On the evening of April 5, 1814, the Town of Sweden was born at a town meeting held at the home of Reuben Stickney, on the corner of Lake and Swamp Roads. This meeting was held in accordance with the April 1813, State Legislature enacted bill that required the large township of Genesee County to be split into three new towns named Bergen, Sweden and Murray.
Sweden, Township 3 of the Triangular Tract, was incorporated in 1814 and included, at that time, the Town of Clarendon in Orleans County. The Triangular Tract lies between the Phelps and Gorham Purchase and the Holland Purchase on the west. Originally owned by Robert Morris, purchased in 1801 by LeRoy, Boyard and Everts of New York City, it was surveyed and laid out into lots that same year by Richard Stoddard. In 1802, Lake Road was opened from LeRoy to Lake Ontario that allowed access and purchase of lots.
Population of the Town: 14,175 (2010 Census)
Brief history and interesting facts about the Town:
Although Sweden was officially founded in 1814, there were settlers here before 1806. The development of the Erie Canal created a stopping point as the canal ended in Sweden in 1823. (It was not continued east on to Fairport until 1825.) In 1829, the Village of Brockport was founded.
Farming flourished in the area with such crops as wheat, corn and hops. The canal access allowed easy shipping of such commodities as well as the receiving of supplies.
In 1832-33, the Baptist Collegiate Institute was founded bringing higher education to the Town. In this same year, the first fire company was founded.
The 1850’s to the 1860’s was a prosperous time. The NY Central Falls Line railroad transported milk to Buffalo and large wheat crops to Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. There were several farming industries in the area, the Johnston Harvester Co. and the Seymour, Morgan and Allen Co. which invented the Morgan Reaper, an improvement on the McCormick Reaper which was also manufactured here.
It was during this same decade that a local author, Mary Jane Holmes, published her second novel, Lena Rivers, which sold over one half a million copies. By 1907, the year she died, she had written over 40 novels. Mansions sprang up in the Village, several of which are still standing.
During the Civil War years, 1861-1864, 293 soldiers served from Sweden. It is interesting to note that in those days, a conscripted soldier could pay someone to go in his place. After the war, during the years 1867-1869, the Baptist Collegiate Institute became the Brockport Normal School and included a school for high school age children in the area. The first parochial school, Nativity, was created in 1876. This was also the year that the Monroe County Fair was held in Sweden. By this time, there were other businesses in Town such as the Moore Publishing Company (1845) a national subscription service, the Schafer Shoe Factory and the Capen Piano Works. In 1877, there was a big fire on Market Street which destroyed all Town records from 1850-1877.
The Soldier-Sailor Monument was built in 1893 to honor the Civil War dead. In the mid-1900’s the Soldier’s Tower, as it became known, fell into a state of disrepair. After several private attempts at restoration of the Tower, the Town of Sweden acquired the property in 2012 and began preserving and repairing the remaining structure.
The turn of the century brought the Spanish American War (1898) in which nine people in the area served.
In the 1900’s, the Daily Canning Co. began with the manufacture of jams and jellies. This later became the Daily Wheat Co. and later still, the A&P Co., then Kleen-Brite. In 1912, an area water system was constructed which drew water from Lake Ontario. It is still in operation today!
In 1908, the Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester Trolley started up. The year 1917 brought World War I in which approximately 184 men served from the Town. An interesting fact is that the shortest soldier to serve in that war came from Sweden, a Mr. Coleman, who was only four feet, eleven inches. There was an influenza epidemic in 1918 which affected nearly everyone in Town. In 1924, the rural schools in the area were consolidated into the Brockport Central School District, the first such consolidation in Monroe County.
In 1929, the Great Depression began. In spite of the Depression, the Button Factory was built. In addition, the Brockport Hospital, situated in the Manley-Schaffer house on south Main Street, became the Lakeside Memorial Hospital. The Prose and Poetry Series, published by Singer Co. was compiled by Fanny Avery of Brockport. (Most school children used these books until the 1950’s.)
In 1934, the public library moved to a new location in the Seymour house. Also in 1934, the area suffered a big freeze that killed all the apple orchards. In this time period, the Brockport Central High School was built and dedicated. In 1936, Brockport became known nationally because of the Idaho Case. This was a famous trial in which Judge Homer Benedict put a dog on trial for drowning a local citizen in the canal.
