CORTLANDVILLE was formed from Homer, April 11, 1829, and embraces the south half
of the original township of Homer arid a small portion of the north-east corner of Virgil. The name was applied
to the town from its being the County Seat of Cortland County. It is situated on the west border of the County,
but extends east to the center. The east and. west branches of the Tioughnioga River unite in this town. A considerable
portion of the surface is level, but the eastern and southern parts are hilly. An observer, standing upon an eminence
a short distance west of Cortland Village, can see seven distinct valleys, separated. by ranges of hills, radiating
in different directions. The ridges rise from. 200 to 400 feet above the valleys. The southern part of the town
is a broken upland region, the hills being arable to their summite. The Tioughnioga River receives as tributaries
in this town, Trout Brookt from the east, and Dry and. Otter Brooks from the west. A part of the western portion
of the town is drained by streams flowing west to Cayuga Lake. In the south-west part of the town are three small
ponds, fed by springs, and furnishing a large amount of marl, from which an excellent quality, of lime is produced.
The marl, as it comes from the ponds, is generally of an ash color, but whitens on exposure to the air. When partially
dried it is moulded into the form of bricks, which are thoroughly dried and burned. In some places this marl is
twenty feet thick. The soil along the Tioughnioga River is a rich alluvium; on the higher lands it-is a gravelly
and argillaceous loam.
Cortland Village, (p. v.) incorporated in 1853, and special charter obtained in 1864, is the County Seat of Cortland
County, and situated on the Syracuse, Binghamton and New York Railroad, about midway between Binghamton and Syracuse.
The main street extends nearly north and south, and is about one mile in length. The streets and walks are wide
and ornamented with shade trees, and the main street is well paved. There are many neat and beautiful residences
in various parts of the vifiage, with grounds ornamented with flowers and shrubbery, which add greatly to the appearance
of the village. There are five churches, three printing offices, three banks, State Normal School building, four
hotels, several stores, manufactories, &c., and about 3,500 inhabitants. The streets are lighted with gas.
The State Normal School is located on a beautiful site in this village. We are indebted to the Hon. Charles Foster
for the following description of this magnificent structure:
The Legislature of 1866 authorized any county, city or village, to make propositions to a Commission composed of
certain State Officers, to furnish buildings, sites, &c., for a Normal School, to be located in such county,
city or village, and authorized the Commission to accept not to exceed four of such propositions. In November,
1866, the village of Cortland made a proposition which was accepted by the Commission, and in the spring of 1867
the village commenced the erection of the buildings proposed, and they will be completed by the first of October,
1868. The site is in the central part of the village and consists of nearly four acres. The school building is
composed of a main or center building, 84x44 feet, with a wing 40x36 feet on either side, and at the end of each
of these wings is a building, parallel with the main building, 36x72 feet. ‘The basement extends under the whole,
and rises five feet above the grade. The’ building is two stories above the basement, of brick, with a French or
Mansard roof; furnishing a. third story. The central or end buildings are each surmounted by a dome. The top of
the center dome is about sixty-four feet above the grade. Two towers, one upon either side of the main building,
rise ninetysix feet above the grade. The extreme length of the entire structure is two hundred and twenty-six feet.
The basement contains kitchen, pantries, cellars, laundries, and steam heating apparatus and steam force pump.
The first and second floors are occupied for, school and recitation rooms, family rooms, &c. The third floor
under the center dome is furnished for a gymnasium, and the remainder of this story is divided into smaller rooms,
to be used as dormitories, bath rooms, &c., for the students who may board in the building. Steam is used for
heating all rooms on the first and second floors. Water is carried through all the ‘building by force pumps, and
each story is supplied with hose to be used in case of fire. All the main rooms and the dormitories are carefully
ventilated,’and gas is supplied for lights. This school is to be managed by a local Board of citizens, the State
furnishing them yearly $12,000 for expenses, this Board being subject to the supervision of the State Superintendent
of Public Instruction. The school will probably be divided into primary, intermediate, normal and academical departments,
so that a child may commence its education within its walls and graduate as teacher from the normal department.
