Updated: Nov 4, 2021
By Jasmine Willis
NORTH COHOCTON – The local candy store has some deep roots in the history of this community.
On Oct. 18 the Cohocton Town Historian and Olde Country Store and More-1849 unveiled a historic marker.
Jeff Wells, Olde Country Store and More-1849 owner has worked hard creating his own brand within the comforts of the store he loved as a child. He created The Green Heart of the Finger Lakes that has taken off in recent times. He has a German Corner in the back of the store that contributes to German Heritage. He brought German/American Christmas Market. He has now focused on History Matters on the upper floor to share the rich history of the store with everyone.
“I feel really proud to be part of this and thankful to everyone who helped make it happen. I am excited to have the historical sign to give the building the validation it deserves. Next, we need to get it on the National Register of Historical Places. We want to keep this iconic building since 1873 for generations of people to enjoy,” he said. “What really makes this place special is the hard creaky floors, smell of old barn wood, and the feeling that you are standing in a historic monument.”
Wells said there have been a few German groups touring the store since it has caught on with the Green Heart of the Finger Lakes. There are many local Germans who come in to shop at the German Corner. Wells continues to expand and enrich the childhood candy store. It has many fond memories for people all across the region.
Cohocton Town Historian, Geraldine Deusenbery worked with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for a couple years to get this historic marker at this nearly 200-year-old store.
Barbara Briglin owned the store from 1955 to 1977 with her husband Robert. Together they carried on the legacy from Robert’s father, Charles who partnered with Henry Wolfanger. Barbara shared how her husband was responsible for the deli and giant cheese wheels in the back of the store. Todd Briglin, Barbara’s son said his parents ran two stores at the same time. A furniture store in Naples, and the famous candy store in North Cohocton.
Robert Briglin added the barn wood that gives the store its unique rustic charm. He came upon the wood by scouting out fallen down barns. His father, Charles lived in the big white house on the corner up the street from the store. It truly was a family-run business.
Kelly Briglin, Barbara’s daughter recalls the time capsule her family put in the front step in the 1960s. Her snoopy doll was placed in the time capsule to get her to stop playing with it. She said all of the children and her parents contributed to the time capsule.
Jack Zigenfus, Former Cohocton Town supervisor gifted the Wells Family with the original wooden mailbox to the store.
Deusenbery shared the heart of this one building that has reached generations. It all started in 1847.
“Orlando Wetmore Jr. came from Candice around 1847 and ran a store on this corner. That store burned down and was rebuilt in 1849. Hence the name on the current store being Olde Country Store and More-1849,” she said. “Orland’s brother, Nelson Ames Wetmore joined the enterprise, and the store became known as the ‘Wetmore Brothers’. Nelson bought out his brother and Orlando moved to Missouri. It was around this time that Nelson Wetmore built the current store. According to several articles found in the Naples Record in 1873, Nelson moved the old store from the corner of Wayland Street and Depot Street to its present location. It was a ‘massive three-story building, which was described as second to none in the country.”
In the reign of Nelson Wetmore, the store saw a significant impact on the small community.
“The upstairs of the store was called ‘Wetmore Hall’ and was according to ‘Naples Record’ dedicated on Christmas Eve 1873. See the double doors on the right that led up to Wetmore Hall, which served the community for many events; shows, phrenological lectures, concerts, roller skating for ten cents, and it even served as a place to vote for the town election in 1936,” Deusenbery said. “Later, Nelson Wetmore’s son Edwin Wetmore sold the store to Henry Wolfanger and Henry Pierce around 1898 and it was changed to ‘Wolfanger and Pierce’. The owners were referred to as ‘The two Hanks’. Wolfanger and Pierce advertised in the NCA yearbook and in an ad in 1916 talked about everything to eat, wear and had a licensed pharmacist.”
“When Henry Pierce died, Henry Wolfanger became the sole owner and the store was called ‘Wolfanger’s General Store’. Charles Briglin worked for Henry Wolfanger, so when Wolfanger retired in 1955, Charles and Marion Briglin took over. In March 1956 an ad read ‘Grand Opening of Wolfanger’s’ There were prizes for everyone. When Charles Briglin died his son Robert Briglin took over and changed the name to ‘Briglin’s Olde Country Store’. Robert Briglin was the one who installed all the barn wood in the store. He and his wife, Barbara added the ‘Early American’ theme and items upstairs,” Deusenbery continued. “ In 1977, Frank and Kathleen Duserick became owners and changed it to ‘Duserick’s Olde Country Store’. In 1983, Thomas and Ellen Park owned the store and called it ‘Park’s Olde Country Store’. In 1993, Susan Carmen Wissick became owner and changed it to ‘Kinfolks Olde Country Store’. Jody Coats bought it in 1996 and kept the name. In 1999 the store celebrated 150 years.”
For the first time in the stores stellar history it shut its doors in 2008. This crushed the local town to its very core.
“In 2011, the store was saved by Jack Bolster and James Conrad, who repaired the roof, windows, and painted the outside. In 2015, The Wells Family bought the store and reopened it with a German touch calling it ‘Olde Country Store and More-1849,” Deusenbery concluded.” We would like to thank the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for the marker, Sandy Booth and Blanche Warner for the newspaper clippings, Rachel Mehlenbacher and the girls at the county clerk’s office for the deeds and historical documents. We want to thank Jeff Wells and his daughters for their interest in the history of this store and Barry Fairbrother for digging the hole for the sign.”
Olde Country Store and More-1849 is located at 2 University Ave. It is open Weds. to Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed Mon. and Tues. You can contact them at 585-534-5747. Check them out at https://ocs1849.com/