Towns of Chenango County
The English colony of New York was founded on Sept. 8, 1664, when the Dutch surrendered the colony of New Netherlands. With increasing potential for settlement, the English formed the first counties to better administer their new domain. The first designation of counties took place on Nov. 1, 1683. The land that now constitutes Chenango County was part of a vast territory of western lands designated Albany County.
Soon after the conclusion of the French and Indian War, the English – to keep peace with the Native Peoples – agreed to the Fort Stanwick Treaty on Nov. 5, 1768. This treaty formed a line that ran south from Fort Stanwick (present day Rome, N.Y.) to separate the lands between European settlement (east of the line) and the Native Peoples (west of the line). This line, in part, followed the Unadilla River to the Susquehanna River, establishing the future eastern border of Chenango County. On March 12, 1772, the western lands including what is now Chenango County were separated from Albany County to become Tyron County named after Colonial Governor William Tyron.
With the birth of the United States in 1776 and the conclusion of the American Revolution in 1783, the state of New York was established. The first form of national government, the Articles of Confederation, left affairs of western land settlement and negotiations with the Native People to the individual states. The Fort Stanwick Treaty was now void, and Tyron County’s name was changed to Montgomery County in memory of General Richard Montgomery who was killed in the assault on Quebec during the 1775 American invasion of Canada.
Two treaties – one at Fort Herkimer on June 28, 1785 and one at Fort Schyler (present day Utica, N.Y.) on Sept. 22, 1788 – between the Native People and the state of New York opened the lands west of the Unadilla River for settlement. On Feb. 25, 1789, surveyor General Simon Dewitt began the process of surveying these newly opened lands. Portions of Montgomery County were divided into Tioga, Herkimer and Ontario counties. The first Chenango County was vastly larger than today, reaching from the south shore of Oneida Lake to present-day Broome County. This new county was established from parts of Herkimer and Tioga counties on March 15, 1798. The county was then surveyed into towns. Each town was divided into lots 1 to 100 with one lot set aside for religious use, called the Gospel Lot, and one for education. The state of New York then sold these lots to land agents who resold the lots. In many cases, the land was leased to the first settlers. On April 4, 1804, some of Chenango County was partitioned to expand Oneida County. On March 21, 1806, more of Chenango County was partitioned to produce Madison County. This established the current borders of Chenango County, which have been maintained to the early 21st century. This area was developed for agriculture in the 19th century and is still largely rural.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 899 square miles of which 894 square miles are land and 5.1 square miles are water. Chenango County is in the approximate center of the state, west of Albany, north of Binghamton and southeast of Syracuse. The county is considered to be in the Southern Tier region of New York state. The Chenango River, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, flows southward through the county.
Chenango County Legal History
The County Legal History Project of the Historical Society of the New York Courts was launched to document the local legal history of the counties of New York State: the legal figures, cases, and events that helped shape the histories of these places. As part of this initiative, Elizabeth A. Klassner, working in conjunction with the Chenango County Historical Society and Museum, conducted extensive research into the legal history of Chenango County. You can find the full 82 page document by clicking below.
- New Berlin
- North Norwich
Founded: The land was first settled in 1786 and it was called Clinton, later renamed Jericho in 1791 and then South Bainbridge in 1814. It finally seceded from Bainbridge in 1857 when it was renamed Afton.
Hamlets within the town: Bettsburg, East Afton, Melendy Hill, Middle Bridge, Ninevah, Ninevah Junction, and North Afton. Named after “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton” a poem published in 1791 by Robert Burns.
Current population: 2,851 (2010 census)
Notable People: Bert Lord (1869-1939) entered state and national politics, being elected to the Assembly at Albany and to the House of Representatives in Washington. Dr. Philateus Hayes was the first mayor of Afton in 1892. He founded the Susquehanna Valley Medical Society. Dr. Carlton J.H. Hayes (1882-1964) taught European History at Columbia University. He was an ambassador to Spain during World War II.
Interesting Facts: Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) married Emma Hale at a home where the present-day fairgrounds are located. Joseph Smith Jr. was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. Afton has continued to have a fair and community event since 1889. The suspension bridge across the Susquehanna River at the village of Afton was one of the finest structures in the state. The length of the span was 362 feet and it was supported by six cables – 558 feet in length – each composed of 132 wires. The height of the towers was 36 feet and the arch of the bridge four feet. On the east side was an approach bridge 70 feet in length. The suspending rods were five-eighths of an inch in diameter, attached to needle beams four feet apart. The weight of the bridge was 100 tons and the carrying weight was 240 tons.
