History of Edmeston, New York/1820s
I remember attending school at the large school house on Taylor Hill, a little east of the church that was built in 1822. It had a pulpit and was used for Church purposes. Rev. Taylor was an exemplary man and a very acceptable preacher for thirty five years. He never took a salary, had a farm of 80 acres and the church helped him get his wood (cut and drawn by a bee), and also his hay. The old school house was burned about 1820. a boy built fires for the ashes, and one night set them in a wood box in the entry. The next morning all that was left was old iron, melted glass, and nails. The district was then divided into three parts. A few years before that Stephen Arnold of Binghamton, taught there, and one Sunday, at home, while hearing a young girl, six or seven years old, named Van Amburg, who lived with him, spell and pronouncing the word gig call it jig, he flew into a passion and whipped her several times until she was badly cut to pieces. When he see how she sank he ran away. His wife called Dr. Gains Smith to try to save her. He looked at her wounds and said "A man should not whip a child like that when in a passion." She reassured the Dr. he was not in a passion. He said
- "then d—n him. Follow him to the end of the earth and gibbet him. What would he not do in Passion?"
The child died, and he [Stephen Arnold] was taken, I think at Black Rock, tried, and sentenced to be hanged, but while in the scaffold at Cooperstown there came a reprieve from the Governor, and while riding back from the gallows he kept saying "good governor, good governor." — James Slocum
In 1820 Edmeston Centre had a grist mill, a saw mill, a forge and triphammer and a carding and fulling mill. I have already spoken of the grist and saw mill. The forge and triphammer, for the manufacture of axes, scythes, and plow shares was operated by William Stickney and Samuel Simmons. the carding and fulling mill was erected and operated by Joseph Bootman on the site where Card's garage now stands. [1992, Tim's garage].
Honorable David B. St.John became a resident of this town in 1820. He did much to advance the interests of Edmeston as well as the adjoining town of Pittsfield. He at one time resided in Pittsfield where he served as supervisor for ten years. His record in the board of supervisors together with his general integrity and character, won him the esteem of the people and he was subsequently chosen a member of the Assembly in the years 1849-50-60, and was in the Constitutional Convention of 1846. Most of the people in this area were Whigs and later became affiliated with the Republican Party. — Hazel L. Jones
Meetings were held on Taylor Hill starting around 1793, in 1822 Elder Stephen Taylor gave the land for the Taylor Hill Church. No church was organized in the village [hamlet of Edmeston] for nearly 30 years. Apparently the Taylor Hill section of the town was thickly settled much earlier than around the village. — Myrta Kelsey
[The lands in the Edmeston patent were settled later because they were tied up in the settling of the estate.]
The first meetings [Taylor Hill Church] were held in the open forests, then in a log cabin, then in a barn, a period of about thirty years presumably between 1793-1823. The school house was destroyed by fire in 1821. Elder Taylor felled the first tree for the building of the church proper and worked with the builders in its erection.
The church building was of one room, colonial windows, vaulted ceilings, a most rare piece of architecture for the time and place. The building was heated by two large box stoves. Bench seats lined the wall on either side, and across the door end of the auditorium, all facing the bay-window shaped pulpit for those at opposite end of the building. Chairs, home made, were placed directly in front of the pulpit for those who were deaf. Characteristic of the century which was to follow, a long row of sheds was built along the left side and along the back of the church. — Taylor Hill Church, Memories of West Edmeston
The will of Andrew Edmeston:
- This is the last will and testament of Mr. Andrew Edmeston, of Cooperstown, New York in the County of Otsego in the State of New York, in the United States of America, but now residing at the borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed in England. Esquire made published and declared this 3rd day of November in the year of our Lord 1823. I give and devise unto James Aitchison of Pelham in the County of Westchester in the State of New York, U.S.A. for and during the term of his natural life one annuity of annual rent charge of Three hundred fifty dollars to be paid to him or his assigns half yearly...
