turned the barrel over a pail until they had what they wanted; withdrew the caseknife and the staves would close up leaving no sign of their indulgence. Only their breath or their stagger might give them away.
The warehouse at Carters Basin was used for storing flour awaiting shipment. During the time that Richardson operated this Mill, he did a large business and many boat loads of lour went from Richardson's to New York City and other eastern markets. He also shipped considerable flour to Canada.
Richard and his son, Cavie, operated the Mill for 18 years. After it was sold in 1880, a series of owners and bankruptcies ensued, until it was finally sold to John P. Jaeschke who operated the business until 1913 when he sold the Mill property to the State of New York at the time of the enlargement of the canal.
No longer is there a large house that was used by many different millers and owners. Nothing is left of the mill except a few foundation stones. The dam is gone but the creek ripples merrily along. Modern ways of producing flour have destroyed these picturesque old Mills; the streams have destroyed their dams and there is little left of a former thriving industry. As you drive along Route 96 from Pittsford towards Bushnell's Basin, look to your right, down over the guardrail, and you might see the area where Simon Stone built his mill in 1793.