Between the events recorded in the last chapter and the middle of the century, the history of Cortland county may be briefly summarized; it was a period of slow but sure growth in all directions; the establishment of new business enterprises to meet the wants of the increasing population; the multiplication of churches and schools; the beginning of manufacturing in a small way; the clearing of lands in the country districts, with improvement in the methods of farming and the development in the later years of the dairying interest. All this was interspersed and varied with projects and rumors of projects for opening railroad communication with the outside world.
There was some legislation during this period which had a bearing upon this county. In June 1832, Cortland, Tioga and Tompkins counties were made to constitute the 22nd Congressional District, by act of Legislature; the district was entitled to two members. Samuel G. Hathaway, of Solon, was elected in that year. The Oxford and Cortlandville Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1835, for the purpose of building a road from Oxford across the "new bridge in Cincinnatus," on lot No. 19, running through Solon to Cortland village. Austin Hyde, Benjamin Butler, Chas. Kingman, Roswell Randall, John F. Hill and Harry McGraw were made commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock of the company.
It was in this year also that the village of Homer was incorporated. Its population was then considered less than a thousand; but it was still the leading business center of the county and continued such for more than twenty years, in spite of the fact that Cortland was the county seat.
In March, 1836, the poor-house with 188 acres of land, was purchased by the county for $5,000. The house was originally erected by John Keep, near the beginning of the century. $6,000 was raised, $3,000 of which were borrowed of the State and the remainder raised by tax in the years 1837, 1838 and 1839. The purchase was made from Mr. ______ Munson, who bought of Mathew S. Bennett, the purchaser from Mr. Keep. Munson was the first poor-master; he was followed by Mr. _______ Seymour, Alvah Harmon, Sanford Bouton, Morgan L. Hopkins, Nathaniel Boynton, Alvah Benjamin, Clinton Rindge, ________ Sawyer, A. W. Gates, and Jerome Wheeler, the present incumbent. The brick structure was erected under Mr. Gates's administration, and the new building for the insane in 1882.
In the year 1836 the new court-house was erected, the act being passed in April. William Bartlit, Eleazer W. Edgcomb and Anthony Freer were the commissioners. Although the site of the old building was a most commanding one, it was found, as the business of the courts increased, that the steep hill which had to be ascended several times each court day by all who were interested in the proceedings, was a serious inconvenience; the changing of the site was therefore left to the Supervisors, a majority of whom decided in favor of the removal. A sum not exceeding $6,000 was to be taken from the treasury, and $1,000 more was authorized to be raised by tax for the purpose; the selection of the new site was left to the Supervisors at their next annual meeting. After considerable deliberation the present location of the corner of Court and Church streets was selected and the structure began, under the superintendence of the before mentioned gentlemen.
In 1837 an act was passed authorizing the incorporation of a jail in the new building, at a cost not to exceed $2,000. In pursuance of this provision a jail was constructed in the read basement of the court-house, which afterward gave place to the present substantial stone structure built above the ground. Additional sums of $3,000 were borrowed in the years 1838 and 1839, with which to complete these public buildings.
The continued agitation of railroad projects resulted, in the spring of 1836, in the incorporation of the Syracuse, Cortland and Binghamton railroad company.
Shut in, as the inhabitants of this county had been, from easy and rapid communication with the rest of the State, which was more fortunate in this respect, the exultant anticipations of the farmers along the rich valleys of the Tioughnioga and the tradesmen of the prominent villages in the county over this prospect of a railroad, may be left to the imagination of the reader. But railroad building was not then so well understood as it became within the succeeding few years, and this project was doomed to abandonment. This organization was given four years only in which to construct their road, the route of which is indicated by its name. Among the commissioners who were authorized by the act to receive subscriptions for stock we find the names of Henry Stephens (afterwards president of the Syracuse and Binghamton railroad), E. W. Edgcomb, Augustus Donnelly, Samuel G. Hathaway, E. C. Reed, Roswell Randall and William Randall. These names of Cortland county men, or many of them, are found in connection with all measures of importance; to them is undoubtedly due much of the credit for the early growth of the material interests of the county. Another railroad company incorporated that year was the Owego and Cortland. Its road was to run from Owego, through Dryden and thence to Cortland and Homer. Neither of these projects, as is well known, was consummated; but their incorporation shows that the idea of railroad communication with the other portions of the State was not allowed to sleep, imbued the inhabitants with faith in their ultimately standing on a level with other localities in this respect, and gave assurance that it was a question of only a short period before the locomotive and its train would dash through the fertile valleys of the country.
On the 1st of October, 1838, the exiting County Agricultural Society was organized, with a board of officers comprising many of the more prominent men in the county. The first fair was held that year, continuing with increasing interest from year to year, until a spirit of emulation was aroused in the farming and mechanical classes which resulted in great and permanent benefit. The history of this society will be found in its appropriate place in these pages.
