Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 22, 2014

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: The Pomeroy/Mrowka family homestead

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When Daniel Pomeroy arrived in Niagara County from Connecticut in 1810, he found an almost unbroken wilderness in what was then the Town of Cambria. He turned off the Old Niagara Road on to a path that is now Leete Road and headed south up the Niagara Escarpment to present-day Lower Mountain Road. At this intersection, he built a log cabin, then went back to Connecticut to get his wife. 

When they arrived back in Cambria, “as fast as he cleared the land of trees, he planted each year sufficient corn and wheat for the use of his family, planning no doubt as most settlers did on having some extra grain for new settlers or for neighbors who might lose their crops. Land not needed for grain or garden crops he planted to fruit trees which he obtained from Lewiston. He was one of the first fruit growers on the Lower Mountain Road.”

During the War of 1812, Pomeroy served under General Winfield Scott and saw action at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October of that year. After the war, Pomeroy returned to his land and began to once again plant crops.

Then came the devastating season of 1816, the year without a summer. Crops failed all around — but not for Pomeroy and his half-brother Jabez, who settled down on the Leete Road. For some reason, being on the Niagara Escarpment, they escaped the killing frosts that occurred every month that summer. The following year they were able to sell their corn crop at record prices.

After clearing more land and establishing himself as a prosperous farmer, in 1823, Pomeroy built the frame house that still stands on Lower Mountain Road today. The five-over-five bay Federal-style house with a wing on the west side was recently painted a light blue color, after being white for most of its existence. 

Due to the fact that the house was so large for its time, it became a gathering spot for early settlers and even Native Americans who were passing through the area. The Pomeroys allowed visitors to spend the night in front of one of the large fireplaces in the house. 

In 1876, while the house was still in the Pomeroy family, Norman, Daniel’s son, went to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where he picked up some English walnuts and transplanted them in the yard behind his house. It was anyone’s guess as to whether the nuts would grow or if the trees would survive the harsh Niagara County winters. The trees not only survived but they thrived, and by 1900 the property was being referred to as the “Pomeroy English Walnut Farm.” The family shipped young trees and nuts all over the county. In the 1950s many of the trees still existed behind the house. 

Norman Pomeroy also raised geese on the family farm. The story goes that some geese flying south took shelter in one of the Pomeroy barns, and he was able to capture, breed and sell them. 

The property was in the Pomeroy family for over one 100 years until 1935, when it was purchased by the Frank Mrowka family. That family still owns the property today.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.