History of Cohocton, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

COHOCTON. - About the year 1794, that enterprising pioneer and colonizer, Charles Williamson, sent Joseph Biven to build a tavern and found a settlement at the "Twenty two Mile Tree," on the Conhocton River. The result of this early effort was the establishment of a hamlet known to the early settlers as "Biven's Corners," and so designated until the settlement was made a post station under the name of North Cohocton. This was done in 1825. Richard Hooker is also credited with having been a pioneer of the same lbcality, but recollections of him are meagre. James and Aruna Woodward, Vermont Yankees, came to this part of the valley in 1802, the former settling on the afterward called Waldron place, where he built a cabin. Obediab Woodward was a son (as also was Aruna) of James, and was a stalwart young man when the settlement was made.

Another of the pioneers, and one whose surname has been preserved by substantial landmarks until quite recently, was Frederick Blood, a native of Germany but who came here from the older settlement at Saratoga. Blood's Station was named from this family, for Frederick had several sons, all earnest and industrious men and of great assistance in developing the resources of the new country. Jonas and James Cleland, father and son, came into the region from old, historic Pompey, in Onondaga county, in 1805, and the Cleland cabin was the first dwelling between Cohocton and Avoca. This pioneer built the first saw and grist mills in Cohocton, the former on the site of the Warner mill of later years, and the latter opposite the Cleland dwelling. The saw mill was built about 1808, and the grist mill at a later date.

Alvin Talbot and Ezra Parker were early settlers, as also was Job Briggs, the cooper and otherwise useful man at that time. Other early settlers were Stephen Burrows and Ebenezer Keeler, the latter a man of means and influence. In the Loon Lake locality Joseph Jackson, Eleazer Tucker, John, George and Paul Wilson, and also Salmon Brownson and his sons, were the first corners. Joseph Chamberlin came from Herkimer county in 1805, and settled near Liberty (now Cohocton), and in the year following Levi Chamberlin, Joseph Shattuck and Deacon Horace Wheeler were added to the now rapidly increasing roll of pioneers. Still others worthy of mention were Timothy Sherman, James Bernard, Samuel Rhodes, Jesse Atwood, Isaac Morehouse, Charles Burlingham and Richard Hooper, all of whom were in some manner identified with the early and interesting history of the valley. Mr. Hooper's death is said to have been the first event of its kind in the town.

Among the other principal first events may be noted the marriage of Joseph Biven and Sarah Hooker in 1798, and their child, Bethiah Hooker Biven, was the first born in town, in the year 1800. Sophia Trumbull taught the first school, about 1810, in the house built by James Cleland. William Walker built the first tannery, about 1816, and Rudolphus Howe put in operation the first distillery. The latter was an industry of much note, if not of importance, in the region and many are the anecdotes connected with it. In 1823, Gabriel Dusenbury and his sons, Seth and John, built a saw mill on the site of the later Hoag mill, and run it nearly twenty years, when Stoning & Brown converted the building into a paper mill. During the period of its history, Cohocton has been the home of many transient industries, several of them useful in the time of their erection, but afterward passing away and giving place to more profitable and enduring interests.

In the North Cohocton locality were a number of substantial and prominent settlers, among whom was Richard Hooker, from Baltimore, Md., former owner of a plantation and imbued somewhat with southern ideas and notions. He brought several slaves to the town, but when he united with the Society of Friends he manumitted his blacks and made suitable provision for their welfare. Henry and Richard Crouch were also early settlers; and in the same connection may be mentioned the Moultons and Tylers, Daniel Raymond and sons, John and Duty Waite, John Bush, Chauncey Atwell, Elijah Wing, David and Abijah Fowler, John Nicholson, Samuel Salisbury, Dr. F. H. Blakeley, Solomon Hubbard, an early storekeeper, Benoni Danks, Jerry W. Pierce, " Uncle " Reuben Clason, Caleb Boss, and others whose names are now lost.