During the period from 1840 to 1845, or a little later, politics were uppermost in Cortland county, as well as in other parts of the country. Here the Wigs were a little in the majority, and they were quite ably marshaled by the prominent local leaders, among whom may be mentioned William Andrews, David Mathews, Harry McGraw, Cephas Comstock, John J. Adams, Tercius Eels, Alanson Carley, Isaac A. Gates, Gideon Babcock, Joel B. Hibbard, Danforth Merrick, Jedediah Barber, James C. Pomeroy, Daniel Hawks, and others. The Democrats, if inferior in numbers, were not in political prominence and ability. Their hosts were under the leadership of such men as Joseph Reynolds, Samuel G. Hathaway, Henry Stephens, Roswell Randall, William Bartlit, Edward C. Reed, Townsend Ross, George Ross, J. De Puy Freer, Anthony Freer, John Gillet, Alanson Coats and others among the older heads; with Horatio Ballard, Henry S. Randall, Frederick Hyde, Henry Brewer, William H. Shankland, James S. Leach, William P. Lyndes, Andrew Dickson, William B. Allen, S. G. Hathaway, jr., and Oliver Glover as the youngest element.
The Whig and the recently established Democrat were the organs of the respective parties, and their editors and contributors made the local campaign a lively and interesting one. The Whig made the most of Ogle's story of Mr. Van Buren's "gold spoons" and extravagance in the White House --- all amounting to the remarkable sum of five or ten thousand dollars --- while the Democrat showed up the terrors of Nick Biddle's United States bank --- then exploded and beyond the power of mischief --- the sinfulness of hard cider and coon-skins nailed up on a log-cabin to dry; and the general weaknessess of "old granny Harrison." The Whigs had the best of the performance during the campaign. The September and October elections were a cyclone. The November elections finished the work.
Again, in 1844, the political legions of the county went forth to battle for the welfare of their country, and a repetition of the scenes of four years previous was enacted. Mass meetings, processions, the glory of banners without number prevailed, and a general political jubilee was held, which many now living will easily call to mind.1
In the year 1842 an act of Legislature made the counties of Cortland and Cayuga to comprise the Twenty-fifth Congressional District, which remained in force until the change which constituted the district of the counties of Cortland and Onondaga. In 1846 Cortland was placed in the Twenty-third Senatorial District, with Broome and Tioga counties. It now, in connection with Onondaga county, comprises the Twenty-fifth Senatorial District. By the constitution of 1846 Cortland county lost one Member of Assembly, having previously elected two. The Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace were also abolished, and the County Court, with one county judge, substituted.
Several changes were made in the town boundaries during this decade (1840 to 1850). An act was passed in May, 1845, erecting the towns of Lapeer and Harford from the southern half of Virgil.2 In December, 1849, Taylor was erected from the eastern half of Solon; and in 1850, lot No. 20 in Virgil was annexed to Freetown. This was the last change of boundaries made in the county, with the exception of the formation of the town of Cuyler from Truxton in the fall of 1858, which may properly be noted here, and followed with the genealogy of all of the towns in the county, thus: ---
Homer was formed in Onondaga county March 5th, 1794, and embraced the present town of that name and the present towns of Solon, Virgil, Taylor, Cincinnatus, Marathon, Freetown, Willet, Lapeer, Harford and Cortland.
Solon was formed from Homer March 9th, 1798, and embraced the present towns of Solon, Cincinnatus, Marathon, Freetown, Taylor and Willet.
Cincinnatus was formed from Solon April 3rd, 1804, and embraced the present towns of Cincinnatus, Marathon, Freetown and Willet.
Virgil was formed from Homer April 3rd, 1804, and embraced the present towns of Virgil, Harford and Lapeer.
Preble was formed from Tully (Onondaga county) April 8th, 1808, embracing the present town of Preble and Scott.
Truxton was formed from Fabius (Onondaga county) April 8th, 1808, and embraced the present towns of Truxton and Cuyler.
Scott was formed from Preble April 14th, 1815.
Marathon, Freetown and Willet were formed from Cincinnatus April 21st, 1818.
Cortlandville was formed from Homer April 11, 1829, with its present boundaries, except that lot No. 10 and a portion of lot 9 were added to it in 1845-46.
Lapeer and Harford were taken from Virgil May 2nd, 1845.
Taylor was formed from Solon December 5th, 1849.
Cuyler was formed from Truxton November 18th, 1858.
By the middle of the century Cortland county had taken her place in most particulars beside the older and larger divisions of State; an exception should, perhaps, be noted regarding her manufacturing interests, which were still small. The farmers had brought their domains generally into a good state of cultivation, especially in the valleys and near to the business centers, while those living farther back upon the hills were rapidly clearing their lands of the remaining forests and stumps.
It is about this time that the dairying interest of the county began to receive that degree of attention from the farmers to which it was entitled; and from that date down to 1860, the product was largely increased and the quality so much improved that its reputation in the great markets was soon enhanced to within one or two counties of the highest in the State---a reputation that has steadily advanced during the succeeding years.
Meanwhile the inhabitants of the county were not at all backward in the matter of education. The Cortland Academy (in Homer) was at the height of its long career of prosperity; the Cortlandville Academy, incorporated in 1842, started out under the most favorable auspices upon a course of many years of usefulness and success; the Cincinnatus Academy was incorporated in 1855 and some became a popular and successful institution; and churches and excellent district schools were rapidly multiplied on every hand.
