History of Brookfield, NY

The Town of Brookfield.

This town was set off from Paris March 5, 1795, and originally included Nos. 17, 18, and 19 of the Chenango Twenty Townships. Of these No. 17 was taken off to form the town of Columbus in February, 1805. Brookfield is the southeast corner town of the county and bounded north by Oneida county, east by Edmeston and Plainfield, south by Columbus, and west by Hamilton and Madison. Its surface is hilly and rugged, with soil principally of gravelly loam, well adapted to grazing; in the valleys is found a rich alluvium. Hops have been raised in large quantities in past years in the northwest part. There are abundant springs throughout the town and the Unadilla River forms the eastern boundary and receives numerous tributaries, the principal one of which is Beaver Creek which flows south through the central part of Brookfield, along a beautiful valley and furnishing many mill sites. The east branch of the Chenango crosses the northwest part, rising in the so-called Terrytown swamp, which covers a considerable area in that part and takes its name from the Terry family. Gorton Lake, a small body of water in the north part, takes its name from the Gorton family of settlers. What was formerly the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railroad, now a branch of the D., L. and W., crosses the northwest corner of the town, along the valley of the Chenango branch.

The population of Brookfield on the dates given in the census taken at intervals is shown in the following figures:

1835 1840 1845 1850 1855 1860 1865 1870 1875 1880 1890 1892
3,959 3,695 3,623 3,585 3,770 3,729 3,593 3,565 3,511 3,685 3,262 3,235

The number of inhabitants in Brookfield has fluctuated and declined less than in many of the other towns of the county, a fact due partly, at least, to the extent and variety of manufacturing operations that have been carried on in past years. These industries were once of real importance, especially in the village of Leonardsville. The lumber industry was also of considerable magnitude, but is now confined to a small trade in hemlock. From the large cedar swamp near Clarkville; a great quantity of that wood has been taken, as well as large numbers of hop poles. In comparatively recent years the dairying interest has been large and profitable. E. D. Lamb was for some years an extensive manufacturer of cheese and owned several factories near the Otsego county line; but the building of the railroad through the Unadilla valley and the establishment along its line of numerous milk stations, where the farmers shipped their milk to the large markets, has greatly depreciated this industry. The manufacture of furniture on an extensive scale was once prosecuted at South Brookfield by George W. Bentley, and other industrial operations gave the town prosperity in early years, as noticed further on.

Settlement in Brookfield began in 1791 by Stephen Hoxie and Phineas Brown, whose operations and those of other early settlers have been described in earlier chapters. In the same year Samuel H. Burdick and Samuel Billings settled at the site of Five Corners, and Stephen Collins on Beaver Creek below Clarkville. In 1792 John and Elias Button, Lawton Palmer, Thomas and James Rogers, Paul and Perry Maxson, Eleazer and Simeon Brown, Samuel Langworthy, Elder Henry Clark and Phineas Rogers settled in the town. In 1793 David Gates and Ethan Babcock located in the town, and in 1794 Zadock Beebe, Joshua Whitford, John York and a few others became settlers. During the next ten years and before the formation of the county are found among the names of pioneers those of Samuel Gorton, and his sons Varnum and Benjamin, Asa Frink, Nathaniel, Joseph and George Denison, Thompson Burdick, Thomas Keith, Elisha Burdick, Augustus Saunders, Elisha Johnson, Harris Chesebrough, Joseph Livermore, Nathan Brown, and others whose names appear in subsequent pages.

The first town meeting in Brookfleld was held at the house of Capt. Daniel Brown, April 7, 1795, and the following officers elected:
Stephen Hoxie, supervisor; Elisha Burdick, clerk; Clark Maxson, Joshua Whitford and John Stanton, assessors; Powel Hall, Joel Butler and John Chesebrough, commissioners of highways; Daniel Brown and Simeon Brown, poormasters; Elijah Palmer and Oliver Brown, constables; Oliver Brown, collector; David Convers, Jaba Brown and Benedict Babcock, fenceviewers; Ashbe Kellogg, Ephraim Waldo, George Palmer and Jonathan Bedford, pathmasters; Daniel Brown, John Wilber and Willard Convers, poundmasters.

