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´╗┐Title: A Sketch of the History of Oneonta
Author: Campbell, Dudley M., 1836-1906
Language: English
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Oneonta, N.Y.:
Herald and Democrat Press


       *       *       *       *       *


   Bookseller AND Stationer,

   Oneonta, N.Y.

   _Miscellaneous, School and Blank Books, Family and Pocket Bibles,
   Photograph Albums, Scrap Books, Pocket Books, Gold Pens, &c._




   NEW YEAR,             EASTER,


   Stationery and Stationery Articles of all Kinds.


       *       *       *       *       *








       *       *       *       *       *

   Mendel Brothers,


   Oneonta, N.Y.


   _Ready-Made Clothing_,





       *       *       *       *       *





In the preparation of the following pages, I have not attempted to
give a complete history of the town of Oneonta. My main object has
been to put into a more preservative form some of the facts that have
been derived from the recollection of the older inhabitants as well as
from family papers, which, in the lapse of time, would be forgotten
and lost to the public. This is not so much a history as it is a
sketch of history, but it may be made a beginning of a more
pretentious historical work. I have endeavored to make it trustworthy,
and in my efforts in this direction, I have not relied upon any
information pretended to be conveyed in the recently published large
"History of Otsego County," which is better known as a voluminous
compilation of gross inaccuracies in which are transmitted to future
times the names of the good and bad, equally bespattered with praise.

If the names of any of the older settlers have not received deserved
mention, the omission is due to the fact that their representatives or
those having information to give, have withheld or neglected to
furnish facts which they alone could furnish.


ONEONTA, _April, 1883_.


The territory comprised within the present boundaries of the town of
Oneonta, previous to the war of the Revolution, was little known
except as the scene of many a sanguinary conflict between different
Indian tribes which contended with each other for its possession. The
Delawares, whose home was on the river bearing their name, had been in
peaceful possession of the upper Susquehanna valley from time
immemorial; but long before the outbreak of hostilities between
England and her trans-Atlantic colonies, the Tuscaroras, a warlike
tribe from Virginia, wandered up the Susquehanna from Chesapeake Bay
and laid claim to the upper portion of the valley as their
hunting-grounds. From that time, with brief and uncertain intervals of
peace, up to the close of the Revolutionary struggle, the war between
the contending tribes was waged with relentless fury. Many a proud
chief and valiant warrior fell beneath the tomahawk and became the
victim of the merciless scalping-knife.

Eventually the strife between these aboriginal tribes terminated in
favor of the invaders, or Tuscaroras, who thereupon allied themselves
with the Six Nations occupying the more northern and western portions
of the state. They formed small settlements, one within the present
town of Oneonta, at the mouth of the Otego creek, and another at or
near the mouth of the Charlotte. The former was on the farm now owned
and occupied by Andrew Van Woert; the other on what is known as the
Island on the farm of James W. Jenks. At both these places Indian
utensils and implements of war have been found in large numbers; at
both, Indian orchards of some extent were standing a few years ago.

These Indian settlements were destroyed by a detachment of American
troops under Gen. Sullivan, who passed down the river from Cooperstown
in the summer of 1779. Making a dam across the outlet of the lake,
Sullivan succeeded in causing the water of the lake to rise
considerably above the common level, when by removing the dam the
stream was greatly swollen, and upon its current the colonial force,
numbering about 1,000 men, was borne down the valley. It is related
that the natives had become terrified at the sudden diminution of the
water of the river and had fled in great haste from their homes,
leaving the way unobstructed for the safe advance of the patriot
force. Between the source of the stream and Unadilla, it is supposed
that but few Indian orchards, cornfields or huts were left standing
near the river. At the mouth of the Schenevus creek, a notable
exception was made in favor of the Van Valkenburg family, residing
then on the old Deitz farm across the river to the east of
Colliersville, where now may be seen a number of ancient apple trees
of Indian planting, still in a vigorous and fruitful condition. This
Van Valkenburg family being half-breeds and friendly to the American
cause, their property and possessions were not molested.

Sullivan's passage down the stream was effected by means of batteaux
and strong rafts, and owing to the windings of the channel, and the
necessary army luggage, his progress, notwithstanding the increased
volume of water that bore his barks along, was somewhat slow.

Unopposed by an enemy, through a country marked with rare beauty of

    "Each boatman bending to his oar,
     With measured sweep the burden bore,"

and with the advance of this small but daring patriot force, the
Susquehanna valley ceased to be the permanent abiding place of the red
men. A few scattered representatives of the once proud Tuscaroras and
Oneidas built their temporary wigwams where convenience suggested, and
derived such subsistence as the chase and stream afforded, but they
were no longer a terror to the settlers.

In the expeditions sent out to the southwestward from Albany, and
likewise in the marauding expeditions of the savages against the
frontier settlements along the Schoharie, the Susquehanna valley,
wherein is situated the village of Oneonta, became the common highway
to both parties. The old Indian trail, it has been ascertained, from
the Schoharie fort to the west, passed down the Schenevus creek to its
mouth, there crossed the Susquehanna, and continued down the northwest
side of the stream, passed through the village of Oneonta nearly along
the line of Main-st., thence crossing the river near the lower end of
the village, it continued westward on the south side of the stream for
some distance down the river, on toward the Chemung and the fort at
Oswego. There was also another trail leading from Schoharie to
Harpersfield and thence down the Charlotte creek to the Susquehanna.

"We had gone on about ten miles farther which brought us as low down
as where Collier's bridge now crosses the river. Here we imagined that
the Indians were possibly as cunning as ourselves, and would doubtless
take the more obscure way and endeavor to meet us on the east side. On
which account we waded the stream and struck into the woods crossing
the Indian path, toward a place now called Craft-town." (Priest's
Collection of Stories of the Revolution, published in 1836. "McKeon's
Scouts in Otsego County.")

On the high ground, a little distance beyond the southern extremity of
the Lower or Parish Bridge, there has been found within the past few
years a large ring, which from the inscription traced upon it, is
supposed to have belonged to one of Butler's Rangers. This ring is now
in the possession of Dr. Meigs Case, and bears upon its outer side
these words and letters: "Georgius Rex; B.R." It is supposed that the
letters "B.R." are abbreviations for "Butler's Rangers."--"George, the
King; Butler's Rangers."

In 1683 two Cayuga Indians gave the following geographical information
to the justices of Albany regarding the valley. The quotation is from
the Documentary History of New York, Vol. I, page 393, etc.:

"That it is one day's journey from the Mohawk Castles to the lake
whence the Susquehanna river rises, and then ten days' journey from
the river to the Susquehanna Castles--in all eleven days.

"One day and a half's journey by land from Oneida to the kill which
falls into the Susquehanna river, and one day from the kill unto the
Susquehanna river, and then seven days unto the Susquehanna Castle--in
all nine and a half days' journey."

"The Indians demand wherefore such particular information relative to
the Susquehanna river is sought after from them, and whether people
are about to come there? The Indians are asked if it would be
agreeable to them if folks should settle there? The Indians answer
that they would be very glad if people came to settle there, as it is
nigher than this place and more convenient to transport themselves and
packs by water, inasmuch as they must bring everything hither on their
backs. N.B.--The ascending of the Susquehanna river is one week longer
than the descending."

In 1684, the Onondaga and Cayuga sachems made an oration before Lord
Howard of Effingham at Albany, from which the following extracts are
taken. I have preserved the original spelling:

"Wee have putt all our land and ourselfs under the Protection of the
great Duke of York, the brother of your great Sachim. We have given
the Susquehanne River which we wonn with the sword to this Government
and desire that it may be a branch of that great tree, Whose topp
reaches to the Sunn, under whose branches we shall shelter our selves
from the French, or any other people, and our fire burn in your houses
and your fire burns with us, and we desire that it always may be so,
and will not that any of your Penn's people shall settle upon the
Susquehanna River; for all our folks or soldiers are like Wolfs in
the Woods, as you Sachim of Virginia know, we having no other land to
leave to our wives and Children."

In 1691, the governor and council of the province of New York sent an
address to the king of England, from which the following extract is

"Albany lies upon the same river, etc. Its commerce extends itself as
far as the lakes of Canada and the Sinnekes Country in which is the
Susquehannah River."

It appears that the ownership of the Susquehanna was the subject of no
little dispute among the tribes composing the Six Nations.[A] The
Onondagas claimed the country.

[Footnote A: From a record of a meeting of the mayor and aldermen of
Albany in 1689 the Onondagas are called Ti-onon-dages.

In an old map found among the papers of Sir Guy Johnson the Schenevus
creek or valley is called Ti-ononda-don. The prefix _Ti_ appears to
have been quite common among Indian names, sometimes used and
sometimes omitted. Doubtless _Ononda_ is the root of the word
_Ti-ononda-don_. As the Onondagas had claimed the Susquehanna country,
the Indian etymologist might naturally inquire whether there was any
kinship between Tionondaga, Tionondadon, Onondaga and the word
Oneonta. His belief in a common etymon might be somewhat strengthened
by a quotation from a "Journal of What Occurred between the French and
Savages," kept during the years 1657-58. (See Doc. Hist., Vol. I, p.
44*: [*Transcriber's Note: last digit illegible in original.]