Tuition in all the departments, except the academical, will be free. The building and site are furnished by the
village of Cortland at a cost of about $90,000. The construction has been carried on under the supervision and
control of the Village Trustees, as a corporate matter. The whole expense of this enterprise, to the completion
of the building and its acceptance by the State, rests entirely upon this public spirited village.
Cortlandville Academy.— We are indebted to Hon. Horatio Ballard for the following article in relation to the Cortlandville
Public instruction commenced in this Institution on the 24th day of August, 1842. The first report to the Regents
bears date the 3d day of January, 1843, and on the 31st day of January, of the same year, it was incorporated.
It soon took rank among the best academies of the State, and its high standing has been maintained. Many of the
most promising young men in the country have gone forth from this Institution. Three times the building has been
enlarged to make room for the increasing number of students. The average attendance is over two hundred each term.
Located at the County Seat, in a village unsurpassed in beauty, and in the midst of a population distinguished
for enterprise and intelligence, it has exerted an extended and elevating influence in this and adjacent counties.
Three members of the Board of Trustees formed in 1842, viz., Henry Stephens, Horatio Ballard and Jas. 0. Pomeroy,
are still members. The following is the present Faculty:
Prof. J. J. Pease...................................Principal.
Prof. Harkness.............................Associate Principal.
Miss L. Porter....................................Preceptress.
Miss. Hattie S. Curtis.................Associate Preceptress.
Miss, Libbie D. Curtis...............Intermediate Department.
Martha Roe................................Priniary Departmant.
____ Bates..................................Teacher of Music.
Under the administration of these teachers the prospects of the school are unabated.
The site ultimatelly selected for the State Normal School joins the site on which the Academy is located. On the
18th of July, 1867, the Trustees of the Academy passed a resolution in favor of adding the Academy lot to the site
of the Normal School building, upon the condition that an Academic Department be maintained in the Normal School
building. It is expected that the Academy will thus be transferred to the Normal School building, and there be
continued under the patronage and at the expense of the State.
Messenger Hall.— Akin to the institutions of learning in the village of Cortland,
is the beautiful Hall in the Messenger Block, on the west side of Main street. This Hall is gorgeously decorated
and fitted up with all the modern improvements. It is fifty-five feet square. The following remarks taken from
an address delivered at its dedication, by Hon. Horatio Ballard, will give a good idea of its object and design:
"We are here to celebrate - the completion of this magnificent Hall; and we do so because it is an event which
illustrates the material growth and prosperity of this beautiful town. He saw the business of this town demanded
more room and he projected the erection of this block, which lifts its majestic proportions to the sight and embraces
this splendid Hall. And for this edifice, grand in size, elegant in finish, useful in arrangement, durable in structure,
we would here record our thanks and tender our gratitude to our noble citizen, Hiram J. Messenger. It is a monument
of his genius, his taste and his liberality. He has connected his memory with the best specimens of architecture,
and the most superb styles of internal finish, as the exquisite work on this lofty Hall fully attests. And while
it is now dedicated to the use of public assemblies, let us hope that its fair walls may hereafter be associated
in the mem
ory with all that is exalted in intellect and attractive in truth. Free discussion in the public halls of the land
is one of the most powerful agencies to purify, to strengthen and ‘perpetuate our civil and religious liberties.
We will hold this plaoe consecrated to these high purposes—to the cause of Liberty and Union.”
The Court House is a substantial brick building, standing upon the corner of Church and Court streets. The Jail
is of hewn stone and stands in the rear of the Court House; and the Clerk’s Office, of brick, stands on the west
side of Main street.
The manufacturing establishments of the village consists of a foundry, machine cooperage, oil mill, grist mill,
two planing mills, a sash, door and blind factory, a pottery, a woolen factory, two carriage factories, a saw mill
and several mechanic shops. The foundry is devoted chiefly to the manufacture of agricultural implements, and employs
about twenty men.
