Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
The village rapidly advanced in importance; and in the Otsego Herald, March 3, 1806, an article was published, calling the attention of the people to the fact that the village should be chartered. In March of the following year the place was incorporated under the name of "Village of Otsego." The inhabitants became dissatisfied with the new name, and on June 12, 1812, the former name of Cooperstown was restored; and at the first meeting held after its incorporation, Aug. 18, 1812, the following persons were chosen as trustees, viz., Robert Campbell, John Russell, Elijah H. Metcalf, Peter Goodsell, and James Averill, Jr. George Pomeroy was chosen treasurer, and Billa Williams, Jr. collector.
In the early days, when small coin became scarce, the trustees of Cooperstown were equal to the emergency, and relieved the inconvenience in the following manner:
October 28, 1814
The trustees of the village of Cooperstown, taking into consideration the scarcity of small silver and copper coin and deeming it necessary that some substitute thereof should be provided as change; therefore
Resolved, That small bills of the denomination of one, two, three, four, five, six, twelve and a half, and twenty five cents be issued by the trustees, and signed by the treasurer, and payable at his office.
Among the earliest settlers in the village was James Averill, who located, in 1786, on premises now owned by Mrs. Jane R. Carter, a granddaughter. Mr. Averill was the pioneer tanner in this section. He sold leather in Cleveland, Ohio, and invested the proceeds in real estate in that city, which subsequently increased in value rendering him a wealthy man.
A prominent pioneer, and one who did much to advance the interests of he village, was Elihu Phinney, a native of Connecticut, who arrived in the place Feb. 28, 1795, bringing with him the materials for printing a newspaper, and on the 3d of the ensuing April issued the first number of the Otsego Herald or Western Advertiser. He published the paper until 1813. Two sons, Henry and Elihu Phinney, conducted a large publishing business in this village until 1849, when their establishment was being destroyed by fire, the general business was removed to Buffalo. In 1854, H. F. Phinney removed to New York, and with H. Ivison, formed the firm of Ivison & Phinney. Elihu Phinney, Jr. resides in the village on the old homestead. Henry F., deceased.
An early settler and self-made man was Lawrence McNamee. He opened a store here in about the year 1802, and succeeded in amassing a fortune. He died in 1854, aged eighty-two years. A nephew, Theodore McNamee, who was here while a boy, subsequently became a member of the firm of Bowen & McNamee of New York. John L., a son of Lawrence McNamee, resides in the village, and has held office of county clerk.
A worthy pioneer was John Frederck Ernst, a Lutheran clergyman, and the second regularly employed clergyman in the village, who located in 1799. His family consisted of seven children,--four daughters and thee sons. One son, John Frederick Ernst, Jr., was a jeweler and silversmith, and occupied a building which stood on the present site of the Ballard House. He was an active business man, and she manifested a deep interest in religious matters, and was warden and vestryman of Christ church many years. He died in 1830, and his wife in 1856. Their family consisted of five children,--four sons and one daughter. John Frederick was educated at Hartwick seminary and New York Theological seminary, entered the Episcopal ministry, and now resides in Buffalo; Elizabeth married Abel H. Clark, and died here; Henry B. continued the business of his father until 1837. He died in New York. George W., the third son, is a life-long resident of Cooperstown. At the early age of twelve years he entered the store of Henry Scott as clerk, where he remained about eight years, and then began business for himself. He remained in active business until 1962, and has ever been identified with the progress of the village. He has served in various official positions in the village, town, and county, among which may be mentioned trustee of village, supervisor eight years, loan commissioner twelve years under both political organizations, county clerk, etc. He was active in raising the quota of the county during the late Rebellion, and was appointed by Gov. Morgan chairman of the war committee for this senatorial district. He had been a Republican since the organization of the party, and has figured conspicuously in the politics of the county and State. He has been a vestryman of Christ church many years, and warden for the past four years.
Joshua Starr was an early settler who located in 1792, and occupied a house which stood on the site of the present residence of J. M. Westlake, M. D., corner of Chestnut and Lake streets; and directly opposite, between the residence of Mrs. Turner and the Averill homestead, he owned and operated a pottery. A daughter married Judge Brown, for many years a practicing attorney here, who subsequently removed to Chicago, where his descendants now reside.
Dr. Russell settled in 1796. Two children, Catharine and Rensselaer, died here. Another daughter became the wife of he late Judge Nelson.