"The word Onnota, which signifies in the Iroquois tongue a _mountain_,
has given the name to the village called Onnontae, or as others call
it Onnontague, because it is on a mountain.")

Perhaps the word Oneonta may have the same derivation or a like
derivation as Onondaga--perhaps not. The reader is left to follow up
the query. Among the Hurons who had been conquered by the Iroquois, a
tribe is mentioned under the name of Ti-onnonta-tes. The name may have
no relation to nor any bearing upon the derivation of the word
Oneonta, but that there was such a tribe, the fact is given for what
it may be worth.]

"At fifty miles from Albany the Land Carriage from the Mohawk's river
to a lake from whence the Northern Branch of Susquehanna takes its
rise, does not exceed fourteen miles. Goods may be carried from this
lake in Battoes or flatt bottomed Vessels through Pennsylvania to
Maryland and Virginia, the current of the river running everywhere
easy without any cataract in all that large space."

The last quotation is from the report of the Surveyor General to the
Lieutenant Governor in 1637.

The foregoing extracts appear to contain about all the information
which the authorities at the provincial capital could glean of the
Indians concerning the Susquehanna country, as it was called.

The few scattered natives who remained here after the establishment of
peace, were, in 1795, removed to the reservation at Oneida, and became
a part of the Indian tribes already settled there.

In volume III of the Documentary History of New York, a quaintly
interesting letter of the Rev. Gideon Hawley may be found. The letter
is interesting, because it may be safely regarded as the earliest
authentic writing respecting this portion of the valley. Mr. Hawley
was sent out as a missionary teacher to the Indians.

About this time a good deal of interest was being taken in the
education of Indian youth. For the furtherance of this design, the
Rev. Eleazur Wheelock established a school at New Lebanon, Conn., for
the education of young whites and young Indians. This school
afterwards ripened into Dartmouth college, and was removed to Hanover,
New Hampshire. From this new-fledged seminary, the Rev. Mr. Kirkland
was sent among the Oneidas, and his labors in that quarter eventually
resulted in the founding of Hamilton college, at Clinton. From a
similar school established at Stockbridge, Mass., and which appears to
have been favored by the influence and good will of the celebrated
Jonathan Edwards, Mr. Hawley was sent to Oquaga on the Susquehanna.

Oquaga was the Indian settlement near the site of the present village
of Windsor in Broome county. Mr. Hawley's journey was from Albany up
the Mohawk, across the mountains to Schoharie, thence along the valley
to Schenevus creek and westward. As his letter, in the form of a
journal, contains the earliest account that is known of the presence
of white people within the present territorial limits of Oneonta, I
hope the quotations I make from it may prove of some interest. The
letter is dated July 31st, 1794. The first entry is as follows:

     JULY 31st, 1794.

     "It is forty years this date since I was ordained a
     missionary to the Indians, in the old South Meeting House,
     when the Rev. Dr. Sewall preached on the occasion and the
     Rev. Mr. Prince gave the charge. The Rev. Mr. Foxcroft and
     Dr. Chauncey of Cambridge, assisted upon the occasion, and
     Mr. Appleton. I entered upon this arduous business at
     Stockbridge, under the patronage of the Rev. Mr. Edwards.
     Was instructor of a few families of Iroquois, who came down
     from their country for the sake of christian knowledge and
     the schooling of their children. These families consisted of
     Mohawks, Oneidas and Tuscaroras. I was their school-master
     and preached to them on the Lord's day. Mr. Edwards visited
     my school, catechised my scholars, and frequently delivered
     a discourse to the children."

This quotation may serve to show what kind of man this early
missionary was, and the deep interest then felt in the education and
civilization of the aborigines. The formality with which the clerical
harness was put on in the historic Old South Church, is strikingly in
contrast with the way the missionary to the Indians is equipped

In the following quotations the dates are of the year 1753. May 22d of
that year, a party consisting of Mr. Hawley, Mr. Woodbridge, a Mr.
Ashley and Mrs. Ashley, set out from Stockbridge for Oquaga.

May 30th, 1753, a little more than a week after leaving Stockbridge,
the party had its first view of the Susquehanna at Colliers. As the
journal gives some description of our valley as it was then--one
hundred and thirty years ago--I quote freely:

"Our way was generally obstructed by fallen trees, old logs, miry
places, pointed rocks and entangled roots, which were not to be
avoided. We were alternately on the ridge of a lofty mountain and in
the depths of a valley. At best, our path was obscure and we needed
guides to go before us. Night approaches, we halt and a fire is
kindled; the kettles are filled and we refresh ourselves; and we adore
Divine Providence, returning thanks for the salvations of the day and
committing ourselves to God for the night, whose presence is equally
in the recesses of the solitary wilderness and in the social walks of
the populous city. With the starry heavens above me, and having the
earth for my bed, I roll myself in a blanket, and without a dream to
disturb my repose, pass the night in quiet, and never awake till the
eye-lids of morning are opened, and the penetrating rays of the sun
look through the surrounding foliage.

"It may not be impertinent to observe that in this wilderness we
neither see nor hear any birds of music. These frequent only the
abodes of man. There is one _wood-bird_, not often seen, but heard
without any melody in his note, in every part of the wilderness
wherever I have been. In some parts of this extensive country, the
wild pigeons breed in numbers almost infinite. I once passed an
extensive valley where they had rested; and for six or eight miles,
where the trees were near and thick, every tree had a number of nests
upon it, and some not less than fifteen or twenty upon them. But as
soon as their young are able, they take wing and are seen no more."

The next extract is from the journal of May 30th, 1753:

"We were impatient to see the famous Susquehanna, and as soon as we
came, Mr. Woodbridge and I walked down to its banks. Disappointed at
the smallness of its stream, he exclaimed, 'Is this the Susquehanna?'

"When we returned our young Indians, who had halted, came in, looking
as terrible and ugly as they could, having bedaubed their faces with
vermilion, lampblack, white-lead, etc. A young Indian always carries
with him his looking-glass and paint; and does not consider himself as
dressed until he has adjusted his countenance by their assistance.

"Mr. Woodbridge and Mrs. Ashley, our interpreter, could not travel any
further by land. We therefore concluded to get a canoe and convey them
by water. From this place [now Colliers] to Onohoghwage is three days'
journey; and how bad the traveling is we cannot tell.

"May 31st, [1753.] We met with difficulty about getting a canoe, and
sent an Indian into the woods to get ready a bark, but he made small

"In the afternoon came from Otsego lake, which is the source of this
stream, George Windecker and another, in a small batteau, with goods
and rum, going down to Onohoghwage upon a trading voyage. We agreed
with them to carry the interpreter and Mr. Woodbridge in their
batteau; and bought a wooden canoe to carry our flour and baggage.

"We soon saw the ill effects of Windecker's rum. The Indians began to
drink and some of our party were the worse for it. We perceived what
was coming.

"June 1st, 1753, is with me a memorable day, and for forty years and
more has not passed unnoticed. We got off as silently as we could with
ourselves and effects. Some went by water and others by land, with the
horses. I was with the land party. The Indians, half intoxicated, were
outrageous, and pursued both the party by water, in which was Mr.
Woodbridge, and the party by land. One came so near us as with his
club to strike at us, and he hit one of our horses. We hastened.
Neither party met till we arrived at Wauteghe [the name of the Indian
village at the mouth of the Otego creek] at which had been an Indian
village, where were a few fruit trees and considerable cleared land,
but no inhabitants. Here, being unmolested and secure, we all
refreshed ourselves. But Pallas was the worse for his rum; was so
refractory that Mr. Ashley's hired man, who had been in the canoe with
him, was afraid. I reproved him; got into the canoe to keep him in
order; was young and inexperienced; knew not much of Indians, nor much
of mankind; whereby I endangered my life."

In 1763, Rev. Mr. Wheelock made application to Gen. Amherst for a land
grant in the following words: "That a tract of land, about fifteen or
twenty miles square, or so much as shall be sufficient for four
townships, on the west side of Susquehanna river, or in some other
place more convenient, in the heart of the Indian country, be granted
in favor of this school. The said townships be peopled with a chosen
number of inhabitants of known honesty, integrity, and such as love
and will be kind to, and honest in their dealings with Indians.

"That a thousand acres of, and within said grant be given to this
school; part of it to be a college for the education of missionaries,
interpreters, school-masters, etc.; and part of it a school to teach
reading, writing, etc. And that there be manufactures for the
instruction of both males and females, in whatever shall be useful and
necessary in life, and proper tutors, masters and mistresses be
provided for the same."


During the war for independence, the Susquehanna valley below
Schenevus creek was the lurking place of Indians and Tories, who, from
this secluded territory, made many and frequent inroads upon the
settlements on the Schoharie and Charlotte. Owing to the remoteness of
this section and the weak condition of the frontiersmen, the trail of
the retreating savages was seldom followed to any considerable
distance and consequently but little knowledge concerning the valley
was derived by the settlers at the former points until the restoration
of peace.

