The Chronicles of Cooperstown/Chapter XI

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FROM 1871 TO 1881.

  Although this decade covered an extended season of general hard times throughout the county, Cooperstown experienced very little of its effects; even the individual cases were few among our citizens. The village grew and flourished, 1871 witnessing the erection of about 30 dwellings, including that of Fred. G. Lee on Lake street, afterwards purchased and doubled in size by Mrs. Jane P. Carter, and the completion of the large brick dwelling put up on Main street by Mr. Joshua H. Story at a cost of about $20,000. A large steamer was put on the lake; the Fire Department was for the first time properly organized, and new apparatus bought; the Hotel Fenimore was built; a large addition made to the Union School building; a new Jail and Sheriffs residence, and then a Court House erected; the threatened bankruptcy of the Cooperstown railroad prevented; the Pioneer Mills erected at a cost of about $45,000; the Aqueduct Association enlarged its supply of water to meet the growing demands of the village; the census of 1880 sbowed a gratifying increase in the population of the place. In detail the record shows:

[Skip to year: 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880.]


  • Mr. George Story, at an expense of several thousand dollars, added a new story to his brick block on Main street, adjoining his brother’s new house — all now known as the Ballard House.
  • In January, the Village Improvement Society of Cooperstown took a lease of Three Mile Point. at a nominal rent, for 25 years, of Mr. Wm. Cooper of Baltimore, who owns that small but valuable piece of lake property.
  • In the same month Mr. J. R. Worthington sold the circulation of his bank to certain parties in Oneonta, who established the "First National" bank of that village, Mr. Worthington being one of its stockholders and directors. He also continued in business as a private banker in this village.
  • In the month of April, the old "Bull’s Head" property, once kept as a hotel, was demolished by Mr. Phinney. In this hotel,Mr. Thurlow Weed was a boarder while working at his trade as a printer in this village, and there became engaged to be married to the daughter of Mr. Ostrander, then the proprietor, and a few years later they were married. Mr. Weed visited this village the following summer, when the editor of this book, who had known him for over twenty years, had a long conversation with him in regard to occurrences here while Mr. Weed was a resident. ≈ 92
  • Dr. Blodgett was appointed P. M. [Postmaster?] at Cooperstown on the first of May, and remained in office for nearly nine years.
  • As rather an unusual event, it may be mentioned, that there was a slight fall of snow here on the 7th day of May.
  • The Cooper House was this year leased to Coleman & Maxwell, who opened it on the 15th of June, and had a very successsul season.
  • The new steamer "Natty Bumppo," owned principally by Messrs. A. H. Watkins and Elihu Phinney, had her trial trip on the 4th day of July. A few days later a set of colors was formally presented the boat by a few citizens of the village.
  • On the 3d August, Professor Maillefert gave an exhibition of the modus operandi of sub-marine blasting, on Lake Otsego, which was witnessed by a large number of highly interested spectators.
  • The Scotchmen of this village and surrounding, country this year organized a society and held their first annual meeting at Three Mile Point. Addresses were made by Rev. Mr. McHarg of this village, and Hon. Wm. W. Campbell of Cherry Valley. They had a genuine Scotch piper present, who furnished the music.
  • In October the people of this village showed their sympathy for the sufferers by the great Chicago fire, by contributing about $800 in money and many useful articles of clothing.


  • In January Mr. De Cordova opened a lecture course here with a humorous essay.
  • The firm of Newell & Pank took possession of the new sash and blind factory as lessees, and opened it for business on the 17th of January.
  • On the 7th of March the papers announced the death of Hon. Schuyler Crippen, then one of the oldest members of the Bar of Otsego county. He had sold his place on River street to Mr. H. M. Hooker, and was a boarder at Carr’s Hotel.
  • On the night of the 11th of July, the steamer "Natty Bumppo," which had just fairly commenced its season of running on the Lake, was destroyed by fire. There was a partial insurance, and the present steamer bearing that name was built, and launched in November. ≈ 93