As will be seen from this narrative, the settlement of this part of Bath and Dansville was accomplished rapidly. Indeed, as early as the year 1814 the newly formed town contained 746 inhabitants, hence it is little wonder that they sought the formation of a separate district, for public convenience demanded that they have the same town facilities as were possessed elsewhere in the county. The act erecting the town was passed June 18, 1812, and the first town meeting was appointed to be held at the house of Joseph Shattuck, jr,

The electors met at the designated place on the j3th of April, 1813, and chose these officers: Samuel Wells, supervisor; Charles Bennett, town clerk; Stephen Crawford, John Slack and William Bennett, assessors; Jared Barr, John Woodward and Isaac Hill, highway commissioners; John Slack and Samuel D. Wills, poormasters; James Barnard, collector and constable.

The town records in which were kept the proceedings of town meetsdings, between the years 1813 and 1839, have been lost, thus making it impossible to furnish a complete succession of supervisors. However, having recourse to other records extant, a reasonably accurate list can be furnished from 1823, viz.: Paul C. Cook, 1823-26; David Weld, 1827-28; Paul C. Cook, 1829-30; David Weld, 1831; John Nichol. son, 1832; Paul C. Cook, 1833-35; Elias Stephens, 1836; Paul C. Cook, 1837-38; Calvin Blood, 1839; John Hess, 1840-41; Paul C. Cook, 1842; John Hess, 1843-44; Calvin Blood, 1845; Zephman Flint, 1846; John Hess, 1847; Calvin Blood, 1848; Zephman Flint, 1849; C. J. McDowell, 1850-52; David H. Wilcox, 1853; C. J. McDowell, 1854; A. Larrowe, 1855-57; James Draper, 1858; Stephen D. Shattuck, 1859; David Wilcox, 1860-62; F. A. Drake, 1863-64; D. H. Wilcox, 1865; John H. Butler, 1866-67; C. E. Thorp, 1868; S. D. Shattuck, 1869-70; J. M. Tripp, 1871; S. D. Shattuck, 1872; Thomas Warner, 1873-74; James P. Clark, 1875; O. S. Searle, 1876; Myron W. Harris, 1877; Byron A. Tyler, 1878; Myron W. Harris, 1879-80; C. E. Thorp, 1881; Dwight Weld, 1882-83; James M. Reynolds, 1884; Asa McDowell, 1885; W. T. Slattery, 1886; C. E. Thorp, 1887; H. W. Hatch, 1888; Charles Oliver, 1889; Dwight Weld, 1890; A. H. Wilcox, 1891-92; H. C. Hatch, 1893-95.

The officers of the town for the year 1895 are as follows: Hyde C. Hatch, supervisor; W. K. Fowler, J. L. Waugh, J. J. Crouch, and E. A. Draper, justices of the peace; William Craig, William Hammond and Henry Schwingel, assessors; Eugene Slayton, collector; Martin M. Wilcox, highway commissioner; Meichoir Leh, overseer of the poor; Murray Tripp, Philip Folts and George I. Shoultice, commissioners of excise.

As we have before stated, Cohocton was formed from the still older towns of Bath and Dansville, and was, originally, much larger in area than as now constituted. A part was taken off in 1843 to form Avoca, and a considerable area was taken for Wayland in 1848. In 1874 a portion of Prattsburg was annexed to Conhocton. The town was named in allusion to the principal stream which crosses its territory in a rather tortuous course, but the framers of the town project, either for brevity or euphony, dropped the "n" in the first syllable, from which we have the name "Cohocton" instead of Conhocton.

As at present constituted, this town has an area of 34,60o acres of land, as good, fertile and generally productive as can be found in Steuben county. In fact Cohocton has long been classsd among the best towns of the entire valley, and the volume of business, in all branches, exceeds that of some of the larger Downs. Cohocton, Atlanta and North Cohocton are villages of some note and shipping points of more than ordinary importance. These villages, however, are made the subject of special mention in another department of this volume, to which the attention of the reader is directed.