But the greatest obstacle to material advancement was still the difficulty or reaching markets and of traveling beyond the boundaries of the county, except by methods that had begun to be looked upon as somewhat primitive. The plank road constructed between Cortland village and Syracuse in the years 1849-51 afforded a degree of relief, enabling passengers to take either of two lines of stages each way per day, which made the trip in about six hours, while freight was transported in heavier loads and in much shorter time than over the former turnpikes; the plank road was good in its way, but it was not what was needed. The old-fashioned coaches, drawn by four horses, guided by skillful drivers, who swung them up with a grand flourish at the doors of the famous hostelries---Van Anden's and Harrop's in Homer; the Eagle and the Cortland House in Cortland and scores of lesser establishments along the various turnpikes leading to Syracuse, Owego, Binghamton, Truxton and Cazenovia and other points---were often overloaded with passengers. Old residents still recount many amusing and interesting incidents connected with the former coaching days; but, while that method of travel was undoubtedly picturesque in favorable seasons and conducive to health and pleasure, it was decidedly slow when compared with the locomotive. It was doomed. The turnpikes, and later the plank road from Cortland to Syracuse, were necessarily thronged with heavily-laden wagons during the greater portion of each year, transporting the products of the county to the canal and railroads, and returning with goods for the merchants and stock for the young manufacturing interests of the villages; but this mode of freighting scotched the wheels of progress and growth, and the leading minds of this county and vicinity felt the force of that fact and deplored it. The Tioughnioga, and the Susquehanna, as far as it applied to this section, had long been given up as permanent and useful channels of transportation; the waters of the Tioughnioga, once a broad and rapid stream, were gradually but surely diminishing, and the last freighting of much importance on its freshet tides was done as late as about 1840.
In this condition of affairs and for all these reasons, it is little wonder that one of the unfailing themes of discussion and the constant hope and dream of the inhabitants, in their semi-isolated situation, was a railroad. It had been discussed in all its bearings ever since the first charter was granted, by men who fully appreciated its importance and were ready and willing to contribute largely to its success, and by others all the way down the scale of brain, energy and wealth to those who could not have bought a single spike and could scarcely summon the energy to drive one. Everybody wanted a railroad.
Syracuse was pushing forward under the impulse of her salt interests and canal and railroad connections, while farther north Oswego sat at the foot of the great lake system of the country, thriving upon her commercial marine. To the southward Binghamton, with a population of 10,000, contiguous to the opening coal fields of Pennsylvania, with the consequent extensive railroad connections, gave promise of being the bustling city of to-day. These were some of the outside business centers toward which Cortland stretched her burdened hands, but which could be reached only by the slow means of horse-power; her inhabitants saw the tide of commercial and manufacturing prosperity swelling around them in all directions, but were helpless---without a railroad.
Hence, the renewed agitation of the subject of a road from Syracuse to Binghamton, running through the central portion of this county, in 1848-49, found hundreds of earnest men ready to favor it to the utmost of their ability; among them were several of the original charter petitioners. Again the Legislature was petitioned and a charter obtained. Meetings were held in the towns of the county, and along the entire line, at which the proposed road was explained and its advantages advocated. Subscription books were opened, and, early in the year 1850, such progress was made in this direction that steps were taken for preliminary surveys. W. B. Gilbert, a thoroughly competent engineer, was engaged for the survey. But it must not be presumed that this line of road was to be finished without meeting with obstacles. Difficulties in the way of organizing the company, growing, to some extent, our of personal feeling, were encountered, and just as the work of construction was begun, the country began to feel the effects of one of those periodical financial revulsions to which it has on several occasions been subjected. Those persons who had money became wary about letting it leave their possession for even such a boon as a railroad; those who had little or none, saw the apparent necessity or hoarding all they could get for future needs; many who had subscribed in good faith for stock in the road, found themselves unable to fulfill their obligations.
Yet, in spite of all this, and through the persevering efforts and the indomitable energy of those who were at the head of the enterprise, many of whom were residents of this county, with the liberal subscriptions of all classes throughout the counties traversed by the line, the work was finished in 1854.
A formal opening of the road occurred on the 18th and 19th of October, of that year. An excursion train of twenty-seven cars ran over the road from Syracuse of Binghamton and return, which was so loaded with enthusiastic passengers that many were compelled to stand. The gratification felt in this county over the auspicious event was exhibited in the ringing of bells, firing of cannon and display of banners at every station, while immense crowds congregated to witness the fruition of their long-deferred hopes.
The original plans of the projectors of this road included connections with the Syracuse and Oswego road to Lake Ontario, and, or course, direct connection with the Erie canal in Syracuse. The feasibility of making these connections was used as among the strongest arguments in favor of the construction of the road. But the company were unable to secure the coveted connection to Oswego, or even to run their tracks through to the canal for the rapid and economical transfer of freight to the great waterway. Another company was, therefore organized under the general act to construct a broad gauge line to Oswego from Syracuse, on the east side of Onondaga lake and the Oswego river. But no satisfactory arrangement for this purpose could be made with the holders of the mortgage bonds of the existing road to Binghamton, and operations had to be suspended.
These untoward circumstances crippled the road and so restricted its operation and profits that in 1856 the bondholders were forced to foreclose and sell it. It was bought by J. M. Schermerhorn, then of Homer, and the company subsequently reorganized. The road was finished to the canal, and arrangements were perfected whereby the Erie railroad would accommodate the cars of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western road for the transportation of coal and freight, making the Syracuse, Binghamton and New York road (as it was renamed) the proper and most available channel for carrying their coal to the canal at Syracuse and to Oswego, Canada and the great west. This road passed into the hands of the great corporation, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, a double track was laid, and it is now one of the best equipped and most successful branches in the State.
While the sale of this first railroad in this county under the mortgage was disastrous to the original stockholders, none of whom realized anything directly from their investments, it is doubtless true that not one of them failed to see in the near future that their money had thus been wisely expended. Every acre of land in the county was increased in value, while the annual benefits to farmers, tradesmen and manufacturers, after the road went into operation, could scarcely be over-estimated.
