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Full text of "A history of Otsego"

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974,702 

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1254259 



GENEALOGY COLL^ZCTION 



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ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 



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GENEALOGY 

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A HISTOR Y 



OF 



OTEGQ 



By 
STUART BANYAR BLAKELY 



CRIST, SCOTT & PARSHALL, 
Cooperstown, N. Y. 



1^ 






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1254259 



"On the grave-posts of our fathers 
Are no signs, no figures painted; 
Who are in those graves we know not, 
Only know they are our fathers." 



This little book is the result of the past four 
summers' work in searching old records, con- 
sulting books and articles that bear upon local 
history and talking with those who, by age or 
interest, are authorities. An endeavor has been 
made, by fair search and impartial judgment, to 
bring together data of local interest, particularly 
such that exist only in men's memory. It has 
been impossible, in the time at my disposal, to 
gather all the facts that may be found recorded. 
To name all the occupants, or even the first 
settlers, of every farm would be an unprofitable 
and probably an impossible task. Moreover, it 
must not be forgotten that many of the early 
settlers were very transient. 

A few explanations of the text may be needed. 
The terms "above" and "below," or "upper" and 
"lower," are used to locate places in reference 
to the center of the village, and do not refer to 
the river or the creek. The facts about the 
churches have been taken chiefly from Hurd's 
History of Otsego County. I cannot vouch for 
the truth of the legends and the stories. 

It has been necessary, as well as interesting, 
to gather a great deal of the genealogy of the 
families of this town. This is at the disposal of 
any one desiring it. I wish to thank the many 
who have contributed to this history by word and 



VI History of Otego 

deed. I am especially indebted to W. J. Goddard. 
As a history the book is far from being complete, 
and of necessity contains errors. Any correc- 
tions, suggestions or new facts will be most grate- 
fully received. If a greater desire to preserve 
family records and traditions is aroused, if a wider 
interest in local history is created, if a few facts 
have been rescued from oblivion, I shall feel well 
repaid, and the purpose of this little history will 
have been accomplished. 

STUART B. BLAKELY 
Otego, N. Y. 

September 1, 1907. 



"^^ 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Chapter Page 

Description 11 

I Indian Occupation: The Indian Village 

of Wauteghe 13 

II Indian and other Names in the Town 

and the Vicinity 20 

III The Organization of the Township: 

Old Otego 29 

IV The Period before the Revolution: 

The Patents 34 

V Otego during the Revolution 42 

VI Settlement: The Ogdens 45 

VII The South Side of the River 51 

VIII The North Side of the River 59 

IX Mill Creek 72 

X The Otsdawa 78 

XI Flax Island Creek 93 

XII Briar Creek 99 

XIII Churches: Schools in the Village: 

Postoffices: River Bridges: News- 
papers 107 

XIV Otego's Old Soldiers 117 

XV Miscellaneous 122 

XVI Pioneer Experiences 130 

XVII Legends and Stories 139 

Bibliography 1 52 

VII 



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Map of Otego Township, showing Huntsville, a part 
of old Otego, and those portions of the three patents that 
lie within the town. About two miles to the inch. 



IX 



Description 

The township of Otego comprises 26,634 acres 
on the southern border of Otsego county. It is 
bounded on the north by Laurens, on the east by 
Oneonta, on the south by Delaware county, on 
the west by Unadilla and Butternuts. The part 
north of the Susquehanna river is separated into 
ridges 200-400 feet high, which in general, are 
parallel with the creeks that empty into the river. 
The range of hills on the south side along the 
valley is unbroken. In 1770 the valley was 
described as a "beautiful country with fertile soil 
and well timbered; deer were as numerous as 
cattle on a thousand hills, and the river was alive 
with fish." In general the soil is a clay and sandy 
loam. The population, according to the census 
of 1905, was 1,708. 

The village of Otego is situated on the Susque- 
hanna river in latitude 42° 24' and in longitude 
75° ir at an elevation of about 1050 feet above 
the sea. It is a station on the railroad of the 
Delaware and Hudson Company, ninety miles 
from Albany and fifty-three miles from Bingham- 
ton. In 1800 it was a hemlock swamp with only 
one frame house in the vicinity; even twenty 
years later the children often amused themselves 
by jumping from bog to bog, from Main street to 

XI 



XII Description 

the river. About 1835 the land south of Main 
street was overgrown with low bushes, white oaks 
and small pines, and through it there ran a path 
worn by children's feet on their way to the little 
red schoolhouse. A pipe was recently sunk one 
hundred thirty feet, and, after passing through 
the surface soil and a thin stratum of gravel, only 
quag was found. The village was incorporated 
12 July 1892, and comprises six hundred forty 
acres. Its population on 15 September 1907 was 
about 613. It contains 180 houses, including 
hotels and stores. 



History of Otego 



Indian Occupation 

THE early Indian history of this region is uncer- 
tain. By tradition the Delawares occupied the 
land; also the Tuscaroras, before they moved to 
the South. The Eskimos probably passed through 
the valley on their journey to the North. It is, 
however, certain that this region has always been 
occupied by Huronian, never by Algonquin peo- 
ples permanently, and that the original occupants 
of the valley were the Susquehanna Indians, 
called by the French Andastes. About 1675 they 
were driven south by a great people who had come 
from Lower Canada into possession of the 
territory. Called Iroquois by the French, the 
Five Nations by the English, Mengwe by the 
Delawares, and Ko-no-shi-o-ni or He-do-ne-sau- 
nee by themselves, these Indians were the 
"Romans of this hemisphere, and were a federa- 
tion noted chiefly for the originality of their 
league, their victorious campaigns and their 
oratory." Their most warlike tribe was the Mo- 
hawk, a name that became a synonym of blood. 
The possession of Otego territory seems to have 
been in dispute, but probably belonged to the 
Oneidas, the last Mohawk village on the Susque- 
hanna being the one at the mouth of the 

13 



14 History of Otego 

Charlotte. But the Onondagas seem to have had 
some claim to the region, and it is possible that 
Otego and Otsdawa are both Onondaga names. 
The Iroquois overcame the Delawares in the 
latter part of the seventeenth century. In 1714 
the Tuscaroras, returning from the South, joined 
the Five Nations, making the Six Nations. 
Through this region hunted Oneidas, Tuscaroras 
and subject Delawares. Campbell in his History 
of Oneonta says that this region was the scene 
of many sanguinary conflicts between different 
tribes that contended with each other for its 
possession. 

The Iroquois lived in small and shifting villages, 
around which small clearings had usually been 
made. Frequently cornfields and in later days 
apple-orchards were planted. Their camps were 
"temporary and determined by fishing and hunting 
advantages," and were usually near springs and 
the mouths of creeks. There were many Indian 
houses on the Susquehanna in 1770, but in 1779 
General Clinton destroyed the Indian civiliza- 
tion. For many years after the Revolution 
straggling friendly individuals and parties would 
erect their wigwams, often on the sites of their 
former villages, and remain a variable time, fish- 
ing, making baskets and trinkets, drying apples 
and looking for mineral landmarks. As late as 
1830 some Indians camped at the head of the West 
Branch. The main Indian trails ran along both 
sides of the river, the one on the north side being 
the more used. 

At the mouth of the Otsdawa was a camp on 
both sides of creek and river. Both historic and 



History of Otego 15 

prehistoric flints have been found just below 
William Van Name's, on the second terrace back 
from the river. Indian pottery and ovens have 
been found on the Day flats, and perfect pottery 
has been found near the village on the east bank 
of the Otsdawa. Just below the river road-bridge, 
on the south bank of the river, fragments of 
pottery have been picked up; on the other bank 
near the Borden ice-houses are clear evidences of 
Indian ovens, and a fine grainer has been found 
there. The rift just above this bridge is probably 
an old Indian weir where there was a shad-fishery. 
In 1800 there was an Indian encampment where 
Mrs. Mary A. Rathbun's house stands. 

At the mouth of Flax Island creek a fire place 
has been found about one hundred fifty feet south 
of the creek on the north bank of the river. Two 
years ago a fire place was reported to be washed 
out of the south bank of the river, a little below 
the mouth of Briar creek. 

Orlando Quackenbush reports that there used to 
be Indian dugouts in the south bank of the river 
just above the upper railroad bridge; and that on 
his flat bushels of clam-shells were found, and 
that there the Indians had a shad-fishery. 

There was a camp down on what is known as 
the Peter Mickle place, near a large spring. It 
is said that there was another camp up in the 
woods near the old road, and still another just 
northeast on the old Sigsbee farm with an Indian 
orchard, where, it is claimed, was the last camping 
place of the red men in town. From this general 
locality there probably ran a trail along the ridge 
of higher land toward the river, which it crossed 



16 History of Otego 

a little way below Hale's Rocks; thence it passed 
up the Calder Hill ravine, where there is said to 
have been another camp, and on over the hill to 
the camp on the Otsdawa. The vicinity of these 
rocks is said to have been a favorite camping 
place of the Indians after the Revolution. In the 
bank, some distance above, was probably one of 
their burying-grounds. On these rocks, as late, 
as 1844, were some Indian paintings of warriors 
in two canoes. 

Ninety years ago, east of the West Branch, on 
the farm of M. A. Edson, was a grove of spruce 
covering about three acres of flat land. In an 
opening within this grove were three rows of 
mounds, seven in a row, each mound being about 
twenty inches high and six feet long. It is sup- 
posed to be an Indian burying-ground. About 
twelve rods southeast was a spot, thirty feet 
square, of black mellow earth with a profusion of 
flint scales, and of broken, imperfect, and perfect 
arrow-heads. Such another spot is said to have 
been noticed in the bank near the river on the 
upper part of the Hale farm. On a knoll, east 
of the West Branch, on land now owned by R. G. 
Cornell, once stood an Indian house, about 8x10 
feet, built of small pine logs notched together ai 
the corners and with a split-timber floor. It was 
used as a Sunday meeting-house until the land 
was cleared when it was torn down. In his 
Aboriginal Occupation of New York Mr. Beau- 
champ marks a large camp two miles north of 
Otego, east of and near the creek. This was prob- 
ably a winter camp, occupying about the location 
of the town water-works, a spot once covered with 



History of Otego 17 

hemlock. The Indians are said to have had a 
sugar-bush on the place settled by Samuel Green. 
On the hill west of Charles Terry's some timbers 
of an Indian house were once found between two 
rocks. There is said to have been a camp at 
Otsdawa. 

The encampment of the Indian chieftain, Brant, 
was still standing with its poles, crotches and 
coverings within the limits of the present village 
of Otego, when the first settlers came in, according 
to Child's Directory of Otsego County. This may 
be true; but Brant certainly camped near the 
Otego creek, and it seems not reasonable that he 
should have had another camp so near. The 
"Bread Loaf," on land of Mrs. Ruth Newland in 
the village, on which was once growing a sing^le 
poplar, can not be regarded as an Indian mound. 

Indian arrow-heads and flint pieces have been 
found in great abundance on the slope in front of 
the Willow Vale School-house (No. 2), and near 
by is a fine spring. The locality seems to be a 
likely place for a camp. On Briar creek is the 
"Indian Oven," on land of Lester D. Gillett. 
There is said to have been a camp near a spring 
on the hill west of the Southard place, and another 
camp and a burying-ground by the creek near 
where Mrs. Elizabeth Waite recently lived. 



The Indian village of Wauteghe 

Wauteghe was a rather large village of good 
buildings near the mouth of the Otego creek. 
The main clearing, east of the creek, extended up 
the north bank of the river about one mile. 



18 History of Otego 

"The village embraced what was afterwards 
known as the VanWoert, Calkins and Stoughton 
Alger farms." In the later days of its existence 
an orchard was planted, and not many years ago 
some of the trees were still standing, the place 
being known as Indian Orchards. Dudley 
Campbell writes the word "Ahtigua" and says 
that there was an Indian mound in the vicinity. 
Sir William Johnson is reported to have rested 
in the village over night about 1750, and there 
to have had his dream by which he got his 
"Dreamland Tract" from old Chief Hendricks. 
The Indians had a burying-ground in Calkin's 
Grove, and the old cemetery now there is said to 
have been started at that place because it was 
where the red men made their graves. Seth 
Rowley, a Revolutionary soldier, said that when 
the grave of Henry Scramling was dug there, the 
skeleton of an Indian was found wrapped in elm 
bark with a banner-stone and arrow-heads. The 
village had been evacuated before 1753. It has 
been suggested that the Indians had left because 
they had sold the land to Sir William Johnson a 
few years before. 

The village is frequently mentioned. Gideon 
Hawley, a missionary from Stockbridge, Mass., 
passed down the river to Oghquaga (now Wind- 
sor) in 1753. In his journal, under date of June 1, 
he says that his party arrived at "Wauteghe at 
which had been an Indian village where were a 
few fruit trees and considerable cleared land but 
no inhabitants." 

No mention of the village is made in the 
Journals of the Sullivan Expedition, but one 



History of Otego 19 

writer speaks of "an Indian place called Otago." 
The following is from the journal of Richard 
Wells, a surveyor of the Otego Patent — 

"June 2, 1769. We landed and walked half a 
mile along the path to the old field, 
and from thence it is about half a mile 
to the mouth of Otego. This field has 
been formerly planted by the Indians with 
corn and apple trees. A few of the latter remain 
scattered about and are now in bloom and inter- 
mixed with aspens and other wild trees with rasp- 
berries and blackberries and there are quantities 
of strawberry vines in blossom. The soil is fit 
for the plough and tolerably level. Otego is 
here but narrow and fordable for horses; the 
Susquehanna may be about fifty yards over. 
W. Ridgeway saw yesterday Indians who had just 
taken two young beavers alive in the Otego." 
From this place his party went down the river, 
and the journal continues — "The path to 
Ohquhaga is very near the river mostly — we saw 
no creek of note this afternoon but were incom- 
moded by Muscetoes." 

In the survey of the Wallace patent in 1773 
mention is made of the "apple trees in the Otego 
Indian field which stood near the Indian trail." 
On the map of Oneonta in the 1867 Atlas of 
Otsego County are shown, east of the Otego creek 
about midway between the railroad and the river, 
an Indian Orchard and a Cemetery, and on the 
south bank of the river, opposite, another "Old 
Indian Orchard." 



II 



Indian and Other Names in the Town and the 

Vicinity 

THE Indian names of New York state are 
either Algonquin or Iroquois. The Indians gave 
names to locah'ties from some characteristic of 
the region, or from some local event. These 
names were often trivial and as transient as 
Indian habitations. Frequently the same place 
was known by different names, and the same 
name might be applied to entirely different places. 
Seldom were Indian names the result of poetic 
inspiration. "Vale of Beauty," "Leafy Waters," 
and the like are but foolish interpretations that 
cling tenaciously. The surveyors and the early 
settlers took many of the native names, as they 
understood them, and applied them to specific 
places and streams, using sometimes a translation 
more often a corruption of them. Thus through 
the lapse of tongue and pen and time the certain 
meaning of many Indian names is lost forever. 

The Indian names of immediate interest are 
Otego and Otsdawa, both Iroquois names. Some 
of the many variations in spelling, that occur in 
early maps, journals and land records, will be 
briefly noted. The Old New York Frontier by 
F. W. Halsey and Indian Names in New York by 
Rev. W. M. Beauchamp, as well as personal 
interviews with Mr. Beauchamp and Willard E. 
Yager of Oneonta, have been of great value in 
preparing the first part of this chapter. 

20 



History of Otego 21 

OTEGO (Wauteghe; Atege on a map of 1826; 
Atega; Atiga; Adiga on a map of 1769; Odego; 
Otage; Otago; in the grant of the Otego patent 
Adige and Otago both occur.) This is a very old 
Indian name, and Wauteghe is probably the oldest 
known form. The term was first applied to the 
region about the mouth of the Otego creek, then 
to the Indian village there, then to the creek, then 
to the patent, then to the old town, and in 1830 to 
the present town. 

Mr. Yager is of the opinion that the most prob- 
able meaning of the word is "place of the but- 
ternut," or "place of the sugar-maple." The 
Indians were very partial to naming localities 
from trees and plants, and these trees, especially 
the butternut, were thick in the Otego valley. 
(Oo-ha-wa-ta, butternut tree; Ho-wa-ta, sugar- 
maple; a-ga, place of) These words are Onon- 
daga, but the other tribes had forms much like 
them. Two variations of the term seem to 
exist, Wauteghe and all other known forms. By 
supposing that the original form of the word 
from which Otego has been derived, was a com- 
pound of one of the above nouns with the suffix 
a-ga, forming something like "Oo-wa-t(a)-a-ga," 
it would be possible to derive all the forms known 
to-day. 

Mr. Beauchamp holds that Otego is derived 
from the form A-te-gen, which means "to have 
a fire there," meaning a campfire or something 
more. He explains the form Wauteghe by the 
fact that the Iroquois often prefixed letters or 
syllables to their words, varying but not materi- 
ally changing their meaning. If this be the true 



22 History of Otego 

rendering of the word, it illustrates the often 
trivial origin of Indian names. 

Another explanation suggested by Mr. Yager is 
that Otego may be derived from Wau, mountains 
or hills, and a-ga, place of. The region about 
the mouth of the Otego creek is one of the few 
places along the river where the hills come close 
to the water. But this rendering is very improb- 
able, for, among other reasons, Wau is an Algon- 
quin word. 

The statement that Otego means "pleasant 
valley" is of no value. Some wag has said that 
Otego is derived from the saying of a mythical 
Indian chief, who grieved to leave this beautiful 
region, saying over and over again, "O, to go." 
The fanciful legends of the origin of Otego and 
Otsdawa may be found in Chapter XVII. 

OTSDAWA (Ockwada and Otsdawada in a 
conveyance of 1816; Osdawaw, Odsdawaw, Otsda- 
waw, etc.) This has been rendered "red stone." 
The soil up and down this stream is distinctly 
of this color, and there is red shale back on the 
hills. 

Mr. Beauchamp thinks that Otsdawa is derived 
from the Mohawk word Ots-te-a-ra (Os-ten-ra), 
rock. If this be the true meaning, in all prob- 
ability the name refers to the region of Hale's 
Rocks, on which were the Indian paintings. He 
suggests that another possible derivation is from 
Ots-ta, fish scale. 

Mr. Yager says that Otsdawa is derived from 
Ots-ka-wa, big or tall hemp. A century and 
more ago below the mouth of Flax Island creek 



History of Otego 23 

and in "Stillwater" was an island, which has long 
since disappeared, where grew wild flax or hemp. 
This was a necessity to the Indians, who called 
the locality the place of the "big hemp." The 
white man, roughly translating the Indian name, 
applied it to the stream near by, and, corrupting 
it to Otsdawa, applied this term to the creek 
farther east that bears it now. 

Otsdawa has been said to be a corruption of 
the word Ottawa, which is translated "traders." 

The following are of more or less interest: 

Mohawk — bear, or man eater. 

Oneida — stone, or people of the stone, a stand- 
ing stone being the tribe's symbol. 

Susquehanna — an Algonquin word and vari- 
ously translated — river of long reaches, crooked 
river, muddy stream, smooth river, possibly a 
corruption of the Latin Sequana. The Iroquois, 
who owned the stream in historic times, called 
it by another name which meant "The River of 
Great Islands." The river was also known to 
the Indians as the "River of Nice Sand." 

Otsego (Otsego in a record of 1754; Ostenha; 
Assega; Otesaga) — clear deep water; or refers 
to the Council Rock at the foot of the lake; or, 
most probably, refers to the origin of the Sus- 
quehanna there. 

Unadilla (many forms of this word exist) — 
pleasant valley; or place of meeting; or, best, 
where the stream forks. 

Oneonta (Onoyarenton) — place of the stone; 
or, better, where the rocks crop out. A very 
improbable origin is from Ononta, hill or moun- 
tain. 



24 History of Otego 

The following are some other names, not of 
Indian origin, occurring in the town and the 
vicinity: 

Hamburg (h) — the name given early in the 
last century to the hamlet in the eastern part of 
the then town of Unadilla, which afterward be- 
came Huntsville and is now Otego village, it 
is said to have been suggested by T. R. Austin. 
Huntsville was so called in honor of Ransom 
Hunt, a prominent pioneer, who did much to 
advance the interests of the little settlement. 
First, Hamburg, and then, Huntsville clung for 
a long time as village names. River street was 
once nicknamed Pickle street, from the fact that 
two of its residents. Dr. Benedict and Benjamin 
Corey, had their jugs frequently filled to make, 
as they claimed, a favorite "pickle." Church 
street, once known as Chestnut street, was, but 
a comparatively few years ago, a little lane run- 
ning down to the Episcopal church. L. A. 
Beagle's house was the first one built on this 
street. Other names of Follett street have been 
New street and Cross street. 

In 1800 Briar creek was known as Wheaton 
creek. It was soon changed to Potter's creek 
after Robert Potter, "one of the earliest settlers, 
a big man and a great worker." In 1810 a high 
wind blew down nearly every tree on over one 
hundred acres near its head. The spot was soon 
covered with blackberry briars. This circum- 
stance and the fact that many briars were allowed 
to grow along the fences gave it the name of 
Briar creek. In 1854 the Center Brook post- 
ofFice was established, John W. Pearce suggest- 



History of Otego 25 

ing the name, and the creek gradually became 
known as Center Brook. The name was not 
popular. When the postofFice was discontinued, 
Briar creek came into use again. The older 
term is still heard in the expression, Center 
Brook church. Center Brook was midway be- 
tween Sand Hill creek and Flax Island creek. 

Willow Vale is a wide district on the north side 
of the river about the mouth of Briar creek. 
Here is the Dodge or Willow Vale Schoolhouse. 
The name is said to have been suggested by 
William Trask, from the great willows set out 
along the creek's bank to confine it. Wheaton 
creek is a tributary of Briar creek, that enters 
just below Carl Smith's. It was named from 
Ben Wheaton. The Rhode Island Settlement 
included the Potters, the Merithews and other 
families. East of schoolhouse No. 4 is Emmons 
or Wheaton Hill. About the head of the 
creek, lying largely in the town of Butternuts, 
was Puckerhuddle (Puggyhuddle; Tuggyhuddle) . 
Its origin is unknown. The name is said to have 
been suggested by David S. Hurd. Here lived 
the Whitneys, the Canfields, Peter Famum, 
Horatio Merrick, Darius Niles and others. 
Bull Dog was a former name of Gilbertsville, 
and Frog Harbor was a locality near by. 

Flax Island creek in all probability was named 
from a small well known island in the river be- 
low its mouth where the wild flax grew in abun- 
dance. In the resurvey of the Wallace patent in 
1773 this island is called Flax Island. In a 
deed of 1807 it is called this, and also 
Vrooman's Island. It is entirely possible that 



26 History of Otego 

at some time flax has been raised on some 
island in this creek. See Otsdawa above. 

Shepherds Corners was formerly alluded to as 
Federal Hook. It was prematurely laid out into 
city lots, and vied with the old town. It then 
waned; but in 1884 was picking up again, when 
the name of Burdicks Corners was suggested. 
Many Shepherds lived here. Royal Shepherd kept 
for many years a hotel where M. R. Bourne 
lives. The neighborhood of schoolhouse No. 10 
near the head of Flax Island was known as 
Hampshire village before 1820. Here lived the 
families of Marr, Woodward, Day, Persons and 
Barker, all from New Hampshire. There is said 
to have been another locality on Flax Island 
creek known as Humphreyville, but no trace of 
it can be found. 

The vicinity of the junction of the east and the 
west branches of the Otsdawa was early called 
the Bundy Settlement. Weaver Street was ori- 
ginally that portion of the West Branch road 
where the Weavers lived. It was eventually ap- 
plied to the entire West Branch. The name has 
disappeared. In 1824 the junction of the upper 
cross-road to Flax Island creek with the West 
Branch road was known as Brown's Settlement 
or Schoolhouse. On the East Branch: Old Peak 
was a little-used term applied to the hill east of 
the old Martin farm. Green Street is the locality 
about schoolhouse No. 15, where the Greens 
settled. The term was never so inclusive as 
Weaver Street, and is preserved in "Green 
Street Schoolhouse." East of this schoolhouse 
is Beetle Hill, of which two derivations are pos- 



History of Otego 27 

sible: one, from a family of Bedell, who may 
have lived here; the other, the more probable, 
from the fact that some one once made beetles on 
the hill. "Dog Island" was a little huddle of 
squatters' log huts near the creek, largely on 
the present Merithew farm. Goatsville was the 
former title of Otsdawa hamlet, and was so 
named from the fact that Phineas Cook, who 
once owned all the land where the hamlet stands, 
kept a large stock of cattle, sheep and goats. 

Calder Hill was named from Godfrey Calder. 

