Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
By Holice and Debbie

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This was the first educational institution, after the district school taught by M. Cory, founded in the village. An interest was manifested among the citizens generally, a shown by the following names which appeared on the original subscription paper: Wm. Cooper, Wm. Abbott, Huntington and Ingalls, Elisha Fullman, Jonas Perry, Lemuel Jewell, Thomas Filer, Samuel Tubbs, Uriah Luce, Joseph Holt, John Miller, James White, James Gardner, Nathan Davison, James Averill, Francis Henry, Jabex Hubbell, Norman Landon, Timothy Sabin, Barnet Whipple, Bill Jarvis, Moses Kent, Peter Lambert, Nathaniel Galt, Wm. Ellison, Stephen Ingals, Abner Dunham, E. Phinney, Joseph Griffen, John Howard, Wm. Cook, Benjamin Griffen, Jacob Morris, Benjamin Gilbert, Joseph N. Jones, Griffen Crafts, Lewis DeVillers, Robert Riddle, Aaron Noble, Matthew Bennett, Isaac Stacy, Levi Wentworth. The building was raised in September, 1795. Nothing but the common English branches were taught, all attempts at a classical education failed.

Among the other schools that were founded at various times, and are now obsolete, were as follows; Female school, established in 1808 by Mr. and Mrs. Andrews. Academy and boarding-school, established by Rev. Mr. Molther in 1819. A female academy was in operation in 1822. A high school was kept, in 1828, by Mrs. Gilberts. "Cooperstown Classical and Military Academy," established by W. H. Duff in about the year 1839. The Otsego academy was opened in 1841. Miss M. A. Spafard successfully conducted a select school for a number of years. A classical school was taught, in 1852, by E. L. Bangs.


On the 20th day of December, 1853, a meeting was held in this village for the purpose of considering the feasibility of establishing a seminary. Several meetings followed, and it was finally resolved that a committee should be appointed for the purpose of raising the necessary funds for the erection of the building by issuing shares of fifty dollars each, the holders becoming a joint stock company. In 1854 much interest had already been manifested by the people of Cooperstown in the new enterprise, and they subscribed $20,000. In the same year the Methodists in the vicinity also pledged $15,000.

At a meeting of the stockholders twenty-one trustees were appointed, who elected Elihu Phinney president. The erection of the building was begun in June, 1854, and within four months from that time the entire structure was completed and ready for occupancy. The building contained one hundred and sixty rooms and the plastering covered two and one-half acres in area.

The seminary was opened Nov. 15, 1854, with Rev. J. L. G. McKown as principal, assisted by a corps of sixteen professors and teachers. The institution was formally dedicated Nov. 17, 1854, by Rev. S. H. Batten. Addresses were delivered by Bishop Simpson, F. A. Lee, and Prof. McKown, and the benediction was delivered by Rev. M. C. Manning. It was placed under the control of the Methodist denomination, who chose its principal and a majority of the trustees. During the first year it was highly prosperous, numbering on its rolls 410 students.

In July, 1855, Prof. McKown severed his connection with the seminary, and was succeeded in the following August by Rev. P. D. Hammond. In June, 1856, the building was leased for a period of five years to Hammond and Pomeroy, and in February of the following year Rev. C. R. Pomeroy became its principal. It was soon after closed, and remained so until September, 1859, when it was reopened by Mr. R. C. Flack, by whom it was continued until 1864, when it was purchased by Mr. William M. Clinton, and the school reopened April 19, 1865, with Dr. G. Kerr as principal. In April, 1867, Rev. Orren Perkins became principal of the institution, and remained in that capacity until it was purchased by Mr. F. Phinney in 1869. It was then abandoned as an educational institution, and the building is now known as the Cooper House, one of the finest summer hotels in the State.


What is now the Cooperstown union school and academy was inaugurated as a free graded school in 1868, the original school building being erected during that year. The first term of the school was in the fall of 1869; it became a union free school Oct. 9, 1871, and in January, 1873, an academic department was established by the regents. In the spring of 1873 occurred the only change there has ever been in the board of education, B. F. Murdock succeeding at the death of William H. Ruggles. In the summer of 1874 the building was enlarged and its efficiency greatly increased. The school property is valued at $30,000. The number of students for the year 1877-78 was about 500, about fifty of whom held the regents' certificate of academic scholarship. Since the opening of the school the average daily attendance has increased fifty per cent. George W. Howe was principal the first two terms; there has been but one principal since. There are established in connection with the school the following prizes: the "Edward Clark Punctuality Prizes," amounting annually to about sixty dollars, by Edward Clark, Esq.; the "Averill Gold Medal," for scholarship, given annually and valued at twenty dollars, by Mrs. J. R. Carter; and the "Ruggles Memorial Prize," for composition and oratory, given annually and valued at fourteen dollars, by the friends of the late William H. Ruggles.

The Cooperstown union school is constituted as follows:

The board of Education Horace Lathrop, M.D
president Hon. Samuel A. Bowen
secretary Benjamin F. Murdock
treasurer Henry L. Hinman


Principal John G. Wight, A.M.
Greek and Latin E. O. William Mildner
German and Music Martha A. Ball, Higher
English, Latin and History Jennie P. Cole, Natural
Science and English Jennie L. Comstock, Higher mathematics and French
Intermediate Department Charles P. Whompson
  Sarah W. Shipway
  Eva J. Bliss
Primary Department Emily E. Niles

*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 24, 1999

[Otsego History and Genealogy][NY History and Genealogy]