When this town was formed in 1812, the public mind was considerably agitated by the events of the war then in progress; and the inhabitants of this particular region had an additional element of disturbance in their very midst, for the Indians were still in the valley and some attempts were made to incite them to deeds of violence against the settlers. A number of the men of the town joined the army and saw service on the frontier, and nearly all the able bodied men were among the enrolled militia and prepared for military duty on call. However, the storm of war passed without disaster to local interests, and the Indians were restrained by the determined attitude of the settlers. Soon after 1815 the last remnant of them withdrew from the valley and went to the State reservations.

In 1814, two years after the creation of the town, the inhabitants numbered 746, and in 1820 the number had increased to 1,560. Ten years later, (1830) the population was 2,544, the town then being the most populous in the county, with the single exception of Bath. In 1840 the number had increased to 2,965, but the formation of Avoca and Wayland during the succeeding decade, reduced the number to 1,993, as shown by the census of 1850. The next ten years witnessed a continued increase and the population in 1860 was 2,535, and in 1870 was 2,710. In 1880 the number was 3,346, and in 1890 was 3,444. Thus we note a constant increase in population from the formation of the town, a fact not noticeable in the majority of interior and agricultural towns in the State. Yet the statement must be made that much of this enlargement is found in the villages, with their ever increasing interests, rather than in the town at large.

An interesting and at the same time quite exciting period in local history was that known as the anti rent conflict, mentioned at greater length in another chapter; and while of much importance to the settlers in this valley, those of Cohocton felt but little of the unfortunate effects of the event. We refer to this period as one of the incidents of local history, although the controversy with the land proprietors was rampant throughout the Genesee country. The active representatives of Cohocton in the Bath convention of January, 1830, were Paul C. Cook, David Weld, Nathan Wing, Peter Haight and Alfred Shattuck, all "good men and true," and well qualified to represent the interests of our town.

After the settlement of this controversy the inhabitants turned again to the work of clearing and developing their farm lands. At that time no railroads had been built and theConhocton was the principal thoroughfare of shipment to market of both lumber and farm produce. Lumbering, as a distinct feature of local history, began almost as early as settlement itself, but between the years 1830 and 1855 was carried on to a large extent. The older residents well remember the operations of the firm of H. D. Graves & Co., whose first mill was between Liberty and Loon Lake. The later firm of F. N. Drake & Co. were large lumbermen, as also was Thomas Warner. However, soon after 1850 the railroad was constructed and with the increased facilities for shipping thus afforded, so, also, were lumbering interests enlarged until the desirable forest growths were practically exhausted. These operations led to the founding of settlements, with stores, public houses, shops and other adjuncts of villages, and while lumber making is virtually a thing of the past the settlements have remained, and grown, fostered and supported by a rich producing agricultural region, and the latter cultivated by a thrifty and forehanded class of inhabitants.

From somewhat incomplete records the fact appears that during the period of the war of 1861-65, the town of Cohocton sent into the service a total of two hundred men, who were scattered through the several commands, recruited in the county. At that time the town population was about 2,500, from which it is clear that about ten per cent. of the inhabitants were in the service. In another chapter will be found a record of the services of the companies represented by Cohocton volunteers, hence a brief mention is all that is required in this connection.

Of the early schools of Cohocton little is known except the fact that Sophia Trumbull opened the first in the cabin built by pioneer Jonas Cleland, also the further fact that the first school house stood on the Dusenbury farm, near the river, and was built about 181o. The loss of town records prevents us from furnishing the action of the early school 'authorities or referring accurately to the first apportionment of the territory into districts. However, speaking of the town at large, the statement may be made that in the matter of schools, those of Cohocton have kept even pace with others of the county, and today there are at least two organized union free schools within its boundaries. As now disposed the town contains twelve districts, each having a good school. During the last year, twenty teachers were employed in instructing the 731 pupils attending school. The value of school property is estimated at $21,095, and the total assessed valuation of the district is $994,943, During the same year (1894-5) the town received $2,592.59 of public school moneys, and raised by local tax the additional sum of $5,436.43.


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