  • On the 28th of November Judge Samuel Nelson resigned his associate Justiceship of the U. S. Supreme Court. He might have been the Democratic candidate for President, at one time, had he consented to the use of his name before the national convention of that party. The Freeman’s Journal of Dec. 5th, thus recorded an event which should have a place in this volume:
The Resignation of Judge Nelson as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. — After a service of twenty-eight years on the Bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, and twenty-two years as a Judicial Officer of his native State, Judge Nelson on Thanksgiving day sent to the Secretary of State of the United States his resignation as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, and it was accepted on the 1st inst. And thus closes a most remarkable and highly honorable and distinguished judicial career, covering a period of half a century. As to point of time and constant service, it is without precedent in this country or England, and we doubt if it has a parallel in the history of Jurisprudence. Lord Mansfield served 32 years and Lord Eldon 28 years, and they were longest on the Bench of Great Britain; Chief ,lustice Marshall was 34 years on the Bench, Chief Justice Taney 30 years, Mr. Justice Story 34 years, and Chancellor Kent about 25 years — and of the distinguished Judges of this country they longest held judicial positions.
Judge Nelson was appointed Judge of the Sixth Circuit, which included Otsego county, in April 1823, which position he held until February 1831, when he was made Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and on the resignation of Chief Justice Savage, in 1837, he took his place. In February 1845 he was elevated to the Bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, where he has won the highest honor as a Judge of strong common sense, broad views, the highest sense of honor, and a ready grasp of weighty topics. On questions in admiralty law and intricate patent suits, a writer in a leading Philadelphia paper recently remarked, especial deference was always paid to the opinions of Judge Nelson.
The Judge has with slight exception always enjoyed robust health, and has never been absent from duty at the State or U. S. Courts but one term, that of last year. At the closing session of the Grand High Commission in the spring of 71, which had lasted seventy days, and was not only of vast importance, but at times very laborious, Judge Nelson took a severe cold from sitting several hours in a room not sufficiently warmed, and after his return home was for several months confined to his house from its effects. From this he recovered, and for the past six months has enjoyed very comfortable health, while his mind has retained all its wonted force and vigor. ≈ 94
There has been a strong desire on the part of many of his friends and admirers in the legal profession, that Judge Nelson should remain on the Bench a few months longer, that his half-century of service might be fully rounded out; it had even come to his knowledge indirectly — what we heard spoken of in Albany last spring, and quite recently — that it was in contemplation by leading members of the Bar in New York and other parts of the State to celebrate that event in a becoming manner, showing their high appreciation of him as a man and of his eminent services as a Judge; but when it appeared evident to him that he could not go to Washington this winter and discharge the full duties of his office without running the risk of seriously jeopardizing his health — although still able to do all ordinary Chambers work — his strong sense of justice and duty impelled him to the course he has taken, feeling, as he unselfishly remarked, that with so much business pressing upon it, the Court needed the presence of an active working member in his place. Judge Nelson completed his Judicial labors the week of his resignation by deciding an important and final motion on the taxation of costs, amount claimed about $40,000, in a famous suit which had been in the courts during half the long time he has been on the Bench — the "hook-headed spike case," Troy Iron and Nail Factory, (Burden & Co.) vs. Erastus Corning and others. The motion was heard last spring, and the examination of voluminous papers took time and involved considerable labor.
Judge Nelson reached the advanced age of 80 years on the 10th of last month, and his massive frame and strong mind and cheerful temperament, all give promise of the prolongation of a long and useful life. There is no question that we should have hailed him "Chief Justice" at the death of Judge Taney, had the Administration continued in Democratic hands.
Although the following letter from Secretary Fish is of a private character, it is so just, truly appreciative and well-deserved, that we have begged the privilege of publishing it — knowing full well that the public sentiment will be that the Secretary honors himself in honoring him to whom it is addressed, and that in speaking as warmly as he does he only expresses the feelings of the Judiciary, the Bar and the reading public wherever the venerable Judge is known:
WASHINGTON, November 30, 1872.
I have just received your letter of the 28th, inclosing your resignation as an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court, and cannot allow the formality of an official acknowledgment to go without the expression of my personal regret that the time has come when you feel it your right to seek the repose to which an honored course entitles you, and that it falls to me to fill the paper which is to terminate your connection with the highest Court of the country, and to separate you from the administration of Justice, to which for half a century you have contributed an amount of patient labor, and of learning, and a purity, dignity and impartiality which have commanded the confidence, esteem and admiration of an entire nation, and the acknowledgment of Jurists in other lands.
Thanks, my dear Judge, for your congratulations on the result of the treaty, to whose negotiation you contributed so much learning and wisdom. It has had a "hard run" on both sides of the ocean, since it was launched on 8th May, 1871 — but it seems likely, at last, to vindicate itself, and to find a quiet resting place in the security and confidence which it gives to two nations whose passions it has calmed.
May years of tranquil and happy life be yours, my dear Judge; and allow me to subscribe myself,
Very sincerely, your friend,
Hon. SAM’L NELSON, Cooperstown, Otsego Co., N. Y. ≈ 95
On the 19th of January, 1873, a large meeting of the members of the Bar was held in the U. S. Court Room, New York, over which Charles O'Conor presided, to take suitable action on the resignation of Judge Nelson. Remarks were made by Messrs. O'Conor, Pierrepont, Clarence Seward. Evarts, and others, and a brief address to Judge Nelson was adopted. A committee of distinguished members of the Bar was appointed to present this address to Judge Nelson.
A similar meeting was held by the Bar of Washington, Dec. 13th, 1872, and a letter was adopted signed by all the leading Lawyers then in the city practicing in the Supreme Court of the U. S., and forwarded to Judge Nelson. The State Bar held a meeting in Albany, in 1873, and adopted an address which was presented him by Chancellor John V. L. Pruyn in the fall of that year.
On the 13th day of February, 1883, the distinguished committee appointed by the New York meeting came here to present to Judge Nelson the address then adopted. The chairman, Judge Pierrepont, was detained at home, and Mr. E. W. Stoughton took his place. His associates were seven leading members of the bar; and several U. S. Judges, and other gentlemen, were present by invitation. Judge Nelson was briefly addressed by Mr. Stoughton and Judge Woodruff, in feeling terms, and the address was then presented. In reply Judge Nelson said:
"Gentlemen of the Committee — I cannot but feel extremely honored by this address of my brethren of the Bar on the occasion of my retirement from the Bench, not more from the friendly and complimnentary opinions therein expressed than on account of the unusual and extraordinary mark of respect and affection with which it has been presented; and I am the more deeply impressed with this manifestation, from the consideration that the gentlemen of the Bar who have originated and promoted this honor, some of whom are before me, have been themselves not only eye-witnesses of the judicial administration which they so favorably commend, but in which many of them largely participated in their professional capacity. ≈ 96
"I shall ever recur to the sessions of the United States Circuit Court held in the city of New York, extending over a period of more than a quarter of a century, with pride and pleasure. The calendar was large and many of the cases important, involving great labor and responsibility. As an evidence of the magnitude of the business for many years the Court was held three months in the Spring and three in the Autumn of the year, and still left an unfinished calendar. But the gentlemen of the Bar concerned in the trials were intelligent, faithful to their clients and to the Court, whose learning and diligence in the preparation greatly relieved the Judge of his labors, and whose professional deportment and respect banished from the court room every disturbing element, leaving free the full and undivided exercise of the faculties of the Court and counsel in their inquiry after the truth and justice of the case. No one knows better than the presiding Judge how essential this state of feeling between the Bench and the Bar is, not only to the ease and pleasure of both, but to the sound and successful administration of the law.
"I have said that the gentlemen of the Bar who have originated this unusual honor, have been eye-witnesses of the judicial service so highly commended. On the other hand I can say that I have witnessed their professional career from the beginning and until their present eminence, many of whom hold my license to practice, granted when Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State. The eminent chairman of the meeting, Mr. O’Conor, the eldest of them, is scarcely an exception. The first session of the Supreme Court of the State after my appointinent as Associate Justice was the May Term. of 1831, held in the city of New York, more than forty-one years ago. He was then a young counselor, just rising in the profession. He held a good many briefs in cases before the Court from the young attorneys, and was strugg]ing upwards, manfully and with youthful ardor, contending for the mastery against the aged and elder counselors at the Bar — Jay, Ogden, Colden, Munroe. the elder Slosson, Sherwood, Anthon, Duer and others, who then held almost a monopoly of the business before the Courts. ≈ 97
"The prevailing impression had been and to a qualified extent was then among the junior members of the Bar, that the experienced seniors had the ear of the Court. This, according to tradition among them, had been undisguisedly so, and to a much larger extent, before the old and revered Supreme Court of the State. But even at the time I speak of, this feeling in the Court, and which was perhaps not unnatural, had not entirely disappeared. It required, therefore, ability, courage and resolution on the part of the junior, to encounter this impression, which he must in some degree have felt in the trial of strength against the experienced and favored senior. In the country, where I have always resided, Talcott, a young counselor, remarkable for intellectual power and legal learning at his age, opened the way. under some discouragements in the trial and argument of causes before the circuits and in bank. Other juniors, taking courage from his example, followed. He was afterwards Attorney General of the State, the youngest counselor, I believe, ever appointed to that office in New York at the time, with perhaps the exception of Josiah Ogden Hoffman among, the earliest of the Attorney Generals.
"I was still young when advanced to the Bench of the State. and. as was perhaps natural, my sympathies inclined toward the younger members of the Bar struggling upward and onward in their profession. and as far as was fit and proper they had my favorable consideration and kindness.
"I would do injustice to my feelings and convictions if I closed these few observations without making my acknowledgments to the Bar of the Second Circuit of my great indebtedness to them, for any judicial standing to which I may be entitled. Since my first advancement to the Bench, nearly half a century ago, I have had their uniform good will and friendship, have been instructed by their learning and encouraged by the expression of their favorable opinions. They have ever been not only ready but forward to economize and lighten the labors of the Court when the amount of busin pressed the hardest, even at the expense of their own personal convenience. So uniform and habitual were these exhibitions of respect and friendship, that I felt when in Court and engaged in the administration of the law that I was surrounded, not in courtesy but in reality, by professional brothers. and that every error would be charitably considered and every act worthy of commendation would receive its full reward. The address of the Bar of New York on the termination of my judicial labors, and in approbation of them, I look upon as the crowning reward, which will be a source of perpetual consolation in the decline of life, and so long as a kind Providence shall permit the speaker to linger here on earth in the enjoyment of faculties unimpaired." ≈ 98
These proceediiimgs appeared in full in the Journal of Feb. 20, 1873, which closes them by saying: After the delivery of the reply, the Judge arose and received the congratulations of the Judges, the committee. and others present. An elegant and. sumptuous entertainaent, prepared by a noted caterer of Albany, followed. The committee and their friends were then treated to a sleigh-ride on the Lake; a portion of the evening was spent with Judge Nelson, and the next morning they returned home, well pleased with the discharge of a pleasant duty, and with their winter visit to Cooperstown. The affectionate regard with which in private conversation they spoke of "the old Chief," his qualities as a Judge, a lawyer, and a man, showed the sincerity with which they had entered into this public demonstration — and they may rest assured that all they said found a warm response in the hearts of the fellow citizens of Judge Nelson.


