The Chronicles of Cooperstown

James Fenimore Cooper

Cooperstown: H. & E. Phinney, 1838.

[May be reproduced for instructional use by individuals or institutions; commercial use prohibited.]

Note: The Chronicles of Cooperstown is taken from the only edition published during Cooper’s lifetime. Page numbers, from this edition, are indicated in {curly braces} to facilitate searching. The work has since been included in several other histories of the Village of Cooperstown, New York, notably:

  • Livermore, Rev. S. T., ed., A Condensed History of Cooperstown, with a Biographical Sketch of J. Fenimore Cooper. Albany: J. Munsell, 1862 (facsimile reprint, Higginson Book Company, 1997), pp. 9-86.
  • Shaw, S. M., ed., A Centennial Offering. Being A Brief History of Cooperstown, with a Biographical Sketch of James Fenimore Cooper. ... Cooperstown: The Freeman’s Journal, 1886, pp. 9-61.
  • Littell, Walter R., A History of Cooperstown. Cooperstown: The Freeman’s Journal, 1929, pp. 1-47.
  • Hollis, Harold H., The History of Cooperstown. Cooperstown: New York State Historical Association, 1976, pp. 1-43.

An index to The Chronicles of Cooperstown, with page references to all these editions, can be found at: Index. A few errors, corrected by Cooper in an Errata notice on p. 100, have been silently corrected in the text.  

Hugh C. McDougall, Secretary/Treasurer of the James Fenimore Cooper Society. June 2005






[by James Fenimore Cooper]


“If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.” [Shakespeare: MacBeth, Act I, Scene 7, lines 1-2]




It is always desirable to possess authentic annals. The peculiar nature of American history, which commences in an enlightened age, renders that which is so desirable, in our case, practicable, and, with a view that posterity may know the leading facts connected with the origin and settlement of the village of Cooperstown, and that even the present generation may be set right in some important particulars, concerning which erroneous notions now prevail, as well as possess a convenient book of reference, the following little work has been written. This book has been compiled with care, by consulting authentic publick records, private documents, more especially those in possession of the Cooper family, and living witnesses, whose memories and representations might be confided in. It is hoped no error has been admitted into its pages, and it is believed no essential mistake can be pointed out. Where the compilers have not found good reason to credit their evidence, they have proceeded with caution, and made their statements with due reserve. A work of this character cannot have a very extensive interest, but it is thought it will have some with a county in which its subject composes the seat of justice; and by those whose fathers were active in converting the wilderness around about us, into its present picture of comfort and civilization, no records of this nature can be regarded with indifference. {4} The love of particular places, such as the spots in which we were born, or have passed our lives, contributes to sustain all the affections, and to render us better citizens and better men. This love is strengthened and increased by familiarity with events, and as time throws its interest around the past, reverence and recollections add their influence to that of the natural ties. With a view to aid these sentiments, also, have our little labors been conducted. If those who come after the compilers of the “Chronicles of Cooperstown,” should do as much in their generation, they who inhabit the place a century hence, will, beyond question, be ready to acknowledge that in one essential duty they were not forgotten by their predecessors. In the early annals of this place there was a disposition, as in all new countries, to exaggerate its growth, and various printed notices exist, by which its origin is stated to be several years too recent. These errors, as well as several connected with deaths &c., that exist even in the church registers, and other official documents, have been carefully corrected in this book. In this respect, it is thought no more authentick accounts of the several subjects can be found.



Chapter I.

The site of the present village of Cooperstown, is said to have been a favorite place of resort with the adjacent savage tribes, from a remote period. The tradition which has handed down this circumstance, is rendered probable by the known abundance of the fish and game in its vicinity. The word “Otsego,” is thought to be a compound which conveys the idea of a spot at which meetings of the Indians were held. There is a small rock near the outlet of the lake, called the “Otsego Rock,” at which precise point the savages, according to an early tradition of the country, were accustomed to give each other the rendezvous.

In confirmation of these traditions, arrow heads, stone hatchets and other memorials of Indian usages, were found in great abundance by the first settlers, in the vicinity of the village.

It is probable that the place was more or less frequented by Indian traders, for a century previously to the commencement of the regular settlement of the township; but the earliest authentic account that ex{6}ists of an attempt, by any civilized man, to establish himself at this point, refers to a much more recent period. On the 22d day of April 1761, letters patent were granted to John Christopher Hartwick and others, for a considerable tract of land in this vicinity; and Mr. Hartwick, being under the impression that his grants extended to the shore of the lake, caused a clearing to be commenced not far from its outlet. Becoming satisfied that he had passed the boundaries of his estate, this gentleman soon relinquished his possession, and altogether abandoned the spot. This abortive attempt at settlement, took place about ten years before the commencement of the American war.

It appears by the documents in possession of the Cooper family, that Col. George Croghan, who was connected with the Indian department under the crown, obtained a conveyance from the Indians of 100,000 acres of land, lying north and adjacent to the before mentioned grant to Mr. Hartwick, and on the west side of the Susquehannah river, and of the Otsego Lake, as early as the year 1768. On the 13ᵗʰ of December of the same year, Col. Croghan gave a mortgage under the Indian deed, to William Franklin, Esq. governor of the colony of New Jersey, to secure the payment of £3000; which money, as appears by the same documents, was obtained by Governor Franklin of certain persons in New Jersey, in the behalf of Col. Croghan, with a view to enable the latter to procure {7} the regular title to the same lands, from the crown. This object was not effected until the 30th of November 1769, when letters patent were issued by the colonial government, granting the same tract to George Croghan and ninety-nine other persons; there existing an order to prevent grants of more than a thousand acres at a time to single individuals.

On the 2d day of December, 1769, the ninety-nine other persons named as grantees in the patent, conveyed in three separate instruments their rights to George Croghan, in fee simple. These three conveyances, with the patent, still exist among the Cooper papers, and are unquestionably the first legal instruments conveying real estate in the township of Otsego.

On the 10ᵗʰ day of March, 1770, George Croghan gave a mortgage on that portion of the Otsego Patent, as the aforesaid grant was then called, which has since been called Cooper’s Patent, for the further security of the payment of the said sum of £3000; both of which mortgages, with the accompanying bond, were regularly assigned to the persons already mentioned, as security for their advances. On the 23d day of March, 1773, judgment was obtained against George Croghan, in the supreme court of the colony of New York, upon the aforesaid bond.

All the securities above mentioned, became vested in William Cooper and Andrew Craig, of the city of {8} Burlington, in the state of New Jersey, by various deeds of assignment, now in possession of the descendants of the former, as early as May, 1785. Mr. Cooper first visited lake Otsego in the Autumn of 1785. He was accompanied by a party of surveyors, his object being to ascertain the precise boundaries of the land covered by his mortgage and judgment.

This party arrived by the way of Cherry Valley and Middlefield, and first obtained a view of the lake from that mountain which has since been called the “Vision,” in consequence of the beauty of the view it then afforded. Judge Cooper has been often heard to say, that, on that occasion he was compelled to climb a sapling, in order to obtain this view, and while in the tree, he saw a deer descend to the lake and drink of its waters, near the Otsego Rock. In January 1786, Mr. Cooper took possession of the property that has since been known as Cooper’s Patent, under a deed given by the sheriff of Montgomery county.

It ought to be mentioned, that in 1784, Washington then on a journey of observation, with a view to explore the facilities for an inland communication by water, visited-the foot of Lake Otsego. We give the letter in which he speaks of this journey, entire, in the hope that the opinions of this great man may draw public attention more closely to the subject of improving our natural advantages:

{9} Princeton, October 12, 1783.

MY DEAR CHEVALIER* — I have not had the honor of a letter from you since the 4ᵗʰ of March last; but I will ascribe my disappointment to any cause sooner than to a decay of your friendship.

Having the appearances, and indeed the enjoyment of peace, without the final declaration of it, I, who am only waiting for the ceremonials, or till the British forces shall have taken their leave of New York, am held in an awkward and disagreeable situation, being anxiously desirous to quit the walks of public life, and under my own vine and my own fig-tree, to seek those enjoyments, and that relaxation, which a mind that has been constantly upon the stretch for more than eight years, stands so much in want of.

I have fixed this epoch to the arrival of the definitive treaty, or to the evacuation of my country, by our newly-acquired friends; in the meanwhile, at the request of Congress, I spend my time with them at this place, where they came in consequence of the riots at Philadelphia, of which, doubtless you have been informed, for it is not a very recent transaction.

They have lately determined to fix the permanent residence of Congress, near the falls of Delaware; but where they will hold their sessions, till they can be properly established at that place, is yet undecided.

------. ------. * The Marquis de Chastellux. [footnote in original]   ------. ------.

{10} I have lately made a tour through the lakes George and Champlain as far as Crown point-then returning to Schenectady. I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort Schuyler, (formerly Fort Stanwix,) crossed over Wood creek, which empties into the Oneida Lake, and affords the water communication with Lake Ontario. I then traversed the country to the head of the eastern branch of the Susquehannah, and viewed the Lake Otsego, and the portage between that lake and the Mohawk river at Canajoharie.

Prompted by these actual observations, l could not help taking a more contemplative and extensive view of the vast inland navigation of these United States, from maps, and the information of others, and could not but be struck with the immense diffusion and importance of it, and with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt her favours to us with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to make a good use of them. I shall not rest contented till I have explored the western part of this country, and traversed those lines (or a great part of them,) which have given bounds to a new empire; but when it may, if it ever should happen, I dare not say, as my first attention must be given to the deranged situation of my private concerns, which are not a little injured by almost nine years absence, and total disregard of them.

{11} With every wish for your health and happiness, and with the most sincere and affectionate regard,

I am, my dear Chevalier, your most obedient servant,


It should also be stated, that the present site of Cooperstown is connected with an event of some interest that occurred during the war of the revolution. An expedition having been commanded to proceed under the orders of Major General Sullivan, against the Indians who then dwelt in the vicinity of the Seneca Lake, a brigade employed in the duty, under Brigadier General James Clinton, (the father of the celebrated De Witt Clinton,) marched from Albany for that purpose. After ascending the Mohawk as far as Fort Plain, this brigade cut a road through the forest to the head of Lake Otsego, whither it transported its boats. Traces of this road exist, and it is still known by the name of the Continental Road. Embarking at the head of the lake, the troops descended to the outlet, where they encamped on the site of the present village. General Clinton’s quarters are said to have been in a small building of hewn logs, which then stood in what are now the grounds of the “Hall,” and which it is thought was erected by Col. Croghan, as a place in which he might hold his negotiations with the Indians, as well as for the commencement of a settlement.

This building, which was about fifteen feet square and intended for a sort of block-house, was un{12}doubtedly the first ever erected on this spot. It was subsequently used by some of the first settlers as a residence, and by Judge Cooper as a smoke house, and it was standing in 1797, if not a year later. It was then taken down and removed by Henry Pace Eaton, to his residence on the road to Pier’s, where it was set up again as an out-house.

There were found the graves of two white men in the same grounds, which were believed to contain the bodies of deserters, who were shot during the time the troops were here encamped. These graves are supposed to be the first of any civilized man in the township of Otsego. All traces of them have now disappeared.

As soon as encamped, the troops of Gen. Clinton commenced the construction of a dam at the outlet, and when the water had risen to a sufficient height in the lake, the obstruction was removed, the current clearing the bed of the river of flood-wood. After a short delay for this purpose, the troops embarked and descended as far as the junction with the Tioga, where they were met by another brigade, commanded by General Sullivan in person. On this occasion, the Susquehannah, below the dam, was said to be so much reduced that a man could jump across it.

Traces of the dam are still to be seen, and for many years they were very obvious. At a later day, in digging the cellar of the house first occupied by {13} Judge Cooper, a large iron swivel was discovered, which was said to have been buried by the troops, who found it useless for their service. This swivel was the only piece of artillery used for the purpose of salutes and merry-makings in the vicinity of Cooperstown, for ten or twelve years after the settlement of the place. It is well and affectionately remembered by the name of the “cricket,” and was bursted lately in the same good cause of rejoicing on the 4ᵗʰ of July. At the time of its final disaster (for it had met with many vicissitudes by field and flood, having actually once been thrown into the lake,) it is said there was no very perceptible difference in size, between its touchhole and its muzzle.

In addition to the foregoing statement, we are enabled to make the following brief history of the title to this tract of land, believing it may have interest with those who hold real estate within its limits. In this account, we include some matter foreign to the direct title, as explanatory of the whole.

On the 30th November 1769, letters patent were issued, granting one hundred thousand acres of land to George Croghan and ninety-nine other persons, as has been already stated.

December 2d. 1769, the ninety-nine other patentees conveyed, in three separate instruments, to George Croghan in fee.

On the 10ᵗʰ March 1770, George Croghan {14} mortgaged 40,000 acres of the above grant to William Franklin, as further security for the money borrowed to pay the fees, or the debt due the persons who were called the Burlington Company. This mortgage included the present site of the village.

On the 12ᵗʰ March 1770, George Croghan mortgaged 20,000 acres, being half of the above mentioned 40,000 acres, to Thomas Wharton, to secure another debt of £2,000.

On the 26ᵗʰ October 1770, John Morton obtained a judgment of a large amount against George Croghan.

On the 22d March 1773, judgment was obtained against George Croghan, for the debt due on his bond to William Franklin.

On the — April 1775, George Croghan, William Franklin, Thomas Wharton and John Morton entered into an agreement, in writing, that the 40,000 acres of land should be sold under the two judgments, and that the proceeds of the sale should go, firstly, to pay the judgment held by William Franklin; secondly, to pay the mortgage held by Thomas Wharton; and, thirdly, to pay the judgment held by John Morton; or as much of each, according to the priority of the debts and securities, as there should be assets. This agreement was never complied with, in consequence of the war of the revolution.

