Cherry Valley, Otsego, NY
Post-Revolutionary Church, Part IV
The loss of our academy has never ceased to be the subject of deep regret, and the constant prayer of the church has been that it might again be revived. There is now an encouraging prospect that this hope may be realized. A handsome site has been purchased in one of the most eligible parts of the village by the liberal lady who has already done so much for the church, to which a large lot has been added as a gift by Mr. Olcutt and Mr. G. W. B. Dakin jointly. The same lady has in contemplation the erection o a suitable academical hall for the purposes of the school, of which plans have been prepared by the pastor. There is a house on the property capable of being remodeled for the use of the principal. It is hoped that all details in the scheme of this enterprise (which are still under advisement) will soon be arranged, and that the ancient institution will enter afresh upon its career of beneficent influence.
On the 4th of July, 1876, the Centennial of American Independence was made the occasion of unusual demonstrations and gratitude throughout the country. The Otsego County celebration was held at Cherry Valley, and was an occasion of great interest. The presidency of the day was fittingly awarded to our venerable fellow-citizen, Hon. William W. Campbell, who has been identified usefully with every local movement for many years. No other man has given such attention as he has to the traditions of this part of the country. It will not be inappropriate to close this account of the church with a brief notice of one who, by his careful labors, may be said to have saved an interesting chapter of American history from oblivion. I draw the following chiefly from a sketch given by a friend, A. Stewart Morse, M. D., to the N. Y. Era, March 14, 1863. His ancestors, four generations back, formed a part of the first body of settlers, the farm elected being that now occupied by himself. His grandfather was the colonel who is mentioned Chapter II., and his father one of those who were taken prisoners in the massacre of which he was the last survivor. His mother was Sarah, daughter of the redoubtable Colonel Elderkin of Windham, Conn. Mrs. Campbell was a remarkable woman, the mother, as she used to say, of forty-two feet of boys; there being seven of them, and each at least six feet tall. All became liberally educated, and most of them entered one or other of the professions. The eldest was the widely known Alfred E. Campbell, D. D., of New York. Samuel retired from the bar with an ample fortune, and resides on a beautiful estate at Castleton. John is chief engineer of the Croton water department of New York city. Augustus is a physician at Galena, and George resides at Cherry Valley. William, prepared like all his brothers at he old academy, was graduated in 1827 at Union college, of which he has been for many years a trustee, as well as on eof the three visitors of the Nott Trust Fund. He pursued his legal studies in the office of the eminent Chancellor Kent, whose firm friendship was of great service to the young lawyer. On 1830 a society of literature and historical research was formed at Cherry Valley, out of which grew his labors on the "Annals of Tryon county," and a number of other works of a historical and biographical character, whose value led to his being made a member of the New York Historical Society.
In 1843 he was elected to congress from the city district in which he resided, and in 1848 one of the justices of the superior court. After visiting Europe he retired to Cherry Valley, but was called forth to active life immediately in 1857, when he was chosen a judge of the supreme court of New York. Judge Campbell's interest in his native village and its old church has ever been peculiarly earnest, and he takes a just pride in his own and his family's long and honorable connection with them. He labored zealously to secure the construction of its railway, and for that service, as well as for his long and persistent efforts on behalf of the cause of education among us, with the others who have shared his labors, we owe him lasting obligations.
The lovely grove of maples on his farm, which has long served in place of a park or common to the village on festal days, a favorite resort for the stroller or the picnic-party, was the scene of a good ox-roast and jubilation on the occasion of the completion of the railroad, the locomotive as it passed the margin of the grove waking the echoes with its shrill whistle, and the hills giving back the unwonted sound with a clearness that seemed like the welcome to a fresh era in their long existence, and a new page in the history of the place. The same grove was also chosen as the place or the celebration of that joyful centennial occasion which has drawn forth such unusual expressions of mutual congratulations all over the country, and to the perpetuation of whose memory this little account of an old church and its numerous brood of children is a small contribution. (The History of Otsego, NY, Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)
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Transcribed by Holice B. Young
Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young
December 23, 1999