Cherry Valley, Otsego, NY
Joseph Phelon Biography

JOSEPH PHELON

was born in Suffield, Hartford Co., Conn., Aug. 27, 1778. He received the rudiments of his education at the district school, and subsequently entered the Westfield academy, closing his studies at the celebrated private select school of Rev. Ebenezer Gay. He pursued his studies with diligence and attention, and succeeded in acquiring an education that well qualified him for his subsequent successful business career. He taught the high school at Suffield two years, and in 1809 came to Litchfield, Herkimer Co., N. Y., and in the following year commenced the mercantile business at Bridgewater, Oneida Co. During the war with England, in 1812-15 the troops at Oswego were supplied with provisions from the Bridgewater establishment on contract, delivered at Oswego by wagons or sleighs. The provisions were received at Oswego by Alvin Bronson, now residing in that city at the advanced age of ninety-four years, who at that time was agent for I. & J. Townsend, the contractors for supplying the Northern army with provisions.

In 1815 he became interested in the Susquehanna cotton and woolen manufactory, situated on the Susquehanna river, in the town of Hartwick, which he managed until 1819, when he became interested in the Union cotton manufactory, located on the outlet of Schuyler’s lake, which was about the first in the state. Here he commenced the manufacture of calico prints with indigo and madder dyes, by block prints, having procured a practical workman from England, and succeeded until the manufacture of prints by copper rollers and machinery was commenced, which was in about the years 1821-22.

The ending of early manufactured goods of shirting, sheeting, and ticking, blue-dyeing having been successfully established at the Union factory, Mr. Phelon personally opened a business for the sale of the union articles with merchants in all the principal cities and villages between Otsego and the Pennsylvania on the south, and Lake Ontario north, to Chatauqua county west; became familiar with all roads, business men, and banks, and to this day can locate and give history of the rise and progress of this portion of the State for the last fifty years, and of his business acquaintances in the city of New York and Albany till the last twenty years, when he left off traveling and retired.

In 1832 he removed to his present location, then known as the Hudson farm, originally known as "Lindsay’s Bush," where the first settlement in Otsego was made. Since locating upon the farm where he now resides he has manifested a lively interest in agricultural pursuits, and has been considered one of the leading and progressive agriculturists of the count. Lindsay Bush farm, as this location might properly be called; is one of the finest farms in the county, and here was manufactured the first cheese that was sent to England. Mr. Phelon was also interested in stock-raising, and became the owner of the first imported cattle brought into Otsego County.

In January, 1815, he united in marriage with Alcena Denslow, daughter of Benjamin Denslow, a patriotic soldier of the Revolution, who was wounded on the battle-field of Saratoga. The family consisted of nine children, five of whom are living.

Mr. Phelon, although now at the advanced age of ninety years, retains, in a remarkable degree, much of the vigor and ambition of youth. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

Original website created by Debbie Axtman

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