458 Meylert St Laporte PA 18626
The land on which the property now known as the Baldwin House sits, was marked out as Lot #1 and the north half of Lot #2 of Michael Meylert’s original plot map plan of Laporte. Michael and his father, Secku Meylert, had been resident agents in New Milford, Susquehanna County for Clymer, Merideth, and Bingham land holdings. The Meylerts purchased 33,000 acres of land for themselves in what was to become Sullivan County during the early 1840’s with money borrowed largely from the Clymers. The Meylerts were among the prime movers in the creation of Sullivan County from Lycoming and were instrumental in the selection of their proposed village of Laporte as the county seat.
By 1850 there were six families living in Laporte, including that of William and Susan Fancher who acquired what is now referred to as the Baldwin House property from Meylert and Clymer. William Fancher was a carpenter and a member of a family which had settled in Susquehanna County near Montrose in 1807. He is recorded as having aided in the construction of the Lehigh Canal and “in building the first house in Laporte, Sullivan County. . .” It seems probably that he was brought to Laporte to work for the Meylerts and that he constructed this dwelling for his own family. The Fanchers had returned to Susquehanna County by 1863, at which time the Laporte property was sold to Benjamin L. Cheney for $500.00.
Benjamin L. and Amanda Reynolds Cheney had been residents of Laporte since at least 1856 when he was clerk of the Quarter Session Court and their eldest son, Charles F., was born. B.L. Cheney was a professional surveyor who served as County Surveyor from 1859 through 1865. In 1866 he “assisted” in the preliminary survey of the Muncy Creek Railway, later the Williamsport & North Branch Railroad. The Cheneys had two additional children, William M. and Rosalia (“Rose”).
At the time of his death in 1872 at age 57, B.L. Cheney owned the Baldwin House and a farm in Laporte Township. He also conducted a general store and the Laporte Post Office in a building on Main Street, dealing in “drugs, medicines, groceries, dry goods, etc.” (including hardware). Amanda Cheney, who was 21 years younger than her husband, inherited both the house and the position as postmaster. William M. Cheney, her younger son who died in 1921, owned and edited the Sullivan Republican newspaper from 1884 through 1896 and served a term as a Sullivan County Commissioner from 1890 through 1893. Charles F. Cheney built the Cliff Hotel in Eagles Mere in 1884, later owned a general store there, and also ran a seasonal restaurant there in the late 1920’s. Rose Cheney married first Bert Van Fleet and then Willis D. Edmister, a lawyer. They then lived in Binghamton, New York.
Amanda Cheney lived in the Baldwin House and may have had the Post Office there prior to her second marriage to Lewis Zaner in 1884, after which they moved to Muncy. Mr. Zaner died in 1887 and she probably returned to Laporte at that time, where she was a resident early in the twentieth century. For several years before Amanda’s death in 1922, however, she lived with her daughter, Rose, in Binghamton, and the Baldwin House was a summer “cottage” for that part of the family.
Charles F. Cheney and Rose Edmister, the surviving children, jointly inherited the property, but the Van Fleets and Edmisters were the ones who used it. A year before his death in 1929, Charles deeded his interest in the Laporte holdings to his sister, Rose. She and her family continued to use the Baldwin House as a summer residence until 1943 when it was sold to Harriet D. Murray who lived next door.
In 1946, Mrs. Murray, who had let the house sit empty, sold it to Guy M. and Margaret W. (“Peg”) Baldwin who moved into the house with their twin sons, Guy and Tony. Guy M. Baldwin had a coal business in Williamsport as well as several small sawmills in Sullivan County. Later he established a sawmill in Muncy Valley. Peg Baldwin taught English and Business at schools in Williamsport and Sonestown and also taught for many years at the Williamsport Technical Institute/Williamsport Area Community College/(Penn Tech). She was also the author or co-author of books and articles about Little League Baseball and Sullivan County history.
After the boys left home and her husband had died in 1969, Peg continued to reside in the house until ill health forced her to move. In 1995 the family sold the property to the County and the Historical Society for “non-commercial, historical purposes . . . providing the public with a glimpse into the past as it existed in Sullivan County.”
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