The Chronicles of Cooperstown/Chapter IX
|←Chapter VIII||The Chronicles of Cooperstown by
This decade marked several noticeable improvements and evidences of enterprise in Cooperstown — the commencement of a new and prosperous era; of a steady increase in population.
- The first regular "local department" appeared in the Freeman's Journal in August, when its present Editor assumed control of that paper. One of the first topics introduced was the practicability of establishing a large "Summer hotel" at this place.
- In the month of August Mr. H. C. Hepburn came here to consult citizens in regard to forming a telegraph company, to construct a line to Fort Plain. He met with a reception so favorable to his proposed enterprise, that the necessary stock was subscribed, and the work commenced the following month. It was completed the first week in November, and Mr. H. S. Babcock — who for many years held the office of Justice of the Peace — became the first operator. It at that time cost fifty cents to send a message of ten words to New York; the present charge is 25 cents.
- It was the custom of Judge Nelson, of the U. S. Supreme Court, to occasionally hold a term of the Circuit in this village during his summer vacation, to accommodate those attorneys and parties who might be interested in some important suit. This always brought to Cooperstown a number of the most distinguished lawyers in the country. He held court in August of this year, and the array of eminent talent present was very large. The same thing occurred in succeeding years.
- The yacht "Flying Cloud," owned by Capt. Boden, was launched on Otsego lake July 30, and long remained a favorite with those who enjoyed a sail on these waters.
- At that time contemplating the purchase of a country seat in some pleasant village, Gov. [William L.] Marcy came here in August of this year, with his wife and daughter, especially to view the Woodside property, then for sale, and owned by Mrs. Judge Morehouse. He was pleased with it, and with the idea of locating here; but Mrs. Marcy said the long stage-ride of 26 miles was rather too great a tax, and the Governor deferred to her views in the matter. A large picnic was given at the Point, by Judge Nelson and other prominent citizens, in honor of Gov. Marcy and his family. Crumwell’s band furnished the music and the leader, a colored man named John Crumwell, is still living and playing at dancing parties in this and neighboring counties. ≈ 69
- For the first eight days in September, the mercury ranged from 88 to 94 degrees. The winter of 1851 — ’52 was a very cold one.
- Cooperstown, still leading in newspaper enterprise, saw the erection of its first steam power press, for the Journal, in January — the only one then in this, or either of the seven adjoining counties, with the exception of Oneida. Now there are twelve such newspaper presses running in this county, and probably over forty in the district mentioned.
- In February of this year, a public meeting in aid of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad was held in this village, Wm. H. Averill, Esq., presiding, on which occasion Cooperstown made a very liberal subscription to this enterprise, amounting to several thousand dollars.
- Dr. Horace Lathrop opened an office in Cooperstown, in March, and he is now the oldest resident physician of the place.
- In July, G. W. Ryckman, Jr., bought the "Hall," the old Cooper residence, and two lots near, with a view of fitting it up as a summer hotel. Early the next year a large corps of workmen was employed to remodel and enlarge this building, and in July it was opened to the public. Its career as a hotel was very short, however, as in October of the same year it was destroyed by fire, probably the work of an incendiary. It carried an insurance of $32,500. and some of the companies interested resisted payment, but finally compr[om]ised by paying about two-thirds of their risks.
- This year also witnessed the erection of the Clerk’s and Surrogate’s office, a brick building which stood near the old Court House. It was taken down when the present Court House was built, in 1880.
- As late as this year many men were engaged in making boots and shoes in this village, as we read that 25 journeymen shoemakers were on a strike for higher wages, in August. Now, 1886, not a pair of boots, and seldom a pair of shoes, is made on this corporation. The few journeymen remaining — at the head of whom stands the veteran Sam'l W. Bingham — being wholly employed in mending.