In 1770, an extensive tract of land was granted to Sir William Johnson
and others, a large part of which lies within the limits of the town
of Oneonta. This tract lies on both sides of the Susquehanna river,
both above and below the Otego creek. It is supposed the first
settlement within the town was made upon this patent.[A] It contained
26,000 acres.

[Footnote A: Many have erroneously believed this patent to have been
the grant made by the Indian chief to Sir William in accordance with a
dream the latter had, _i.e._, he had dreamed that the Indian gave him
all of a certain described tract, whereupon the Indian told him that
he supposed what he had dreamed must be true, but "be sure and not
dream again." "Dreamland," by good authority, is said to be in
Herkimer county.]

Some years before the commencement of hostilities, Henry Schramling,
a hardy pioneer from the older settlement at German Flats, on the
Mohawk, came into the valley and made a settlement at a point near the
Otego creek bridge, but by reason of the troubled condition of the
country after 1775, Mr. Schramling moved back to the Mohawk for
greater security. After the war he with his brothers, George and
David, returned to the Susquehanna. It is believed upon good authority
that he was the first white settler in the town of Oneonta. After the
departure of the Schramling family, many years elapsed before any
pioneers were found venturesome enough to settle in this portion of
the valley.

Abram Houghtailing, Elias Brewer and Peter Swartz became settlers here
in 1786. Houghtailing and Brewer came from Washington county, and
Swartz from Schoharie. About the same date, James Youngs settled near
the mouth of the Charlotte and Baltus Kimball settled north of the
village on the farm now owned by Jacob Morell.

About the year 1790, Thomas Morenus[A] settled on the south side of
the river. He was a German from Schoharie. About the same time
Frederick Brown came from Fulton, N.Y., and settled on the farm
formerly owned and occupied by Eliakim R. Ford. At this time Brown's
house was the only one standing within the limits of the present
village corporation. About the year 1795, one Aaron Brink built a
large log house by the mill pond, or rather between the railroad
crossing on Main street and the mill pond. Brink's house was the first
hotel kept in the village of Oneonta, and perhaps the first that was
kept in town. Between Brown's house and Brink's tavern there was only
a common wood-road, with a dense forest on either side.

[Footnote A: Thomas Morenus, before settling here, had been a captive
among the Indians, and had "run the gauntlet" at Fort Niagara. The
terrible scourging he had received at the hands of the savages left
marks which were plainly traceable when he had become an old man.]

About the same time John Vanderwerker built the first grist-mill. This
mill stood some distance east of the grist-mill now standing in the
lower part of the village.

In 1791, Asel Marvin came from Vermont and first settled at Oneonta
Plains. Shortly afterwards he removed on a large tract of wild land,
about two miles from the village, upon the Oneonta Creek. He was a
well-known builder and lumberman. For twenty-two consecutive years he
rafted lumber to Baltimore. He built the first school house on the
Oneonta Creek road, and when the first church edifice was built in
town, he was one of the trustees of the church society. When Mr.
Marvin moved into the valley of the Oneonta Creek, the country across
the hill from Oneonta to Laurens, was almost an unbroken wilderness.

Some years later than the last named date, Peter Dinninny opened the
first store kept in Oneonta. The store then stood where the opera
block now stands. The first school-house was built soon after 1790,
and stood on the rise of ground near the house of Horace Sessions, on
the south side of the river.

Previous to 1816, when the Presbyterian church was built, church
services were generally held in Frederick Brown's barn. The first
clergyman who regularly preached here was the Rev. Alfred Conkey, who
was settled at Milford. Mr. Conkey is yet remembered by some of the
older citizens as a very earnest and zealous man, besides being a
person of liberal culture.

The first white child born in this town, or the first known to have
been born in town, was Abram Houghtaling. He was born in 1786.

John and Nicholas Beams were early settlers to the east of the
village. Elisha Shepherd came from New England at an early day and
settled at Oneonta Plains. His sons, in after years, became actively
engaged in different branches of industry, and the Plains at one time
bid fair to become the most prominent village in town. It contained a
hotel, a store, two churches and a distillery.

Andrew Parish was also one of the pioneers of Oneonta. He was born in
Massachusetts in 1786, and moved from Springfield here in 1808. He
settled on the south side of the river on the John Fritts farm, and
afterwards on the hill near the "Round Top." From the latter place he
moved to the farm now owned by his son Stephen, on the south side of
the river. Mr. Parish reared a large family of children, all of whom
became successful farmers, and men of business. Andrew Parish was a
justice of the town for twenty years in succession. He was also a
commissioner of schools under the old system. In 1809 he put up a
brick kiln on the Elisha Shepherd farm at the Oneonta Plains, from
which came the first bricks that were used in town.

Dr. Joseph Lindsay was the first physician who settled in Oneonta. He
came from Pelham, in the old county of Hampshire, Mass., in the year
1807. Having received a liberal education in the advanced schools of
his native state and at Williams College, in after years he became a
teacher to many of the younger people of the country who were
ambitious of extending their studies beyond the rudimentary branches
taught at that time in the schools of the neighborhood.

In 1815, Frederick Bornt moved on the farm now owned and occupied by
his son, on the Oneonta Creek. He had been a soldier in the war of
1812 and had served at the battle of Plattsburg. He came from
Rensselaer county, N.Y.

Before the date last named, Jacob Van Woert, a Dutchman, and father of
the late Peter and John Van Woert, came from Albany and settled on the
farm lately owned by his son Peter, near the mouth of the Otego Creek.
Asa Emmons about the same time settled on the south side of the river,
near the Charlotte. He came from Vermont, and settled where Deacon
Slade now lives. Jacob Wolf, the father of Conradt Wolf, had also
settled in the southern part of the town at about the close of the
Revolutionary war. Mr. Wolf had been taken as an Indian captive to
Canada, where he had been detained for several years. His home, when
captured, was in the valley of the Mohawk. While extinguishing a fire
which had caught in a tall hemlock, by night, he was surprised by a
company of Indians, by whom he was easily overpowered. He at length
escaped from his captors, and making his way southward, after a long
and perilous journey, he met with friends on the Tioga river. He
rejoined his wife on the Mohawk, and afterwards removed to the
Susquehanna, on the farm now owned by George Swart, southwest of the

Elihu Gifford, with four sons, came from Albany county in 1803, and
first settled at West Oneonta, on the farm now owned by Joseph Taber.
In 1806, Mr. Gifford moved to the farm now owned by Henry Gifford on
Oneonta Creek. About the same time Josiah Peet and Ephraim Farrington
moved into the same neighborhood. Later, Col. Wm. Richardson settled
further up the creek and built a saw-mill and a grist-mill.
"Richardson's Mills" became a well-known place in a few years, and a
thriving hamlet soon began to form around them. Col. Richardson was an
enterprising man of business and took a prominent part in the affairs
of the town. He served in the war of 1812-15.

When Elihu Gifford moved to the Oneonta Creek there were only four
"clearings" in that valley. A Mr. Armitage had made some inroads upon
the wilderness, on what is now known as the Losee farm; Asel Marvin
had made a clearing on the James Sheldon farm, and there were others
on Mrs. Richardson's farm, and where Peter Yager lives. The settlers
along the Oneonta Creek, after Mr. Marvin, moved in slowly.

About 1804, David Yager came from Greenbush, N.Y., and purchased the
farm now known as the Peter Yager farm. Solomon Yager, the father of
David, came afterwards, purchasing his son's farm.[A]

[Footnote A: For the purpose of showing the increase in the value of
real estate, it may be mentioned that at the time David Yager sold to
his father, he was offered a farm lying between Maple street and the
farm of J.R.L. Walling, containing 150 acres, for $400.]

James McDonald settled at the lower end of the village at an early
date. Mr. McDonald was of Scotch descent, and an active business man.
The lower part of the village was largely built through his enterprise
and at one time bid fair to become the business centre of the village.
He built a mill and hotel, and also became an extensive landholder.
James McDonald kept the first post-office established within the
limits of the town.

The first settlers were mostly German Palatinates from Schoharie and
the Mohawk. The German was the language of common conversation, and so
continued until Dr. Lindsay and Asa Emmons came into the settlement.
At this time the Emmons and Lindsay families were the only ones that
made the English their exclusive language.

These German settlers were a patient and persevering people, and
betook themselves to the task of felling the forest and rearing homes
for themselves and their posterity, with a noble and praiseworthy
resolution. Beneath the sturdy strokes of the axe, the wilderness
slowly but gradually disappeared around their rude homes, and in the
place of the gloomy forest, fields of waving grain appeared on every
side to cheer and encourage the industrious woodsman. The forests
abounded in the most ravenous animals, such as bears, panthers and
wolves, while along the river and creek bottoms the ground was at
places almost literally covered with poisonous reptiles. The climate
was severe, and the country remote from the frontier, yet
notwithstanding the obstacles and discouragements that beset them,
these were not sufficient to cause the settlers to relax their efforts
to rear comfortable homes for their descendants.

