The History of Otsego, NY 
Unadilla Biographies

By Holice and Debbie



George W. Palmer, the youngest son of Thomas Palmer and Mary Spencer his wife, was born April 4, 1818, in Hillsdale, Columbia Co., N. Y. His grandfather, Thomas Palmer, Sr., was born in 1738. George W. attended the common schools, and succeeded in acquiring an education that well fitted him for his subsequent successful business career.

He was raised a farmer; but two years after marriage embarked on the mercantile business at Harlemville, N. Y. He remained here until 1845, when he removed to Riderís Mills, N. Y., engaged in mercantile business, and also purchased a grist- and flouring-mill which he operated in partnership with C. Coon. He remained in business here with various partners, and subsequently located at Kinderhook, still engaged in mercantile business. He afterwards came to Otsego County and purchased the property now owned by Palmer & Johnston, which, like the other mill property, was in a bad condition at the time of his purchase. After expending more in repairs than the original cost, he succeeded in building up a successful business. Five years later, Lorenzo Humphrey sold his interest to Thomas J. Wiley, Peter Humphrey, and David M. Johnston. Mr. Wiley subsequently retired from the partnership, and about two years since Mr. Palmer purchased the interest of Peter Humphrey; since which time the business has been conducted by Palmer & Johnston. Their spoke factory and saw-mill were destroyed by fire in February, 18973, but have since been rebuilt. Their property is now in a splendid condition. A fine double-paged view, showing the residences of Messrs. Palmer and Johnston, the paper-mill, and their other manufactories, may be seen among the illustrations of this town.

May 19, 1842, Mr. Palmer married Fanny, daughter of Rufus and Maria Humphrey, and granddaughter of David Humphrey, old residents of Claverick, Columbia Co., N. Y. They have had three children, of whom the eldest, Winthrop T. Palmer, died at the age of four years; the next, a daughter, Fidelia H., was married Oct. 6, 1869, to David M. Johnston, son of David Johnston, one of the old family residents, and an early settlers of Sidney Plains, Delaware Co., N. Y.; the youngest, Georgia A., was married Sept. 26, 1877, to Joseph B. Doty, of Unadilla, N. Y.

Mr. Palmer has for many years been an ardent advocate and worker in the temperance reform; he joined a total-abstinence society in 1840, and ever since has been connected with some temperance organization. He made a profession of religion in early life. His wife and himself are both members of the congregational church of Sidney Plains. Starting in business with a small capital, Mr. Palmer has, by perseverance and judicious management, established a large and prosperous business, and acquired a competence, at the same time enjoying the confidence and esteem of his townsmen.


Isaiah Blanchard was born in Rhode Island, May 27, 1787. His ancestors originally came from Scotland. When he was nine years of age his father moved to Vermont. He came to Otsego County in the year 1806, and settled in the town of Unadilla. Dec. 28, 1813, he was married to Mehetabel Knapp. Twelve children were the result of this marriage, six of whom are now living. He died Dec. 22, 1866; Mrs. Blanchard died Jan. 22, 1859. Ebenezer is living on the old homestead, and Larkin H. has a fine farm in the immediate vicinity, a view of whose residence can be seen by referring to another page of this work. Larkin H. married Miss Mary Wyman. They are pleasantly located, and are surrounded by the attributes of a happy rural home.


Arnold B. Watson, the subject of the following memoir, was born in the town of Rensselaerville, Albany County, N. Y., Aug. 12, 1798. His fatherís name was Josiah Watson. He was a respectable, independent farmer, and at times held important offices in the town. His motherís maiden name was Mary Besch, who died when Arnold was only two and a half years, leaving him as her only surviving child. The sympathies and attachment of the father for his orphan son were very great, and continued through life. He was proud of his moral bearing and scholastic attainments. He was placed at school at an early age, and there was never a year of his life from the time he was five years old until June 1, 1824, but what he was either attending or teaching school. In school he often took the highest prize awarded to merit or proficiency in his class.

When Arnold was four and a half years old his father married his second wife, who was to him a kind and watchful mother. At eleven years of age he became an anxious inquirer after religious truth, and a hopeful convert to the teachings of the Bible. At the age of fourteen he was baptized and soon after was confirmed by Bishop Hobart, of the Episcopal Church,---neither of his parents at that time being professing members of any church. At fourteen years of age his father, at the urgent solicitation of the trustees of a very large district school in his native town, consented to let him take charge of the summer school which he, a mere boy, taught through a term of six months, with an average attendance of about seventy scholars, to the satisfaction of all. His father, at an early day, placed him in a select school, taught by a talented clergyman, where he was associated with young men much older than himself, who were pursuing the advanced classics. His classical studies were closed at the Greenville Academy, in Greene County, N. Y., and a very complimentary certificate tendered him by its principal. He taught with entire satisfaction a large school in Oakville, Greene Co., N. Y., and while there received an application to take charge of an academical school in Unadilla, Otsego County. The news of his leaving was received with universal regret in Oakville. The Masonic lodge of that village held a special session and conferred upon him, without charge, the three first degrees of that order as an evidence of their regard. This was an agreeable surprise to the subject of our sketch. Not long after his advent in Unadilla he was elected Master of the Masonic Lodge in that place, and continuously re-elected for fifteen years. He was also elected High Priest of the chapter of Royal Arch Masons, holding the office for nearly fifteen years. The grand royal arch chapter of the State of New York deputized him as an instituting and installing officer of that body for his vicinity.