Industry Past: Afton has been home to a number of creameries and agricultural-related industries. A Sash & Blind Company also produced a great deal of products for Afton at one time.
Industry Present: Agriculture still plays a major role in the economy of Afton.
Founded: In 1791 as the “Town of Jericho” in Tioga County before the formation of Chenango County in 1798.
Hamlets within the town: Bennettsville, Union Valley and West Bainbridge.
Named after: Commodore William Bainbridge in 1814.
Current population: 3,308 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Birthplace of Jedediah Strong Smith (1799-1831) frontiersman and explorer who discovered the South Pass along the Oregon Trail allowing pioneer wagon travel across the Continental Divide.
Interesting facts: The town was settled around 1788 by “Vermont Sufferers” who received land from New York as remuneration or consolation for their efforts in supporting New York during a boundary dispute with Vermont. Vermont prevailed in the land dispute and those who supported New York suffered losses of land, possessions and position. The lands comprising much of present-day Bainbridge and Afton were conveyed to the Vermont Sufferers. Each Memorial Day weekend, Bainbridge hosts the General Clinton Canoe Regatta which features the world’s longest single-day flat water canoe race.
Industry past: The American Separator Company was formed in 1895 and produced cream separator machines. It closed in 1950. The Gilbert Manufacturing Company (1883) made children’s sleds and carts, and larger items.In 1904, the Casein Manufacturing Company of Bainbridge used milk by-products to produce adhesives. The company later became a part of Borden, Inc. The Erinoid Company of America opened in 1925 and became the American Plastics Corporation in 1939; it has since closed.
Industry present: Paynes Cranes, Inc. whose specialty is in moving structures and in demolition across the East Coast.
Founded: Columbus was first settled around 1791. The town was formed in 1805 from the town of Brookfield (now in Madison County). Additional territory was obtained from the town of Norwich in 1807.
Hamlets within the town: Button City, Columbus Center, Columbus Corners (also called Lamb’s Corners), Columbus Quarter, Perrytown and Talettewere all hamlets of Columbus in the early settlement of the town. The only one still in existence is Columbus Center, which is called Columbus today.
Named after: The town was named by Dr. Tracy Robinson, the first doctor in the town and first town supervisor. It was possibly so named in reference to the first Columbus Day Celebration that took place in New York City in 1792.
Current population: 975 (2010 U.S. Census).
Notable people: Judge William Cooper (1754-1809) – father of James Fenimore Cooper, author of Leatherstocking Tales – lived here for a short period of time in his life.
Interesting facts: It was the first community named Columbus in the United States. In 1844, Columbus produced nearly 345,560 pounds of cheese.
Industry past: The home of Philadelphia Cream Cheese – the first known cream cheese factory in the world and the largest in the U.S. – was founded in 1872 as the Empire Cheese Company. The cream cheese was named Philadelphia in honor of America’s cradle of liberty and her first capital. It later became Kraft’s Breakstone Yogurt Plant.
Industry present: Chobani: Founded in 2005 by Hamdi Ulukaya, he purchased the old Breakstone Yogurt Plant and, in 2007, updated it to make natural yogurt. Chobani is now the top-selling Greek yogurt brand in America and operates the largest yogurt facility in the world. It now employs more than 2,000. Chobani was an official sponsor of the 2012 and 2014 U.S. Olympic teams. Unadilla Motocross, which began in 1969, has hosted various motocross races, including the first Motocross des Nations ever held in the U.S. in 1987. It has also hosted a round of the U.S. nationals every year since 1989.
Coventry Town Museum
Founded: In 1806, it was formed from the town of Greene. Coventry was enlarged in 1843 to include part of Oxford.
Hamlets within the town: Blackesley Corner, Bowbell Hill and Coventryville.
Named after: Coventry, Conn., by settlers from the New England region.
Current population: 1,655 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: William Goodell (1792-1878) was an abolitionist and helped to form the New-York Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. William Eugene “Pussyfoot” Johnson (1862-1945) was an American prohibition advocate and law enforcement officer who spent his career undercover, exposing illegal alcohol during the American Prohibition Movement (1920-1933).