The following story I have taken from Priest's Collection, for the
reason that the scene of the exploit is said to have been near our
town boundaries:

"Ben Wheaton was one of the first settlers on the waters of the
Susquehanna, immediately after the war, a rough, uncultivated and
primitive man. As many others of the same stamp and character, he
subsisted chiefly by hunting, cultivating the land but sparingly, and
in this way raised a numerous family amid the woods, in a half starved
condition, and comparative nakedness. But as the Susquehanna country
rapidly increased in population, the hunting grounds of Wheaton were
encroached upon; so that a chance with his smooth-bore, among the deer
and bears was greatly lessened. On this account Wheaton removed from
the Susquehanna country, in Otsego county, to the more unsettled wilds
of the Delaware, near a place yet known by the appellation of Wait's
Settlement,[A] where game was more plenty. The distance from where he
made his home in the woods, through to the Susquehanna, was about
fifteen miles, and was one continued wilderness at that time. Through
these woods this almost aboriginal hunter was often compelled to pass
to the Susquehanna, for various necessaries, and among the rest no
small quantity of whiskey, as he was of very intemperate habits. On
one of these visits, in the midst of summer, with his smooth-bore
always on his shoulder, knife, hatchet, &c., in their proper place, he
had nearly penetrated the distance, when he became weary, and having
come to the summit of a ridge (sometime in the afternoon) which
overlooks the vale of the Susquehanna, he selected a convenient place
in the shade, as it was hot, for the rays of the sun from the west
poured his sultry influence through all the forest, where he lay down
to rest a while among the leaves, after having taken a drink from his
pint bottle of green glass, and a mouthful of cold Johnney cake from
his pocket.

[Footnote A: Wait's Settlement is said to have been in the vicinity of
what now is known as North Franklin.]

"In this situation he was soothed to drowsiness by the hum of insects,
and the monotony of passing winds among the foliage around him, when
he soon unwarily fell asleep with his gun folded in his arms. But
after a while he awoke from his sleep, and for a moment or two still
lay in the same position, as it happened, without stirring, when he
found that something had taken place while he had slept, which had
situated him somewhat differently from the manner in which he first
went to sleep. On reflecting a moment, he found he was entirely
covered over, head and ears, with leaves and light stuff, occasioned,
as he now suspected, either by the sudden blowing of the wind, or by
some wild animal. On which account he became a little disturbed in his
mind, as he well knew the manners of the panther at that season of the
year, when it hunts to supports its young, and will often cover its
prey with leaves and bring its whelps to the banquet. He therefore
continued to lie perfectly still, as when he first awoke; he thought
he heard the step of some kind of heavy animal near him; and he knew
that if it were a panther, the distance between himself and death
could not be far, if he should attempt to rise up. Accordingly, as he
suspected, after having lain a full minute, he now distinctly heard
the retiring tread of the stealthy panther, of which he had no doubt,
from his knowledge of the creature's ways. It had taken but a few
steps however, when it again stopped a longer time; still Wheaton
continued his silent position, knowing his safety depended much on
this. Soon the tread was again heard, farther and farther off, till it
entirely died away in the distance--but he still lay motionless a few
minutes longer, when he ventured gently and cautiously to raise his
head and cast an eye in the direction the creature, whatever it was,
had gone, but could see nothing. He now rose up with a spring, for his
blood had been running from his heart to his extremities, and back
again, with uncommon velocity; all the while his ears had listened to
the steps of the animal on the leaves and brush. He now saw plainly
the marks of design among the leaves, and that he had been covered
over, and that the paws of some creature had done it.

"And as he suspected the panther was the animal, he knew it would soon
return to kill him, on which account he made haste to deceive it, and
to put himself in a situation to give it a taste of the contents of
old smooth-bore. He now seized upon some pieces of old wood which lay
all about, and placed as much as was equal to his own bulk, exactly
where he had slept, and covered it over with leaves in the same manner
the panther had done, and then sprang to a tree near by, into which he
ascended, from whence he had a view a good distance about him, and
especially in the direction the creature had gone. Here in the crotch
of the tree he stood, with his gun resting across a limb, in the
direction of the place where he had been left by the panther, looking
sharply as far among the woods as possible, in the direction he
expected the creature's return. But he had remained in this condition
but a short time, and had barely thrust the ram-rod down the barrel of
his piece, to be sure the charge was in her, and to examine her
priming, and to shut down the pan slowly, so that it should not snap,
and thus make a noise, when his keen Indian eye, for such he had,
caught a glimpse of a monstrous panther, leading warily two panther
kittens toward her intended supper.

"Now matters were hastening to a climax rapidly, when Wheaton or the
panther must finish their hunting on the mountains of the Susquehanna,
for if old smooth-bore should flash in the pan, or miss her aim, the
die would be cast, as a second load would be impossible ere her claws
would have sundered his heart strings in the tree where he was, or if
he should but partially wound her the same must have been his fate.
During these thoughts the panther had hid her young under some brush,
and had come within some thirty feet of the spot where she supposed
her victim was still sleeping; and seeing all as she left it, she
dropped down to a crouching position, precisely as a cat, when about
to spring on its prey. Now was seen the soul of the panther in its
perfection, merging from the recesses of nature where hidden by the
creator, along the whole nervous system, but resting chiefly in the
brain, whence it glared, in bright horror, from the burning eyes,
curled in the strong and vibrating tail, pushed out the sharp, white
and elliptical fangs from the broad and powerful paws, ready for
rending, glittered on the points of its uncovered teeth, and smoked in
rapid tissues of steam from its red and open jaws, while every hair of
its long dun back stood erect in savage joy, denoting that the fatal
and decisive moment of its leap had come.

"Now the horrid nestling of its hinder claws, drawn under its belly
was heard, and the bent ham strings were seen but a half instant by
Wheaton, from where he sat in his tree, when the tremendous leap was
made. It rose on a long curve into the air, of about ten feet in the
highest place, and from thence descending, it struck exactly where the
breast, head and bowels of its prey had lain, with a scream too
horrible for description, when it tore to atoms the rotten wood,
filling for several feet above it, the air with the leaves and light
brush, the covering of the deception. But instantly the panther found
herself cheated, and seemed to droop a little with disappointment,
when however she resumed an erect posture, and surveyed quite around
on every side on a horizontal line, in search of her prey, but not
discovering it, she cast a furious look aloft among the tops of the
trees, when in a moment or two the eyes of Wheaton and the panther
met. Now for another leap, when she dropped for that purpose; but the
bullet and two buck shot of old smooth bore were too quick, as he
lodged them all exactly in the brain of the savage monster, and
stretched her dead on the spot where the hunter had slept but a short
time before, in the soundness, of a mountain dream.

"Wheaton had marked the spot where her young were hidden, which, at
the report of the gun, were frightened and ran up a tree. He now came
down and found the panther to measure, from the end of its nose to the
point of its tail, eight feet six inches in length; a creature
sufficiently strong to have carried him off on a full run, had he
fallen into its power. He now reloaded and went to the tree where her
kittens, or the young panthers were, and soon brought them down from
their grapple among the limbs, companions for their conquered and
slain parent.

"Wheaton dismantled them of their hides, and hastened away before the
night should set in, lest some other encounter might overtake him of a
similar character, when the disadvantage of darkness might decide the
victory in a way more advantageous to the roamers of the forest. Of
this feat Ben Wheaton never ceased to boast; reciting it as the most
appalling passage of his hunting life. The animal had found him while
asleep, and had him concealed, as he supposed, intending to give her
young a specimen of the manner of their future life; or if this is too
much for the mind of a dumb animal, she intended at least to give them
a supper.

"This circumstance was all that saved his life, or the panther would
have leapt upon him at first, and have torn him to pieces, instead of
covering him with leaves, as she did, for the sake of her young. The
panther is a ferocious and almost untamable animal, whose nature and
habits are like those of the cat; except that the nature and powers of
this domestic creature are in the panther immensely magnified, in
strength and voracity. It is in the American forest what the tiger is
in Africa and India, a dangerous and savage animal, the terror of all
other creatures, as well as of the Indian and the white man."

The German Palatinates who settled in the upper Susquehanna were noted
for their physical endurance and their fondness for sports, but the
same can hardly be said of their desire for intellectual culture.
Perhaps they were no worse, in this respect, than circumstances made
them. Poverty and hard work were their portion, and the share was not
stinted out to them. There were no newspapers, that is, during the
earlier history of the settlement, published at a nearer point than
Albany. Even those papers were but poor affairs. They were filled
with the unimportant doings of the Dutch burghers--perhaps enlivened
now and then, with a highly seasoned article, full of indignation
because some obscure man in Massachusetts had committed a trespass by
cutting a forest tree on the manor of Livingston.

School teachers were not numerous nor were they well qualified for
their work. School houses were at a great distance from most of the
homes. They were both comfortless and cheerless. The snows were deep
in winter and the weather was inclement. In summer, even little hands
were helpful at home.

In their sports, the settlers were often inclined to push a joke to
rudeness, and what began in fun often ended in a fight. Still, they
were good-natured, honest people. They were kind to those needing
assistance, and if necessity became common so did the loaf of bread.

