The Otego Historical Association
A Little History of Otego - 1842


OTEGO from 1842 to 1889
By Levi Coburn

Otego, Sept. 12, 1889

Mr. Editor:  According to promise I write you a little history of what Otego Village was 47 years ago, (then called Huntsville), today being the 47th anniversary of my location here.

At that time the village was much smaller than now.  My history of the village will extend from Henry Bundy’s to Shepherd’s Corners and from Main Street down to the river bridge, as they were the only streets in the village at that time.  I commenced the business of harness making in the building now at the depot and known as the Rockwell building, which then stood where Adelbert Hughston’s cooper shop now stands. There was then three church edifices here, the Presbyterian, Baptist and Episcopal; three hotels, one at Shepherd’s Corners kept by Royal Shepherd and one kept by Wm. Jay and Solomon Stoddard and one by Gilbert S. Bundy.  There were four stores, the merchants being James Follett, Sherman M. Hine, Thaddeus R. Austin and Harvey Hunt.  The following is the names of the lawyers, ministers, Justices, Physicians, mechanics, etc. that were here then:  Lawyers, Harvey Hunt, Woodbury K. Cook; ministers, Rev. Mr. Wattles, Baptist; Rev. Mr. Warner, Presbyterian. Physicians, A. L. Head, E. S. Saunders and P. Garrison.  Justices, Harvey Hunt, Thomas D. Smith, Wagon-makers, Elias Hoag, Samuel Smith, Milo Smith.  Supervisor, Solomon Cunningham.  Blacksmiths, Squire Baldwin, John Baldwin, Daniel H. Cramer.  Cabinet-maker, Solomon Cunningham.  Taylors, Henry Heliker, Isaac Smith.  Carpenters, Randolph Chambermain, John Morehouse, Ard S. Rockwell.  Shoemakers, Benjamin Cory, Joshua Cogswell, Nathaniel Blakeslee, Ransom Shepherd, Isaac Cole.  Tinner, Geo. M. Cole.  Ezra R. Brewer was postmaster and kept the office in the building now occupied by Annabel & Russell.  The post office box was about three feet square, with 26 small boxes and no prepaid letters; all had to be paid when taken out of the office.  The postage was 6 ¼, 12 ½, 19 and 25 cents, according to the distance the letter was carried.  The county newspapers printed at Cooperstown did not come through the mails.   They were brought through by one Mr. Griffith, who lived at Laurens and came on horseback and delivered his papers.

There was but three buildings on the east side of River St. from the store now occupied by Annabel and Russell down to the river bridge.  One was the toll bridge house, the brick house now owned by Mr. Matteson and the house just below the railroad crossing now owned by L. E. Bowe, which then stood where Augustus Goodrich’s house now is; and on the west side the Presbyterian Church, the house where Mrs. Farrington lives, the house owned by Leroy Cory and an old house just below Mr. Cory’s; this includes all the buildings on that street.  There was an old grist mill and saw mill standing on the ground where the mill now stands and were owned by Ransom Hunt, the father of the late Harvey Hunt, and by Ard S. Rockwell, and was run by one Job Milks, the father of Ebenezer Milks who just moved away from here.  There was a lane or street from Main St. down to the Episcopal Church for accommodation of those who wished to attend church.  One Richard Rockwood built the house at that date.  The Episcopals had preaching once in four weeks by the Rev. Mr. Hughes from Gilbertsville.  The Methodist had no settled pastor, but held meetings once in two weeks in the old school house which stood between Levi Adams’ house and Mr. Rainers’ house; their pastor was Rev. Mr. Soule, who was then on this circuit.  The four store buildings were all small and only one and a half stories high, with one small door in front, painted green, old style.  No glass fronts in any building in the place.  I well recollect that when I built a harness shop in 1846 on the ground where W. J. Harris’ house stands, I put in a glass front and James Follett, one of the main merchants here, said it was a d--- extravagant piece of business to put a glass front into a shop when there was not a glass front in any building in the village.  I think if the persons now living here could see that front, they would not think it an extravagant one compared with the glass fronts of our stores at the present day.  The following is a history of the buildings that were here when I came and their occupants, commencing at Henry Bundy’s and coming down on that side of the street to Shepherd’s Corners and back on the opposite side, also on River Street.  Where Henry Bundy now lives Gilbert Bundy, his father, lived; where Solomon Goodrich lives Joseph Kingsley lived; where E. E. Bowen’s harness shop and T. W. Snyder’s law office is, was Harvey Hunt’s store; where the Susquehanna House is, was then the residence of T. R. Austin, one of the merchants of that day.  His residence had a flower garden in front of the house-the only one in the place, and in fact there was no house plants cultivated or kept by anyone here at that time or for some years after.  The store building now owned by Berosus Cook and occupied by R. Hunt, was T. R. Austin’s store; the house now owned and occupied by Berosus Cook, who owned and occupied by Nathaniel Blakeslee; the house where T. W. and Clarence Snyder lives, was the old hosue owned and occupied by Deacon Abram Blakeley and stood where Mrs. Saunders house now stands; the house now owned and occupied by Henry Newland is the house where his father lived; the house where L. H. Sprague now lives was Solomon Cunningham’s cabinet shop, his home standing on the ground where J. H. Wheeler’s new house stands now; the house where Rev. Mr. Fisher lives was Daniel H. Cramer’s residence; the house owned and occupied by Tilley Blakeley one Chauncey Stoddard lived in; the house where Mrs. Rainer lives, is where Dr. A. L. Head lived; the house Mrs. Wells owns and occupies is where one Mr. Baldwin lived; the house where L. D. Wicks lives was a part of the S. Saunders house and stood where Mrs. Saunders’ new house now stands; the house where D. Henderson lives is the dwelling that stood just below where B. J. Scofields’ house is.