On the 20ᵗʰ December 1775, William Franklin {15} and his wife assigned the mortgage of George Croghan, on the 40,000 acres, and all the securities connected with it, to five of the original lenders of the money, for their several shares of the debt, the remaining three accepting lands elsewhere for their claims; the amount of the shares of these five assignees being £1,500, New Jersey currency, with interest from the date of the bond.

On the 3d April 1780, George Croghan conveyed in fee, 25,477 acres of the above mentioned 40,000, including the site of Cooperstown, to Joseph Wharton, subject to the two mortgages, for the consideration of £9,553, Pennsylvania currency; Mr. Wharton being induced to accept this land for a debt of that great amount, in consequence of Mr. Croghan’s being unable to pay him in any other manner.

On the 26ᵗʰ June 1780, George Croghan conveyed, in fee, the remainder of the same tract, to Joseph Wharton, for the consideration of £100, this being all the land in the Otsego Patent that he had not conveyed in fee, previously to granting the two mortgages, and of course all that was subject to them.

By several deeds poll, made between the years 1776 and 1785, all the rights of the original lenders of the aforesaid sum, with the interest on it from 1768, in the several bonds, in the judgment of 1773, and in the oldest mortgage, were vested in William Cooper and Andrew Craig of Burlington, New Jersey.

{16} On the 14ᵗʰ January 1786, all the lands of George Croghan that were subject to the judgment of 1773, and which lay in the Otsego Patent, being in amount as near as might be, 29,350 acres, were conveyed by Samuel Clyde, sheriff of Montgomery, to William Cooper and Andrew Craig, as judgment purchasers, under the judgment aforesaid, for the sum of £2,700, leaving a balance of £1,139,8s, unpaid, and which has never been satisfied since.

On the 8ᵗʰ December 1786, Joseph Wharton, for the consideration of two thousand dollars, conveyed in fee, all his right to the land in question, to William Cooper and Andrew Craig, then in actual possession of the same as judgment purchasers, and mortgagees.

On the 12ᵗʰ November 1787, Augustine Prevost and Susannah Prevost, for the consideration of $1,250, released their right to the equity of the redemption of the mortgage on the whole 40,000 acres, to William Cooper and Andrew Craig; the said Susannah Prevost being the natural daughter and devisee of George Croghan.

On the 16ᵗʰ January 1788, William Cooper paid for quit rents on the said land, the further sum of £631,3.

On the 26ᵗʰ October 1799, William Cooper paid $7,35 for commutation of quit rents, on the village plot, containing then 112 acres of land.

The patent of 1769, signed “Clarke;” the deeds from the ninety-nine other patentees to George Croghan; {17} the bond of Croghan to Franklin; that of Franklin to the Burlington Company; the mortgage of Croghan to Franklin, with the assignment by latter to the unpaid members of the company; all the mesne conveyances of the same to William Cooper and Andrew Craig; the deeds of Croghan to Joseph Wharton, and the deed of Wharton to William Cooper and Andrew Craig; the release of Augustine and Susannah Prevost, and the certificates of payments of quit rents, together with several conveyances from Andrew Craig to William Cooper, exist still, among the papers of the Cooper family.

The deed of the Sheriff of Montgomery county to William Cooper and Andrew Craig has been lost; supposed never to have been returned from the county clerk’s office; but it is recorded at Johnstown, and an exemplified copy exists among the other papers.

There exists, among the same papers, a copy of a bill in chancery, of the date of 1786, at the complaint of William Cooper and Andrew Craig, setting forth that the parties to the agreement of 1775, refused to release to them according to the understood terms of that agreement, and that the said agreement was withheld from them to their injury, and praying relief in the premises. It is supposed that this suit was arranged by compromise, as the original agreement is now among the same papers.

A copy of the assignment of the mortgage on the {18} entire tract, under the Indian grant, also, is to be found among the same papers.

As it may be a matter of curious history hereafter, we subjoin an account of what the 29,350 acres actually cost the proprietor under whom the country was settled:

Amount of judgment, Jan. 14, 1786, £3,839. 8
Quit rent, Jan. 16, 1788, 631. 3
Consideration money paid Joseph Wharton, 800.
Do. do. Augustine & Susannah Prevost, 500.
or $14,426.37½

This sum, with the sheriff’s fees and other incidental expenses, would make the actual cost of the property about 50 cents the acre.

Col. Croghan and his family received for the same, as follows:

Debt to Franklin £3,839.08
Debt to Joseph Wharton, 9,553.00
Paid his daughter, 500.00
Pennsylvania currency £13,892. 8.

This is considerably more than $35,000. If the mortgage to Thomas Wharton be included, and it is believed the debt is unpaid to this day, it will amount to more than $40,000, without interest, which is probably five times as much as the property was worth on the day of George Croghan’s death.


Chapter II.

From 1780, to 1791.

In addition to the abortive attempt at a settlement by Mr. Hartwick, on the present site of the village, between the year 1761, and 1770, Col. Croghan, with his family, resided for a short time on this spot. Appended to one of the deeds of George Croghan to Joseph Wharton, is a map, purporting to show the improvements of the latter, at the foot of Lake Otsego, but it is supposed that this map was made for effect, as all accounts agree in stating that in 1785, the improvements were very insignificant, consisting of the remains of a few log fences, a clearing away of underbrush, with felled and girdled trees. The block-house mentioned was the only building standing, and the place had been abandoned for years.

Mr. Cooper commenced the settlement of his tract in the winter of 1786, many families coming in before the snow had melted. Deeds were given to Israel Guild, and several others, who established themselves on spots that are now within the limits of the village, in the summer of that year. This was as farmers, however, rather than as villagers, it being the intention {20} of Mr. Cooper, the proprietor who had the entire control of the property, and who so soon purchased the right of his associate, that the connection of the latter with the place, never was of any moment, to lay out the village plot in a line extending north and south, instead of in the direction it has actually taken.

In June, 1786, John Miller, now the oldest living inhabitant of the village, as regards residence, arrived at this place, accompanied by his father. They reached the banks of the river at the outlet, where Mr. Miller felled a large pine across the stream to answer the purposes of a bridge. The stump of this tree is still to be seen, within the grounds of “Lakelands,” and it is marked, in white paint, with the words “Bridge Tree.” At that time most of the dam of Clinton was still remaining.

When Mr. Miller arrived, a widow of the name of Johnson, had the only resident family in the place. She lived in a log house, not far from the present stone dwelling of Mr. Pomeroy, though she was then building a frame house, near the same spot. This frame building was sold by Mrs. Johnson to William Ellison, the well known surveyor, who removed it the same summer, to a position near the outlet, and on what are now the grounds of “Edgewater.” This was unquestionably the first framed and otherwise regularly constructed house in the village of Cooperstown, as the block-house was the first in logs. It was {21} of respectable size, and of two stories, being intended for a tavern, to which purpose it was applied as soon as habitable: William Abbott arrived in the summer of 1786, and established himself on the farm that still bears his name, about half a mile south of the village. Other persons came and went, and many settlers remained permanently in different parts of the patent. Mr. Cooper was here, once or twice, in the course of the season, but he did not cause any building to be constructed. Mr. Miller remained, himself, but a short time. Many persons were here during the summer of 1786, among others James White, but it is believed none passed the winter within the village plot, but the families of William Ellison, Israel Guild and Mrs. Johnson. The latter soon after removed, leaving no descendants in the place. Mr. Guild took possession of the block-house.

In the spring of 1787, more emigrants appeared. Early in the season Mr. Cooper arrived, accompanied by his wife, who came however as a mere traveller. They reached the head of the lake in a chaise, and descended to the foot in a canoe. Mrs. Cooper was so much alarmed with this passage that she disliked returning in a boat, and the chaise was brought to the place, in two canoes. In order that it might reach the eastern bank, and to serve the public generally, a bridge was built at the outlet, which was the first real bridge across the Susquehannah at this spot. This {22} bridge was composed of log abutments, sleepers, and logs laid across the latter. A road had been cut through the forest, following the direction of the lake, and coming out along the bank of “Lakelands,” at this bridge. It was, however, so rude and difficult to pass, that when the chaise left the village, men accompanied it with ropes, to prevent it from upsetting.

During the summer of 1787, many more emigrants arrived, principally from Connecticut, and most of the land on the patent was taken up. Until this season negotiations were going on among the different creditors of Col. Croghan to redeem this property, by paying the claims of Messrs. Cooper and Craig, and taking assignments of the bonds and mortgages; those gentlemen, though legally in possession of the estate, preferring to receive the amount of their debt to keeping the securities. Being persuaded, however, that the land was scarcely worth the money, the creditors, by this time, had abandoned the intention, and Mr. Cooper, towards the close of 1787, began seriously to think of establishing himself permanently in this part of the country. With this view he commenced extending his possessions in the adjacent patents, and either by arrangements with the different great landholders, actual purchases, he soon had the settlement of a large part of the present county more or less subject to his control. The effects were very visible, for there is scarcely an instance of a more {23} rapid growth of a district, in any other part of a country so remarkable for advancement of this nature. When it is remembered that this extraordinary success was obtained in a region so difficult of access, one that is not easily tilled, and which has a severe climate, the energy and abilities that were employed, may be properly appreciated. The proprietor, however, was much favored by the salubrity of the air, the diseases usual to new countries having been scarcely known in this mountainous region.

During the summer of 1787, several small log tenements were constructed on the site of the village, and arrangements were made by Mr. Cooper to erect a building for his own use, the succeeding season. Still there was no great accession to the permanent population, which at this time did not amount to twenty souls. The circumstance that neither Mr. Ellison nor Mr. Guild had children, and that Mr. Miller was not yet married, contributed to lessen the number of the inhabitants.

Early in 1788, the house of Mr. Cooper was erected, it being the second regular dwelling in the place. This house stood on Second Street, facing Fair Street, commanding a full view of the lake, and of course immediately in front of the present “Hall.” It was of two stories, with two wings, and a back building was added in 1791. The siding was of wide boards, beaded, but not planed. A very good representa{24}tion of this house is to be seen on the original map of this village, where it is marked “Manor House.” It was removed a short distance down the street, in 1799, and was destroyed by fire, in 1812.

In this year Mr. Cooper seems seriously to have set about the formation of a village, a plot being regularly laid out for that purpose. Agreeably to this plan, six, streets were laid out in an east and west direction, and three that crossed tem at right angles, in a north and south. The street along the margin of the lake was called Front Street, and the others parallel to it were numbered from Second up to Sixth Street. That next to the river was called Water Street, and that at the opposite side of the plot, West Street. The street between them, being divided into two parts by the grounds of Mr. Cooper, had two names, viz: Fair Street and Main Street. All these names are preserved, though Fifth Street has never been opened, and one-half of Fourth Street, and about one-third of Main Street, are also enclosed.

The map, which is well made on parchment, like all similar documents of that period, has its base line on the west side of Water Street, with its direction marked “North, 20° East.” The map is dated “9ᵗʰ Month 26 th, 1788,” or “September 26ᵗʰ, 1788,” and was made by William Ellison. It is now among the Cooper papers.

By a certificate of the redemption of the quit rents {25} on “the town plat of Cooperstown,” dated October 26, 1799, among the same papers, it would appear that the plat of the village as designed on this map, contains one hundred and twelve acres.

In the autumn of this year, Israel Guild erected a small frame building, of a story and a half, on what is now Second Street, about one hundred feet from the intersection with West Street. Mr. Guild had purchased the farm that here adjoined the village plat; all the land west of that point being without the proprietor’s plan for the town. This house was originally in a lot; it is still standing, being used as a bakery and a hatter’s shop, and it unquestionably is now the oldest house in the place; the “Manor House” having been destroyed by fire, as mentioned, and that of Mr. Ellison having been pulled down when the late Mr. Isaac Cooper built at “Edgewater,” or in 1812. Mr. Guild, however, continued to live in the block-house until 1789. John Howard, tanner, came this year and prepared to commence his business, at the spot long known as the “Tannery.”

Although the settlement of Cooper’s Patent commenced early in 1786, the regular commencement of the village dates properly from 1788, for while the idea of a town is older, it was not systematically planned until this summer. It follows that this year (1838) completes the first half century of the existence {26} of the place. The name of “Cooperstown,” it is true, appears in one or two papers as early even as 1786; but the place was indiscriminately known by this appellation, and that of the “Foot of the Lake,” until the year 1791, when it became the county town.

In 1789, Mr. Cooper finished his house and set up a frontier establishment. His eldest son, the late Richard Fenimore Cooper, Mr. Charles Francis of Philadelphia, Mr. Richard R. Smith of New Jersey, and several other gentlemen, were his occasional associates. The late Hendrick Frey, of Canajoharie, was a frequent visitor, and the traditions of the festivities of the “Manor House,” during that and the succeeding years, are still agreeable to the lovers of good cheer.

The lake abounded with the most delicious fish, and Shipman, the “Leather Stocking” of the region, could at almost any time, furnish the table with a saddle of venison. Among the laughable incidents that accompanied the free manner of the living, so peculiar to a border life, the following stories seem to be well authenticated.