There was no lack of social enjoyment, for their hardest toil was made
the occasion of a gathering. If a piece of woodland was to be cleared,
or a fallow, the male portion of the community united in a "bee" and
the work was soon done. Perhaps, while the men were thus working
together in the field, the women had gathered within doors, and were
busily plying their fingers over the mottled patch-work of a quilt.
In the lengthening summer twilight the men, coatless and barefoot, sat
in groups on the front steps or under the low Dutch stoops and talked
of the incoming crops, the weather or the watery moon.

The forests, all over the hillsides, where now village streets are
creeping up and winding across, were frowning with great pines and
hemlocks. The log road ran in every direction and was no more
exclusive than a common highway. The "shingle-weaver's" huts were on
nearly every road and bypath. The most towering pines were regarded as
lawful prize, and during the winter the men found plenty of employment
and slight recompense in hauling the pines to mill. Here they were
converted into lumber, which was piled up by the bank of the river
until "the spring freshet." On the swollen stream it was rafted to
Baltimore, Harrisburg and other places.

The "rafting season" was looked forward to with no little solicitude
by the more robust and daring of the young men. They waited for the
rafts to be cut from their moorings with keen anticipation, and the
stories of some of the rivermen are still well remembered by the older

For a great many years, Albany was the only market to which the
pioneers carted their wheat. The roads were barely passable and the
trip to Albany and back required from six to eight days. The wagons,
upon which the produce was carted, were of rough and clumsy make. It
would not be supposed that the driver would find much pleasure in
making the distance to market and back on one of these clumsy
vehicles, but the trip, especially to the younger men, was not without
its enjoyments. They carried their provisions in a large, round,
wooden box over which closed a round, wooden cover. They also carried
provender for their teams and the only necessary cash expense was a
sixpence each night for lodging. The more sumptuous and less
economical might, if they chose, diminish their exchequer to the
amount of an extra sixpence by indulging in a glass of "flip." Nearly
every farm-house of any pretension on the high road to Albany was a
hotel, so-called, if not in fact. Seated at night within these
primitive hotels, the farmers who had assembled from different parts
told their tales of prowess--some true stories and a good many lies.

Beside the ambitious house that gloried in a daub of red paint and
which had been pushed up to the aristocratic height of one and a half
or two stories, before which flapped in the wind a wide, white board
with the cheerful announcement, "Smith's Inn--Refreshments for Man or
Beast," stood a more modest structure. Brown, unpainted,
unclapboarded, it stood by the wayside. Its log walls were stuccoed
with mud, and in the wide mouth of the doorway was the brawny
housewife, bare-armed, peering from beneath a slatternly red
sun-bonnet, while over the doorway the passer-by read the letters in
red chalk upon a new pine shingle:


After the farmer had sold or bartered away his wheat or other produce,
he generally returned with a load of goods for the village merchant.


Prominent among the early settlers of Oneonta was Jacob Dietz, who
removed into the settlement from Schoharie county about the year 1804.
Mr. Dietz was early appointed a justice of the peace, and continued in
office either by appointment or election for a great length of time.
He was active in the affairs of the town and an energetic man of
business. He was a long time in mercantile business, and his store,
which was situated where now stands the brick building occupied by the
First National Bank, was the center of a lively trade for those times.
Mr. Dietz accumulated an extensive estate, and reared a large family
of children. He became the owner of extensive tracts of land, some of
which are now occupied by the streets and residences of the village.
Some of his representatives are now living in the west and are
deservedly esteemed where they reside.

At about the date last mentioned, one Schoolcraft erected a modest
structure on the site of the Susquehanna House. Schoolcraft's house
became in a short time the leading tavern of the community, where poor
grog and worse food were dispensed to the villagers and wayfarers,
doubtless much to the gratification of their primitive tastes.

About the same period, 1804-5, one Joseph Westcott, from the present
town of Milford, erected a store nearly opposite the residence of D.M.
Miller. These stores--Dinninny's, mentioned in the preceding chapter,
Dietz's and Westcott's--were all of the most primitive order, and,
especially the first named, contained but a meagre stock of goods, the
stock generally consisting of a barrel of New England rum of the most
violent nature, several old bull ploughs, a little crockery ware, a
few cooking utensils, and a small amount of dry goods. There was but
little money and the merchant's trade was carried on mostly in the way
of barter, the tradesman exchanging his merchandise for grain, lumber
and shingles.

Early in the history of the town, a Mr. Walling, the grandfather of
J.R.L. Walling, located to the east of Oneonta creek, near where his
descendant above named now lives. One Newkirk also settled on Chestnut
street, on the lot adjoining Philander Lane's. Lawrence Swart settled
on the farm now owned and occupied by Henry Wilcox, about the same
time that Jacob Dietz came into the settlement.[A]

[Footnote A: There were other families among the settlers by the name
of Hillsinger, Couse, Whitmarsh, Harsen, Sullivan, White and Morrell.]

At the time of Swart's settlement the land on the lower end of River
street was covered by a dense forest of hemlock and maple. Over those
attractive and well-tilled fields now composing Mr. Wilcox's farm,
roamed at that time the bear and the panther, and glided with little
molestation numberless rattlesnakes of the largest and most poisonous
species. The settlement along the river, below the residence of George
Scramling, seemed to proceed slowly, as the land below this point was
considered of but little value, while the heavy growth of hemlock
precluded the rapid clearing away of the forest. To the north and east
of the village the hillsides yielded a vast quantity of the more
valuable timber.

For news outside of the little settlement the inhabitants had recourse
to the _Freeman's Journal_, at that time published by one of the
pioneers of journalism in Otsego county, John H. Prentiss. The mails
were conveyed from one settlement to another by the postman, who
traveled over the hills and through the valleys on horseback, and made
known his approach to each post-village by the winding of a huge horn,
which was always carried by his saddle-bows ready for use.

During the war of 1812-14, the winding of the postman's horn caused
the settlers both in the village and without to assemble rapidly and
in full force, men, women and children, to learn the news from the
"Canada border." Early in that war a number of men entered the army
from Oneonta. Some of them were stationed at Sackett's Harbor and
Oswego, while others did good service at Lundy's Lane and the Heights
of Queenstown. But few of those veterans yet remain to tell

    "Of their strange ventures happed by land or sea."

At the time of its first settlement, Oneonta was in the old county of
Tryon, which was formed from Albany county in 1772. Tryon county then
embraced the whole western portion of the state, from a line extending
north and south through the centre of the present county of Schoharie,
to Lake Erie. In 1784 the name was changed from Tryon to Montgomery.
Oneonta was then in the old town of Suffrage.

During the period of which we have written, Oneonta as a distinct town
had no existence. The village of Oneonta was then in the town of
Milford, and was known as Milfordville. Through the brawl of two old
bruisers, it was sometimes vulgarly called "Klipknocky."[A] This
nickname lasted a long while, and was known at a long distance from

[Footnote A: On the banks of the Susquehanna, in Pennsylvania, there
is a thriving little hamlet known as "Klipknocky Jr." It was first
settled by an emigrant from Oneonta. While the river was the highway
the most easily traveled, fugitives from the older settlement found a
landing-place for their canoes and a safe retreat for themselves at
"Klipknocky Jr."]

In 1830 the town of Oneonta was formed from the adjoining towns of
Milford and Otego. It is said that it received the name Oneonta at the
suggestion of Gen. Erastus Root.

Among the early inhabitants of Oneonta, whose enterprise contributed
to the development of the resources of the town, was William Angell,
who soon after his settlement here became the most prominent
inhabitant of the village. He built the Oneonta House, where he acted
as host for a number of years. He was also one of the proprietors of
the Charlotte turnpike, which upon its completion in 1834, was made
the great highway from Catskill to the southwestern portion of the

Any attempted sketch of our early history would be very far from
complete and far from just, were mention not made of a class of
citizens, some of whom are still living, whose labors were early
identified with the history of the town, a part of whom were here born
and here grew to manhood; a part of whom came to the village while it
was yet an outlying hamlet, but whose labors have largely aided in
advancing the growth and prosperity of the community.

Among these was Timothy Sabin, a native of the town, who, upon
arriving at the age of manhood, embarked in mercantile pursuits, and
continued to an advanced age to lend his aid to the management of an
extensive business. Another of the older class of men of the village
is John M. Watkins, who was born in Oneonta in 1806. For thirty years
Mr. Watkins was one of the leading hotel keepers of the village, and
during this long period in which he acted the part of host, his house
was known far and wide as the best kept hostelry in this section.
There are many more "to the manor born" whose names it would be a
pleasure to mention, but for lack of data which their friends or
representatives have neglected or failed to furnish, we are compelled
to forego any more extended notice.

Occupying a prominent position among those who, at an early date,
emigrated into the town was Eliakim R. Ford. Mr. Ford was born in
Albany county in 1797, and removed to Greenville, Greene county, when
quite young. From the latter place he removed to Oneonta in 1822, he
then being twenty-five years of age. He at once embarked in mercantile
enterprises and so conducted his business matters as to rapidly win
both the confidence and trade of his fellow citizens. His first store
stood near the Free Baptist church. From that point he removed to a
store next to the lot where now the opera house stands, and in 1828 he
again moved into a store which he had built near the residence of
Harvey Baker. His late residence and the stone store recently
destroyed by fire were built in 1839-40.