Mill creek was called Scrambling's mill creek 
as early as 1800. A road survey of 1801 
speaks of "the Pine Plain below Robt. E. Winn's, 
south of Mill Creek." Slab City, or Canfield's 
Corners, was the name of the little huddle of 
houses at the foot of the old Mill creek road, 
near S. S. Crandall's. A later name was Kansas 
Corners, or "Bleeding Kansas." This was the 
old "Corner," and was once quite flourishing. 
Here "Jose" Wiles had a blacksmith shop and 
David Canfield, a grocery store. In the river, 
opposite, is Bird's Eddy; near by is Horton's 
"Slang" or Slank. Arabia was a term applied 
to school district No. 9, probably because many 
of the settlers there came from the vicinity of 
Stone Arabia on the Mohawk. The locality of 
this schoolhouse was called first the Thayer, then 
the Perry Settlement. This was in Green Valley, 
or "Hell Hollow." 

On the south side of the river: back of 
Northup's house, is Dumpling Hill, so called 
from its shape. To the east is Chamberlain 
Hill. Stony Brook, known by this name as early 



28 History of Otego 

as 1815, is a small stream that flows into the 
river between the Blakely and the old Sigsbee 
farms. It has falls about twenty feet in height. 
Opposite the Village is Franklin Mountain. Still- 
water is a wide and "still" place in the river, 
opposite Shepherds Corners. Here was old Flax 
Island. Tight Nipping extended from the Hough- 
ton farm to Wells Bridge, and was so named 
from the fact that the settlers here were poor 
and had a "Hard Scrabble" to get along. The 
name is said to have been bestowed by Milton 
Merwin on his return from a whale-fishing trip. 



Ill 



The Organization of the Township 

THf; land embraced by the present town- 
ship of Otego has been successively part of 

The wilderness of the Province of New York; 

Albany county, one of the two original counties 
of the state, formed in 1683; 

Tryon county, named in honor of Sir William 
Tryon, the Provincial Governor, formed from the 
western part of Albany county in 1772. Otego 
was in the Canajoharie district, one of the five 
into which the county was divided. On 12 
April 1784 Tryon county was changed to Mont- 
gomery county; 

Montgomery county, named in honor of Gen- 
eral Richard Montgomery, who fell at Quebec; 

Otsego county, set off from the southern part 
of the last named county 16 February 1791, con- 
taining two townships already formed, Otsego 
and Cherry Valley. The county when first 
formed had as western and southern boundaries 
the Unadilla and Delaware rivers; but in 1797 
Delaware county was formed from Ulster and 
Otsego counties with the Susquehanna river as 
its northern boundary. The part of Delaware 
county lying along this river was so inaccessible 
to the rest of the county that in 1822, when 
Huntsville was formed, the tier of lots on the 
south side of the river was added to Otsego 
county. The law added farther east than the 
limits of Huntsville. 

29 



30 History of Otego 

The following shows the steps in the forma- 
tion of the present Otego from preformed town- 
ships: 

The township of Otsego was formed in Mont- 
gomery county 7 March 1788. 

Unadilla was taken from Otsego 10 March 1792. 

"Old Otego" was taken from Unadilla 5 Feb- 
ruary 1796. 

Huntsville was formed 12 April 1822 from the 
eastern part of Unadilla and the above mentioned 
tier of lots taken at that time from Delaware 
county; its boundaries were the same as those 
of the present town of Otego, except that its 
east line was the west line of Old Otego. 

The present township of Otego was formed 17 
April 1830 from Huntsville and the western part 
of old Otego. 

Old Otego 

The old town of Otego was formed from the 
eastern part of the town of Unadilla 5 February 
1796. Its boundaries were roughly as follows: 
on the north, the north line of the present town 
of Laurens; on the east, a line running generally 
northeast through a point about three-quarters of 
a mile east of "Shadyside" in the present town 
of Oneonta; on the south, the Susquehanna 
river; on the west, a line that, beginning at the 
mouth of the Otsdawa, followed that stream up 
to the junction of the two branches, thence up 
the west branch about one mile, thence nearly 
west to the Flax Island creek, thence northeast 
about the same distance to the southeast corner of 
Lot No. 17, Otego patent, thence nearly west to the 



History of Otego 31 

town line near the Center Brook church, thence 
northeast to the north line of the town of Laurens, 
following the west line of Otego and Laurens. 

The records of Old Otego are in the Town 
Clerk's office at Oneonta, and the minutes of the 
first town meeting are as follows: 

"The first Town Meeting agreeable to appoint- 
ment of the Legislature was held at Trumon 
Harrison's, April ye 5th., 1796: 
When the following officers were elected — viz: 

1st. Butler Gilbert— Supor. 
2nd. Jacob Butts— T. Clk. 
3rd. Zar Benedict 

Samuel Cook \ Assessors. 

Jonathan Tickner 
4th. Jonathan Johnson 

Ezra Barton. j Com. Hways. 

George Scramling j 
5th. Job Straight ^ p^^^ ^^^^^^^ 

Samuel Sleeper \ 

6th. Jacob Butts 

Griffin Craft \ Coms. of Schools 

Levy Jenks 
7th. Aaron Harrington 

Samuel Green J Constables. 

Nathaniel Spencer / 
8th. Wm. Draper— Collector 

Bondsmen: Charles Eldred, Sam. Cook, 
Stoton Alger, Job Straight 
9th. Ezra Barton — Pound Keeper 
10th. Perry G. Ellsworth \ 

Joseph H. Sleeper ) Fence Viewers 

Ebenezer Rice ) 

Twenty-one Path Masters were elected. 



32 History of Otego 

Voted that Hogs should be confined, and not 
run at large. 

Voted this town would give five Pounds for 
every grown Wolf's scalp. 

Also voted that each Pathmaster make a return 
of each man's real and Personal estate with their 
names — and nominate an overseer for the ensuing 
year at the Town meeting for 1797." 

At a town meeting held 1 March, 1808 "Voted 
that $5.00 be raised for the purpose of erecting 
stocks in this town." 

Laurens was formed from the northern part 
of the town in 1810. The Legislature was pe- 
titioned to form a new town from the southern 
part of Milford and the eastern part of Old Otego, 
to be called Oneonta. The western part of Old 
Otego objected, and sent two men to Albany to 
oppose the measure. A compromise was made 
by which the western part was annexed to the 
small town of Huntsville, and this new town was 
called Otego. Thus in 1830 were formed the 
present towns of Oneonta and Otego. 

In 1813 Old Otego is described as follows: 
"Otego — a Post township of Otsego County, 20 
miles southwest of Cooperstown and 86 a little 
southwest of Albany, bounded North by Laurens, 
East by Milford, Southeast by the Susquehanna 
River or the County of Delaware, West by Una- 
dilla and Butternuts. Along the Susquehanna 
River are extensive and fertile flats. The re- 
maining part is broken and hilly, though its 
valleys are rich and together with the arable hills, 
and meadow and grazing lands, afford a good 
proportion of farming lands. Otego Creek, a 



History of Otego 33 

small but good mill stream that rises in Exeter, 
runs south across the east part to the Susque- 
hanna River; this is sometimes though erro- 
neously spelled Atega; its course may be near 
28 miles. There are some other smaller streams. 
Rafts and boats descend the Susquehanna to 
Baltimore, and there are fine groves of timber. 
There are two grain mills, four saw mills, and 
two fulling mills. In 1810 the population of 
Otego which included that also of the present 
town of Laurens was 2512 with 216 electors, 
348 taxable inhabitants, and 216,647 dollars of 
taxable property. My correspondents compute the 
present population exclusive of Laurens at 1000, 
and that of Laurens 1512. A turnpike from Al- 
bany to Oxford and the West leads across this 
town, and it has other roads." 

According to Harvey Baker Old Otego had in 
1820 1416 inhabitants, 286 electors, 366 farmers, 
47 mechanics, one slave, 10 schools, 9,409 acres 
of improved land, 1,646 cattle, 276 horses, 4,454 
sheep, one grist mill, 9 saw mills, one fulling mill, 
one carding-machine, one iron-works, and made 
14,983 yards of domestic cloth. 

The records of Old Otego show that in Septem- 
ber 1822 a detailed school report was made, which 
showed that there were 414 children between the 
ages of five and fifteen years. The commission- 
ers reported that the books most in use in the 
common schools were— 

Spelling books — Webster's and Columbian. 

Arithmetics — Pike's and DaboU's. 

Geographies — Murry's and Webster's. 

Dictionaries — Walker's and Perry's. 



IV 

The Period Before the Revolution 

HALSEY says that two Dutchmen passed down 
the Susquehanna in 1614 or 1615, and that in 
1616 the headwaters of the river were visited by 
Stephen Bruehle. During the Dutch and the 
early English rule many traders and others came 
into the valley. Between 1720 and 1730 three 
or four companies of German Palatinates passed 
down the river into Pennsylvania. The valley 
was soon recognized and used as an important 
highway. Sir William Johnson began to wield 
his influence. After the first explorers came the 
representatives of the Church, first the Jesuits, 
then the men of the Church of England, and 
finally the missionaries from New England. 
Prominent among the last was Gideon Hawley. 

In 1683 the Susquehanna territory above Wya- 
lusing. Pa. was conveyed by the Indians to the 
English. Thus was thwarted the ambition of 
William Penn, whose agents were negotiating for 
the territory. In May 1751 Sir "William John- 
son and Company" had some correspondence 
with Gouldsbrow Banyar, Secretary of the Prov- 
ince of New York, concerning a tract of 100,000 
acres on both sides of the Susquehanna, from the 
Charlotte to the Pennslyvania line, extending one 
mile back from the river on each side. Within 
a few months the Company purchased the tract 
from the Indians for about $1500, and it is said 
that a patent for the same was granted them the 

34 



1254259 

History of Otego 35 

same year. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was 
signed in 1768, fixing the boundary between the 
Indians and the English. The line crossed the 
Susquehanna at its confluence with the Unadilla. 
By the terms of the treaty all the land west of 
this line was Indian property. On 21 March 
1770 Sir William Johnson and his associates set 
forth that they had petitioned fbr 100,000 acres 
from the Charlotte to the line of the Pennsyl- 
vania Grant or Patent; that they had purchased 
this tract from the Indians; that they now (after 
the Fort Stanwix treaty) desired only a part of 
this tract; and that they prayed for not over 54,- 
000 acres in two or more patents. On 8 May 
1770 a grant of 26,000 acres along the Charlotte 
was made to Sir William Johnson and some of his 
associates. The rest of the 54,000 acres was 
granted on 16 June 1770 to twenty-eight other 
associates of Johnson in a separate patent. This 
was what has been known as the Wallace patent. 



The Patents 



The township of Otego comprises parts of three 
patents of land that were granted by the Crown — • 
the Morris, the Wallace and the Otego patents. 

The Morris patent, dated 1768, was granted 
to Staats Long Morris, a British officer, who 
afterwards became governor of Quebec. In 1785 
the State was appealed to for a new grant to 
other members of the family, and this was is- 
sued the following year. 



36 History of Otego 

The Wallace patent, granted as described above, 
comprised 28,000 acres along the Susquehanna 
between the mouth of the Charlotte and the 
mouth of the Unadilla, extending one mile back 
from the river on each side. At the head of the 
list of patentees was the name of Alexander Wal- 
lace. He and his brother Hugh were prominent 
merchants in New York, and uncompromising 
Tories. The name of Hugh Wallace does not 
appear in this list. It is, however, probable that 
he was "the real Wallace at first interested, and 
that another interested person and eventually the 
sole one, was Gouldsbrow Banyar," who became 
one of New York state's greatest land holders 

Greed for land had become so great that one 
thousand acres was the limit that one man might 
receive from the Crown. "Accommodating 
friends acted as fictitious owners, and promptly 
made over to the real persons in interest the titles 
granted in their names." This was probably the 
method used in the case of the Wallace patent. 
On 7 July, following the granting of the patent, 
fourteen of the original patentees conveyed by 
deeds to Gouldsbrow Banyar, each his share, 
amounting to 14,000 acres. Within the next four 
years Hugh Wallace and Gouldsbrow Banyar, 
neither of whose names appears in the original 
list of patentees, sold to four persons over 2000 
acres from the patent. 1779 the Wallaces with 
many others "were attainted of treason, their es- 
tates were to be confiscated and they proscribed." 
Gouldsbrow Banyar narrowly escaped their fate. 
The half of the patent owned by Hugh Wallace 
reverted to the State, from which it was later 



History of Otego 37 

bought by Henry Livingston and Abraham Lan- 
sing. On 11 September 1787 these two owners 
and Banyar, owner of the other half, came to a 
division of lots, and the latter received as his 
share about 16,350 acres. 

The patent was surveyed in 1770 by Alexander 
Golden, and again in 1773 by William Cockburn 
and John Wigram. No land was sold from the 
patent during the Revolution. After the war 
some lots were sold outright; others were leased 
for a term of years at a rent of a certain num- 
ber of bushels of wheat per annum. Many of 
the old lines between the lots are yet marked, 
in whole or in part, by fences, running from the 
river on each side. 

The patent has been known by other names 
than the Wallace patent. It was commonly called 
the Sir William Johnson Tract. In 1801 it is 
called a "tract of land patented to Gouldsbrow 
Banyar and others." In 1815 it is spoken of as 
"Johnson's Mile on the river." In a deed of 1830 
it is called the "patent granted to Wallace, John- 
son and others." 

There is a tract of 1000 acres in the Wallace 
patent about the mouth of the Otego creek, about 
which there has been much speculation. It be- 
longed to Sir William Johnson before his death 
in 1774. It was called his "Dreamland Tract," 
tradition saying that it had been given him, be- 
cause of a dream that he had, by King Hen- 
dricks of the Mohawks. The author has made 
a special effort to trace the early history of this 
piece of land, but has been only partially success- 
ful. It was sold by Hugh Wallace and Goulds- 



38 History of Otego 

brow Banyar to Sir William Johnson between 
1770 and 1773. The reason why Johnson desired 
and bought this bit of land at this place is ob- 
scure, but would be the most interesting thing 
about it. On 5 March 1776 it was conveyed by 
John Johnson, son of Sir William, to George 
Scramling and Adam Young. The late Allen 
Scramling told the author that this tract of 1000 
acres, 800 of which was on the north side and 
200 on the south side of the river, all finally 
came into the Scramling family, and was pos- 
sessed by the three brothers as follows: What is 
known as the John Van Woert place and the 
west 100 acres on the south side of the river 
were owned by David; the land west of this 
place and also north on the Otego creek was 
owned by Henry, the west line of his holdings 
being the west line of what is known as the 
Nelson Cole place; what is known as the Peter 
Van Woert farm, where Roberts and Tyler live, 
and the other 100 acres on the south side of the 
river were owned by George. The later his- 
tory of the tract is very complex. 

The Otego patent of 69,000 acres was issued 
3 February 1770 to Charles Reade, Thomas 
Wharton and sixty-seven others. It comprised 
what is now the town of Laurens, the greater 
portions of the towns of Milford, Oneonta and 
Otego and a small part of the town of Morris. 
It was surveyed by Richard Smith and Richard 
Wells in 1779, and in this year with Joseph 
Brant as guide they made a tour of the Susque- 
hanna valley. Smith, who was a frequent visitor 
to the Otego valley, was a patentee for 4000 



History of Otego 39 

acres of this patent on both sides of the Otsdawa 
a few miles above its mouth. The patent has also 
been called the Otsego patent; it was sometimes 
spoken of as the Burlington Township or Com- 
pany, being composed of prominent men of Phila- 
delphia and Burlington. The following has been 
extracted and condensed from the original Let- 
ters Patent — ^"George the Third by the Grace of 
God of Great Britain, France and Ireland King 
Defender of the Faith and so forth. To all to 
whom these Presents shall come Greeting. 
Whereas our loving subjects William Trent, 
Charles Reade, Thomas Wharton Senior and 
ninety-seven other Persons" * * * presented a 
petition to "Sir Henry Moore Baronet, then our 
Captain General and Governor in Chief of our 
Province of New York and read in our Council 
for our said Province" in March 1769. They said 
that in October 1768, before the Fort Stanwix 
treaty, they had at their "sole expense procured 
the Indian proprietors hereof" to convey to them 
all their right and title "to the land lying in the 
County of Albany in the Province of New York 
and in the Indian deed for the said lands described 
as follows, that is to say: Beginning at the 
South East corner of Hartwick Patent or Tract 
of land, on the West side of the River Susque- 
hanna, thence down the said River Susquehanna 
according to the several courses thereof to the 
mouth of Adiga or Otago Creek; thence Westerly 
eight miles; thence Northerly to the South West 
corner of a tract of land lately purchased of the 
Indians by George Croghan Esquire and others; 

thence along the line of the said Croghan's tract 



40 History of Otego 

to the South West corner of Hartwick Patent or 
Tract; thence Easterly along the line of the said 
Hartwick's Patent or Tract to the place of begin- 
ning on the River Susquehanna, containing by es- 
timation one hundred thousand acres, be the same 
more or less." "The Petitioners and their asso- 
ciates were desirous to cultivate and improve the 
Tract so purchased," and wanted a patent. The 
tract that could be patented was found to con- 
tain only 69,000 acres, with the usual highways 
allowed, and sixty-nine of the original petitioners 
then "prayed" for that amount. William Trent 
was absent at that time in England, and was not 
among them. Each was granted 1000 acres, more 
or less, over which he was to have complete con- 
trol; but "all mines of Gold and Silver and also 
all white or other sorts of Pine Trees fit for Masts 
of the growth of twenty-four inches diameter and 
upwards at twelve inches from the Earth for 
Masts in the Royal Navy" were reserved. The 
rent was to be paid every year forever to the 
Crown at the Custom House in New York to the 
Collector or Receiver "on the Feast of the An- 
nunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary commonly 
called Lady Day." The yearly rent was two shil- 
lings and six pence sterling for each and every 
hundred acres of the above granted lands, and so 
in proportion for any lesser quantity thereof, ex- 
cepting such as was allowed for highways. With- 
in three years the tract must be so settled that 
"it should amount to one family for every thou- 
sand acres, and within that time at least three 
acres for every fifty that are capable of cultivation 
must be planted and effectually." The land re- 



History of Otego 41 

verted to the Crown if the terms of the patent 
were not complied with. * * * "Witness our said 
trusty and well beloved Cadwallader Golden Es- 
quire, our said Lieutenant Governor and Gom- 
mander in Ghief of our said Province of New 
York, and the Territories depending thereon in 
America, at our Fort in our Gity of New York 
the Third day of February in the year of our 
Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy 
and in our Reign the Tenth." 



Otego During the Revolution 

DURING the Revolution the Susquehanna was 
a noted thoroughfare. In this period the chief 
events were a few of the causes that led to the 
Sullivan Expedition and the passage of Clinton's 
army down the river. 

Colonel John Harper with a regiment of mi- 
litia went down the Susquehanna on the ice in 
the winter of 1776-7. Early in the summer of 
1777 Joseph Brant arrived at Unadilla, and drove 
the settlers from the valley. General Nicholas 
Herkimer with about 380 men passed down the 
river in June of this year, and in July held con- 
ference with Brant near Sidney. This is said 
to be the last time that the Iroquois were ever 
met in council as a nation. Two members of 
Herkimer's expedition were Henry Scramling, 2nd 
Lieut. 1st. Battalion, and Daniel Ogden, 2nd. 
Lieut. 5th. Battalion. The expedition was not 
successful. Unadilla was burned by Butler's 
army; and on 11 November 1778 occurred the 
massacre at Cherry Valley, the Indians passing 
up and down the river on their terrible mission. 
Then came the Sullivan Expedition. General 
James Clinton dammed the Susquehanna at the 
lake, and, on the swell caused by breaking the 
dam, passed down the river. It is said that the 
sudden rising of the water in the summer filled 
the Indians with superstitious fear. General 
Clinton left the lake 9 August 1779 with about 

42 



History of Otego 43 

« 

1800 men and 220 boats. The soldiers marched 
along the river bank, while invalids, baggage and 
provisions were carried in the boats. The fol- 
lowing are some extracts taken from those Jour- 
nals of the Sullivan Expedition that refer to this 
vicinity — 

Journal of Lieut. Erkuries Beatty: 
Wensday, 11th. — Today we crossed a large 
creek, called Otego, and passed several old Indian 
encampments where they had encamped when 
they were going to destroy Cherry Valley or re- 
turning likewise we passed one of their encamp- 
ments yesterday. We encamped tonight at Og- 
den's farm and a very bad encamping ground. 

Thursday, 12th. — March'd of this morning 7 
o'clock, had the advanced guard today proceeded 
down the West side of the river as usual. 
Journal of Lieut. William McKendry: 
Aug. 11. — Embarked 7 o'clock A. M. proceeded 
without much trouble as far as Ogden's farm and 
encamped on the right of the River — 25 Miles 
by water and 15 by land this day. The land very 
fine at this place. The land in general by the 
sides of this River when one side is good the 
other is barren. The Gen'l. ordered each officer 
one Quart of Rum and one gill to each other 
man. (He figures that when they reached Og- 
den's farm they had come 63 miles by water and 
36 by land.) 

Journal of Rudolphus Van Hovenburgh : 
Valkenburgh Place August 1 1 — Decamped & 
Loaded our Baggage and proceeded on our March 
as far as two miles below an Indian place called 
Otago which was computed to be twenty miles. 



44 History of Otego 

Sisquehanna River, Otago, August 12 — We 
decamped at about fife in the morning and pro- 
ced. on our march as far as Unedelly. 

On leaving Ogden's farm (the place set- 
tled by Daniel (?) Ogden, which is now occupied 
by Hiram Northup) it was ordered "that the 
boats be started three abreast and the whole at 
a close distance, the river having become broad 
enough to admit doing so." Clinton joined Gen- 
eral Sullivan's forces at Tioga Point. 

No survey was made of the Clinton route, but 
it is shown on a map made in 1778 by Captain 
William Gray of the 4th. Pa. Reg't. Part of the 
Susquehanna is shown on this map, and flowing 
into it from the east are marked the Charlotte 
and the Aleout, and between these the "Middle 
Creek." It is probable that the "Middle Creek" 
is the Otego, and that Captain Gray made a mis- 
take when he drew it entering the river from the 
east. A path along the north bank of the river 
is also indicated. 

In October 1780 Sir John Johnson with 800 
men passed up the river to destroy the fort and 
settlement at Schoharie. They were foiled in their 
attempt by the watchfulness of Timothy Murphy. 

The passage of Clinton's army and the work 
of the Sullivan Expedition made the valley for- 
ever safe from Indian attack; but the little set- 
tlements on the upper Susquehanna perished in 
the struggle of war. The Indians, in good faith 
allies of the English, lost their homes forever. 



VI 

Settlement 

BEFORE the Revolution the only settlers of 
whom there is any record were the Ogdens. W. 
V. Huntington, who furnished the historical data 
for the 1903 Atlas of Otsego County, told the 
author that in about the year 1778 S. Allen built 
a house on the cross road above Otsdawa and 
lived there with his son Eastwood. Running 
short of provisions the father left his son alone 
in the wilderness and started on foot for food. 
He found his son safe on his return, but soon 
removed to New Jersey. There he staid till the 
close of the war, when he returned to the Otego 
valley. The approximate site of his house is 
given as about half a mile north of the Perry 
schoolhouse (No. 9) on Mill creek. It is, how- 
ever, more probable that it was near where Frank 
Garner lives. 

At the close of the war there was not a set- 
tler in the Wallace patent. Adam Kalden built 
a log house near the center of the present vil- 
lage of Otego in 1783, according to Child's Di- 
rectory. About 1787 the tide of immigration be- 
gan to come in. The first settlements were along 
the river and on its south side. It is to be marked 
that the first settlers were of Dutch and Ger- 
man extraction from Albany and Schoharie coun- 
ties and the Mohawk valley. Among them are 
found such names as Winn, Mericle, Scramling, 

45 



46 History of Otego 

Calder, Snouse, Wiles, Vanderweriker, Hess, 
Overhuyser, Quackenboss, Bovie, Brimmer and 
Youmans. These settlers took possession of the 
fertile river land because they came first and 
because they were at home only on low land 
along the water. A story by the late Allen 
Scramling may partially explain. "The Devil 
once took the New Englander up on a high hill 
overlooking all this region, and offered him the 
the river land if he would serve him, the Devil, 
as master. The New Englander refused. The same 
offer on the same conditions was made to the 
"Dutchman," who, after a moment's considera- 
tion, is reported to have said, 'Py Gott, I vill 
do it.' " But the men from the East of English 
and Scotch-Irish decent were not slow to come, 
and the creeks were soon settled; for the land 
was just as cheap, if not cheaper, and in addi- 
tion the early settler believed that the better 
timber showed better soil. 