  • Joyful times among the merchants of Cooperstown at the opening of this year, when hops were selling at 55 cents a pound!
  • It is stated, on page 89, that the town of Otsego bonded to the extent of $150,000 in aid of the Cooperstown Railroad. To this sum, the town afterwards added $50,000, making the total amount $200,000. The paid-up capital stock of the road is $308,405, of which the town of Otsego owns nearly two-thirds. Its railroad debt at the date of the publication of this book, is $128,500.
  • In March, 100,000 young bass and 20,000 salmon trout were placed in the lake. The hatching had been superintended by Capt. P. P. Cooper.
  • The fire department of Cooperstown was re-organized in May, under the new law giving it a Chief Engineer with two Assistants — a movement which had been long advocated. The first chief was Marcus Field.
  • The corner stone of the Hotel Fenimore was laid on the 30th day of June.
  • On the 4th of July there was a grand celebration of the day in this village. Addresses were made by Rev. C. K. McHarg and Messrs. G. P. Keese and Edwin Countryman. A procession, including the Fort Plain Fire Department, paraded the streets, and in the evening an exhibition of fire works was given on the lake. As a remarkable fact, it did not rain!
  • In August, the Albany Zouave Cadets visited this village, and a grand ball was given at the Cooper House for their entertainment. While here they complimented Judge Nelson by a serenade.
  • The 18th of September, the Hon. John V. L. Pruyn of Albany presented to Judge Nelson an address from the Bench and Bar of this State, as a testimonial of their regard and appreciation. It was a quiet and informal affair. ≈ 99
  • On the morning of September 26, the village was startled at an early hour by the ringing of the Court House bell, the occasion of which was to apprise the citizens of the fact that the house of Edward Edwards, the cabinet maker, had been entered just before daylight by three burglars, who had robbed Mr. E. of $210 and a watch, shot him twice in the breast, and left him for dead. His daughter. who alone was in the house, gave the alarm, and the immediate neighbors went at once to her assistance. By that time, however, the men had escaped, and were never afterward caught, nor was any reliable clew to their identity ever obtained. Mr. Edwards died about three weeks later from the effects of his wounds, after enduring much suffering, and having been delirious most of the time. He was not able to give a very clear description of his assailants, and it remains to this day a mystery who they were.
  • The Board of Supervisors of this county having decided to appropriate $20,000 toward building a new Sheriffs residence and jail on condition that the town of Otsego appropriate $5,000 additional toward the same object, Mr. Luther I. Burditt, then the Supervisor of this town, at once gave his check for that amount, trusting to his fellow-citizens interested to reimburse him. To do so, it was resolved to raise the money by subscription, although a special act had been passed authorizing its levy upon the town. All but about $600 was voluntarily pledged, and by comparatively few citizens. The begging was principally done by Fayette Hinds, D. L. Birge and S. M. Shaw, Every dollar subscribed was collected by Supervisor Hinds, who succeeded Mr. Burditt in office. He was a valuable worker in a good cause. Those who solicited subscriptions were constantly met with this remark: "We approve of the project, and would willingly pay our tax toward it, but object to paying the taxes of other people, many of them rich and giving but little, and others rich or able as ourselve and giving nothing" — and with that sentiment almost evry subscriber will heartily sympathize, when he notices the omissions. Voluntary taxes for churches and charitable objects are all right — but in purely public matters like this, the money should be raised by a general tax. The following were the subscribers to the "jail fund:"
 Jedediah P. Sill, -   -   -   $500 00   L I. Burditt, -   -   -   -   $100 00
 Edward Clark,   -   -   -   -  500 00   Fiederiek G. Lee,   -   -   -  100 00
 H. F. Phinney,    -   -   -    250 00   A. A Jarvis,  -   -   -   -    100 00
 W. C. Keyes,    -   -   -   -  200 00   B. F. Murdock &  Bro.,  -   -   50 00
 Samuel Nelson,    -   -   -    150 00   R. Russell & Co., -   -   -     50 00
 Mrs. Jane R. A. Carter, -   -  100 00   F. M. Robinson,     -   -   -   50 00
 Lois A. Carr and others,  -    100 00   O. R. Butler, -   -   -   -     50 00
 Elihu Phinney,  -   -   -   -  100 00   Johnston Bro’s, -   -   -   -   50 00
 Calvin Graves,    -   -   -    100 00   G. Pomeroy Keese, -   -   -     50 00
 John Wood.  -   -   -   -   -  100 00   D. A. Avery,    -   -   -   -   50 00
 Johnston & Field, -   -   -    100 00   W. H. Ruggles,    -   -   -     50 00