[There are six typewritten pages of the will in legal and out-dated terms, with codicils as late as January, 1826]. Andrew Edmeston appointed Edward Hyde Clark and George William Featherstone to hold his land for his sister, Mrs. George (Elizabeth Francis) Ridell and his nephew, Robert Edmeston.
- ...all my mekuages lands, Tenements and Real Estate situated lying and being on both sides of the River Unadilla in the Counties of Otsego and Chenango.
There was a Seventh Day Baptist church in West Edmeston and was the only one of its kind in Otsego County. They differ from the regular Baptists only in respect to keeping the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. The Church at West Edmeston was organized Sept. 28,1823. It first took the name of the Third Church of Brookfield. The meeting house which was built sometime before was located about a half a mile north of Babcock mills in the Beaver Creek Valley. The first members were connected with churches of Leonardsville and Clarksville in the same town. They believed that for their convenience, as well as their interests of the cause of God, required the formation of a new church so a council was called and the movement approved. Eighty members were enrolled at the organization. After fifteen years it was found that a majority of the members had become located in and near West Edmeston, and for their accommodation they built a meeting-house in 1843, which cost $800. Subsequently it was enlarged to as to seat two hundred and fifty persons. For ten years after it erection the meetings were held alternately between the two chapels. They were all removed to West Edmeston in 1854 and soon the church was changed to the Seventh Day Baptist. ) — Hazel L. Jones
Aden Deming set aside $4000, the interest of which was to be given to the schools of the town. He established this fund in 1824. (We still have the use of the interest-we call it the "School Fund." It took a special act of the legislature to set aside this fund for the school and it is understood it would take a special act of the Legislature to do away with it). — Hazel L. Jones
[H. L. Jones wrote her History of Edmeston in 1953. The fund was dissolved and given to the Edmeston Central School in the 1980’s]
John Bilyea built the first tannery where Charles Bain's apartment now stands [1992, Tim’s junk car lot]. The first regular store was opened in 1824 by Lyman White. The building was later used as a hotel by Delos Davis where the present Brady House now stands [1992, the fire house]. Other early tradesmen were Silas Burleson, Erastus Waldo and Benjamin Peet. — Myrta Kelsey
In 1824 the first regular store opened. This meant great changes in the way people bought supplies — great quantities were not necessary anymore. Twice a year merchants went to Albany to buy enough stock to last six months; each journey required over a week. — Sandra Lohnas Haggerty
Spafford’s Gazetteer of the State of New York, 1824:
- Edmeston is a Post-Township in the western part of Otsego County, erected on April 1, 1808 from Burl;ington (the west end), 18 miles from Cooperstown and 84 miles from Albany; bounded on the north by Plainfield, east by Burlington, South by New Lisbon and Pittsfield, west by the Unadill a River (this being the boundary of Otsego County). The area is about 26,628 acres. The surface is considerably diversified with hills and valleys and the soil is various, the pricipal part being moist and excellent for grass. The timber is principally deciduous as maple, beech, ash, basswood, elm, etc. There are some groves of pine also. The Unadilla Creek and the Wharton Creek supply mill seats. A tract of about 10,000 acres in the northwest part, principally wild, is owned by Mr. Edmeston from whom the town is named.
- There is a valuable quarry of building stone in the southeast corner. The inhabitants are principally farmers and their agriculture and domestic economy are respectable, their household manufactures increasing and already supply the principal part of their clothing. the Great Westen Turnpike leads centrals across it east and west and the other roads are numerous and good. The population in 1810 was 1,317. There were 497 farmers; 70 mechanics; one trader; taxable property. $169.555. There were 12 schools kept eight months; 8,415 acres of improved land; 2,096 cattle; 387 horses; 4,401 sheep; 21,477 yards of cloth; 1 trip hammer; 3 distilleries; 2 asheries. Mount Edmeston, the residence of a large proprietor must be noticed as worthy of mention.