Following is a list of supervisors from the erection of the town to the present time, with the dates of their election: 1795-1807, Stephen Hoxie; 1808-10, Jonathan Morgan; 1811, Samuel H. Coon; 1812-16, Joshua Morgan; 1817-19, Samuel H. Coon; 1820-22, Henry Clark, jr.; 1823-29, Joseph Clark; 1830, Fatten Fitch; 1831, John Hoxie; 1832, John Davis; 1833-37, Wait Clarke; 1838, Andrew Babcock; 1839, Waite Clarke; 1840, John De Lancy; 1841, Dennis Hardin; 1842, Benjamin Burdick; 1843, Cyrus Clark; 1844, Ira Crane; 1845, Joseph Clark; 1846, Benjamin Burdick; 1847-48, Nathan T. Brown; 1849, Hosea B. Clarke; 1850, John T. G. Bailey; 1851, Dennis Hardin; 1852, Elisha G. Babcock; 1853-54, J. V. R. Livermore; 1855, John Babcock; 1856-57, Dennis Hardin; 1858-59, Thomas R. Gorton; 1860-61, Luke Hoxie; 1862-64, Calvin Whitford; 1865-66, Luke Hoxie; 1867-70, William H. Brand; 1871-72, John T. G. Bailey; 1873-75, Thomas R. Gorton; 1876-79, Augustus L. Saunders; 1880, Oliver T. Brown; 1881-83, S. A. Fitch; 1884, Arthur J. Stillman; 1885-89, William Stanbro; 1890-93, Arthur J Stillman; 1894-97, Emory D. Morgan. There were formerly four post-offices in this town-at Clarkville, Leonardsville, De Lancy and South Brookfield; only the two former are now open. Clarkville is an active village near the center of the town on Beaver Creek. It was known in early years as Bailey's Corners, from Dr. Eli S. Bailey, the first physician there. The post-office was established about 1820 with the name, Beaver Creek, with Joseph Clark, postmaster; he was succeeded by Andrew Babcock in about 1840, and he by Varnum Crumb, Maxson Clark, jr., Lucius P. Clark, John T. G. Bailey, Benjamin Gorton, Richard Stiliman, A. G. Stillman, Charles J. Elliot, H. L. Spooner, F. D. Rogers, and H. L. Spooner, incumbent.

The first merchant was Reuben Leonard who built a store just before the war of 1812. Other early merchants were Sheffield Collins, Henry Holmes, Chester Palmiter, Varnum Crumb, Andrew Babcock, John T. G. Bailey, Nathan Brownell and his sons, Mattison Clarke and Leroy Babcock. The present merchants are A J. Stiliman, general store; D. F. Main, hardware; F. D. Gould, H. H. Elliot and A. C. Tuttle, grocers; A. C. Miller, druggist; M. H. Brown, bakery and groceries; J. T. Stiliman, hardware; W. M. Crane, flour and feed, and also operates a saw mill; G. T. Whitford, merchant tailor; E. A. Pope, jeweler; H. E. Maxson, livery. Calvin Whitford established a banking business in 1871 and in 1872 erected a building for its accommodation. The bank is still in existence and his son, Edward C. Whitford, is asso. ciated with him.

The first manufacturing industry in the town was a saw mill built by Oliver Babcock, father of Ethan and Oliver, in 1795; it was on the site of the Elijah Clark mill, the property passing into his possession in 1857. He soon built a grist mill in connection with the saw mill; the latter fell into decay long ago. Samuel Jordan built a grist mill and a tannery in 1865, which he operated more than fifteen years; they are now owned by William Crane, who uses the old tannery building as a repair shop. Jonathan Babcock carried on an extensive tanning business here in early years.

The other industries of the present are the blacksmith shops of William Crane, W. M. Clarke and C. Morgan, the wood repair shop of Adelbert Crandall, the new creamery of Dart & Wallace who started it in 1898, and the photograph gallery of H. A. Fitch.

The Central Hotel was built in 1815 by Ethan Babcock who conducted it until 1822; it was the first public house in the village, and later passed to Joseph Clark who sold it in 1843 to his son-in-law, Henry Keith. It was conducted by him forty years or more, and passed to the present proprietor, Lyman Brown, who changed the name to Brown's Hotel.

A Union free school was established in the village in 1875. The school building was enlarged in 1894. The present Board of Education are H. E. Kingsley, president; J. L. Stillman, secretary; C. C. Chandler, M. L. Fisk and A. C. Miller. Brookfield Academy, established in 1847, is properly described in chapter XXIV.

The first physician in the village was Dr. Eli S. Bailey, from whom the place took the name of Bailey's Corners; he settled in 1809 and died in Brookfield in 1864. A. E. Wallace practiced a few years, as also did a Dr. Catlin about two years. Dr. Augustus L. Saunders practiced many years and until his death, and Dr. Nelson B. Parr the same. Dr. Albert C. Rogers practiced a number of years and removed to California. The present physicians are Dr. 0. W. Bushyte and Dr. H. C. Brown.