Dr. Samuel H. Case settled in the village of Oneonta in 1829. He was
born in Franklin, N.Y., in 1808, and at the age of twenty-one was
graduated at the medical college at Fairfield, N.Y. More than fifty
years he has continued the practice of medicine in the village and
throughout the surrounding country. There are but a few among the
longer resident population of the community who have not, at one time
or another, been under the Doctor's treatment. He built the office
still occupied by him, in 1832, and his house in 1834--soon after his
marriage--and has never moved from either since he began to occupy
them. When he moved into the village, the latter contained only two
painted houses, and the whole business prosperity of the hamlet was
then centered in two stores--Dietz's and Ford's--one potash and two
distilleries. Dr. Case is of New England ancestry, his father having
emigrated to Franklin from Tolland county, Connecticut, in 1792.

Col. William W. Snow came to Oneonta, a few years after the last
named, and early engaged in manufacturing. The Colonel was born in the
town of Heath, Franklin county, Mass. He became interested in the
organization and welfare of the militia. He was elected to a
colonelcy, whence his military title. He was elected to congress from
Otsego and Schoharie counties in 1848. He has been several times
elected to our state legislature, and has been a member of the third
house many years.

Though not a resident of the town, yet his business relations have
been such as to identify the name of Jared Goodyear with its history.
Mr. Goodyear for a long term of years resided upon the borders of
Oneonta, and from an early period was largely interested in the
business of the village. He was born in Connecticut, and while a boy
removed to Schoharie county, whence he came to Colliersville while yet
a young man, and there he resided the remainder of his life. By
persistent industry Mr. Goodyear accumulated a large fortune, and won
a high reputation for integrity.

The following is a column of business cards from the "ONEONTA
WEEKLY JOURNAL," of July 1, 1841. It is nearly a correct showing
of what the business of the village then was:[A]

     Headquarters at the foot of Chestnut street. New Fall and
     Winter goods. Timothy Sabin is now receiving a fresh supply
     of Spring and Summer Goods, comprising a general assortment
     of Dry Goods, Groceries, Crockery, Hardware, Dye Stuffs,
     Paints, Oils, etc., etc., for sale as low as at any
     establishment west of the Hudson river. Please call and
     examine goods and prices; they are well selected, and will
     be sold cheap for Cash, Produce, or a liberal credit.

     Oneonta, May 13, 1841.

     Cabinet and Chair Warehouse, No. 10 Chestnut st., Oneonta.
     The subscriber respectfully informs his friends, and the
     public generally, that he has opened a Cabinet Warehouse at
     No. 10 Chestnut st., Oneonta, where he manufactures and
     keeps constantly on hand, a general assortment of Cabinet
     Furniture, comprising Mahogany, Cherry and Maple work. Also,
     a good assortment of Chairs, will be kept constantly on
     hand, and all other articles generally found at an
     establishment of this kind.

     N.B. Most kinds of Lumber and grain will be received in

     Oneonta, Sept. 17, 1840. R.W. HOPKINS

     A Card Executed at the office of the Oneonta Weekly Journal
     with neatness and dispatch and on reasonable terms, Job
     Printing of every description.

     E. Cooke, Attorney at Law, Oneonta, Otsego County, N.Y.

     John B. Steele, Attorney, &c., Oneonta, Otsego County, N.Y.
     Office, in the stone building opposite the Otsego House,
     Main street.

     Mason Gilbert, Hatter, Main street, Oneonta.

     Cooke & Brown, retail dealers in Dry Goods, Groceries,
     Crockery, Hardware, Iron, Steel, &c., &c. Store under the
     office of the Oneonta Weekly Journal, Main street, Oneonta.

     Potter C. Burton, dealer in Watches, Clocks, Jewelry. Silver
     and German Silver Ware, &c., &c. One door north of Cooke &
     Brown's Store, Main street, Oneonta.

     Timothy Sabin, retail dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries,
     Crockery, Hardware, Iron, Steel, &c., &c. Store opposite the
     Oneonta House, Main street, foot of Chestnut, Oneonta.

     Clyde & Cook, retail dealers in Dry Goods, Groceries,
     Crockery, Hardware, Drugs & Medicines, Dye Woods & Dye
     Stuffs, &c., &c. Store nearly opposite the Otsego House,
     Main street, Oneonta.

     Snow & Van Woert, manufacturers of, and wholesale and retail
     dealers in Tin, Sheet-Iron, and Copper ware, Stoves, &c.,
     &c. Over Clyde & Cook's Store, Main street, Oneonta.

     C. Noble, manufacturer of, and wholesale and retail dealer
     in Beach's Patent Shaving Soap, Beach's Liquid Opodeldoc,
     and Black Varnish, &c., &c. Main street, Oneonta.

     Robert W. Hopkins, manufacturer of, and dealer in Cabinet
     Ware and Chairs of every description. Chestnut street,

     Cushing & Potter, manufacturers of, and wholesale and retail
     dealers in Barrels & Firkins, &c., &c. Main st., Oneonta.

     W.W. Snow's Wool Carding and Cloth Dressing Establishment.
     Opposite E.R. Ford's Store, Main street, Oneonta.

     Bennet & Smith, dealers in Morocco, Boots and Shoes, Thread,
     Nails, and Findings, &c., &c., Chestnut street, Oneonta,
     Otsego Co., N.Y.

     George W. Andrews, Chair Maker, and House & Sign Painter,
     (Chestnut street,) Oneonta, Otsego Co., N.Y.

     C.G. Cross, Waggon and Carriage Maker, Chestnut street,

     E.R. Ford, retail dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries, Crockery,
     Hardware, Drugs & Medicines, Dye Woods & Dye Stuffs, Iron,
     Steel, &c., &c., Main street, Oneonta.

[Footnote A: The following advertisement from the "Weekly Journal," of
July 1, 1841, will show that people were not more honest in former
times than they are now:


     The fence around the Baptist Church in this village, has
     disappeared very mysteriously during the past winter.
     Whether _strayed or stolen_ it is not yet definitely
     ascertained; but from circumstances recently developed, the
     latter idea seems most conclusive. Rumor says it has been
     tracked going Westward; but still, as the Church is located
     on quite an elevated piece of ground, and near the brink of
     the hill, it is possible that it may have slid off to the

     Any person who will give correct information where said
     fence may be found, or where it was last seen after leaving
     the premises, will be liberally rewarded by the trustees of
     the Baptist society. Any person wishing to make any
     confession in relation to it, may rely upon having profound
     secrecy maintained by applying soon to _one_ of the Deacons
     of the Church.

     Oneonta, May 20, 1841.]

From the town book the following copy of the doings of the people, at
their first town meeting, has been made:

"At an annual town meeting held in the town of Oneonta at the house of
Thomas D. Alexander, on the 1st day of March, present

     Eliakim R. Ford,} _Justices in_
     Robert Cook,    } _said town._

"After the opening of the meeting by proclamation, it was resolved,

1st, That there be three assessors elected for said town.

2d, That there be four constables elected for said town.

3d, That there be four pound-masters chosen for said town.

4th, That an amount, equal to the sum which may be distributed to said
town from the common school fund, be raised by tax for the support of
common schools in said town.

5th, That the sum of one dollar per day be allowed to the fence
viewers of said town.

6th, That five per cent. be allowed as the compensation to the
collector, as his fees for collecting the taxes for said town.

7th, That all circular and partition fences, in said town, shall be at
least four feet and six inches high.

8th, That widows, who have no land, shall be entitled to let their
cattle run at large in the public highways, from the first of April to
the first of December.

9th, That the annual town meeting shall be held on the first Thursday
of March. The following officers were then elected for the town:

_Supervisor_, William Richardson.

_Town Clerk_, Adam Brown.

                        { John Dillingham,
_Justices of the peace_ { Jonah Northrup,
                        { John S. Yager.

            { John Van Woert,
_Assessors_ { John Fritts,
            { John T. Quackenboss.

                            { Isaac Shepherd,
_Commissioners of Highways_ { Asel Marvin,
                            { William Angel.

_Overseers of the poor_ { George W. Smith,
                        { Samuel Carpenter.

_Collector_, Hiram Shepherd.

             { Hiram Shepherd,
_Constables_ { David Sullivan,
             { Emanuel Northrup,
             { Robert S. Cook.

                           { Obadiah Gifford,
_Commissioners of schools_ { Peter Dietz,
                           { Joseph Walling.

                        { Samuel H. Case,
_Inspectors of schools_ { Washington Throop,
                        { Amos Cook.

_Sealer of weights and measures_, Eliakim R. Ford.

                { Beers Peet,
_Pound-masters_ { Joseph Walling,
                { William Dietz,
                { Elisha Shepherd."