The construction of railroads in this county produced the common effect of building up some of the villages at the expense of others. It was about the period under consideration, or a little later, that Cortland began to show unmistakable indications of rivaling and outstripping her sister village on the north; though the almost phenomenal growth of the former place did not begin until some years later. Preble and Little York, which were (especially the former) busy and thriving villages previous to the advent of the railroad, soon came to a stand-still, if they did not actually retrograde, in favor of Homer and Cortland; the same may be said of Virgil and Blodget's Mills, the former once thriving and growing village suffering materially from its permanent isolation from railroad communication. Marathon is situated far enough south of Cortland to prevent the loss of much of its business in that direction, while it has profited by the contiguity of Lisle (Broome county) on the south, and the hamlet of State Bridge and East Virgil on the north. It is, moreover, in the midst of an excellent grazing and agricultural district, and became a market of importance for butter and other products, so that its advancement has been continuous. Cincinnatus, Taylor, Willet, Scott, and most of the hamlets of the county have not directly gained in business importance through the construction of the railroad.
On the 2d day of September, 1853, the first and only death penalty ever inflicted in Cortland county was paid by Patrick O'Donohue, for the murder of Mrs. Jane Ann Kinney, of Truxton, on the 3d of September, 1852. The following account of the tragedy is condensed from Goodwin's history: ---
"O'Donohue's daughter, Elizabeth, a girl of ten years, had been forbidden to visit the house of Mrs. Kinney. This command she disobeyed, and to escape the vengeance of her father's fiend-like temper, her two elder sisters secreted her in a ledge of jagged rocks, and then informed their father that she had been stolen. O'Donohue hastened from his work in the woods, accompanied by his wife and two or three children, all in a high state of excitement. He was falsely made to believe that the abductor was no other than the husband of Mrs. Kinney, whom he presumed to be his enemy.
"A search for the little girl was instituted by the father and his son, the former carrying a loaded gun. The search was given up about the middle of the forenoon; at about this time Mrs. Kinney and her daughter were on their way to the residence of a neighbor, and of necessity had to pass by the house of O'Donohue. Just as they drew near it they were met by the murderer, who angrily asked Mrs. Kinney if she had seen Elizabeth. Receiving a negative answer, he flew into a terrible passion, leveled his gun and fired at Mrs. Kinney; the contents of the weapon grazed her side, causing her to stagger forward. O'Donohue was now more enraged than before. Reversing his gun he struck the defenseless woman several blows, the second of which dislocated her neck. Not yet satisfied he flew at the daughter, who had fallen from fright, and plunged the bayonet of the gun into her body; although she seized the weapon, the demon wrenched it from her grasp and thrust it again and again into her body. The tragedy was discovered, soon after it was committed, by Charles McKnight. As he approached the spot his life was threatened by O'Donohue, but he gained a full view of the victims. He advised the murdered to go to the village and give himself up to the authorities, presuming him to be crazy. He told him that men suffering from a diseased mind were not always responsible for their acts; perhaps he would not be punished. The murderer seemed to accept the counsel, for he, with his wife and son, started toward the village, where he was afterward arrested. His indictment followed at the October term of the County Court, and he was tried at the following July Oyer and Terminer. Hon. Schuyler Cripen was the presiding judge, associated with John S. Dyer and Noah H. Osborne. R. Holland Duell, then district attorney, and General Nye, appeared in behalf of the people; Horatio Ballard and Daniel Gott, counsel. The prisoner was found guilty of murder in the first degree, on the 3d of August, 1853. O'Donohue was hung in the court-house on the date before mentioned."
We know approach the period in the history of Cortland county when the great political movement began which resulted in the formation of the Republican party in the year 1855, and led thence rapidly down to the beginning of a four years' war, which drenched the country in the blood of her own sons---a war born of the insatiate purpose of a section of the Republic to perpetuate in a civilized country an uncivilized and uncivilizing institution, the keystone of which was, property in the bodies and souls of men, women and children. The organization of the new party in this country was effected pursuant to the following call: ---
"REPUBLICAN COUNTY CONVENTION. Those electors of the County of Cortland who are opposed to the extension of slavery over the Territories of the United States, and to the reception into the Union or annexation of States, Territories or Countries, where slavery already exists and are in favor of forming a new party for the defense of freedom against the encroachments of the slave power, are requested to meet in Convention at the Court House in Cortland Village, on Wednesday, the 15th day of August, at one o'clock, P.M., for the purpose of choosing delegates to State Republican Convention at Syracuse, on the 26th day of September next, and for transacting such other business as may be necessary. Dated Cortlandville, July 20th, 1855.