The house where Mr. Cipperly lives, Daniel Sheoherd lived; the house G. L. Church, the copper, lives is where Samuel Goddard lived; the house Wm. Birdsall owns and occupies, was owned and occupied by his father, Michael Birdsall; the house where George Birdsall lives Henry Birdsall lived; the house where Mr. Aldrich lives was the hotel kept by Royal Shepherd; the house where Rev. Balus Bundy lives was G. M. Cole’s tin shop and store; the house where Walter Whitney lives George M. Cole and his father and mother lived; the house where A. Burdick lives, M. Smith lived; the house where John Northrup lives was Samuel Smith’;s wagon shop; the house where Alba Smith lives, Samuel Smith lived.

East Side

Where L. A. Burdick now lives, Squire Baldwin and his brother John Baldwin lived and carried on the blacksmith business in an old shop on the corner of land now owned by James Emmons.  The shop was taken down some years ago. The house John Salisbury lives in, Ransom Shepherd lived; where G. N. Edwards lives, Benjamin Shepherd lived-he was father to Royal and Ransom Shepherd; the house where L. M. Stanton now lives was Dr. Hewett lived; the grounds on which L. E. Bowe’s new house now stands was an old house owned and occupied by Henry Heliker, a tailor by trade; the house now owned and occupied by Morgan Lewis stands on or near the ground where an old house stood, owned and occupied by one Abram Horning, brother-in-law of W. H. French, now of this village; the house where W. Wood lives was the same building owned by one Alfred Goldsmith and unoccupied; where W. J. Simmons lives, Isaac Cole owned and occupied; the house where Mrs. Smith lives, Mrs. Whitmarsh lived; near where the house owned by Emmet Rathbun stands stood an old house, owned and occupied by the widow Weller; the house where W. H. Birdsall lives was called the Mechanic’s Hall and Randolph Chamberlain lived in it; the house that Miss Carrie Russell now owns and occupies, was owned and occupied by Ard S. Rockwell; the house where Dr. J. H. Martin now owns and occupies was James Follett’s residence, and the store now owned by L. E. Bowe and occupied by C. N. Scott, was his, Follett’s store; the store now owned by Mrs. Jared Burdick and occupied by Annabel and Russell, was owned by Ezra R. Brewer, father of John R. Brewer, of Gilbertsville and occupied by Sherman M. Hine; the post office was kept in this store-the late Dr. H. E. Stone, of Fair Haven, Ct., was then a clerk in this store for S. M. Hine; the hardware store building now owned by L. Coburn and occupied by C. E. Morrell, was E. R. Brewer’s dwelling house in which he lived; the ground on which the Otego House now stands, there was an old hotel kept by Wm. Jay and his brother in law Solomon Stoddard.  A portion of this hotel was occupied by Harvey Hunt and family, consisting of himself, wife, six children and his father and mother, the property then belonging to his father, Ransom Hunt.  The house where Henry Miller lives is known as the mill house, was occupied by Job Milks, the miller; the house where T. Cobine lives S. Stilson lived; the house where Mrs. Myers Charles Morley lived; the house that E. G. Birdsall now owns was Stephen Bundy’s place; the small house where Joe Martin lives below Hiram Bladwin’s house was Dr. A. L. Head’s office and stood at the side of Mrs. Rainer’s house, the house where L. A. Beagle lives, owned by one Richard Rockwood and by him occupied; Episcopal Church.

River St., West Side

The house owned and occupied by Mrs. Hiram Farrington, was S. M. Hine’s residence-one of the merchants here at that time; the house and shoe shop where Leroy Cory now owns and lives, his father, Benjamin Cory lived; there was an old house just below Mr. Cory’s and who occupied it the writer does not recollect-for a wonder; Presbyterian Church.

East Side

There was at the end of the old tll bridge, an old toll house kept by one Mr. Houck.  It was quite a frequent occurrence in those days for lawsuits growing out of persons running the bridge without paying toll.  The brick house where Mr. Matteson lives, one Edward Hughes built, owned and lived there at this time.  He was the boss mason on the Follett residence in 1840 at the time both these houses were built, he overseeing the burning of the brick for them.  The house near the railroad crossing, owned by L. E. Bowe, stood on the ground where Augustes Goodrich’s house now stands, and was occupied by Elias Hoag, a wagon maker.  The house where the late Mrs. Hettie Hunt lived was the shop owned by one Joshua Coggshall, and stood where Wm. Wright’s house stands today.  This constitutes all of the buildings then standing in the village.  Below were give the number of buildings built new from that time down to the present date, and in doing so will mention the names of those who own, and some who occupy them, commencing on the west side of Main Street.