In the course of the winter 1789 — 90, during one of the periodical visits of Col. Frey, a large lumber sleigh was fitted out, with four horses, and the whole party sallied upon the lake, for a morning drive: An ex-officer of the French army; a Monsieur Ebbal, resided by himself on the western bank of the lake. Perceiving the sleigh and four approaching his house, {27} this gentleman, with the courtesy of his nation, went forth upon the ice, to greet the party, of whose character he was not ignorant, by the style in which it appeared. Mr. Cooper invited his French friend to join him, promising him plenty of game, with copious libations of Madeira, by way of inducement. Though a good table companion in general, no persuasion could prevail on the Frenchman to accept the offer that day, until provoked by his obstinacy, the party laid violent hands on him and brought him to the village by force.

Monsieur Ebbal took his captivity in good part, and was soon as buoyant and gay as any of his companions. He habitually wore a long skirted surtout, which at that time was almost a mark of a Frenchman, and this surtout he pertinaciously refused to lay aside, even when he took his seat at table. On the contrary he kept it buttoned to the very throat, as it might be in defiance. The Christmas joke, a plentiful board, and heavy potations, however, threw the guest off his guard. Warmed with the wine and the blazing fire, he incautiously unbuttoned; when his delighted companions discovered that the accidents of a frontier, the establishment of a bachelor who kept no servant, and certain irregularities in washing-days, that were attendant on both circumstances, coupled with his empressement to salute his friends had induced the gallant Frenchman to come abroad {28} without a shirt. He was uncased on the spot, amid the roars of the convives, and incontinently put into linen. “Cooper was so polite,” added the mirth-loving Hendrick Frey, when he repeated this story for the hundredth time, “that he supplied a shirt with ruffles at the wristbands, which made Ebbal very happy for the rest of the night. Mein Gott, how his hands did go, after he got the ruffles!”

These wags told Monsieur Ebbal, that if chased by a bear, the most certain mode of escape, was to throw away his hat, or his coat, to induce the animal to stop and smell at it, and then to profit by the occasion, and climb a sapling that was too small to enable his enemy to fasten its claws in it, in the way it is known to ascend a tree. The advice was well enough, but the advised having actually an occasion to follow it the succeeding autumn, scrambled up a sapling first, and began to throw away his clothes afterwards. The bear, a she one with cubs, tore to pieces garment after garment, without quitting the spot, keeping poor Ebbal tree’d, throughout a cool autumnal night, almost as naked as he was when uncased at the celebrated Christmas banquet. It appears that the real name of this person was L’Abbé de Raffcourt.

During the winter of 1789 — 90, Mr. Cooper had a stock of goods brought into the village; Mr. R.R. Smith doing the duty of the merchant. This was the first store established in the place, and was of {29} great service to the settlers. Up to this period, the latter had been compelled to go to Canajoharie to make their purchases. Even later, they were obliged to go that distance to find a mill, not unfrequently carrying their grists on their shoulders. The distance, it will be remembered, is twenty-five miles.

October the 10ᵗʰ, 1790, Mr. Cooper first brought his family to Cooperstown, giving up his residence in New Jersey entirely. From this time, dates the steady and progressive growth of the village. There exists a document to show that in 1790, Cooperstown contained seven framed houses, three framed barns, and thirty-five inhabitants. It is supposed that this enumeration of the inhabitants was made previously to the arrival of the family of Mr. Cooper, as that family alone, with its inmates and domestics, amounted to about fifteen persons. It is also supposed, that the houses, three or four in number, that stood without the old village plat, like that of Mr. Guild, the Tannery, &c. were not included. The house standing at the southeast corner of Second and Water Streets, and which for the last forty years has belonged to the Ernst family, was erected this summer by Mr. Benjamin Griffin. It is now the second oldest house in the village.

February 16ᵗʰ,1791, the county of Otsego was formed and Cooperstown was designated as the county town, Mr. Cooper being appointed the First {30} Judge of the county court. A court house was built at the south east corner of West and Second Streets. It was thirty feet square; the lower story, which contained four rooms, being used as a gaol, and the whole of the upper story, as a court room. The lower story was built of squared logs, and the upper of framed work. The entrance to the court room was on the north front, two flights of steps on the exterior of the building, meeting at a platform before a door that opened into the air.

The jury rooms were in a tavern occupied by the gaoler, that stood on the same lot, and which was erected the same year. The first sheriff was Richard R. Smith, who being altogether superior to entering into the lower duties of the office, appointed — — Stephens, gaoler.

During this summer, the old “Red Lion” tavern, which projected half way across Second Street, was erected, as was also the house at the corner diagonally opposite, now owned by Judge Russell. The two houses that stand third and fourth from the corner of West Street, on the south side of Second Street, were also erected this year, as were several others. The first lawyer who came to reside in the village, was Mr. Abraham Ten Broeck, of New Jersey, and the second was Mr. Jacob G. Fonda, of Schenectady; both these gentlemen came in 1791. Mr. Joseph Strong, a native of Orange county, came a year or two {31} later, and also Mr. Moss Kent, a brother of the celebrated Chancellor Kent. These four gentlemen were the first of their profession in Cooperstown. They all removed within the first twelve years of their residence, though descendants of Mr. Strong, in the second and third generation, are still inhabitants of the place. Several stores were also set up in 1791, of which the principal was owned by Mr. Peter Ten Broeck.

The first physician also appeared in the spring of this year; his name being Powers. Doctor Fuller, so long and so favorably known, for a professional career that lasted forty six years in the same place, arrived in June. In the course of the year, Dr. Powers was accused of mixing tartar emetic with the beverage of a ball given at the “Red Lion.” He was tried, convicted, put in the stocks and banished for the offence; this sentence, as a matter of course, terminating his career in this spot. A Dr. Farnsworth came a year or two later, and Dr. Gott about the same time; but for many years, nearly all the practice of the country was in the hands of Dr. Fuller, who is said to have been the medical attendant at more than two thousand births.

There exists no positive information of the increase of the village during the year 1791, but it was relatively great, for the times. At the end of the year, Cooperstown certainly contained twenty houses and {32} stores, and probably a hundred inhabitants. As most of the emigrants were young, their families were necessarily small, which accounts for the feeble number of the population. From this period, or for the last forty six years, the place has been more gradual in its growth, the increase being steady and regular, and not subject to the sudden changes of more speculative neighborhoods.

The first child born actually in the village was Nathan Howard, a son of John Howard; and the first death was that of a son of Mr. Joseph Griffin, which took place October 11ᵗʰ, 1792. On the occasion of this death, a piece of ground was selected as a place of interment, near the junction of Water and Third Streets, or where Christ Church now stands.

The first child born on the patent was a son of Bill Jarvis, of Fly Creek. He was born in 1787, and was named after the proprietor, receiving fifty acres of land as a memorial of the circumstance.

William Abbott had a son born previously to the birth of Nathan Howard, but he did not reside immediately in the village, although forming a part of the village community. The boy was called Reuben, from the circumstance of his being the first born.

The first school was kept by Joshua Dewey, but it was not commenced until a year or two later.


Chapter III.

From 1792, to 1797.

The village at the commencement of the year 1792, stood principally on Second Street, with a house or two on Water Street, one or two more on Front Street, and a few on West Street. The shops and taverns were collected in the vicinity of the four principal corners, where were also the court house and gaol. It is evident to the geologist that water has once flowed over the site of the place, and originally many deep holes or hollows existed, which had the appearance of having been formed by powerful eddies, or currents. Most of these holes have disappeared, by leveling and filling up, but a few are still to be seen, especially in the grounds of the “Hall,” where they have been preserved as helping the ornamental walks, &c. &c.

Some of these inequalities, of course, existed in the streets, and many persons still remember the place when there were considerable ascents and descents in them. Opposite to the present Bank there was, as recently as the commencement of this century, a little rise in the road, and in West Street, at the point near that where the present inclination {34} commences, was a short, sharp pitch down which vehicles had to descend with great care. Judge Cooper’s barns, stables &c., down to the year of 1798 certainly, if not to a later day, were in the rear of the stone store that now belongs to Mr. J. R. Worthington, and they stood many feet below the level of the streets. Nor did the stumps disappear altogether from even Second Street, which is the principal avenue of the village, until the close of the century. The road to Fly Creek diverged from the Hartwick road near Howard’s farm, and the narrow part of Second Street continued enclosed, as part of the farm of Mr. Guild, until about the year 1795.

Mr. James Averell was an early settler on the patent, having occupied the farm since known as the Howard farm, in 1787, but he exchanged with Mr. Howard this farm against the “Tannery,” and removed into the village, or rather into what is now the village, in the year 1792. Here, by his enterprise and industry, he raised the works in question into some of the most important of the sort, that then existed in the newer part of the state. Mr. Averell soon became conspicuous for his habits of business, and subsequently was much connected with the increase of Cooperstown and its vicinity, in wealth and industry.

Between the years 1792 and 1797, Messrs. Wade, Stevens, Rensselaer Williams, Richard Williams, {35} Norman Landon, Peter Ten Broeck and Le Quoy arrived, and established themselves as merchants; Mr. R.R. Smith relinquishing business, and going to Philadelphia, where he was soon a partner in an extensive wholesale house.

Mr. Wade was an Irishman by birth, and had served as a captain in the British army. He remained but a year or two, when he returned to New York. The present Major Wade of the U.S. Army is his son. Mr. Stevens returned to Philadelphia also, in a few years; but the Messrs. Williams continued their connection with the place, down to the periods of their deaths; their collateral descendants and heirs still existing in Cooperstown. The Messrs. Ten Broeck returned to New Jersey, at the end of a few years. Mr. Landon died, and is interred in the old burying ground.

Mr. Le Quoy excited a good deal of interest during his stay in the place, as he was a man altogether superior to his occupation, which was little more than that of a country grocer; an interest that was much increased by the following circumstance.

Among the early settlers in Otsego county, was Mr. Lewis de Villers, a French gentleman of respectable extraction and good manners. Mr. de Villers was in Cooperstown about the year 1793, at a moment when a countryman, a Mr. Renouard, who afterwards established himself in the county, had recently reached the place. {36} Mr. Renouard was a seaman, and had the habit of using tobacco. Enquiring of Mr. de Villers where some of his favorite article might be purchased, Mr. de Villers directed him to the shop of Mr. Le Quoy, telling him he would help a countryman by making his purchase of that person. In a few minutes Mr. Renouard returned from the shop, much agitated and very pale. Mr. de Villers inquired if he were unwell. “In the name of God, Mr. de Villers, who is the man who sold me this tobacco?” demanded Mr. Renouard. “Mr. Le Quoy, a countryman of ours.” “Yes, Mr. Le Quoy de Mersereau.” “I know nothing about the de Mersereau; he calls himself Mr. Le Quoy. Do you know any thing of him?” “When I went to Martinique to be port-captain of St. Pierre,” answered Mr. Renouard, “this man was the civil governor of the island, and refused to confirm my appointment.”

Subsequent inquiry confirmed this story, Mr. Le Quoy explaining that the influence of a lady had stood in the way of Mr. Renouard’s preferment.

The history of Mr. Le Quoy has since been ascertained to be as follows: When governor of Martinique he had it in his power to do a friendly office to Mr. John Murray, of New York, by liberating one of his ships; Mr. Murray being at the head of the old and highly respectable commercial house of John Murray & Sons, then one of the principal firms of the country. This act brought about an exchange of civilities be{37}tween Mr. Murray and Mr. Le Quoy, which continued for a few years. When the French revolution drove Mr. Le Quoy from the island, he repaired to New York, and sought his friend Mr. Murray, to whom he stated that he had a small sum of money, which he wished to invest in a country store, until his fortunes might revive. Between Judge Cooper and Mr. Murray there existed an intimacy, and the latter referred Mr. Le Quoy to the former. Under the advice of Judge Cooper, Mr. Le Quoy established himself in Cooperstown, where he remained more than a year. At the end of that time he made his peace with the new French government, and quitting his retreat, he was employed for some months in superintending the accounts of the different French consulates in this country. It is said that he soon after returned to Martinique in his old capacity, and died the first season of yellow fever. When Mr. Fenimore Cooper was in France, the Comte d’Hauterive, who had been French consul general in America, at the period of Mr. Le Quoy’s residence, spoke of the latter gentleman, and in part, corroborated this history of him. The following letter appears to have been written soon after he left Cooperstown, and at the moment he commenced his consular duties:

Philadelphia, 10 th Oct. 1794. DEAR SIR. — I have experienced too much of your friendship to believe you will not hear of my fate with some degree of con{38}cern. I am to go to Charleston in S. C., about some business which will keep me most all of the winter. I hope for a more permanent employment than what I have at present; if not, I know where to find peace, good business, good friends. I shall always consider you among the number.  I wish you and all your family health and happiness,  and I remain, dear sir, your most humble servant.  F. Z. LE QUOY.  MONS. W. COOPER, in Cooperstown, Otsego County.

Later letters show that Mr. Le Quoy did not quit this country until 1796.

January 27ᵗʰ, 1795, Mr. James Barber, tailor, died of the small pox. This was the first adult who died a natural death in the village. He lived in the large old building which stands north of the dwelling of Mr. Lawrence McNamee, and which was erected the year before. But, Mr. Jabez Wight, cabinet maker, was drowned while bathing, near the outlet, August 14ᵗʰ, 1794. This was the second death in the place. The same year a child of Mr. Averell’s was drowned, but not in the lake. All these persons were interred in Christ church burying ground, where their head-stones are still to be seen.

During the first ten years of the existence of the village, the people depended entirely on chance for the little religious instruction they received. The emigrants to the place, more particularly those who had any property, were singularly divided as to religious faith, the presbyterians, though the most numerous sect, {39} being the poorest. Missionaries occasionally penetrated to this spot, and now and then a travelling Baptist, or a Methodist, preached, in a tavern, a school house, or a barn. The first regular clergyman, who had any engagement to officiate in Cooperstown, was the Rev. Mr. Mosely, who was employed for six months. This was in the year of 1795. He was a presbyterian, and went away at the expiration of his engagement.