In 1938-1946, the Brockport Normal School expanded under Mr. Hartwell, who prepared it for its becoming part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system and its huge expansion in the mid 1960’s.
In World War II (1941-1945) 490 residents of the Town served. In 1948, General Electric built a plant in Sweden. The 1950’s and 1960’s brought more growth and change to the Town. Lakeside Memorial Hospital was erected at its present site on West Avenue, a local airport started on Colby Street, (dedicated in 1988 as a relief airport for Rochester small aircraft), Owens Illinois built a plant, and a quarry began on Swamp Road.
At this time, all rural and grammar schools were closed and the children were transported by bus to Brockport Central.
In the late 1960’s, Brockport College expanded and Sweden Village, the first housing development, began. The Towns of Sweden, Clarkson and the Village of Brockport formed the Joint Recreation Commission – one of the first inter-municipal entities in New York State. The commission remained active for 40 years until it was replaced by a full-time recreation program supported by Sweden and Clarkson. In 1969, Sweden left its Town Hall on King Street and renovated a former grocery store into a new Municipal Building for the Town and the Village of Brockport on State Street.
In 1979, SUNY Brockport was the site of the Special Olympics. The 1980’s brought more growth and expansion with the construction of the Sweden Senior Center, several new apartment complexes and shopping plazas. In the late 1980’s, Agricultural Districts were formed to protect farmland and in 1993, The Town passed a Right to Farm Law.
Sweden was a bedroom community/college town/agricultural power situated on the Erie Canal with two operating lift bridges, eleven active churches, two libraries (Seymour Library and the Drake Library at the college), a small community-based symphony, five volunteer fire companies, six cemeteries, a share of Northampton County Park, an expanded Senior Center and three museums.
In 1992, the Seymour Library left its State Street location and moved to a more spacious structure on East Avenue. The Brockport Central School District added a third elementary school, the Fred Hill School, and extensively renovated the high school. Main Street was declared a Historic Business District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The early 2000’s saw the Town take bold new steps to improve recreational programs and facilities for its residents. The State of New York turned over a largely-undeveloped 156-acre piece of land on Redman Road for the purpose of creating a Town Park. Over the next decade, the Town installed six soccer/lacrosse/football fields, a full-size tournament quality baseball field, a skate park, disc golf course, nature trails, sand volleyball courts; refurbished existing youth baseball fields and built the infrastructure to support public programming.
At the same time, the Town Board pursued the development of indoor recreation facilities by securing the donation of a 30,000 square foot building valued at $3 million, in the Town’s commercial hub. Opening in 2002, the Sweden/Clarkson Community Center offers a full-range of recreational, social and educational programs for residents of all ages. A 2009 addition expanded the popular fitness center.
In the early 2000’s the Town became the stewards of Lakeview Cemetery, a 70-acre active cemetery atop the Niagara Escarpment. The Sweden Farmers Museum opened in 2005 in the former cemetery caretaker’s home and barn. A mostly volunteer effort returned the caretaker’s house to a mid-1800’s look. The mission of the Farmers Museum is to preserve and celebrate the Town’s agricultural heritage. In 2009 Lakeview Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Town was extremely active in water district expansion during the early 2000’s. In fact, the 5 water districts formed were the first undertaken by the Town in 30 years. More than 200 rural properties gained access to public water. In addition, in 2006 the Town undertook its first public sewer expansion project in 30 years.
In 2012, The College at Brockport opened a multi-million dollar Special Event and Recreation Center (SERC) and began construction on the first new academic building in decades. Also in 2012, the Brockport Fire District was formed, the newly created entity assumed fire protection services from the village fire department. Staff Sgt. Nick Reid, a native of the Town of Sweden and 2004 graduate of Brockport High School, died December 12, 2012 of wounds sustained in Sperwan Village, Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Reid was interred in Lakeview Cemetery and in 2013 the annual Harvest Festival 5K Run was renamed in his memory. It was also proposed to rename the Brockport Post Office in Staff Sgt. Reid’s memory.
As the Town of Sweden moves forward into its third century, it remains committed to the elements that have made it successful for 200 years – agriculture, education, recreation and community service.