The first attorney in the village was Thomas J. Yaw, who practiced from about 1830 until his death in 1863. Other early lawyers were Pardon Davis, George W. Gray, Henry M. Aylesworth, Samuel D. White, William H. Davis, George M. Havens, Barna J. Stimson, Sherman Daboll, Frederick Clarke, Israel Wilkinson, Duane B. Stillman and Lewis H. Eddy. The only attorney now in the place is N. A. Crumb, a native of the town, who began practice in 1891, removing from Canastota. Duane B. Stiliman, before mentioned, is now State Excise Commissioner.

Brookfleld village is incorporated under the general law, and the first president was H. L. Spooner, who served several years. Other presidents were P. Fitch, A. J. Stiliman and Herbert E. Kingsley, present incumbent. In 1897 the question of establishing a water system was agitated, but meeting with determined opposition, the matter was abandoned. The village has no fire department, and when the Clarke opera house burned in 1898, the destruction of much of the place was averted apparently only by a heavy fall of snow.

The Brookfield Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1849 and has had a long and successful existence and been of great benefit to the village and the vicinity. Annual fairs were at first held on the land now owned by F. M. Spooner, and later on a tract just north of the village. In 1884 the society purchased the present grounds comprising about seventeen acres, erected good buildings and constructed a race track.

The Brookfield Courier was founded in 1876 by Frank M. Spooner, who was associated with his father, H. L. Spooner, several years. In 1883 they sold the paper to W. E. Phillips and B. G. Stillman, jr., who conducted it as Phillips & Stiliman until the following year, when the Messrs. Spooner purchased the interest of Mr. Phillips and the firm name took its present form of Stiliman & Spooner. In 1898 F. M. Spooner, founder of the paper, took the management of the Afton Enterprise, H. L. Spooner continued in this business and Mr. Stiliman remaining the active partner. The paper is a four.page nine-column weekly, independent in politics, and has found a large list of readers in its field.

Clarkville is connected by stage with Leonardsville and with the station on the D. L. & W. railroad at North Brookfield.

There are three churches in Clarkville, Methodist, First-Day Baptist, and Seventh-Day Baptist, all of which have been noticed in an earlier chapter.

Leonardsville.- This village is pleasantly situated on the east border of the town, in the beautiful Unadilla valley, on the line of the Unadilla Valley Railroad, which connects at the north with the D., L. &W. road at Bridgewater, and on the south with the Ontario and Western road at New Berlin. The village took its name from the pioneer Reuben Leonard, the first merchant and postmaster and a leading citizen. The village now contains a Seventh-Day Baptist Church, a Methodist Church, a Union School, one hotel, kept by W. L. Switzer, the grist mill of B. C. Steer, the saw mill and lumber business of A. Whitford, several stores, three blacksmith shops, four wagon shops, a shoe shop, a canning factory, a milk station, etc. Early merchants following Reuben Leonard were Ethan Burdick, David and Charles O. Munson, Otis Eddy, James Van Valen, William H. Brand, Dennis Hardin, Daniel Hardin, Charles R. Maxson, and possibly a few others. The merchants of the present are Irving A. Crandall, a native of the town who bought out Daniel Hardin in 1867; E. Frank Champlain, drugs and groceries; W. W. Coon, groceries; O. O. Saunders, general store; W. D. Crandall, hardware; G. H. St. John, cold storage and shipper of produce; Arvilla Burdick, millinery; E. L. Worden, furniture and undertaking; Elmer Ellsworth, meats and buyer of produce.

There is a milk station at the depot of the Unadilla Valley railroad, from which forty to one hundred cans of milk are shipped daily and cheese is extensively manufactured.

In past years Leonardsville was the site of a number of important industries. The manufacture of hoes and scythes was begun about 1808- 09 by Hazzard P. Clarke, who continued to 1820 and sold to Samuel Brand; he continued to about 1848 and sold to his son, Nathan V. Brand. The firm of Nathan Brand & Co. in 1852 transferred the works to the Leonardsville Manufacturing Company, which also acquired the grist mill and saw mill, then owned by Luke and Thomas Hoxie, a horse rake factory and wagon shop, then operated by. John Babcock & Co., a foundry and machine shop, then operated M. W. & H. C. St. John, all of whom combined to form the new company. The whole was under superintendence of Washington S. Greene; the company continued until 1858, when it was dissolved and the several industries were conducted separately, the manufacture of agricultural implements being discontinued. In 1856 the grist mill, saw mill and agricultural implement manufactory were burned, and all were soon rebuilt. A grist mill was built in 1802 a mile above the site of the one above named by Joseph Crumb and Stephen Clark; the history of this mill has been given in an earlier chapter. It is now operated by B. Steers. The saw mill adjacent thereto was built in 1856 on the site of the one burned that year and is now operated by Albert Whitford. The horse rake factory passed to Erastus E. Greene, is now the property of H. D. Babcock, who makes agricultural implements, mainly on contract. The old fork factory passed to the widow of M. W. St. John, the making of forks was discontinued; it was used as a foundry and machine shop, and added to the plant of the agricultural works.