In the way of schools, the village did a little better. It has been said that Joshua Dewey kept the first school. He was soon succeeded by Oliver Cory, who conducted the common school of the place, with commendable assiduity and great credit to himself, for many years. Nearly all the permanent inhabitants of the village, who are between the ages of forty and fifty five, received their elementary instruction from this respectable teacher. Mr. Cory did not neglect religious instruction altogether, but every saturday was devoted to this object. His care in this respect, as well as his lessons on deportment, were attended with the most beneficial results, and it is to be regretted that they have not been imitated in our own time. He kept his school originally in the court house, and then in the first regular school house ever built in the place. This school house was a small wooden building that stood on the lot that is now oc{40}cupied by the dwelling of Mr. Elihu Phinney. Subsequently Mr. Cory held his school in the academy.

Notwithstanding the apparent neglect on the subject of religion, which, in all probability, is to be referred more to the division in sentiment mentioned, than to any other cause, the people of Cooperstown showed great public spirit, on the subject of establishing an Academy, a plan for which was started as early as 1795. We subjoin the following copy of a subscription paper for that purpose, in proof of what we say, and which is still in existence, viz:

“We the subscribers do severally undertake to contribute the sums opposite to our respective names, toward an Academy, in Cooperstown, for the county of Otsego. April 5ᵗʰ, 1795.

William Cooper $750,00 Moss Kent $25,00
William Abbot 40,00 Peter Lambert 7.50
Huntington & Ingals 25,00 Mathaniel Gott 12,50
Elisha Fullam 7,50 William Ellison 12,50
Jonas Perry 2,50 Stephen Ingals 5,00
Lemuel Jewel 2,50 Abner Dunham 6,25
Thomas Fuller 40,00 E. Phinney 40,00
Samuel Tubbs 12.50 Joseph Griffin 42,50
Uriah Luce 10,00 John Howard 30,00
Joseph Holt 10,00 William Cook 25,00
John Miller 7,50 Benjamin Griffin 25,00
James White 15,00 Jacob Morris 62,50
James Gardner 10,00 Benjamin Gilbert 30,00
Nathan Davison 5,00 Griffin Crafts 30,00
James Averell 50,00 Lewis de Villers 15,00
Francis Henry 5,00 Robert Riddel 7,50
Jabez Hubbell 5,00 Aaron Noble 7,50
Norman Landon 45,00 Matthew Bennet 7,50
Timothy Sabin 3,75 Isaac Stacy 10,00
Barnet Whipple 5,00 Joseph N. Jones 5,00
Bill Jarvis 2,50 Levi Wentworth 6,25
Total, $1,441.25.

{41}The odd cents are from the subscriptions having been in the old currency. This document shows several interesting facts. There forty-two names, which makes an average subscription of more than $33 to each name; and it may be doubted if any thing like such an average could now be obtained for any public object whatever. Of these forty two names, twenty three were then residents of the village, and considering the public spirit that prevailed, it is fair to suppose that this comprised at least two thirds of the heads of families that were then to be found in the place. It will probably be safe to say that Cooperstown contained in 1795, about thirty-five families, and quite as many houses. As the heads of families were generally young, an average of five persons to each family would be sufficiently high; this would give a whole number of one hundred and seventy-five souls. If to these we add twenty five for single persons, we get a total of two hundred for the population, which could not be far from the truth.

The Academy was raised September 18ᵗʰ, 1795. It was one of those tasteless buildings that afflict all new countries, and contained two school rooms below, a passage and the stairs; while the upper story was in a single room. Nothing superior to a common English education was ever taught in this house, all attempts at classical instruction failing. This must be ascribed to the general want of means in the popula{42}tion, at the time; the few who gave their children classical educations, usually sending them abroad for that purpose.

The Academy, containing at that time the largest room in the place, was as much used for other purposes as for those of education. Religious meetings were generally held there, as well as other large assemblages of the people. The school exhibitions of Mr. Cory, in which Brutus and Cassius figured in hats of the cuts of 1776, blue coats faced with red, of no cut at all, and matross swords, are still the subject of mirth with those who remember the prodigies. The court on great occasions was sometimes held in this building, and even balls were occasionally given in it; in short, it was a jack of all work, rather than of the particular work for which it was intended.

Notwithstanding the failure as respects a classical school, the year was memorable for the establishment of another species of instruction, that probably was more useful to this particular community, at that early day. On the 28ᵗʰ of February, 1795, Mr. Elihu Phinney, a native of Connecticut, arrived in Cooperstown bringing with him the materials for printing a newspaper; and on the 3ʳᵈ day of April of the same year, the first number of the “Otsego Herald, or Western Advertiser,” a weekly paper, made its appearance. This was the second journal published in the state, west of Albany. We see by its title that, in {43} 1795, it was considered a western print, whereas at the present day, Cooperstown is probably a hundred leagues east of the central point around which journals are now to be found.

By means of this print we are enabled to make the following curious statistical statement, by which the reader will obtain an insight into the actual condition of the western part of this State at that time. In 1794, Judge Cooper was elected Representative in Congress, from a district composed of the counties of Montgomery, Herkimer, Tioga, Ontario, Onondaga and Otsego, as they then existed. His opponent was Mr. Winn of Montgomery, and the following is the result of the canvass:

Cooper, Winn,
Montgomery 304 970
Herkimer 746 144
Tioga 89 88
Ontario 30 2
Onondaga 95 6
Otsego 1271 216
Total, 2535 1426

Here we see that the county of Ontario, at that time comprising so much of the State, gave but 32 votes, while Otsego gave 1487. The fact shows the great rapidity with which the latter county had been settled.

A brewery was established in 1794, by two Englishmen, of the names of Mulcock and Morgan, but it {44} was in advance of the country, and after a short experiment it failed.

July 9ᵗʰ, 1795, a man named Porteous was flogged at the whipping post, for stealing some pieces of ribbon. This was the first of two instances of the same punishment on the same spot. The whipping post and stocks stood nearly opposite the jail door, in West Street, but on the west side of the street. Porteous was banished, as well as flogged, the former punishment being usual in Cooperstown. It is to be regretted that it has fallen into disuse.

By an article in the Otsego Herald of October 30th, it would seem that the year 1795, added much to the size of the place, no less than thirty buildings having been constructed that season. Many of these, however, were shops, offices and stores. Among others were the brewery and academy, already mentioned. The former stood near the present bridge, and is described as having been 83 feet in length, 25 feet wide, and 19 feet posts. The academy was 65½ feet long, 32 wide, and 25 feet posts. The summit of the belfry was 70 feet from the ground.

On the evening of the 20ᵗʰ November, 1795, a building attached to the pottery of Mr. Joshua Starr, a respectable inhabitant of the village, was destroyed by fire. This is believed to be the first accident of the sort that ever occurred in Cooperstown.

The mills that still exist on the Susquehannah, {45} were erected by Mr. William Ellison, as early as 1792.

It appears that the Rev. Elisha Mosely preached the first thanksgiving sermon in Cooperstown, on the 26ᵗʰ November, 1795, in the court house. By the latter circumstance it would seem that the academy, which indeed was only raised on the 18ᵗʰ September, had not been completed. It is also stated in the Otsego Herald, that in this year, the village paid in excise, and through the inns and stores, &c., and by the duty on carriages, thirty-six pounds. The first carriage that was ever used in the place, was a phaeton of Judge Cooper’s. This was in 1792. In 1795, he set up a chariot, which by the aid of four horses, was enabled to perform a journey from Cooperstown to Cherry Valley, between breakfast and supper.

The first road to communicate with the lower country, was that mentioned already, as running along the eastern margin of the lake. Its course did not differ essentially from that of the present turnpike. A rude road existed previously to the revolution, from Cherry Valley, as far as the Ingals farm in Middlefield, and this road was brought round the end of the “Vision,” and into the village, about the year 1791. It followed the present margin of the forest, on the side of the mountain, until it reached the spot where “Woodside” now stands, when it traversed the present grounds of “Lakelands,” diagonally, to the outlet. {46} This end of the road was three times altered; first, by bringing it down to the river a little below the mills; secondly, by leading it more diagonally across the fields, and lastly to its present route.

A state road was laid out between Albany and Cooperstown, in 1794. This road crossed the mountain, and descended the “Vision,” by the line that is still used as a foot-path. A bridge was then first constructed, where the present bridge now stands.

In 1802, the Second Company of the Great Western Turnpike brought the present turnpike road through the village. The labors of this company sensibly improved the surface of Second Street, and may be set down as the commencement of the present handsome appearance of the principal streets. The Lake Turnpike was constructed in 1825. The state road was continued west by the people, in 1796, nearly on the line of the present turnpike, some aid being obtained from the State. The Hartwick and Pier’s roads have been but little altered since 1786, though both have been straightened near the village.

In 1795, the township of Otsego, then much larger than at present, however, contained 2160 males, above the age of 16, a prodigious increase for ten years. It had 491 electors under the laws of that period, viz: 368 £100 freeholders; 55 £20 freeholders; and 60 persons renting tenements at £2. It is said that in 1738, all the electors in the state west of Albany, the latter {47} included, excepting however the manor of Rensselaer, were but 636. In 1795, the number in the same counties was 36,026. It probably now exceeds 200,000.

It is mentioned that Lake Otsego was free from ice on the 1ˢᵗ of January, 1796. It did not close the present year (1838) until the 23ʳᵈ January. March, 1796, was memorable for the flocks of pigeons that flew through this valley; elderly persons declaring that they saw more on a single morning than they had previously seen in all their lives.

At the close of the year 1796, Judge Cooper made his contracts for the construction of the “Hall.” This, it is believed, was the first building in the county, and with the exception of the German settlements, almost the first private building in the state, west of Schenectady, that was not built of wood. By an instrument that is still in existence, William Sprague and Barnet Whipple contracted to do the carpenter’s and joiner’s work of this house, all the materials being found on the spot, for the sum of $1,350. The work was begun in the year 1796, but it got no higher than the foundation, in 1797. In 1798, the walls were raised, and the house was effectually enclosed. In June, 1799, the building was completed, and the family of the proprietor removed into it. It was, however, inhabited by some of the workmen in 1798.

The grounds of the old building, which was called {48} the “Manor House,” and those of the “Hall,” were not identical. The former extended back no farther than to the site of the present building, whereas the latter, as is known, reach to Third Street. At this time, and for some years later, many pines were still standing in the fields south of Third Street, and most of the spots that had been cleared were covered with a young second growth. “Otsego Hall” was, for many years, the largest private residence in the newer parts of the state, and it is still much the most considerable structure in Cooperstown, a village that is so singularly well build. Some idea of the strength with which it was constructed may be gained from the fact, that in 1834, when the present owner commenced his repairs and improvements, the floor above the great hall, which is near twenty five feet by fifty in surface, was raised three feet, one corner at a time, without injury even to the ceiling below. The joists were of oak, the planks of the best quality, and the fastenings of wrought iron spikes. The house was struck by lightning in 1802, on which occasion the first lightning rod in Cooperstown was erected.

The Free Masons opened a lodge in the village on the first Tuesday in March, 1796, and on the 27ᵗʰ December, they held a great religious festival in the Academy. They dined in the same place, and in the evening they had a ball.

{49} The first library was opened in this village, March 11ᵗʰ, 1796, Capt. Timothy Barnes, librarian.

The year 1794 was memorable in the history of Cooperstown, for what is still called the “Indian Alarm.” This alarm was false, having proceeded from the combined circumstances that a report prevailed of a considerable body of Indians having been seen lurking in the woods at no great distance, and that a party who had brought in some counterfeiters, discharged their pistols at midnight. Scouts had been previously sent to ascertain the fact about the Indians, and this discharge of pistols was supposed to proceed from these scouts, in the wish to alarm the village. Many ludicrous accounts are given of the effect of the fright, one man, in particular, secreting himself in a log abutment of the bridge that had then been recently constructed at the spot where the present bridge now stands. We learn in the fact, the infant condition of the country, as it was then possible to create an alarm on account of the Indians.

Up to this period the lake was full of fish, and hauls of hundreds of the delicious bass were made at a time, during the proper season. The “Trout” also abounded, as did deer. The fisherman of the day was known as “Admiral Hearsey,” pronounced “Hassy,” a man who was unhappy unless in a boat, or before a lime kiln. He was, perhaps, more thoroughly aquatic than his successor, the “Commodore,” {50} who has now commanded the lake more than thirty years, but on the whole, less skillful. At that time pickerel, now so abundant, were seldom caught at all.

In 1794, there was a large flat boat on the lake, called the “Ship Jay,” on board of which “Admiral Hassy” first hoisted his flag. His sails were boards, and his speed more than doubtful.

The old road along the east bank of the lake was abandoned about this time; those who went to Springfield going by way of Pier’s; and those who went to Albany, or to the Mohawk, by the way of Cherry-Valley.

A journey taken by Judge Cooper in 1795, of which the memorials still exist, will give an idea of the means of communication that were then in the country. He left Cooperstown soon after breakfast, with his wife and two children, in the old fashioned chariot already mentioned, and drawn by four horses. At Middlefield Centre, the party stopped, bated and dined. It reached Cherry Valley a little before sunset, where it passed the night. Left Cherry-Valley next morning after an early breakfast, and stopped to dine with Mr. Christopher Yates; thence to the house of Hendrick Frey, at Canajoharie, to supper and to sleep. Quitting Mr. Frey’s, after a late breakfast, or at ten o’clock, it reached an inn for the night, about ten miles from Schenectady. The next morning, making an early start, it reached Gilbert’s in Sche{51}nectady, to a late breakfast, and succeeded in getting to Albany about sunset.