Interesting facts: Coventry’s poor soil condition has made dairy herding prominent since the formation of Coventry. Coventry has held a blueberry festival to celebrate the crop since 2006. In 1869, the town contained three churches (Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist), a hotel, a one district school and a select school, two wagon shops, a blacksmith shop, a tannery, several stores, and approximately 50 dwellings.
Industry past: With a high number of dairy farms, Coventry has been home to five cheese and butter factories.
Industry present: Coventry Transport Services is a company known for moving liquid milk from local farms to large dairy distribution plants. Agriculture still plays a major and vital role in the economy of Coventry.
Hamlets within the town: East German, German Four Corners and German Five Corners
Named after: U.S. Senator Obadiah German, the original land owner
Current population: 370 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Obadiah German was born on April 22, 1766 in Amenia, N.Y. He was admitted to the bar in 1792, and commenced practice in Norwich. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1798-1799, 1804-1805, and again 1807-1809. In 1809, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York, and served from March 4, 1809 to March 3, 1815. German was known as a critic of the lack of military preparations made in advance of the War of 1812, and voted against the declaration of war. In 1812, German was one of the founding trustees of Hamilton College in Clinton. He was the first judge of the Chenango County Court (1814-1819). He was also a state militia officer, eventually becoming a major general. Supporting DeWitt Clinton’s Erie Canal project, German took part in planning and overseeing its construction after being appointed state commissioner of public works in 1817. German returned to the Assembly in 1819 as a member of the Clintonian faction of the Democratic-Republican Party and was chosen to serve as speaker. Afterwards, he resumed the practice of law. German became a Whig when that party was organized. He died on Sept. 24, 1842 in Norwich.
Interesting fact: In 1869, German contained a Free Will Baptist Church, a schoolhouse, a store, a marble shop, a hotel, and nine dwellings with a total town population of 43 people.
Industry past: Henry S. Edgerton was a long rifle manufacturer two miles east of the hamlet of German.
Industry present: Agriculture plays a major role in the economy of German.
Hamlets within the town: Brisben, Crestmont, Fickles Corner, Genegantslet, Lower Genegantslet Corner, Quinneville and Page Brook.
Named after: Gen. Nathanael Greene (1742-1786), sometimes misspelled “Nathaniel,” was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.
Current population: 5,604 (U.S. 2010 census)
Notable people: Francis Joseph Flynn (aka “General Mite”) (1864-1898) was a famous “dwarf” who performed as a showman at various competitions across the world. Born Carolina Mohawk, “Go-Won-Go” was an athlete and sports woman with masterful horsemanship skills. She was one of the first Native American actresses to perform on stages across Europe and in America. Her father, Dr. Alan Mohawk, was a Seneca Native American who practiced medicine in Greene.
Interesting fact: A.B. Robinson built a stone structure, believed to be the first refrigeration unit in the United States, and continued in business (1875-1900). It was used to preserve eggs and fowl. It also housed a turkey for President Grover Cleveland, later dished up for Thanksgiving dinner.
Industry past: The Lyon Iron Works was founded in 1840 by George R. Lyon. The Lyon Iron Works made cannonballs for the Civil War. In 1876, it was making an “always cool stove-lid lifter,” invented by George Langdon and sold at the time for 25 cents. In 1922, George Raymond, Sr. purchased controlling interest in the Lyon Iron Works and it was later renamed the Raymond Corporation, which in 2010 integrated with Toyota to form the leading forklift company in North America.
Industry present: The Page Seed Company, founded in 1896, packages seeds from flowers to vegetables sold and grown across the nation.
The Raymond Corporation, the successor to Lyon and St. John Iron Works, is one of Chenango County’s largest employers.
Founded: In 1793 and was then called Oxford. In 1813, the eastern part of Oxford split off to form Eastern. In 1817, Eastern changed the town name to Guilford.
Hamlets within the town: East Guilford, Guilford (earlier called Fayette), Guilford Center, Latham Corners, Mt. Upton, North Guilford, Rockdale, Rockwell Mills and Yaleville
Named after: Early Guilford residents came from Guilford, Conn.
Current population: 2,922 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable People: Joshua and John Mersereau were the first settlers and were spies for George Washington. Daniel S. Dickinson (1800-1866) was a New York politician and served as a United States Senator (1844-1851).