Since the fall of 1821 Unadilla has been his residence. After teaching the academy two and a half years, a prominent merchant of Unadilla village, who health was then quite delicate, solicited him to become a partner in his business. He accordingly dismissed his school and (June 1, 1824) entered upon his business career. The copartnership, which continued six years, was only terminated by the death of his partner, Mr. Wright, who esteemed him so highly that he presented him, just before his death, with a valuable gold seal, and by his will made Mr. Watson the executor of his estate. In fulfilling the wishes of his late friend and partner, and in closing up the estate, he received a valuable testimonial to his faithful services from the lawyer representing the widow and minor heirs.

In the fall of 1840, without solicitation, he was elected a member of the State legislature, where he served not only upon several important committees, but while in "committee of the while" called to the speakerís chair to preside over the deliberations of the house.

For forty years he was interested in mercantile pursuits. In 1844 he established the Unadilla bank, as an individual bank, with a capital of $50,000; this bank he owned and operated himself for twenty years, and during that time no bank in the State stood higher. In 1852 he became interested and actively engaged in the construction of the Albany and Susquehanna railroad. One of the original movers in the enterprise, Mr. Watson, at the first meeting, held in 1852, was elected a director, and it is but just to say that to no member of that body is more credit due for the successful completion of the road. He was offered, but declined, the presidency of the company in consequence of his own business, which required the greater portion of his attention. He was, however, chairman of the committee to locate depots and assess the amounts for which each town on the line of the proposed road should issue bonds to secure the building of the same.

No man has done more to build up and advance the interests of his village than Mr. Watson. To his church for thirty years he was its senior warden and treasurer, and a liberal contributor to the purchase of the cemetery, parsonage, etc. The Unadilla academy passed through a long financial struggle, endeavoring to raise the means for building, etc., but without success, until Mr. Watson came to its relief; he raised the money in one day to buy the lot, building the house, and furnish the same with library, laboratory apparatus, and bell. This institution is now one of the most flourishing in this section of the country. There are few persons who, from early childhood, have spent so active and industrious a life as the subject of this sketch. In his family relations he has been peculiarly blessed, and his children have given unmistakable evidence of thorough education as well as religious and moral training.


The subject of this sketch was born in Meredith, Delaware Co., N. Y., July 30, 1808. He was the son of John and Sally Chapman. The family came to Unadilla in the year 1816, and the following year purchased the farm on which the Chapman family still resides. The land at that time was nearly all heavily timbered. John was unfortunate in business; and about the year 1830 left the farm, which was considerably encumbered, in the possession of Uriah, and went to Tompkins county, where he died march 18, 1858, his wife having died a few years earlier.

Upon the departure of his father for Tompkins county, Uriah set himself to work with a will to pay off the indebtedness; and the results show that he was successful in accomplishing the undertaking, which was no small matter in those early days, when money was so hard to get.

Dec. 3, 1835, he married Maria Spencer, daughter of Ithamer and Matilda Spencer. Mr. Spencer was born in Columbia Co., N. Y. He came to this county with his parents in 1796, and settled in the town of Maryland. He moved to Unadilla in 1840, and in 1844 was chosen a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church.

To Mr. and Mrs. Chapman were born four children, two of whom are now living, namely, David P. and Watson, both of whom are living on the old homestead with their mother. They have a fine farm, and some of the best stock in town. Mr. Chapman was a man of unusual industry, of unbending integrity, of unflinching fidelity to his convictions, and of consistent piety. Hence he was highly esteemed by all who knew him. He was for many years a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He died Feb. 1, 1869.


The subject of this brief sketch is a native of Guilford, Chenango County, N. Y., where he was born Dec. 28, 1822, son of Ebenezer and Henrietta Belknap. When he was twelve years of age he was bound as an apprentice to Chester Wright, a farmer, residing at Westford, in Otsego County, and as such worked on his farm until he reached his majority. He attended the district school during the winter term each year until his twentieth year. Subsequently he taught school during the winter term for several years.