At this period lime-kilns and brick-kilns existed at the outlet, owing to which circumstance, and to the diggings of the different roads, the western bank has been much defaced, it having resembled the eastern a good deal, in its native state; though a small flat always existed a little below.

In 1797, the Rev. Thomas Ellison of Albany, and the Patroon, both regents of the university, visited the Cherry-Valley academy, and then extended their journey to Cooperstown, where the former preached in the court house. This was the first time service, according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal church, was ever performed in the place.

Chapter IV.

In 1799, the Rev. John Frederick Ernst, a Lutheran clergyman, settled in Cooperstown, under a temporary arrangement with the inhabitants, to perform religious service. Perhaps Mr. Ernst, who was a native of Germany, was the only person of his own persuasion in the village, and the reason of this selection was connected with a hope of getting the benefit of a bequest made for the purpose of education and reli{52}gious instruction, by the late Rev. Mr. Hartwick. This hope proved fallacious, and Mr. Ernst remained but two or three years in the place, though he purchased property in it, and his descendants in the fourth generation are now to be found among us. Mr. Ernst was the second regularly employed clergyman in Cooperstown, though, owing to his peculiar sect, he can hardly be said to have had a regular church.

The first law for establishing a post route from some convenient point on the line of post route between Albany and Canandaigua, “through Cherry-Valley to the court house in Cooperstown, in the county of Otsego,” was passed on the 8ᵗʰ May, 1794. The post-office was first opened in the village June 1ˢᵗ, 1794, Joseph Griffin, postmaster. The mail arrived weekly for some years; it then came twice a week; then thrice; then daily; and several variations occurred even after this, the daily mail not having been permanently established, as at present, until the year 1821.

In 1799, the Rev. John McDonald of the Scotch Seceders, was arrested for debt in this village, bailed, and was placed on the limits. Mr. McDonald during his imprisonment preached regularly in the court house, though he had no call, supporting himself by instructing a few classical scholars. He went away in 1800.

The Presbyterians and Congregationalists, in and {53} about Cooperstown, formed themselves into a legal society on the 29ᵗʰ of December, 1798. The spiritual organization of this church took place on the 16ᵗʰ of June, 1800, Isaac Lewis, moderator of the meeting. On the 1ˢᵗ day of October, 1800, the Rev. Isaac Lewis was installed the pastor of the aforesaid church and congregation. He was the first regularly and permanently settled clergyman in Cooperstown, and he officiated altogether in the academy, as Mr. Ernst had done during his stay. His connection with this church was dissolved in 1805.

The Rev. William Neill was ordained and installed as the successor of Mr. Lewis in 1806. This connection was dissolved in 1809. In 1810, the Rev. John Chester was engaged for a few months to fill the pulpit of this church. On the 7ᵗʰ of February, 1811, the Rev. John Smith was ordained and installed as the successor of Mr. Neill. This connection continued until the year 1833. On the 26ᵗʰ day of November, 1834, the Rev. Alfred E. Campbell was installed as the successor of Mr. Smith. The departure of Mr. Smith, and the causes which induced it, being of a spiritual character, were connected with a separation of this congregation into two congregations, one of which held its religious worship in the court house and in the great hall of the “Hall,” the latter building being at that time unoccupied by any person but a keeper. This division was healed on the occasion of the call {54| of Mr. Campbell, who is still the pastor of the reunited congregations.

On the 10ᵗʰ day of September, 1800, Miss Cooper,* the eldest daughter of Judge Cooper, a young lady in the 23ʳᵈ year of her age, was killed by a fall from a horse. Her funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Daniel Nash of the Protestant Episcopal church,

* This young lady, who had been educated in the schools of New York, and who, from having accompanied her father in his official visits to the seat of government, was perhaps as extensively and favorably known in the middle states, as any female of her years, was universally regretted. She had improved her leisure by extensive reading, and was a model of the domestic virtues. During his visit to this country, M. de Talleyrand passed a few days in Cooperstown, where he was an inmate of the family of Judge Cooper. The Otsego Herald, of October 2, 1795, contains the following acrostic on Miss Cooper, then in her eighteenth year, which tradition, ascribes to the celebrated diplomate. We give it as a literary curiosity, rather than as a very faultless specimen of poetry, although it is quite respectable in the latter point of view.

Aimable philosophe au printemps de son age,  Ni les tems, ni les lieux n’alterent son esprit;  Ne cédant qu’à ses gouts simple et sans étalage,  Au milieu des déserts, elle lit, pense, écrit.

Cultivez, belle Anna, votre gout pour l’étude;  On ne saurait ici mieux employer son tems;  Otsego n’est pas gai — mais, tout est habitude;  Paris vous déplairait fort au premier moment;  Et qui jouit de soi dans une solitude,  Rentrant au monde, et sur d’en faire l’ornement.

Miss Cooper was killed in the public highway, about a mile from the residence of General Morris, in the town of Butternuts, where a monument has stood these thirty seven years to commemorate the sad event. She is interred in the burying ground of her family, under a slab that, singularly enough, while it is inscribed by some feeling lines, written by her father, does not even contain her name! [footnote in original]

{55} and she was interred according to the rites of that church, which were now performed for the first time in this village. Mr. Nash, since so well known in his own church, for his apostolic simplicity, under the name of “Father Nash,” was then a missionary in the county. From this time he began to extend his services to Cooperstown, and on the first day of January, 1811, a church was legally organized, under the title of “Christ Church, Cooperstown.” This was the second regularly established congregation in the place. On the same day, the Rev. Daniel Nash was chosen Rector of Christ church, which office, through the delicacy of the clergyman who succeeded him in his duties, he informally held, down to the period of his death, in 1836. In 1818, Mr. Frederick T. Tiffany was engaged by Christ Church as a lay reader. This gentleman was admitted to Deacon’s orders in 1820, in St. John’s Church, New York, and to Priest’s orders in Christ Church, Cooperstown, in 1828, by the Right Reverend Bishop Hobart, and his connection has continued with the church down to the present moment.

In 1822, the Rev. Dr. Orderson, a clergyman from Barbadoes, (West Indies,) officiated occasionally in the church for several months. Whilst here, the honorary degree of D. D. was conferred upon him by the faculty of Union College.

The Methodist persuasion has had service, from time {56} to time, for more than forty years in the village, occasionally with regularity, and at intervals, with long intermissions. From the discipline and system of this church, it is impossible for us to give any accurate account of the different clergymen employed.

The Universalists organized their society on the 26ᵗʰ April, 1831, under the name of the “Second Universalist Society of Otsego,” another existing in the township. At this moment, this congregation possesses about eighty members. The Rev. Job Potter was the first pastor, having been installed in 1831. He was succeeded by the Rev. O. Whiston in July, 1836.

The Baptist church was organized the 21ˢᵗ January, 1834; Elder Raymond, who still officiates, being the first pastor. This sect has occasionally had service in the village for near forty years also, the baptisms near the “Otsego Rock” being of frequent occurrence about the commencement of the century.

The first edifice constructed for religious worship in the village of Cooperstown, was erected by the Presbyterians, on the east side of West Street, between Third and Fourth Streets, in 1805. It is of wood, being 64 feet long by 50 feet in width, having a tower and cupola ninety feet high. In 1835, this building was extensively altered and repaired, and it continues to be the place of worship of its congregation. This denomination purchased the house that {57} stands on the southeast corner of Third and West Streets for a parsonage, in 1838, for the sum of $1,600.

In 1807, the Episcopalians erected a brick building 54 feet long, and 40 feet wide, as their place of worship. It was consecrated by the Right Reverend Bishop Moore, on the 8ᵗʰ day of July, 1810.-This building stands on the west side of Water Street, also between Third and Fourth streets, and in a line with the house first named. This denomination built a rectory on the southwest corner of Water and Third Streets, or adjoining the church yard, in 1832. The latter building cost about $1,200, exclusively of the lot.

The Methodists erected a wooden building with a tower, having no spire or cupola, on the west side of Chestnut Street, in 1817. It has never been painted, and the service in it is still very irregular.

In 1833, the Universalists erected a wooden building on the north eastern corner of Third and West Streets, with a tower and pinnacles. It is 50 feet long, and 38 wide, and stands on the site of the old Academy, the latter building having been destroyed by fire on the 31ˢᵗ day of March, 1809. This church with the lot, cost about $3,000.

The Baptists erected a church in 1835 — 6. It is 54 feet by 40, and has a dome 60 feet high. The house and lot cost about $3,000.

These five buildings are all that have ever been erected for the purposes of public worship, in the village, and they are all now standing.


Chapter V.

Between the years 1795 and 1803, the growth of Cooperstown was gradual but steady. A document exists to show that in January of the latter year, the village contained seventy-five dwelling houses, thirty-four barns, and three hundred and forty-nine inhabitants. No account exists of the number of stores and shops, which probably would have raised the total of the buildings, exclusively of barns, &c., to about one hundred. The families were not yet large, as this account gives less than five souls to each dwelling house.

“Apple Hill” was early selected by Richard Fenimore Cooper, Esquire, as the site for a house, and during the summer of 1800, he caused the present building to be erected. This was the second house in the place that was erected off the line of the streets, or which had the character of a villa.

John Miller erected a house in bricks, in the summer of 1802, also. It stands on his farm, but within the present limits of the village, and is the second building in the place that was not constructed of wood.

In 1804, Judge Cooper caused a stone dwelling to be constructed on the south west corner of Water and {59} Second Streets, for his daughter, who was then married to Mr. George Pomeroy, a native of Massachusetts, who had become a resident of the place, in the year 1801. This was the first stone building in the village.

Between the years 1795, and 1802, John Russell, Elijah H. Metcalf and Robert Campbell, Esquires, also became residents of Cooperstown, in which place they have since held conspicuous social or political stations. All three of these gentlemen married in the village, and their descendants in the second and third generations, now form a portion of its population. Judge Metcalf died in 1821, but the other two are still living. Mr. Russell was the second member of congress ever elected from the place, and Mr. Metcalf was in the legislature of the state two terms.

In 1801, a man dressed in a sailor’s jacket, without stockings or neck-cloth, but cleanly, and otherwise of respectable appearance, and who seemed to be between forty and fifty, presented himself to Judge Cooper, with a request to know whether a small piece of low meadow land, that lies between “Fenimore” and the village, was to be sold. The answer was in the affirmative, but the applicant was informed that, on account of its position, the price would be relatively high, amounting to a considerable sum. The stranger requested that a deed might immediately be made of it, and he counted down the money in gold, giving {60} his name as Esaias Hausman. Mr. Hausman left the Hall the owner of the lot in question, which has ever since been known as the “Hausman Lot.” The habits, attainments and character of this man soon attracted attention. He spoke five or six of the living languages, and had a tolerable knowledge of the classics. He lived entirely alone, in a small house he had caused to be built on his purchase, and in the rudest manner. Occasionally he would disappear, and his absences sometimes extended to months. He frequently spoke of his past life, though it is not known that he ever gave any connected or explicit history of his origin, or of the events that led him to America. According to his own accounts of his adventures, he had served in the imperial army, and he was once heard to say that the death of Robespierre alone saved him from the block. Casual remarks of this nature increased curiosity, when Hausman became more reserved, and he soon ceased to touch at all on the events of his past life. Sometime about the year 1805, he had been absent for several months, when it was discovered that he was teaching Hebrew to the President of one of the eastern colleges. This occupation did not last long, however, for he was soon back again, in his hut on the lake shore. In this manner this singular man passed many years, apparently undetermined in his purposes, rude and even coarse in many of his habits, but always courteous and intel{61}ligent. He died in Herkimer in 1812, and without making any particular revelations concerning himself or his family. As he died intestate, his property escheated, the lot on the shore of the lake being sold by the public. It is said that a considerable sum in gold was found in a purse that he wore between his shoulder-blades.

Nothing further was ever known of Esaias Hausman. He was certainly shrewd and observant, and his acquisitions, which were a little exaggerated, probably, by vulgar report, were of that kind which denotes in Europe, a respectable education. He had not the appearance or manners of a Polish gentleman, for he called himself a Pole, and the most probable conjecture concerning him, a conjecture that we believe is sustained by some of his own remarks, made him a Jew. The name is German, but the people of that persuasion often assume new appellations.

The estate, which is bounded by the Susquehannah and Lake Otsego, on the west, belonged to Henry Bowers, Esquire. On the death of this gentleman, it descended to his only son, John M. Bowers, Esquire. At a very early period, the land immediately around the outlet, and of course opposite to Cooperstown, was cleared and a farm house erected. On his marriage, however, Mr. Bowers determined to reside on his property, and to build at this spot. He came {62} into the village in 1803, accordingly, where he resided, for a short time, and commenced the construction of the present house at “Lakelands.” This building was erected in 1804, and its proprietor took possession of it in 1805. Since that time it has continued to be the residence of the gentleman who caused the house to be built. This place is not within the limits of Cooperstown, or even in the township of Otsego, but standing within musket-shot of the former, its inhabitants properly belong to our community.

In 1797, the Masons erected a hall on the northeast corner of Front and West Streets, which is still standing.

