History of the City of Corning, 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

[Also see the town of Corning]

THE CITY OF CORNING. - On the 26th day of October, 1825, that great thoroughfare of travel and traffic - the Erie canal - was completed and opened for its intended use, and great and immediate benefit accrued to the towns and villages along its route. During the ten years next following this event, the legislature was constantly besieged with applications for charters and for pecuniary assistance in the interest of other similar enterprises, nearly all of which were intended to be auxiliary and tributary to the canal first mentioned, and to cross the State from north to south, penetrating the vast lumber tracts of Southern New York and the unlimited coal fields of Northern Pennsylvania. Capitalists and merchants in Albany and New York, and also in the more prominent manufacturing centers of New England, were desirous that these lateral waterways should be established, for they eagerly sought both coal and lumber for business and speculative purposes, which commodities were not provided by the main canal. In 1825 the Delaware and Hudson Canal company was chartered, and in 1828 the canal itself was opened. This brought southern products to Rondout, on the Hudson, affording partial relief, yet still another inlet was needed.

While the canal last mentioned was in process of construction, a proposition was laid before the legislature contemplating another canal, extending southward from the head of Seneca lake into the extensive coal and lumber fields of Northern Pennsylvania, by way of the Chemung and Tioga rivers, but the scheme nearly failed through the adverse position taken by Col. Samuel Young who seemed to have authority to pass upon the necessity or desirability of the enterprise. However, at this juncture, Captain Vincent Conklin took his team of horses and drew a fine load of Blossburg coal to Albany in order to satisfy the doubtful mind as to the value of the coal deposit of that region. In Albany the redoubtable Conklin found an interested listener in Edwin Cresswell, editor of the Argus, and the result was an earnest advocacy of the canal project on the part of that paper. Better yet, on the 15th of April, 1829, a bill was passed authorizing the construction of the Chemung canal, extending from Watkins to Elmira, with a navigable feeder, or branch, between Horseheads and Knoxville. The work of construction was at once begun, and was completed in 1833, and by it, and other public enterprises soon afterward carried to successful completion, the village and city of Corning became a possibility. Without them it is doubtful if the original hamlet would ever have been more than a crossroads settlement.

This great consummation attained, public attention was soon attracted to the vicinity of the canal terminus on the southwest. The Conhocton, the Canisteo, the Tuscarora and the Tioga brought here their rafts of superior quality lumber, while the Tioga contributed in addition both lumber and coal, all of which found ready cash markets in the east. These things naturally drew attention to our locality, and it is not surprising that Albany capitalists sought investments in so promising a field.

The operations of the Corning Company were no less important as factors in early municipal history than was the the canal, yet the company followed the canal and was dependent upon it just as later improvments were the outgrowth of the land operations. It was the combination of all these elements that laid the foundation upon which the municipal structure was subsequently built, improved and enlarged; and today we note the result in one of the most metropolitan yet cosmopolitan cities in interior New York, built up and firmly established, well ordered and situated, and containing all the requisites for future advanced prosperity.

The Corning Company was formed in 1835, in Albany, and comprised in its membership Erastus Corning, Thomas W. Olcott, Joseph Fellows, Watts Sherman, Hiram Bostwick, Ansel Bascom, Bowen Whiting, William A. Bradley and Levin I. Gilliss, who associated for the purpose of acquiring and developing lands in this State, particularly in Steuben county, and for such other speculative purposes as were desirable. The company first purchased at Painted Post, but their title failed, and they next obtained 340 acres of land on the west side of the Chemung, within the present city limits. It was at first thought the selection of land made by the company was unfortunate, being on the west side of the river, but whether so or not the location proved most fortunate for subsequent interests as bridges were built and thus the whole town was benefited.

Indeed these first years of village history witnessed many improvements and wonderful changes, and in 1836 there was sufficient importance in the settlement to warrant a name for the hamlet. It was called Corning, in honorable allusion to Erastus Corning, founder in fact of the company and one of the chief promoters of the enterprise. The purchase tract was surveyed and laid out into lots, and all needful things were provided to build up a progressive settlement. However, one of the first acts of the company was to ascertain the possibility of a successful line of railroad between the canal terminus and the rich Blossburg coal fields. To be sure, the Tioga river afforded moderate facilities for transportation at certain periods, yet it proved a somewhat slow and occasionally unreliable thoroughfare of traffic. To overcome the objections a survey was made to the State line, up the valley of the river, and being practicable the energetic company constructed the road to that point, and there joined with the road built by a similar company of Pennsylvania operators. In 1839 the first locomotive traversed the Tioga valley, and the future success and growth of our little village became assured.

