History of Marathon, New York
GAZETTEER and BUSINESS DIRECTORY
OF CORTLAND COUNTY, N. Y. FOR 1869.
COMPILED and PUBLISHED BY HAMILTON CHILD, SYRACUSE, NY 1869



MARATHON was formed from Cincinnatus, April 21, 1818, as "Harrison," embracing the south-west quarter of the military township. Its name was changed in 1827 in consequence of there being another town in the State of the same name. It lies upon the southern border of the County, east of the center. It has a rugged and hilly surface, the ridges rising from 500 to 700 feet above the valleys. The Tioughnioga flows through the western part, in a deep, narrow valley, bordered by precipitous hillsides. Hunt Creek, in the north-west, flows through a narrow, deep valley, and Merrill Creek, in the east part, flows through a similar valley. The principal part of the arable land lies along the valleys; the uplands are broken and better adapted to pasturage. The soil is a sandy and gravelly loam.

Marathon, (p. v.) situated on both sides of the Tioughnioga, is a station on the Syracuse, Binghamton and New York Railroad, and contains three churches, an academy, a newspaper office, two hotels, a large grist arid flouring mill, a number of sawmills, a large tannery, a number of stores and mechanic shops and about 1,000 inhabitants. The main street extends east and west, and divides the village into two nearly equal parts.

Marathon. Grist and Flouring Mill is capable of grinding 500 bushels per day, and gives employment to six or eight men. Deals largely in flour and feed, and has a capital of $40,000 invested.

Burgess' Mill (circular saw) will cut 16,000 feet per day, and Livingston's Mill (circular saw) will cut about 20,000 feet in 24 hours.

Cooperage business gives employment to eight or ten men and turns out aboitt $10,000 worth of work annually.

Marathon. Tannery employs eleven men and manufactures about 25,000 or 30,000 pounds annually. The capital invested is $50,000.

Marathon Rural Cemetery embraces about twelve acres, on a rise of ground about one-fourth of a mile north-east of the village. It is under the control of an association of which Samuel M. Hunt is President.

Marathon. Academy.- This institution is situated on the west side of the river, about sixty rods from the railroad depot. It has a beautiful located on a good sized lot which slopes gradually to the east. It was chartered as an Academy by the Regents of the University in. February, 1866. The building, as it then was, had been used and owned by E. S. Weld, an enterprising young man, who, at the call of his country, left his "High School," as it was called, to engage in his country's defense, and who now fills an honored soldier's grave. Its dimensions were the same as now, but it required an expenditure of about $1,000 to bring it to its present condition. This was done by the stockholders the first season after they purchased it. There are forty shares of $100 each in the stock. The present value of the lot and buildings is set down at $4,800. M. L. Hawley, Esq., now editor of the Binghamton Standard, was engaged as Principal during the first two years of its existence as an academy. Mr. Hawley is an excellent teacher and well calculated to advance the interests of a school. The school is under the direction, for the present academis year, of Stephen Manchester, an experienced teacher and a good disciplinarian. The officers of the Board of Trustees are: Hon. Dann C. Squires, President; Sanford L. Baum, Secretary; Alanson Benjamin, Treasurer.

An iron Bridge is being erected across the river in this village, which will cost about $14,000.

Texas Valley, (p. v.) in the north-east corner of the town, contains three churches and is quite a flourishing village.

