The History of New York State
Book X, Chapter I

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

INTRODUCTION.

Three great rivers make up the main drainage system of New York, and it was up these rivers that the pioneer settlers progressed. The head waters of the Delaware and Susquehanna were long distances away from their outlets and the settlements located near them, so that the valleys of these two rivers were relatively late in being populated. The labor of poling or paddling a deep laden craft up the shallow, swift-flowing upper waters of the streams was great, and only the adventurous and strong would or could attempt it. Of necessity, it was by an unusually sturdy race of men that the eastern part of the southern tier of counties were founded, and to them must honor be paid for the solidity of the foundations on which the prosperity of this great section is builded.

The valleys of the two rivers, in New York, were narrow, lying among the hills. The whole region was heavily forested. Lumbering was the great first industry; the laying of railroads gave life to a related industry, leather making, in which this district became the leader of the State. Then came a period extending down to the present time, of farming, particularly dairying. This is the record of the soil.

The multiplication of means of transportation brought about the growth of numerous industrial cities, cities in their lines unsurpassed. It has in recent years introduced the country to large numbers of summer visitors; it has become a region of resorts and estates. But this group of counties is, when all is said, an agricultural district. It has suffered the set back that came with the opening of the west, population has been stationary or falling off for a long period, but the State census of 1925 indicates that this period is nearly over. There is a movement back to the soil at least in this section. Modern means and modern methods are being used. Cropping is being diversified. Agriculture is advancing, and the number of farmers increasing. The valleys of the Susquehanna and Delaware are taking a leadership for which they are naturally fitted.

CHAPTER I.

BROOME COUNTY. #1

The greatest real estate transfer in New York State history was that of fort Stanwix November 5, 1768. After a long session with the Iroquois, an agreement was reached by the English and Indians, by which all the territory east of line starting near the fort was sold to George III of England for $50,000, a sum which he thought "very reasonable." According to this line the area not called Broome county was for the most part, at that date, Indian country. Not until after the Revolution can this region be said to "white," for the Indians then paid this as the great price for fighting on the wrong side in that difficulty.

The region was by no means unknown or undesired before this relatively late date. One of the great Indian trails ran along the Susquehanna, and several of minor import met or crossed this at the confluence of the Chemung and Susquehanna. In their journeys the white men followed these trails when on foot, for be it remembered they were narrow foot-paths, well worn and clear, but made by those how walked and carried their own burdens. These white wanderers no doubt told of the beauties of this valley. But it was the stores told by the soldiers of Sullivan's army, which made its way through this section on its march to the Genesee, that brought about the influx of settlers a few years later.

In 1779 Congress authorized a movement to stop the Indian raids on the Continental frontiers. General Sullivan was placed at the head of the invading army. General Clinton, with headquarters on Lake Otsego, was to join him at a given spot. He reached the present site of Binghamton and met Sullivan not far from here, and the juncture was memorialized in the name of the town which is now located there, Union. The account of this forerunner of "Sherman's march to the sea," may be found elsewhere. Enough for this local history that the men of these combines armies became acquainted with the Broome region, with the result that among the settlers who came just before the end of the century were to be found the names of many who served in that campaign, and no doubt, many of the others came because of their commendations.

There are few lovelier parts of New York State or ones with a greater variety of surface than Broome County. The Susquehanna flows through it, and the Delaware skirts the eastern boundary for a space. The Chenango joins the larger river, and the Otselic, Tioughnioga, Nanticoke, all traverse some part of the district. This makes for many valley with the valley fertility of soil. Even the hilly sections are not rugged wastes, but soft crowned heights that are cultivated to their tops when thus the farmer wishes. There are no minerals of value, although stone of good quality has been quarried at different places and times. The ancient forest, the pioneer's first resource and source of his greatest labors, was of many kinds of trees, with quantities of useful hardwoods. The soils, as they were uncovered by the pioneer, proved to be easy of cultivation and capable of growing almost any crop he cared to plant. The course of agriculture has under gone the usual changes which are determined, not by the possibilities of the soil, but the surety of a good market. The grains which made up the principal crops until 1850, has been displaced by hay; general farming has given way to dairying. Some 5,000 acres were in fruit (1920), there were 45,428 dairy animals and 161,220 chickens in the county in the same year.

the pioneer built his gristmill almost before he had the grain to grind. The timber called for the saw, the skins of both wild animals and the cattle he killed for meat created a demand for tanneries, and the sheep which were imported almost from the first, developed woolen mills. But little did these early industries hint of the thousand factories which were to be the great source of prosperity in this late century. Broome has been called the "Valley of Opportunity." It has great factories, some of which are only larger editions of the original works. It has the transportation facilities with three of the great railroads crossing it. Coal, iron, materials for all sorts are at its doors, and the same gateway to them is the outlet for finished products. Best of all, it has had the men, as the story of the various division will bring out. In fact the whole story of Broome and its principal city, Binghamton, is better told in the story of the individual divisions.

