The Chronicles of Cooperstown/Chapter VI

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  The size of Cooperstown received considerable accessions between the years 1805 and 1820. Several young lawyers established themselves in the place. among whom were:

  • William Dowse,
  • George Morell,
  • Samuel Starkweather,
  • Joseph S. Lyman,
  • Eben B. Morehouse,
  • H. Flagg, and
  • A. L. Jordan, Esquires.

Mr. Morell removed to Michigan in 1832, and is at present one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of that state. Mr. Lyman was elected to Congress in 1818, but died during his term of service. Mr. Dowse was also elected a Member of Congress at a still earlier day, but never took his seat, having died previously to the meeting of that body. Messrs. Jordan and Flagg removed from the village after a few years’ residence. Mr. Flagg died in one of the southern states, shortly after he left here.

    The village has given the following Members to the Congress of the United States, to wit:

  • William Cooper, who was first elected in 1794;
  • John Russell, Esq., who was elected in 1804;
  • John M. Bowers, Esq., who sat part of a session in 1813–14, but lost his seat in consequence of a decision of the House;
  • William Dowse, Esq., elected in 1812 and died as already mentioned;
  • Joseph S. Lyman, Esq., elected in 1818, and died in 1821; and
  • John H. Prentiss, Esq., who is the sitting member.

    The county of Otsego has for several years composed a Congressional District by itself, and of eleven Members chosen at different periods from the county, six have been residents of Cooperstown.

    Several other gentlemen became residents of the place during the period already mentioned, and continued to increase and improve its society; among these were Messrs.

  • Edmeston,
  • Atchison,
  • Augustine Prevost, and
  • G. W. Prevost.

A singular fatality attended the first three of these gentlemen. Col Prevost was lost in the well known shipwreck of the Albion packet. Mr. Edmeston was drowned while bathing, and Mr. Atchison fell by his own hand during an access of fever. Neither of these melancholy events occurred in the village.

    Five deaths by drowning. in the lake, have occurred among the inhabitants of the village since the settlement of the place.

    The village was much improved by the fire of 1818; stone and brick buildings having been principally erected in the place of those destroyed. — 48

    The first public house in Cooperstown, as has been said already, was kept by William Ellison, on Water street, near the outlet. But the first public house of any note, was the old Red Lion, kept by Joseph Griffin, on the projecting corner of West and Second streets. This building, which at different times has been much enlarged, repaired and improved, has continued to he one of the principal inns of the place for forty-six years. The old sign, which was painted hy an amateur artist, R. R. Smith, Esq., the first sheriff of the county, stood for many years, but to the great regret of the older inhabitants of the place, it has been made to disappear before some of the more ambitious improvements of the day, the house being now called the Eagle Tavern.

    The second public house of any consequence, was the Blue Anchor, kept by William Cook, on the corner diagonally opposite to the Red Lion this house was in much request for many years among all the genteeler portion of the travelers. Its host was a man of singular humors, great heartiness of character, and perfect integrity. He had been the steward of an English East-indiaman, and enjoyed an enviable reputation in the village for his skill in mixing punch and flip. On holidays, a stranger would have been apt to mistake him for one of the magnates of the land, as he invariably appeared in a drab coat of the style of 1776, with buttons as large as dollars, breeches, striped stockings, buckles that covered half his foot, and a cocked hat large enough to extinguish him. The landlord of the Blue Anchor was a general favorite, his laugh and his pious oaths having become historical.

    There were many other taverns in the place, the most considerable of which was Washington Hall. It stood on the north side of Second street, one door from the corner of Fair street. This house at one period was in more request than any other in the place, but not until the functions of the popular landlord of the Blue Anchor had ceased.

    In 1832, the house adjoining the old Washington Hall was removed, and a spacious inn was erected on its site; this is at the eastern corner of Second and Fair streets, and the inn is known by the name of Union Hall.

    A tavern was kept by Daniel Olendorf, on the northeast corner of Second and Chestnut streets for several years. This house was probably in more demand than any other that has been kept in the village, but it was discontinued in the early part of the present year, though it is still in request as a hoarding house. The Eagle Tavern and Union Hall are now the two principal inns of the place, the first being the stage house. — 49

    According to the census of 1820, the population of the village had increased to 1,000, and in 1825 it was reduced to 857, while in 1830 it was 1,115. By the census of 1835, it was found to be 1,190. The growth of the village has been in some degree retarded by the mania for western emigration and there was a period at the commencement of the century, when Judge Cooper made large drafts on this village and the surrounding country, for settlers on his other estates. The law abolishing imprisonment for debt, has also had a tendency to lessen the population of this village, in common with those of all the small county towns in the interior.