"C. Green, Samuel Babcock, Chas. H. Wheadon, J. M. Schermerhorn, Jos. R. Dixon, Joseph Conger, G. W. Philips, Geo. W. Samson, E. F. Thomas, H.F. Lyman, S. Brewer, F. Goodyear, Michael Spencer, Wm. R. Stone, Wm. Elder, L. D. David, Josiah Stone, W. H. Harrington, N. Jones, jr., Samuel Plumb, Geo. P. Dann, Andrew Hutchings, Lora Gross, O. H. Smith, John J. Adams, E. Mudge, C. W. Copeland, Israel Palmer, J. B. Gates, H. T. Townley, A. Mudge, Edwin Norton, R. P. Babcock, A. W. Clark, A. D. C. Barber, Joseph Atwater, A. Salisbury, Isaac W. Brown, Manly Hobart, Newell Jones, Jabez Briggs, Geo. K. Stiles, G. N. Woodward, H. Bowen, H. A. Jarvis, J. W. Strowbridge, Horace Buel, James Freeman, L. H. Utley, M. Woodruff, Thos. G. Copeland, A. G. Tuttle, R. Lambert, E. W. Edgcomb, Z. B. Mason, R. Palmer, James T. Hawley, William McGraw, Deloss C. McGraw, T. Boland, Judah Cowles, L. G. Calkins, Russel Cowles, A. Caldwell, Wm. C. Angel, M. R. Smith, Nelson L. Brooks, Nathan Bouton, N. Haight, Theodore Hooker, John Hillsinger, S. Conger, F. M. Buell, John R. Earl, J. T. Bostwick, T. G. Jones, Edwin Darby, S. Lucas, M. G. Lee, Israel Gee, Edward Gee, Arthur Holmes, D. Corey, Wm. W. Brown, L. W. Holmes, H. D. Corey, Miner Webster, Emory Potter, Elijah Jipson, Shuball Carver, Jacob Hutchings, J. H. Parker, G. L. Oakley, G. W. Crocker, Eben. Perkins, Jesse Rogers, Wm. Squires, Nathaniel Bouton, C. S. Hyatt, E. F. Phillips, J. Taggart, David Scofield, Moses Van Buren, J. L. Gillett, H. Orcutt, J. Van Orsdale."
This call was first published on the 29th of July, 1855. The convention was held and delegates appointed to attend the State Republican convention in Syracuse, on the 26th of September. The new party started out under what appeared favorable prospects as far as related to this county. The Whig, of Homer, changed its name to the Republican, which title it has since retained. H. G. Crouch, who had for several years published an excellent Democratic organ in Cortland, left the Democrat, which passed into the hands of Edwin F. Gould and soon became the Cortland American, the organ of the Know-Nothing party. The new Republican party received the expected ridicule and predictions of disaster from the organs of the opposite faction; but it was destined for a great future, which has passed into history. The resolutions of the new organization, passed at the first county convention, were as follows: ---
"Whereas, The system of human bondage is radically antagonistic to the principles of religion and the dictates of morality --- a curse to any country that cherishes or sustains it; and especially opposed to the genius of our free institutions; and at war with their welfare and perpetuity.
"And, whereas, The South, in conjunction with dough-face abettors, for years has evinced a determination by all means, and at all hazards, to strengthen and extend this system, which design has been strikingly manifested in the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law --- in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and more recently in tyrannizing by a ruffian mob over the citizens of Kansas --- suppressing the freedom of speech --- corrupting the ballot box - sporting with their lives --- and trampling under foot their property; therefore ---
"Resolved, That we will consent to no further compromise with slavery, that we demand the immediate and unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law --- that we will resist to the last extremity the admission into the Union of another Slave State, and the spread of slavery over another foot of American soil.
"Resolved, That the freemen of the north, whether Whigs, Democrats, Know Nothings, Know Somethings, or Abolitionists, are now called upon for the vindication of their insulted manhood as well as the defense of their country's freedom, to break loose from party ties, to lay aside old political predilections, and unite in one common cause --- resistance to the encroachments of the Slave Power.
"Resolved, That slavery is sectional --- but that Freedom is national; and that those who rally for its defense are not sectionalists or disunionists; but guard the corner stone upon which are pillared the prosperity and very existence of our whole country.
"Resolved, That while we are laboring to restrain and banish from our land the system of physical bondage, we would not be unmindful of that vile and degrading servitude to the intoxicating cup that oppresses so many thousands; but we bid God speed to every effort calculated to deliver and restore the, and especially to those at the ballot-box; and that we have full confidence in our present Prohibitory Liquor Law."
The local political field continued to be occupied by quite active spirits until the memorable campaign of 1859-60, when Abraham Lincoln was made president of the United States, taking upon himself one of the greatest burdens ever borne by man. Cortland was then in the 23d Senatorial District, with Madison and Chenango; P. H. McGraw was elected Senator. R. Holland Duell was elected to Congress, Geo. B. Jones, district attorney, and J. A. McVean Member of Assembly, and the Republican ticket generally triumphed. The contest between A. P. Smith and Hiram Crandall for county judge was especially spirited, daily editions of both Republican and Democratic organs being issued in support of the respective candidates, who were, as usual in such cases, made to appear by the opposite organs as most decidedly unfit for the office. Mr. Crandall was elected. The Civil War was ushered in with the attach on Fort Sumter on the 9th day of April, 1861, the history of which, as it relates to this country, is given in another chapter.
It had for several years, prior to 1860, been apparent to the Supervisors of the county that something must be done to provide better jail accommodations. The old jail under the court-house had been frequently enlarged and repaired, and in 1859 the Supervisors authorized Abram Mudge to associate himself with another competent person to estimate the cost and propose plans for a new jail suitable for the county and report at the meeting of 1860. In November, 1860, the board authorized the raising of $8,000 for the purpose of building a jail substantially on the plans suggested by Mr. Mudge, who, with Wm. E. Tallman, was made the building committee. The present excellent jail was the result of this action.3
Between the years 1865 and 1870 the people of the county, and especially of Cortlandville, became very enthusiastic over the subject of further railroad construction, which would give them better connections with other portions of the State. The village of Cortland had fully entered upon the period of growth which has since given it justly earned fame from Lake Erie to the Hudson river; manufacturing interests were springing up or being earnestly discussed in Cortland, Homer, Marathon, McGrawville and other localities; the farming communities were prosperous, the dairying interest having shown a wonderful increase since 1860 and become an important source of revenue; cheese factories had been established in all parts of the county, and the quality of their product, with that of the county butter, ranked second to those of only one or two other counties in the State. This state of affairs found the towns through which it was proposed to run new railroad lines ready to lend them their aid through the liberal issue of bonds, or in other ways.
