History of Conklin, New York


The first settlements in the township of Conklin were made in the year 1788, by Waples Hance, Ralph Lathrop, Jonathan Bennett and their families. These pioneers located at or near the mouth of Big Snake creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna river. Seven years later they were joined by David Bound, who came from New Jersey. These men cannot be said to have done a great deal toward developing the part of the county in which they settled, although descendants of Mr. Hance and David Bound remain in this vicinity. Miss Gertrude Hance, who served for many years as a missionary to the Zulus in Africa, was at the time of her death in June, 1922, a resident of the city of Binghamton, while other relatives are occupants of farms in the town of Conklin, all people of sterling worth and ability.

In 1795 Robert Corbett came from Massachusetts and established himself on the site of Corbettsville, where a number of his descendants still live. The Corbett family has always been one of the best known in the county, a number of its members having risen to positions of more than ordinary importance in the community. About 1800, Noel Carr migrated to Conklin. A few years later Asa Rood joined the Corbetts at the present site of the hamlet to which they gave their name; and the first house at Conklin Forks was built by Benjamin Horton, who came to that neighborhood from Chenango county. Others who found their way to this section in the period from 1810 to 1828 were Daniel Brooks, Ira Gardner, Isaac Bishop and John A. Severson. Another man who held a prominent place in the early history of the township was Edmund Lawrence, who made his way thither from Massachusetts in 1813. A number of descendants of this man are still to be found in the county. Very little had been done in the way of clearing up the country between Chenango Point and Corbettsville when Hull Stratton, another Massachusetts man, made a settlement near the last-named point. One of his sons, Gould Stratton, was a well known Susquehanna river pilot.

The name of Bayless has been one of marked note in the history of this part of New York State from the time when Samuel Bayless made his way hither from New Jersey about 1820. Descendants of this man have figured prominently in the politics and financial life of Conklin and surrounding localities. Still others who have in times past done their part toward making the township of Conklin one of the most progressive of Broome county were Amos Brant, Friend H. Burt, Cornelius Winans, Nicholas Levee, Alfred Bagley, Burtis J. Bayless, now living in Binghamton; Aaron Van Wormer, Benjamin W. Lawrence, Nathaniel J. Finch, Henry H. Green, L. W. Badger, F. P. Badger, Jacob Banta, James Davis, John C. Fish, Brewster Johnson, John O. Porter, John Bayless, Elbert E. Beman, James Woodside, John Woodside; Charles E. Fuller, now a resident of Conklin village; Julius S. Corbett, Merritt J. Corbett, William Ruger; Julius E. Rogers, today a prominent farmer of Conklin; and Neil Finch.

Although the early growth of Conklin was comparatively slow, the township numbering in 1825 not more than 635 inhabitants, after the organization of the town as a separate entity, March 29th, 1824, its progress was decidedly more marked. Previous to the date mentioned, Conklin had been included within the territory of Chenango. Certain changes which were made subsequently left the township with 15,029 acres of land. In 1831 a part of Conklin was set off to Windsor, and in 1851 Windsor ceded back a small part of its territory. The most important alteration in boundary lines, however, was made in 1859, when the township of Kirkwood was erected from land which had formerly been in Conklin. This took away all the territory which lay on the north and east side of the Susquehanna river.

The act of the Legislature which created the township of Conklin as a distinct political organism, specified that the first election of officers should be held on the first Tuesday in March, 1825, at the house of Benjamin Relyea. The law was followed out, but owing to the fact that the records kept in those early days have been lost, it is impossible to state who were chosen to transact the public business of the township. We shall be interested in tracing the changes in population from this time on as follows: 1825, 635; 1830, 908; 1840, 1,471; 1850, 2,232; 1860, 1,146; 1870, 1,440; 1880, 1,420; 1890, 1,033; 1900, 946; 1910, 850; 1920, 796. At the time of its creation, Conklin contained 6,089 acres of improved land, and 24,338 not improved, with an assessed valuation in 1838 of $111,944, and personal property to the amount of $1,006.