The early settlers were a motley crew — patri- 
ots, Tories, pirates, refugees, and the early pop- 
ulation, was constantly changing. Many were 
squatters who took what they liked, and moved 
when and whither they pleased — but their plea- 
sure often coincided with compulsion. As late 
as 1828 the settlers on the Lawrence and the 
Banyar estates were notified that they must buy 
the land that they had improved, or vacate. 
Many were unable to pay, and were forced to 
lose the labor of years. Some gained. One man 
bought one hundred thirty-five acres, and routed 
out six tenants, all of whom had pretty well 
cleared the land. To show their disrespect for 



History of Otego 47 

Banyar a song was composed, one verse of which 
was as follows — 

"Now to the West we will repair 
And wash our face in sweat and tears, 
With savages to take our fare, 
With catamount, hedgehog and bear. 
More human far than Banyar." 

Indeed many did go West for this reason, or 
because the timber was becoming scarce, or be- 
cause they had become unpopular members of 
the community. Thus have many of the early 
names disappeared from the town. But it is 
remarkable how many men still live on the land 
that their ancestors settled and cleared, in some 
cases over a hundred years ago. 



The Ogdens 

The Ogdens were of English origin, and came 
to Otego in 1774 or 1775. The author has made 
a special effort to secure fuller information about 
these settlers, but has been unable to do 
so. There are said to have been three 
brothers, and their names were probably — 
Daniel, who settled the place now occu- 
pied by Hiram Northup; David, who settled in 
a little log house on what is known as the Sigs- 
bee farm; John, who is mentioned in all lists of 
Revolutionary soldiers of Otego, and who, for 
some reason, ran away over a hundred years ago. 



48 History of Otego 

There was a Richard Ogden; but he seems to 
have settled in the Otego valley. It is, however, 
probable that only one of the brothers settled 
here at the above date, and that he returned with 
the others after the Revolution. This brother, 
probably Daniel, had a son named David, whose 
experiences are related below. Halsey says that 
the Ogdens were well known to Brant before the 
war, and that Brant was familiar with their Otego 
home. 

The following is a synopsis of "A True Narra- 
tive of the Capture of David Ogden among the 
Indians in the time of the Revolution" — 

David Ogden was born in Fishkill, Dutchess 
county of American parents in 1764. When he 
was a mere child, the family removed to Water- 
ford, Saratoga county, and thence to the wild 
regions of the Susquehanna, to a place eighteen 
miles below Colliers, a noted location in new 
country times. Here the family remained two 
years, when the war broke out. 

Brant was at Unadilla, and sent word to Og- 
den's father that, if he did not immediately join 
him against the rebels, he would take his oxen, 
cow, etc., and make him and his family pris- 
oners. An Indian, called "Yaup" (probably a 
corruption of Jacob) because he could talk 
"Dutch," whom Ogden had befriended, traveled 
all night up the river to warn Ogden of his 
danger and immediately returned, having told 
Brant that he was going on a hunt. The family 
packed their clothing and bedding in a canoe, 
which David, then twelve years old, and his 
father paddled up the river. The mother and a 



History of Otego 49 

younger brother drove the oxen and their only 
cow along the Indian trail on shore. In two days 
they all arrived at the foot of the lake where they 
camped. On the third day after leaving home 
the mother waded the river and struck off over 
the hill east of Cooperstown, while the rest started 
up the lake in the canoe. The family camped 
at Newtown Martin (now Middlefield) for two 
days. They remained three days at the log house 
of Daniel McCollom, three miles distant; and in 
another deserted house near by they remained a 
season. In November 1778, on the receipt of 
alarming news from Unadilla, they went to 
Cherry Valley, arriving in the night, where Colonel 
Campbell gave them his kitchen for shelter. 
After being here a few days the father went back 
to Newtown Martin on a scouting expedition. 
While he was gone, the alarm came to Cherry 
Valley. The mother fled with her four small 
children through the snow and rain to the Mo- 
hawk, where she was later joined by her hus- 
band. All the family escaped the massacre. 

The next spring David, then fourteen years old, 
volunteered in the Revolution, his father at about 
the same time being orderly sergeant. His first 
two enlistments were for three and then nine 
months; but before their expiration, he had en- 
listed for all the war. The records show that 
he was mustered in in September 1780. He 
saw Major Andre hanged in that year, and 
wintered in Fort Stanwix. On 2 March 1781 
he was taken prisoner by the Indians and 
Tories under Brant, who, on being told that 
one of the prisoners was David Ogden, said, 



50 History of Otego 

"What, the son of the old beaver hunter, that 
old scouter; ugh, I wish it was him instead of 
you, but we will take care of his boy or he may 
be a scouter too." The prisoners were led through 
the wilderness, suffering much hardship, to Fort 
Niagara. Soon after their arrival David was 
adopted by an old squaw named Gun-na-go-let, 
who gave him the name of Chee-chee-la-coo, 
chipping bird. After being in captivity for about 
two years he was taken to Oswego, where he 
became acquainted with a certain Danforth who 
had been taken at Cherry Valley. The two fin- 
ally managed to escape together and reached Fort 
Herkimer. Thence David went to Fort Plain, and 
finally to where his parents lived in Schoharie 
county, at a place called Warrensbush. He was 
scarcely eighteen years old, and had been two 
years and about four months in absolute slavery. 
He enlisted in the war of 1812, and saw Captain 
Elisha Saunders fall in the Battle of Queens- 
town. The engagement lasted twelve hours. 
Ogden was in the thickest of the fight, two bul- 
lets passing through his clothing. Forty of his 
company were either killed or wounded. 

This David Ogden settled at Treadwell where 
the above sketch was written by him some time 
before his death on 30 October 1840. He had 
a son, David, and grandsons, Chauncey, Linus 
and Ira. 



VII 

The South Side of the River 
THE place now owned and occupied by Or- 
lando Quackenbush was settled by Ebenezer Rice 
from the Mohawk, who had cleared fifteen acres 
here before 1807. He moved to Ohio, but later re- 
turned to live on the Otsdawa. Before 1819 Isaac 
Quackenbush, grandfather of the present owner, 
of Dutch descent from Albany county, occupied 
the farm, living first in a log cabin near the river. 
The old soldier later had built for himself the 
little frame house which is now joined to the 
present dwelling. Jacob was one of his seven 
children. The old saw mill on the place was built 
by George D. Scramling. 

The first settler on the place of the late Ste- 
phen Northup, son of Robert, now occupied by 
his widow, Lucinda, and two of his sons, was 
Gilbert Smith, who was here before 1793. John 
Brimmer from Rensselaer county bought the 
place from Stephen Andrews in 1797. Brimmer's 
first house was of logs and stood a little west of 
the frame house that he later built north of the 
road and in which Caroline Northup lived. At 
his death Brimmer owned also the greater part 
of the Hurlbut farm. His daughter Hannah, 
who had maried Robert Northup, inherited his 
original farm; his son Aaron came into posses- 
sion of the latter place and built the present house 
where he lived until he sold to Harmon B. Hurl- 
but. 

The first settler on the place owned and occu- 

51 



52 • History of Otego 

pied by Burdette Hurlbut, grandson of Harmon 
B., was William French, who came from Massa- 
chusetts at about the same time as Henry Shep- 
herd — possibly the year before. He was living 
here as late as 1801. A century ago this place 
was largely owned by Elisha Shepherd and 
Wheeler French. In 1815 Cornelius Mericle 
from Schoharie county bought ninety acres of 
this place near the river. Many years ago revival 
meetings were held in his barn, and many were 
baptized at the head of the smaller island, oppo- 
site the stone house. The whole farm later came 
into the hands of the Brimmers. 

Menus Goodrich was the first settler on the 
place owned and occupied formerly by William 
Dewey, later by George Wescott, now by Charles 
Averill, before 1793. Very near him, and prob- 
ably nearer the schoolhouse, settled Wait Good- 
rich. Very little can be learned about this fam- 
ily, although many of them settled early on this 
side of the river. Before 1819 Henry Bovie had 
moved here from the farm of the late Allen 
Scramling, and erected the present buildings. He 
moved to Union, N. Y. Near here once lived 
Jacob Wiles. 

The vicinity of the stone house was in early 
time a favorite place for settlement. Here be- 
fore the Revolution settled the Ogdens. Henry 
Shepherd came from Massachusetts in the spring 
of 1787 and settled near here and had a ferry. 
But the stone that is pointed out as his door- 
step is almost in the southeast corner of Charles 
Averill's farm. He had seven children. Con- 
radt Wiles, brother of "Jose" and "Hans," once 



History of Otego 53 

lived in a log house where is now the stone 
house. Then came Ransom Hunt, Jr. Ezra, son 
of Samuel, Gates, who built the stone house 
about 1830, sold the place to Peter Scramling. 
Later here were Job Mills; Emmet Rathbun; 
Jacob Hilsinger. The place is now owned and 
occupied by Hiram Northup. 

The Foote place, at present an unoccupied part 
of the Hale property, derives its name from Elias 
Foote of Connecticut, who came here from 
Franklin in about 1811. He traded with Levi 
Hale for a place in North Franklin. 

John Brimmer's old house served as the first 
schoolhouse in district No. 7. Debora Blakeslee 
and David Foote were two early teachers. The 
second schoolhouse was built about 1830 on a 
site given by Peter Scramling. It was burned in 
the summer of 1905, and immediately replaced 
by the present structure. In the school year 
1866-7 Maria Scramling was the teacher, and the 
pupils numbered twenty-six. 

What is called the Nicholas Sigsbee farm, now 
owned by Mrs. H. E. Bugden, was first settled 
by David Ogden. It was bought by John Snouse 
of Canajoharie in 1800. Fifteen years later he 
moved down to the Baker farm where he is said 
to have kept a tavern. Then came Peter, son of 
Henry, Scramling, who lived in a log house on 
the little knoll southeast of the schoolhouse. He 
was followed on the place by his son George. 
John Snouse was a famous hunter, as well as 
soldier. He was taken from the settlement at 
old Schoharie by the Indians and carried a captive 
to Canada where he was held a prisoner for three 



54 History of Otego 

years before he managed to escape. He could 
speak the Indian language; and was famed for 
making the early rude plows. A pair of tongs, 
made by "Old Mr. Snouts," as he was called, are 
owned by Mrs. H. J. Hurlbut in Oneonta. Years 
ago near the comer of the roads by the swamp 
Jake Cutting had a blacksmith shop. 

Ninety years ago the place owned and recently 
occupied by George Hughston was occupied by 
Robert and Benedict Northrup. The latter sold 
to his brother and moved to Addison, N. Y. Af- 
ter Robert Northrup had moved to the river the 
place was occupied by his sons Hiram and John. 
Later came Russell Murry. Samuel Clegg bought 
the place from Ira Bovie. The first settler here 
was Cyporon Tracy. 

The farm owned and occupied by Charles 
Hughston was in 1795 occupied by Alexander 
Smith. Ansel Ward bought it from Milo Smith, 
and lived here about forty years. 

The first settlers on the present Edwin Blakely 
farm were Peter and Elisha Bundy, brothers from 
Montgomery, Mass. They came in the spring 
of 1787, the year of the great famine among the 
settlers on the Susquehanna. Here they spent 
their first night in town, struck their first blow 
at the "monstrous big timber" and built their 
cabins close to the river. Peter Bundy was here 
six years later, but both brothers soon moved to 
the Otsdawa. It is said that Peter Bundy first 
came into Otsego county with William Cooper, 
who urged him to settle near the lake; but Bundy 
was interested in the timber, and went farther 



History of Otego 55 

down the river to get deeper water for rafting. 
Here he built his cabin, and fetched his family the 
next year. The name Bundy is thought to be 
derived from the forest of Bondy near Paris, 
France, the "Bundys" being among the adven- 
turers who accompanied William the Conqueror 
to England and who subsequently turned farm- 
ers and settled in Kent. The name is frequently 
spelled Bonda in local records, but the form 
Bondy does not occur in this vicinity. 

The upper part of the Blakely farm and the 
strip of land abutting it on the east, of which 
what is known as the Peter Mickle place is a 
part, was a lot that was sold by Gouldsbrow 
Banyar to Henry Klock in 1801. Within five 
years Klock had moved to Chenango county, 
having sold the part nearer the river to Houtice 
Smith and the remainder to John Snouse. The 
whole tract finally passed into the hands of 
Peter Scramling. At his death Scramling's large 
landholdings on this side of the river were divided 
among his eight children. To-day none are pos- 
sessed by any of his descendants. The house on 
the so-called Mickle place was built by Alfred 
Hess about forty-five years ago. Peter Mickle 
bought the place in 1888 from John Williams, and 
it is now occupied by Fred Eliot. Eighty-five 
years ago the upper part of the Blakely place was 
occupied by John A. Hodge; it was bought from 
the Scramling heirs by William Stuart of Madi- 
son county in 1851. A century ago the lower 
part of the Blakely farm was occupied by Philo 
Goodrich, who built the house there that was 
burned in 1887; about 1830 a man named Green- 



56 History of Otego 

slate lived there; Stuart bought it from Aris- 
tarchus Mann in 1851. 

Seventy-five years ago on the Blakely farm, 
back on the mountain beside the old road, lived 
George Northrup and his son Samuel. A little 
way above them lived Asel Bennett. 

The upper part of the W. H. Baker farm was 
sold by Gouldsbrow Banyar to John Wattles, who 
had left the place before 1822. Then came 
David and Russell Blakeslee. About seventy 
years ago this part was bought by John, son of 
Robert, Rathbun from Harvey B. Redfield, 
brother-in-law of Russell Blakeslee. The first 
settler on the lower part of the Baker farm was 
Asahel Packard, a Revolutionary soldier, who 
came from Massachusetts a short time after 
Henry Shepherd; within a few years he had 
moved to the Otsdawa. In 1815 John Snouse 
bought fifteen acres of this lower part from John 
T. Smith, which he sold nine years later to Ja- 
cob and Levi Han. The Hans lived south of the 
road where there are yet traces of an old cellar. 
In 1827 Isaac Abbey sold the entire lower part 
to Osborne L. Knapp of the Butternuts. Knapp 
lived in a log house near the present big barn. 
W. H. Baker bought the upper and the lower 
parts of this farm from William T. Broadfoot and 
Riley Sessions respectively. 

The farm now occupied by R. A. Wykes was 
bought by John Christian from Gouldsbrow Ban- 
yar in 1793. Christian or Christjohn, whom F. 
W. Edson calls John Christjohn "Wiles," was 
a German, had two brothers, and lived over on the 
hill west of the present house. In 1816 Andrew 



History of Otego 57 

Hodge was living on the place, and a few years 
later, Daniel Swift. Jabez Holmes, who built 
the present house, sold the farm in 1856 to George 
and Samuel Northrup mentioned above. 

Before 1800 the old John Hubbell farm had 
been leased to Johannis Lust and Godfrey Calder; 
but they were not permanent. In 1810 the land 
was purchased by James Christian, and it later 
came into the possession of the Hubbells. The 
upper part of this tract, owned by R. A. Wykes, 
is unoccupied. The lower part is known as the 
Cyrus Hunt place from a former resident owner; 
here once lived Jacob Han. 

The land to the west was a century ago owned 
by Ashbel Goodrich. He sold the greater part 
to Stephen Northrup, brother of Robert, Benedict 
and George. Northrup had been a sailor on 
the high seas during the troubled times that pre- 
ceded the war of 1812. To the place on the 
corner where the house was burned came in 1834 
Jacob Pratt and his son Sidney. The farm 
now owned and occupied by Hector Mitchell was 
early occupied by Ransom Hunt, Jr., who was 
followed by his son John. 

Joseph Northrup, Sr., of Lanesboro, Mass., a 
soldier of the Revolution, came in 1803, leasing 
what is called the S. K. Stiles place, now owned 
and occupied by M. S. Carey. 

The strip of land next below, now owned by 
Van. B. Smith and unoccupied, was leased by 
Robert Rathbun of Rhode Island, who came in 
1801. Jason Goodrich lived there sixty years ago. 

The farm now owned and occupied by Alonzo 
Judd had two early occupants — on one part was 



58 History of Otego 

Samuel Northrup, a soldier of 1812, father of the 
four brothers above mentioned, who came from 
North Kingston, R. I. before 1801. On the other 
part was Captain Ezekiel Tracy, originally from 
Massachusetts, who came hither from the farm 
of the late Allen Scramling farther up the river. 
Tracy had eleven children. Other occupants of 
this place have been Simeon Castle, who moved 
to Briar Creek; Eli Starr; Addison Rathbun, who 
bought from Jerome B. Youmans; Hiram Randall. 

The Birdsalls, or Burchams as they were call- 
ed, originally from Long Island, came from 
Dutchess county. The family is said to 
have settled first on the north side of the river. 
In 1794 Squire was on the upper part of the 
place now owned by Van. B. Smith, where Ste- 
phen Bradley once lived; but within ten years 
was living across the river. Timothy moved 
from the north side of the river, and eighty-five 
years ago was living on the lower part of Smith's 
farm. He sold to Alexander Maxwell, and went 
to live near his son-in-law John Smith. One hun- 
dred ten years ago John lived on the place now 
owned and occupied by R. A. Hoyt; but before 
1813 had moved to the north side of the river. 
He was followed on the place by his son Nathan; 
then came his grandson Edwin. 

The first school in this vicinity was taught by 
Abigail Reed in Godfrey Calder's barn. The 
first schoolhouse in this district stood a little way 
below Alonzo Judd's, north of the road. Two 
early teachers were Lemuel French and Albro 
Bundy. The present schoolhouse, built by Eli 
Starr, is the second in the district. 



VIII 

The North Side of the River 

NINETY-FIVE years ago Jerry French and Ira 
Carley were living in a clearing of two or three 
acres on the place owned by the late William 
White, now occupied by Joseph Rogers. They 
were rafters, and got into serious trouble by 
bringing back counterfeit money from Harris- 
burg. The place was bought by John Tuckey and 
Benjamin Soden in 1819. The former was sole 
owner five years later. The Tuckeys were En- 
glish. Their log house stood about where now 
runs the railroad. Tuckey and Joseph, brother 
of Benjamin, Soden worked at their trade of 
thrashing with the flail. The present house was 
built and first occupied by Harvey Strong of 
Merideth. 

On the place above in 1800 lived Laban Cran- 
dall. 

Jerry Carley once lived on the place now owned 
and occupied by Charles Underwood. Then came 
Tom Brewster, a negro fiddler. S. Green lived 
here forty years ago. 

Aaron Ferry is said to have been the first set- 
tler on the old Moak place, now owned and occu- 
pied by Mrs. K. E. Crandall. Ninety years ago 
Robert Foster kept a tavern there. Deforest and 
Deluson Warner, brothers from Connecticut, 
bought this place and the Underwood farm be- 
low, and continued the tavern. William Webster 

59 



60 History of Otego 

lived here many years. Jacob Moak from Al- 
bany county bought the place from Ely Dean. 

Jerry French is said to have been the first on 
the old William (son of John) Youmans farui, 
now owned and occupied by George Rachard. In 
1807 Jacob Gates was living here, and had im- 
proved twelve acres. 

The farm now owned and occupied by L. C. 
Dodge, son of Harry, was first settled by John, 
son of Colonel John, Harper, whose log house 
was still standing forty years ago. Jesse Broad, 
father-in-law of the present owner, came to the 
place before 1821, and built the present house. 

The original lessee of the next place was John 
Kyle; but he never occupied it. Benjamin Bird- 
sail was probably an early occupant. Later came 
Henry Hoag. The place is now owned and 
occupied by Henry Robbins. 

Charles Bouck lives on the place which Isaac 
Gates had settled before 1797. Gates moved 
to Briar creek, and William VanSlyke was the 
next there. Later were Abner Ferry; Peter 
Bundy, Jr., who built the present house; Thomas 
Burnside. 

John, son of Solomon, Youmans of German 
descent, originally from Dutchess county, bought 
his land from Gouldsbrow Banyar in 1805. He 
was drafted in the War of 1812, but furnished a 
substitute. He had ten children. The old tavern 
that he kept was closed over eighty years ago, 
and was converted into a hop-house. William 
King, a kind old veteran of the Revolution, made 
his home for a long time with John Youmans, 
and on winter nights about the tavern fire would 



History of Otego 61 

tell his stories of the war. It seems that he had 
been drum-major, and that it had been the pain- 
ful duty of his office to administer whatever 
floggings were ordered to be done with the cat- 
o'-nine tails. What became of the old soldier 
is unknown. The present house was built by 
William Jay. The place is now owned by Clin- 
ton Root and occupied by Lambert Burnside. 

The Birdsall family, when they first came, are 
said to have settled down under the knoll on the 
place now owned and occupied by Earle Root. 
A huge pine was felled and around the stump 
they are said to have built their house, the stump 
serving as a table. On this place in 1796 lived 
Timothy Birdsall; later Daniel, son of Squire, 
Birdsall, and then Daniel's brother-in-law, Ste- 
phen Bradley. Bradley later lived and died 
in the village. In 1805 Squire Birdsall was in 
the immediate vicinity. 

The place now owned and occupied by S. B. 
Blakesley is said to have been first settled by a 
man named Goodrich. Very early came Michael 
Birdsall. Later here were Wheeler French, a 
great hunter, who built the present house; Be- 
nonai Cook of Dutchess county; Calvin Hyde. 
A man named Acker once lived in this vicinity. 

On the next lot above, over a century ago, lived 
James Copley. Ninety years ago Harvey Strong 
was here. The lot was later owned by Richard 
and William Horning. 

It is interesting to note how many of the same 
or related families settled near one another. 
Many of the older Birdsalls lived on this side of 
the river. John, Timothy and Squire were 



62 History of Otego 

brothers. Of their sisters Anna was the mother 
of Harry Dodge, Mary married John Youmans, 
and Cynthia was the wife of Benonai Cook. Of 
their half-brother's, Lemuel, children there were 
Michael, Benjamin, Sally, wife of James Cop- 
ley, and Abigail, who married John Harper. With 
the Birdsalls compare, among others, the Sheldon 
and the Hopkins families on the West Branch, 
the Cooks and the Hatheways near Otsdawa, and 
the Northrups and the Goodriches on the south 
side of the river. 

The first schoolhouse in this district (No. 2) 
was a frame building, which stood just across the 
Briar creek road, opposite -the present site. The 
second one was of stone, and was built on the 
present property by Harry Sheldon and Clark 
Hopkins in 1836. It stood till 1874. The pres- 
ent schoolhouse, built by T. W. Snyder, is the 
third one in the district. 

The farm, formerly owned and occupied by Wil- 
liam Brown, recently purchased by William Hugh- 
ston, was first settled by John Vermilyea, a sol- 
dier of the Revolution. He had two children. 
He lived in a log house one hundred rods from 
the river bank. Then, more than a century ago, 
came Benjamin Birdsall, who built the present 
house. He moved to the town of Unadilla. 
Harry Dodge of Dutchess county had bought 
and was living on the place before 1818. Many 
years ago there was printed a description of the 
old tavern that was once kept on this place. It 
appears to have had anything but a savory rep- 
utation. 

Before 1820 Abram and Nicholas Horning were 



History of Otego 63 

living on the lower part of the place now owned 
and recently occupied by John Leonard, and what 
is known as the Harvey Brown place, now owned 
by Alfred Sutton, respectively. Carlisle 01m- 
stead was a later owner and occupant of the 
present Leonard place. 

Before 1815 the land from just above the 
present Leonard house to the place settled by 
John Smith had been leased by Gouldsbrow 
Banyar to Nahum Smith of Massachusetts. On 
the upper part of the present Leonard place, on 
the flat beside the old road, he lived with his 
father, David, a Revolutionary soldier. The place 
now owned and occupied by W. J. Loomis has had 
among others the following occupant-owners — 
Elisha Kilborn; Solomon Cunningham; Solomon 
Baldwin. Luther, son of Wheeler, French is 
said to have once lived there. The next place 
above, now owned by George Sherman, Jr., was 
early occupied by Squire Birdsall and his son 
Harry. Here the former died. 

John, brother of Nahum, Smith was bom in 
Massachusetts in 1788. When he became of age, 
with his little bundle of earthly possessions and 
an ax, he started on foot for New York state. 
He settled on the farm lately owned and occu- 
pied by his son Chauncey, now owned by the 
latter's daughter, Mrs. Smith Bundy. Smith 
leased his land from Gouldsbrow Banyar. His 
father probably came later. He married Re- 
becca, daughter of Timothy, Birdsall, who then 
lived on the south side of the river. Her wedding 
outfit was carried across to her new home in a 
canoe. 



64 History of Otego 

At the lower edge of Shepherds Corners in 
1807 lived Samuel Fisk. 