In 1869 the Ithaca and Cortland Railroad Company was formed, for the construction of a line terminating at these two villages. In aid of this project the town of Cortland voted to bond itself for $100,000. The road was completed and opened, and finally extended to Elmira, making a valuable connecting link with the D., L. & W., and eventually proving of much benefit to the county at large.
Immediately following the agitation of this railroad enterprise, the Auburn branch of the great Midland line, which might or might not come through Cortland, became a topic of earnest and widespread discussion. Cortlandville and other towns were willing to bond themselves in large amounts to attract the road in this direction. When it subsequently appeared improbable that this object could be accomplished, and in response to the generally existing feeling in the county in favor of railroad building to almost any point, the Utica, Chenango and Cortland Railroad Company was formed; prominent men became interested in this organization, one of the foremost of whom and one whose interests would be largely subserved by the proposed road, being Hon. Perrin H. McGraw, of McGrawville. The charter of the company is dated April 9, 1870. Preliminary surveys had been made under direction of Fred. E. Knight, of Cortland village, as chief engineer, and after the company was fully organized the work of construction was begun. In aid of this road the town of Cortlandville voted to bond for $150,000; Solon for $44,000; Cincinnatus for $45,500, Taylor for $20,000; Mr. McGraw was made president of the company and the work of grading was rapidly pushed forward for a time. But difficulties of a serious character arose, into the details of which we need not enter, and the work was suspended after about eighteen miles were graded, bridges and culverts built and more than $300,000 expended. The suspension was due chiefly to trouble with contractors, underestimates of cost, the later failure of negotiations for consolidation with the Midland Company and the financial panic of 1873-74. Almost the whole sum, for which the towns named issued their bonds, has been expended on this line. Whether all of the towns will finally pay these bonds entire, is a question for the future to decide; although some of them will do so, the town of Cortlandville among the number; her bonds having been refunded at five per cent. interest.
The line of this road passed through McGrawville, Solon, down the valley of the Gee brook, Taylor to the Otselic valley to an intersection with what was known as the De Ruyter branch of the Midland; it is generally conceded to be a natural and desirable route for a railroad. Since the suspension of work on the line various plans have been suggested and discussed and efforts made to finish the road, but as yet (1884) nothing has been accomplished. It is believed, however, by those competent to judge, that it will be put in operation at a not distant day. The first of Board of Directors were David R. Pierce, of Otselic; Addison Taylor and John S. Blackman, of Cincinnatus; Calvin L. Hathaway, of Solon; P. H. McGraw, O. S. Kinney, H. P. Goodrich, Allen B. Smith, Chauncey Keator, Charles C. Taylor and James S. Squires. The Board met at the Messenger House in Cortland, March 14th, 1870, and elected P. H. McGraw, president; B. F. Tillinghast, vice-president; J. S. Squires, treasurer; Frank Place, secretary.
The branch of the Midland Railroad did finally come through Cortland county, and was subsequently leased by the Utica, Ithaca and Elmira road and is now operated by it. These lines that are now in successful operation give ample railroad connections east, west, north and south, and have done much to aid in the development of the resources of the county. This process of development and growth of the county in various respects during the past twenty years will be better understood by reference to a few statistics from the census reports, with which and the civil list this chapter will be closed: ---
The aggregate population of Cortland county in 1855 was 24,575. In 1880 it had increased to 25,825. Cortland village had a population in 1855 of 2,117, which increased to 4,050, in 1880. Homer village increased her population during the same period from 1,625 to 2,331; and Marathon from 500 to 1,006. At the former date the acreage of improvement land was 194,736, against 218,736 in 1875. In 1855 the amount of butter made in the county was 2,379,257 pounds, against 2,995,101 twenty years later; while the cheese production increased in the same period in a similar ratio. In manufactures the growth, especially during the past ten or twelve years, has been even more marked. That this advancement will continue in the future there is little doubt.
County Judges.4 --- John Keep, appointed April 3d, 1810; William Mallory, January 31st, 1823; Joseph Reynolds, March 9th, 1833; Henry Stephens, May 17th, 1838; Daniel Hawks, elected June, 1847; Lewis Kingsley, November 7th, 1851; R. Holland Duell, November 6th, 1855; Stephen Brewer, November 14th, 1859; Hiram Crandall, November, 1859; Abram P. Smith, November, 1867; S. S. Know, November, 1882.
County Clerks.5 --- John Ballard, appointed April 8th, 1808; Reuben Washburn, April 3d, 1810; John Ballard, March 4th, 1811; Mead Merrill, April 2d, 1813; William Mallory, March 2d, 1815; Joshua Ballard, July 7th, 1819; Matthias Cook, February 14th, 1821; Samuel Hotchkiss, elected 1822; Orin Stimpson, 1834; Gideon C. Babcock, 1840; Samuel Hotchkiss, jr., 1843; Rufus A. Reed, 1849; Allis W. Ogden 1858; De Witt C. McGraw, 1861; Frank Place, 1867; W. S. Maycumber, 1876; Howard J. Harrington, 1879; R. W. Bourne, 1882.
