Agnes Sproul (1856 -1929)
11, 38, 58 South Main Street
Millinery was a lifelong passion of Miss Agnes Sproul. In 1884, she purchased the millinery business of Mrs. William Bly, then located in the Bown block, later occupied by the Clark Building.
Sproul learned the business from Mrs. Bly. Nine years later, she moved her business to the second story of the Henry block. Nine years after that, she moved to Schummer’s block on Main Street south of the canal. Nine years later, in 1911, she rented a store in the Storms block as her previous site was taken by the state for the barge canal.
In 1903, she purchased the millinery business of Miss Mabel Collins at Macedon to run this business as a branch of her Fairport store. Miss Lizzie Dillon, an assistant for four years in Fairport, headed the Macedon store, and Miss Emma Worthing of Fairport headed Miss Sproul’s branch at Despatch.
In 1919, Sproul sold her business to two women, Miss Daisy Kohler and Mrs. Cora Wooden. They had learned the millinery trade from her for many years. Their new business was named Kohler and Wooden.
The Fairport Herald noted that the new owners are “well qualified and prepared to take hold of the business and carry it along to the same high degree of satisfaction to the store’s clientele as characterized its conduct under Miss Sproul’s management.”
After selling her business, she assisted other milliners, such as Hazel Bancroft, in Newark. Sproul was an experienced trimmer. She was recognized as one of the most capable milliners in this region of the state.
Advertisements of Sproul’s “Charming Millinery” in local newspapers include a variety of hats and garments, including pattern hats, untrimmed hats, ready-to-wear hats, Paris style hats, bonnets, infant’s muslin bonnets, two-to-seven gore walking skirts, and corsets. Seasonal clearance sales and Double Green trading stamps were customer bonuses.
In 1923, the Fairport National Bank was looking to expand and purchased Agnes Sproul’s house and lot at 58 Main Street to build a modern, up-to-date banking institution. Her house was subsequently purchased by Allen G. Filkins.
Sproul was very active in the Order of the Eastern Star*. She held many offices, including marshal, grand marshal, associate matron, worthy matron, trustee, chaplain, and program chairperson. She hosted gatherings of past matrons, the Nellie Smith Taylor Club, at her home and was treasurer of this group.
On February 8, 1922, she participated in a debate sponsored by the OES, an exercise that addressed a question that had “puzzled mankind for centuries”: “Resolved, that there is more happiness in single blessedness than in double blessedness.” (In other words, single life is happier than married life). “The affirmative was upheld by Miss Elizabeth Hill, Miss Lulu Lippincott and Miss Agnes D. Sproul, who produced telling arguments drawn from life’s experiences…The oratory nearly raised the roof.” The result of the debate: “Single Blessedness [Is] Best.”
Sproul enjoyed short motor trips to places like the Thousand Islands, and longer, more grand ones. One very grand one was a two-month group excursion that set sail from Montreal on June 27, 1925, visiting Scotland, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and France.
Agnes Sproul died on December 5, 1929, at the home of Mrs. Minnie Taylor, and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
“Bank Occupies New Building.” The Herald.” August 13, 1924.
“Business Change.” The Fairport Herald, February 26, 1919.
“December 5, 1929 – 10 Years Ago.” Fairport Herald-Mail, December 7, 1939.
“Delightful Event Honors O.H. Adams.” Fairport Herald Mail, December 10, 1925.
“Eastern Star Installation.” Monroe County Mail, January 5, 1922.
“Eastern Star Order Installs Its Officers.” The Fairport Herald, January 5, 1921.
“Eastern Stars.” Fairport Herald-Mail, January 7, 1926.
“Eastern Stars Elect Officers.” Monroe County Mail, December 19, 1918.
“Eastern Stars Twinkle.” Monroe County Mail, January 7, 1915.
“Fairport Chapter, O.E.S. Receives Grand Officers.” Fairport Herald, March 19, 1925.
“Hardy Party Tours Europe This Summer.” The Fairport Herald. April 23, 1925.
“Home News.” Monroe County Mail. April 2, 1903.
“Local News and Personal Items: The Week’s Events Given in Short Paragraphs.” The Herald-Mail, September 16, 1926.
Lockwood, Mrs. W.A., Editor, and Mrs. C.G. Dewitt, Assistant Editor, Fairportian, a Women’s Edition. Fairport, NY, December 4-6, 1895.
Monroe County Mail, January 4, 1923.
Monroe County Mail, October 15, 1908.
“O.E.S. Installation.” The Fairport Herald. January 9, 1918.
“Single Blessedness Best.” The Fairport Herald, February 8, 1922.
“Some Interesting Local Events Mentioned in the Mail, One Year Ago Today.” Monroe County Mail, April 14, 1904.