Jacob Fenton – Bicentennial Biography No. 22

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.

Photo by Paul Kidder

Jacob Fenton was a native of Mansfield, Conn. and was a potter by trade. He was the second cousin of George Fenton, father to future governor Reuben E. Fenton. He enlisted in the continental army at the age of 15 and served in the Revolutionary War.

In 1813, Jacob arrived in Chautauqua County from Burlington, N.Y. and started a pottery business in Mayville. The following year, James Prendergast convinced him to move his operation to “The Rapids” – under a promise of assistance in building a tavern house and pottery. Fenton’s businesses – the first Pottery and Hotel in Jamestown– were located southeast of the present intersection of Main and 2nd Streets. The house faced the keelboat landing, and extended to Potter’s Alley, so named from the adjoining pottery.

Jacob ultimately removed to Fluvanna, where he resumed his trade, and died June 21, 1822, aged 57 years.  His son, William Fenton, took over the business and would become a prominent member of the community. He served for a time as deputy sheriff and from 1823 to 1871 served as Ellicott Town Justice.

Ref: City of Jamestown Historical Marker Program; Young’s History of Chautauqua County; History of Chautauqua County, NY and its People; Geneological and family history of Wetern New York: a Record of, volume 2

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– J. Sample

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