Kinne’s Machine Cooperage was commenced in 1843, and run with varied success until 1859, when Trapp’s, Patent Barrel
Machinery was introduced. The present owner, C. W. Kinne, came in possession in 1861. In 1863 a new building was
erected. The motive power is water, with a 35 horse-power steam engine. The Factory is turning out about 17,000
butter packages and $8,000 worth of churns annually. The present year the proprietor has commenced the manufacture
of cheese boxes and scale boards. It is giving employment to 15 men constantly. The Oil Mill has two hydraulic
presses and is capable of running 100 bushels of seed per day. The Planing Mills prepare lumber for any purpose
for which it is used. about a building. The Mill is both a Grist and Flouring Mill, and capable of running from
300 to 400 bushels of grain per day. There is also a very extensive Lumber Yard, near the depot, in the east part
of the village.
Daily lines of stsges run from this village to Groton, Ithaca, Norwich and Pitcher; and a tri-weekly line to Virgil.
‘The Cortland Silver Cornet Band is an organization of this village.
Cortland has an efficient Fire Department, consisting of three separate organizations, viz Water Witch Co., Excelsior
Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, and Water Witch Hose Co. No. 1. The Water Witch Company was organized June 14, 1854,
and numbers about forty members. Excelsior Hook and Ladder was organized December 10, 1864, and numbers about fifty
members. Water Witch Hose Company No. 1 was organized in 1863, and consisted of twenty members, the present number
The Young Men’s Christian. Association was organized in 1868, for the development of Christian character and the
promotion of Evangelical Religion, and especially for the improvement of the mental, moral and spiritual condition
of young men.
The first settler of Cortlandville was John Mifier, a native of New Jersey, ‘but more recently from Binghamton.
He located on lot 56, in 1792. In 1794 Jonathan Hubbard and Moses Hopkins came in, Mr. Hubbard locating on the
site of Cortland. Village and Mr. Hopkins’ settling on lot 64, one mile west. Thomas Wilcox, from Whitestown, located
on lot 64, in 1795, and Reuben Doud on lot 75. James Scott, John Morse and Levi Lee, located upon the same lot;
and Dr. Lewis S. Owen, from Albany, on lot 66. During the years 1796—97, Aaron Knapp settled on lot 55, and Enoch
Hotchkiss on lot 76. Samuel Crittenden and Eber Stone, from Connecticut, located on lot 66. Mr. C. came with an
ox team and wastwenty-five days on the road. Samuel Ingles and his son Samuel came from Columbia county in 1798,
and located on lot 75; and in 1800, Wilmot Sperry came from Woodbridge, Conn., and located on lot 73. Wm. Mallery,
from Columbia county, came in 1802. Samuel McGraw, from whom McGrawville derived its name, came from New Haven,
Conn., to Cortlandvile, in 1803, and located on lot 87, purchasing 100 acres. In 1809 he removed to McGrawville
and purchased 200 acres. He had a large family, eight sons and four daughters. David Merrick came from Massachusetts
in 1800, and located on lot 44. In 1797 he went to Whitestown to purchase a tavern stand and one hundred. acres
of land, then valued at three hundred dollars. He left without making the purchase, but went to Whitestown the
next year to close a trade, and learned that the property was then valued at ten thousand dollars.
The first inn was kept by Samuel Ingles, in 1810, on the site of the Barnard Block; and the first school, on the
present site of the Eagle Hotel. The first grist mill was erected by Jonathan Hubbard, in 1779.
The first church (Baptist) was organized Oct. 3d, 1801. There has been some dispute as to this subject, but it
appears from an old record by Judge Keep, dated Oct. 3d, 1801, that “a council convened at Homer, at the request
of a number of Baptist brethren, for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Church.” This was the first church organization
in the County. Rev. Mr. Hotchkin, in his History of the Presbyterian Church in Western New York, says the first
organization was Oct. 12th, 1801, and that it was a Congregational Church. This old record of Judge Keep appears
to settle the question. The number of members at the time of the organization was sixteen; the present number is
312. The first church edifice of the First Baptist Church was erected in 1811; it stood between the villages of
Cortland and Homer, and was occupied until 1833, when the present building was erected in Cortland Village.