In 1835, five years after the organization of the town, the whole
tax-paying population of Oneonta was 261. The grand total tax-levy of
the town was $781.48. The amount of public school money raised by the
town was $100.45. William Angel was supervisor and David Sullivan
collector for that year.[A]

[Footnote A: No historical sketch of Oneonta would be regarded
complete that failed to mention another name which no one can recall
without a feeling of good-will. Dr. David T. Evans was born in
Washington county, in 1789 and settled here in 1829. He first began
business as a tailor, but afterwards became a well-known and
successful farrier. He was a famous story-teller and everybody gave a
respectful hearing to the Doctor's tales regarding the strange
characters he had known or heard of. At least two generations of boys
have grown up and gone out from the village who have listened to his
stories. Wherever those boys are now--scattered far and wide--they
recall no scenes or events of their springtime without a remembrance
of Dr. Evans and his tales, none of which were wanting in pith or

In 1840, a newspaper was established here which was thereafter
conducted by Wm. J. Knapp for about two years when, owing to poor
health, Mr. Knapp was compelled to discontinue its publication. It
was the "Oneonta Weekly Journal."

The growth of the village of Oneonta from 1840 to 1850 must have been
very slow. The building of a house in those days was an act of no
little importance. For ten years there were but few dwellings erected,
and those few were of a cheap and inferior class. The population
hardly kept pace with the building. The young went west, and the
number of families that moved out was about equal to the number that
moved in.

From 1850 to 1860 there was but little building and but a small
increase in population. There are no accessible figures showing the
population of the village at the different decades, but the census
returns for the town may be taken as safe guides in forming an
estimate of the village population at different periods. In 1830, when
the town was organized, it contained a population of eleven hundred
and forty-nine. In 1840 it had increased to nineteen hundred and
thirty-six. In 1850 it had slightly decreased, then being nineteen
hundred and two. In 1855 it was twenty-one hundred and sixty-seven.
These are the figures for the town. If the village population had
increased in the same ratio, it could not have been far from two
hundred and fifty when the town was formed in 1830. It is hardly fair
to infer that the village ratio of increase was quite equal to that
of the town. The western emigration was made up more largely from the
village than from the farms. The same cause--lack of profitable
employment--that has transferred the young men of New England from the
plow to the manufacturing centres, transferred our young men from a
place where no industry was encouraged, to remote but wider fields of

In 1851 the Albany & Susquehanna railroad company was organized and
chartered. Samuel S. Beach and Woodbury K. Cooke drew up the first
notice of the railroad project and at the same time drew up a notice
of a meeting to be held in Oneonta for the purpose of enlisting the
interest of capitalists in the proposed road. These notices Messrs.
Cooke and Beach caused to be printed and distributed at their own
expense. This meeting resulted in the formation of the Albany &
Susquehanna railroad company. High hopes of its speedy completion were
then entertained. But could its projectors have forseen the
difficulties and obstacles that they had to overcome, and the length
of time that elapsed before the road was built to Oneonta, they would
have wearied of the project and abandoned the enterprise. The road was
completed to this place in 1865--a little more than fourteen years
after the organization of the company.

An improved appearance was at once given the village. New stores and
new dwellings were built. Old, weather-stained buildings were
brightened with paint, and the Dutch stoop with its half doors gave
place to more pretentious verandas.

Then about 1872 the machine shops were established here, and the
village began to increase rapidly, and new industries were developed.

In 1860, there was but one newspaper published in the village. That
was the HERALD, which had been established in 1853 by L.P.
Carpenter, and his brother, J.B. Carpenter--the former now of the
Morris Chronicle. L.P. continued the publication of the paper, as
editor and proprietor, for a long time, and at last succeeded in
gaining for his journal a firm foothold in the community. He labored
early and late at the work that was before him--editor, compositor and
pressman--often beset with discouragements, always feebly supported in
his efforts, but still hopeful and plucky. He could hardly, in 1860,
have dreamed that within twenty years, steam presses would be brought
into the same village to follow in the wake of the clumsy press whose
only motive power was his own strong arm. But few of our citizens can
now justly appreciate the obligation the community is under to Mr.
Carpenter for the large part of his life-work which he here so
unostentatiously performed.

In 1860 there was no bank here, and merchants were compelled to adopt
a round-about way of making exchanges with their creditors. Money was
sent miles away, by the stage-driver, or by special messenger, to a
bank where at a round premium a draft was bought. The stores of the
village had each a general assortment of merchandise, including silks,
broadcloths, groceries, plows, and schoolbooks. On either side of
Main-st. was a hard-beaten path, which served for a sidewalk. On the
south side of the street stood a number of dingy rookeries, in a half
tumble-down condition. Pigs and cows roamed at large, and were only
known to be home at supper-time, when old brindle, in more instances
than one, might have been seen peering through the front window with a
covetous look upon the family group around the table.

Marked improvements are now to be observed in every direction. With
the multiplication of industries, and the introduction of new ones,
calling for the outlay of more capital and the employment of more
labor, the growth of the village, in population and wealth, bids fair
to continue. A comparison of figures is, at least, encouraging. In
1860, Oneonta was a thriftless hamlet with only about six hundred
inhabitants. It is now a thriving village with a population of over
four thousand.


Calvin Eaton, one of the first settlers about West Oneonta, settled on
the farm now owned by Isaac Holmes. He came from Wyoming, Pa., date
uncertain. He was a famous story-teller. Many of his stories have been
preserved by tradition, and are now told in the neighborhood with
great zest. His wife, familiarly known as Aunt Olive Eaton, died about
1844 or 1845, at a very advanced age, he having died many years
before. They brought up several of their nephews and nieces, having no
children of their own, William Holmes, father of Isaac Holmes, being
one of them.

Elder Emanuel Northrup, a Baptist minister, settled on the farm now
owned by his grandson, Isaac Northrup, about 1794. He came originally,
it is believed, from Rhode Island. He had lived in Connecticut, but
came last from Stephentown, Rensselaer-co. His son, Josiah Northrup,
who was afterwards a justice of the peace for many years, having been
elected at the first town meeting, a prominent man in town affairs and
a leading member of the Baptist church, was, at the time of his
father's coming, about fourteen years of age; he died in 1844.

The farm now occupied by the Niles family was settled by Abner Mack, a
Rhode Island man. He sold a part of his possession, what is now the
Niles farm, in 1797, to Nathaniel Niles; there were two of the name,
father and son, the father being the purchaser. He was at that time
about seventy years of age; he brought with him some apple seeds,
planted a nursery, raised trees, set out an orchard, and lived to
drink cider made from the apples. The orchard became quite famous in
the neighborhood, and was known to all the boys for miles around; many
of the trees are yet bearing. Upon the death of the father, his son,
Nathaniel Niles, who had occupied the farm with his father, became the
owner, who lived upon the farm until his death in 1852, at
eighty-seven years of age.

Franklin Strait, another of the early settlers, came from Rhode Island
in 1797; he brought his family, and drove an ox-team. He first settled
on the farm now owned by Enos Thayer, where he lived until 1808, when
he exchanged his farm with Asa Thayer, another of the early comers,
for the property at West Oneonta where the hotel now stands. He
enlarged the house that then stood upon the ground, took out a
license, and opened "Strait's Tavern," on the Oxford turnpike, one of
the old landmarks for many years; he died in 1822. Two of his sons,
Rufus and Alvinza Strait, are now living. Before this property had
come into the possession of Thayer, it had been occupied by Daniel
Lawrence, father of Lewis Lawrence, of Utica, and where Lewis Lawrence
was born.

Robert Cook settled early upon the farm owned at present by Hammond
Cook. At the time of his coming the Indians were yet frequent
visitors. One day, as the story is, Cook was at work in the field, his
wife being alone in the house, an Indian called, and finding her
alone, brandished his knife, and made some terrible threats,
frightening her almost to death. Just at this time Cook appeared; the
Indian took his departure precipitately. Cook seized his gun and
pursued him. He returned after a little time, and the Indian never
troubled them more.

The place where Daniel Hodge now lives was first occupied by Samuel
Stephen. His father John Stephen, made a settlement at Laurens before
the Revolutionary war.

The Sleepers were from near Burlington, New Jersey. During the war
they became alarmed at the inroads of the tories and Indians, and
returned to New Jersey. On their way back, they passed through Cherry
Valley the day before the massacre. They returned to the settlement
after the war. John Sleeper had several sons. One, Nehemiah Sleeper,
built a mill below Laurens on the Otego creek, which was afterwards
known as Boyd's mill. Samuel Sleeper took up several hundred acres of
land, of which the farms of Daniel Hodge and Horace White formed a
part. He built a grist-mill and saw-mill on the Otego creek, just
below the covered bridge, this side (east) of West Oneonta. He was
said to have been an active business man, and was quite a noted
surveyor. He sold his property after some years to one David Smith,
and went to Stroudsburgh, Pa., and thence to Ohio. His oldest son,
Ephraim Sleeper, married Jane Niles, daughter of Nathaniel Niles, and
remained in the neighborhood. The latter died about twelve years ago
at West Oneonta, at an advanced age.