≈ 100

 H. M. Hooker & Co.,   -   -    $50 00   C. H. Burch,  -   -   -   -    $15 00
 Geo. W. Ernst,  -   -   -   -   50 00   Geo Jarvis & Co.,   -   -   -   15 00
 S. M. Shaw,   -   -   -   -     50 00   John B. Hooker,   -   -   -     15 00
 C. W. Smith,    -   -   -   -   50 00   Sanford Casler, -   -   -   -   15 00
 A. H. Watkins,    -   -   -     50 00   McCabe Bros,  -   -   -   -     15 00
 J. I. Hendryx & Son,    -   -   50 00   Smith & Spingler,   -   -   -   15 00
 J. R. Worthington,    -   -     50 00   John L. McNamee,  -   -   -     10 00
 Sam'l S. Edick, -   -   -   -   50 00   Jerome Fish,    -   -   -   -   10 00
 Sturges & Countryman, -   -     50 00   George B. Wellman,    -   -     10 00
 G. M. Grant & Co.,  -   -   -   50 00   C. Z. Gregory,  -   -   -   -   10 00
 Ellery Cory,  -   -   -   -     50 00   R. Spafard,   -   -   -   -     10 00
 Andrew Shaw,    -   -   -   -   50 00   John Potts, -   -   -   -   -   10 00
 Tyley & Hinman,   -   -   -     40 00   Rufus Wikoff, -   -   -   -     10 00
 Wm. Brooks, -   -   -   -   -   30 00   Robt. Pearse,   -   -   -   -   10 00
 R. Quaif,     -   -   -   -     25 00   N. D. Gray,   -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 George Brooks,  -   -   -   -   25 00   N. W. Cole, -   -   -   -   -    5 00
 F. A. Lee,    -   -   -   -     25 00   S. Harper,    -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 Griswold & White,   -   -   -   25 00   H. B. Walker,   -   -   -   -    5 00
 Bowes & Jackson,  -   -   -     25 00   D. E. Siver,  -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 Nelson Smith.   -   -   -   -   25 00   Peter Sayles,   -   -   -   -    5 00
 C. K. McHarg, -   -   -   -     25 00   J. D. Vanderwerken,   -   -   -  5 00
 Beadle & Soule, -   -   -   -   25 00   Orrin Benton,   -   -   -   -    5 00
 Jarvis & Bliss,   -   -   -     25 00   Peter Becker, -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 E. M. Harris,   -   -   -   -   25 00   John Pank,  -   -   -   -   -    5 00
 Walter H. Bunn,   -   -   -     25 00   Frank Carroll,    -   -   -   -  5 00
 Fayette Hinds,  -   -   -   -   25 00   P. P. Cooper,   -   -   -   -    5 00
 John F. Scott,    -   -   -     25 00   H. L. Hinman, -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 P. H. Potter,   -   -   -   -   25 00   W. T. Bassett,  -   -   -   -    5 00
 Doubleday & Eldred,   -   -     25 00   T. S. Blodgett,   -   -   -   -  5 00
 M. & J. Austin &  Co.   -   -   25 00   C. & L. Hinds,  -   -   -   -    5 00
 B. J. Scofield,   -   -   -     25 00   W. K. Warren, -   -   -   -   -  5 00
 H. C. Fish,     -   -   -   -   25 00   John Hinds, -   -   -   -   -    5 00
 Lynes & Van Horn, -   -   -     25 00   Hills & Shumway,  -   -   -   -  5 00
 Samuel A Bowen, -   -   -   -   25 00   S. Irvin Haynes,    -   -   -    5 00
 W. G. Smith,  -   -   -   -     20 00   Hosea Chapel, -   -   -   -   -  3 00
 E. D. Shumway   -   -   -   -   20 00   Albert Pierce,  -   -   -   -    3 00
 C. Childs,    -   -   -   -     20 00   Wm. C. Persons,   -   -   -   -  3 00
 H. Groat,   -   -   -   -   -   15 00   Buckiugham Fitch,   -   -   -    2 00
 Chas. R. Hartson, -   -   -     15 00   Charles Peck, -   -   -   -   -  2 00
  • The winter of 1873 gave us more than four months continuous sleighing. The ice remained in Otsego lake until the 4th of May, and the lake was again skimmed over on the morning of the 6th. No similar record had occurred for nearly 40 years, as shown by the record kept by Mr. G. P. Keese. ≈ 101