    Notwithstanding the apparent stagnation in the place, Cooperstown has actually been greatly improved within the last fifteen years. Several houses have been erected in brick or stone, of respectable dimensions and of genteel finish; among these:

  • that of Mr. Elihu Phinney on West street,
  • that of Mr. William Nichols on Fair street,
  • that of Mr. Ellery Cory, also on West street, and
  • that of Mr. John Hannay, on Second street,

are among the most considerable. The last three are of stone.

    A law was passed on the 8th day of April, 1830, incorporating a bank, by the title of the Otsego County Bank, and a stone banking-house was erected on the south side of Second street, nearly opposite to Fair street, in 1831. This bank has a capital of one hundred thousand dollars, and Robert Campbell and Henry Scott, Esquires, both old and respectable inhabitants of the village, have been its president and cashier, since the formation of the institution. This incorporation has been well managed, and as it has been found very serviceable to the community, while it has escaped the imputations that rest on so many similar establishments in other places, it is in favor with all the intelligent part of the population.

    Few of the very early heads of families in the village now remain; many of those even, who came in about the close of the last or the beginning of the present century, are already dead, and several of those who accompanied their parents as children, have followed them to the grave. Isaac Cooper, Esq., the second son of the proprietor, who for many years was an active inhabitant of the village, and who contributed little less than his father, to its improvement and embellishment, died on the 1st of January, 1818. His two brothers, William and Samuel, survived him but a short time.

    Thomas Shankland, Esq., died 21st August, 1823, and his wife Rachel, 21st October, 1826. He was the owner of the mills south of the village at the time of his death.

    James Averell, Esq., whose activity in business has been already mentioned, died as lately as December, 1836. His wife having preceded him to the grave about two years.

    Dr. Thomas Fuller, whose practice in the village commenced in 1791,died on the 11th July, 1837. — 50

    Mr. Joshua Starr, another of the old inhabitants, died the 17th February, 1838, and his wife on the 5th May, 1837.

    Mr. Ralph Worthington and Mr. John Frederick Ernst, both respectable residents for a long time, died early, the first on the 9th September, 1828, and the second, on the 29th November, 1830.

    Descendants of all these families exist in the second and third, and in some cases, in the fourth generations.

    The families longest resident in Cooperstown, are the following, the date of the connection with the place being put opposite to the name of each, viz:

  • Cooper, 1785 – 1790;
  • Miller, 1786;
  • Averell, 1786 – 1788;
  • White, 1788;
  • Baldwin, 1790;
  • Fuller, 1791;
  • Starr, 1792;
  • Griffin, 1792;
  • Ingalls, 1793;
  • Graves, 1793;
  • Phinney, 1795;
  • Russell, 1796;
  • Ernst, 1799;
  • Metcalf, 1799;
  • Bowden, 1799;
  • Pomeroy, 1801;
  • Campbell, 1802;
  • Worthington, 1802;
  • McNainee, 1802;
  • Olendorf, 1802;
  • Foote, 1804;
  • Scott, 1805;
  • Prentiss, 1808, &c., &c., &c.

To these may be added several families that have long been settled in the adjoining country, and of which some of the members now reside in the village. Among the latter, we find the names of:

  • Fitch, 1790 – 1814;
  • Clark, 1796 – 1812;
  • Jarvis. 1786 – 1832;
  • Stowel, 1792 – 1822;
  • Doubleday, 1794 – 1821;
  • Luce, 1788 – 1830.

The family of Bowers may also be enumerated, though not within the village limits, coming in 1803. Of the above mentioned names, Messrs. Miller, White, Baldwin, Russell, Griffin, Bowden, Campbell, Pomeroy, Foote, McNamee. Scott, Olendorf and Prentiss, the original head of each family, are still living, as is also Mr Bowers.

    John Miller is now, and indeed, for a long time has been, the oldest living settler. His children own the property which he first cleared from the forest. James White, a carpenter, well known for his industry and hard application to his work, is the next oldest settler, and Joseph Baldwin, cooper, is the third; the fourth male is James Fenimore Cooper, Esquire. This gentleman was born 1789, and in 1790, was brought an infant, a year old, into the village, with the family of Judge Cooper, of which he was the youngest child. His sister, Mrs. Pomeroy, is the longest resident among the females, neither of those already named as older inhabitants, her own father excepted, having been married at the time of the arrival of her family. The next oldest female resident, we believe to be the wife of Joseph Baldwin.