He commenced reading law with Wm. B. Hawes, at Unadilla, in 1845, and was admitted to the bar in 1849. He has since continued the practice of law at that place. At the age of thirty, June 9, 1853, he married Miss Caroline Eels, daughter of Deacon Eells, of Unadilla. Mr. Belknap stands high in his profession, and is well and favorably known throughout the county.


David Cone married in Scotland, and was the father of seven sons and three daughters. He emigrated to Haddam, Conn., and with others purchased Thirty-mile Island for thirty coats. He was one of the first settlers, as was also his son Jared, father of five children.

Stephen Cone, first son of Jared, married Susannah Clark; father of six children. Settled in Bolton, Conn.

Zachariah Cone, Sr., third son of Stephen, married Mary Gilbert. Settled in Hebron, Conn.; father of seven sons and three daughters.

Four of the sons were among the first settlers of Unadilla, N. Y., and remained there till their deaths, viz., Daniel and Gilbert Cone, farmers and manufacturers; Adanijah, physician for forty years; Gardner, farmer,--all deceased.

Gilbert was selected as a member of the legislature, and filled many important offices in town.

Samuel emigrated to Georgia in an early day, and died in Atlanta.

Zachariah, Jr., born in Andover, Conn., and settled in Hebron; married Wealthy Kingsbury; was the father of seven children, four of which are now living. A. G. emigrated to California in 1846. Is a speculator.

H. B. emigrated to Chicago, and was largely engaged as a lumber dealer. He died, leaving six children, five boys and one daughter.

N. K. was educated at the memorable "Old Brick schoolhouse" in Hebron, Conn., and Bacon Academy, Colchester. Was a merchant at Valley Forge, Pa. From thence emigrated about the year 1825, to Alabama, at the head of navigation on the Alabama river, and established a trading post with H. B.; leaving in 1837, and soon after engaged in farming, surveying, engineering, land agency, etc., managing a large and valuable real estate of the Hon. Geo. Law. He has one son, a celebrated attorney, graduate of Hobart College, both occupying the same office in the village of Batavia, where N. K. has resided most of the time since leaving the south. One daughter recently graduated at a celebrated college.

Harriet M. married Wm. R. Phelps, in business on Chestnut street, Philadelphia, Pa. Has two grown-up daughters, musicians. Eleven of the name graduated at Yale College previous to the year 1848; and all by the name of Cone, living or dead, so far as the writer is informed, are Episcopalians.

S. G. Cone was born in Hebron, Conn., and educated at the memorable "Old Brick school-house" in the same place, and Bacon academy, Colchester, after which he taught the high schools at East Hartford, Conn., and Middle Haddam; was also principal of the high school at Sag Harbor, L. I., from the year 1835 to the year 1840. By the recommendations of the Hon. John S. Peters, governor of the State of Connecticut, to the Hon. H. Clay, of Kentucky, he taught three years at New Castle, Henry county, Ky., teaching the highest English branches, mathematics and languages, etc. he came to Unadilla, N. Y., in 1843, and married the only daughter and descendant of Gardner and Sarah Cone; since which time has been one of the largest, if not the largest, farmers and stock-raisers in the town.

Mercy Ann, wife of S. G., died May 1, 1847, aged twenty-three years.

He married, March 19, 1862, Julia E. Fowler, third daughter of Hiram and Sarah Fowler, of English descent. They have two children, viz., Sarah A., born July 21, 1867; and Salmon F. Jr., born Jan. 12, 1876.

About twenty years ago S. G. Cone, with great characteristic foresight, which has ever marked his business career, went to the State of Illinois, and invested largely in real estate, purchasing 2000 acres in Livingston county. Then it was a wild expanse of prairie, but he has transformed it to one of the finest agricultural regions of in the State.

Colonel North revisited this locality in 1874, and in speaking of Mr. Coneís farm, says, "I rode with Mr. Cone over the entire of his 2000 acres on one of his rounds of inspection, and wherever we went natureís first great law was plainly discernible; order had wrought out its perfect work! Between landlord and tenants it was agreeable to see there were feelings of mutual friendship and reciprocity. The leases between them have been so carefully and explicitly drawn, that no doubtful questions arise about which to cavil; so that, from his remote home in Unadilla, Mr. Cone, like a veteran commander surveying the battlefield from a distant standpoint, can direct with particularity the operations on his broad acres in Illinois, with more satisfaction and better results than did the political generals of the last war the campaign of the Army of the Potomac from their quarters in Washington.

"From the particulars that I have written we can arrive at the conclusions, first, that he is a model farmer; and second, that he is, beyond all contingency, a very rich man. The realization of his fact has no effect in puffing him with pride or restraining him from labor, for each successive day finds him at his habitual work on one or the other of his Susquehanna valley farms, as example of industry and thrift worthy of imitations."

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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