The settlement of this town was later by several years than in the towns bordering the Chenango and Unadilla rivers, and was slow after it was commenced. As late as 1824, when most of the latter towns and some of the towns more remote from those rivers had nearly attained their maximum population, the population of Otselic was only 525, about one-third of what it is at present.
The first settlement was made in 1800 by Ebenezer HILL, who was originally from the New England States, but came here immediately from Syracuse, or "Salt Point," and settled at Otselic, where he built and kept for some ten or twelve years the first tavern in the town. It occupied the site of the tavern burned there April 4, 1879, was in fact that tavern. He built there soon after his settlement a saw-mill, which stood near and on the west side of the Otselic, about twenty-five rods below the bridge which crosses that stream in the village of the same name. This was probably the first mill erected in the town, though another authority says the first was erected by James RUSH. [French's State Gazetteer. The correct name is RUST, not RUSH. The mill erected by the latter was built about 1817 or '18.] It did not stand long.
There has not been a mill there for sixty years or more. HILL's first wife died in the East, leaving two daughters, Lydia and Sally, the former of whom married Nathaniel HOTCHKISS, who settled in the town at an early day and after his marriage removed to Canton, where both died. Sally married Ephraim WARNER, who came from Granby soon after 1800 and settled a half mile below Otselic. They had two sons and two daughters, the former of whom went west. One of the daughters, Huldah, married a man named KINNEY, with whom she is now living in Otselic After WARNER's death, Sally married Edwin HOUSE, with whom she removed to Indiana, and there died.
Five grandchildren are living in this county, viz: Noyes, Maria, wife of Henry SHERMAN, Cordelia, wife of Eli Truman CARD, and DeVer, children of Harmon, all in Otselic; and William, son of David, in Pitcher.
Reuben BUCKINGHAM settled on the west side of Otselic, a little more than half a mile below the village of that name. He died Jan. 14, 1859, aged 71.
William and Thomas S. FISH were brothers and settled at Otselic village. The latter removed a few years previous to his death to Georgetown, where he died May 30, 1860, aged 74. William removed to Ohio. Avery Fish, son of Thomas S. Fish, is still living in Otselic.
Josiah WOLCOTT settled about a mile and a half west of Otselic, on the old turnpike. The place has since been divided by Henry SHERMAN who now lives where he settled. He afterwards removed to South Otselic and died there. Josiah and a daughter who married Welcome PHILLIPS were grand-children of his.
William CROSS came from Saratoga county previous to 1808, and settled on the farm now occupied by Andrew SHEPARDSON. He afterwards removed to the south part of the town and died there. None of his family are left here.
William HURLBUT settled on the flats in Otselic village. He removed from the town at an early day. One of his sons was a physician in Norwich.
Elias BENJAMIN settled at South Otselic, near the Baptist church. He also removed from the town at an early day with his family.
Buell WARNER was a brother of Ephraim Warner before referred to, and, like him, came from the New England States. He settled about 1810 on 100 acres at South Otselic, where Silas HILL now lives, and removed about 1818 to a farm about a half mile south-west of Otselic, where he died about 1830. He had several children who married and settled in this town and DeRuyter, and some of whom afterwards went west. Not one is left here. Timothy WARNER, another brother of Ephraim's, a native of Granby, came from Sandersfield, Mass., in 1816, and settled a half mile north of South Otselic, where George MATTHEWSON now lives. He married in Sandersfield, Hannah HOLMAN, a native of England, and raised his family there. He died Jan. 25, 1835, aged 69, and his wife, March 23, 1855, aged 94. They had six children, Timothy, Huldah, Chauncey, Hannah, Asher and Roswell. Timothy settled on the homestead and died there Feb. 18, 1863, aged 69. Hannah, Asher and Roswell are still living in Otselic. Hannah is the widow of Lorrin COOK, of New Marlborough, Mass., who settled and lived for fifty years on the farm now occupied by Wallace NEAL in the east edge of Lincklaen, and removed in 1871 to South Otselic, where he died, April 30, 1878, aged 80. She taught in 1871, the first school in the town. The school house stood near the residence of Judson E. PARCE, in South Otselic. It was a frame building, erected for the purpose, and was afterwards removed to the west side of the creek, to the site of the present school house in that village. It was burned about 1830. Previous to 1817 there was no organized school district in the town, and only fourteen children of school age; two of these were only three years of age. One of the two, Zenas COOK, son of Lewis Cook, afterwards became a Universalist minister. Hannah taught only one term. Martha, the mother of the Warner brothers, came in with Timothy and lived with him till her death, Oct. 30, 1825, aged 87. Their father died in Tolland, Mass.
Lewis COOK came from Marlborough, Mass., about 1810, and settled on a hundred acres at South Otselic. His house stood near where the residence of David B. PARCE now stands. He returned to Massachusetts with his family about 1827. Cook came in company with Aeneas THOMPSON, who married his sister, and settled opposite the creamery, about a half mile below South Otselic, near where Silas HILL now lives. He also returned to Massachusetts.
William GREENE settled in South Otselic and died or removed previous to 1816.