The first Methodist meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Hubbard, in 1804. A sermon was preached by Rev. Samuel
Hill, and subsequently a class was formed of ten members. This was the germ of the Centenary M. E. Church, which
now numbers 400 members. Their first church edifice was erected in 1821 and was occupied until 1867, when their
present building was erected. It is a substantial brick structure, ninety-seven feet by sixty, and one hundred
and thirteen feet to the top of the spire. The cost was $25,000.
Grace Church (Episcopal) was organized in 1859, with fifteen members, and the church edifice was erected the same
year. The present number forty.
The Universalist Church was organized in February, 1835, with 101 members. Their house of worship was erected in
1837, and is a substantial stone structure, the basement of which is owned by the town and used as Town Hall.
At an early day the people of Cortland turned their attention to the subject of education, as the following record
will show. It is given just as it was found in the Book Of Records:
“Homer November 20—1806.
At a meeting of the inhabitants of the Second School District in Homer [now Cortland]
1 Voted Levi Lee Moderator
3 Voted to build A School house 20 by 26
4 Voted to Set the Said house on Lot No 65 Near the Crotch of the Road that A Summer School shall be Kept this
this Summer in Said District. a womans."
At another meeting we find the following:
"November 4 1809
Agreeabel to Notification of the Second School District
Meeting opened at 6 o'clock P. M.
1 Voted to appoint a day to git up wood
3 Voted that all that Negl.ct to git longer than the first of January Shall pay for gitting their Share of wood.
4 Voted to Set up Gitting wood at Vandue. John Morse bid it of a 5s pr Cord and if he Neglects to Git Said wood
he is to pay the expence for Such Days that the School must Lie Still
Dissolved the meeting"
At another meeting we find the following:
"2 Voted the Committee be instructed to hire Mr Bato [Barto] for Six months
and that the price Does not exceed twelve Dollars Payabel Three fourths in grain and one fourth in Cash."
This old record is found in the same book in which the records are now kept.
From such small beginnings their march has been onward and upward until the youth of Cortland are now permitted
to attend, within the shadow of their own homes, some of the best institutions of learning in the State.
The population of the town in 1865 was 5,008 and its area 31,119 acres.
Among the distinguished men who have at various times resided in this town is Samuel Nelson Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States. He was born in Hebron, Washington County, Nov. 10, 1792. He was sent to. the district
school at an early age, whde he made commendable progress. He fitted for college in Salem and at the Granville
Academy, then in charge of the distinguished Salem Town. He entered Middlebury College in 1811 and graduated in
1813, at the age of twenty-one. He adopted the legal profession and studied law in Salem, and was admitted to the
Bar in 1817, and soon after located in Cortland Village. His talents soon won for him an enviable position among
his associates. In 1823 he was appointed one of the Circuit Judges, and in 1831 be was appointed to the Bench of
the Supreme Court of the State. In 1837 he was appointed Chief Justice of the State of New York. He filled this
position with distinguished ability until 1845, when be was appointed Associate Justice of the. Supreme Court of
the United States, a position which he still holds. His career upon the Bench has been characterized by honesty,
firmness, discretion and liberal equity. B:is great learning, eloquence and genius, have secured for him a preeminence
in his profession, affording an ifiustrious example for the ambitious youth of our country. His present residence
is Cooperstown, N. Y.
Ira Harris was born in Charleston, Montgomery County, May 31, 1802. His parents removed to Cortland County in 1808,
and located on Preble Flats. He remained with his father, alternately working upon the farm and attending the district
school until he was seventeen years old, when he entered Cortland Academy at Homer, where he pursued the studies
which enabled him to enter the Junior Class of Union College in September, 1822. He graduated with the highest
honors in 1824, and immediately entered upon the study of law in Cortland Village, where he remained one year.
He then directed his course to Albany and in two years was admitted to the Bar. During the succeeding twenty years
he rose to an enviable position among the most distinguished of the Albany Bar. In 1847 he was appointed to the
Bench of the Supreme Court, which position he held until 1861, when he was elected to the United States Senate
for six years. He was elected to the Assembly of the State in 1844 and 1845. He was elected to the Constitutional
Convention in 1846, and was also a member of the Convention in 1867. While in the United States Senate he served
on several important committees, and was one of the National Committee appointed to accompany the remains of President
Lincoln to Illinois.