The first settlement of this town was commenced in 1794, by Dr. Japheth Hunt and his wife arid two sons, James and William, and three daughters. They entered the Tioughnioga Valley from the south, in canoes, and located on lot 93, about a mile south of the present village of Marathon. - Dr. Hunt came from New England, and had served his country in the Revolutionary war as surgeon. He was too far advanced in life to commence a new settlement, but his children were of mature age and possessed vigorous constitutions which fitted them for the laborious duties that devolved upon them. In 1796, John Hunt, the oldest son of the Doctor came and settled on lot 72. Samuel M. Hunt, his son, born October 30, 1798, was the first child born in the town. John Hunt was appointed a justice of the peace, about the commencement of the present century, and held the office until his death in 1815. His widow survived him a little more than half a century and died May 7th, 1866, at the age of ninety-five years and seven months. Abram Brink, with his family, moved into the town in 1800, and located on lot 82. He came up the river in a canoe, opened an inn soon after his arrival, and kept it for more than twenty years. Though he could neither read or write he was appointed the first postmaster in the town. A family by the name of Alford and a man by the name of Lee were among the early settlers. Among the other early settlers were John S. Squires, Ebenezer Carley and Patrick Mallory. The last named was a brother of Esq. Hunt's wife, and settled one mile north of Marathon village.

The first marriage in the town was that of Nicholas Brink and Polly Alford; and the first death that of Dr. Hunt, in 1808, at the age of 97. William Cowdrey taught the first school, in 1803; John Hunt built the first sawmill; and Weed & Waldo, James Burgess and David Munroe were early merchants.

In 1808 the father of THURLOW WEED removed to this town, and here was laid the foundation of that career which made "T. W." a power in the Empire State. Mr. Weed says, in a communication to H. C. Goodwin, the Historian of Cortland. County: "My first employment was in attendance upon an ashery. The process of extracting lye from ashes, and of boiling the lye into black salts, was common-place enough; but when the melting down into potash came, all was bustle and excitement. This labor was succeeded, when the spring had advanced far enough, by the duties of the 'sapbush.' This is a season to which the farmers' sons and, daughters look forward with agreeable anticipations. In that employment toil is more than literally sweetened. The occupation and its associations are healthful and beneficial. When-your troughs are dug out, (of basswood, for there were no buckets in those days,) your trees tapped, your sap gathered, your wood cut, and your fires fed, there is leisure for reading or 'sparking.' And what youthful denizens of the sap-bush will ever forget, while 'sugaring oft;' their share in the transparent and delicious streaks of candy congealed and cooled on snow? Many a farmer's son has found his best opportunities for improvement in his intervals of leisure while 'tending sap-bush.' Such at any rate was my experience. At night you had only to feed the kettles and keep up the fires, the sap having been gathered and the wood cut before dark. During the day we would also lay in a good stock of 'fat pine,' by the light of which, blazing brightly in front of the sugar-house, in the posture the serpent was condemned to assume as a penalty for tempting our great first grandmother, I have passed many and many a delightful night in reading. I remember in this way to have read a history of the French Revolution, and to have obtained from it a better and more enduring knowledge of its events and horrors, and of the actors in that great national tragedy, than I have received from all subsequent readings. I remember how happy I was in. being able to borrow the book of Mr. Keyes, after a two mile tramp through the snow, shoeless, my feet swaddled in remnants of a rag-carpet." He says he was large, healthy and strong, and ambitious "to keep his row" in hoeing corn and potatoes. The "logging bees" and other gatherings, accompanied by the indispensable gallon bottle of whisky, are duly noticed, as clearing the land constituted the principal employment of the early settlers. He says: "Our first aquisition in the way of 'live stock' was a rooster and four hens; and I remember with what a gush of gladness I was awakened at break of day the next morning by the loud defiant voice of chanticleer; and when, several days afterwards, I found a real hen's nest in a brush-heap, with eggs in it, I cackled almost as boisterously as the feathered mother whom I had surprised in the feat of parturition." The same writer gives the following amusing account of an expedition to a new store and its results: "I remember the stir which a new store, established in Lisle (some seven or eight miles down the river) by the Rathbones, from Oxford, created in our neighborhood. It was 'all the talk' for several weeks, and until a party of housewives, by clubbing with their products, fitted out an expedition. Vehicles and horses were scarce, but it was finally arranged: A, furnishing a wagon; B, a horse; C, a mare, and D, a boy to drive. Six matrons, with a commodity of black salts, tow cloth, flax and maple sugar, went their way rejoicing, and returned triumphantly at sunset with fragrant Bohea for themselves, plug tobacco for their husbands, flashy calico for, the children, gay ribbons for the girls, jack-knives for the boys, crockery for the cupboard, and snuff for granny." This expedition was a theme for much gossip. The wonders of the 'new store' were described to staring eyes and open mouths. The merchant and his clerk were criticised in their deportment, manners and dress. The former wore shiny boots and tassels, the latter a ruffle shirt, and both smelt of pomatum! I do not believe that the word 'dandy' had been invented, or it would have certainly come in play on that occasion. Thirty years afterwards I laughed over all this with my old friend, General Ransom .Rathbone, the venerable proprietor of that 'new store." The same writer says: "There were neither churches nor 'stated preaching' in town. A Methodist minister came occasionally and held meetings in private houses or at the school house. In the winter there was a school on the river, and the master, who 'boarded round,' must have 'had a good time of it' on johnny-cake for breakfast, lean salt pork for dinner, and samp and milk for supper. There were few 'amusements in those days, and but little of leisure or disposition to indulge in them. Those that I remember as most pleasant and exciting were 'huskings' and 'coon hunts.' There was -fun too in smoking woodchucks out of their holes."

