Jacksonville - the forgotten village

Excerpt from the Livonia History, 1789-1989

Jacksonville had its beginning in approximately 1823, when Ichabod Andrew Holden , a prominent resident and distillery owner in Slab City (Hemlock) decided to expand his profitable operations. He built a second distillery one mile north of Hemlock at the foot of Holden's Hill, on a large tract of land he owned for several years.

As this also became profitable, a thriving little settlement began to grow. The first house was built by S.Truman Short , who farmed some 200 acres and raised cattle and sheep. Soon, there was erected a gristmill, a fulling mill, a sawmill, and a dry goods store; all of which Holden created and made so prosperous, that the place called Holdenville at first and later known as Jacksonville. So much business was done there that it was for many years a formidable rival of its neighboring city of Hemlock. It had more than one hundred homes with blacksmith, cooper and shoe shops, and was quite a center of trade, with a good grain market and cloth dress works.

Residents of Jacksonville had high hopes that someday their village would expand enough to join Hemlock, one mile to the south. Indeed at the rate it grew this might have been accomplished within a period of a few short years, but more progress was in the making in the central portion of the Town of Livonia. Most historians feel it was the building of the Erie Railroad through the central portion of the Town of Livonia that started the decline of Jacksonville. As the railroad came no closer than five miles from Jacksonville, merchants soon saw the advantages of being located closer to better transportation. One by one they began closing their mills and shops and moving to Livonia Station. The year was now 1853. The decline of Jacksonville was almost as rapid as its growth. By 1856 it was a ‘ghost town'. Its founder, Ichabod A. Holden had passed away. In that year his widow Elizabeth Holden sold all the remaining parcels of land and homes now owned by her.

In subsequent years the City of Rochester purchased most of the land the village was set upon. Their water line from Hemlock Lake to Rochester runs directly through the old village.

A New York State Education Department marker now stands approximately in the center of the site by the road, the only clue to the casual visitor, that the empty fields surrounding him once housed the hopes and dreams of our early forefathers.