Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
Cooperstown Firsts, Part II
The first Gamaliel of the law who raised his voice in Cooperstown was Abraham Ten Broeck, of New Jersey, and soon after, in the same year,--1791,--came Jacob G. Fonds, of Schenectady. These gentlemen constituted the "Cooperstown bar" until about 1793, when the village, having increased to importance, witnessed the advent of Joseph Strang, Esq., of Orange county, and Moss Kent, a brother to the well-known Chancellor James Kent. These four attorneys, however, all left Cooperstown within the next twelve years.
The first disciple of Aesculapius came to reside in the village in 1791. His name was Powers. His career, however, soon terminated. He was charged with the heinous offense of mixing tartar emetic with the beverage of a ball at the Red Lion, and was tried, found guilty, and placed in the stocks, which event served to sever his connection with the village. During the same year came Dr. Fuller, who soon acquired an extensive practice and during a long period was the prominent physician of this section. About two years after Drs. Farnsworth and Gott also took up their residence in the place.
The first birth in the village occurred in 1792, and was that of Nathaniel Howard, a son of John Howard. The first death was that of Joseph Griffen, also in 1792. The second death was that of Jabex Wright, a cabinet-maker who was drowned in the outlet; and the third, James Barber, died of smallpox in 1795.
The first mills on the Susquehanna were erected by Wm. Ellison, in 1792.
Through the indefatigable efforts of Judge Cooper the village steadily increased in business importance, and between the years 1792 and 1797 many important interests were established. James Averill erected a tannery, and Messrs. Wade Stevens, Rensselaer Williams, Richard Williams, Peter Ten Broeck, Norman Landon, and Le Quoy opened mercantile establishments. The latter was a Frenchman, and at one time was governor of Martinique.
The new settlement was not wholly without religious instruction, as it had been visited at various time prior to 1795 by missionaries; but it was not until this year that a regular minister became a resident of the town. This was Rev. Mr. Mosely, a preacher of the Presbyterian faith, who removed at the expiration of six months.
The inhabitants manifested an interest in educational matters, and as early as the year 1790 a school was kept by Joshua Dewey. He was soon succeeded by Oliver Cory, who for many years taught the village school, originally in the court-house, and later in the first building erected for school purposes, which stood on the premises now occupied by the resident of Elihu Phinney.
The first post-office was established on June 1, 1794, with Joseph Griffen as postmaster, a law being passed the legislature on May 8 of the same year, establishing a post route between Albany and Canadaigus, through Cherry Valley, to the court-house in Cooperstown.
The mail only arrived once a week for a long term of years, and the daily mail was not permanently established until 1821. As an illustration of the condition of this portion of the State at that time and of the importance of Cooperstown, the following list of letters is given which were lying in the office in this village on April 10, 1795:
Mulock & Morgan established a brewery in 1794; but whether in consequence of the temperance proclivities of the inhabitants, or their desire for the more "cheering beverage" manufactured at the distilleries throughout the land, the concern has but a brief existence.
The year 1795 was an important one in the history of the little village. In that year was established the Cooperstown academy and the Otsego Herald.
Singular as it may appear to the "dwellers of to-day," the whipping-post was an institution in Cooperstown only eighty-two years ago, and woe to the luckless wight who chanced to fall a victim to its punishment. It is recorded that, on July 9, 1795, one Proteus was flogged at this engine of punishment, for the heinous offense of stealing some pieces of ribbon. This punishment even did not satisfy the law, and the unfortunate criminal was banished! This whipping-post stood on the present vacant lot on the southwest corner of main and Pioneer streets. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)
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Transcribed by Holice B. Young
Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young
December 23, 1999