- A suggestion appears in the Journal, in January of this year, that inasmuch as the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad is likely to be constructed, a branch should be built from Cooperstown to connect with it. The first steps were taken ten years later. ≈ 70
- In the same month the suggestion of building a large Seminary of learning in Cooperstown was first made, the outcome of which was that in the following December a public meeting was held, to take steps to establish such an institution at this place. A committee of ten was appointed to take the matter in charge. Further meetings were held during the winter to push along the enterprise, and subscription books were opened in January. The village — outside the Methodist denomination — was asked to subscribe $15,000. On the 28th of March, 1854, the following committee was appointed to attend the Otsego Methodist Association. for the purpose of hearing propositions from that body:
- F. A. Lee,
- G. A. Starkweather,
- W. H. Averell,
- Robert Davis,
- J. M. Peak,
- L. C. Turner,
- S. M. Shaw
- — all of whom except the last named have since died. The committee, at a subsequent meeting, reported that an arrangement had been made with that body of Christians to take control of the Seminary — they to raise at least $15,000, and outsiders $20,000. The work went on, and 21 Trustees were chosen on the 11th April. The Board organized as follows:
- Elihu Phinney, Sen., President,
- G. A. Starkweather, Vice President.
- S. M. Shaw. Secretary,
- F. A. Lee, Treasurer.
- The contract for the building was let to L. M. Bolles, June 1. The following gentlemen comprised the first Board of Trustees:
- Elihu Phinney,
- George A. Stirkweather,
- George W. Errst,
- Cutler Fields,
- S. M. Shaw,
- A. E. Daniels,
- Lyman Smith,
- Calvin Graves,
- F. A. Lee,
- Ellery Cory,
- Levi C. Turner,
- Robert Davis,
- Robert H. Weeks,
- J. G. Bush,
- Rev Charles, Blakeslee and
- Rev. Isaac Parks [all above] of Cooperstown,
- Caleb Clark of Middlefleld,
- John Young of Springfield,
- John Cook of Westford,
- F. H. Bissell of Hartwick,
- Joseph Russell of Milford.
- In July of the following year the main building was raised, and in November occurred the dedication, Bishop Simpson making the principal address. The same week witnessed its opening with a full corps of teachers and nearly as many pupils as it could accommodate. In a short time, the school overflowed with boarders — of whom there were nearly 300 — and many found board in private families in the village. The first principal was Rev. Mr. Nickown. lie retired from the position in 1855. Rev. P. D. Hammond was his successor as principal, in August of the same year. In June, 1856, the building was leased for five years by Messrs. Hammond and Pomeroy In February. 1857, Rev. C. R. Pomeroy became sole principal. At this time the debt on the semninary was about $23,000. It was closed in the following spring, and remained so until September, 1859, when it was purchased by Mr. R. C. Flack, assisted by a loan of $5,000 from the citizens of Cooperstown, without interest, as long as he keeps the school in operation. It was reopened by Mr. Flack, November 11, 1859.
- The Methodist Church of this county was shown to be prosperous, by a report of 32 churches, 11 parsonages, 24 traveling and local preachers, and 3,059 members. ≈ 71
- This year reports the organization of the "Bank of Cooperstown," in January. Mr. Frederick A. Lee was the originator of this enterprise, and was the first Cashier of the bank. Mr. Calvin Graves was its first President, and Mr. Theodore Keese its first Vice-President. All the original directors of this bank are dead.
- During this year extensive repairs were made on Christ Church, and the building was enlarged.
- On the 21st of March an anti-Nebraska meeting was held at the Court House, presided over by Judge Hammond of Cherry Valley.
- The Fourth of July was celebrated at the Point, and Mr. Andrew Barber, editor of the Republican, delivered the oration.
- At the Annual County Fair held in the village in October of this year, Dr. E. P. Byram delivered the address. The Doctor is still a resident of Cooperstown.
- As a greater precaution against fire, additional hydrants were placed in the streets by the village Trustees in November.
- A praiseworthy movement, during the winter of this year, was a course of free lectures given by some of the town’s literati. They were largely attended, and were of much interest. The same thing was done in succeeding years.
- On the night of October 14, the house of Mr. Holder Cory was entered by a burglar, who stabbed Mr. C. in the left breast, but the knife struck a bone. and the wound was not a serious one.