Interesting facts: The hamlet of Guilford had a large number of inventors. Mt. Upton had a horse-pulled hearse factory. Rockwell Mills made the uniforms for Civil War soldiers in a mill, now the home of The Old Mill Restaurant. A carved wooden angel that hung outside at “The Angel’s Inn” in Guilford Center is now in the permanent collections at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. The Guilford Center Church, which is still standing, was built in 1820 and is now the home of the Guilford Historical Society. Lady Upton was a famous race horse from Mt. Upton. Capt. Joseph Latham built the Latham Inn, commonly referred to as “The Tavern” in 1818.
Industry past: Agriculture. The Rockwell Woolen Mills manufactured Civil War Uniforms. A Borden’s Milk Plant collected milk from local farmers and shipped the milk using the railroad. Ontario & Western Railroad passed through Guilford until the railroad closed in 1957.
Industry present: Agriculture still plays a major role in the economy of Guilford.
Founded: The land was first settled around 1796. Lincklaen was formed from the town of German in 1823. Parts of the town were removed to form the town of Pitcher, once in 1827 and again in 1833.
Hamlets within the town: Burdick Settlement, Lincklaen Center, Mariposa and Rhode Island.
Named after: Col. John Lincklaen, the former proprietor of the township and agent of the Holland Land Company.
Current population: 396 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: In 1875, Isaac Smith, Eri Johnson and Oliver Clark were hop farmers.
Interesting fact: Mud Creek is an important stream flowing southward through the town, first to the Otselic and Tioughnioga rivers, then on to the Chenango River, which is part of the watershed of the Susquehanna River flowing to Chesapeake Bay.
Industry past: Both hop and dairy farming were instrumental in the past of Lincklaen.
Industry present: Agriculture still plays a major role in the economy of Lincklaen.
Founded: In 1816 from town of Preston land. Hamlets within the town: East McDonough, Genegantslet Lake, and Lake Ludlow.
Named after: The town is named after Commodore Thomas MacDonough, a naval officer who served on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812.
Current population: 896 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: The famous secular Music Composer and Poet John Prindle Scott (1877-1932) called McDonough home for several years late in his life. Originally, he spent summers there. Then, in 1922, he purchased a house in the village that he called his “Scottage.” Truly inspired, his McDonough published poetry includes “The Old Road” and “The Hills O’McDonough.”
Interesting facts: Since 1927, McDonough residents have annually decorated a living pine tree during the Christmas season with electric bulbs. Standing at more than 115 feet tall, the tree is recorded as the “world’s largest living annually lit Christmas tree.” Bowman Lake State Park is a 966.94 acre park with roads that wind through evergreen and hardwood forests to shady campsites. There is a sandy lakefront for swimmers and sunbathers with several picnic areas. The lake is regularly stocked with trout and birdwatchers can spot as many as 103 species of birds. Campers from across the state come for day and weekend trips.
Industry past: From 1919-1979, McDonough was home to the famed “Ford Homes,” the Ivon R. Ford, Inc., prefab house factory. Started and owned by Ivon R. Ford, Sr., it was one of the first manufacturers of prefabricated buildings in the country and was a major employer.
Industry present: Agriculture plays a major role in the economy of McDonough.
Founded: In 1807, from part of the town of Norwich. In 1853, part of the town was used to enlarge the town of Sherburne.
Hamlets within the town: Amblerville, Chenango Lake, Davis Crossing, Five Corners, Holmesville, New Berlin Center, Sages Crossing and South New Berlin.
Named after: Berlin, Conn. In 1821, the town changed its name to “Lancaster,” but returned to “New Berlin” the next year.
Current population: 2,682 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Helen Adelia Manville (1839-1912) was an American poet and littérateur. Anson Burlingame (1820-1870) was an American lawyer, a legislator for the Republican/American Party, diplomat, and abolitionist. He was also the United States’ minister to the Qing Empire.
Interesting fact: In 1899, the offices of Preferred Mutual burned to the ground, along with 11 other buildings in New Berlin. Ironically, Frank Holmes, founder of Preferred Mutual, carried no fire insurance on his business property, but he did rebuild the offices.
Industry past: The New Berlin Instrument Company produced Oboes, Clarinets and Bassoons for the C.G. Conn Instrument Co. until 1961. Founded in 1870, the I.L. Richer Co. was the largest privately-owned feed business in the Northeast. It both manufactured and sold feed until its business was sold in 2008.