The place so long owned and occupied by 
George, son of Michael, Birdsall, now occupied 
by his daughter, Mrs. Harriet Stilson, was bought 
from Gouldsbrow Banyar by Menus Goodrich one 
hundred years ago. Six years later the latter 
sold it to John Birdsall. 

The house on the place now owned and occu- 
pied by William Shepherd was built about ninety- 
five years ago by Benjamin, son of Henry, Shep- 
herd, who had bought the farm in 1801. He was 
a brother of the present owner's grandfather. 

Michael Birdsall, of Huguenot descent, came 
from Harpersfield in 1802, and settled first in 
a log house near the river as described above, 
beside his brother Benjamin. In 1809 he bought 
the lower part of his farm later owned and oc- 
cupied by his son William, now by the latter's 
son Webster, from Gouldsbrow Banyar. In 1794 
the upper part of his farm was owned and occu- 
pied by Zebulon Norton, who lived in a log house 
on the river bank. This upper part came into 
the possession of Michael Birdsall in 1811. 
About 1812 he built the present house, where he 
kept a tavern. 

The place now owned and occupied by Thomas 
Redding was first settled by a man named Hub- 
bell. Adam Empey lived there in 1807. David 
Blakely, probably originally from Pawlet, Vt., 
bought the place in 1811 from Michael Birdsall, 
who at the same time bought the upper part of 
the Birdsall farm from Blakely. They virtually 
traded lots. Five years later Blakely moved fur- 



History of Otego 65 

ther up the river, selling to "Elder" John Morse. 
The latter's son-in-law, Thomas D. Smith, came 
to the place in 1836. 

Mason W., son of James, Hughston came to 
the village from Sidney in 1824, and lived first 
in a double log house just above the Baptist 
church. 

Daniel Weller came from Roxbury, Ct., in 
1809, buying fifteen acres from Abram Blaklee 
the next year. His house stood near the one 
now owned and occupied by Dr. W. S. Cook. 
The well in the yard is the old Weller well. 
Daniel Weller was a pioneer blacksmith and his 
large shop was just west of his house. He was 
the first supervisor of the town of Huntsville, 
continuing in office eight years. One of his daugh- 
ters married Hudson Sleeper. 

Abram Blaklee and Ransom Hunt, both from 
Bennington, Vt., were "double" brothers-in-law. 
They are said to have come to the town in 1799 
to choose a location, when Blaklee built his frame 
house, and then to have returned for their famil- 
ies. At all events both were here before 1801. 
Abram Blaklee's original landholdings were on 
both sides of Main street, and extended from the 
line of River street nearly to the Baptist church. 
He was a saddler and a harness-maker. His 
house stood near the street on the lot now owned 
and occupied by W. H. Lines, whence it was 
moved back to Willow street and was occupied 
by the late Miss Alvira Chase. He had four 
daughters. Blaklee is said to have come to Ver- 
mont from Danbury, Ct., with Ransom Hunt from 
Roxbury, Ct. 



66 History of Otego 

Samuel Root and his son, Dr. Samuel, came 
from Vermont before 1810. The Root property 
was bounded by the river and what are now Main, 
River and Averill streets, and was inherited by 
James Follett, his son-in-law. The Root dwelling 
stood near the brick house, now owned and oc- 
cupied by Morgan Place, which was built by 
James Follett. 

Before 1803 Thaddeus R. Austin, a Connecti- 
cut Yankee, was merchant in the old store of 
Smith and Morey, which stood on the site of the 
present Bowe block. In 1812 he built a new 
store directly across the street, which is now 
occupied by the postoffice. He also erected a 
two-storied frame building on the site of the 
Susquehanna House, in front of which was a 
lawn with trees and a flower garden. The latter 
was a great curiosity, for any but wild flowers 
were then a rarity. Austin was said to be of 
French descent. His brother, Roderick, who had 
lived thirty years in France, came from "down 
East way" to spend his declining years with his 
brother. We can imagine him sitting in the lit- 
tle country store maintaining a silence about his 
past that none dared break. Rumor had it that 
he had been a pirate on the seas. The truth is 
that he had been a privateersman on a ship call- 
ed "The True Blooded Yankee." An old man, 
in 1852 T. R. Austin sold out his interests here 
and started for Wisconsin, whither he had sent 
his household goods. He was taken sick at Una- 
dilla where he died, and was brought back and 
buried in the town that he wished never to see 

again. Austin was the promoter of many enter- 



History of Otego 67 

prises, "bought and sold everything and was the 
agent for the Banyar estate." He was a very 
aristocratic and dressy man, "noted for the mag- 
nificence of his ruffled shirt bosoms." He is said 
to have been a passenger on Fulton's steamboat 
on its first trip up the Hudson river. 

A few years after 1810 Daniel Lawrence, mer- 
chant, built the store where Glen Poole now 
trades, and a dwelling-house in the rear. He 
moved to Buffalo. A later occupant of the store 
was Ezra R. Brewer. 

The first settler on the place later bought by 
Ransom Hunt was Elijah Smith, who had opened 
a tavern there before 1796. He moved to Ohio, 
and Samuel (?) Yaw, who seems to have been 
a sort of wandering innkeeper, played the host 
in the same place. Then came Ransom Hunt 
with his wife and four children. He bought his 
land from Gouldsbrow Banyar, chiefly. His log 
tavern, possibly the one that Smith and Yaw had 
used, stood a little south of the present Otego 
House. Here in 1807 he built a long two-storied 
frame hotel, which he kept for over thirty years. 
The wagon-shop and sheds stood directly across 
the street. Hunt's Hotel was the center of a 
large sphere of influence, and here all kinds of 
meetings were held. At the head of the Otsdawa 
ravine Hunt built one of the first saw mills in 
town, which, with a distillery near, was sold to 
Ephraim Sleeper. He erected another saw mill 
on "Saw Mill Hill," back of George Sherman's, 
Jr., house. The small grist mill, which he built 
on the site of the Jenning's Mill, was replaced by 
a second, which he raised in a snow-storm on 



68 History of Otego 

8 June 1816. The present grist mill here was 
built by Follett and French about 1850. 

Jedediah Spicer was the first settler on the 
place now owned and occupied by George Wilber. 
Then came Ebenezer Rice. Albertus Becker 
lived there in 1807. Later were Daniel Rowe, 
who hanged himself in the barn; James Follett; 
Levi French. The Spicers and Hazard Corey are 
said to have come with Ransom Hunt. In 1819 
Daniel Knapp, Jr., bought land south of the road, 
where he ran a carding-machine and clothing- 
works; his building still stands back of J. E. Tru- 
man's house. 

"Rich old Mr. Norton" is said to have settled 
early near the corner of the older Otsdawa road, 
but soon moved to Genesee county. Philip Hel- 
mer was near here in 1798. Ransom Hunt bought 
the place, and later sold it to "Captain" Peter 
Bundy, whose sons, Stephen A. and Gilbert S., 
kept a hotel there. This old Bundy Hotel, now oc- 
cupied as a dwelling house by George Benedict, 
was new eighty years ago. Across the road stood 
its long red barns. William H. Seward once de- 
livered an address from the hotel steps. South- 
ern people with their fine carriages and their 
slaves used to stop here, and this was the place 
where the stage, that ran twice a day between 
Unadilla and Emmons, changed horses. The 
whole farm is now owned and occupied by Wil- 
liam Van Name. On this farm are the rocks* 
from which the Indian maiden is said to have 
taken her fatal leap. 

Before 1799 Barnet Overhizer had leased the 



History of Otego 69 

Day farm. About 1818 Henry Shader of Dutch- 
ess county was living on the place. Oliver P. 
Raymond once lived here. Robert Day came to 
the farm about 1836, and it is now owned by his 
granddaughters. Before 1809 Godfrey Calder 
had come from the south side of the river and 
settled on the hill. 

Early on the next place but one was Dr. Warner 
or Warren. Later here was Elisha Adams. The 
place is now owned and occupied by Herbert 
Mumford. 

The Hale farm was settled by a family named 
Hess. Frederick Hess conveyed the place to John 
Hess in 1801; the latter in 1816 sold a portion 
to James Blakeslee. In both conveyances men- 
tion is made of the Indian paintings on the 
rocks. The Hess family lived in a partly dug- 
out dwelling on the north side of the road a 
little way above the present house. Blakeslee 
occupied the present lower tenant house, which 
then stood just south of the road some distance 
below its present site. Obadiah Blakeslee, his 
nephew, lived here afterward, having moved from 
near the upper tenant house. Other occupants 
of this farm, as a whole or in part, have been 
John Rathbun; Ezra Gates, who built a stone 
house on the place; Albro Bundy; Gilbert Stan- 
nard, who sold the farm to Levi Hale of North 
Franklin in 1844. In this year the present house 
was built. The Hales were originally from Con- 
necticut. Ninety years ago the "Oxbow" was es- 
timated to contain about fifteen acres. Some say 
that it was from Hale's Rocks that the Indian 
girl of the legend leaped to her death in plain 



70 History of Otego 

view of her father, who was on the opposite side 
of the river. 

Many years ago Bradley and Nathaniel Blakes- 
lee lived on what was afterward known as the 
Nelson Cole place, now owned by E. E. Clifford. 
Bradley studied medicine and went west. Nathan- 
iel built Mtechanics Hall in the village. There 
was once a "temperance" hotel kept on this 
place. 

What is called the James Cole place, now 
owned and occupied by E. E. Clifford, was first 
settled by John Scramling, who lived in a log 
house on the river bank, where afterwards lived 
"Hans" Wiles. Scramling married a daughter 
of "Rich old Mr. Norton," and followed his 
father-in-law to the West. His relation to the 
other Scramlings is unknown. Jacob Woolhart 
once owned a few acres of this place. A man 
named Dean once lived here. 

Jonathan, father of Osborn L., Knapp had lo- 
cated before 1811 on the place owned and occu- 
pied formerly by William Hunt, now by Frank 
Hunt. He kept a tavern in a log house on the 
river bank. A later owner was Zephenia Cole, 
who moved here from the vicinity of schoolhouse 
No. 9 on Mill creek. Cole had large holdings in 
this locality, and Nelson and James were his sons. 

The first settler on the next place was John 
Vanderwarker. The place was bought from him 
by David Blakely, who lived here a long time 
and built the present house. Blakely was a first 
cousin of John Blakely. Later here was Reuben 
Janes, and still later, Charles Miles. The place 



History of Otego 7i 

is now owned by Frank Annable and occupied 
by William Naylor. 

The present schoolhouse in this district is the 
third. The first one stood some distance below 
the present site, south of the road, on land now 
owned by Frank Hunt. 

Over one hundred years ago John Winn was 
living in a log house across the road from S. S. 
Crandall. His father, Robt. E. Winn, is said to 
have settled here immediately after the Revo- 
lution. The family was related to the Scram- 
lings, and well known on the Mohawk. 

Ninety-five years ago Elijah Ferry was living 
a few rods west of the Oneonta line, near where 
the saw mill of Barnes and Fox stood in 1867. 
Daniel Bird of Rhode Island was an early settler 
in this immediate neighborhood, on the place now 
occupied by Charles Weatherly. 



IX 

Mill Creek 

THIS creek was settled later than other por- 
tions of the town. The early settlers lumbered 
the large amount of pine and hemlock. The first 
saw mill was probably above the Glen, on land 
now owned by A. C. Bennett. A dam and a mill 
were built early by the Scramlings on the Q. 
B. Parish place. This mill was later owned by 
Ira and Reuben Parish, and Darius Ward was 
their sawyer. There have been as many as six 
saw mills on the creek at one time. The water- 
power was generally poor; it required two mills 
running day and night for a week to saw 24,000 
feet of lumber. About eighty years ago there 
were thirty-six log houses from the Glen to the 
old Oxford turnpike. The last one was on the 
place of Stoughton Horton. The oldest houses are 
the Thomas house, the old dwelling on the Thayer 
farm and the house where Clarence Cook lives. 

A century ago the places now owned and occu- 
pied by Frank Hunt and S. S. Crandall were cov- 
ered with woods. The land about the mouth of 
Mill creek was a part of the 1000 acre tract of 
Sir William Johnson that passed into the hands 
of the Scramlings. Other large holders here have 
been John Winn, Zephenia Cole and Adam Horton. 

The Q. B. Parish place was early bought by 
Peter Scramling. In 1864 Ira and Reuben, sons 
of Eldred, Parish sold the place to Adam Horton. 

Before 1811 Adam Empey had a saw mill on 

72 



History of Otego 73 

the place now owned and occupied by A. C. Ben- 
nett. He probably moved here from the river, 
buying from John Hornby of Great Britain, who, 
at about this time, owned all the land from this 
point nearly to the schoolhouse (No. 11). Others 
on this farm have been Booth; Spaulding; Daniel 
Washburn; Royal Briggs. 

Noah Wakely had a chopping on the creek in 
1804, probably on the place of M. V. Briggs. 
Later owners have been Zephenia Cole; Judson 
and Parnett Beardsley; Adam Horton. In the 
woods on Calder Hill, back of Briggs,' is what 
is called the Brisee lot, now owned by Wood and 
Phelps. Here once lived Henry Brisee. Near by 
is an old cemetery. 

Solomon Squires of Connecticut was on the 
C. H. Broadfoot place before 1815. He sold 
to Adam Horton, and moved to Laurens, and later 
to the "Plains." The Squires and Hurlbut fami- 
lies were fast friends, "whose tastes ran to clams." 

Jesse Hurlbut came from Litchfield, Ct., to 
Butternuts in 1815. About two years later he 
came to the present Morris Hunt place, now oc- 
cupied by Aaron Scott, buying through T. R. 
Austin, agent. He had nine children. 

The farm of Anson Hurlbut, now occupied by 
John Herring, and that of Stoughton Horton, 
farther up the creek, now occupied by Emmet Ter- 
pening, were early owned by Thomas Rowe, who 
lived in the village. Before 1821 he had sold 
both to Nathan S. Hurd, his brother-in-law, who 
in turn about 1839 sold them to Cornelius Liv- 
ingston of Schoharie. The former place was 
inherited by the latter's daughter; the latter, by 



74 History of Otego 

his only son, William, who lived there a long time. 

John Hornby is said to have had a tannery 
early on the place now occupied by George 
Thomas. Ninety-five years ago Samuel Freeman 
and his son Willet occupied the farm. To the 
north were the lands of Samuel VanSlyke, and to 
the South, those of Juston Hunt. Freeman had 
been a sea-captain and had not forgotten the 
forceful language used at sea. Judson Beards- 
ley later owned the place, which then passed into 
the hands of William Thomas. 

Benjamin Knott was an early settler on the 
property later owned and occupied by Amos Hurl- 
but. The part east of the road, known as the old 
Eli Starr farm, is owned by Walter Couse; the 
part west of the road, by Gilbert Horton. 

The first schoolhouse on Mill creek was of 
logs and stood some distance south of the pres- 
ent third one, in what is now district No. 11. 
The second was a frame building and was erected 
by Chester Thayer. Some early teachers were 
James Bundy, Alonzo Eldred, Alanson Thomas, 
David Cook and Amy Haight. 

On the site of the present schoolhouse once 
stood "Rowe's Barn," which was said to be 
haunted. Cornelius Livingston dug under it to 
find evidence of murder done. Reliable (?) wit- 
nesses testified that they had heard strains of 
music proceeding from the spot. The phenome- 
non was supposed to be due to the ghost of a 
murdered pedler, who had once been a member 
of a band. Just above the schoolhouse in 1820 
lived Jacob Neff; above him, in her log hovel 
near the creek, lived "Old M's Tucker." 



History of Otego 75 

On the Beetle Hill road: Luther Focus, who 
was migratory, once lived a little east of the 
house on the place owned by Philip Hodges, oc- 
cupied by Charles Emerson. Eighty years ago 
Stephen Gould lived on the place now owned 
and occupied by C. J. Herring. 

Alanson Thomas came from Connecticut in 
1830 and settled back on the hill on land now 
owned by Henry Deliver. Later he bought the 
place now owned and occupied by Elisha Trask, 
and also the place of John Herring; on the 
former he spent his last years. Alanson, Jr., 
bought the old Murry farm, now owned by Wal- 
ter Hodges and occupied by Charles Short. Of 
the Murrys there were several sons; the father 
of all was Eldridge Murry. 

Rufus Cook was on the property now owned 
and occupied by Eli and Taylor Thayer more than 
a century ago. In 1821 Noah Wakely lived here. 
In 1824 Benjamin Butterfield's house stood near 
the creek where there was a steam saw mill 
twenty years ago. Chester, son of Asa, Thayer 
bought the farm and lived in the old unoccupied 
house now there. Cook later lived up in the 
corner of the roads, where Norman Ellis recently 
owned, near where Dennis Davis once lived. 

The Stevens came from Connecticut and were 
among the earliest on the creek. Moses Stevens, 
a Revolutionary soldier, lived on the place now 
owned and occupied by N. C. Terpening, west of 
the road. Of his sons, Abiather lived just above, 
on the same place, and Simon, where F. N. 
Boyd owns and lives. Near the "Big Rock" or 



76 History of Otego 

"Wolf's Rocks," on the road that here turns off 
to the east, Abiather Stevens was murdered. 

The old Joseph Doliver farm included the places 
now owned by F. H. Young, Hiram Wiles and 
King J. Hatheway. The Delivers were from 
Rhode Island. Joseph Doliver had four children. 
His father, Joseph, was a Revolutionary soldier, 
and is buried near West Oneonta. 

John Empsey, a cooper, was an old settler 
across the road from Orason Bowen's. Where 
Bowen's house stands James O'Brien lived in 
1824. 

Samuel Davis of Rhode Island settled the 
farm off the road, on Oak or Huckleberry Hill, 
where Otis Cook recently lived, now owned and 
occupied by Andrew Perry. A later occupant of 
the place was Philip Helmer. 

Clarence Cook owns and occupies the old 
David Lawrence farm. The latter was followed 
on the place by Pasco, son of Thomas, Matteson 
(Madison), who had lived there about sixty years 
in 1884. 

The first schoolhouse in this district (No. 9), 
built before 1820, stood east of the little creek. 
The present is the third. Some early teachers 
were Sally Northrup, her sister Cynthia, Martha 
Miller and a Miss Rouse. 

Near the site of the present schoolhouse in 
1825 lived Josua Hague. Many years before Seth 
Rowley had built a saw mill here on the little 
creek. Just below lived Daniel Doliver. A little 
way above here, on the old road east of the 
turnpike, in 1820 lived Jacob, son of Abraham, 
Pratt. He sold to Levi, son of Asa, Thayer. The 



History of Otego 77 

place formerly owned and occupied by Delory 
Mumford, now by Frank Baird, was settled by 
a man named Bancroft. He was a Spainard and 
a physician, and practised many years. 

North of the old turnpike and a little east of 
Charles Bowen's once stood the peculiar house 
of Barney Brooks. It was about forty feet long 
and sixteen feet wide. On this farm about 1834 
a man named Burroughs claimed to have found 
a silver mine, having melted up his wife's 
spoons to "salt it down." Several caught the 
fever, and the farm was bought at a fabulous 
price. A shop was erected, a forge built and 
drilling and blasting continued for a year or more. 
Burroughs did not succeed in keeping his secret, 
and the bubble burst. The great silver mine of 
Arabia was abandoned. A large pile of almost 
worthless ore, containing a very small amount 
of lead and antimony, was left a monument to 
the god of greed that can still be seen. When 
Burroughs fled he is said to have stopped at the 
house of Samuel B. Luther to leave this message 
for those who had trusted him: "Seek me early 
but you cannot find me, and where I go ye cannot 
come." 

"Old Grannie Mack" once lived some distance 
north of this mine. She later lived somewhere 
on the East Branch. The floor of her hut was 
the earth, and a hole in the roof served as a 
chimney. She begged most of her meals, and 
spun thread to eke out a scanty subsistence. She 
was the widow of Abner Mack, who was probably 
a soldier, for she drew her little pension regularly 
from T. R. Austin. 



The Otsdawa 

ISAAC Edson lived on the place now owned 
and occupied by W. A. Secor. His house and 
store stood east of the road. Over in the Ots- 
dawa ravine he owned a grist and saw mill, a 
distillery and a carding-machine, the first of which 
was run by William Niles. In 1814 Edson sold 
his real estate to "Captain" Peter Bundy, and hast- 
ily moved to Laurens. Moses Bundy occupied the 
farm and built the stone house about 1841. The 
buildings in the ravine were allowed to decay, 
except the saw mill, which was mysteriously 
burned. Near here in 1798 lived James Tillotson. 

In 1792 Ashel Packard occupied a small house 
that stood where V. M. Gates lives. He was 
Justice of the Peace at a time when they were 
appointed by the Governor. "He was a dignified 
and highly esteemed man." He had eight chil- 
dren. His oldest son, John, was drowned while 
rafting on the river in 1813. Johnson Hawley 
once had a blacksmith shop and ashery here, hav- 
ing moved hither from farther up the East Branch. 

Some years before 1800 "Captain" Peter 
Bundy had moved from the south side of the 
river to the formerly Orville Wilsey, the now Dr. 
O. J. Wilsey place, where he built a house and a 
saw mill. He became a large land holder, owning 
from S. Burdick's south line to the river. He had 
eight sons. On the river road below Briar creek 
he placed Peter, Jr., who afterwards went to Al- 

78 



History of Otego 79 

leghany county to engage in lumbering; James, 
where King J. Hatheway now owns and lives; 
Levi, where G. Morrell French later lived; David, 
who built the present house, on the home farm; 
Ephraim, on what is known as the Edwin Root 
place; Moses, where W. A. Secor owns and lives; 
and with his other sons, Stephen A. and Gilbert 
S., he moved to the property, now owned by 
William Van Name, which he bought from Ran- 
som Hunt. Here he lived till his death in 1822. 
Ephraim Cross once lived on a part of the Wil- 
sey farm. 

The Bundys and the French's were closely re- 
lated. Before 1804 William French had moved 
from the south side of the river to the East 
Branch, and was living back on the old road, 
on what is now a part of the Wilsey farm. He 
eventually went to Ohio. His son, Abel, bought 
on the east side of the creek land that is now 
owned by Mrs. Sherman Burdick and occupied 
by Oliver Harris; in 1849 he bought the Ira 
Scofield farm and lived there with his son Den- 
nis. G. Morrell, another son of Abel French, 
bought fifteen years later what is now the upper 
(on the East Branch) part of the Wilsey farm. 

To the farm of the late J. H. Talmadge in 1811 
came John, father of Ebenezer, Blakely from 
Massachusetts, who lived in a log house east of 
the road. Later he built a frame house west of 
the road which was soon burned; he then fitted 
up his wagon-house, and lived in it several years. 
He built a carding-machine and a building for 
cloth-dressing at "Kelseyville," which was burned 
with a large quantity of wool. He ran for Con- 



80 History of Otego 

gress against John H. Prentice, the founder of 
The Freeman's Journal. 

The present schoolhouse in this district is the 
second. Two early teachers were Marilla Bundy 
and Polly Cook. 

Ira Scofield came to the next place from Troy 
in 1810, and built the present house. He sold 
to Abel French, and went to live with his son 
in New York. The farm is now occupied by 
Charles Conklin. 

Eli Odell was an early occupant of the place 
now owned and occupied by O. F. Thorpe. He 
moved west. A later occupant was William Loo- 
mis. 

The next place, now owned by W. S. Hathe- 
way, was settled before 1800 by "Captain" James 
French. His cousin, Wheeler French, who loved 
the chase, was here later. 

Some years before 1800 Casper Overhizer 
had come from the Mohawk to the old Elias 
Arnold place, now owned and occupied' by W. S. 
Hatheway. His father, Conrad, lived on the next 
place, now owned and occupied by King J. Hathe- 
way. The buildings on the latter place were 
erected by James Bundy, who built the barn of 
pine bought from Alexander Hatheway for $1. 
The Overhizer family, originally from Rensselaer 
county, was noted for its longevity. 

Fifty years ago Peter, son of James, Bundy was 
living on the place now owned and occupied by 
John J. Enderlin. "He was an ironsided man, 
who took a backbone farm and made it good." 

Benjamin Green was a very early settler on the 
place now owned by Herman and Emory Fish 



History of Otego 81 

and occupied by the latter. Samuel Hyatt, Jr., 
and his son Lewis were here later; still later, 
Solomon CrandaJl. The lot to the south in the 
angle formed by the roads was known as the 
Bates Lot. 

Christian Couse, a Mohawk "Dutchman," was 
an early occupant of the next farm, now owned 
and occupied by Louis Boyd. 