- On the 12th December, there was held in the Presbyterian church of this village, the first Musical Convention, lasting four days and closing with a concert, ever held in this place; it was the second one ever held in this section of the State — the first one having occurred two months earlier at Gilbertsville. Both were held mainly through the efforts of Mr. Alfred P. Hayden, formerly of Middlefield. Prof. Wm. B. Bradhury of New York, was the conductor on both occasions.
- The establishment of the "Worthington Bank," by Mr. J. R. Worthington, with a capital of $50,000, was announced in January.
- During this year Mr. Levi C. Turner was a regular contributor to the Journal, over the signature of "Otsego." He was an easy, fluent writer, who had seen much of the world.
- In May, one of the best stage routes in the Union was established between Cooperstown and Fort Plain, by A. A. Kendall & Co., who had recently bought this line. For several years it did a large husiness.
- The distillery of Mr. William Brooks, near this village, was destroyed by fire in June, and the business was then closed. ≈ 72
- The death of Andrew M. Barber, editor of the Otsego Republican, occurred, after an illness of some weeks, in the latter part of August. He was a man of pleasant. genial temperament, and had drawn about him a large circle of friends in the community and county. He left a widow, but no children. The Republican office then passed into the hands of Mr. George W. Ernst, as chairman of the Whig County Committee, and it was consolidated with the Democrat, owned by Mr. Hendricks. Mr. L. C. Turner was employed as its editor, until Mr. Wood went into the concern.
- A noteworthy circumstance was the fall of six to eight inches of snow in early October, causing serious damage to fruit trees, etc. A man, in a state of partial intoxication, was frozen to death in the northern part of the town. He had been in attendance at the county fair, and was on his way home.
- The example of the previous winter was followed by a similar course of lectures, by home talent. F. A. Lee’s being the initial effort of the season, followed by Dr. Lathrop, Rev. Mr. McHarg, G. Pomeroy Keese, Levi C. Turner, S. M. Shaw, and others.
- In December a farmers’ convention was held here, in which sixteen towns were represented, the object being the re-organization of the County Agricultural Society. H. Roseboom was appointed chairman, and F. M. Rotch of Morris was elected the first President, of the Society.
- On the 10th of January, the stores with dwellings above, of G. M. Grant and N. W. Cole, on Pioneer street, were destroyed by fire. Mr. Kipp’s residence was also injured.
- In April and the following month, the Empire House was enlarged and improved by Gen. Brown; a third story was added.
- The travel had so increased that in May, Kendall & Co. put on a noon line of stages, to run on the east side of the Lake.
- In June. Hon. Joseph L. White purchased Woodside, of Mrs. Morehouse, and took up his residence there.
- Mainly through the efforts of Mr. F. A. Lee, ground was purchased, and "Lakewood Cemetery Association" formed. The grounds were dedicated in the presence of a large concourse of people, in September of ‘57. It has proved of great and lasting benefit.
- In August. Jerome B. Wood, Esq., purchased one-half interest in the Democrat and Republican, and became co-editor with J. I. Hendryx. He was a very pleasant and scholarly gentleman, but active politics were distasteful to him.
- In the early fall, Mr. Edward Clark of New York purchased the "Apple Hill" property, on which. a few years later, he erected the most elegant and costly mansion, by far, in this section of the State; also a magnificent stone bath-house, stables, green-houses, &c. ≈ 73
- As a new thing for this locality, the Democrats held a "barbecue" here, in September — an ox being roasted whole, in the grove then standing above the Court House.
- In September, after a painful illness of two and a half years, which confined her to her bed and lounge, Mrs. S. M.. Shaw was taken to her parents' house in Albany, where she remained for six years, under the care of leading physicians of that city. She was conveyed to Fort Plain on a spring couch made for that purpose, and which was the next morning placed in a special coach kindly put at our disposal by the Superintendent of the Central railroad — all under supervision of her kind medical attendant, Dr. H. Lathrop, who accompanied the party to Albany.