Like most of the towns of Broome county, the principal occupation of the people in early times was that of clearing the land and cutting and marketing the products of its forests. We have lost all trace of the pioneer who built the first saw mill in the township; but we find that in 1835 thirteen such mills were in operation, as against only one grist mill. A number of tanneries were also operated for many years within the bounds of the township. In 1835 in the homes of the people of Conklin there were manufactured 1,225 yards of fulled cloth, 1,391 yards of flannel and 2,104 yards of linen and cotton goods. Prior to the organization of the township of Kirkwood the town of Conklin had ten school districts, with provision for 303 children of school age. At that time the township received $115.50 school money from the State. In 1858 the number of school districts had increased to seventeen, with 1,032 boys and girls of school age.

Industrially, Conklin never had a very great prestige, more attention having been given to farming. The few factories it ever did possess have practically disappeared. For a time a beet sugar factory located in the western part of the township gave promise of giving outlet to an important product of the soil for the farmers of the surrounding country. This hope was not realized, and the plant was closed a number of years ago, its machinery being sold and shipped to the far west.

The township of Conklin now has a number of pleasant villages and hamlets, principal among which is Conklin Station, formerly known as Milburn. This village is located on the line of the Lackawanna railroad, where the first store was erected in 1840 by John Bayless. In the development of this village the leading figures were B. J. Bayless, Henry Green and Eldridge Watson. In 1844 Turnbull & Company opened an acid factory at this point, which was for some time a leading feature of industrial Conklin. In 1878, due to changes of management and other causes, the business was sold to Holmes and Edwards, who formed a stock company for its operation; but the plant has been shut down for a number of years. A good school is maintained in the village, and the religious interests of the community are well served by the Presbyterian church, which was organized at this point many years ago.

Another beautiful village of Conklin is Corbettsville, which lies about a mile east of Conklin village. This is also on the line of the Lackawanna railroad. About the time John Bayless began to operate the store at Conklin village, the firm of B. & J. Smith opened the first store at Corbettsville, being succeeded by Page & Conklin, and they by Sewell & Corbett. A steam mill was put up here in 1865, and in 1800 Ira Corbett built a planing mill. A foundry was established by Sewell Corbett in 1845. Later this became a tannery. Cooper and Sewell Corbett carried on a wool carding business here from 1820 to 1878.

Another hamlet is Conklin Forks, situated in the southwestern part of the township. Here are a store and a church. Some descendants of early settlers are to be found in this locality. This is also true of Conklin Centre, a small village on the road from Conklin to Binghamton. We mention members of the Van Patten family, the Finch family, and the Van Wormers. Near the old beet sugar factory lives Arthur Lawrence, a member of a very old family, while on the old place known as "The Homestead" resides Frederick Lawrence. In the village of Conklin resides Hon. Charles Fuller, a descendant of an old family, who has served several terms in the State Legislature, as member of the Assembly, as well as representing the township for a long time on the board of supervisors. A number of descendants of John Stuart are to be found in this township. This member of the Stuart family came from Scotland in the early days of the township. One son, also named John Stuart, together with his brother, Arthur Stuart, still maintain their homes in Conklin. A part of the old Corbett estate is still owned by the heirs of Ira Corbett, at Corbettsville, and the remainder is carried on and owned by Valentine Brown. This is without doubt the finest farm in the township or the surrounding country.

The assessed valuation of the township for the current year is $1,015,300, and that of the franchises, $6,662. The roster of township Officers is as follows: Supervisor, Philip Persley; town clerk, J. L. Englebert; assessors- J. E. Rogers, R. J. Persley, C. P. Ayers; superintendent of highways, C. A. Clark; justices of the peace- Eugene Levee, Carroll Tiffany, N. J. Rulison, Draper Ostrom; collector, A. A. Stuart; superintendent of the poor, Lucian Vining; constable, Fred Carlin.

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