In 1802 Samuel Fisk was living in a hewn 
log house near M. J. Ford's, east of the road. He 
is described as a thin, cranky, rough old man, 
who once killed an Indian on the Day flat near 
the river. In his old age he became blind, and 
the neighbors would often fetch him to their 
homes for supper, and then spend the evening 
listening to his stories of the Revolution. Later 
occupants of this place were David Washburn; 
John Rowley; Levi B. Packard. Mrs. Rowley 
was a sister of John Beaumont, and she brought 
the old sailor here from Rhode Island before 1830. 

Frederick Martin, a thorough German from 
Amsterdam, N. Y., is thought to have been on 
the place of the late Dewitt Martin, his grandson, 
as early as 1792. "He was a tanner and a farm- 
er, and was killed by a kick of a horse." Of 
his ten children his son Samuel had the upper 
part of his father's farm, known later as the 
Hess place, now owned by William Bundy. 

Edward Pope, and later his son Daniel, occu- 
pied the farm now owned by Mrs. Caroline, widow 
of Wallace, Martin. Pope bought his farm in 
1814 from Walter Lathrop and Samuel Hyatt, 
both resident owners. He once owned the Bun- 
nell Mills. 



82 History of Otego 

On the east side of the creek: Elisha Bundy, 
Jr., lived where Henry Deliver lives. 

The place now owned by Wallace Martindale 
and occupied by Erastus Breffle, was settled early 
by Arnold, father of Allen and Isaac, Martindale. 
He is described as a large man and a stone- 
mason. Seventy years ago he was living in Ots- 
dawa. 

Phineas St. John of Connecticut settled, pos- 
sibly as early as 1790, near here in the woods. 
He had six sons and seven daughters. He had 
been a sailor, and was a very active man; for at 
the age of seventy he once stood on his head on 
the ridge-pole of his bam. He built all the 
buildings on his place, which was recently occu- 
pied by Jay Lent, but is owned by King J. Hathe- 
way. 

Samuel Hyatt, a Revolutionary soldier, lived 
in the little old abandoned house that stands east 
of the house now occupied by Mrs. Lucy, widow 
of Stephen, Wilsey. He came from Wilton, Ct. 
in 1807, and bought his land from Richard 
Smith. He carved his initials in the peak of 
the barn and the "H" is still plainly visible. Mrs. 
Wisey has his old armchair. The story of his 
death needs confirmation. He is said to have 
pulled a tooth from his jaw, a cancer rolled out 
and he died. 

Bunnell's Mills were early on the creek, on the 
present Merithew place. Here lived Jesse Bun- 
nell. John Montgomery was an early miller. A 
later owner was Edward Pope, and then John 
Phillips. The first mill here was on the west bank 
of the creek. In 1845 John Phillips, Jr., built 



History of Otego 83 

a large grist mill on the east bank at a cost of 
over $5000, which was taken down by Richard 
Merithew. John Niles was an owner of the prop- 
erty before it came into possession of William, 
grandson of Philip, Merithew. 

Jesse Hyatt came from Connecticut in 1816 
or '17 to the farm owned and occupied later by 
his son John, now by his grandson Rufus J. 
Just above here Johnson Hawley had a blacksmith 
shop and scythe snath factory, living in the old 
abandoned house owned by King J. Hatheway. 

John Lamb, a soldier of the Revolution, once 
lived in this vicinity. 

About 1794 Samuel Green settled what was 
afterwards known as the Thomas Haynes place, 
which is now owned by Mrs. Leman Rowe. Cur- 
tis Green is said to have owned 400 acres around 
the old Green Street schoolhouse. Robert B. 
Davis, the latter's brother-in-law, lived near him, 
on land owned by Charles Terry. 

Nathaniel Emerson of Connecticut had settled 
before 1813 the place formerly owned and occu- 
pied by Rufus Mudge, now, by Almon Mudge. 
He is said to have been a soldier, probably of the 
Revolution. He died in 1813 in his sixtieth year 
and is buried on the farm. 

"Captain" Jenks of the Revolution was the 
first on the place now owned and occupied by 
Edmund Hatheway. Later here was Stephen 
Cook, and he was followed by Alexander, son of 
John King, Hatheway, grandfather of the pres- 
ent owner. 

The first Green Street schoolhouse was the 



84 History of Otego 

log house of James Boldman, which stood at the 
foot of the hill, west of the road near an elm 
tree, below George Davis'. Then in 1816 a 
schoolhouse was built west of the road, 
about twenty rods below the little run of water. 
The present schoolhouse is the third frame one 
in the district, which seems, originally, to have 
included Otsdawa. The first school meeting that 
is recorded was held 1 May 1813, and the first 
teacher mentioned was James Burch. During 
the year 1819-20 the attendance was sixty-three. 
About sixty years ago a Mormon preacher held 
services in this schoolhouse. 

Phineas Cook, who came with his brothers 
Jair, Stephen and Elias from Massachusetts, be- 
fore 1798 was living in Otsdawa near where Peter 
Livingston now lives. He owned the land where 
the hamlet stands. He built a carding-machiub 
and cloth-dressing establishment above the road, 
near where Mrs. Catharine Banker now lives, on 
the old Isaac Hyatt place. This was the first of 
its kind in town. The old dam below the road 
was built by him for a saw mill; here, later, was 
another cloth-dressing establishment, once run by 
James Stewart. Cook raised teasels to use in his 
clothing business, and also medical plants. About 
1823 Rufus Mudge of Cooperstown, a hardy tan- 
ner and shoemaker, and Cook built a tannery 
below the latter dam, near Otis Holbrook's. 
Phineas Cook died in 1826, and Mudge soon 
moved the business to land bought from John 
Terry, by the comer below Charles Terry's. He 
bought the frame of the house now there from 
Phineas St. John, who intended to start a store 



History of Otego 85 

there. Rufus Mudge did a large business. He 
bought his hides in South America. There by 
the corner once lived Jolas (Julius) Hatheway, 
son of John King. 

The greater part of Phineas Cook's property at 
his death passed to his second son, Woodbury 
K., who built the large house owned formerly 
by Barber B. Sheldon, now owned and occupied 
by the latter's widow and daughter. This he sold 
to William H. Couse. The following men have 
kept tavern in this house — Crum, Hitchcock, 
William H. Couse, Tanner, and, last of all, Schuy- 
ler Osborne. 

The first store in Otsdawa was started before 
1828 by Norman Phillips where S. S. Sheldon 
lives. The earliest physicians in order were Wins- 
low Whitcomb, Ralph Shepherd and Isaac Fair- 
child. Dr. Whitcomb also lived a little way be- 
low the first schoolhouse built in the Green Street 
district, where he kept a little tavern. One of the 
first schools was held in Phineas Cook's clothing- 
mill. 

John King Hatheway came overland by ox- 
team from Suffield, Ct., probably in 1800, and 
bought land at $1 per acre. He had 
nine children. He probably settled where 
later his son Cephas lived. The latter 
had an apiary. The early fallows grew up with 
white clover, and, with the large amount of bass- 
wood, furnished much good honey. General 
Jacob Morris, aide to General Lee in the Revo- 
lution, once came to the house of Cephas Hathe- 
way to buy some honey. He is said to have 
peered into the glass and to have remarked how 



86 History of Otego 

young he looked. Later here have been Cyrus 
Hatheway, and still later, Robert Cook. The 
place is now owned and occupied by John Harris. 

Ezra Griffith built for a hotel the large house, 
east of the creek, near Thomas Decker's saw 
mill, now owned by G. H. Jenks and occupied by 
Daniel Guile. Griffith had a saw mill here in 
1815, but soon moved to Illinois. Later Dexter 
Hatheway, and before 1840 a man named Gray, 
kept hotel here in this house. This locality has 
been a favorite one for saw mills. Here in 
1797 was Brook's and Gorton's saw mill. 

Samuel B. Luther was a wagon-maker, and was 
an early occupant of the place now owned and 
occupied by Bennet Weatherly. 

Samuel Hubbard, an early shoemaker, lived 
where W. L. Fairchild now owns and lives. 

James C, son of Joseph Youngs, was an early 
owner of the large tract adjoining Laurens, later 
owned by his son Norman D., now by Arthur 
Jester. 

John Boldman, or Bullman, was a singular 
man, about whom many stories have been told. 
In 1812 he cut down a white ash tree about where 
stands the house of J. T. Sheldon, and took out 
230 pounds of honey. He had settled the Terry 
place before 1800, probably to hunt, for he was 
a hunter by profession. He is said to have moved 
to Michigan. "Captain" John Terry came, orig- 
inally from Connecticut, in 1812, and hired 
rooms with the Taylors for about two years, when 
he bought the Boldman place, probably from the 
Taylors. He was a blacksmith here for almost 



History of Otego 87 

thirty years. His shop was in the ravine below 
the falls, which gave him power for bellows and 
grindstone. He made hoes and plough-irons, and 
by his forge the old soldiers were accustomed to 
meet and tell their stories of the war. The place 
is now owned and occupied by his grandson 
Charles Terry. 

On the hill to the west once lived a Langen- 
dyke. Peter Eymer was a Rhode Island Yankee, 
and lived first on the cross-road near where 
James Lent now lives. The first spring that he 
was in town, he said that he subsisted on milk 
and tender basswood leaves. Later he got some 
land from John Terry by the corner on the old 
turnpike, where Eugene Holbrook used to live. 
There he set up a little lathe, and made cane- 
chairs, puddling-sticks and the like. He is said 
to have brought the fashion of whiskers into the 
vicinity. He is said to have had a brother named 
Philip in the "Black River country," who, it is 
claimed, was the progenitor of the Armours of 
packing-house renown, one of the names, either 
Eymer or Armour, having been corrupted. 

Before 1797 John Taylor was living on the 
place now owned and occupied by George Brown. 
There were three Johns in the family at one 
time. One of them had a blacksmith shop. John 
Taylor once told of having taken refuge in a 
barrel during some most unusual engagement in 
the Revolution. 

Some distance above this place in 1813 lived 
Josiah Northup. Near here, very early, was 
Cornelius Sixbury; also Ebenezer Rice. Years 
ago a road, beginning near the corner below 



88 History of Otego 

Charles Terry's, ran northerly along the ridge 
east of the present road. On this road, back of 
Frank Garner's, was the Elisha Nason place; far- 
ther to the north on this road lived Daniel Gorton. 

What is known as the George Collar place, 
now owned and occupied by Frank Garner, 
is said to have been first settled by an Allen. 
Later came Jacob Pratt, and then, Isaac Wheeler. 
A man named Antis and his wife are said to 
have starved to death in their miserable log hut 
here where they are buried. 

Jacob Reynolds lives on a road that formerly 
continued east over the hill, meeting the East 
Branch road near W. L. Fairchild's. To this 
place from Amsterdam, N. Y., about 1807, came 
Joseph Youngs, a Revolutionary soldier, orig- 
inally from Stamford, Ct. He had a family of 
sixteen, and was grandfather to one hundred 
twenty-five. In this vicinity lived Stephen Cook. 
South of the road once lived Hiram Slade, who 
moved to Oneonta. About one quarter of a mile 
toward the east on this road lived John King 
Hatheway, Jr., father of Julius. 

Oliver Judson was early on the place now owned 
and occupied by S. A. Emerson and A. J. Brown. 

The first settler on the place now owned by 
G. N. Luther was Rufus Phelps, brother-in-law 
of John Brimmer. Samuel P. Allen settled on 
this place when there were no settlers nearer 
than three miles. Later here was Nathan 
Wheeler, and still later, Henry Vanduzen. "Cap- 
tain" Wheeler once followed and killed a bear 
that had gotten a kettle over its head. 



History of Otego 89 

About 1790 Samuel Gates from Canaan, Ct., 
settled where later his son Urbin, and still later, 
Lorenzo Lent lived. The place is now owned 
and occupied by Albert Hoag. Samuel Gates had 
eight children. 

Just east of this old Gates place in 1814 stood 
a log schoolhouse. Two early teachers in this 
district were Mary Taylor and Anson Judson. 

The settlement of the West Branch had begun 
before 1800, and was made largely by people 
from Rhode Island. At its head in 1810 lived 
Jair Cook, Ajax Seeley, Lewis Lane, Francis Wag- 
mire, Thomas and Russell Weaver, John Lewis, 
Henry Green and Chester Niles. All are gone 
except the descendants of Jair Cook. 

Jair Cook, born probably near Preston, Ct., 
came before 1800 to the place now owned and 
occupied by B. A. Cook, his grandson. It has 
been said that Jair Cook first bought two-thirds 
of an acre from Cornelius Brooks; if this be 
true, he lived first near Otsdawa. The house on 
the present Cook place is claimed to be over one 
hundred five years old. Benjamin Howe, a Revo- 
lutionary soldier, came on foot from Connecticut 
to live with his daughter Lucy, wife of Jair Cook. 
"He was a blind old man, led by a little dog." 
Jair Cook, whose father's name was John, had 
at least five brothers. Phineas and Stephen have 
already been mentioned. Elias settled in the 
town of Morris; Parley settled in Springfield, 
Mass. ; and Benaijah, ancestor of Converse Cook, 
went on to Columbus, Ohio. 

The following places had the following occu- 
pants about seventy years ago : The T. J. Martin 



90 History of Otego 

place, Jephtha Baker; the William Harris place, 
Debias(?) Vanduzen; the B. C. Hatheway place, 
Green Hopkins; the William Brown place, George 
Hopkins; and the P. L. Burdick place, Lovett 
Jenks. 

Anson Judson settled on the cross-road where 
Timothy, son of Henry, Sheldon lived after his 
marriage. The place is now owned and occupied 
by Timothy's son John. 

Benjamin, father of Freeman, Edson, a Revo- 
lutionary soldier, came from Stafford, Ct., about 
1810 to the place now owned and occupied by 
M. A. Edson, his grandson. 

On the next place, known as the J. A. Cook 
farm, now owned and occupied by Charles Kiel, 
William Brown, Jr., was an early settler. 

Thurston Brown came with Jonathan Weaver 
from Rhode Island, and married his daughter. 
He settled on the place owned and occupied by 
the late James U. Brown, where his son Thurs- 
ton was born in 1806. 

Samuel L., son of Nathaniel, Emerson was an 
early settler on the place now owned and occu- 
pied by James Lent. He later occupied the next 
place east. His brother Dudley lived still far- 
ther east, on the place now occupied by C. C. 
Northup. 

The Weavers were Quakers from Rhode Island. 
They settled very early near the church, east of 
the road, on land owned by the late James U. 
Brown. Christopher Weaver bought land here in 
1793. Abner and Thomas Weaver moved west. 
Very little can be learned about the family. 



History of Otego 91 

George Carr was early on the place now owned 
by James Lent. 

The place now owned and occupied by David 
Starr was early occupied by a man named Van- 
duzen. Rowland Carr, who came from Rhode Is- 
land horseback over eighty years ago, moved 
hither from farther down the creek, to live with 
his mother, Lydia. 

The first schoolhouse on the West Branch was 
modeled from an old log hog-pen, and stood a 
little below A. L. Moon's, west of the road. The 
second schoolhouse in this district stood on the 
corner opposite David Starr's. The present struc- 
ture is the third. Some early teachers were Al- 
bro Bundy, Ebenezer Robbins, Douglas Arnold 
and James Emmons. This district (No. 17) has 
been called the Killawog District. 

Before 1799 William Brown, a soldier of 1812, 
had come from Rhode Island to the place now 
owned and occupied by R. G. Cornell. His house 
stood a little south of the present dwelling. 
Isaac Cornell bought the place from James Brown 
in 1858. 

Jeffrey Watson, an old sailor and a great story- 
teller, lived where later Clark Hopkins lived, 
on the place now owned by Mrs.L.B.Waite, daugh- 
ter of Hopkins, and occupied by Henry Haines. 

John Clark Hopkins and his father-in-law, 
Henry Sheldon, came by ox-team from Kingston, 
R. I. in 1817. The journey took two weeks. 
Hopkins stopped for a time in Laurens, where his 
father, Samuel, stayed. He then lived for about 
eight years on Flax Island, on the Trask prop- 
erty. Finally, about 1827, he came to the West 



92 History of Otego 

Branch, buying fifty acres from Henry Sheldon, 
west of the road opposite the place now owned 
and occupied by his daughter Amy Hopkins. The 
house on the latter place was built by Willard 
Cheney over ninety years ago. Cheney was fol- 
lowed on the place by Jacob Knolls; James Brown; 
Aaron Sheldon, from whom Hopkins bought the 
place about 1835. 

Henry Sheldon came directly to the West 
Branch, and lived first on the place now owned 
and occupied by Wallace Martindale. With him 
for a time lived his son-in-law Rowland Carr. 
Sheldon later lived on the fifty acres which he sold 
to Hopkins. Still later he occupied the place on 
which Parley, brother of Eben and Silas, Harris 
once lived, and which, now unoccupied, is owned 
by John Harris. Henry Sheldon had eight children. 

Over one hundred years ago Wyram, brother 
of Abel, French settled the place now owned by 
G. R. Brown and occupied by Irving H. Allen. 
His house stood west of the road. A later occu- 
pant was Jonathan Brown. 

Before 1797 Colonel Elisha Bundy had settled 
on the place now owned and occupied by Arthur 
Foote. He was later a pioneer of Bundysburg, 
Ohio. Peleg Burdick, originally from Albany 
county, a Revolutionary soldier, then came from 
Kortright. He had eight children. He was fol- 
lowed on the place by his son Ethan. J. S. Jenks, 
the latter's son-in-law, was later occupant and 
owner. 

Henry Sheldon, Jr., cleared the land and built 
the buildings on the place now owned and occu- 
pied by Sherman Burdick. 



XI 

Flax Island Creek 

ABOUT seventy years ago there were three log 
houses between the old corner at the lower edge 
of Shepherds Corners and the forking of the 
road. One stood near where James Lamb lives, 
and was occupied by Joseph Wyman. Just above 
lived Palmer Clark, where later the creek washed 
Charles Morley out of house and home. The 
third, near Fred Shepherd's milking-shed, was oc- 
cupied by Samuel Kyle, who afterwards lived on 
the south side of the river in a hewn log house 
on the present R. A. Hoyt farm. 

In 1810 Freeman Trask lived on the old Morgan 
Lewis Farm, now owned and occupied by Her- 
bert Lily, where he built a saw mill. In 1815 
he went to Allentown, Pa., with some cattle to 
sell for T. R. Austen. He failed to return, and 
Austin found him living peaceably in Ohio under 
the name of Isaac Brown. 

The farm now owned and occupied by J. D. 
Burrell has had before him the following owners — ■ 
Allen Wiles; P. G. Finch, Benjamin Fuller; 
Levi, son of Elijah, Place, father-in-law of the 
present owner. 

The place now owned and occupied by E. W. 
Bugbee was settled by Jason Bugbee, his grand- 
father, over ninety-five years ago. Bugbee, prob- 
ably from Connecticut, moved from the west side 
of the creek to this place, where he built a saw 
mill. 

93 



94 History of Otego 

Before 1800 Elijah Place probably from Con- 
necticut had settled on the farm now owned and 
occupied by Thaddeus Place. He was a stone- 
mason, and had seven sons. His son Gilbert in- 
herited the farm. 

One hundred years ago, in the woods, Chester 
Lamb was living in what is now the southeast 
corner of E. J. Rathbun's dooryard. Later here 
were John Fowler; William L Birdsall; Smith 
Birdsall. 

Daniel Smith lived for a short time on what is 
known as the J. B. Wykes place, now owned 
by Fitch Gilbert and unoccupied. Chauncey 
Smith lived here, and built the present house in 
1853. Both Hiram Fowler and Jason Bugbee 
have lived on this place. 

Ninety years ago Zebrina Lee and Peter Lamb 
were living on what is called the J. D. Clark place, 
now owned and occupied by Daniel Hungerford. 
Lee moved west. A Youngs family was here 
before Simeon Castle, who came from Briar 
creek to the place before 1827. 

Benjamin Cummings was a farrier, and made 
potash salts on the old Lyman Castle place, now 
owned by Daniel Hungerford. Later occupants 
were James and Albert Lynch. 

A Frenchman named George Galaher lived for 
a time on the Fowler farm on his westward jour- 
ney. William Birdsall lived here later and built 
the present house. The farm changed hands fre- 
quently. It finally came into possession of Hiram 
Fowler, and is now occupied by his grandson 
A. B. Fowler. 



History of Otego 95 

Noah Trask, an old man, lived on the pres- 
ent M. P. Finch place in 1810. His brother Wil- 
liam went to Philadelphia with some cattle for 
T. R. Austin, caught the yellow fever, and came 
home to die. F. W. Edson in his letters gives a 
vivid description of the corpse and the funeral. 
Parley Pember, brother-in-law of William Trask, 
then occupied the farm, and taught the district 
school a number of terms. Eighty years ago Cal- 
vin Fuller from Briar creek bought one hundred 
twelve acres here at $7 per acre. His log house 
stood a few rods north of the present house, 
which he built in 1835. His son-in-law Perry 
G. Finch came to the place about 1580. Fuller 
had eight children. 

Parley Pember is said to have been an early 
settler on the farm now owned by A. R. Squire. 
A Slate family occupied the old frame house 
which Squire used as a sheep cote. Across the 
road in the upper corner once lived a Haight 
family. The present house was built by Benjamin 
Fuller about forty years ago. Many years ago a 
clairvoyant with a witch-hazel wand pretended to 
find gold above the present house, west of the 
road. Parley and John Harris, Nathan Hopkins, 
and Merritt Sutton blasted and dug, working in 
silence lest a spoken word cause the "spirits" to 
snatch the treasure away. It is said that some- 
one threw a skunk into the digging and broke 
up the mining. The hole they dug may still be 
seen. 

The first schoolhouse in this district stood on 
the line between the Finch and the Squire farms, 
west of the road. 



96 History of Otego 

Among others on the farm now owned and 
occupied by J. H, Burdick have been W. T. 
Haight; H. Carr; Ezekiel Burdick, the preseni 
owner's father. 

The two Trask places, now owned and occupied 
by Marion and Henry Trask, were originally one. 
Here many years ago lived two brothers, Eben 
and Silas Harris, from Connecticut, who made 
large quantities of salts. Rodman Fuller once 
lived here. 

Moses Richards settled early on the place now 
owned and occupied by Charles Hoag; he moved 
west. Wallace Wyman, who built the present 
house, sold the place to Charles Pearce, who sold 
to Hoag. 

Ebenezer Knapp lived where Edwin Hamilton 
lives. Here later was Asa Lamb, and still later, 
John Carr. Knapp's house stood near the line 
between Otego and Unadilla, as the towns then 
existed. When his resignation as captain of mil- 
itia in Unadilla was not accepted, he got per- 
mission from Oliver Burdick to build a log shack 
over this line on the latter's land, and "Captain" 
Knapp moved into Otego. After Darius Niles 
had been elected at a special election in Una- 
dilla, "Mr." Knapp returned unto his own peace- 
ful pursuits. 

Increase Niles, originally from Massachusetts, 
came from Milford Center some years before 
1810, and settled on the lower part of the place 
now owned by J. T. Sheldon, in a log house east 
of the main creek-road. About 1880 this old 
house was moved up above the cemetery, and 
used as a Quaker church, which was attended 



History of Otego 97 

by the Sodens, the Trumans and others, and where 
Timothy Crandall and Caleb Braley were early 
preachers. Increase Niles, who is said to have 
taught the first school in the town of Milford, died 
in 1817. He had seven children. His youngest 
son, William, built the present house. "When its 
cellar was dug, the skeleton of a woman was 
unearthed, funeral services were held and it was 
buried in the cemetery near by, land for which 
was given by William Niles. He finally moved 
to Puckerhuddle. Later here have been Walter 
Southerland; George Barton; J. Morrell Bennett. 

Two early teachers in this district were Mary 
Barker and Zedka Spaulding. 

In 1814 Daniel Marr, Ephraim Woodward and 
Ituel Persons, all from New Hampshire, settled 
on the head of the creek on a 1200 acre tract of 
wild forest land. There was no road to it, and 
like most settlers they did not ask who owned 
the land. First a log house was built for Marr 
near the creek on the place now owned and oc- 
cupied by Ephraim Brink. They then chopped 
two acres on each of their lots, and a road was 
cut from near the schoolhouse to where Aaron 
Wood once lived, on the place formerly owned 
and occupied by S. W. Smith, now owned by R. 
G. Cornell, where a house was built for Wood- 
ward. On the place owned and occupied for- 
merly by L. C. Fish, now by James Sutton, they 
built a house for Persons. They then returned 
for their families, taking with them a tame fawn 
that brought a "fabulous price." Ephraim Wood- 
ward is described as a big raw-boned Yankee 
loving his pipe; in 1827 he was living back in 



98 ^ History of Otego 

the lot on J. H. Burdick's, west of the road. The 
Marrs were Irish, the grandfather, James, having 
come from Ireland. 