    Of descendants, there have been four generations of the Cooper family in the place, from father to son. This is the only instance, we believe, in which the fourth generation has yet been reached in the same name, though it has been several times done through females. The grand-children of the older settlers are in active life, however, in very many instances. — 51

    Some of the members of these families are now among the most respectable and useful inhabitants of the place.

    In 1825, Samuel Nelson, Esquire, the judge of the circuit court, married the only daughter of Judge Russell, and became an inhabitant of Cooperstown. Judge Nelson resided some time at Apple hill, but in 1829 he purchased Fenimore, and enlarging the farm-house, he converted it into a spacious and convenient dwelling. The walls of the ruins left by the fire of 1823, were removed in 1826, and no traces of that situation now remain, but its foundations. Judge Nelson was promoted to the bench of the Supreme Court in 1833, and in 1836, he became its chief justice.

    John A. Dix, Esquire, the present Secretary of State, purchased Apple Hill of the heirs of R. Fenimore Cooper, Esq., in 1828, but sold it to Levi C. Turner, Esq., at his removal to Albany, on his being appointed Adjutant-General. Mr. Turner is married to the daughter of Robert Campbell, Esq., and is the present owner of that beautiful situation.

    In 1829, Eben B. Morehouse, Esquire, purchased a few acres of Mr. Bowers, on the side of the Vision, at the point where the old state road made its first turn to ascend the mountain, and caused a handsome dwelling in stone to be constructed. This place, which has received the appropriate name of Woodside. has been extensively embellished, and as it enjoys the advanta,,e of possessing a beautiful pine grove, it is generally esteemed one of the most desirable residences of the neighborhood. In 1836, Mr. Morehouse sold Woodside to Samuel Wootton Beall, Esquire, a native of Maryland, who had married into the family of Cooper.

    After the death of the late Isaac Cooper, Esquire. the house at Edgewater was sold. An abortive attempt was made to get up a female school, and this house was altered, in order to meet such an object. This project failed, and in 1834, the property was sold to Theodore Keese, Esquire, of New York, by whom it has been repaired, and the grounds restored to their original beauty, and indeed improved. Mr. Keese uses Edgewater as a summer residence, having married into the family of Pomeroy. — 52

    The Hall having passed into the hands of J. Feniinore Cooper, Esquire, that gentleman, shortly after his return from Europe, or in 1834, had it extensively repaired, and a good deal altered. The roof had rotted, and it was replaced by a new one on the old inclination, but the walls of the building were raised four feet. On these were placed battlements and heavy cornices in brick, that add altogether eight feet to the elevation of the building. The distance between the rows of the windows was increased three feet, by filling in the lower ends of the upper windows, and by placing new stools, the necessary height. having been obtained above. Much ornamental brick work has been added, and the effect has been altogether advantageous. All the floors of the second story have also been raised, giving to the principal rooms a better height than they formerly possessed, while those above have been improved the same way, by the addition to the general height of the building. Appropriate entrances have been made on both fronts, that are better suited to the style of architecture and to the climate than the ancient stoops, and two low towers have been added to the east end, which contribute greatly to the comfort of the house, as a residence. The improvements and alterations are still proceeding slowly, and this dwelling, which for ten or twelve years was nearly deserted, promises to be one of the best country houses in the state again. The grounds have also been enlarged and altered, the present possessor aiming at what is called an English garden. During the life of Judge Cooper, these grounds contained about three acres, but they are now enlarged to near five.

    Great improvements have been made in the streets of late years, which have been accurately graded, and in some instances the sidewalks have been flagged. The carriage ways are smooth, in general, and we believe no stump now remains in any of the public avenues. There is a deficiency in the supply of water, however, Cooperstown being less abundantly furnished with this great necessary in 1838 than it was fcrty years ago; for at that time~ log aqueducts were led under ground, from the western mountain into the village. Wells are numerous, though the water is usually hard, and unsuited to domestic purposes; luckily there are several excellent springs within the circle of the houses, and from these the inhabitants obtain most of their supplies. A law was passed in 1827, to incorporate a company to supply the place with water, and it is to be hoped that the day is not distant when its very desirable objects will be carried into effect. — 53

Introduction, Ch. I, Ch. II, Ch. III, Ch. IV, Ch. V, Ch. VI, Ch. VII