District Attorneys. --- Augustus Donnelly, 1819; Edward C. Reed, 1827; William H. Shankland, 1836; Horatio Ballard, 1844; Augustus S. Ballard, 1847; R. Holland Duell, 1850; Edward C. Reed, appointed 1856; Abram P. Smith, elected 1856; Geo. B. Jones, 1859; Alvah D. Waters, 1865; Riley Champlin, 1870; Lewis Bouton, November, 1870; Benjamin T. Wright, 1873; Byron A. Benedict, 1876; Irving H. Palmer, 1882.
Sheriffs.6 --- Asahel Minor, April 8th, 1808; Wm. Mallory, appointed June 9th, 1808; Joshua Ballard, April 3d, 1810; Billy Trowbridge, march 25th, 1814; Wm. Stewart, March 2d, 1815; Noah R. Smith, February 13th, 1819; Moses Hopkins, February 12th, 1821; David Coye, elected 1822; Adin Webb, 1828; Wm. Andrews, 1831; Gilmore Kinney, 1834; E. W. Edgcomb, 1837; Alanson Carley, 1840; Christian Etz, 1843; George Ross, 1846; J. C. Pomeroy, 1849; Frederick Ives, 1852; John S. Samson, 1855; Silas Baldwin, 1858; Frederick Ives, 1861; N. H. Haynes, 1864; Isaac W. Brown, 1867; John D. Benton, 1870; N. H. Haynes, 1873; Harlow G. Borthwick, 1876; Gerret S. Van Hoesen, 1879; H. G. Borthwick, 1882.
Treasurers.7 --- Justin M. Pierce, 1848; Edwin F. Gould, 1851; Isaac M. Seaman, 1854; Horace L. Green, 1857; Lora Gross, 1860; Daniel H. Burr, 1863; George W. Webster, 1866; John S. Cornue, 1869; A. S. Waters, 1872; Robert Bushby, 1875; the present incumbent.
Surrogates. 8 --- John McWhorter, appointed April 8th, 1808; Mead Merrill, 1810; Luther F. Stevens, 1811; Adin Webb, 1816; Jabez B. Phelps, 1823; Chas. W. Lynde, 1828; Townsend Ross, 1832; Anthony Freer, 1836; Adin Webb, 1840; Anthony Freer, 1844.
Members of Assembly. --- Ephraim Fish, 1810; Billy Trowbridge, 1811; Wm. Mallory, 1814; S. G. Hathaway, 1815; Joseph Reynolds 1816; John Miller, 1817; S. G. Hathaway, 1818; Joseph Reynolds, 1819; John Miller, 1820; John Osborn, 1821; Daniel Sherwood, 1822; John Gillett, 1823; Matthias Cook and Wm. Barto, jr., 1824; Josiah Hart and J. Chatterton, 1825; John Lynde and Augustus A. Donnelly, 1826; Nathan Dayton and Cephas Comstock, 1827; Nathan Dayton and John L. Boyd, 1828; Gideon Curtis and Alanson Carley, 1829; Henry Stephens and Chauncey Keep, 1830; Fredus Howard and Chas. Richardson, 1831; Andrew Dickson and J. L. Woods, 1832; David Mathews and Enos S. Halbert, 1833; Oliver Kingman and S. Bogardus, 1834; Barak Niles and Aaron Brown, 1835; Chauncey Keep and Cephas Comstock, 1836; Josiah Hine and John Thomas, 1837; John Osgood and David Mathews, 1838; G. S. Green and George Isaacs, 1839; Jabez B. Phelps and Wm. Barnes, 1840; Nathan Heaton and Lovel G. Mickels, 1841; Orin Stimpson and Jesse Ives, 1842; H. McGraw and George N. Niles, 1843; J. Kingman, jr., and Platt F. Grow, 1844; John Pierce, 2d, and Geo. J. J. Barber, 1845; Amos Graves and John Miller, 1846; Timothy Green, 1847; James Comstock, 1848; Ira Skeel, 1849; Lewis Kingsley, 1850; Alvan Kellogg, 1851; Geo. W. Bradford, 1852; Ashbel Patterson, 1853; John H. Knapp, 1854; George J. Kingman, 1855; Joseph Atwater, 1856; Nathan Bouton, 1857; Arthur Holmes, 1858; John A. McVean, 1860; Loammi Kinney, 1861; Thomas Barry, 1862; Henry B. Van Hoesen, 1863; B. F. Tillinghast, 1864; Dann C. Squires, 1865; Stephen Patrick, 1866; Horatio Ballard, 1867; Raymond P. Babcock, 1868; Hiram Whitmarsh, 1869; Charles Foster, 1870; Henry S. Randall, 1871; Dann C. Squires, 1872; Geo. W. Phillips, 1873; Geo. W. Phillips, 1874; Daniel E. Whitmore, 1875; Judson C. Nelson, 1876; Deloss McGraw, 1877; Orris U. Kellogg, 1878; Geo. H. Arnold, 1879; Samuel A. Childs, 1880; Alburtis A. Carley, 1881; Alburtis A. Carley, 1882.
Members of Congress from Cortland County. --- John Miller, 1824; Edward C. Reed, 1830; S. G. Hathaway, 1832; Joseph Reynolds, 1834; Lewis Riggs, 1840; Harmon S. Conger, 1846; R. Holland Duell, 1858, 1871 and 1873.