A few years after 1814 Robert Day and Zebe- 
diah Barker, both originally from New Hamp- 
shire, settled in the woods near the creek, on sub- 
division lot No. 4. Each built a log house, cleared 
his land and lived there several years. They 
were the first to raise and sell hops in this part 
of the county. Day came here from Unadilla 
about 1824, and lived a little way above Daniel 
Marr, near where Horace Cady once lived. He 
moved to the river road about 1836. He had nine 
children. Barker taught school several terms, and 
finally went to Ohio. He lived close to the creek 
above Day. 

About 1815 Oliver, Thomas, and Ephraim Bur- 
dick, and Samuel Searls came from Kortright, 
and settled in the woods, northwest of the school- 
house, all practically on what is known as the 
George Burdick Estate, 

Levi Peck settled what was formerly the Dan- 
iel Bugbee place, which is now owned by Char- 
les Pope. Allen Burdick once lived here. 



XII 

Briar Creek 

THIS creek was settled early. Samuel Thomas 
and Elihu(?) Smead were among the first set- 
tlers. Ben Wheaton, whose name was closely 
connected with the creek's history before 1795, 
lived in log houses at different places — across 
the road from E. E. Trask's, on the knoll below 
schoolhouse No. 3, and on the old Carr farm, now 
owned by Morgan Place. Wheaton's panther 
story need hardly be told, for it is so well known. 
Fallen asleep one day on the top of the range of 
hills south of the river, he was covered over 
with leaves by a panther, that fetched her young 
and then pounced upon not a man, but a log, 
that the wily old hunter had put into his place 
under the covering. From his vantage-point in 
a tree, Wheaton shot the panther and her young. 
Game became scarce as its haunts were en- 
croached upon by settlers, and Wheaton moved 
to North Franklin. 

William King, a Revolutionary soldier, settled, 
early, back in the woods on the north part of the 
farm recently purchased by William Hughston 
from William Brown. Between him and the river 
road once lived one of the Hornings. William 
Walden is said to have been the first settler on 
the place now owned and occupied by Lester D. 
Gillett. 

Eighty years ago Jonathan Burdick was living 
on the place now owned and occupied by Edgar 

99 



100 History of Otego 

Southard. He had a small grist mill near L. 
Gardner's, which he ran only a few years when the 
dam gave way. About 1830 Abner Ferry movea 
hither from the river road, and finally went west. 
He had no children. 

Elijah Ferry, brother of Abner, moved from the 
eastern part of the town to what is known as the 
old Ferry place, owned by the late Homer Bird- 
sail, now occupied by Cassius M. Ferry. He died 
down the river while rafting. His son Abner then 
moved from the Ed. Sutton farm on Wheaton 
creek to this place. Between 1834-44 Abner 
Ferry moved to Schenevus, renting the place for 
a few years to Elias Hinsdale. On notification of 
Ferry's return Hinsdale packed his goods, but on 
the last night of his stay here the house took fire, 
and his brother, Norman, was burned to death in 
trying to save some money from the flames. The 
Ferrys were from Connecticut. 

The first settler on the place next below E. E. 
Trask's, now owned by Roland Trask, is said to 
have been Elijah Hinman. 

The William Trask place, now owned and oc- 
cupied by his son, E. E. Trask, was early occu- 
pied by Benjamin Walden, who lived down in 
the lot, west of the present road. Barnard Hawks 
is said to have once lived here. Near the comer 
once lived Isaac Gates. 

The old Walden farm is the one owned for- 
merly by Theodore Knapp, now Willard Knapp. 
Here, east on the old road, in 1810 lived old 
John Walden, who mysteriously disappeared in 



History of Otego lOl 

1824. Stories were told of lights and spooks 
seen in his dooryard afterward. 

John, son of Timothy, Birdsall settled what is 
known as the David and Ira Birdsall farm, now 
owned and occupied by the former. 

Truman Trask from Rhode Island settled early 
where Henry Heliker formerly lived, on the 
place now owned and occupied by George Ben- 
nett. Trask moved hither from the river road, 
just above the Day farm. 

Nahum Smith moved from the river road about 
1818 to the place owned and occupied formerly 
by Edward Smith, now by Carl Smith, son and 
grandson respectively. 

Before 1813 Eben Warner was on the place 
now owned and occupied by Peter Vanlone. 
Others here have been Daniel Shepherd and, 
later, Bennett Chatfield of Connecticut. Michael 
Birdsall once owned this place. 

Isaac Brown, originally from Massachusetts, 
came, probably from the Butternuts, to the West 
Branch about 1800. About 1814 he bought the 
farm now owned and occupied by H. G. Brown, 
his grandson, and the place across the road now 
owned and occupied by Wesley Stillwell, from 
Daniel Knapp and William Potter. The next 
year he built a carding-machine and a fulling- 
mill down by the creek, the old foundations of 
which were destroyed by a flood four years ago. 
The dam for the saw mill that he also built may 
still be seen. Brown is said to have learned the 
"art and mystery of the clothing business" from 
Phineas Cook. The present house was built about 



102 History of Otego 

1825. A store was once kept there on the cor- 
ner. 

The first schoolhouse is this district (No. 3) 
was of logs. The present and third one was built 
by William Merithew. Two early teachers were 
Daniel Shepherd and Perry Angel. 

The place now owned by Johnson Wilbur is 
the old Knapp farm. "Deacon" Daniel Knapp, a 
Revolutionary soldier, came from Taunton, Mass. 
about 1793, buying his farm in 1803 from Philip 
Merithew. In his later years Knapp lived in the 
village, just west of the Otsdawa. A later occu- 
pant of this farm was Simeon Castle, who was 
originally from Connecticut, and had seven sons. 
When Knapp first came to town he is said to have 
lived about forty rods above Brown's, east of the 
main creek road, where his son Aaron lived 
afterward. 

Philip Merithew, a Revolutionary soldier, came 
from Rhode Island before 1800, and in 1803 
bought his land from John Lawrence of New 
York. His father, Richard, had been an old sea 
captain, and his only son was William. The 
three lie buried under plain stones in the old yard 
near by, for they were Quakers. The old Meri- 
thew farm was later occupied by H. Doolittle, 
and is now owned by Legrand Castle. The house 
is one of the oldest on the creek. 

In the same year and from the same party the 
lot next above. No. 124 Morris patent, was bought 
by "Captain" Levi Austin, who had come from 
Stockbridge, Mass. about 1792. He was a black- 
smith, and his shop stood near the corner of the 



History of Otego 103 

roads. He sold fifty acres by the creek to Isaiah 
Blanchard, a Scotch blacksmith, who had come 
from Rhode Island to Otsego county in 1806. 
The latter sold his property to the Shepherds, 
and moved to Sand Hill. In his later years Aus- 
tin lived with Philip Merithew, who is said to 
have been his comrade in the Revolution. He 
died on the E. E. Trask place. 

Robert Potter is said to have come by ox-team 
and sled with Philip Merithew from Rhode Is- 
land. In 1803 he bought for $155 one hundred 
acres from Levi Austin. Here he lived his life 
and was followed by his son Robert. The place 
is now owned and occupied by Eugene Moore. 

Simeon Bliss of Connecticut was an early set- 
tler on the place owned and occupied formerly 
by G. A. Barton, later by W. F. Ward, now by 
George Belden. He sold the place to Stephen 
Waite. 

It has been said that John Vermilyea, the Revo- 
lutionary soldier, moved from the river road to 
live at the top of the pitch below the creamery, 
where he finally became insane. The property 
was early owned by William, brother of Robert. 
Potter. He reserved twenty-five acres here from 
his land for his wife Olive, and disappeared to 
Pennsylvania. With her lived her sister, who 
after the death of her first husband, John S. Ver- 
milyea, married an Aris. 

In 1821 part of the place now owned and oc- 
cupied by J. L. Goldsmith and the next place 
above were sold by Oliver H. Everett, a resident 
owner, to Nathan Birdsall and William Shepherd. 



104 History of Otego 

The latter had the Goldsmith place, and was fol- 
lowed by his son Augustus. Across the creek 
once lived John Morehouse, and in the immediate 
vicinity, Christopher Green. 

The place now owned and occupied by Edward 
Wyman was originally two places. About eighty 
years ago Elias Burdick lived on the lower part, 
which was bought by Jonas Wyman in 1831. 
Benjamin Vermilyea, a very early settler, bought 
the upper part from Stephen Scott in 1809, and 
conveyed it to John S. Vermilyea fifteen years 
later. This part was bought by William, son 
of Jonas, Wyman, and the two places were joined 
The Vermilyeas were Dutch, and probably from 
Putnam county. 

The farm now owned and occupied by Leslie 
Smith was early settled by Bateman Walden, who 
sold, all or a part, to Bates Finch. The place 
later passed into the hands of Thomas Truman, 
a Quaker. Truman probably came here from 
Albany county. He was a descendant of a Thomas 
Truman, who came from England to Rhode Is- 
land over one hundred sixty years ago.. 

Edward and Solomon Fuller once lived on the 
place now owned and occupied by George Haines. 

Ninety years ago Isaac Benedict was the wealth- 
iest man in town. He is described as "a large, 
stout man, who built much good stone wall." 
He owned the next two places, which are now 
both owned by Morgan Place. He sold the lower 
one, known later as the William Arnold place, 
to John Sheldon. His son George sold the 
upper one to Ed. Carr in 1834; the next 
occupant was James Emmons, who had 



History of Otego 105 

married a daughter of George Carr. Above 
the cemetery, land for which was given by Bene- 
dict, about 1820 was built the so-called "Bene- 
dict Academy," which was a schoolhouse about 
20x30 feet and of rough boards. Here in 1821 
Phineas Emmons, a graduate of Yale, taught 
thirty pupils. This Emmons lived in a log house 
on the top of Emmons Hill, and was an eccentric 
man. He is said to have been the first one to 
bring white daisies into this region, scattering the 
seeds over the hills. 

Edmond P. Emmons of Rhode Island was an 
early settler on the place where Ezra Brown 
formerly lived, which is now owned and occupied 
by James A. Waite. His crippled brother, Arthur, 
lived near by, on the old cross-road, east of the 
schoolhouse. The latter was deprived of his lands 
by the owners, moved to Puckerhuddle, and was 
followed on the place by Calvin Fuller, whose 
brother, Isaiah, built a comb-factory somewhere 
on the creek about 1820. Fuller sold the place 
to a Bushnell in 1827, and moved to Flax Island. 
Farther to east on this old road on the place owned 
formerly by George Utter, later by David Hurd, 
now by Morgan Place, lived Elias Hinsdale, who 
came from Connecticut about 1814. He was a 
blacksmith, and his anvil is at H. G. Brown's. 
Whenever there was occasion to go to town, he 
and a rundlet rode the pony together, but com- 
ing back they sometimes parted company. 

James Wait, originally from Dartmouth, Mass- 
achusetts, came from Saratoga county in the win- 
ter of 1807-8, and lived for a short time on the 
Peace place. He is said to have next settled 



106 History of Otego 

in a little clearing made by John Fisk, and here, 
east of the main creek road and some distance 
below the corner, he built his log house. This 
Fisk substituted for him in the War of 1812. The 
house later occupied by his son Eben, and recently 
by the latter's widow, Elizabeth, was built by 
him about 1828. When Calvin Fuller first came 
from Rheoboth, Massachusetts in the summer of 
1819, he settled about one-quarter of a mile north 
of this house, in the town of Butternuts, with Jo- 
seph Pearce and Benjamin Soden, neighbors on 
the east and west respectively. The Fuller fam- 
ily boarded with John Keysor until their log house 
was finished. Calvin Fuller had eight children. 

Before 1800 Joseph Pearce, probably from 
Rhode Island, had settled on the next farm, ad- 
joining Butternuts. He was an agent for Goulds- 
brow Banyar. His neighbor on the north, over 
the line, was Peter Farnum, a Connecticut Yan- 
kee. 

Benjamin Soden was an English Quaker, who 
moved from the river road to the place now owned 
by R. G. Cornell and occupied by Fred Scram- 
ling, in the town of Butternuts. He bought the 
place from the original settlers, John and Elisha 
Fisk from Connecticut. 



XIII 

Churches 

THE first Church, Congregational or Presby- 
terian, was organized 17 September 1805 at the 
house of Abram Blaklee. Rev. Abner Benedict, 
who preached a sermon, was chosen Moderator, 
Ashael Packard and Daniel Knapp, Deacons and 
Ashael Packard, Clerk. The ten original mem- 
bers were Ashael Packard, David Ogden, Sus- 
annah Ogden, Mary Overhizer, Zenas Goodrich, 
Mary Goodrich, Christian Goodrich, M. Goodrich, 
Daniel Knapp and Samuel Elwell. For the first 
two years they doubtless had no stated minister. 
On 12 August 1807 Rev. William Bull was chosen, 
and during his service of two years a church was 
built near the house now occupied by William 
Van Name. It was about thirty-two feet square 
with twelve-foot posts and a quadrangular roof. 
For several years it was only enclosed; the seats 
were without backs, and the congregation kept 
themselves warm in winter by the use of foot- 
stoves and bricks, until the church was completed 
in 1816. It stood a rough unpainted structure 
for many years and was finally torn down. It has 
been said that this church was put up as a Union 
Church and was so used. It was nicknamed the 
"Powder House." Two of the early preachers 
in its little pulpit up on the wall were Elders 
Morse and Robinson. The present edifice was 
commenced in 1830 and dedicated in 1833. The 
cost of the building was about $2900. A bell was 
purchased in 1852. In 1867 the church was 

107 



108 History of Otego 

thoroughly repaired and painted. In 1820 the 
church at Butternuts became divided and sixty- 
seven united with this church. 

The Baptist Church was organized 4 April 1816. 
Abram Blaklee was the first Treasurer and Dea- 
con, and William Thomas, Clerk. On 15 August 
1818 Elder Daniel Robinson was chosen pastor, 
and he served eight months at a salary of $50. A 
church edifice was erected in 1829, and was rebuilt 
in 1854 at a cost of $2000. The original mem- 
bers were Abram Blaklee, Benjamin Green, Wil- 
liam Thomas, John Birdsall, Phineas St John, 
Silas P, Hyatt, Eli Pratt, Jerusha Birdsall, Mary 
Birdsall, Sabra Hunt, Lydia Green and Polly 
Thomas. 

The First Christian Church on the West Branch 
was organized with thirteen members at the house 
of Abner Weaver on 10 June 1830 by Elder 
Joshua Hayward, who was its first preacher. The 
church building was erected in 1837 at a cost of 
$1200. It was remodeled and improved in 1874, 
The parsonage was built in 1882. 

The Second Christian Church, on "Center 
Brook," was an outgrowth of the first, and was 
organized by Elders C. E. Peake and Allen Hay- 
ward in 1866. The first officers were Ira Pearce 
and J. C. Emmons, Deacons, J. C. Emmons, Clerk 
and G. A. Barton, William Bailey and Leander 
Pearce, Trustees. William Case was the first min- 
ister. There was nineteen original members. The 
church was built in 1870. 

The Otego Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, organized in December 1833, included 
Unadilla, Otego, Oneonta, Laurens, Milford, 



History of Otego io9 

Maryland and Sidney. The circuit was divided 
in 1848. In 1852 under the pastorate of Rev. 
William Burnside a church was completed at a 
cost of $1125. A bell was placed in the tower 
in 1853. Extensive improvements were made in 
1864-66, and again in 1886-91. It has been said 
that the first class was formed in March 1847 
with William T. Broadfoot, Leader, Morgan 
Lewis, Steward and Henry Halstead, Preacher^ 
and had twenty-eight members. Rev. N. B. Rip- 
ley, while pastor here, published an interesting 
"Historical Sketch of the Otego Methodist Epis- 
copal Church." 

The Immanuel Protestant Episcopal Church 
was organized with ten members at the house of 
T. R. Austin 10 November 1834, Rev. John F. 
Messenger, Chairman. Daniel R. Pope and Jesse 
S. Hewitt were elected Wardens, and T. R. Aus- 
tin, James Robinson, John S. Rockwell, George 
F. Austin, Abel Bostwick, E. S. Saunders, James 
Follett and Henry Austin, Vestrymen. Previous 
to this organization services were occasionally 
held at the house of Rev. Mr. Foote. Rev. Mr. 
Messenger was the first rector, and was followed 
by Rev. John V. Hughes, who was three times 
rector here. Ground for the present stone 
church was broken 13 August 1835 and the build- 
ing was completed in 1836 at a cost of about 
$2500, of which sum $750 was contributed by 
Trinity Church in New York City. Extensive im- 
provements were made in 1865-66. In the spring 
of 1870 a bell was raised in the tower. At var- 
ious times the Oneonta and the Franklin parishes 
have been in charge of the Otego rectory. Rev. 



110 History of Otego 

George W. Foote, rector in 1866-67, was called 
to Salt Lake City, where he built the first Pro- 
testant Episcopal church in Utah territory. 

The Free Will Baptist Church at Otsdawa was 
organized in the old schoolhouse 5 April 1845 
by Rev. S. S. Cady and Deacon E. C. Hodge 
with twelve members. In the fall of 1854 a 
church was built at a cost of about $1200. 

The Old School or Primitive Baptist Church 
was organized 12 January 1857 by Elder St John, 
who was the first preacher. The first Trustees 
were Gilbert Bundy, John Smith and G. M. French. 
The first Clerk was James Bundy. The church 
was built in 1869. 

Previous to the erection of churches services 
were held in private houses, schoolhouses, barns 
and even in the woods. Orman T. Crane was an 
early Baptist preacher, and held services in Ma- 
son W. Hughston's bam. Eighty-five years ago 
the stated preachers in Brown's Schoolhouse were 
Deacons Thompson, Hodge, and Hayward. 



Schools in the Village 

The first schoolhouse within the limits of the 
present village stood near where Eli Starr now 
lives. It was bought by Mason W. Hughston and 
useB as a dwelling house, and was finally torn 
down in 1862. 

The second schoolhouse was built in 1827. 
This was the "Red Schoolhouse," which stood 
just below where Tilly Blakely lives. The old 
schoolhouse was standing in 1846, and was finally 
incorporated into the house now owned and re- 



History of Otego m 

cently occupied by Alonzo Adams. Some of the 
early teachers were David Shepherd, Peter Fir- 
man, Legrand Scofield, Darwin Clark, who after- 
ward became Governor of Wisconsin, Sarah Carr, 
Lucy Newland and Delia Gates. At one time 
there were eighty pupils and only one teacher. 

It was decided to divide the district, and the 
order to this purpose took effect 8 August 1854. 
The dividing line between the two districts thus 
formed was about the line of the present Averill 
street. The schoolhouse in the lower district was 
built by Abner Ferry and stood near where G. 
N. Mulkins lives. Three of the first teachers were 
Ed. Youmans, John Burr and Harriet Hughston. 
In the upper district school was first held upstairs 
in the Cole block. J. R. Thorp taught here the 
winters of 1855 and 1856, and had fifty-eight pu- 
pils. The schoolhouse in this district, when built 
by Abram Rockwell, stood on River street, a 
little way below the cemetery. 

The two districts were consolidated and a 
schoolhouse built in 1866 on the site of the pres- 
ent one, which was remodeled from the old in 
1899. William Birdsall gave the district its bell 
in 1869. The school was made a High School in 
1903. 

At different times there have been several Se- 
lect Schools, as they were termed, in the village. 
A Mrs. Kent conducted one in a house that stood 
near where J. E, Truman now lives. A man 
named Angel ran one in what had been a bar- 
room of the old Michael Birdsall hotel, A man 
named Wright conducted another in a room hired 
on the second floor of the old Saunders Hotel 



112 History of Otego 

while it was kept by Crumb. A Miss Marsh 
taught such a school in the loft of the Presby- 
terian church. The most aristocratic of these 
schools was that of Mary Rockwell, whose father 
built the house now occupied by C. B. Woodruff 
for her school. 



Postoffices 



The following data were kindly furnished by 
the Department at Washington — 

Hamburg, New York, Otsego county, was es- 
tablished 1 January 1811, with Samuel Root as 
postmaster. The name of the office was changed 
to Huntsville 30 May 1822, and Daniel Lawrence 
was appointed postmaster. Huntsville was 
changed to Otego, date not given, but Daniel 
Lawrence was continued postmaster. 

Otsdawa, same county and state, was estab- 
lised 3 January 1833, with Norman Phillips as 
postmaster. The office was discontinued 19 July 
1906. 

Center Brook, same county and state, was es- 
tablished 16 March 1854, with John W. Pearce 
as postmaster. The office was discontinued 24 
August 1859. 

Ayre, same county and state, was established 
26 April 1887, with William Harris as postmaster. 
The office was discontinued 11 June 1895. 

A century ago mail facilities were poor. The 
inhabitants went to Laurens, Unadilla or the 
nearest postoffice for their letters, paying 6 1-4, 
12 1-2, 18 3-4 or 25 cents postage on each, ac- 
cording to the distance. There were no stamps. 



History of Otego ii3 

Newspapers were brought every Friday by post- 
riders to the houses. The Cooperstown Federalist 
and Watchman were the only ones. In 1810 Ste- 
phen Cook had been carrying papers about one 
year. In 1813 he started on horseback for Con- 
necticut to get some parts for clocks that he had 
made, and was never heard of afterward. After 
a few months John Winton began bringing the 
papers, and he and his son Barlow carried them 
for a long time. Then a Mr. Griffith was the 
carrier. Under the administration of James Mad- 
ison there were established Hamburg postoffice 
in the eastern part of Unadilla, Oneonta postoffice 
in the southern part of Milford, and a postroute 
from Binghamton to Cooperstown. In 1820 mail 
was carried once a week. In 1827 the postoffice 
was in the store of T. R. Austin, postmaster. In 
1842 Ezra R. Brewer was postmaster, and the office 
was in the store now occupied by Glen Poole. 
The box was about three feet square, and con- 
tained twenty-six small letter boxes. The present 
postmaster is A. D. Annable, whose interesting 
sketch of the Otego postoffice appeared in the 
Rural Times of 3 April 1907. 



River Bridges 

At the village — 

The first bridge was built soon after 1805 by 
the citizens of Unadilla and Franklin, and was 
called Hunt's Bridge. It was an old-fashioned, 
open, wooden bridge put up on bents, and was 
free. It crossed the river over by the "gulf," 
the road turning off to it over the flat just below 



114 History of Otego 

the railroad crossing. On the other side the 
road led from the "gulf" diagonally up Franklin 
Mountain, where traces of it can yet be seen 
from the village. This bridge fell down of its 
own weight in the summer of 1832. 

The next bridge was built by a stock company 
formed in the vicinity with T. R. Austin as a 
promoter, in 1833. It was an open bridge on 
the same site as the present one, and its old 
mud sills could, at least a short time since, be 
seen. The toll was about two or three cents for 
a footman, six cents for a horse and wagon and 
ten cents to a shilling for a team. Those who 
crossed often commuted at $2-3 per year. The 
following may be of interest: 

"This may certify that Mason W. Hughston is 
entitled to pass the Otego Village Toll Bridge 
until the first day of March next with his own 
team or any of his family living with him, in the 
ordinary course of his business and not other- 
wise, the said Hughston having commuted for 
the same. Jas. Follett, Treas. Otego March 7, 
1835." 

The toll-house stood where Lewis Reddington's 
brick house stands; some of the toll-keepers 
were widows Birdsall, Houck and Bedford. On 
4 March 1845 the town "resolved that the Otego 
Bridge Co. charter be not extended," but they 
seem to have continued taking toll. The bridge 
was badly battered by the ice in the springs of 
1853 and 1854, and was finally taken down by 
Abram Rockwell in the winter of 1855-56. 

Orrin Hubbell, and then Bethuel Fuller, ran a 
ferry there until the next and third bridge was 



History of Otego US 

built in the fall of 1857, Harvey Baker having 
the stone-work and Nelson A. Brock, the wood- 
work. This bridge was blown off by a high wind 
in the latter part of May 1866. 

Until the next bridge was built the river was 
forded at the rift, and later, a temporary pontoon 
bridge was thrown across just above the site of 
the bridge. This, the fourth and last wooden 
bridge, was built on the same piers by a certain 
Murry in the fall of 1866. It was a free, cov- 
ered bridge, and was replaced by the present 
iron structure in the summer of 1901. 

A course was surveyed across the river near 
Flax Island creek in 1831, but no road was laid 
nor bridge built. 

Near Hale's — 

The first bridge here was built shortly before 
1830. It crossed the river just below the large 
island belonging to the Northup farm, at the 
place where Henry Shepherd had a ferry before 
1797; the bridge itself is called Shepherd's Ferry. 
It was taken off by the ice in a few years. 