Other persons are mentioned by the old residents as being among the
early settlers. Samuel Green occupied a part of the farm now owned by
Joseph Bull. A man named Ticknor, another part of the same farm. One
Ogden lived where Joseph Taber now lives, about whom a few stories are
current in the neighborhood. At one time a company of Indians was
encamped at the mouth of the Otego creek, engaged in making baskets
and trinkets of various kinds. Ogden visited them for the purpose of
getting a pair of silver shoe-buckles made by an Indian who was
skilled in the art. It so happened that he had not silver enough to
make the buckles. Two or three of the Indians left suddenly, and
after having been absent a short time, returned, bringing a handful of
silver. Ogden inferred from this that there must be a silver mine not
far away, but he was never able to find it.--A deer[A] often came
around his house; he shot at it repeatedly, but was unable to hit it.
An old woman lived not far away, who was called a witch; he finally
suspected that she had something to do with the deer; he procured a
silver bullet, which he put in his gun, and next time the deer
appeared he fired at it, wounding it badly, but it escaped; he soon
learned, however, that the old woman was badly hurt.[B]

[Footnote A: The same story is told of other hunters and other

[Footnote B: The author is indebted to Mr. N.N. Bull for the sketch
relating to West Oneonta.]


The first church organization in town was effected by the
Presbyterians. The first meeting was held at the house of Fredrick
Brown, January 24, 1800, when John Houghtaling, Henry Scramling, John
VanDer Werker and James Dietz were chosen elders; William Morenus,
David Scramling, Aaron Barnes, and James Quackenbush were chosen as
deacons. The following are the names of the ministers of the church
with dates of service: Wm. Fisher, 1823-33; Wm. Clark, 1833-37; Jos.
W. Paddock, 1837-42; Fordyce Harrington, 1843-45; Gaius M. Blodgett,
1845.--[Reorganization.] Eliphalet M. Spencer, 1849-52; Wm. B.
Christopher, 1852-54; Wm. Baldwin, 1854-62; Geo. O. Phelps, 1863-69;
H.H. Allen, 1869--.

The next church organization was by the Methodist Episcopals. The
first steps towards forming the society were taken by Nathan Bennett,
Silas Washburn, David T. Evans, David Fairchild, and David T. Clark.
This society had no house of worship for many years, and held their
meetings in the village school house. The first church edifice was
built in 1844. In 1868-69 a new and large meeting house was built and
finished at a cost of $12,000. Rev. George Elliott and Rev. Wm.
McDonald were the first preachers. Subsequent ministers have been:
Rev. C.G. Robinson, 1854-56; Rev. W.G. Queal, 1856-58; Rev. S.M.
Stone, 1858-59; Rev. D.L. Pendell, 1859-61; Rev. Geo. Parsons,
1861-63; Rev. P.Y. Hughston, 1863-65; Rev. H.N. Van Dusen, 1865-67;
Rev. R.W. Peebles, 1867-70; Rev. Austin Griffin, 1870-72; Rev. I.N.
Pardee, 1872-75; Rev. W.B. Westlake, 1875-78; Rev. Y.Z. Smith,
1878-79; Rev. A.B. Richardson, 1879-82; Rev. D.C. Olmstead, 1882--.

The First Baptist society was organized April 6, 1833. At a meeting
called for that purpose, David Yager was chosen moderator and James
Slade clerk. April 24, 1833, a council was held, of which Elder Alex.
Smith, of Franklin, was moderator, and Elder Kingsley, of Meredith,
clerk. The pastors have been Rev. D.B. Crane, 1833-35; Rev. John
Smith, 1836-48; Rev. H. Clark, 1848-49; Rev. A.B. Earle, 1849-53; Rev.
E. Westcott, 1854-57; Rev. John Smith, 1858-65; Rev. A. Reynolds,
1865-70; Rev. Geo. R. Burnside, 1871-74; Rev. H. Brotherton, 1874-80;
Rev. P.D. Root, 1880-82; Rev. E.D. Clough, 1883--.

The Free Baptist church society was formed at the Emmons school house
Feb. 25, 1856.[A] The council consisted of Rev. A. Wing, D. Green,
O.T. Moulton, and laymen Joseph Jenks and Harvey Mackey. The meeting
house was built in 1857. The pastors have been, Rev. O.T. Moulton,
1856-61; Rev. H. Strickland, 1862; Rev. E. Crowel, 1864-68; Rev. G.P.
Ramsey, 1868-72; Rev. O.T. Moulton, 1872-75; Rev. Peter Scramling,
1875; Rev. M.C. Brown, 1875-78; Rev. D.C. Wheeler, 1878; Rev. David
Boyd, 1880-83; Rev. C.A. Gleason, 1883--.

[Footnote A: A Free Baptist church had been built at the Plains many
years before.]

The first Episcopal services were held in 1839, by the Rev. Andrew
Hall, a missionary to Oneonta and Otego. At first the society met in
the school-house of the village, and afterwards built a chapel on the
lot now occupied by a part of the Central Hotel. The clergy have been
as follows: Rev. Andrew Hall, 1839; Rev. Stephen Parker, 1855; Rev.
D.S. Tuttle, 1864-65; Rev. E.N. Goddard, 1865; Rev. Mr. Foote and Rev.
Mr. Ferguson, 1866-67; Rev. Mr. Lighthipe, 1870; Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald,
1873-74; Rev. J.H. Smith, 1874; Rev. J.B. Colhoun, 1875-78; Rev. J.B.
Hubbs, 1880-81; Rev. C.D. Flagler, 1882.--The society was organized
under the name of St. James church, April 7, 1870.

The "First Universalist Society of Oneonta" was formed Dec. 12, 1877.
The meeting house was built in 1878-79. The pastors have been Rev.
L.F. Porter, 1877-81; Rev. H. Kirke White, 1882--.

The Catholic society now numbers about three hundred. Services have
been conducted heretofore by Rev. J.J. Brosnahan, of Cobleskill, till
July, 1883, when the Bishop created a new parish at this place and
appointed Rev. James H. Maney (of St. Mary's Church, Albany), who is
now the resident pastor. The parish under the charge of the Rev. Mr.
Maney extends from the Cooperstown Junction to the Harpersville
Tunnel. This society is about to erect a church edifice on a lot
already purchased for that purpose.

The "Oneonta Union School" was organized in 1867. The sum of $5,000
was first voted for the purpose of building a schoolhouse, and
afterwards the sum was increased to $7,500. The building was finished
and school opened in 1868 with Wilber F. Saxton as principal. Mr.
Saxton resigned his position in 1870, and was then succeeded by
Nathaniel N. Bull as principal. In 1873 the needs of the school were
met by the building of a smaller schoolhouse in the lower part of the
district. In 1874 and in 1880 the main school building was enlarged to
accommodate the increased attendance of scholars. An academic
department was organized in 1874. The school is attended by about six
hundred pupils, and twelve teachers are employed. Mr. Bull is still
the efficient principal, and his labor is shared by competent

The business industries and enterprises of the village consist of a
number of large dry goods and clothing stores, several shoe stores,
nearly a dozen grocery and provision stores, two or three bakeries,
confectionery establishments, flour and feed stores, several builders'
machine shops, three saw mills, three grist mills, furniture stores,
three large hardware stores, the railroad machine shops, round-houses,
carriage factories, coopers' and blacksmith shops, three drug stores,
two well-equipped printing offices, each of which issues a carefully
edited and well patronized newspaper--_Herald and Democrat_ and
_Oneonta Press_. There are two banks--the "Wilber National" and "The
First National"--both of which are doing a large business and are
under prudent management. There are a dozen or more lawyers and as
many physicians. Three roomy hotels care for and furnish entertainment
to the way-faring public, and another hotel is in course of

The village is rapidly growing, and new industries are multiplying. A
desirable water power could be furnished to drive the wheels of a
large manufactory--a subject that must sooner or later attract the
attention of some capitalist. Well-shaded streets and well-kept
roadways add to the attractions of the village, while its
surroundings of cultivated fields--of hill-side and plain--of wooded
slopes and mountains--render the scenery as grand and diversified as
can be found in the Susquehanna valley.


       *       *       *       *       *





Devoted to the interests of Otsego County, of the Second Assembly
District, and of Oneonta in particular.

The most thorough local and general newspaper in the county.




       *       *       *       *       *

W.L. & R. BROWN,






Tin, Copper and Sheet-Iron Ware.


       *       *       *       *       *

Edwin P. Chapman,


Diamonds, Watches, Clocks,





Toys, Fancy Goods, &c., &c.

Fine Watch, Clock and Jewelry Repairing a Specialty.



       *       *       *       *       *



DAVID WILBER, President,

  D.F. WILBER, Vice-President,

    GEO. I. WILBER, Cashier,

      E.A. SCRAMLING, Ass't Cashier.



Capital Stock Paid in, $100,000.00
Surplus Fund,            49,000.00

Amount of Deposits reported for Quarter ending October 2, 1883,

While the business of this Bank is conducted in a safe and economical
manner, the managers aim to please and protect their customers.

The patronage of the public is respectfully solicited.

BANKING HOURS: From 10 to 12 a.m., and from 1*

[*Transcriber's Note: remainder of text missing from original.]

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