State Senators from Cortland County. --- William Mallory, 1818; S. G. Hathaway, 1822; Chas. W. Lynde, 1830; Wm. Bartlit, 1841; Geo. W. Bradford, 1853, 1855; Perrin H. McGraw, 1860.
Secretaries of State from Cortland County. --- Henry S. Randall, 1851; Horatio Ballard, 1861.
1 - The boys and young men in each party entered into the prevailing rivalry. The glee clubs, or some of them, were the most grotesque organizations, considered in a musical sense, but for making noise the Cortland Polk and Dallas glee club was simply huge. They could "Hurrah for Polk!" much more harmoniously than they could sing their songs. Sinclair was the foreman in the Democrat office, and a zealous Democrat in politics. He handled the pyramid of bells in the glee club, and fairly howled when he sang! His voice was sonorous, and by way of delivering the Whigs along Main street, every hour or two he would thrust his head out of the office window and shout, "H-u-r-r-a-h f-o-r P-o-l-k!" until the sound would reach the ears of Conger, in his law office in the William Randall building, on the corner of Main and Court streets, grate harshly upon those of James C. Pomeroy, stir up the quiet 'Squire Adams and staid Hiram Hopkins, usually found at Oren Stimpson's store, and so up to the Wig headquarters at the Cortland house, where the portly Danforth Merrick would utter an expletive in disgust at "that ---- Polk machine in the Democrat office!" The Whig, unluckily, adopted the phase editorially, and from thenceforward that "Polk machine" was in operation when Conger was within earshot. It was "Harrah for Polk!" at five o'clock in the morning, at midnight, and nearly all the hours between, until the Whig gave up in despair. The laugh was against them. Another incident of this canvass was the roorback forgery and its circulation by the Whigs; and still another, the printing of a private letter involving Joel B. Hibbard, who was inclined to the anti-slavery side, and the Abolitionists, of whom there were three or four hundred in the county, under the lead of John Thomas, on purpose to cast that vote for the benefit of the Democrats and adversely to Mr. Clay, whose position on the question of Texas annexation was not satisfactory to the Abolitionists.---H. G. Crouch's Reminiscences of the Cortland County Press.
2 - "After the tide of revolution had rolled away and the people were becoming comparatively happy, conflicting claims and unpleasant controversies were renewed, having a strong tendency to create bitter recriminations between inhabitants of adjoining States, and especially those of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. The controversy pending the conflicting claims of the two latter States grew out of an antiquated and pretended right on the part of Massachusetts to a certain portion of land lying within the boundaries of New York. In 1786 the question at issue was finally settled by an amicable adjustment of the differences of opinion, through the united exertions of commissions, duly appointed and clothed with the confederative power to arrange the matter in controversy, and thus silence the clamor which had for a long time tended to create unpleasant remarks as well as to weaken to bonds of fraternal fellowships. The commissioners granted to Massachusetts 6,144,000 acres of land, known as the Genesee country. This tract comprised all the land of the State west of a line beginning at the mouth of the great Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario, and running due south through the middle of Seneca Lake to the north line of Pennsylvania, excepting one mile in width the whole length of Niagara river, which was ceded to New York. Another tract, afterward known as the 'Massachusetts ten townships,' embracing 230,400 acres, lying between the Owego and Chenango rivers, was also ceded without the least equivalent to Massachusetts, reserving to New York barely the right of sovereignty. The former was sold to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, and the latter was purchased by John Brown & Co., for a fraction over $3,300. It will be observed that we have heretofore spoken of Virgil as township No. 24 of military lands. It should, however, be noted that the whole of the town of Virgil did not originally belong to the military grant. A strip of about one and a half miles wide running across its southern side from east to west was taken from the ten townships grant to Massachusetts."---Goodwin.
This strip is now in the towns of Harford and Lapeer, with a small tract in Marathon, as will be seen on the map herein.
3 - It was in the Board of Supervisors of 1865 that Erving Taintor, the "Bard of Harford," offered a 'resolution providing, in substance, for application to the Legislature for such alteration of the laws as would allow the dog tax to be applied to the school fund. Appended to the resolution in the old record book appears the following poetical argument in favor of the resolution: ---
Now, in the Scriptures it is said You shall not take the children's bread And give it to the dogs; Neither shall men, or boys, or girls, Or lovely women take their pearls And cast them to the hogs. But e'er intent on doing good, Give hogs and dogs their proper food, And knowledge to the fools; So, 'tis the fashion now to raise By various means and various ways, Money for our schools. Now, if a thieving dog you keep, Or one that never killed a sheep, Or dog of any kind, Let him be taxed to raise a store Of several hundreds, if no more, To cultivate the mind. Then, every dog of every breed Will teach the children how to read, Or help their education; And thus a useless race be made, To benefit the nation.
4 - Previous to the adoption of the Constitution of 1846 this office was filled by the "Council of Appointment" at Albany.
5 - This office was made elective by the Constitution of 1821.
6 - This office was made elective in 1821.
7 - In all of the civil lists available this office is dated from 1848. Obadiah Boies was treasurer of this county from its organization and held the office until 1822, when he was succeeded by Edmond Mallory, who was followed in 1825 by William Mallory.
8 - After the adoption of the Constitution of 1846 this office has been merged with that of county judge.
1885 History of Cortland County
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