In 1891 a company was formed called the Otsego Furnace Company, for the manufacture of the so-called Otsego furnace. Among those interested in the project were H. D. Babcock, G. O. Wheeler, I. A. Crandall, A. W. Daggett, and G. C. Rogers. The financial revulsion of 1893 contributed largely to the failure of this enterprise, which otherwise might have been a source of prosperity to the village. A reorganization of the company is a future possibility.

In 1894 the Leonardsville Canning Company was organized and erected a building near the railroad station in which was placed modern canning machinery. Fifty or sixty hands are employed in the season in canning corn.

The blacksmiths of the village are E. Quinn, C. K. Burdick, and A. Meaker. The wagon makers are C. H. Williamson, C. K. Burdick, W. H. Burdick, A. Markel, and I. Parks. Oscar L. Southworth is the only physician in the village. Henry M. Aylesworth has practiced law many years, and Adon P. Brown is also in practice. The present postmaster is I. A. Crandall, who succeeded O. Tully.

The Leonardsville Bank was established in 1856 and became the First National Bank of Leonardsville; it was subsequently merged in the Ilion National Bank. Dennis Hardin, who had been cashier, then established a private bank which he- conducted until his death in 1873.

The Leonardsville Union School comprises the joint districts of the towns of Brookfield and of Plainfield in Otsego county; it was organized in 1875 and is fully described in Chapter XXIV. The present Board of Education are Irving A. Crandall, president; Almeron M. Coon, secretary; E. Frank Champlin, treasurer; and Dr. O. L. Southworth, H. M. Aylesworth, and Arthur S. Hoxie. The principal is Arthur T. Hamilton.

North Brookfield.- This is a small village in the northwest part of the town, a mile east of the railroad station of the same name. Samuel Marsh opened a store there in 1804 about a mile and a half southeast of the village, but failed in business. Samuel Livermore was the first merchant on the village site, beginning about 1809, and was succeeded by a man named Mills. Laban Olby, a colored man, kept a grocery from 1815 to about 1844. Other merchants were Isaac Marsh, J. V. R. Livermore, Lucius E. Beebe, S. A. Fitch, Dr. Lewis A. Van Wagner, and E. C. Bennett. The present merchants are W. Squires and Hibbard & York.

The only physician practicing there is Dr. Gilbert Birdsall. Dr. L. A. Van Wagner removed to Sherburne.

The grist mill was built in 1860 by Timothy H. Peck and in 1879 it passed to Hiram Collins; it is now operated by Orvillo Kling. Wagon manufacturing was formerly an extensive industry, but has greatly declined. Avery Brothers are now engaged in the business in a small way.

The hotel was built about 1844 by Laban Olby, who kept it five or six years; it has had numerous landlords and is now kept by Sherman Faulkner.

There is a shoe shop by James Humphrey, two blacksmiths, John Gray and Albert Morgan, two wagon shops besides that of Avery Brothers; a cheese factory formerly owned by Henry Keith and now by I. A. Wager.

South Brookfield.-This is a hamlet situated five miles south of Clarkville on Beaver creek. It was formerly widely known as Babcock's Mills. It contains a Union church, the pulpit being supplied; a grist mill on the site of one built in the early history of the town, now operated by Corry Maxson; a creamery, established in 1879 by Abel Avery, now operated by Mr. Sargent; a blacksmith shop by George Aylesworth; a general store formerly by Henry Brown, now by Frank Huntington, who is also postmaster. There was in past years some manufacturing here. George W. Bentley had a large furniture factory, the neighboring forests supplying good hard wood for the purpose and a saw mill cutting the lumber.

De Lancy.- This is a name applied to a post-office and little settlement in the west part of the town, where there was a gathering of Quakers. In early times there were a number of the ordinary shops and a store. All these, as well as the post-office, have gone out of existence.

The village of West Edmeston is situated mostly in the town of Edmeston, Otsego county. A grist and saw mill are in Madison county and have long been owned by Truman Maxson; the remainder of the business interests, consisting principally of two stores kept by Orson Champlain and Albert Felton respectively; a hotel, blacksmith shop and wagon shop, are outside of this county.

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