The population of Cooperstown underwent essential changes, between the years 1800 and 1806. All the lawyers originally settled in the village, without an exception, had removed, and their places had been supplied by a new set. The same alterations also occurred among the merchants, who have frequently changed since the settlement of the country. Of the latter, Mr. Lawrence McNamee, who opened a store in the village in 1802, is the only one who has continued in the same occupation, and in the same place, down to the present time.

The only bookstore in the village, or that has ever been in the village, that of the Messrs. Phinney, has been continued since 1795, also, in the same family.

{63} Between the years 1800 and 1810, the growth of the village, without being rapid, was regular and respectable. Many places that, a few years previously, were much inferior to it in size and wealth, now began to surpass it, but its own population gradually grew easier in their circumstances, and, as a matter of course, enlarged their manner of living. Still, the people depended chiefly on the trade of the few adjoining towns, on the presence of the county buildings, and on such of the more ordinary manufactures as found consumers in the vicinity.

On the 22d December, 1809, died William Cooper, Esquire, the original proprietor, after whom the village was named. Judge Cooper was in his fifty-sixth year at the time of his death, and his connection with the place had continued near twenty four years. For nineteen, he had been a regular inhabitant of the village. He died in Albany and was interred in the burying ground of his family in Christ Church Yard. To the enterprise, energy and capacity of this gentleman, the county of Otsego is more indebted for its rapid settlement, than to those of any other person.

A law was passed in 1806, for the erection of a new court house and gaol for the county of Otsego. The commissioners appointed for that purpose, selected the spot a little remote from the center of the village, on the south side of the turnpike, and west of Chestnut Street. Here a building was constructed in 1806-7. {64} It is 56 feet long and 50 feet wide, and has been used ever since for the public service. It is of bricks, and the court room is capacious and convenient. The gaol is in the lower story, and is crowded and inconvenient. The gaoler has also rooms in the building.

A fire-proof County Clerk’s office was constructed near the court house in 1814.

The removal of the court house to the extreme western limits of the place, has had no sensible effect on the direction taken by the village in its growth, but a very few houses having been since erected in that quarter of the town. The old court house, gaol and tavern, were torn down in 1810, and a range of brick stores was erected on the lot in 1811.

In the year 1803, a market house was erected in the center of Fair Street, about half way between Front and Second Streets. The attempt to induce the butchers, and the people of the surrounding country to use it, however, failed, and the building was removed into West Street, and converted into a school house, in 1809, or soon after the destruction of the academy by fire.

On the third day of April, 1807, a law was passed authorizing the inhabitants of the village of Cooperstown, to elect trustees, under an act of incorporation, which styled the place the “Village of Otsego.” This change of name arose from party politics, and the majority of the inhabitants of the village being op{65}posed to the measure, elected trustees, who rendered the law a dead letter, by declining to do any thing under its provisions.

June 12ᵗʰ, 1812, a new act was passed, incorporating the place, by the name of “The Village of Cooperstown,” under which law, the people proceeded immediately to organize the local government. By the act of incorporation, as since amended, the people elect annually five trustees, who choose their own president. The people also elect a clerk and treasurer, three assessors, a pathmaster, and constable. The board of trustees possesses powers to pass bye-laws for the security of the village, in cases of fire; to prevent obstructions in the streets, or other nuisances; for regulating the streets; for lighting the same; erecting public pounds, and for making wharves, docks, &c. &c. No taxes, however, exceeding four hundred dollars in total amount, shall be laid in any one year. The village charter was amended April 30, 1829, the limits of the corporation being considerably extended. By the plan of Judge Cooper, the village plat originally contained one hundred and twelve acres, as has been stated, whereas the present boundaries probably include more than four hundred acres, though not more than a third of this surface can be said to be actually occupied by the streets and dwellings.

In 1812, at the time of the incorporation of the {66} place, Cooperstown contained 133 houses, &c., 57 barns and 686 inhabitants. January, 1816, there were 183 houses, offices, shops, 68 barns, and 826 inhabitants.

A small fire engine was purchased by the village, in 1812, and a second was presented to it by the heirs of Judge Cooper, in 1815.

The business of Cooperstown became enlarged in consequence of the establishment of manufactories, in its vicinity. This enterprise was commenced in 1809, by the erection of the Union Cotton Manufactory, on the Oaks; since that time, many other similar works have been constructed in the neighborhood. In the village itself, works of various kinds have been gradually established, increasing the wealth and adding to the industry of the place.

After the erection of the range of stores on the old court house lot, a better style of buildings was introduced for similar purposes. Since that time, most of the stores, and many of the principal shops have been constructed in brick or stone.

The late Isaac Cooper, Esq. commenced the house called “Edgewater,” in 1810, and removed into it in 1814. This building, which is sixty six feet long, by forty five in width, is one of the best in the place.

The residence of Mr. Henry Phinney, on Chestnut street, was commenced in 1813, and completed in {67} 1816. This is also one of the principal dwellings in the village.

Richard Fenimore Cooper, Esq., died in Albany, in March, 1813, and was brought to this place for interment. This gentleman, when a youth, accompanied his father to Otsego, and was one of the oldest inhabitants of the village. His son and grandchildren still exist in the place.

In 1808, a second newspaper, William Andrews, editor, was established under the name of the “Impartial Observer.” This print soon passed into the hands of John H. Prentiss, Esq., and its name was changed to that of “Cooperstown Federalist.” At a still later day the title of this paper was changed to that of the “Freeman’s Journal,” under which appellation it is still known. With the exception of a short interval, the same editor and proprietor has been at the head of the establishment, for about twenty nine years.

A paper called the “Watch Tower,” was set up in opposition to the “Cooperstown Federalist,” in 1814, Israel W. Clark, editor. In May, 1817, this paper was transferred to Edward B. Crandal, who remained its editor until its discontinuance, in 1831.

The “Tocsin” was established in 1829, but took the name of the “Otsego Republican” in 1831, under which title it still exists.

In July, 1813, died Elihu Phinney, Esq., aged {67} fifty eight. The arrival of this gentleman in the village has already been mentioned. Mr. Phinney was one of the Judges of the county court for several years, and continued to control the “Otsego Herald” to the period of his death. The paper was published by his sons H. & E. Phinney until the year 1821, when it was discontinued, after an existence of 26 years.

In 1814, the children of Augustine and Susannah Prevost, who had purchased the judgment of John Morton, against their grandfather, George Croghan, which was the oldest judgment on record, attempted to revive the same by Scire Facias against all the terre-tenants on Cooper’s Patent. This measure of course made all the freeholders in the village parties in the suit. The executors of Judge Cooper, however, managed the defence. The proceedings connected with this lawsuit, lasted several years, when they were discontinued in consequence of the statute of limitations. As the heirs of Susannah Prevost, who was the devisee of George Croghan, held assets to more than the amount of the judgment, in consequence of a failure of title through informality, under one of the judgment sales against their ancestor, there can be no doubt that had the issue been tried on its merits, the defendants would have prevailed, without having recourse to the agreement of 1775, according to which, the lands were to have been sold, firstly to satisfy the judgment of Governor Franklin, or that {69} under which the terre-tenants held, secondly, to pay the mortgage of Thomas Wharton, and lastly, to satisfy this very judgment, which it was now attempted to revive, after a lapse of forty years.

On two several occasions, officers of the federal government established recruiting parties in this village. The first was in 1799, during the quasi-war with France; Lieut. Joseph C. Cooper, who succeeded in enlisting about thirty men in the county, commanding the party. The second occasion occurred during the war of 1812, when a considerable detachment of riflemen was recruited in the vicinity, and collected in the village, under Capt. Grosvenor.

In the way of irregular troops, there have been several volunteer corps in Cooperstown, though none of any permanency, with the exception of the Artillery. The first artillery company was established in 1798. William Abbot, captain, Samuel Huntington, first Lieutenant, and George Walker, 2d. The pieces of this company entirely supplanted the “Cricket,” and since that time the villagers have never been without regular brass guns for their parades and festivals.

A volunteer company of horse was established in 1794, Captain Benjamin Griffin, commandant. Many persons now living, can recollect a celebrated sham fight between this cavalry and a party of men disguised as Indians. The charges of the horse, on that occasion, are described as having been infinitely se{70}vere. At that time, the log fences, a good deal decayed, inclosed a great portion of the two principal blocks of the place, and the manner in which the cavalry got over them and through them, probably caused as much surprise to themselves as to the spectators. In this part of the field especially, the Indians are said to have discovered much the greatest address, although both parties, as usual, claimed the victory.

The first regular organization of the militia, in this part of the country, appears to have taken place in the year 1798, although detached companies existed previously. Jacob Morris, Esq., of Butternuts was the first Brigadier General appointed, and Francis Henry, Esq. the first Colonel of the regiment which included the village. John Howard was the first Captain of the ordinary militia company of the beat. Capt. Howard was unfortunately drowned in the Susquehannah the next year, in making a noble effort to save a person who had got beneath some floodwood, and he was succeeded by William Sprague.

For a long time after the commencement of the village, Cooperstown suffered but little from fires; several small buildings, it is true, were burned at different times, but the first considerable conflagration occurred on the night of the 30th of March, 1809, when the printing-office of H. & E. Phinney took fire. The flames were communicated to a new dwelling-{71}house belonging to William Dowse, Esq., and both were consumed. These buildings stood on West Street. The next day the Academy was also destroyed in the same way, and no attempt has ever been made to rebuild it.

A dwelling house and store, standing on Second Street, and occupied by Joseph Wilkinson, were destroyed by fire, March 17, 1814.

A long range of storehouses belonging to the estate of Judge Cooper, also standing on Second Street, was burned down in the winter of 1813. A part of this range was composed of the old “Manor House,” which had been converted into a storehouse.

The next considerable conflagration occurred on the night of the 27ᵗʰ of April, 1818, when a fire broke out in the hatter’s shop of Ralph Worthington, and it was not subdued until it had consumed all the buildings on the north side of Second street, between the west corner of Fair Street and the alley called Beaver Alley, making six buildings altogether. This is much the most considerable fire that ever occurred within the limits of the village.

But the summer of 1823, was a serious time for the inhabitants of the village of Cooperstown. A succession of fires took place, under circumstances that scarce leave a doubt that they were mostly, if not entirely, the acts of an incendiary. The “Tannery” was consumed on the night of the 12ᵗʰ of July. On, {72} a thorough examination of the facts, it was generally believed it had been set on fire. A stone house, which had been erected at “Fenimore,” by J. Fenimore Cooper, Esq., between the years 1814 and 1817, was the next consumed. This place, which, like “Lakelands,” stands without the village limits, properly belongs to the village community, and the principal dwelling was of considerable size and of a good finish, having all the conveniences of a country residence. The house was not completed nor inhabited, though it contained all the wood work and a large amount of valuable lumber. As it stood quite alone in the center of an extensive lawn, there can be but little doubt that it was set on fire. This house was destroyed to the naked walls.

Several barns which stood in the most compact parts of the village soon followed. Fortunately the injury, in few of these cases, extended beyond the buildings which first took fire. The incendiary, or incendiaries, were never satisfactorily discovered, though plausible conjectures have been made.

Since the recent alterations and repairs of the “Hall” have been going on, a window has been opened and a place has been discovered where tinder, oiled cotton, burnt matches and other combustibles were lying together, leaving little doubt that one, if not more attempts were made to destroy that building also, and probably about the same time.

{73} There are other instances in which there is reason to suppose that incendiaries had been at work in the village, one of which is a recent case of fire in the court house. This building was discovered to be on fire, about four o’clock on the morning of the 24ᵗʰ of May, 1837, but the flames were subdued before they had done much injury. One of the prisoners in the gaol was suspected of having set the building on fire, though the charge could not be substantiated.

Of late, scarcely a year passes without one or more fires, which usually proceed from defective or badly secured stove-pipes, but no structure of any importance has been consumed. Indeed, it is the subject of surprise that no considerable dwelling-house has ever been destroyed by fire, within the village of Cooperstown, with the exception of that of Mr. Dowse, and of one or two of secondary value and size, which were burned in the great fire of 1818. Almost every other building that has been burned, has been either a shop, barn, or store.

Cisterns for the collection of water have been sunk in the streets; hooks and ladders, fire-buckets and hose are provided, and considering the size of the place, the provisions against fire are respectable. The firemen have usually been found active and bold, and cases have often occurred in which they have saved large portions of the village.


Chapter VI.

The society of Cooperstown received considerable accessions between the years 1805 and 1820. Several young lawyers established themselves in the place, among whom were William Dowse, George Morell, Samuel Starkweather, Joseph S. Lyman, Eben B. Morehouse, H. Flagg, and A. L. Jordan, Esquires. Mr. Morell removed to Michigan in 1832, and is at present one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of that state. Mr. Lyman was elected to congress in 1818, but died during his term of service. Mr. Dowse was also elected a member of congress at a still earlier day, but never took his seat, having died previously to the meeting of that body. Messrs. Jordan and Flagg removed from the village after a few years’ residence. Mr. Flagg died in one of the southern states, shortly after he left here.

The village has given the following members to the congress of the United States, to wit, William Cooper, who was first elected in 1794. John Russel, Esq. who was elected in 1804. John M. Bowers, Esq. who sat part of a session in 1813 — 14, but lost his seat in consequence of a decision of the house. {75} William Dowse, Esq. elected in 1812, and died as already mentioned. Joseph S. Lyman, Esq. elected in 1818, and died in 1821; and John H. Prentiss, Esq. who is the sitting member.

The county of Otsego, has for several years, composed a congressional district by itself, and of eleven members chosen at different periods from the county, six have been residents of Cooperstown.