Industry present: Preferred Mutual Insurance Agency, founded in 1896, was first known as the Preferred Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Chenango County. Today, it employs more than 270 people and operates in association with more than 450 independent agents. Golden Artist Colors, Inc. has been in New Berlin since 1980. Sam Golden, a retired paint maker, found himself “going to the barn (on his New Berlin property) to make paint for friends.” Since 1980, the company has developed more than 1,000 custom paints for artists, conservators, and many individuals and businesses requiring the special services of custom coatings. It also has a large warehouse in Norwich.
Founded: From the town of Norwich in 1849.
Hamlets within the town: Kings Settlement, Plasterville, Sherburne Four Corners and Whaupaunaucau Valley.
Named after: The town of Norwich, which is directly south of the town of North Norwich.
Current population: 1,783 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Obadiah German (1766-1842) was an early settler in the hamlet of North Norwich and is believed to be its first merchant. He was an Assembly Representative, first judge for Chenango County, and a United States Senator for six years. He started a trading post along the Chenango River, and also operated a store in the area across from the present-day Town Hall, which was the site of his home. He was also one of the subscribers who helped incorporate the “Farmers Library” in the town of North Norwich. There is a “tale” that if he had been given the land, North Norwich would have been Chenango County’s seat.
Interesting Facts: North Norwich has an “umlaufberg,” also known as Steam Sawmill Hill. The Chenango River once flowed on the western side of this mountain, but now flows on the eastern side. A million years ago, a glacier ice block melted and caused the stream to change course. The hamlet of North Norwich lies to the south.
Industry past: The earliest settlers burned logs they cleared from their land and shipped the resulting charcoal and potash via rafts on the Chenango River. Rea-D-Pack Foods was founded in 1953 by the Goldstein family. At one time, it was the largest sauerkraut producer in the country, producing more than 15,000 tons annually. It closed in 2008.
Industry present: There are several small businesses operating locally, but the largest employer in the town presently is Norwich Pharmaceutical – An Alvogen Co., located on Route 12, south of the hamlet of North Norwich. It currently employs 325 people. The Lt. Warren E. Eaton, DSC Airport is located on Route 12 south of the town office.
Founded: The first settlers arrived around 1788. The town of Norwich was formed in 1793, and became a city in 1914.
Hamlets within the town: Hawley’s Corners, Haynes, North Guilford Corners, Polkville, Springvale, Webbs Corners, White Store and Woods Corners.
Named after: Norwich, Conn., where many early settlers relocated from. The original name is from Norwich, England.
Current population: 11,353 (2010 U.S. Census) for both the town and city.
Notable people: Gail Borden (1801-1874) is the inventor of condensed milk. This enabled the milk to be transported and stored without refrigeration.
Interesting facts: Norwich is home to the invention of Pepto-Bismol in 1901. The Norwich Knitting Mill was the first company in the world to produce Mickey Mouse undies, with a copyright date of 1933.
Industry past: The Maydole Hammer Factory (1845-1961) was the largest hammer factory in the U.S. Its success was due to a safely attached head. The Norwich Shoe Company (1946-1991) was producing 4.68 million pairs of shoes per year in its peak manufacturing years. M.P. Berglas Manufacturing (1918-1977) produced toilet seats from a plant on East Main Street.
Industry present: G.E. Aviation continues to manufacture and engineer aviation and aerospace parts. It was founded from the original General Laboratories Associates. For more than 40 years, Chentronics, LLC has provided innovative, High Energy Ignition (HEI) and flame detection technology for the power generation, utility, petrochemical, industrial, marine and green environment industries. Since 1856, NBT Bank has been building long-term financial relationships with individuals, businesses, organizations, agricultural operations, and local government at more than 150 locations in six states.
Founded: In 1807 by Ebenezer Hill, moving south from Georgetown to what is now Otselic Center.
Hamlets within the town: Beaver Meadow, Otselic Center, Sandersonville, Seventh Day Hollow and South Otselic.
Named after: An Iroquois word that translates to Plum Creek.
Current population: 1,054 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Grace Brown (1886-1906) was an Otselic native murdered by her boyfriend, Chester Gillette. Her story received national attention and was the subject of the fictional character Roberta Alden in Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy as well as Jennifer Donnelly’s novel A Northern Light. She is buried in Valley View Cemetery in South Otselic. Gillette was eventually convicted of her murder and electrocuted at Auburn Prison.
Interesting facts: Otselic has the only D.E.C. fish hatchery in Chenango County. Built in the late 1930s, it was located in South Otselic because of the influence of the Gladding Fishing Line owners. The New York, Oswego & Midland Railroad, commonly referred to as the Butter & Cheese Express, passed through Otselic. The Rainbow Trestle was a notable landmark in its day. So named because of its graceful curve, it was 750 feet in length and 45 feet high, crossing the Otselic River basin and meeting land on Crumb Hill in Otselic Center.