  • January 1. — Governor Dix appointed Edwin Countryman, Esq., Justice of the Supreme Court to fill vacancy. He was not an applicant for the place.
  • A "mysterious stranger," who proved to be an imposter, spent several days in this village early in this year; he pretended to be deaf and dumb; intimated his desire to purchase real estate; had negotiations with bank officers and others; was evidently a "confidence operator ;" his "box containing $40,000 in gold," did not reveal property of any value. The chief of police of the city of New York intimated that the fellow was not unknown to him by reputation. He was the sensation of the day, and evidently came here to victimize a bank. He gave the name of Wood, and claimed to have just arrived from England.
  • The ravages of an unusually severe storm, which visited this county in June, did much damage, destroying bridges and other property, to the estimated amount of $200,000. The rain-fall in this village was 2½ inches, and in and near Cooperstown considerable damage was sustained.
  • Hotel Fenimore was opened for business as a summer hotel, in June, and did a good business through the season. It was continued as such for several summers, at the risk and expense of Mr. Edward Clark, who was represented by his agent, Mr. Bunyan. In the aggregate, Mr. Clark was a loser to the extent of several thousand dollars. He gave the property to his son, Ambrose J. Clark, on whose death it again came into the possession of his father.
  • A fair in August, in aid of the "Orphan House of the Holy Saviour," resulted in placing $500 to the credit of that institution.
  • The Albany Institute held its 17th field meeting in this village on the 3d of October. Hon. J. V. L. Pruyn presided and gave a brief account of the organization and purpose of the Society; after which, papers were read and addresses were made by a number of gentlemen of the Institute and the village, and the society adjourned.
  • The first issue of the Otsego Republican, under the proprietorship of Russell & Davidson, who had bought the establishment of J. I. Hendryx & Son, appeared on the first of November.


  • The Freeman’s Journal office changed quarters, from "commercial row" — where it had been located for 60 years — to the "iron-clad" building, the first week in February.
  • Hon. Edwin Countryman delivered a eulogy in Bowne Hall on the late Judge Nelson, in March. It was a very scholarly and able production.
  • Extensive repairs were commenced on the Methodist church, and completed at an expense of about $4,000. The reopening occurred in November, on which occasion Bishop Foster preached.
  • In October, the directors of the Cooperstown Railroad effected a settlement with the heirs of the late contractor Keenholtz, whose judgment against the company had been confirmed by the Courts.
  • The last week in December, an advertisement appeared in the Republican offering for sale — "by virtue of several executions issued out of the Supreme Court of this State," the real and personal property of this Railroad Co. This was an unexpected movement, which occasioned great surprise, in view of the fact that the general belief had been that the condition of the road was substantially sound, and that with prudent and careful management it could be extricated from its temporary embarrassment and be made a more valuable property. Time has justified that belief and proved that the course since adopted by the Directors was a wise and judicious one, and has resulted in verifying the more hopeful predictions then made as to the future of the road. In the following March, Mr. Andrew Shaw was elected president of the road, bonds to the amount of $40,000 were issued to meet the floating debt and to settle the Keenholtz claim, and from that time to the present, with slight interruption, the road has been slowly emerging from its debt.


  • The "Centennial Year" of the American Union was ushered in at Cooperstown by the firing of cannon, ringing of bells, bonfires, martial music, &c. A large crowd of people was on the streets until one or two o’clock A. M., waiting to hail the auspicious hour. The president of the village, and the supervisor of this town, was a native of Middlefield, James A. Lynes, Esq.
  • The work of demolishing the old jail building was accomplished in January.
  • In February, Judge Sturges received from Governor Tilden the appointment of Canal Appraiser. a position held by him upwards of three years.
  • The "Half Shire" bill was defeated in the Legislature. in April, and that ended a contest in which this village was deeply interested.
  • The firm of Bundy Bros. made their first business announcement in March.
  • The Ballard House was opened to the public in May, being the J. H. Story dwelling and the George Story brick block, on Main street. ≈ 103
  • The corner stone of the new building of H. M. Hooker & Co., Main and Pioneer streets, was laid with considerable ceremony, during the latter pail; of July. Remarks were made by citizens of the village, and the village band discoursed stirring music for the occasion.
  • "Kingfisher Tower," standing a little out from the shore, in lake Otsego, two miles north of Cooperstown, naturally attracts the attention of all visitors to these waters. It was constructed during this year, and in September the wealthy gentleman who caused it to be built at an expense of several thousand dollars, complied with the request of the editor of this volume, by penning the following article for the Journal, in which paper it was publisbed:
  "Point Judith," one of the most prominent, as it is one of the loveliest, of the many diminutive capes that jut out from the shores of our lake, presents to the discriminating lover of nature features of greater beauty and opportunities for embellishment scarcely afforded by any of the others. Appreciating this fact, Mr. Edward Clark, almost immediately after purchasing the property, caused to be erected the picturesque cottage in the manner of the Swiss chalets, (to be used as a rustic retreat, or more literally, a private picnicing house.) Nestling among the trees it gave a suggestion of retirement and quiet, adding to the peaceful character of the spot it ornamented, while its varied detail and bright, though not gay, coloring harmonized with the infinite forms and colors of Nature’s work. The design, however, was not complete until the erection of the structure just finished, which is to be known as "Kingfisher Tower." This consists of a miniature castle, after the style of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, standing upon the extremity of the Point and risin~ out of the water to a height of nearly sixty feet. It forms an objective point in the scene presented by the lake and surrounding hills; it adds solemnity to the landscape, seeming to stand guard over the vicinity, while it gives a character of antiquity to the lake, a charm by which we cannot help being impressed in such scenes. Some apprehension was felt lest a proper foundation could not be secured strong enough to resist the force of the ice in winter. This has been accomplished by driving a number of piles on which a grillage was formed of heavy timber, filled with concrete, and on this solid masonry was laid, several feet in height. The castle is about twenty feet square at the base, and at a height of five feet above the water is the main floor. Ten feet above this is the first platform, provided with ramparts and machicolated parapets. Above this stage the tower alone rises, eight feet square, crowned with a pyramidal roof pierced with a window on each side, the walls bearing at one angle a bartizan with conical roof The walls of the structure are most solidly built of stone from the shores of the lake, the roofs covered with earthen tiles, the bright red color of which contrasts finely with the sober gray of the stone. The main windows are brilliant with stained glass, and each bears in the center a heraldic shield. A drawbridge connects the castle with the causeway running to the main laud, while a portcullis can be lowered to close the entrance. The drawbridge, portcullis and doors are all of solid oak. Stairs lead to the highest platform of the tower, and from the numerous openings and loopholes with which the walls are pierced, a fine panoramic view of the lake and country can be obtained. The effect of the structure is that of a picture from mediæval times, and its value to the lake is very great. Mr. Clark has been led to erect it simply by a desire to beautify the lake and add an attraction which must be seen by all who traverse the lake or drive along its shores. They whose minds can rise above simple notions of utility to an appreciation of art joined to nature, will thank him for it. The original design for "Kingfisher Tower was selected from several drawn by Henry J. Hardenburgh, Esq., architect, and the entire work upon it has been executed under his supervision. ≈ 104
  • The visits of tramps, during the entire winter, were disagreeably frequent throughout the county. A public meeting was held here to take measures to abate the nuisance, and action was also taken by the Board of Supervisors.
  • The first mile of steel rails on the Cooperstown railroad, was laid in December. They are now all steel.


