History of Binghamton, New York


The township of Binghamton lies in the southen tier of Broome county, and was originally included in the territory now known as Dickinson, with some small part of the present city limits. The records show that an act was passed by the board of supervisors of Broome county on the 3d of December, 1855, providing that territory should be taken from the township of Chenango sufficient for two new townships, to be known as Binghamton, and Fenton, or Port Crane. This action was ratified by an act of the Legislature, dated in 1856. In 1867 the city was entirely separated from the outlying township, leaving Binghamton township with 15,955 acres of land, reaching from the southern boundary of the city to the Pennsylvania State line.

The first settlers in the township were Ezra and Ira Keeler, who took up their farms on the Binghamton tract about the beginning of the nineteenth century. These men, however, do not appear to have acquired title to the land they occupied, and the same may be said of a number of others who came to that locality, no doubt attracted by the splendid forests which covered that section. It was not until the arrival of Major Martin Hawley, some time prior to 1829, that definite steps were taken to develop this territory in a legal and orderly way. The Major bought 2,500 acres of this woodland in 1829, but he had a difficult task to dispossess the squatters who laid claim to the land by virtue of occupation for a period of years, and the fact that they had made what they termed permanent settlements. Their claims did not stand in law, however, and we find Major Hawley in possession in the year 1833, at which time he took up his home in the southern part of his land and began to clear it up for farming purposes.

Some of the other early settlers were John Whitney, who came to the township in 1818; William Drake, a native of Dutchess county, New York, migrating to Broome county in 1820; David Jaycox, also a native of Dutchess county, coming to Binghamton in 1836; Jacob Vosburg in 1847; and Carlos Cortesy, Isaac F. Pierson, Ashley and Augustus Hance, Cyrus Davis and John Moses, all locating in the township at early dates. We shall not attempt to give a complete list of the persons whose lives have been linked with the early history of Binghamton, but it is fitting to name a few of these-Peter J. S. Cook, Henry and Eli Meeker, James S. Hawley, William Danforth, Frederick Sanford, William D. Rowley and James Braman. Besides these should be mentioned the Gaige famfly, the Balcoms, the Clines, the Platts, the Carmans, the Laughlins and the Moreys, all of whom have had a prominent part in making Binghamton one of the foremost townships of the county.

Following the requirements of the act which brought the township of Binghamton into existence, the first election of town officers was held in the village of Binghamton, being conducted by Benjamin Loomis, Corydon Tyler and William Waterman. Another striking and unusual fact in connection with this election is that for some time the chief officers of the township were selected from residents of the village of Binghamton, and this practice was kept up until the incorporation of the city in 1867. The first supervisor of the township of whom we have record was John S. Wells, who was elected in 1856. He was followed by Lewis S. Abbott in 1857; Job N. Congdon, 1858-9; Joel Fuller, 1860; Benjamin F. Sisson, 1864-6; John W. Cutler, 1867; William M. Ely, 1868-9; George Sherwood, 1870; William Whitney, 1871-3; John Moses, 1874; Peter J. S. Coon, 1875; Luke Dickson, 1876-8; William Whitney, 1879-80; Winfield S. Stone, 1881; Burritt Brown, 1882; Myron L. Jones, 1883; Lavelle M. Blanding, 1889-90; William D. Rowley, 1891-4; James Braman, 1895; Henry Meeker, 1896-7; William D. Rowley, 1898-9.

Binghamton has always jealously guarded the educational interests of its boys and girls, many of whom have been attendants upon the schools of the city of Binghamton. There are also a number of good district schools scattered at various points in the township.

There never has been but one village in the township of Binghamton since it was set off from the territory originally included in the city, and that is Hawleyton, named after Major Hawley, reference to whose work of development has been made above. The forests which at first proved so attractive have for the most part given way to the encroachments of advancing civilization. Major Hawley in his day, by keeping a herd of fifty dairy cows, established the fact that the land of Binghamton was adapted to that kind of fanning, and subsequent events have still further proven this to be true, Many good dairy farmers are to be found in the township.

At present one store serves the people of Hawleyton, that kept by H. C. Eldred. W. E. Monahan operates the only blacksmith shop in the township. This is located near the State line. No mills, except here and there a small portable saw mill, are to be found in the township. There is one church, Methodist Episcopal. Few residents can be found today who trace their ancestry back to early settlers. Most of the inhabitants are newcomers. We do find the following, however: Robert Cline, Leonard Smith, William North, Lewis Gaige, William D. Rowley, Walter Pratt and Margaret Richards.

Fluctuations in population in the township of Binghamton are:
In 1855, 8,757, including those whose homes were within the city limits; 1860, 9,919; 1865, 10,092. With the separation of the city from the remainder of the township in 1867, a marked falling off came, the census of 1870 showing only 2,066; in 1880, 2,555; 1890, 1,519; 1900, 847; 1910, 675; 1920, 672.

At the last election the following officers were elected: Supervisor, Wm. A. Golan; town clerk, Henry Eldred; assessors- S. A. Shupp, William J. Golan, Robert W. Cline; superintendent of highways, Clarence Shurtleff; justices of the peace- E. M. Jaycock, Henry D. Howard, Bert J. Eldred, F. L. Whitaker; collector, N. R. Gage; superintendent of the poor, Louis Gaige; constables- William North, Myron Howard, General Lyon, Cleon Webb. The assessed valuation of property in the township of Binghamton for the year 1922 was as follows: Real property, $368,160; franchises, $1,665.

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