Industry past: During the heyday of local creameries, the creamery located in Otselic was one of the largest in the state. Gladding Braided Products was formed in 1816 in South Otselic. It manufactured fishing line and ropes. At one time, it even manufactured children’s sleds.
Industry present: Gladding Braided Products continues to make rope products. It has expanded in recent years with colored paracord. It currently produces more than 2 million feet of braided cord, wire and cable a day.
Founded: In 1791, Benjamin Hovey, purchaser of a large tract on either side of the Chenango River, built a cabin near what is now Fort Hill Park in the center of the village of Oxford. Twelve families settled that year and 46 more the next year, 1792.
Hamlets within the town: Brackett Lake, Cheshireville, Coventry Station, Ingraham Corners, Northrups Corners, Oxford Station, Puckerville Corners, South Oxford and Walker Corners.
Named after: Oxford, Mass.
Current population: 3,901 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Barnum Brown (1873-1963), commonly referred to as Mr. Bones, was an American paleontologist. He discovered the first documented remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex during his career. He is buried in Oxford. Theodore Burr came to Oxford in 1792. In 1800 he built the first stringer bridge across the Chenango River in Oxford. Around 1804, Burr built the first “sizable bridge” crossing New York’s Hudson River, at Waterford, N.Y. He built nearly every bridge that crossed the Susquehanna River from Binghamton to Maryland in those days. His successes made him the most distinguished architect of bridges in the country. Burr was awarded a U.S. patent for his arch and truss bridge design. His home is now the Oxford Memorial Library.
Interesting fact: Oxford lost some of its territory when the town of Guilford was created in 1813, and the town of Coventry was formed in 1843.
Industry past: The Shirt Company was a large employer from 1907-1909, when it merged with the Utica Skirt Company. The Oxford Basket Works were moved to Oxford in 1890. Some baskets, like the peach and grape, could be produced at a rate of 1,200-1,500 per day. The factory closed after a fire in the early 1930s.
Industry present: Blueox Energy can be traced back to the 1940s, when it started as a coal business. Purchased by several local businessmen over the years, Blueox continues to sell fuel across New York.
Founded: The first settlement occurred in 1797. It was formed as Stonington on April 7, 1806, but was later changed to Pharsalia on April 6, 1808.
Hamlets within town: Early settlements included Crane’s Corners, East Pharsalia, North Pharsalia, Northwest Corners, Pharsalia Center, Pharsalia Hill and Union Valley.
Present settlements include East Pharsalia, North Pharsalia and Pharsalia (Hook).
Named after: Originally after Stonington Conn., but Pharsalia is in honor of a Roman civil war battle site in Greece.
Current population: 593 (2010 U.S. census)
Notable people: The “Podunk Hillbillies” were musicians and comedians who entertained throughout New York and Pennsylvania for more than 40 years.
Interesting fact: When New York state started acquiring land for wildlife management purposes, it first acquired land in Pharsalia in 1926 as The Pharsalia Game Refuge, which is now called the Pharsalia Wildlife Management Area. This area is nearly 4,700 acres.
Industry past: Gristmills, sawmills and farming. At one time, Pharsalia had five creameries that produced award-winning butter and cheeses. Pharsalia was home to the J.C. Gladding Ropewalk which was the predecessor to Gladding Braided Products.
Industry present: Dairy and beef farming assist in the economy of Pharsalia. Pharsalia Metal Fabrication Inc. is a custom metal fabrication company that specializes in stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel. Gladding Braided Products still has an active warehouse in Pharsalia.
Founded: The land was first settled around 1794. The town of Pitcher was formed from parts of the towns of German and Lincklaen in 1827. The size of Pitcher was increased in 1833 with an additional portion taken from Lincklaen.
Hamlets within the town: Chandler Corners, Hydeville, North Pitcher, Pitcher Springs, Ufford Corners, Union Valley and Waldron Corners.
Named after: The town is named after Nathaniel Pitcher, the eighth governor of New York.