Binghamton--The larger part of the city of Binghamton is built on land once owned by William Bingham, after whom the city was named. Some 30,600 acres were patented to three men of whom Bingham was one, by the State of New York, June 27, 1786. In less than four years, a division of the property gave William Bingham nearly half of the grant, including the present site of the city.

William Bingham was a native of Philadelphia, served as consul on the Island of Martinique during the Revolution, married Anne Willing in 1780, and lived the life of a wealthy landed proprietor in Philadelphia and abroad. His agent in the handling of the Bingham holdings was Joshua Whitney, to whose vision the settlement of the city is mostly due. Chenango Point was the name under which this new settlement started, and Captain Joseph Leonard was the first settler who came with his family up the Susquehanna in 1787 and located on the west bank of the Chenango. The Chenango joins the Delaware near the heart of the present city. Plans, and a map of a village at this place has been made in 1800, although the date of the power of attorney given Whitney in March of 1802 may be taken as the date of the founding of Binghamton; the date of it incorporation a village, May 3, 1834. The hamlet was little more than just a struggling rural center until 1848, when it became the western terminus of the Erie Railroad. After a number of changes in the village charter, Binghamton was incorporated as a city April 9, 1867, this charter being revised six times, the last being in 1917.

Binghamton is often called the "Parlor City," a tribute to the exceeding care which has characterized the management of the place. Along with its growth, and often ahead of its material development, all the parts which go to make up the complete and ideal residential and industrial city have been provided. The site has been called the "Valley of Opportunity." It is the center of a fertile district; several of the great railroads of the State lie at its door; and strong business men have been always present. The first industries were the usual ones, the gristmill, and later, 1806, a tannery. The Chenango was dammed and mills multiplied about 1812. In 1825 the Susquehanna was drawn on for its water power, and for years Binghamton had many wood working establishments and flour mills. Iron working was begun in the 1830's, the fore-runners of the plants now making metal articles. The tobacco industry began in a very small way in 1850, giving no hint that the city would ever be one of the largest of the cigar-making places in the State. Of more recent acquisition wee the show and photographic industries, and the time recording machine factories. Binghamton has, probably, a population of 75,00, the figures of 1920 being 66,800.

Broome County was erected from Tioga County March 28, 1806, with the county seat a Binghamton, which had been for years a half shiretown of Tioga. Mr. Bingham had pledged ground for public buildings, and after his death in 1804, the tract on which the present court house is built, came into the possession of the village. The greater number of the seventeen towns into which the county is divided were formed after the erection of Broome. A list of these civil district with their populations covering the years from 1890 to 1920 is as follows:

 

BROOME COUNTY

1890

1892

1900

1905

1910

1915

1920

Barker

1,100

1,133

1,072

984

948

987

1.003

Binghamton

1,519

784

847

703

675

731

672

Binghamton City

35,005

34,514

39,647

42,036

48,443

53,668

66,800

Chenango

1,448

1,438

1,372

1,314

1,237

1,273

1,183

Colesville

3,126

3,065

2,773

2,457

2,415

2,525

2,311

Conklin

1,003

1,003

946

935

850

942

796

Dickinson

---

524

728

703

832

1,222

1,975

Fenton

1,280

1,373

1,171

1,145

1,050

1,240

1,111

Kirkwood

1,119

1,134

918

887

852

942

899

Liske

1,962

1,927

1,710

1,551

1,429

1,477

1,219

Maine

1,692

1,649

1,534

1,411

1,363

1,339

1,360

Nanticoke

723

698

666

621

536

549

444

Sanford

3,265

3,314

3,514

3,424

2,980

2,805

2,681

Triangle

1,879

1,879

1,727

1,633

1,600

1,633

1,458

Union

2,711

3,172

5,707

8,146

9,486

15,236

25,651

Vestal

2,076

2,118

1,850

1,681

1,618

1,688

1,910

Windsor

3,035

3,017

2,967

2,634

2,495

2,384

2,137

Inmates of Institutions

---

21

---

17

---

---

---

Totals

62,973

62,793

69,140

72,282

78,809

90,641

113,610

 

Barker, formed April 18, 1831, had for its pioneer Thomas Gallup, who came about 1782, and located near the site of the present village of Chenango Falls. About 1791 John barker, who gave the name to this section, settled on the east side of the Chenango River. the fine farm land and the water powers of the Chenango and Tioughnioga Rivers were the attractions to the new settlers and the foundations of its past and present development. The most important village is Chenango Forks, which is unique in lying in parts of three townships. Other hamlets of the section are: Itaska, in a fine dairy district; Hydeville, in the western part of Barker.