Several other gentlemen became residents of the place during the period already mentioned, and continued to increase and improve its society; among these were Messrs. Edmeston, Atchison, Augustine Prevost and G. W. Prevost. A singular fatality attended the first three of these gentlemen. Col. Prevost was lost in the well known shipwreck of the Albion packet. Mr. Edmeston was drowned while bathing, and Mr. Atchison fell by his own hand during an access of fever. Neither of these melancholy events occurred in the village.

Five deaths by drowning, in the lake, have occurred among the inhabitants of the village since the settlement of the place.

The village was much improved by the fire of 1818; stone and brick buildings having been principally erected in the place of those destroyed.

The first public house in Cooperstown, as has been said already, was kept by William Ellison, on Water Street, near the outlet. But the first public house of {76} any note, was the old “Red Lion,” kept by Joseph Griffin, on the projecting corner of West and Second Streets. This building, which at different times has been much enlarged, repaired and improved, has continued to be one of the principal inns of the place for forty six years. The old sign, which was painted by an amateur artist, R. R. Smith, Esq. the first sheriff of the county, stood for many years; but to the great regret of the older inhabitants of the place, it has been made to disappear, before some of the more ambitious improvements of the day, the house being now called the “Eagle Tavern.”

The second public house of any consequence, was the “Blue Anchor,” kept by William Cook, on the corner diagonally opposite to the “Red Lion;” this house was in much request for many years among all the genteeler portion of the travellers. Its host was a man of singular humors, great heartiness of character, and perfect integrity. He had been the steward of an English East-Indiaman, and enjoyed an enviable reputation in the village for his skill in mixing punch and flip. On holy-days, a stranger would have been apt to mistake him for one of the magnates of the land, as he invariably appeared in a drab coat of the style of 1776, with buttons as large as dollars, breeches, striped stockings, buckles that covered half his foot, and a cocked hat large enough to extinguish him. The landlord of the “Blue Anchor” was a general favorite, {77} his laugh and his pious oaths having become historical.

There were many other taverns in the place, the most considerable of which was “Washington Hall.” It stood on the north side of Second Street, one door from the corner of Fair street. This house at one period was in more request than any other in the place, but not until the functions of the popular landlord of the Blue Anchor had ceased.

In 1832, the house adjoining the old “Washington Hall” was removed, and a spacious inn was erected on its site; this is at the eastern corner of Second and Fair Streets, and the inn is known by the name of “Union Hall.”

A tavern was kept by Daniel Olendorf, on the north-east corner of Second and Chestnut Streets for several years. This house was probably in more demand than any other that has been kept in the village, but it was discontinued in the early part of the present year, though it is still in request as a boarding house. The “Eagle Tavern” and “Union Hall” are now the two principal inns of the place, the first being the stage house.

According to the census of 1820, the population of the village had increased to 1000, and in 1825 it was reduced to 857, while in 1830 it was 1115. By the census of 1835, it was found to be 1190. The growth of the village has been in some degree retarded {78} by the mania for western emigration, and there was a period at the commencement of the century, when Judge Cooper made large drafts on this village and the surrounding country, for settlers on his other estates. The law abolishing imprisonment for debt, has also had a tendency to lessen the population of this village, in common with those of all the small county towns in the interior.

Notwithstanding the apparent stagnation in the place, Cooperstown has actually been greatly improved within the last fifteen years. Several houses have been erected in brick or stone, of respectable dimensions and of genteel finish; among these that of Mr. Elihu Phinney, on West Street, that of Mr. William Nichols on Fair Street, that of Mr. Ellery Cory, also on West Street, and that of Mr. John Hannay, on Second Street, are among the most considerable. The last three are of stone.

A law was passed on the 8ᵗʰ day of April, 1830, incorporating a bank, by the title of the “Otsego County Bank,” and a stone banking-house was erected on the south side of Second Street, nearly opposite to Fair street, in 1831. This bank has a capital of one hundred thousand dollars, and Robert Campbell and Henry Scott, Esquires, both old and respectable inhabitants of the village, have been its president and cashier, since the formation of the institution. This incorporation has been well managed, {79} and as it has been found very serviceable to the community, while it has escaped the imputations that rest on so many similar establishments in other places, it is in favor, with all the intelligent part of the population.

Few of the very early heads of families in the village now remain; many of those even, who came in about the close of the last or the beginning of the present century, are already dead, and several of those who accompanied their parents as children, have followed them to the grave. Isaac Cooper, Esq. the second son of the proprietor, who for many years was an active inhabitant of the village, and who contributed little less than his father, to its improvement and embellishment, died on the 1ˢᵗ of January, 1818. His two brothers, William and Samuel survived him but a short time.

Thomas Shankland, Esq. died 21ˢᵗ August, 1823, and his wife Rachel, 21ˢᵗ October, 1826. He was the owner of the mills south of the village at the time of his death.

James Averell, Esq. whose activity in business has been already mentioned, died as lately as December, 1836. His wife having preceded him to the grave about two years.

Dr. Thomas Fuller, whose practice in the village commenced in 1791, died on the 11ᵗʰ July, 1837.

Mr. Joshua Starr, another of the old inhabitants {80} died the 17ᵗʰ February, 1838, and his wife on the 5ᵗʰ May, 1837.

Mr. Ralph Worthington and Mr. John Frederick Ernst, both respectable residents for a long time, died early, the first on the 9ᵗʰ September, 1828, and the second, on the 29ᵗʰ November, 1830.

Descendants of all these families exist in the second and third, and in some cases, in the fourth generations.

The families longest resident in Cooperstown, are the following, the date of the connection with the place being put opposite to the name of each, viz.: Cooper, (1785-1790;) Miller, (1786;) Averell, (1786-1788;) White, (1788;) Baldwin, (1790;) Fuller, (1791;) Starr, (1792;) Griffin, (1792;) lngalls, (1793;) Graves, (1793;) Phinney, (1795;) Russell, (1796;) Ernst, (1799;) Metcalf, (1799;) Bowden, (1799;) Pomeroy, (1801;) Campbell, (1802;) Worthington, (1802;) McNamee, (1802;) Olendorf, (1802;) Foote, (1804;) Scott, (1805;) Prentiss, (1808;) &c. &c. &c. To these may be added several families that have long been settled in the adjoining country, and of which some of the members now reside in the village. Among the latter, we find the names of Fitch, (1790-1814;) Clark, (1796-1812;) Jarvis, 1786-1832;) Stowel, (1792-1822;) Doubleday, (1794-1821;) Luce, (1788-1830.) The family of Bowers may also be enumerated, though not within the village limits, coming in 1803. Of the above men{81}tioned names, Messrs. Miller, White, Baldwin, Russell, Griffin, Bowden, Campbell, Pomeroy, Foote, McNamee, Scott, Olendorf, and Prentiss, the original head of each family are still living, as is also Mr. Bowers. John Miller is now, and indeed, for a long time has been, the oldest living settler. His children own the property which he first cleared from the forest. James White, a carpenter, well known for his industry and hard application to his work, is the next oldest settler, and Joseph Baldwin, cooper, is the third; the fourth male is James Fenimore Cooper, Esquire. This gentleman was born in 1789, and in 1790, was brought an infant, a year old, into the village, with the family of Judge Cooper, of which he was the youngest child. His sister, Mrs. Pomeroy, is the longest resident among the females, neither of those already named as older inhabitants, her own father excepted, having been married at the time of the arrival of her family. The next oldest female resident, we believe to be the wife of Joseph Baldwin.

Of descendants, there have been four generations of the Cooper family in the place, from father to son. This is the only instance, we believe, in which the fourth generation has yet been reached in the same name, though it has been several times done through females. The grand-children of the older settlers are in active life, however, in very many instances.

The following names belong to families that may {82} now be considered as old inhabitants, though their residence is of comparatively recent date, viz: E. Cory, Gregory, Nichols, G. A. Starkweather, Waterman, Paul, Perkins, Tracy, Wilson, Spafard, Lewis, Besancon, H. Cory, Cooley and Davis.

Some of the members of these families are now among the most respectable and useful inhabitants of the place.

In 1825, Samuel Nelson, Esquire, the Judge of the Circuit Court, married the only daughter of Judge Russell, and became an inhabitant of Cooperstown. Judge Nelson resided some time at “Apple Hill,” but in 1829 he purchased “Fenimore,” and enlarging the farm-house, he converted it into a spacious and convenient dwelling. The walls of the ruins left by the fire of 1823, were removed in 1826, and no traces of that situation now remain, but its foundations. Judge Nelson was promoted to the bench of the Supreme Court in 1833, and in 1836, he became its Chief Justice.

John A. Dix, Esquire, the present Secretary of State, purchased “Apple Hill” of the heirs of R. Fenimore Cooper, Esq. in 1828, but sold it to Levi C. Turner, Esq. at his removal to Albany, on his being appointed Adjutant General. Mr. Turner is married to the daughter of Robert Campbell, Esq. and is the present owner of that beautiful situation.

In 1829, Eben B. Morehouse, Esquire, purchased {83} a few acres of Mr. Bowers, on the side of the “Vision,” at the point where the old state road made its first turn to ascend the mountain, and caused a handsome dwelling in stone to be constructed. This place, which has received the appropriate name of “Woodside,” has been extensively embellished, and as it enjoys the advantage of possessing a beautiful pine grove, it is generally esteemed one of the most desirable residences of the neighborhood. In 1836, Mr. Morehouse sold “Woodside” to Samuel Wootton Beall, Esquire, a native of Maryland, who had married into the family of Cooper.

After the death of the late Isaac Cooper, Esquire, the house at “Edgewater” was sold. An abortive attempt was made to get up a female school, and this house was altered, in order to meet such an object. This project failed, and in 1834, the property was sold to Theodore Keese, Esquire, of New-York, by whom it has been repaired, and the grounds restored to their original beauty, and indeed improved. Mr. Keese uses “Edgewater” as a summer residence, having married into the family of Pomeroy.

The “Hall” having passed into the hands of J. Fenimore Cooper, Esquire, that gentleman, shortly after his return from Europe, or in 1834, had it extensively repaired, and a good deal altered. The roof had rotted, and it was replaced by a new one on the old inclination, but the walls of the building were {84} raised four feet. On these were placed battlements and heavy cornices in brick, that add altogether eight feet to the elevation of the building. The distance between the rows of the windows was increased three feet, by filling in the lower ends of the upper windows, and by placing new stools, the necessary height having been obtained above. Much ornamental brick work has been added, and the effect has been altogether advantageous. All the floors of the second story have also been raised, giving to the principal rooms a better height than they formerly possessed, while those above have been improved the same way, by the addition to the general height of the building. Appropriate entrances have been made on both fronts, that are better suited to the style of architecture and to the climate than the ancient stoops, and two low towers have been added to the east end, which contribute greatly to the comfort of the house, as a residence. The improvements and alterations are still proceeding slowly, and this dwelling, which for ten or twelve years was nearly deserted, promises to be one of the best country houses in the state, again. The grounds have also been enlarged and altered, the present possessor aiming at what is called an English garden. During the life of Judge Cooper, these grounds contained about three acres, but they are now enlarged to near five.

Great improvements have been made in the streets {85} of late years, which have been accurately graded, and in some instances the sidewalks have been flagged. The carriage ways are smooth, in general, and we believe no stump now remains in any of the public avenues. There is a deficiency in the supply of water, however, Cooperstown being less abundantly furnished with this great necessary in 1838, than it was forty years ago; for at that time, log aqueducts were led under ground, from the western mountain into the village. Wells are numerous, though the water is usually hard, and unsuited to domestic purposes; luckily there are several excellent springs within the circle of the houses, and from these the inhabitants obtain most of their supplies. A law was passed in 1827, to incorporate a company to supply the place with water, and it is to be hoped that the day is not distant when its very desirable objects will be carried into effect.

Chapter VII.

Having now given the simple and brief annals of the place, from the time when the site of Cooperstown was a wilderness, down to the present moment, we shall close our labors, with a more general account of {86} its actual condition, trusting that posterity will not permit any period to extend beyond the memory of man, without adding to that which has been here given, in order that there may always exist authentic local annals, for the information and uses of those most interested.

The village of Cooperstown stands in the 44ᵗʰ° of north latitude, and as near as can be ascertained from maps, in the 76ᵗʰ° ‘ of longitude, west from Greenwich. It contains within the corporate limits, according to an enumeration that has been made expressly for this work, the following buildings, vis.:

Dwelling Houses 169
Stores 20
Shops 42
Offices 14
Churches 5
Bank 1
Court House 1
Engine House 1
Total 253

To these buildings may be added between sixty and eighty barns, carriage houses, stables and minor constructions, that stand in the rear of the lots. The buildings of “Lakelands,” “Woodside” and “Fenimore,” all of which places, though quite near the village, stand without its legal limits, are also omitted in this enumeration. If these latter, and some ten or {87} twelve dwelling-houses that stand between Fenimore and Cooperstown, be included, the total number of buildings of all sorts, would not be far from three hundred and fifty.

The population does not probably vary much from 1300 souls at the present moment.

Cooperstown is better built than common, for a village of its size. Of the dwelling-houses, there are a good many of stone or brick, as there are also stores and shops. In the whole, near forty of the buildings are of one or the other of these materials. Many of the dwellings, besides those particularly named, are genteely finished, and would be considered respectable habitations even in the larger towns.

