The details of Strowger’s early life are not widely known. He was born on Feb 11, 1839, in Penfield, New York. Research by Penfield Town Historian Kathy Kanauer shows that Strowger was one of 14 children, several of whom died at young ages. Almon Strowger’s grandfather, John Strowger, had been one of the earliest settlers of Penfield, arriving in 1800 with his wife, Margaret, and his son, Samuel, who was then 3 years old. John Strowger, who had been hired by Daniel Penfield to operate his mill on Irondequoit Creek, bought 102 acres of land for $2 per acre. John Strowger died in 1812, and his grave is the oldest in Oakwood Cemetery in Penfield.
John Strowger’s son, Samuel, remained in Penfield and was married twice, our research shows. His second wife, Jane Clarke, was mother to Almon Strowger and his 13 siblings. Almon Strowger was raised in a small house on Whalen Road in Penfield. The book “Penfield’s Past,” published in 1960 by historian Katherine Wilcox Thompson, notes that Strowger showed an aptitude for invention early on, as he and his brothers attempted to devise machines to do their routine chores. According to Kanauer, one of the Strowger brothers’ early inventions was a flying machine, which they attempted to launch from the roof of the family’s barn. “Because the Wright Brothers are credited with inventing the airplane it appears that the Strowger brothers gave up on this idea,” Kanauer wrote.