Binghamton, formed in 1855, included the city of the same name until 1867, leaving the town with just under 16,000 acres. Although there were settlers in this district shortly after the Revolution, there was little done in the way of permanent settlement until Major Martin Hawley, some time prior to 1829, purchased 2,500 acres of woodland, settling upon it in 1833. Other pioneers of the town have already been mentioned, and the history of the region is that of the city. The only other settlement is Hawleyton.

Chenango, one of the original towns of Broome, established February 16, 1791, is the mother of seven of the towns of the county. Colonel William Rose, on the site of Nimmonsburg, was the first of the permanent settlers, 1787. Agriculture has always been the dominant occupation of the section. Among the numerous pleasant hamlets are: Castle Creek, Glen Castle, Kattelville, Chenango Bridge and West Chenango.

Colesville, formed April 2, 1821, with an area of 47,179 acres, was set off from Windsor. Formerly heavily forested, with many mills in operation, it is now one of the best of the dairy towns of Broome. Along the Susquehanna which flows through Colesville from north to south, are many fine acres devoted to general farming. John Lamphere, in 1785, was the first to settle in what was then an unbroken wilderness. Between 1787 and 1795 a Robert Harpur secured a patent to land sin Warren township and his activities had much to do with the settlement of Colesville. The principal villages bears the name, Harpursville, and while no longer the bustling place of the lumber days, is quite a rural center.

Ninevah, near the Chenango County line, on the railroad became one of the foremost hamlets of Colesville, in 1825, and had a number of industrial plants after the coming of the road. Center village, Osborne Hollow became Sanataria springs after the established of a sanitarium. Ouaquaga, Tunnel, West and North Colesville, Vallona Springs, and Belden are the other hamlets in this town.

Conklin numbered, at the date of its establishment from Chenango, in 1824, not more then 635 inhabitants. A number of families had been its first settlers in 1788, who found the land, when once cleared of its timber, to be dome of the finest in the region. Agriculture was and is the main interest of the inhabitants of Conklin, but in the decade following its formation, much leather and cotton goods were made in the township. One of the last of the industrial concerns to operate in the district was a sugar beet factory. Some of the splendid villages of the section are: Conklin Station on the Lackawanna System: Corbettsville, Conklin Forks, and Conklin Center.

Dickinson, formed from Chenango, the last of a number of towns taken from it, was created December 12, 1890. In area, it is the smallest of the towns, with an acreage of 4,006, but makes up in worth as an agricultural and commercial community.

The history of the early settlers is so entangled with that of the mother town that it is impossible to state the name of the pioneer. The only village of Dickinson is Port Dickinson, which became an incorporated village January 22, 1876. It came into existence with the Chenango Canal, 1837, had a paper mill, a broom factory, a flour mill and a whip factory in Civil war times; but Th. place never recovered from the set back given by the closing of the canal.

Fenton, formed December 3, 1855, from Chenango, was first named Port Crane. It is thought that the first of the settlers of the town was Elisha Pease who came in 1788. There were many early mills along the streams of the township, and the Chenango Canal raised it to a height of prosperity, but farming has been the main industry of its people. The Methodist Home for the Orphan Children of the Wyoming conference is located at Hillcrest. Other villages of the section are: Port Crane, always the most prominent; North Fenton, formerly Ketchum's corners.

Kirkwood, formed from Conklin November 23, 1859, lies just to the east of Binghamton. Truck farming and dairying are the main occupation of its residents. Jonathan Fitch, emigrating from the Wyoming valley, was the pioneer of the town, 1789. He built a gristmill, and became one of the strong men of the district. The one village of note in Kirkwood bears the same name. The other hamlets of the section are: Riverside, Langdon and Brookvale.

Lisle, created from Union, April 7,. 1801, contains 27,772 acres, even after having given the territory to form Barker, Nanticoke, and Triangle. It is in the northwest of the county on the lands of the "Boston Purchase" an was settled in 1791 by men from New England. Lisle was one of the fastest growing towns in Broome in the day from 1800 to 1830. It had a number of industries in these years. The principal center was the village of Lisle, incorporated in 1876. There were 45 mills, and factories scattered through the town in 1835. The present interests are mainly agricultural. Killawog, a former lumber hamlet, and Yorkshire, or Lisle Center, are two rural places.

Maine, formed from Union, March 27, 1848, gave land to establish a part of Chenango in 1856. The acreage of 28,429 is principally devoted to farming. Either in 1794, or 1798, the first settlers came to this part of what was union township. By 1800 the district seems to have been relatively well populated. The village, Maine, is the rural center of the town, with the nearby hamlets, East and North Maine, completing the roll of settlements.

Nanticoke, a purely agricultural community, away from the river and railroad, was formed from Lisle April 18, 1831. In 1792 Philip Councilman broke land fro the first settlement in the town. Where he located was known by his name for years, but was later to take the name Glen Aubrey. This hamlet, with the one named after the town, are the tow principal villages of the town. in the days of the forests, both these places were well populated, and were the seat of numerous saw mills.