  • A famous game of old-fashioned base ball was played here, in August — Judge Sturges heading the "Reds" and Judge Edick the "Blues" — 16 on a side. The victory was with the "Blues." It called together a large concourse of people.
  • The first accident on the Cooperstown railroad, resulting in the loss of life, occurred October 3. A man named G. W. Hopkins, who had been an inmate of the County House, was seen walking on the track, and although the engineer immediately reversed the engine, the unfortunate man was struck by the pilot and instantly killed.
  • Cooperstown was visited by a grand excursion party from Oneonta, on the 17th October, in which more than 1,100 people participated. The Military Company, and the Fire Department of that village, were the more prominent features, and the day was pleasantly spent in target practice, a dress parade. &c., and closed with the presentation by our citizens of a number of elegant prizes to the best marksmen.
  • Cooperstown was slightly shaken by an earthquake, at two o’clock, A. M., November 4, lasting from six to eight seconds. It was rather the most notable event of this rather dull year. ≈ 105


  • The village was invaded by a small army of tramps, on the 20th of January, as was often the case during this period, and twelve of these recreatits. were lodged in jail before night. Later in the year, another public meeting, called for the purpose of abating this tramp nuisance, was successful in its efforts — the tramps not liking the idea of being set to work breaking stone for a living.
  • On the night of February 15th, the sash and blind factory was destroyed by fire, the loss being about $18,000. About a month later, the Worthington Bank building and the stone store adjoining it were burned. The latter, it was generally believed, was of incendiary origin. There was a heavy insurance on dry goods being sold by a firm from the city who had a short lease of the building. Samuel Harper occupied the stone building as a furniture factory and store, and his stock was almost wholly destroyed.
  • Mr. Crittenden, the present proprietor of the Cooper House, took possession in May of this year, and made many striking improvements, preparatory to its opening to summer guests in June. He bought the building and furniture for about $17,000.
  • Myron A. Buel, the murderer of the young girl Catherine Mary Richards, at Plainfield Center, was brought to this village and lodged in jail, July 4. This young man, (not 21 years old at the time of the murder,) was tried and convicted the following winter, and executed in this village, November 14,1879. The prosecution was by District Attorney Benedict and L. L. Bundy; the defense by James A. Lynes and S. S. Morgan. The execution was performed by the sheriff. Mr. James F. Clark.
  • The surviving members of the 121st Regiment held a reunion in this village in November. It was largely attended, and the "Boys in Blue" were well entertained.
  • The Court House building was condemned, by a committee appointed for its inspection, in December.


  • The lake was closed only 61 days this season, the shortest period in twenty years.
  • On the site of the old sash and blind factory, Mr. Clark, at an expense of about $45,000, erected the new Pioneer Mills, and Planing Mills, the former of which were leased to E. Delavan Hills & Co. for a term of years, and the latter run by Mr. Clark’s Agent. These mills are located near the railroad depot, and are connected with the railroad by a side track and turn-table; are equipped with the best and most approved machinery manufactured. The power for propelling this machinery is furnished by two large boilers, a 150-horse-power Watts, Campbell & Co. engine, located in a brick building adjoining the mills. They were completed in March, and operations began in the following month. ≈ 106
  • The Fly Creek "Fantasticals" made a sudden descent upon Cooperstown on the 14th of August and caused much amusement by their ludicrous appearance and deportment while parading the streets.
  • The Board of Supervisors met in extra session in June, to consider the matter of building a new Court House, and decided that a new building was a necessity and that immediate action must be taken to erect one. The committee on finance was authorized to issue county bonds in aid of that purpose. The old Court House having been declared unfit and unsafe for further use, the Sheriff was instructed to rent suitable quarters for the holding of Court, and accordingly secured Bowne Hall, a very commodious and comfortable room for such purpose.
  • A public meeting was held at Bowne Hall in July, to discuss the new Court House matter, and a committee appointed to take such action as might be desirable and necessary in support of that project; and during the regular session of the Board of Supervisors, held in November, final arrangements were made for the erection of this much-needed and handsome building.
  • The town of Otsego was placed in a peculiarly embarrassing position by the requirement made by the Board of Supervisors, that it make a special contribution toward the grounds and building of $10,000. How to raise so large an amount was a matter of much discussion. It was conceded that it could not be raised by voluntary subscription; and finally — by a very broad and liberal construction of the statute quoted below — it was agreed to raise it by tax. The town records, and newspapers of that date, record the following:
"A special town meeting was held, pursuant to call, at the Clinton House, December 2, 1879. Called to order by the Town Clerk, and the following resolution was submitted by S. M. Shaw: 'Resolved, That the Supervisor of the town of Orsego, in behalf of said town, be and he is hereby authorized to apply to the Board of Supervisors of Otsego Co. for power and authority to purchase a site for a Town Hall and to purchase or erect a building for such Hall, as provided by subdivision 20, of section 1, of chapter 482 of the laws of 1875, and to borrow on the credit of said town the sum of $10,000.' Nine hundred and seventy-two votes were cast, of which 654 were in favor of the resolution, and 328 opposed to it." ≈ 107
  • A leading member of the Bar and an ex-County Judge remarked at the time: "This is about the broadest and most liberal construction I have ever known given to a statute law — but it seems to be the only way to raise the required amount, to dispose of a troublesome matter, and to settle once more the question of county town, and I think we shall have to acquiesce." The town of Oneonta was before the Board of Supervisors at the time with a proposition to put up the county buildings at its own expense. By a vote of two to one in numbers, representing not less than four-fifths the taxable property of the town, the tax-payers thereof had voted, and nearly all of them afterward cheerfully paid, this tax — which they all thought should not have been made necessary by the action of the Board of Supervisors.
  • In November, the Cooperstown Aqueduct Association purchased the old Gregory Mill property, thus getting control of the "water power" for running their pumps, and decided to reconstruct the entire water works, by building — on the site of the old grist mill — a new brick pump house, and placing in it two very powerful pumps, capable of supplying the village most abundantly with water. This plan was carried into effect. A large pipe was laid up into the lake, commencing at a point just south of the cemetery, and running thence to a well in the pump house; engine-pumps of the most approved make were purchased, and new and larger pipes laid through the streets.


