According to the list I’ve been using that gives some provenance for the streets in Cortland, James A. Calvert is the only person to have two streets named after him. James Alexander Calvert was born on April 5, 1815, to John Calvert and Isabell Storey. His father John came to the United States at 18 years old. He and two brothers came over from Scotland. They eventually moved to this area and settled in Virgil in 1800. They had a 300-acre farm which included Virgil Corners. When they moved here, there were about 30 people living in Virgil and only 3-4 houses in the village of Cortland. John and Isabell moved from Virgil to South Cortland where they amassed 600 acres and raised their 13 children (7 boys and 6 girls).
James Calvert was the 6th child, and at an early age, he was known for his “piety, integrity, and conscientious devotion to duty.” In 1846, he married Olive A. Betts of Cortland and they had 5 children. Olive died in 1869 and James was remarried in 1879 to Emily Haviland of Athens, Green County.
Unfortunately, there is very little information about James A. Calvert in our trusty Cortland histories. I did find that Henry Corcoran purchased the bottling works, which was started by Calvert, in 1884 from him. That was all I could find in our files and books as far as Calvert’s business dealings. Using city directories, the 1888 map of Cortland, and the 1876 atlas of Cortland County, I was able to find that his home on the corner of Prospect and James was at 40 Prospect, a home which still stands today. His obituary noted that he was known to be just and fair, and although “quiet and retiring,” he was always willing to go out of his way with “such kind acts as he might to smooth the way for others feet.”
James A. Calvert owned a substantial amount of property when he died, as I found in a newspaper article about the estate sale.
~House and lot at 22 Elm Street
~Brick house and lot at the corner of Prospect and James (his home)
~Vacant lots on the east and west sides of the property owned by the Cortland Water Works. Water tanks had to be sold together with the property.
~Vacant lot at the corner of Prospect and Calvert
~Calvert Block on Main Street
~Preble farm of 123 acres
~250-acre farm in Triangle (Broome County) was sold the day before
~Total: $49,413.44 (today’s worth: $1,368,044.90)
Mr. Calvert did alright for himself over the course of his lifetime. This was another case where I thought it would be easy to find information about the person the street was named for but found I had to dig deeper and find less than I’d hoped. At some point, I will have to give you the list of the “dead ends” (pun intended!) that I’ve not been able to follow thru on and see if you can help me out! As I’ve mentioned before, I do try to stick to materials here in our files and resources we have, mainly due to time constraints. Researching the streets has been a real blast and there are still so many to cover! ~Tabitha
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