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History: Calvin Fillmore

 

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Millard actually held the mortgage on the 100-plus-acre spread where Calvin eked out a living from the land after constructing some of Dexter's most significant early buildings, including Gordon Hall. But aside from getting occasional financial help, Calvin never was able to capitalize on his brother's fame.

The brothers' parents, Nathaniel and Phoebe Fillmore, were tenant farmers in upstate New York; they had nine children in all. Millard, their oldest son, went on to become a successful Buffalo lawyer and political leader. He had already served a term in Congress when Calvin and Maranda (nee Waldo--she was a second cousin of poet-sage Ralph Waldo Emerson) arrived in Dexter in 1835. They were both twenty-five and had been married five years.

The Fillmores came to Dexter because "it was the thing to do and land was cheap," their great-great-grandson Nathaniel Charles Fillmore told Dexter historian Norma McAllister in a 1973 interview. Calvin was a carpenter, and the young village had plenty of work. A few months after arriving, he wrote to his brother Darius in Buffalo: "Buildings are very scarce and rent very high, that is dwellings suitable for houses. I have now on hand about $350 worth of work and have had offers enough to reach $1,000, but help is very scarce here."

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