  • The Journal’s publication by S. M. Shaw & Co., was announced on the first day of January, Edward S. Brockham, for many years connected with the office, having become one of the proprietors and publishers at that date.
  • The contest between several eager candidates for the Postmastership, was ended in January by the appointment of Mr. Harvey I. Russell to that office.
  • The contract for building the Court House was let to S. R. Barnes and the McCabe Brothers for $24,995, in the latter part of January.
  • Much alarm was manifested at the discovery on the morning of May 1st, that several points on "the Vision" were on fire, and a large number of men were employed till late at night in subduing the flames. The damage would have been serious, had there been any wind. The sight at one time was a grand and exciting one.
  • The Round House of C. & S. V. R. R. Company, in this village, was destroyed by fire on the 5th of June. Two engines belonging to the Company were badly damaged, and the baggage car burned. Loss estimated at fully $6000; no insurance.
  • A large number of families in this village and vicinity opened their houses, in July of this year, for the reception of the poor children of New York, sent into the country by the "Fresh air Fund," for a fortnight’s stay in the country. About 136 of these little waifs were thus most kindly cared for, or boarded out by others, the large brick house south of the village, owned by Hooker & Spafard, being temporarily fitted up and opened for that purpose. ≈ 108
  • At an expense of about $2,000, Mrs. Jane R. Carter caused several noted improvements to be made on the property of Christ Church, in July. Mrs. Carter’s liberality caused the erection of the beautiful cloister, connecting church and chapel, and the artistic interior arrangement of the chapel is also due her. About $1,000 were expended on improvements of the church proper, by the parish.
  • In October, occurred the annual reunion of the t2lst and 152d regiments, N. Y. Volunteers, in this place. There was a large attendance, and interesting proceedings.
  • As an evidence of the esteem in which Prof. J. G. Wight was held by his pupils, a gold watch was presented their faithful instructor, by the school, at the close of the fall term.