Current population: 803 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Pitcher native Jethro A. Hatch (1837-1912) was the first physician in Kentland, Ind., and a congressman from Indiana’s 10th district. His family moved to Illinois in 1847. He was the first physician to locate in Kentland in 1861 and practiced until 1862, when he was an assistant surgeon of the 36th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives (1872-1873). Hatch was elected as a Republican to the 54th Congress (March 4, 1895 to March 3, 1897), serving Indiana’s 10th congressional district. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1896. He returned to Kentland and resumed the practicing medicine.
Interesting fact: Pitcher Springs was once a popular vacation spot in New York as a spa at the springs.
Industry past: S. O. Newton manufactured pitchforks and farm tools in North Pitcher.
Industry present: Barton Industries produces superior quality products, ranging from landing gear components and gyroscope housings to high flow gas systems for both the aerospace and automotive industries.
Plymouth Historical Society
Founded: Settlement in Plymouth began around 1794. It was then formed from the town of Norwich in 1806. Plymouth was known for many years as Frankville, so called because of the early French settlers there.
Hamlets within the town: Kirk, Heady’s Corners, Plymouth Reservoir, Sherburne Four Corners, South Plymouth and Stewart Corners.
Current population: 1,804 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: George E. Cook (1865-1930) was an impressionist artist who traveled across America and Europe painting and selling his art in many galleries, most works being oil on canvas. Adelaine Cook, George’s sister, sung opera in America and Europe as well. The two siblings resided in Thornbrook Hall, on Country Club Road in Plymouth.
Interesting facts: There was a plank road from Norwich to South Otselic built in 1835 and discontinued in 1870. There was an armory in the village near where the school now stands. This contained one cannon. At one time, Plymouth had a select school taught by A. B. Stewart, father of Miss Marcia Stewart. There were two stores, two blacksmith shops, a large tannery, a cooper shop, an egg packing business and a place where coffins were made in a shop across from Lower Cemetery. There was a dam in the creek and a waterwheel to turn machinery to make coffins. Also, a wool carding and cloth dressing business from 1805-1810. Col. Walker of Utica owned a large tract of land of which Plymouth was a part. He was an Englishman and was captain of the 1st New York Regiment in the War of 1812.
Industry past: There were five different cheese factories, one in Plymouth village which took care of the milk from 800 cows, one at Kirk (300 cows), one in South Plymouth (300 cows), one on South Hill (250 cows) and one at Heady’s Corners (300 cows).
Industry present: Agriculture continues to influence the economy of Plymouth.
Founded: The town of Preston was founded from the town of Norwich on April 2, 1806. On April 17, 1816, McDonough was annexed from the town of Preston to give Preston its present configuration. Hamlets within the town: Georgetown on the southern end of County Route 4.
Named after: Preston derives its name from Preston, Conn., the origin of the early settlers. The name originates in Preston, Lancashire, England.
Current population: 1,044 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Jane Fisk Hadley (1733-1819), with her husband, operated a tavern in Lexington, Mass. during the early stages of the Revolutionary War. This tavern was a meeting place for early patriots. On April 18, 1775 she was a witness to the Battle of Lexington and the English march to nearby Concord. Later in the war, it is alleged that Hadley spied for the Americans. After the war, the Hadleys moved to Battleboro, Vt. and later to Preston. She is buried in the Mason-Packer Cemetery in Preston.
Interesting facts: Preston, being town number 14 of original 20 towns, places it in the geographical center of Chenango County. Thus, Preston has been the location of the county home, Preston Manor, for more than 100 years. The manor was once a full working farm. The Ross Schoolhouse was relocated to the Chenango County Historical Society campus in 1979 and preserved.
Industry past: Preston was once the home of oneof the state’s largest tanneries. On a tributary of Fly Meadow Creek, the dam and many of the check dams that regulated the waterwheel’s speed to power the tannery are still able to be located. Louis Dunckel once owned the largest chicken farm in New York state. It later became Preston Egg – its off shoot, Egg Low Farms, is still operating in Sherburne.
Industry present: Turner Mills offers for sale portable bandsaw mills ranging from a basic ground unit to a full hydraulic trailer model.
Hamlets within the town: Earlville, Harrisville, Rexford Falls and Sherburne Four Corners.
Named after: Although it is not confirmed, two beliefs are after a hymn or after an original settler named James Sherburne. The town could have been named after the tune “Sherburne” written by Daniel Read in 1783. The early inhabitants had a habit of frequently singing the tune, which was a favorite with them. Many of the earliest inhabitants and settlers of Sherburne were originally from the town of Kent, in Litchfield County, Conn.
Current population: 4,048 (2010 U.S. Census).