- January 22 made about the coldest mark on record, the mercury going down to 32 below zero.
- Much damage was done to trees and buildings, in April of this year, when snow fell to a depth of twenty to thirty-six inches, on the 14th, and about five feet in three days. A great many barns and sheds, and a few dwellings, were broken down by the weight of the snow.
- On the night of December 28, all the prisoners confined in the county jail made their escape; quite an easy matter, owing to the general discreditable dilapidation of that building. It was presented by the grand jury as a nuisance, the following month.
- Alonzo Bowen was drowned by breaking through the ice in the Lake, January 13th.
- The upper part of the dwelling of widow Zenas Chapman, was destroyed by fire on the noon of March 12; and by the gratuitous labor of the kind-hearted villagers, a new roof was placed on the cottage before night of the same day.
- In April, a small steamboat was placed on the Lake, but being found rather an unsatisfactory craft, its trips were discontinued after a few cruises.
- The appointment of R. R. Nelson, Esq. to the U. S. District Judgeship of Minnesota, and the confirmation of this appointment by the Senate, occurred in May.
- In May, the old Spanish shillings, sixpences and quarters disappeared, as those silver coins were then tabooed, and refused as a circulating medium, both here and elsewhere.
- J. B. Wood, Esq., severed his connection with the Republican, in June, retiring from journalism to resume the practice of his profession — the law. ≈ 74
- The hat and fur business, commenced about sixty years before by Ralph Worthington, and which, since his death, in 1828, had been continued by his son, John R. Worthington, was discontinued in the latter part of this year, and the stock in trade was advertised to be sold at cost.
- Good old Judge Kinne, the friend of every man, had his hotel room entered one night in September, and his valuable gold watch and some money stolen.
- Lieut. Orren Chapman, who had served an apprenticeship in the Journal office, and afterwards graduated from West Point Academy, died in St. Louis on the 6th of January. He left relatives in this village.
- In June, Patrick McNamara, on trial for the murder of his wife, at Richfield, was found guilty of manslaughter in the first degree, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life.
- The store of E. & H. Cory was broken into, and the safe robbed of $30, on the night of August 5.
- The "Burgess block" of stores, situated about where the Postoffice now stands, was completed in the fall, the third story being set apart for a public hall — then the only one in the village. It would seat about 20 people comfortably.
- The well-known "postrider," Jared Gardner, who had carried the village papers to certain southwestern towns for about 14 years, relinquished the route in November, when he was ‘79 years old.
- The early part of this year recorded the completion of the Cooper monument, in Lakewood Cemetery, by the addition of the graceful statuette of Leatherstocking, which crowns the shaft. This monument was erected as a tribute to his memory, by friends and admirers of the great novelist, and has been the object of many pilgrimages by those attracted by the name and fame of Cooper, as well as by its graceful proportions. A special article on it will appear elsewhere in this book.
- A great array of legal talent sojourned in the village (luring the arcruing of the Sewing Machine cases before Judges Nelson and Smalley, in the month of June. In August the Judge decided in favor of the Wilson feed patent.
- Dr. F. U. Johnston of New York, purchased the farm of 160 acres belonging to Elisha Doubleday, in September, and made his residence here for several years, until his purchase of the house on River street, which is still in his possession. Cooperstown lost one of her best citizens on his removal to Westchester county a few years since. — the law. ≈ 75
- The Universalist society remodeled their house of worship, and placed a bell in the tower, in the fall of this year.
- A friendly political discussion was held at the Court House, October 19th, the antagonists in this "war of words" being Hon. Joseph L. White and Levi C Turner, Esq. The former took the Democratic, and the latter the Whig side, in the debate.
- An interesting murder trial was in progress in December of this year, a Mrs. MeCraney of Oneonta being accused of the murder of her step-daughter. She was acquitted of the charge, her defense being conducted by L. L. Bundy and L. S. Chatfield; District Attorney Countryman was assisted (a very little) by Attorney-General Myers. ≈ 76