Later, as there began to be considerable cleared land, we would have afternoon and evening huskings, and then a dance or a play after we got through. Those who had horses came on horseback, with their girl behind them. Then we began to have balls New years and Independence. We would meet two or three weeks before and choose four managers. They would get the tickets and distribute them, and engaged the music. the girl that had a nice bombazette dress with a plump six yard in it, and a nice pair of calf slippers was fit to go with the first manager. In those days I never saw a young man go into a ball room with his hat or boots on. We all had pumps, and the girls had slippers of either cloth or leather, and no young man thought to go without a partner, and some carried two, so that if there should chance to be some young man without a partner and wished to join the dance, he could do so. There was not much running around nights, especially alone, for there was occasionally a bear, and wolves were quite common, so they stayed at home and played fox and geese, or twelve men of Morris.
Speaking of wolves reminds me of several adventures with those animals. One of my earliest recollections was in being waked up one night by the firing of guns. I got up to see what was going on, and my father and Mr. Stephen Hoag, a neighbor of ours, who resided on the Hill east of us were building fires of the stumps and brush heaps, and firing their guns to keep off the wolves, which were collecting in great numbers on the hills to the west. Both men had sheep which the wild beasts had scented, and they had taken this means to drive them off.
After a few years we began to have apples; then we had paring bees and quiltings. Those were rich times for both young and old, and many of my readers can look back with pride and pleasure to those days when the hale and hearty aged people, as well as the ruddy and sprightly younger ones would meet together at the house of some one of the neighbors — first for work, and afterwards sport, with plenty of nut cakes and cider — and the various games and their "forfeits". — James Slocum
NEW YORK BAPTIST REGISTER., Utica, New York, Friday July 6, 1827:
- Extract of a Letter from Brother Timothy Tailor to the Editor.
- Dear Brother,
- It is with a good degree of satisfaction that I have an opportunity of informing the friends of Zion, that it hath pleased a merciful God, in the dispensation of his providence, to favour this people with a shower of Divine grace. The good work commenced the latter part of December, in a district school, taught by one of the students from the Theological Semenary at Hamilton. The pious instruction of their teacher, accompanied by the earnest addresses they heard him make at the throne of grace, were blessed in the hands of God, to the awakening of several of the larger scholars, who had hitherto been thoughtless about the welfare of their immortal souls. The inquiry was most earnestly made. "What must we do to be saved?" A deep solemnity soon pervaded the school. The ususal hours for recreation were now spent in searching the Scriptures, and the big tear often bespoke the troubles of a wouned spirit; while the thoughtless began to inquire, "What meaneth this?" The light of eternity seemed to dawn. It was as solemn as silence in thick darkness. Meetings were thronged; Christains beheld the scene, and began to have great searching of heart. The Lord rolled upon Zion "the travailing pains." The Spirit helped the infirmities of the saints, and they began to agonize at the throne of grace, with groanings unutterable. It was the set time, the day of salvation, and souls were born into the kingdom. ... parents and children obtained 'joy and ...ness,' and came with singing unto Zion. The glorious fire proved electric. Scholars from neighboring districts, visting this school, were made to share the blessings of the new covenent, and by this means, became the happy instruments of sowing the seeds of the Kingdom in their neighborhoods. I have baptizied, since the commencement of the revival, fifty-three; and there are yet more to behold the waters of Jordan, saying, "and there will I be buried." The work still continues, and we trust there are yet "berries to be gathered in from the uttermost boughs."
- Yours affectionately,
- TIMOTHY TAILOR.
- Edmeston, June 27, 1827
Several other gentlemen became residents of the place [Cooperstown] during the period already mentioned [1805–1820], and continued to increase and improve its society; among these were Messrs. [Andrew] 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 [in 1826], and Mr. Atchison fell by his own hand during an access of fever. Neither of these melancholy events occurred in the village. — James Fenimore Cooper, The Chronicles of Cooperstown, 1838