The village is beautifully placed at the southern end of the lake, being bounded on one side by its shores, and on another by its outlet, the Susquehannah. The banks of both these waters are sufficiently elevated, varying from twenty to forty feet. “Apple Hill” probably stands sixty or seventy feet above the river, which it almost overhangs. There is an irregular descent from the rear of the town towards the banks of the lake, and which has been brought to a regular grading in some of the streets running north and south. The place is clean, the situation is dry, and altogether it is one of the healthiest residences in the state.

Lake Otsego is a sheet of limpid water, extending, {88} in a direction from N. N. East, to S. S. West, about nine miles, and varying in width from about three-quarters of a mile to a mile and a half. It has many bays and points, and as the first are graceful and sweeping, and the last low and wooded, they contribute largely to its beauty. The water is cool and deep, and the fish are consequently firm and sweet. The two ends of the lake, without being shallow, deepen their water gradually, but there are places on its eastern side in particular, where a large ship might float with her yards in the forest. The greatest ascertained depth is at a place about two miles from the village, where bottom has been got with a line of one hundred and fifty feet. There are probable spots of a still greater depth. The fish of the Otsego have a deserved reputation, and, at particular seasons, are taken in great abundance. Among those that are edible may be mentioned the following, viz.: the lake fish, or salmon trout, the bass, eels, perch, sun-fish, pickerel, cat-fish, or bull-pouts, and suckers. The river has the white fish, and many of the small neighboring streams are richly supplied with common trout. The trout is little, if any, inferior to the salmon, and has been caught as large as from twenty to thirty pounds; those that weigh from eight to twelve pounds are not uncommon. The bass, or Otsego bass, is also a delicious fish, resembling the white fish of the great lakes. The pickerels and the eels are {89} both excellent of their kind, and very abundant in their seasons.

The shores of the Otsego are generally high, though greatly varied. On the eastern side, extends a range of steep mountains, that varies in height from four to six hundred feet, and which is principally in forest, though here and there a farm relieves its acclivities. The road along this side of the lake is peculiarly pleasant, and travelled persons call it one of the most strikingly picturesque roads within their knowledge. The western shore of the lake is also high, though more cultivated. As the whole country possesses much wood, the farms, viewed across the water, on this side of the lake, resemble English park scenery. Some of the glimpses of the settlement, which has obtained the name of Piers, from the circumstance that several farmers of that family originally purchased lands there, are singularly beautiful, even as seen from the village.

Immediately opposite to the village, on the eastern side of the valley, for the Susquehannah winds its way for near four hundred miles through a succession of charming valleys, the range of mountain terminates, heaving itself up into an isolated hummock, however, before it melts away into the plain. This rise is called the “Vision,” and its summit is much frequented for its views, which are unrivalled in this part of the country. The ascent is easy, by means of {90} roads and paths, and when there, the spectator gets a bird’s-eye view of the village, which appears to lie directly beneath him, of the valley, and of the lake. The latter, in particular, is singularly lovely, displaying all the graceful curvatures of its western shores, while the landscape behind them, embracing Piers, and the hills beyond, is one of the richest and most pleasing rural pictures that can be offered to the eye. Nothing is wanting but ruined castles and recollections, to raise it to the level of the scenery of the Rhine, or, indeed, to that of the minor Swiss views.

“Prospect Rock,” which lies on the same range with the “Vision,” also offers a good view of the village and the valley, though it does not command as extensive an horizon as the first.

The mountains south of Cooperstown form a background of great beauty, and it is seldom that a more graceful and waving outline of forest is met with any where. The “Black Hills” in particular, are exceedingly fine, and are supposed to be nearly a thousand feet above the level of the lake.

As the valley of Cooperstown is about twelve hundred feet above tide, it will readily be conceived that the summers are cool and the air invigorating. These facts are very apparent to those who come from the low counties during the warm months. Even with the thermometer at eighty, as sometimes happens, there is a sensible difference between the oppression {91} produced by the heat, here, and by that produced by the same heat at a less elevation. The lake also, has the effect to produce a circulation of air, it being seldom that there is not a breeze either up or down this beautiful sheet of water.

The banks of the lake abound with eligible situations for country houses. On its western side, there is scarcely a quarter of a mile without one, and we feel persuaded that nothing but a good road to the Mohawk is wanting to bring this spot into so much favor, as shall line the shores of the Otsego with villas. As the roads now are, it requires but twenty hours to go to New-York, and by the improvements that are in progress there is reason to expect this time will ere long be shortened to ten or twelve hours. When that day shall arrive, we predict that Cooperstown, during five months of the year, will become a place of favorite resort for those who wish a retreat from the dust and heat of the larger towns.

The society of this place is already of a higher order than that of most villages of its size. In this respect, Cooperstown has always been remarkable, more liberal tastes, and a better style of living having prevailed in the place from its commencement, than is usually to be found in new countries. At different periods, many families and individuals accustomed to the best society of the country have dwelt here, and they have imparted to the place the habits and tone {92} of their own condition in life. So far from gaining by a closer connection with the commercial towns, therefore, in this respect, there is reason to think that the village might not be better off than it is at present.

Lying as it does off the great routes, the village of Cooperstown is less known than it deserves to be. Few persons visit it without acknowledging the beauties of its natural scenery, and the general neatness and decency of the place itself. The floating population, it is true, has brought in some of that rudeness and troublesome interference, which characterizes the migrating and looser portion of the American people; but a feeling has been awakened among the old inhabitants, that is beginning to repel this innovation, and we already, in this class, see signs of a return to the ancient deportment, which was singularly respectable, having been equally free from servile meanness and obtrusive vulgarity. One or two instances of audacious assumptions of a knowledge of facts, and of a right to dictate, on the part of strangers, have recently met with rebukes that will probably teach others caution, if they do not teach them modesty. On the whole, the feeling of the community is sound, and is little disposed to tolerate this interference with the privileges of those who have acquired rights by time and a long connection with the place.

It has been said, both directly and indirectly, that the village of Cooperstown is well built; unlike most {93} such places, its best houses are private residences, and not taverns. The “Hall” and “Edgewater” are both American country houses of the first class. The house of Mr. Henry Phinney, which is sometimes called the “Locusts,” is a very pretty pavilion of considerable size, and the building is well finished, and in good style; all three are of brick. “Woodside” is also a substantial and respectable dwelling, in stone. “Lakelands” is not a very large house, but it is well placed, and is finished more like a villa than any other building around it. “Apple Hill” has a house of no great beauty, but the situation is much the best within the limits of the village. The present house at “Fenimore” is respectable, though with very little pretensions to architecture, but the whole of the grounds are delightful, and the site of the old building is one of the most beautiful in the state, for a residence of that character. In addition to these places, which, from possessing select grounds, are the most conspicuous, there are a dozen other dwellings that have more or less advantages, and some of which are also well placed. Even many of the buildings that stand directly on the principal streets are above the ordinary level, and the general impression made on the observer, is that of respectability and good taste. Many of the houses have gardens, though the original plan prevented the introduction of court-yards, of which {94} there are but eight or ten that deserve the name in the place.

The present condition of Cooperstown is sufficiently prosperous, without being in that state of feverish excitement that has afflicted so many other small towns. The trade is not great, but it is steady and profitable. The village contains six dry good stores, all of which are on a respectable scale; four groceries; two druggists; hatters, watch-makers and jewelers, tin-men, and the customary number of more common mechanics, such as tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, &c. &c., some of which establishments are on a scale larger than common.

Distinctly within the recollection of many now living, or some forty years ago, there were not probably half a dozen forte-pianos, if as many, in the state, west of Schenectady. There was one in the “Hall,” which was certainly the only one in the county of Otsego, at that time. There are now two manufactories of the instrument in the village, both of which also make organs, and no less than thirty five private houses in which pianos are to be found. Three of the churches have organs. Lessons in music are given by three different competent persons, and a good taste in this delightful art is fast obtaining.

There are two boarding schools for females in Cooperstown, though no good classical school for boys has ever existed in the place. The proximity to the Hartwick Academy, distant only five miles, is supposed to retard the accomplishment of so desirable an object. Nevertheless, a higher order of instruction is gradually coming into use, particularly among the females, and, as Cooperstown has always possessed good models, it is hoped the attainments and principles which render the sex so attractive and useful, as well as respectable, will take deep root in the community. As they improve their minds and tastes, the young of that sex, on whose example so much depends, will obtain new sources of happiness, which, while they create a disrelish for the less refined amusements, will give them a still higher standard of attainments, juster notions of their own dignity, and an increasing dislike for those familiar and unlady-like pursuits that are too apt to form the aim of a mere village belle. The term village belle, however, is inapplicable to the state of society that already exists in this little community, and we regard, with satisfaction, the signs of a more general advancement than formerly, in the accomplishments that mark an improved association, the possession of which is so certain, when carried beyond their elements, to bring with it its own regard.

Cooperstown has two weekly newspapers, the “Freeman’s Journal” and the “Otsego Republican,” the former of which has always been esteemed for a respectable literary taste. In politics, as a matter of course, these papers are opposed to each other.

{96} There are nine practitioners in the law, at present, residing in the village, viz.: Messrs. Campbell, Crippen, Morehouse, Cooper, Bowne, Walworth, Lathrop, Starkweather and Turner. William H. Averell, Es quire, is also in the profession, but he does not practice. Of these gentlemen, Messrs. Averell and Cooper are natives of the place; Messrs. Campbell and Crippen of the county.

The principal mercantile firms are those of H. B. & G. W. Ernst, L. McNamee, E. D. Richardson, & Co., J. Stowell, John Russell, & Co., and H. Lathrop, & Co. Most of these gentlemen are natives of the village, or of the country immediately around it. Mr. McNamee is a European by birth, but he has resided in Cooperstown, as a merchant, thirty six years.

There are four practising physicians at present, viz: Doctors Spafard, Curtis, Johnson and Harper.

The printing establishment of Messrs. H. & E. Phinney is one of the most extensive manufactories in the village, if not the most extensive. It ordinarily employs about forty hands, of both sexes, and consumes annually 3000 reams of paper. It has five presses in almost constant use. Large bibles and school books are chiefly produced. Of the former, this house publishes 8000 copies annually. It also publishes 60,000 volumes of other books, chiefly school books, and 200,000 almanacs, toy-books, &c.

The Tannery is still kept up, and it produces a con{97}siderable amount of leather, annually. Iron castings are also made in the village. The manufactory of Messrs. E. & H. Corey, in cabinet ware, pails, &c. &c. is on a respectable scale. The manufactory of hats, by J. R. Worthington, an establishment that has passed into the second generation of the same family, is also considerable. Mr. Stephen Gregory has long had a respectable shoe-store and manufactory, that is still kept up. The industry of the place, however, as a whole, is directed more toward supplying the wants of the surrounding country, than to exportation. In this sense, the business is considerable, and is gradually increasing, with the growing wealth of the county.

Although Cooperstown, which has now had an existence of half a century, may not have produced any very eminent men, it has had a fair proportion of respectable citizens. Several young artists and mechanics, that were born here, have risen to some notoriety in their several callings, and the clergy and the members of the bar, have generally maintained respectable stations in their respective professions.

Cooperstown for the last twenty years has been rather remarkable for its female population. Perhaps no place of its size, can boast of a finer collection of young women, than this village, the salubrity of the climate appearing to favor the development of their forms and constitutions. The beauty, indeed, of {98} the sex in this village, has been celebrated in verse even, and we think quite justly.

As the growth and improvement of Cooperstown have been steady, and, with very trifling exceptions, regularly progressive, they may be expected to continue in the same ratio, for a long time to come. We shall have no mushroom city, but there is little doubt, that, in the course of time, as the population of the country fills up, this spot will contain a provincial town of importance. The beauty of its situation, the lake, the purity of the air, and the other advantages already pointed out, seem destined to make it more peculiarly a place of resort, for those who live less for active life, than for its elegance and ease. It is highly probable that, half a century hence, the shores of the lake will be lined with country residences, when the village will be the centre of their supplies of every kind. Were an effort made, even now, by the erection of proper lodging houses, the establishment of reading rooms and libraries, and the embellishment of a few of the favorable spots, in the way of public promenades and walks, it strikes us that it would be quite easy to bring the place into request, as one of resort for the inhabitants of the large towns during the warm months. The mode adopted in the smaller European towns, would be the most suitable for commencing such an experiment. If a few persons, with narrow incomes, and who possessed proper buildings, were to fit up {99} rooms, as parlors and bed rooms, a set in each house, furnish the breakfasts and tea, and, if required, the dinner, persons of fortune would be induced to frequent the place, would pay liberal prices, and the village in a few years, would reap the benefit of a large expenditure. The system of common boarding houses will not for a long time draw to Cooperstown company in sufficient numbers to remunerate; or company even of the right quality; but half a dozen furnished lodgings, on a respectable scale, we think would lay the foundation of a system that might prove to be exceedingly serviceable to the interests of the place. There is every thing that is wanted for such an object, and, as society produces society, a few years would bring an accession of this important requisite, that would be certain to sustain itself.

To conclude, Cooperstown is evidently destined to occupy some such place among the towns of New York, as is now filled by the villages and towns on the shores of the lakes of Westmoreland, in England, and by the several bourgs on those of the different waters of Switzerland. The period of this consummation may be advanced, or it may be retarded by events; though nothing will be so likely to hasten it, as to provide the means of comfortable private lodgings. As it is, scarcely a summer passes that families do not reluctantly go from this beautiful spot, to others less favored by nature, and with an inferior society, in consequence {100} of their being unable to obtain the required accommodations. Still, every thing shows a direction towards this great end, among which may be mentioned the increasing taste for boating, for music, the languages, and other amusements and accomplishments of the sort, that bespeak an improving civilization.




Index to The Chronicles of Cooperstown