Notable people: John Franklin Gray (1804-1881), first practitioner of homeopathy in the United States. Tompkins H. Matteson (1813-1884) was an American painter born in Peterboro, N.Y. Matteson studied at the National Academy of Design. Tompkins ran a studio in New York City from 1841-1850. He died in Sherburne in 1884. Randy Glasbergen (1957-2015) was an American cartoonist and humorous illustrator best known for three decades of newspaper syndication as well as a freelance career. He produced the syndicated strip The Better Half from 1982-2014. He wrote text for hundreds of greeting cards for Hallmark Cards, American Greetings and others.
Interesting fact: The area that became Sherburne, part of the Chenango River Valley, was originally inhabited by the Oneida people until the late 1780s when the state of New York purchased the land from them. These parcels were later sold at auction in New York City.
Industry past: Two knitting mills operated in Sherburne
Industry present: Chenango Valley Technologies continues as a plastic mold injector company making plastic pieces. It formed in 1972 at the Chenango Tool
Company. Southern Tier Pet Nutrition (formerly Chenango Valley Pet Foods, Inc.) has produced premium natural and organic pet foods for a variety of clients for more than 80 years.
Founded: From part of the town of Greene in 1808
Hamlets within the town: Adams Corners, Buckley Hollow, Corbin Center, Dibble Corner, East Smithville, Lakeview, Lakeville, Long Pond, Smithville Center, Smithville Flats, Tyner and Wilcox Center.
Current population: 1,347 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: The Tarbell family owned the largest number of Guernsey cows in the Northeast.
Interesting Fact: Tarbell Farms was once the largest producer of Guernsey milk in the Northeast. The Tarbell Estate – which covered more than 3,300 acres – was composed of five distinct farms. In 1961, the Tarbells were raising more than 500 purebred Guernsey cattle in addition to horses, swine, sheep and chickens. Prior to its sale in 1962, the Tarbells’ rich, creamy milk was shipped by rail to a number of high-scale restaurants in New York City. In 1967, the farms were torn down, although some relics remain as historical evidence of its existence.
Industry past: Hansmann’s Mills was originally a feed and flour mill. The original mill was built in 1809 by Nicholas Powell. After the flood of 1890 demolished a major section, it was rebuilt by Capt. Uriah Rorapaugh, a veteran of the Civil War. At that time, it was called the Genegantslet Roller Mills and sold feed, grain and flour. Much of the grain was ground into feed and flour using the waterwheel which was powered by the dam on the Genegantslet Creek. In 1912 it was purchased by Frederick Hansmann of New York City and in the 1920’s he developed a pancake mix which required only the addition of water, the first of its kind. It proved to be very popular and the business was continued by the family after Frederick’s death in 1940. It was finally sold in 1970 and the business was moved to Bainbridge.
Industry present: Agriculture continues to influence the economy of Smithville.
Founded: The land was settled around 1792. The town of Smyrna was founded in 1808 as “Stafford” from part of the town of Sherburne. Within a month, the name was changed to “Smyrna.”
Hamlets within the town: Bonney, Ireland Mills, Pleasant Brook and Upperville.
Named after: A coastal city in ancient Greece.
Current population: 1,280 (2010 U.S. Census)
Notable people: Harry Stack Sullivan, M.D. (1892-1949), is noted as the father of modern psychiatry. He was honored through a renaming of the county’s mental health facility to the Chenango County-Harry Stack Sullivan Mental Health Clinic. Brigham Young (1801–1877) was an American religious leader and politician who lived in Smyrna as a child. He was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death. He founded Salt Lake City and he served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. Young also led the founding of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University Charlie Palmer, a world renowned chef, owns several restaurants and has received many culinary awards.
Interesting fact: The Smyrna Citizens’ Band has been performing concerts since 1918 for the citizens of Smyrna. One family in the band features a fifth generation of performers.
Industry past: A tannery on the former carding cloth dressing establishment in Pleasant Brook was formed due to the high amount of acid found in the plentiful
amounts of hemlock trees. In 1879, it contained 32 vats and tanned an average of 20 hides per week.
Industry present: Baillie Lumber is one of North America’s largest hardwood lumber manufacturers, distributors and exporters. It is a provider of hardwood lumber. Founded in 1923 by James A. Baillie, the company has grown from a regional supplier of domestic hardwoods to an international hardwood manufacturer that can ship hardwood lumber to any region of the world.