Magee House History

John Magee enlisted in the US Army at 17 years of age, just prior to the War of 1812.  He saw four years of exciting military experience, serving in a rifle company at the onset.  He was taken captive by the enemy British on at least two occasions.  Due to his great skill as an equestrian, he served later as a courier, carrying dispatches between Fort Niagara and Washington.  It was at this time, traveling perhaps on the Williamson Road, that he might first have become acquainted with this part of the state.

After the war, he and his brother Jefferson walked from Fort Niagara to Bath and began work for his brother-in-law, Adam Haverling.  Magee soon became sheriff of the county and later went on to Washington as a Congressman.  He married twice, first to Sarah McBurney, daughter of the County Judge, Thomas McBurney.  Sarah died at a very young age, and he subsequently married Arabella Stewart, for whom he build the house at the point of West Morris and Cameron Streets.

At this time Magee was active in business ventures.  There was his stage line enterprise, followed by the Fallbrook Coal Company that shipped coal from Blossburg, Pennsylvania mines by railroad to Corning, and from there, when the Chemung Canal had been extended, to Elmira, and then north to Havana and Seneca Lake and the whole Erie Canal system.

Magee was one of the promoters of the Erie Railroad out of Bath. Old correspondence tells of the warring between the canal factions and the railroad interests in the legislature over the issue of state support for the railroads.  The Erie did build through Bath, and water from the railroad water tank did supply water to the fountain in the lawn in front of Magee’s house.