  • On the 15th of June occurred the laying of the corner stone of the new Court House, with imposing ceremonies. Between eight and ten thousand people were in attendance The Masonic Order was represented by the Grand Master and other high dignitaries of the State Lodge, the Utica Commandery, K. T., fourteen different Masonic Lodges, and representatives from several other lodges; the 10th Regiment Band of Albany, the Utica City Band, and two other bands were in the procession, with the Board of Supervisors, Building Committee, Village Trustees, and others. The sight was a very imposing one, as this procession filled the entire length of Main street. Major Walter H. Bunn, D. G. M., was Marshal on the occasion. The large arch erected on the Court House grounds, through which the procession passed, was beautifully covered with evergreens and flowers. In this work several ladies kindly assisted. A hard shower seriously interfered with the ceremonies planned for the laying of the corner stone. An ode was sung by a choir of gentlemen and ladies, and then Principal Architect, Capt. H. G. Wood. addressed the Grand Master in the prescribed terms of the Order, closing with the request that he proceed to lay the corner stone. The corner stone was then put in its proper position by the Mef ‘abe Brothers. builders, and the Grand Master and his associate high officials stepped forward and conducted the ceremonies in the usual form. At the close of the proceedings of laying the stone, the Masons sang the Dedication Ode. The Grand Master then briefly addressed the assembly present, and Rev. Dr. Lord pronounced the benediction. ≈ 109
  • The address prepared for this occasion by Hon. Hezekiah Sturges, was as follows:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow-Citizens: On the 16th of February, 1791, the Legislature of the State of New York created out of the territory theretofore embraced in the county of Montgomery a political division of the State called the county of Otsego. There were then two townships in the county, one called the town of Otsego, organized in 1788, and Cherry Valley, organized in 1791. rphe town of Otsego was made the shire town. The village that bears the honored name of its founder was selected as the site for its Temple of Justice, where for more than 89 years it has remained, and still does remain.
Assembled on this spot, at this hour, to lay the foundation of a new Hall of Justice, thick thronging shadows come flitting over us, freighted with historical recollections, and with memories of men who have left the impress of their minds and their characters on the history of the country for more than three-fourths of a century.
The first Court House for the county of Otsego was built in 1791, located on the southeast corner of what was then known as Second and West streets of this village, now familiarly known as the location of the Davis block. Its historian describes it as a structure 30 feet square, two stories in height; the first or lower story of squared logs containing four rooms, and used as the jail; the second story frame work, and used as the court rooms The entrance to the court room was on the north front, two flights of steps on the exterior of the building, meeting on a platform before a door that opened to the air.
This was superseded by a brick structure erected in 1806-7, on the site in the then extreme western limits of the village, 56 feet long and 50 feet wide. The jailer had rooms in the building, and the jail was in the lower story. That Court House was destroyed by fire on the evening of December 17th, 1840, and in 1841 another was erected on the same site. And now, after forty years, the dilapidating power of decay, and the instability of its ground rest, necessitate the construction of a new Temple.
The first court of record, called the Court of Common Pleas, and the first crhninal court of record, called the Court of Sessions, was held at the first-erected Court House, the 21st of June, 1791. The Hon. William Cooper was the first Judge of these Courts. He became a resident here in 1788, was the founder of the village, and efficient in procuring the legal organization; was conspicuous in establishing the judicial, literary, and religious institutions of this part of the county, and in promoting the comiinfort and welfare of the pioneers to this then nearly primeval forest. He presided over those Courts until October, 1800; and from the beginning he impressed upon the Court of Common Pleas of the county of Otsego a character for dignity, ability and impartiality which it retained and maintained till its last session, in June, 1847. ≈ 110
Jedediah Peck was the Assistant Judge at the first term of the Court. He was a native of Connecticut, of but little legal learning, but remarkable for his sound judgment and quick perception. He was an itinerant surveyor in the county, then new and uncultivated. Judge Hammond says, "he would survey your farm in the day time, preach a sermon in the school-house in the evening and on Sunday, and talk politics the rest of the time. If not the projector. he was the efficient and persevering advocate of the common school system, and through his exertions the foundation of the common school fund was laid." These acts entitle him to, and will ever secure to him, the gratitude of the people of this county.
Associate Justices of the Peace at that term of the court, were Ephraim Hudson, Joshua H. Britt, John Mathias Brown and Miller Johnston. The Court of Common Pleas was continued in this State from the Colonial period of our history, and from 1777, the number of Judges and Associate Justices of the Peace differed in the various counties of the State; in some counties many as twelve each, con- stituted that Court. But an act was passed in Xlarch, 1818, limiting the number of Judges to five, and abolishing the office of Assistant or Associate Justices 71’he Court thus constituted was continued without material change till the adoption of the Constitution of 1846.
It was the duty of the county Clerk to act as the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. (len. Jacob Morris was the Clerk of this Court in 1791 for this county. He had distinguished himself as aid of Gen. Lee in the Revolutionary war. He came to reside in this county in 1787, as the agent of the owners of Morris patent. He was distinguished for his high culture, sound judgment. courteous manners and manly bearing. He was prominent in all the early enterprises in founding the religious and literary institutions in the south part of the county. These with other eminent pioneers made this county, from its earliest organization. distinguished in the State as the home of industry, intelligence, intellectual refinement, and high moral character. Abram Ten Broeck, John I. Morgan, James Cochran, Christopher P. Yates, Amaziah Rust, Andrew Wemnple, Anthony I. Merwin and Jacob J. Fonda, were the members of the Bar For the Court of Common Pleas, in this county in the year 1791. ≈ 111
The office of District Attorney was created by law, on the 4th day of April, 1801. Prior to that time, this officer was called the Assistant Attorney General. Under an act of 1796 the State was divided into seven districts, and an Assistant Attorney General was appointed by the Governor and Council of Appointment, during their pleasure, in each of these districts. The seventh District was composed of the counties of Herkimer and Otsego, arid Thomas R. Gold, who became a member of the Bar of the Court of Common Pleas of Otsego county in 1792, was appointed Assistant Attorney General in 1797. In 1801 the office of District Attorney being created, the State was divided into seven districts as before, and subsequently several new ones were created. That division placed Otsego in the sixth district, and Nathan Williams was uiade the District Attorney tlierefor in August, 1801. In 1818 each county was constituted a separate dis- trict, for the purposes of this office, and on the 11th of June of that year, Ambrose L. Jordan was appointed District Attorney for the county of Otsego.
During the existence of the Court of Common Pleas,
  • Wm. Cooper was First Judge from 1791 to 1800;
  • Joseph White from 1800 to 1823;
  • John C. Morris from 1823 to 1827;
  • George Morell from 1827 to 1832;
  • James O. Morse from 1832 to 1838;
  • Jabez D. Hammond from 1838 to I 843;
  • Charles C. Noble from 1843 to 1847.
The records of the Court of Common Pleas and the Court of Sessions, held at the same terms, during the fifty-six years of its existence, disclose that this Court performed a very large amount of judicial labor. That Court commanded the respect and confidence of suitors, of advocates, and of the people. It was abolished by the constitution of 1846, and what is denominated the County Court was established to take its place. And now, after the experience of thirty years, it may be seriously questioned whether the change has been any improvement of our local judiciary.
The first Circuit Court and Oyer and Terminer, in this county, was held on the 7th of July, 1792. Hon. John Lansing, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, presiding. This Court was held here but once a year, till the reorganization of the judiciary in 1821, and thereafter two terms of this Court were held, here — and in September 1823. Hon. Judge Nelson first presided in that Court in this county. ≈ 112
The history of the Otsego Bar commences with the organization of the county, and nearly dates with the period when the foundations of our State and National governments were laid. This is no time to individualize and eulogize. It is enough, on this occasion, to say that the members of the Bar of this county have maintained the high character of the profession for legal learning and forensic ability. It has at all times contributed to preserve civil and social order, public and private justice, to keep alive sentiments of obedience and rever- ence, and the supreniacy of the calm, grand force of the law over fitful passion and ungoverned license. It has been seen and felt in the establishment of the civil, political, literary and religious institutions of our country, the outgrowth of which has been the peace, good order and moderate prosperity that prevail in our borders, till here, within our county, we answer the inquiry of Sir William Jones:

  "What constitutes a State?
Not high-raised battlement or labor'd mound,
    Thick wall, or moated gate;
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crown'd;
    Not bays and broad armed ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
    Not starr’d and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride.
    No: Men, high-minded men,
With powers afar above dull brutes endued,
    In forest brake or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude:
    Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain.
  *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
These constitute a State."

Of such is the county of Otsego.