Isaac S. Hobbie (1820 – 1909)
by Doris Davis-Fritsch
The Hobbies (Hobby) came from England to this country soon after 1620. At the age of eleven years Isaac moved with his parents to Irondequoit, NY where he was reared on a farm. He was educated in the public schools of that town and of Rochester, and finished at Macedon Academy in Wayne County. At the age of twenty-one, he was elected town superintendent of schools of Irondequoit and served one term. He taught school in Monroe County about eight years. In 1848, he married Emily Ayrault. They lived in Rochester where he was superintendent of public schools, on the Board of Education and involved in founding the Rochester Free Academy.
He then engaged in the manufacture of water and gas pipe and the construction of water and gas works, having factories at Elmira and Tonawanda, N. Y. In 1865 he moved to Elmira, where he became an active member of the Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was president for several years. There he and his wife joined the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher's Congregational church, of which they are still members. In 1877 the two factories were consolidated and Mr. Hobbie removed to Tonawanda, where he continued business until 1886, when he withdrew,* being succeeded by Ayrault, Charlton & Co. He then moved to Fairport, Monroe County, where he has served as justice of the peace for four years.
In 1850 he became a charter member of Company L, Rochester City Dragoons, of the 54th Regiment, and remained with that organization until its disbandment after the Civil War, being at the time the only one in continuous connection and having served as captain for several years. During the Rebellion the regiment volunteered its services and was sent to Elmira, where it did guard duty. Mr. Hobbie also manifested his patriotism for the Union cause by actively recruiting men for the service. Another important event in his career, should be recorded, as it places him among the foremost benefactors of the time.
In 1879 he wrote and published an article in the Tonawanda Index (of which his son was editor), advocating the feasibility of harnessing the great power of Niagara Falls by constructing a tunnel similar to the one just completed. This is believed to have been the first suggestion of the kind ever offered, and its results have shown the practicability of his plan, although the original idea has been attributed to others.
Mr. and Mrs. Hobbie had three children, by whom they had eight grandchildren (1904). Their children were John A., of Tonawanda, Alice Emily (Mrs. Charles C. Roosa), and Dr. George S., of Buffalo. Their sons were prominently connected with the well-known Buffalo Asthmatic Institute.
For more on important historic personages that have lived or contributed to our community visit the People of Perinton page.
* Hobbie’s son John worked in his father’s business, per Elmira Star-Gazette 10.4.1909. It is interesting that the new firms name is Ayrault, Charlton & Company. Miles Ayrault, Emily’s younger brother was living in Tonawanda in 1904 per Monroe Cty Mail article of 12.1.1904.
 Landmarks of Monroe County, by E. M. Moore, M. D 1895
 Monroe County Mail 12.1.1904
 Landmarks of Monroe County, by E. M. Moore, M. D. 1895