Geo. Bugbee, Albert Hunt, T. Hunt, A. O. Flint, G. M. French, Charles Flint, James Terry, Mrs. R. E. Rathbun, geo. Sherman, Dr. D. Hunt, W. Wright, W. H. Lines’ Hardware store, Mrs. E. S. Saunders, W. H. Lines, W. H. Parkerm J. H. Wheeler’s house and shop the house standing on the ground where the late Salmon Cunningham’s residence stood in 1842, Adelbert Hughston, M. H. Eckert, Alonzo Adams, David Wait, Geo. Sherman, E. E. Bowan, W. Birdsall, T. A. Birdsall, Wm. Birdsall, H. O. Packard, Mrs. Geo. Shepherd.

East Side-C. Bundy, E. C. Smith, C. Rowe, T. Redding, T. Briggs, W. T. Broadfoot, Eugene Phillips, A. Anabell, L. E. Bowe, M. Lewis, meat market and his grocery store, Otel house hotel, grist mill, A. Jennings, Mrs. Kiff, Wm. Vanamie.

River Street-Mrs. L. Coburn, Mrs. Holliday, C. Blake, F. D. Shumway, Mrs. Vandervort, P. Griffin, Geo. Goodman wagon shop, S. Derby, A. Goodrich, C. N. Scott, Mrs. C. B. Shepherd, E. J. Russell, Mr. Helsinger, Casket Factory, Wm. Tracy, F. Allen, J. Wright, J. Wright store house, E. Mallery, C. Corbin, Mrs. Geo. Goodwin, Mrs. Dean, W. H. French, V. S. Fuller, W. Simmons’ shoe shop.

Depot and other cross streets-A. and S. R. R. Depot, E. Christian, Mr. Watrous, Mr. Beers, L. E. Bowe, M. E. Parsonage, M. E. Church estate, W. Gilbert, Mrs. Northrup, Wm. Baldwin, Mrs. Nash, Mrs. Whitney, Hiram Baldwin, H. Baldwin’s shop, C. Fisk’s livery, R. Gurnsey, N. Sigsbee, Mr. Brady’s hotel, Dennis French, Mrs. Jaynes, W. J. Goddard, Berosus Cook, C. Snyder’s wagon shop, Mr. Briggs, C. G. Fancher, Miss Hughston, Mrs. Emily Keyes, school house, Old School Baptist church edifice.

I think this comprises nearly if not all the buildings that has been built since I have lived in Otego, except the three or four that was burned down on April 15, 1877, at the time the Otego House hotel burned.  One was a building built by C. O. Blanchard and Mr. Hubbard for a cabinet shop and store, standing where Mr. Sherman’s meat market now stands.  One was a store owned and occupied by O. Colgrove, and stood where Sherman’s store now stands, and now occupied by E. Hotaling.  The other was the dwelling house owned and occupied by F. D. Shumway.  There was a law office owned by L. E. Bowe and occupied by Bowe and Shumway, which was also burned.  There was also another building burned a few years after the above-mentioned fire, built by Geo. Bailey, for a cabinet shop and house, and occupied by him, and stood on the same ground where V. S. Fuller’s printing office now stands.  I had forgotten to mention this building T. Cobine occupies as a barber shop, a portion of which was a store house belonging to the store and was 60 feet long and stood lengthwise on the street.  J. Follett had one the same size on the opposite side of the street; every winter they were loaded down with different kinds of grain brought in by the farmers to settle up their year’s account.  It took nearly all the spring and summer following to sell it out; the most of it being sold to Isaac Shepherd, at Oneonta Plains, for his distillery, and a small portion to Delaware County farmers.

There was a house standing between Tilley Blakely’s house and Levi Adams’ house, and occupied by Ambrose Fry; also an old house on the ground where T. Redding’s house stands, owned and occupied by Thomas D. Smith, father of Charles Smith of Ninevah; also another one standing near this occupied by Rev. Mr. Moss, father-in-law of Thomas D. Smith.

There were 65 buildings in September, 1842, and there has been added since that time 115 houses.

I believe there is but 20 persons living here today that lived here the day I came here to live, Albert Hunt being the youngest; he was about 30 days old.

Below I give the names as near as I can recollect:

Henry Bundy, Theodore Hunt, Mrs. E. S. Saunders, Adelbert Hughston, Mrs. Daniel Beagle, Wm. Baldwin, Warren J. Goddard, Leroy Cory, Arnold Shepherd, Mrs. Harvey Hunt, Albert Hunt, Miss Harried Hughston, T. A. Birdsall, Hiram Baldwin, Mrs. A. Goodrich, Elvira Goddard, Mrs. L. Bedford.

This closes the little history of what Otego was on September 12, 1842 with some changes since that date.

Otego Historical Society
2009 - 2010