This old native limestone house near Camp's Mills on the Middle road to Sackets Harbor (see map below) was purchased by Edward E. Cobb and Maude H. Cobb on 5 July 1923, and has remained in the Cobb family ever since.  Ed Cobb purchased the house with its 95.75 acres of land from Miss Carrie M. Membery, daughter of George O. Membery and Melia I. Babbitt.  Prior to that, the property had been owned by the Membery family for 80 years.


         The Memberys were of an old English family, of which there were several among the first settlers of Sackets Harbor and the town of Hounsfield.  Amos Membery came from Devonshire, England to Sackets Harbor in the early days of this town, and later removed to Canada, where he died. Of his eight children, George was born in England, and in 1831 immigrated to America and located on a farm in the town of Adams, finally removed to Hounsfield, where he died in 1852, aged 49 years. He married Martha Orchard, daughter of Abram Orchard, of England, and they had one son, George O.

         George O. Membery was born in the neighboring town of Adams, where he lived many years, when he removed to Hounsfield and settled on this property, then owned by the Clark family. He married Melia I. Babbit, daughter of Daniel G. Babbit and Almira Ralph, of Pickney, New York and they had two children, George and Carrie M.

         The Membery house may have been constructed better than 180 years ago, but for whom it was built seems uncertain.  It is located in a great limestone area of Hounsfield, an area where there were not only quarries but kilns as well.  In spite of the fact that the Membery house follows extremely simple Georgian-colonial architectural lines, it is quite attractive.  The Masonry is exceptionally well done and enduringly sturdy.  The huge semi-circle of a gable window is a feature which seems to have not been duplicated in the other stone houses of this section.  Its immense size not only provides a large amount of light for the attic, but affords plenty of ventilation.


         Records in the county clerk's office state that the property of which this house and its 95.75 acres was a part was sold to George Membery May 9, 1843 by the heirs of Stephen Clark of Hounsfield for $3,800.  Stephen Clark was a native of Rhode Island, who removed to Madison County with the early settlers, and in 1836 located in Hounsfield on what was then known as the "Merrell premium farm," which he occupied until his death.


         Clark had purchased it April 11, 1836 from Hiram and Caroline Merrell for $7,500 and the land consisted of 181 acres three roods and 16 poles.  Merrill had acquired the property from Stephen and Elizabeth Seamans (Simmons), prominent settlers of Hounsfield, for $3,000 and Seamans had bought the property from Ezra Hounsfield and Peter Kemble, owners of the township for $1,500 on Sept. 9, 1810.  In fact, the town was named for Ezra Hounsfield, one of the original owners of this farm.


© Mark A. Wentling, 2000


SOURCES:


Childs, Hamilton. "Town of Hounsfield Family Sketches." Gazetteer of Jefferson County (1890). Available at [http://jefferson.nygenweb.net/childhou.htm].


Lane, David. "Old Houses of the North Country Remembered, No.115." Published by the Watertown Daily Times, date unknown (part of series, 1940's-1950's). Available in the Genealogy collection of the Flower Memorial Library, Watertown.


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