In 1835 the second bridge was built some dis- 
tance below the above spot by Russell Murry. 
This bridge was rebuilt in 1846 by Albert and 
Horatio Merrick at a cost of $200. It was stand- 
ing in 1857, but was gone by 1860. It stood con- 
demned for several years. All the bridges here 
were free. 

Newspapers 

The first newspaper, the Otego Literary Record, 
was started by Owen and Tompkins in September 



116 History of Otego 

1868. The first printing office was in the Cole 
Block. Orwen soon became the sole one in- 
terested. The name was changed to the Otego 
Record, and at different times during 1872 had at 
least three publishers, Alpheus S. Foote, O. B. 
Ireland and a man named Bunnell. In August 
1872 G. A. Dodge started the Otego Times, a 
Greely paper, in opposition to the Record, that 
favored Grant. In January 1873 Dodge purchased 
the Record and consolidated the two papers under 
the name of the Otego Times and Record. Thomas 
M. Cash was given editorial charge. Dodge was 
at the same time editor of the Home and Abroad 
at Unadilla, into which the Otego Times and 
Record was absorbed in January, 1874. 

During 1873 Cash published the details of a 
certain scandal in town, and in April 1874 was ar- 
rested by a United States Deputy Marshall for 
unlawful use of the mails. He escaped convic- 
tion. He disappeared from Otego, and many years 
afterward died on a vessel off the coast of Cali- 
fornia and was buried at sea. 

In April 1878 B. H. Gadsby of Gilbertsville 
started the Otego Gazette, which in January 1879 
was absorbed in the Gilbertsville Journal. 

In 1881 A F. Flummerfelt and W. H. Putnam 
started the Susquehanna Wave. Flummerfelt 
later became the sole editor. V. S. Fuller bought 
the paper in April 1886, and changed the name 
to the Otego Times. Fuller changed the name to 
the Rural Times in 1889, and under this name 
edits and publishes it now. 



XIV 

Otego's Old Soldiers 

IT is practically impossible to get an absolutely 
correct list of the soldiers and the sailors of 
the Revolution and of the War of 1812. Much 
valuable information might be gleaned by patient 
search among the records at Washington. The 
records of the Civil War and of the War with 
Spain are easily available. The two following 
lists do not claim to be either complete or free 
from error. 

Revolutionary War 

John Armstrong (d. 20 Mr. 1853, ae. 96; buried 

in the Pope yard on the East Branch) 
General (?) Bates 

John Boldman — enlisted in Virginia. 

Elisha Bundy (b. 6 Oct. 1760— d. 1824 or '25; 
Bundysburg, Ohio) 

Peleg Burdick (d. 23 Jun. 1836, ae. 77; Carr Yard 
on West Branch) — was on a prison ship. 

Benjamin Edson (d. I Jly. 1843, ae. 84; in the 
yard by the church on the West Branch) — 
is said to have been a drummer. 

Samuel Fisk — was at Stony Point. 
John French 

Benjamin Howe (d. ae. 70; buried in the Gates 
yard) 

Samuel Hyatt (d. 14 Oct. 1831, ae. 72; Pope 
yard) — was at Stony Point. 

117 



118 History of Otego 

William King (said to be buried under a plain 
stone in the yard on the Earle Root place) — 
is said to have been a trumpeter. 

Daniel Knapp (d. 21 Apr. 1836, ae. 83; Presby- 
terian yard in the village) 

John Lamb 

Joseph Marr (in the yard on Flax Island is a stone 
inscribed, "James Marr, d. 11 Aug. 1824, 
ae. 82;" it may be this man, for Jas. and 
Jos. are easily confused in script.) 

Philip Merithew — was a Quaker, and a plain stone 
marks his grave in the old Merithew yard 
on Briar creek. 

Joseph Northrup, Sr. (d. 23 Jan. 1842, ae. 87; 
said to be buried on the place of Alonzo 
Judd) — was in the Sugar House prison in 
New York. 

Daniel Ogden — was 2nd Lieut, in Colonel Har- 
per's regiment; he entered the Revolution 
4 April 1777 and served till the end of the 
war. 

David Ogden— (d. 30 -Oct. 1840, ae. 76; Tread- 
well, N. Y.)— see Chapter VL 

John Ogden 

Asahel Packard (d. 26 Jun. 1846, ae. 83; in the 
Episcopal yard at Unadilla)- — enlisted 14 
Sept. 1781, and served two months and 
three days as drummer in the Vermont mi- 
litia. 

Isaac Quackenbush (Riverside y&rd at Oneonta). 

David Smith (d. 20 May 1848, ae. 90; Presbyterian 
yard in the village) 

John Snouse — was among the Indians. 

Moses Stevens (said to be buried either by the 



History of Otego 119 

"Pines" on what is known as the James 
Cole place, or in the poor yard at Coopers- 
town) 
John Taylor — escaped from a British prison ship 
and swam three miles at night. 

Captain Ezekiel Tracy (d. 24 Feb. 1820, ae. 66; 
farm of Alonzo Judd) — commanded a com- 
pany at the Battle of Bennington. 

John Vermilyea 
John Wattles 

Joseph Youngs (d. 28 Dec. 1842, ae. 82; Wheeler 
yard) 
Doubtful are Captain Levi Austin; William 
French (d. 15 Aug. 1838, at 94; at or near Bun- 
dysburg, Ohio) ; John King Hatheway (under a 
plain stone in the yard just below Otsdava, called 
the Cook cemetery). 

War of 1812 

Thurston Brown (buried somewhere near Lock 
port, N. Y.) 

William Brown (d. 28 May 1844, ae. 77; in the 
Brown yard on the West Branch) — was in 
a Rhode Island regiment. 

Ephraim Burdick (d. 1871, ae. 79) 

Oiiver Burdick (d. 10 Oct. 1872, le. 84) 

Thcmas Burdick (d. ae. 75) — the three Burdicks 
are all buried in the yard on Flax Island. 

Ethai: Burdick (d. 27 July 1867, ae. 76; Can- 
yard on West Branch) 

Dennis Davis 

Elam Edson (d. ae. 89; said to be buried at 
Cherry Creek, N. Y.) 

Harmon Foote 



120 History of Otego 

Abel French (d. 1861, ae. 77; buried in the 
Bundy yard) 

Jeremiah French (d. 7 Mr. 1830, ae. 61; Presby- 
terian yard in the village) 

Calvin Fuller (d. 1868, ae. 86; in the yard on 
Briar Creek) — was stationed at Martha's 
Vineyard. In his later years he drew a land 
warrant for 160 acres of government land. 
Levi Hale (d. 16 Aug. 1866, ae. 74; Evergreen 
yard in the village) — was stationed at New 
York. 
John A. Hodge — was stationed at Sackett's Har- 
bor. 
Samuel Martin (d. 11 Oct. 1864, ae. 72; Presby- 
terian yard in the village) 
George T. Northup (b. 1784— d. 1871; Presby- 
terian yard in the village) 
John Northup 
Samuel Northup (d. 16 Nov. 1819, ae. 63; farm 

of Alonzo Judd) 
David Ogden — see first list. 
Abel Packard 

Jacob Quackenbush (d. 26 Aug. 1846, ae. 53; 
buried in the yard on the Orlando Quacken- 
bush place) — was stationed at New York. 
Horace Phelps 
Thomas Weaver (d. ae. 80; said to be buried 

at Cherry Creek, N. Y.) 
John Youngs (d. 20 Feb. 1823, ae. 39; in the 
Wheeler yard) 
Doubtful are Cyrus Bates (originally from Ver- 
mont, came to Otego in 1832, and is buried some- 
where on the West Branch; he may be the "Gen- 
eral Bates" in the list of the Revolution) ; Ben- 



History of Otego 121 

jamin Shepherd (b. 1775 — d. 1852; in the Pres- 
byterian yard in the village — is said to have com- 
manded the company of which Abel Packard was 
a member) ; Captain Ezekiel Tracy, who may 
have been in both wars. 

In 1812 a regiment of militia was drafted in 
Otsego county, and Otego, Unadilla and Butter- 
nuts were required to furnish one company. 
Thurston Brown was drafted in September of 
that year, and joined the company at Morris. 
He was Orderly Sergeant, and was later pro- 
moted to Captain. He was in the engagement 
under General Van Rensselaer, where he was 
taken prisoner, and was sent home in December 
of the same year on parole. 

Otsego county, under the old regime of in- 
fantry organization, was in the 16th Division, 2nd 
Brigade. Jacob Morris was the first Major-Gen- 
eral. The "trainings" were social events. Gen- 
eral training was held near the village on the 
flat above the Otsdawa bridge, east of the creek, 
and the troopers wore British uniforms. At times 
practical jokes were carried too far. A certain 
Captain Walton was once accidentally killed at a 
training. Company training was often held on 
the flat west of Mrs. Lucinda Northup's house. 
Aaron Brimmer and Joseph Northup, Jr., were 
two of the captains and some of the names on 
the roll were Samuel Cuyle, John Ryder, Benja- 
min Pender, Josiah Goodrich, Levi Han, John 
Rathbun and Steven Bradley. 



XV 

Miscellaneous 

THE village at different periods: 

1822— "The Village of Hamburgh has a Post- 
office of the same name, 24 dwellings, 2 mills, 2 
stores, a schoolhouse, and a variety of mechan- 
ics' shops, a busy thriving little place founded 
m 1810. The PostofFice will probably soon take 
the name of the town (Huntsville), and why not 
the village also?" 

1835 — Three taverns, three stores, three 
churches, two blacksmith shops, a grist mill, tan- 
nery, a schoolhouse, and about thirty-five dwell- 
ings. 

1842 — Three taverns, four stores, three 
churches, two blacksmith shops, four other shops, 
two doctors, sixty-five buildings and about 300 in- 
habitants. Between 1842 and 1889 one hundred 
fifteen buildings were erected. In 1842 Otsdawa 
had one store, a tannery, a fulling mill, two saw- 
mills, and 15-20 dwellings. 

1872 — Two taverns, seven stores, five churches, 
a sash and blind factory and about 600 inhabi- 
tants. Otsdawa had one church, one store, a grist 
and sawmill, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop 
and about 100 inhabitants. 

The first lawyer in town is said to have been 
Benjamin Estes. 

The first physician was John Wright. Other 
early doctors were Root, Hewett and Whitmarsh. 

122 



History of Otego 123 

The Otsego County Medical Society was organ- 
ized in 1806, and the following were members 
from Otego up to 1850: 1807 David Bliss; 1828 
James Tripp; 1829 Bradley Blakeslee; 1834 E. S. 
Saunders; 1839 A. L. Head; 1844 Isaac Fair- 
child. 

Two early marriages were: Joseph Northup, 
Jr., and Polly Goodrich on 9 August 1807; James 
Bundy and Polly Overhizer on 17 January 1809. 

The first birth was probably in the family of the 
Ogdens. Among early births were Rebecca Bird- 
sail, daughter of Timothy, in 1791; Samuel Mar- 
tin, son of Frederick, on 19 September 1792; 
Polly Blaklee, daughter of Abram, in 1801. 

The first death of which any authentic record 
has been found was that of John Weaver, who 
died in 1800. 

The first tannery in town is said to have been 
down under the bank behind the house now owned 
and occupied by Thomas Redding. There were 
only two or three vats. Before 1822 Chandler 
Mann had started a small tannery on what is now 
the upper part of the farm of Webster Birdsall. 
In that year Samuel Goddard of Maryland, N. Y., 
bought the business, built the dam, which still 
remains, and continued the tannery till 1866. 

The Citizens' Agricultural Society was organ- 
ized 6 January 1869 "for the improvement of 
agriculture in its various branches." Officers 
and directors were elected; twelve acres of land 
were leased for seven years; and the grounds 
were surrounded by a twelve-foot board fence. 



124 History of Otego 

A half-mile track was graded, the necessary pens, 
stalls and the like were constructed, and the first 
fair was held 9-10 September 1869. When the 
lease expired, the society was reorganized, and 
the grounds were purchased. The last fair was 
in 1885. The society was dissolved the following 
year. The fair grounds were at the head of 
Fair street, on land now owned by Harvey Hunt. 

The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad was 
opened to Otego 23 January 1866. The town was 
bonded by Timothy Sheldon, Railroad Commis- 
sioner, for $70,000. The road was leased in 
1870 by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Com- 
pany for a term of ninety-nine years. 

The present Ofego House was built by William 
Sliter in the summer following the burning of 
the old Hunt Hotel in the big fire on 15 April 
1877. 

The Susquehanna House was modeled from 
T. R. Austin's dwelling by Isaac Wheeler in 1852. 
Wheeler sold it to Adam Horton, who made ex- 
tensive changes. A later owner was Ely Dean. 

The Breffle Hotel was modeled by Alfred 
Breffle from the old Richard Holiday house, and 
opened by him in 1894. 

The Hotel Francis was built by Dwight Strong 
about 1872 for a sort of store. Fred. H. Fowler 
was the first to keep a hotel here. Edward Brady 
modeled it into its present form in 1891. 

The following are a few of the men of Otego 
who became prominent citizens of the State: Ran- 



History of Otego 125 

som Hunt, member of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1821; John Blakely, Member of As- 
sembly from Otsego in 1819, '21, '22, and '24; 
Harvey Hunt, Member of Assembly from Otsego 
in 1843, and in the New York Custom House 
during the administration of James Buchanan; 
Ebenezer Blakely, Member of Assembly from Ot- 
sego in 1846, State Senator in 1854, a Presiden- 
tial Elector in 1864, and State Assessor; Dr. E. 
S. Saunders, Member of Assembly from Otsego 
in 1848. 

There are over thirty burial-places in this town. 
The first grave in the Evergreen Cemetery was 
in what is called the "old part," and was dug for 
Nancy Maria, daughter of Mason W. Hughston, 
in 1832. There are said to be three Revolutionary 
soldiers buried under plain stones in the old 
Merithew yard on Briar creek. One of them 
(probably Philip Merithew), when over ninety 
years old, was offered a pension of $3,000 by 
the Government, which he refused because he 
thought it was the price of blood, saying, "I 
fought for liberty, not for money." 

The Otego Water Company was formed in 
1889, and sold its plant to the village in 1900. 
The reservoir is claimed to have an elevation of 
180 feet, producing a pressure of 75 pounds to 
the square inch. 

The Health Board was formed in 1882. 

The village was lighted by oil lamps in 1892; 
by electricity in 1907. 

The Bowe Casket Company, Ltd., began its 



126 History of Otego 

building in the fall of 1887 and completed it 
within a year. Operations ceased in December 
1904. On an average twenty-five men were here 
employed. 

The Opera House Block was built by V. S. 
Fuller in 1897. 

The Otego Grange (No. 788) was organized 
12 April 1894. 

The Otego Hose Company No. 1 was first or- 
ganized 11 November 1889. 

The Otego Hook and Ladder Company was or- 
ganized in 1895. 

The Fire Department building was erected in 
1900. 

The Otego Union Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 282, 
was organized 23 October 1852 with the follow- 
ing officers: Cornelius Brink, Master; A. Light, 
Sr. Warden; C. H. Green, Jr. Warden; Harvey 
Hunt, Secretary; C. Thompson, Treasurer; Oliver 
Burdick, Sr. Deacon. The first meetings were 
held at the house of Levi French. During the 
Anti-Mason movement meetings were held 
secretly in the house that stands on the east side 
of Main street, the second one north from Church 
street. 

The Otego Old Boys' Club was organized 4 
July 1904 through the efforts of J. B. Hunt. 

A copy of the minutes of the first town meet- 
ing of the Town of Huntsville: 

"At the first town meeting in the town of Hunts- 
ville held at the house of Ransom Hunt, April 
30, 1822, in conformity to an act passed April 



History of Otego 127 

12, 1822, for the erection of the said town of 
Huntsville, which act was read at the opening 
of the meeting by Daniel Weller, Justice of the 
Peace — 

Daniel Lawrence was then chosen Secretary 
for the meeting, and was sworn to keep a true 
record of their proceedings, which are as fol- 
lows (Viz.) 

Voted that Abraham Blakslee and Peter Schrem- 
ling assist the Justice of the peace in canvassing 
the votes which shall be received at this meeting. 

Voted that no more than three assessors be 
elected at this meeting — 

The following officers were then elected (Viz.) 

Daniel Weller — Supervisor 

Daniel Lawrence — Town Clerk 

Benjamin Shepherd \ 

Joseph Northup, Jn. \ Assessors 

Rowland Carr | 

John A. Hodge — Collector 

Michael Birdsall ) Overseers of 

Peter Schremling \ the Poor 

Andrew Hodge \ _ „ 

XI , T^- , ,, / Corns, of 

Nathan Birdsall \ ... , 
T , r> • , Highways 

John Smith | ^ ^ 

Russell Hunt \ Coms. of 

John A. Hodge \ Common 

Nahum Smith ) Schools 

William Benedict \ Inspectors 
Parley Pember ) of 

Daniel Shepherd ) Schools 
John A. Hodge — Constable 
Voted that only one con- 
stable be elected. 



128 History of Otego 

Michael Birdsall — Pound Master 

Isaac Benedict 

Benjamin Shepherd ^ P^"'^^ V'^^^'*^ 

Sylvester Goodrich 

Isaac Wolfe 

Abraham Wolfe 

Garrit Quackenbush 

Coenradt Wiles 

Russell Blakslee 

Jedadiah Tracy 

Peter Bundy, Jr. 

Nathan Birdsall 

Michael Birdsall , Overseers 

Stephen Ford \ n 

Ebenezer Knapp / Highways 

Chester Lamb 

Joseph B. Pearce 

Elias Hinsdale 

William Shepherd 

Nahum Smith 

Truman Trask 

Daniel Knap 

Levi B. Packard 

Solomon Fuller 

Voted that the Collector shall collect the town 
taxes for three cents on the dollar — 

Voted that the Inspectors of Schools shall be 
allowed by this town fifty cents per day for their 
services while visiting schools and inspecting 
teachers — 

Voted that the Inspectors shall visit each school 
in this town twice and twice only — 



History of Otego 129 

Voted that four fence viewers be elected — 
Voted that one Pound Master be elected — 
Voted that any person who shall knowingly suf- 
fer a ram to run at large between the 10th. Sept. 
& 20th. Nov. shall be liable to pay for every 
such offence the sum of three dollars — 

Voted that swine shall not be free comeners 
unless ringed and yoked — 

Voted to reconsider the vote appointing Rus- 
sell Blakslee an overseer of Highways — 

Meeting adjourned to the first Tuesday in March 
next at the same place. Recorded by me, Daniel 
Lawrence, Town Clerk." 



XVI 

Pioneer Experiences 

EVEN in 1819 New York state was the "Far 
West, the Land of Promise." It took eighteen 
days to come from Massachusetts to Otego. More 
than thirty years before the above date Peter 
Bundy came; and he is a type of those early set- 
tlers, who, with ox-te.am or on foot, braved a 
howling wilderness to subdue land covered by 
primeval forest. He left home in winter, and 
with some neighbors started for Otego. On a 
wood-shod sled drawn by a small yoke of oxen 
he brought his all — his wife and five small chil- 
dren, a few utensils, a little bedding, and a part 
of a barrel of pork for food, the brine of which 
was afterward boiled down for the salt. The 
little company traveled slowly toward the valley 
of the Charlotte, having to cut their way a por- 
tion of the journey. The oxen fed on the browse, 
and the prospective settlers camped out in the 
woods many nights, building large fires to pro- 
tect themselves from the cold. How long they 
journeyed is not known, but their first acts were 
the acts of any settler in a new country — the build- 
ing of a cabin, the making of a clearing and the 
planting of some corn. A home was made and 
the settler had begun his struggle. 

The usual log house was about 20x30 feet, of 
two rooms, with slab roof and rough board floor. 
There was no metal in its construction. The sin- 
gle chimney, fireplace and partition were of stone. 

130 



History of Otego 131 

The hinges of the door were of leather. Greased 
white paper was used in the windows if they ex- 
isted. Many a lesson in early architecture was 
learned from the Indians. Framed buildings, es- 
pecially barns, were a novelty. The first frame 
house in town was probably the one built by 
Abram Blaklee. On the south side of the river 
John Brimmer's frame house was for a long time 
the only one of its kind on the road. The flint 
and tinder-box were the only means of getting a 
fire, and many old people can still well remember 
with what astonishment they saw matches used. 
A grease-soaked rag floating in a dish of grease 
and lighted, antedated the candle and the oil 
lamp. This means of illumination was called a 
"snogin," a "slut" or a "witch." 

There were few, or no, means of procuring 
money to pay for lots and taxes by the first set- 
tlers, except through the proceeds of lumbering 
on the Susquehanna. The timber was swept from 
the land and run down the river to Baltimore, or 
over the hill to Walton and down the Delaware. 
The receipts were a meagre compensation for the 
labor and risks. The families of Elisha Bundy, 
Wyram French and Willard Cheney were asso- 
ciated in this business. In 1813 they started two 
rafts containing about 50,000 feet of lumber and 
75,000 shingles for Harrisburg with Casper Over- 
hizer, pilot. The rafts suffered various accidents, 
the losses were heavy, and the three families 
finally moved west. The following receipt may 
be of interest: 

"Rec'd of David S. Bundy for Peter 
Bundy fourteen Dollars and fifty cents, 



132 History of Otego 

it being in full for running down the 
river. Washington, April 17, 1824. 

William Rathbun." 
About 1819 T. R. Austin erected a potash fac- 
tory, or ashery, on Briar creek near the creamery. 
He purchased ashes at twelve cents per bushel in 
trade at his store, where maple sugar at six cents 
per pound could also be sold. He built another 
factory on the south side of the river near the 
corner of the Franklin and the river roads. Such 
enterprises helped to solve the money problem. 

The early settlers had to raise their own pro- 
visions, and there was much privation, suffering 
and even starvation in the early years. "Aunt 
Beersheba," widow of Peter Bundy, said that for 
several weeks after they came, the family lived 
on maple-sugar. Henry Scramling, on the Van 
Woert farm in Oneonta, sowed ten acres of peas 
with the intention of supplying with food the 
hungry settlers, who were crowding in large num- 
bers into the woods for settlement. He said, 
"Dey sail haf dem free;" and they were all 
picked clean. Many of those who consumed the 
green peas lived several miles away. There were 
a few instances of boiling potato tops and pea 
vines for the juice. In one case the women went 
into a standing field of rye and cut the ripest 
^ heads, which they dried and boiled to keep the 
family alive. The shad fishing every spring was 
a great relief. In 1817 many suffered from want 
of bread. 

Mills were of vast importance. In 1780 the 
nearest mill was on the Mohawk, the one at Una- 
dilla having been burned by Butler's army. 



History of Otego 133 

Even when Ransom Hunt came there were no 
mills nearer than fifteen miles and no stores 
nearer than ten miles. For some years the first 
settlers carried their grain to Cooperstown by 
canoe or dugout (the Susquehanna was formerly 
more navigable) ; later, by wood-shod sled to a 
mill erected on a branch of the Charlotte. The 
round Irip took to Cooperstown four, to the mill 
on the Charlotte three days. Neighbors com- 
bined, each one in turn carrying for the others. 
The first grist mill in town was erected by Ran- 
som Hunt. 

Before the advent of stores, and especially of 
the railroad, the farmers would often club to- 
gether and take their grain to Catskill, Albany 
or some other market. Nahum Smith and Leon- 
ard Morey kept the first store in town in a two- 
storied frame building that stood about where 
stands the Bowe block. When T. R. Austin first 
came, he occupied this store; in about 1812 he 
built a new store directly across the street which 
is now used by the postoffice. The old Smith 
and Morey store was later used as a wagonshop 
by Nathaniel Spaulding; it was then moved down 
near the depot where it was used by Martin 
Eckert as a sash and blind factory, and was 
finally incorporated into the feedstore that stood 
near the coal-bins and was burned in 1896. 
Before 1817 Daniel Lawrence was merchant in 
town and had built the store where Glen Poole 
trades. The early settlers made their own shoes, 
and raised their own wool, from which they made 
all their own clothing. Later, carding-machines 
and fulling-mills flourished. The first cloth-dress- 



134 History of Otego 

ing establishment in town was built by Phineas 
Cook at Otsdawa in 1801. 

The early settlers had good hunting. Godfrey 
Calder saw deer and bear; and there is said to 
have been a deer-lick by a salt spring on Flax 
Island creek. In 1811 John Boldman killed a 
bear, cut it up and divided it among his neigh- 
bors. During the Revolution beasts of prey had 
increased and the straggling Indians were wel- 
comed. Calvin Fuller was attacked one night 
by a panther near his house on Flax Island creek. 
Webster Birdsall's flat was once a hemlock swamp 
and has been described as a veritable "wolf hole." 
One winter's night a pack chased Stephen Nor- 
thup down Franklin Mountain. The wolves were 
very troublesome and offers of bounties are re- 
corded in the early town records. In 1797 Una- 
dilla offered forty shillings for every wolf's scalp. 
Otego voted in 1796 five pounds, in 1800 $5, 
in 1801 $7, and in 1802 $10 for the scalp of every 
wolf caught within the town. 