An honored resident of the village was henry Scott. He was an active business man, and during a long period was cashier of the Otsego County bank. His widow resides in the village. Judge Foote was also a prominent pioneer, of the firm of Foote & Sabine, merchants.
Another pioneer who added to the industry of the village was Joseph Baldwin, a cooper, who settled in 1790. Two granddaughters reside here, viz., a maiden lady, Mary L., and Frances, the wife of Washington Wilson. A son, Horace Baldwin, died in this village.
Among the prominent attorneys who early settled in Cooperstown was Robert Campbell, who located in 1802. A daughter, wife of the late Levi C. Turner, resides in the village.
Ralph Worthington was a hatter, who early chose Cooperstown for a home. Of his family of eight children the following are living, viz., Henry, in New York, and Mrs. Moore, in Brooklyn. John R. Worthington, a son, was an active citizen of the village, and together with his son, John, many years conducted a successful banking business. He died Jan. 15, 1878, in the house in which he was born on Dec. 13, 1804.
An honored representative of "ye olden time" was Ellery Cory, who came to Cooperstown in about the year 1815, and located near the present residence of Asel Jarvis, on Lake street. He first engaged in the furniture business, and subsequently in hardware in the old stone building nearly opposite the Central House. He was prominently identified with the progress of the village, and took an active part in building the Cooperstown and Susquehanna Valley railroad. He died January 22, 1874. Three children are living, viz: William E. Cory, Esq., a successful hardware merchant in this village; Mrs. L. C. Stowell, also in Cooperstown; and Mrs. Stebbens, in Madison county.
Holder Cory, brother of Ellery, also an honored pioneer, came soon after and engaged in business with his brother, which he continued until his death, in September, 1863. His widow, now at the advanced age of seventy-one years, resides in the village. Three children are residents of the village, viz., Ellery P. Cory, an undertaker, and the present town clerk; Caroline, wife of Charles R. Burch, a jeweler; and Frances.
William Nichols, a jeweler, was an early settler. He was a prominent citizen and was elected county clerk. The only surviving descendant in Cooperstown is Mrs. Asel Jarvis. Stephen Gregory was also an early settler, and a pioneer shoemaker. His widow and son, Charles Z. Gregory, reside in the village, and a daughter, wife of John Burgis, is a resident of Jersey City. Henry Beadle early located in the village. A son, Elias, is a Presbyterian clergyman in Philadelphia; Tracey, another son, died a short time since in Elmira.
A worthy pioneer from the "Granite State" was Abner Graves, who, with his wife and family, settled in this vicinity in the year 1794, first locating across the river in Middlefield, where he remained one year, and then removed to the village. He subsequently located on a farm below the village, where he resided until old age came creeping on, when he returned and died here at the advanced age of ninety years. His family consisted of eight children, only four of whom are living. (See biography of Calvin Graves, at close of Cooperstown history.)
A prominent early settler just outside of the village, in the town of Middlefield, was John M. Bowers, one of the largest land-holders in the county, who came from New York city in 1803. In 1804, he erected the residence known as "Lakelands," and in the following year took possession of it. Her he remained until his death, which occurred in 1846. He was seventy-three years of age. His widow, Margaretta M. S. Bowers, died Feb. 6, 1872, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. Two daughters and one son are residents of this village, Mrs. F. A. Lee, Miss Martha Bowers, and Henry J. Bowers, Esq. Miss Martha Bowers occupies the old homestead.
Among the prominent men who have resided in Cooperstown were Col. W. L. Stone, of New York, author of the lives of Brant, red jacket, etc.; Thurlow Weed, the well-known politician; Ambrose L. Jordan, of the New York bar; major-General John a. Dix, and his son, Rev. Morgan Dix, D.D., of Trinity church, New York; Hon. Joseph L. White,--one of the most effective stump orators of thrity years ago; Hon. Levi C. Turney, afterwards judge advocate under Lincoln;; Professor George H. Perkins, once principal of the State Normal School, Albany; Rev. William Bradford, editor of the Eclectic Magazine, the New York Evangelist, etc.; Professor J. Finley Smith, of Hamilton college, and Hon. U. F. Doubleday, who here trained his son, afterward General Doubleday, of Fort Sumter; General George W. Morell and General john C. Starkweather, of the army, and Commander A. P. Cooke, of the army, were also from Cooperstown.
Hon Samuel Nelson, justice of the supreme court of the United States, resided here from 1825 until his death, which occurred on Dec. 13, 1873. (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