Hamilton - The Village

 Elisha Payne's enterprise in developing the village of Hamilton was thoroughly successful. Within a little more than two decades of his arrival the hamlet was in a thriving condition with two taverns (one was Payne's), three stores, a schoolhouse, a newspaper, church, and grist and saw mills. It had become a center for trade for an extensive farming area and for holding local courts and training days of the militia. This growth met with competition from neighboring villages but it was Squire Payne's which won out.
  Like most first generation New England settlers, those of Hamilton were concerned about religion. Nearly all were Baptists and in 1796 they formed a church in Samuel and Betsey Payne's log cabin. It was the only religious society in the village until 1819 when the Methodists gathered into a class. The Congregationalists organized in 1828. In 1817 seven laymen and six clergymen from Hamilton and the surrounding area formed the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York for the purpose of training young men for the Baptist Ministry. From it Colgate University developed.
 Improved forms of transportation nourished the community's prosperity. The Cherry Valley Turnpike, chartered in 1803, now part of U.S. Route 20, was an important east-west artery five miles to the north. The Hamilton-Skaneateles Turnpike went from Otsego County to the east through the center of the village on to the Finger Lakes region. The Chenango Canal, which was completed in 1836 and in operation until 1876, put Hamilton on a water route between Utica on the Erie Canal and Binghamton on the Susquehanna River. Direct railroad connections with the outside world did not come until 1870 when the Utica, Clinton and Binghamton was constructed more or less in line with the canal.
 The completion of the canal and the railroad, each in its turn, brought prosperity. New streets were laid out and several houses built. Many representing various types of architecture - Federal, Classic, Gothic, and Victorian - still grace the community. Also contributing to the economic life of the village were several merchantile establishments and a variety of manufacturing activities including furniture, flour, shoes and leather goods, ironware, bricks - all long since gone. The business section, nearly destroyed by fire in 1895, was quickly rebuilt and remains virtually untouched. Education was an important feature of village life since a private academy, a female seminary and a university were located here. Today it may be said that Colgate University is the major industry and that it distinguishes Hamilton from most central New York villages.
 In recognition of architectural, esthetic and historical significance of a great number of buildings in the village, Hamilton was listed in 1984 as an Historic District on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
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