BENJAMIN came from Hopkinston, N.J., and settled in Westmoreland, where he married Sally PRESHO, of Massachusetts, and worked in a furnace. In 1817 he removed to South Otselic, where there were then only three or four houses. He soon after removed to the ridge road and about 1838, to the place now occupied by his sons Lewis and Woodal and daughter Phebe, where he died Sept. 21, 1854, and his wife, Aug. 5, 1870. The three living on the homestead are unmarried and are all there are of the family living.
William COOK came from Hadley, Saratoga county, in 1808, and settled near the cemetery in the north part of the town, where Andrew SHEPARDSON now lives, and died there. His wife died in 1824 in Georgetown, where she went to live with her niece Caty, wife of Reuben BUCKINGHAM, who came in with Cook. Cook had no children.
Dr. Abijah KINNEY came from Hartford, Conn., about 1806, and settled near the creek in Otselic village. About 1822 he removed to the place now occupied by his son Ogden, where he died Aug. 10, 1848, aged 77, and Vasti, his wife, Nov. 23, 1843, aged 67. His children were Tudor and Ogden, both now living in Otselic, the latter on the homestead, Lorenzo, who lived and died in this town Sept. 22, 1851, aged 40, Laura, who lived and died in the town, Wesley, who removed to Milwaukee and is now living there, and Marvin, who went west and married and died there.
J. PARCE and his sons David B., and Dwight, the latter of whom died in the army, traded about three years from about 1856. David B. Parce and J. Floyd THOMPSON commenced business under the name of Parce & Thompson, in the same store, about 1859, and continued till the death of Thompson, at Norfolk, Va., while a captain in the army, July 5, 1864. About 1865, Parce bought Thompson's interest and continued till Oct. 4, 1877, when the store was burned. He immediately erected the present building on its site, but was taken insane just as he was about to restock it. He had an insurance of $5,000 on the stock and building, but the policies proved to have been forged by the agent. This loss in connection with others resulting from bad debts is supposed to have occasioned his mental malady. He was one of the best and ablest business men the village has ever had. The building is an exceptionably fine one for a village of its size. Its cost was $5,000. It is three stories high, the upper story being fitted up for a public hall.
Mr. Parce's nephew, Judson E. Parce, who had been a clerk for his uncle for many years, succeeds him in the business.
The other merchants now doing business here are, S. WHEELER & Son, (Sylvester and Hiram S., the former a son of Daniel Wheeler, an early settler in Lebanon,) hardware merchants, the successors to a business established in 1854, by Avina MESSENGER and Hiram S. WHEELER; John WILDMAN, Jr., grocer and druggist, who commenced business in December, 1866, in company with his brother Albert J. Wildman, and continued till May, 1873, when they divided their stock, the latter taking the dry goods and clothing department, which he also continues to the present time; John P. NEWTON, a native of Otselic, general merchant, who commenced in December, 1872; and Frank E. COX, grocer and druggist, who is a native of Otselic, and commenced business Oct. 15, 1878.
Dr. WYCKOFF came from Delaware county about 1849 and after practicing one or two years went west. LaFayette AVERY came from Preston about the time Wyckoff left and practiced till the fall of 1859, when he removed to LaGrange, Mo., where he now resides. Irving G. REYNOLDS came from Georgetown about 1870, and practiced till his death Nov. 24, 1876.
The present physicians are James T. JAMESON and DeWitt C. CRUMB, the latter of whom was born in Preston, Sept. 2, 1845, graduated from Buffalo University Feb. 20, 1871, practiced 5 ½ years in Preston and removed thence to South Otselic in 1876.
James T. JAMESON was born in Yorkshire, England, August 22, 1812, and was educated at the grammar school in Manchester, where most of his early life was passed. There in 1828, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Richard Thomas HUNT. He was licensed December 4, 1834, by the Apothecaries Hall, London, and graduated at the Roy College of Surgeons in London , Nov. 8, 1839. In 1868, he removed to South Otselic, from Lincklaen, where he has since practiced though but little except as counsel during the last few years.
Lorenzo and Wesley KINNEY, natives of Otselic, commenced mercantile business about 1832, and continued some two years. Amaziah PARKER, from Pompey, succeeded them and stayed some five years. He removed to Cuyler. Samuel GRIFFITH came from Otsego county about 1840 and after trading about two years went West.
Elizur GOODRICH, who formerly resided in the town, opened a second store about 1850, and continued three or four years. Franklin RUSSELL, from Boston, succeeded Goodrich and traded about two years.
Josiah P. DAVENPORT, the present merchant, came from Georgetown, his native place, and commenced trading here in 1862.
Alexand PURDIE, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 12, 1792, was graduated at the Edinburgh Medical College in 1812, and subsequently at the King's College, London, where he practiced till September, 1853, when he emigrated to New York and thence removed to Piqua, Miami county, Ohio, and thence in 1861 to Otselic, where he practiced until disqualified by age. He still resides in Otselic. His son, Dr. Alexand J. N. Purdie, was born in Manchester, England, August 25, 1824, and was graduated in surgery in the King's College, London, in 1849, and in medicine at Edinburgh Medical College in 1852. He emigrated to New York in 1857, and in 1858 removed to Cincinnati, Ohio. A year later he removed to Otselic, where he has since practiced.
The only other physician here is James I. MASON, who was born in Palmero, Oswego county, August 4, 1848, removed to Otselic in December, 1863, was graduated at the eclectic medical College, of New York city, Feb. 18, 1870, and commenced practice here in April of that year.