There were close ties of friendship among the 
early settlers. Social gatherings were many, and 
in the early years a common treat was potatoes, 
roasted in the embers of the fireplace and eaten 
with salt. "Bees" of all kinds were popular. 
There were logging, chopping and wood-hauling 
bees, husking and dung-bees, spinning, quilting 
and apple-paring bees, and others. There was one 
dung-bee in town that degenerated into a brawl 
and ended in a tragedy. It was on the place of 
John Christian, or of John Snouse — the present 
places of R. A. Wykes, or of W. H. Baker. Se- 
veral versions of the story are given; but they all 



History of Otego i35 

agree in that, after the work was done, the men 
repaired to the grass-plot in front of the house, 
where a general drunken melee took place in 
which John Christian lost his life. House-rais- 
ings were events in which the whole neighbor- 
hood participated. A raising usually lasted from 
one to six o'clock of an afternoon, requiring a 
dozen or more men and several gallons of 
whiskey. In 1819 the nearest distilleries were 
Shepherd's on the "Plains," and Shaw's at "Bull 
Dog." There have been at least five distilleries 
in this town at various times. In 1810 one stood 
in the village where is Mrs. Mary Rathbun's 
house. It was owned by T. R. Austin and run by 
Henry Decker with the assistance of old Joseph 
Northup; the yard, where the cattle and hogs were 
fattened, is now her garden. Another was in the 
Otsdawa ravine above the village. The other 
three were later — one on W. A. Secor's on the 
east side of the road; another on the south side 
of the river opposite the house on the old Cyrus 
Hunt place; the third under the knoll back of 
Thomas Redding's house. This last distillery was 
finally burned. At that time some of the pigs 
that were being fattened on the "slop" got loose 
and ran up among the hills, where they became 
wild and were hunted. Whiskey cost 18-25 cents 
per gallon, or two gallons for a bushel of wheat 
or rye. It was served on all occasions, the slo- 
gan being, "No whiskey, no work." 

The times that tried the pioneers are happily 
past. They conquered a new and savage coun- 
try for the generations that were to follow. To- 
day there are finer foods to eat and more sober 



136 



History of Otego 



liquids to drink, but there are no stauncher 
hearts, no stui-dier frames, no better men. Not 
one was perfect. All were human. And as 
they lived they died — brave men. 



The following are some entries from an old 

day-book of T. R. Austin, dated 1811-12: 

8Mlling3 dollars 





and 


and 




pence 


cents 


Dan. Christian 






For 1 Qt. Molasses 


2/ 




1-2' B. Tea 


2/ 


.50 


Richd. Horning 






For 1-2' Powder 


5/ 




1 Violin String 


1/ 


.75 


Benj. Vermilyea 






For 1 1-4 yd. Fulld. Cloth 


14/9 




2 Sks. Silk 


/8 




1-2' Tobc. 


1/ 




8 Buttons 


/8 




Bitters 


1/ 


2.26 


Benj. Shepherd 






For 1 pt. oil 


1/6 




1-2 Quire Paper 


1/ 




2 qts. Rum 


6/ 


1.07 


Wm. French 






For 1-4' Snuff 


1/ 




1-4' Ginger 


/6 


.19 


Fredk. Martin 






For 1-2' Coffee 


1/3 


.16 



History of Otego 137 

Cyporon Tracy 

For 1 p. Sheep Shears 6/ 

2 bush. Corn 14/ 

1-2' Raisins /9 

1-2' B. Tea 2/ 

Bitters VlO 







23/7 


2.92 


James French 








For 1 pap. Onion Seed 


1/6 




1 " Carrot 




/6 




1 Hair Comb 




1/ 




Whiskey 




/6 


.44 


Elijah Fuller 








For 3 Bush. Oats 




9/ 




2 Qts. Rum 




5/ 


1.75 


Robt. Rathbone 








For 6 plates 




4/6 


.56 


Peter Bovee 








For 1 Hat 10/ Bitter 


76 


10/6 


1.31 


Wheeler French 








For r Nails 




1/2 




1 Nail Hammer 




3/ 


.52 


Conrad Wiles 








For I Gall. Rum 




9/ 




I doz. Buttons 




1/ 


1.25 


Peter Schramling 








For 2 1-4 yds. Check 6/ 


1376 




1 Pail 4/ Bitters 


76 


4/6 




1-2' Tobc. 




1/ 





19/ 2.37 



138 History of Otego 

The following from another old book may be 
of interest: 

The Town of Huntsville, Debtor — 
June the 6, 1822. 
Met together to divide our assess- 
ment District at Ransom Hunt's $0.62 1/2 
Met at Ransom Hunt's and put up 

our Notifications on the 15 of 

June. $0.62 1/2 

Met on the 25 of June to review 

our assessment roll $0.62 1/2 

Two days assessing $2.50 

Met at Ransom Hunt's and put up 

our notifications for Election $0.62 1 /2 

For attending Election three days $3.75 



XVII 

Legends and Stories 

ONCE upon a time in this valley lived a beauti- 
ful Indian maiden named Te-go-wa-ha, "sunny 
eyes." Her lover was of a tribe living farther 
down the river. Her father was an enemy of his 
people. One day the stern old chief surprised 
them together on "Lover's Rocks" where they 
were wont to meet in secret. With an arrow he 
shot and killed the young brave. The girl, wild 
with grief and anger, threw herself off the rocks 
to death below. The old chief became insane 
and for years wandered about this region, calling 
for his daughter, "O Tego," "O Tego," and died 
with this name on his lips. Another version of 
the story is that the lover's name was Te-go, and 
as the girl threw herself off the rocks, she cried, 
"O Tego." Still another version is that the old 
chief's name was Te-go-wa-ha and his daughter's 
Ots-da-wa. When he shot, he missed the lover 
and killed his daughter Ots-da-wa. But this 
leaves the story to be completed by some fertile 
brain; for what did the old chief do to the lover 
then? 

A member of a band of Delawares, who were re- 
turning from a hunting expedition in the vicinity 
of Otsego Lake, once seized and carried off a 
girl of one of the tribes of the Five Nations. 
The two hid for the night on old Flax Island. The 
brave went to reconnoitre. On his return, as 

139 



140 History of Otego 

his canoe grated on the island, he straightened up 
to leap upon the land, and was shot by some 
members of the girl's tribe, who had discovered 
their retreat. The Indian fell into the deep water 
off the island, and the girl leaped in after him. 
Both were drowned, and their bones lie some- 
where on the bottom of the river. 

Tradition says that Otego was the scene of the 
cold-blooded murder of the beautiful and lovely 
daughter of Cog-no-wa-no, chief of the powerful 
and haughty tribe of Indians, whose hunting and 
fishing grounds lay along this section of the Sus- 
quehanna. 

This vicinity, like many another, is famous for 
Indian tradition of valuable mines of gold, silver 
and lead, the latter two of remarkable purity. 
Silver in large quantities is thought to be in the 
range of hills between the Otego and the Ots- 
dawa creeks. Daniel Strait is said to have once 
found enough lead here to make some bullets. 
It is claimed that the Indians chopped off the lead 
in their mines with their tomahawks, so pure was 
it. This strengthens the belief that the Indians 
cached their lead. An Indian once borrowed a 
kettle from Phinas St. John, and brought it back 
filled with "bullet metal." An Indian, named 
George Kindness, once stayed several days with 
John Hyatt, and he said that he and some others 
of his tribe were looking for lead in the hills. 
Tradition says that along the ridge between the 
East Branch and Mill creek ran a trail to the 
Mohawk, and that near it the Indians secreted 
some treasure taken at Cherry Valley. 

There is said to have been a well marked trail 



History of Otego 141 

from near the head of Decker's mill-pond above 
Otsdawa, following a little spring stream south- 
west, to a point near the barn on the place now 
occupied by Bennett Weatherly. Julius Hathe- 
way and some other boys, who were going to 
school near by, once stumbled upon the cave ana 
mine to which the trail led. They went in in 
single file for some distance until the boy in the 
lead called to back out, for he could "see his 
eyes." When the older people heard about it, 
a search was organized under the boys' guidance, 
but no trace could be found. 

In the Otsdawa ravine above the village there 
is a cave among the rocks on the east side of the 
creek, about which many tales have been spun, 
Some claim that it is a big subterranean chamber 
with another entrance on Mill creek, and that it 
contains the bones and the treasure of a prehis- 
toric people. Deep in S. S. Crandall's flat is 
said to be a vein of gold. When John Winn 
lived there, a man and a boy once stayed over 
night at his house. The next morning the man 
told Winn that his boy could see things under 
the ground, and that he saw salt in his flat. The 
presence of salt here is possible, for this vicinity 
is within range of the Onondaga salt belt. Stories 
are told of deer-licks. There was once a salt-spring 
near the river, east of the Borden ice-houses, 
and another near the village, east of the Otsdawa. 
A man named Hopkins and an Indian were once 
hunting somewhere on the north side of the 
river. They ran short of lead, and the Indian 
suddenly disappear, returning soon with an 
abundant supply. The Indians once took one of 



142 History of Otego 

the Vanwoert family, after blindfolding and lead- 
ing him by a circuitous route, to a lead mine 
where the metal was in a pure state. 

Many stories are told of Dumpling Hill. Near 
a barn that once stood on its slope were four bass- 
wood trees, standing in the form of a square, into 
whose bark moccasins had been cut. Its summit 
was supposed to be an Indian outlook, where 
there was a pine with a grafted spruce top. A 
ledge of rocks forms a cave where Indian treasure 
was supposed to be buried. The cave was once 
found and entered by Charles Mericle, Ira Bovie 
and Jake Rowe, but now is lost. Years ago an 
old Indian was in the habit of visiting John 
Brimmer, and sitting on his steps of a summer 
evening would point to the hill and tell of great 
and hidden wealth. Veins of coal have been 
found here. Adam and Baltus Simmons once 
dug up some "ore" on the hill and had it assayed 
at Albany. While a well was being dug on the 
Quackenbush farm, "silver" was struck, which 
disappeared as soon as a word was spoken. Wil- 
liam Springs, while he was held captive by the 
Indians, was once blindfolded and taken by them 
to a cave on Dumpling Hill, in which there was 
a silver mine. He said that the mouth of the 
cave was covered with flat stones. After the 
Revolution the Indians frequented the hill, cross- 
ing the river to it late in the afternoon. Theo- 
dore Hunt remembers seeing them walking back 
and forth along its ledges with torches in the 
night. David Blakely, who lived across the 
river, told of seeing a flame sixty feet high shoot- 
ing out of the hill one morning. The hill used 



History of Otego 1*^3 

to "roar," bringing people, even from the village, 
to listen and to wonder; it was supposed to be 
due to gases burning in a mine. The legends and 
the stories of the hill had a great influence upon 
the crazed mind of Jake Rowe, a poor boy brought 
up by John Brimmer. Standing in the road at 
its foot he would hurl his testament into the 
air and cry, "Dumpling Hill, dissolve!" 

Before 1800 Daniel and John Ogden and Uriah 
White spent considerable time and labor digging 
on the hill north of Dumpling. They supposed 
that there was a mine on it. Along the height of 
land south of the river there is said to have been 
an Indian trail, which was afterward marked by 
a state road. A white man once surprised an In- 
dian filling his belt with lead on the old Perez 
Swift farm, recently occupied by Lucius Chase. 
The Indian vowed that thereafter his spirit would 
haunt the place to lead or frighten all palefaces 
from the mine. 

On the north side of the river coal was once 
found in the driving of a well on the place of 
Leslie Palmer. Among the rocks north of the 
road on the farm of John Leonard is said to be 
an Indian lead mine; down on the flat near a 
little run of water treasure is supposed to have 
once been buried. 

An Indian once came to Ransom Hunt's hotel 
and stayed several days, going away in the morn- 
ing and not returning till evening. One morning 
he waited until all the loungers had left the bar- 
room and then asked Hunt whether he remem- 
bered where there had been a pond down on 
the flat near the Borden ice-houses. On learning 



144 History of Otego 

that he did, the Indian asked whether he would 
show him the place. Hunt went with him and 
pointed out the spot. The Indian then asked 
whether a large pine once stood near, and he 
was shown where that had been. The Indian 
with these two points established, without another 
word started in a straight line over the hill west 
of Thomas Redding's house. Whither did he go, 
and what was his quest? 

Near a small run of water on the place of B. 
C. Hatheway once stood a huge pine, into whose 
bark had been cut the face of an Indian chief. 
Several years after the tree had been cut down, 
an Indian appeared and asked after this tree. He 
was shown its stump. He disappeared, and not 
long afterward a portion of a wooden box was 
found that had been dug up from the bottom of 
the little stream. 

Many witch stories were current in early time. 
Witches would braid horses' manes, cross the 
river near the upper railroad bridge in egg- 
shells, and cast mysterious spells over animals 
and men. It was common belief that if butter 
was long in forming a witch was in the churn, and 
that she could be driven out only by a hot horse 
shoe. Old Mrs. Alger lived on the "Plains," and 
had a certain white (?) crow that annoyed the 
neighbors by its croaking. Finally someone took 
two silver sleeve-buttons and molded them into 
six small bullets, with which the crow was shot 
and severely wounded. It managed to fly away. 
Soon it was known that Mrs. Alger was seriously 
ill. When she died, six small bullet holes were 
found under her left arm. 



History of Otego i45 

Mill creek was full of witch and devil stories. 
Mrs. Hague used to see phantom droves of cattle 
stampeding through their standing grain. The 
Dolivers used to tell of a rock upon which could 
be seen imprinted the outlines of a man's body 
and beside it a cloven hoof. The man had sold 
his soul for gold, and had been caught here by 
the Devil and smashed up against the rock. 
On this creek lived "Old M's Tucker," short, 
thick-set and swarthy, and reputed to be a witch. 
Although she lived alone with presumably only 
the proverbial cat for company, yet at night fi- 
gures of men and women were to be seen dancing 
in her brightly lighted house. She bewitched cat- 
tle, and so worked on Sanford Murry's horses that 
they would kick at night; they once kicked him 
in the head almost killing him. Old Mrs. Murry 
slept with steel under her head to protect herself 
from any spell that "Old M's Tucker" might 
weave. There was a headless man who harrab- 
sed his murderer by leaping up behind him when 
he rode abroad, covering him, his saddle and his 
horse with blood. 

But all that is ghostly and weird seems to have 
centered about Dumpling Hall with its cave and 
mines and traditions. Around its base ran an In- 
dian trail. At its foot lived John Brimmer, a 
superstitious old German, who always kept at the 
head of his bed a loaded rifle, into the stock of 
which he had placed a verse of scripture written 
on a piece of paper. A shot from such a 
gun, with which he had once made eighteen holes 
in a deer with a single ball, would lay low all 
witches and bewitches. And did he not need it? 



146 History of Otego 

On moonlight nights had he not seen a headless 
Indian dancing around an old stump in the or- 
* chard near the house? On the hill above him did 
there not live an old witch, who could so bewitch 
cattle that they would run along the tops of the 
fences just like squirrels? This old woman was 
generally a good friend of the Brimmers. Once, 
however, she became angry at them for some 
reason, and one of their cows began giving 
bloody milk. The old lady was finally pacified 
by a cup of tea, friendship was agam restored and 
the cow gave bloody milk no more. The favorite 
rifle of Aaron, son of this John, Brimmer was 
once so bewitched that, when discharged, the 
bullet merely crawled out of the gun and fell 
without force to the earth. 

Rufus Cook was a great hunter. One night 
he with another man shot a bear and two cubs 
near a deer-lick at the head of the East Branch. 
They were gone so long that a party started out 
to look for them, fearing that they had fallen 
into the hands of the Indians. A member of this 
party was Ogden of Revolutionary fame. Cook 
said that he once saw a deer on the hills with a 
"chair" on its head. This may have been an 
elk. He once took a load of vension to Boston, 
and received in payment two handfuls of silver 
dollars. 

All the relatives of John Boldman are said to 
have been killed near Decker's mill-pond. Bold- 
man spent his life avenging their death — another 
Tim Murphy, always going armed with knife and 
rifle. He once followed two Indians from the 



History of Otego 1*7 

river up the East branch to a spring near this 
pond, where he killed them and buried them in 
a deep hollow. Trailing some of his foes at an- 
other time he failed to find them. Crossing over 
to the head of Mill creek he stopped at a big 
chestnut tree. Suspecting no danger, he left 
the rifle at the foot and climbed up into the tree. 
The Indians, who had been on his trail, suddenly 
appeared, seized the gun that had brought death 
to so many of their comrades, and ordered him 
to come down. As Boldman was climbing down, 
an idea came to him. When he reached the 
ground he told the Indians that he was entirely 
in their power, but before they tied his hands, 
he wished to show them how to use his gun, for 
otherwise it would be of no value to them. They 
allowed him to take the rifle into his hands. 
Stepping back a pace he shot one of the Indians, 
with the butt he felled another, and then took to 
his heels, making good his escape. 

Boldman's panther story is well known. One 
day, after having inbibed quite freely at the dis- 
tillery that was once on the place of W. A. Secor, 
he and a neighbor named Dingman started for 
home along the old creek road. When they 
reached the place where the road skirts the Ots- 
dawa ravine, one of them saw a panther in the 
top of a tree that just appeared above the edge 
of the cliff. Boldman said to his companion, 
"You go down and cut a club; I'll stone him out, 
and then you can kill him with the club." His 
friend agreed, and when he was ready, yelled. 
Boldman began to stone the panther. On the 
second throw he hit the animal on the head, and 



148 History of Otego 

down came the panther to be killed by the man 
with the club below. 

Another story is told of this same Boldman, 
and the ashes that he wouldn't sell. He was in 
the habit of taking ashes to Otsdawa to sell to 
a certain Phillips at ten cents per bushel. One 
day he was offered fifteen cents, but indignantly 
refused to sell. After some discussion the mer- 
chant was persuaded to pay the regular price of 
ten cents, and the old soldier went away, proud 
of his shrewdness. 

"Jose" Wiles lived on the south side of the 
river, and, before the town was divided, went 
to Franklin to pay his taxes. One year his name 
was omitted from the assessment roll. He was 
told that he had no taxes to pay that year. He 
became very angry and, exclaimed that "te tamm 
Yankees was trying to cheat him out of his taxes." 

Captain George Smith, who lived in the town of 
Laurens, once told the following story of the 
Revolutionary war at the house of John King 
Hatheway. He was passing through a wood when 
suddenly an arm appeared from behind a tree 
and a tomahawk came hurtling through the air 
and struck him full on the forehead, felling him 
to his knees. The Indian who had hurled the 
weapon, thinking that the white man was killed, 
now rushed out with his scalping-knife to com- 
plete the terrible deed. Captain Smith had just 
strength enough to draw his sword, and, as the 
Indian rushed upon him, with all that feeble 
strength thrust it through the Indian's body. He 
heard the Indian yell, and cry, "Law me, me die," 
and then fainted from loss of blood. Thus had 



History of Otego 149 

he gotten the great scar across his forehead that 
had aroused so much curiosity among the Hathe- 
way boys. 

Samuel Hyatt was eight years in the Revolu- 
tion. He said that he had lost his sense of smell 
by eating decayed horse-flesh with its awful stench. 
He used to tell of the terrible deeds of the In- 
dians and Tories, who would cut captives into 
pieces, burn them at the stake, or, pulling the 
burning brands from them just before death, 
stick spears into their heads and bodies, or, bury- 
ing them in the ground up to their necks, use 
their heads as targets for burning brands, knives 
and stones. Hyatt was once one of a party that 
fell into the hands of a band of Indians. All of 
his companions were tortured and killed, but he 
was reserved till the morrow for a final feast and 
dance. Bound hand and foot he was placed on 
the ground between two Indians, feet to the fire 
for the night. When at last his captors fell 
asleep, after much effort he loosened his bonds, 
and lay waiting for a chance to escape. Sudden- 
ly one of the guards jumped up to fix the fire, and 
Hyatt thought that he would surely be discovered, 
but the Indian lay down again without examin- 
ing his prisoner. When by their breathing he 
knew that the savages were asleep, he crept away. 
Soon he heard the yells of the Indians, who had 
discovered his escape and were hot on his trail. 
Hyatt fled through the wilderness until he came 
to a great swamp that barred his way. There were 
many old tree trunks floating on the water, and, 
plunging in, he buried himself in the water and 
mud beside one of these logs, leaving only his 

117 



iSO History of Otego 

nose above the surface. Here he was obliged 
to stay for two days while the Indians were hunt- 
ing for him over the logs, crying out as a ruse, 
"Here he is, I've found him." Then the search 
ceased, and after a time Hyatt ventured forth. 
He washed himself, found a frog to eat and 
started through a trackless wilderness to look 
for camp or civilization. For three days he wan- 
dered, and during that time he had but one fish 
and two berries to eat. At last he came to a hut 
where lived some white people, who took him in, 
fed him out of their scanty store and piloted him 
back to a camp. Hyatt was the sole survivor of 
his party. 

Joseph and Hiram Smith, the founders of Mor- 
monism, are said to lived for a time with John 
Youmans. This was before they found the sacred 
books. Orson Hyde, who lived just above You- 
mans, became one of the twelve apostles. 

Trouble often arose between the Yankees and 
the "Dutch," which was not uncommonly settled 
by fights between chosen champions. David 
Scramling, who lived in a log house close to the 
river on what is known as the John Van Woert 
farm, is said to have been a Tory, who had often 
gone with the Indians on their marauding expedi- 
tions. When drunk, he would dance and sing 
like an Indian. He once threw a knife at Fred- 
erick Hess and cut his forehead. This David 
Scramling and EIihu(?) Smead once had a fight 
on the John Brimmer place. "Smead- whipped 
him badly, bit David all over the chest — bit large 
pieces out, and when old David came into tht 
house, he trembled all over, for he was very badly 



History of Otego 151 

whipped." There was one fistic contest that has 
been quoted into fame. It took place on "Saw 
Mill Hill," after the raising of the first saw mill 
there by Ransom Hunt. Three days had been 
spent in constructing the dam, and after the 
building had been successfully raised, as well as 
spirits by a "keg o' rum," two men were selected 
to fight it out, John French and Peter Scramling. 
They fought a spirited contest with their bare 
fists, and French was adjudged the victor. Peace 
is said to have reigned thereafter between the 
Yankees and the "Dutch." 

Rufus Cook kept a tavern on the Thayer place 
on Mill creek. Here was held the presidential 
election of the old town of Otego in 1828. The 
candidates were Jackson and Adams. Enthusiasm 
ran high. Late in the afternoon the adherents of 
Adams brought down from his home near West 
Oneonta Captain Jenks of the Revolution to cast 
his vote. The Jacksonians, not to be outdone, went 
for old Mr. Van Slyke. They carried the old 
Hessian soldier up to the hotel in a chair. When 
asked how he voted the aged German replied, 
"My mind iss for Schackson," and cast his ballot 
amid great applause. 

Timothy Murphy and two of his friends. Tufts 
and Evans, are said to have marked a trail from 
Fort Schoharie to Chanango Forks. The blaze 
ran along the north bank close to the river. Near 
it were made the early settlements in the lower 
part of the town. The old cemetery on the Earle 
Root place is said to be on this trail. A member 
of Murphy's band by the name of Cunningham is 
said to have been taken sick on one of their ex- 



i52 History of Otego 

peditions, to have died and here to have been 
buried. In this old yard has been seen a common 
field stone into which had cut with a tomahawk, 
"W. C. 1777." 



Bibliography 

The following are a few of the more important 
books, documents, articles and the like that have 
been consulted in the preparation of this book. 

Wm. M. Beauchamp — Aboriginal Occupation of 
New York; Indian Names in New York; History 
of the Iroquois. 

Child's Directory of Otsego County, 1872-3. 

Dudley M. Campbell — -History of Oneonta. 

W. W. Campbell — The Annals of Tyron County. 

Documentary History of New York. 

Gazeteers of New York— 1813; 1823; 1836; 
1860; 1873. 

Jay Gould's History of Delaware County. 

F. W. Halsey— The Old New York Frontier. 

Hurd's History of Otsego County. 

Letters of Daniel Fuller in the Susquehanna 
Wave, 1883. 

Letters of F. W. Edson in the Susquehanna 
Wave, 1884. 

Letters of Levi Coburn in the Otego Times, 
1889. 

Letters of Harvey Baker in the Oneonta Herald, 
1892-4. 

David Ogden — Pamphlet. 

Records — Town, County and State. 



M f\ 



01