Sanford, formed from Windsor in 1821, with the large area of 55,400 acres, had a population at that time of only 600 people, and not ten [per cent of its land under cultivation. The pioneer of the section was William McClure, who was the surveyor of most of the land included in the town. He made his home on the site of the principal village of the township, and brought his wife to his log house which he called Castle William (1791). In this latter year he had a number of Massachusetts people for neighbors, and the village of Ouaquaga thus founded. The principal village of the township is Deposit, the first village in Broome to be incorporated until 1851. Deposit was the leading lumber town on the Delaware, and retained much of its importance after the cutting of the timber. Besides the modern mercantile section of the place, there are a number of industrial concerns, of which those making cu glass, and the seed companies are in the fore. The village is the central shipping point for a wide dairy district. Population, in 1920, 2,136. Other villages of this section are: Sanford, McClures, Ouaquaga, north Sanford and Gulf Summit.

Triangle, formed April 18, 1831, from Lisle, had been known because of its shape as Chenango triangle, but omitted the first name when set up as a town. General John Patterson, of Massachusetts, was probably the first (1791) to locate within the triangle. The timber cutting of the early days has given way to farming. The men who had the most to do with the development of the town came in 1802, Thomas and William Whitney They formed the center around which grew the village of Whitney Point. This settlement, incorporated 1871, although t it has a population well under a thousand, is one of the most flourishing of Broome's villages. It was all but wiped out by fire in 1897, but rebuilt in a more substantial way, with ample fire protection provided. Other hamlets in the township are Upper Lisle, Triangle and Penelope.

Union, created March 16, 1791, had, originally, a territory of 700 square miles, but in the formation of other counties and towns has been reduced to 33. This region was the home of the Tuscarora Indians, and the name Union is derived from the fact that the two divisions of Sullivan's punitive army met here in 1779. In 1782 Amos Draper, a trader, made his home on the Vestal side of the river and by 1791 there were enough people in the area to supply 177 men to do road work in the highways. The town seems to have made a steady growth from the beginning, first as a timber section, then as one of the best farm areas, and today in addition to agriculture, it is prominent in its industries. Many of the hamlets of the town are of ancient origin. One, Nanticoke, has ceased to exist. Union Center and Hooper have survived.

Union village, once but a trading point, has been greatly changed. The baby among the villages has become very much an grown-up. Prior to 1888, George Harry Lester began to buy certain farms in union, with the intent of building a shoe factory town. A village came to be, and was incorporated September 15m 1892. In this same year, H. B. Endicott, of Boston, with George Johnson as his manager, took over the Lester plant, the remaining history of the region where the Endicott-Johnson corporation is located, is the history of the growth of two model towns, Johnson City and Endicott. Union and Endicott soon grew together, and the fact was recognized in the consolidation of the two places as Endicott, in 1921. Union then had a population of about 3,000; Endicott numbering 13,000. There are more then 10,000 people in Johnson City.

Vestal, formerly a part of Union, was set up as a separate town January 22, 1823. It was settled in 1785 by Samuel and Daniel Seymour, and after the usual lumber boom, became, in the main, a solid farm area. Its proximity to such industrial centers as Endicott and Union has been giving a new impetus to the growth of the town. When the Revolutionary troops were in this section they were quartered at Choconut, a place of marked beauty. This was the site of a village known first as Crane's ferry, but now as Vestal, the principal settlement of the township. Tracy Creek is a hamlet that once was a rival of Vestal. Vestal Center is a hamlet four miles east of Tracy Creek.

Windsor, established March 2, 1807, included Sanford and Colesville, which separated in 1821, and part of Conklin until 1851. It is the largest of the towns with an acreage of 54,573. As far back of 1712, the Tuscaroras, fleeing from the south, set up in this region an Indian village known of Ouaquaga. Sir William Johnson, in his capacity as land agent, visited the section in 1754 and caused to be erected a chapel. After the Cherry Valley and Wyoming massacres, however, Colonel Butler destroyed the Indian town. Not until 1785 do we have record of an attempt at resettlement of the area by the whites. In that year John Doolittle cleared the land for his home, and must soon have had neighbors, for by 18095 there were more than 1,000 residents, and in 1808 the population was given as 1,979. Nathan Lane, who came prior to 1800, during the height of the lumber days. Windsor village is the principal place of the district, incorporated in 1896, and taking the lead from Ouaquaga, which was the leader until 1830. One industrial fact of interest is, that of the five whip factories found in the Untied States, Windsor village has two of them. Other settlements in this now strongly agricultural township are: East and West Windsor, Damascus, Lester, Edson, Wake, Occanum, Cascade Valley and State Line.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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