The First Presbyterian Church was organized February 11, 1814, with ten members. The present edifice was erected in 1830. The church now numbers thirty-eight members.

Marathon Baptist Church was organized October 20, 1860, with twenty-five members; the present number is eighty-three. The church is in a flourishing condition with the prospect of a new building. J. H. Sage is the pastor.

The Methodist Church was organized by the formation of a class consisting of four members, in 1830; Orrin Carley was leader. Three members of the original class are still living, viz., Mrs. C. Newton, Orrin Carley and Mrs. Griffin. The church now numbers 170 members. Rev. A. C. Bowdish is the present pastor.

The population in 1S65 was 1,485 and its area 15,945 acres.

THURLOW WEED was born in Cairo, Greene County, N. Y., November 15, 1797, and, at the age of eleven, removed with his parents to Cincinnatus, now embraced in the town of Marathon. In the summer of 1806 he was employed as cook and cabin boy on board the sloop Ranger, of Catskill, and on the sloop Jefferson in 1807. In the winter of 1808 his father removed to this County and young Thurlow found himself soon after in an ashery, engaged in making black salts. His parents were poor and unable to give him the advantages of a school education. Previous to his removal from Greene County, he had worked in the printing office of Macky Croswell, at Catskill, and had acquired the title of "Printer's Devil." In 1811 he was employed in the Lynx office, at Onondaga Hollow, and in 1812 he was employed in the office of Thomas Walker, of tJtica, and. worked on the Columbian Gazette; and, in 1813 on the Herkimer American. From this time until 1815 he was employed at Auburn, Spring Mills, Sangerfield, Cazenovia and Cooperstown. He worked at offices in Utica and Herkimer for a time, and then went to Albany and New York, working as a journeyman until 1819. At this time he established a weekly newspaper in Norwich, Chenango County, called The Agriculturist. In 1821 he removed to Manlius and established the Onondaga County Republican. From this place he went to Rochester, where, after working two years, he purchased the paper, The Rochester Telegraph. He subsequently published the AntiMasonic Inquirer, which soon became the leading paper of his party in the State. In 1830 he removed to Albany and established the Evening Journal, which was conducted with great ability for more than a quarter of a century, during most of which time he probably exerted a greater influence upon the political affairs of the State than any other man. In 1843 he went to Europe and visited the British Islands and. several countries upon the continent. His letters furnished for the Journal during his travels were exceedingly interesting and were extensively copied into other papers and subsequently published in book form. Since his retirement from the Evening Journal he has been connected with the Press of New York City.

DAVID R. LOCKE, known throughout the country as Petroleum V. Nasby, is a native of this town, and his father, Nathaniel Locke, still resides here.

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