Reference to the railroad statistics of the State discloses the fact that this road was built by the "Tioga Coal, Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company," connecting the bituminous coal fields of Pennsylvania with the Chemung canal, but gives the year of organization as 1841. However, in 1852, the road was sold and the name changed to Corning and Blossburg railroad. It is the same more recently known as the Blossburg, Corning and Tioga railroad, the "Cowanesque Branch," and also as the Fall Brook road. In 1840 the preliminary surveys for the Erie railroad were made in this vicinity,'yet ten years passed before the road was in fact completed. In the expectation that this line was to be immediately built local capital invested largely, and the delay which followed worked disaster to all business interests. The road, however, was completed to Corning in January, 1850. Two years later the Buffalo, Corning and New York railroad (now Rochester division of the Erie) was completed to Corning, affording additional facilities through the Conhocton valley. Still later railway lines, which have added to the general advancement of local interests, were the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning, chartered in 1875, and opened in 1877; the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, opened in 1882; and the Addison and Pennsylvania, also opened in 1882, The old Corning and Olean Company was chartered in 1852, with a capital of $850,000, but the road was never built.

Returning to purely local history, let us briefly note some of the prominent factors in the development of early interests. Col. H. W. Bostwick was of course active in the operations of the Corning company, and was its resident manager. Other enterprising residents were Dr. William Turbell, Lawyer Thomas A. Johnson, Laurin, P. J. and Wm. M. Mallory, Major S. B. Denton, Nelson L. Somers, H. G. Phelps, B. P. Bailey, John A. Parcell, B. W. Payne, Daniel G. Comstock, George T. Spencer, E. P. Rogers, S. T. Haft, Hiram Pritchard, Wm. J. Arnold, Charles Clark and others.

Previous to 1840 the hamlet had no postoffice nearer than Centerville, but in the year mentioned Postmaster Philo P. Hubbell kindly moved the Painted Post office to Corning. In 1841 the name of the office was changed to Corning and Major S. B. Denton was appointed postmaster. Also in 1840 Charles Adams contributed greatly to local interests in establishing a newspaper, called the Corning and Blossburg Advocate. The second paper was the Corning Sun, founded in 1853 by Mark M. Pomeroy and P. C. Van Gelder. Churches were erected and religious societies were organized, the village Presbyterian in 1842, and the second of the same denomination three years later. The Protstant Episcopal church followed in 1854, while the Methodist Episcopal workers were in the field as early as 1839. The Baptist and Catholics were here about the same time, 1842.

In 1842, according to a reprinted article from the Corning and Blossburg Advocate, the village contained about 500 inhabitants, and was considered "a smart town," but the failure of the first Erie railroad enterprise had a depressing effect on all local interests and some of them suffered seriously. The road was completed to Corning from the east in December, 1849, but at that time, notwithstanding all adverse events, the local population had increased to 1,300, and the village had been regularly incorporated.

Referring again to the article in the Advocate, we learn that the lawyers of the village in 1842 were Johnson & Covell, George T. Spencer, and also Col. H. W. Bostwick, the latter president and attorney of the Corning Company and constantly engaged in furthering the interests of his principals rather than occupied in general legal practice. Terbell & Brownell were physicians, the former being also proprietor of a drug store which has since been continued by some member of the family. S. B. Denton kept a shoe store, and was also at one time proprietor of the old Corning House, a well known hostelry standing on the site now occupied by the Dickinson House. H. H. Wyman was the village liveryman.

The old Bank of Corning was then in successful operation, having began business January 12, 1839, under a hundred year charter, yet its existence covered a period of less than thirty years. However, it outlived by more than a year the Corning Company which dissolved in 1855. Jared A. Redfield was a dry goods merchant, and Loveland & Arnold were in the same line of trade. Bailey & Gray kept a stock of general merchandise, while L. Davenport was hatter, but later on opened a book store. Charles Clark was builder and contractor, and some of the structures built by him are still standing, though most of the frame business buildings have been removed by fire or the ever progressing hand of man. G. W. Hanmer kept general store, C. H. Powers was the jeweler, and Loomis, Fuller & Co. kept a large supply of boots, shoes and leather. James B. Lower was a manufacturer of cars and did an extensive business in the village. David Baker was the brickmaker, and his product is still discernible in many of the older' buildings of the vicinity.

Dr. James Cutler practiced medicine in Knoxville, which place then rivaled Corning. Later on, however, the village founded by Judge Knox became a suburb to rapidly growing and constantly extending Corning, and finally was absorbed by the city incorporation. It now constitutes the Fifth ward, and is, withal, the largest and most important outlying district of the municipality. However, for the purposes of this outline narrative Knoxville will be treated as a part of Corning.

The old and well known firm of W. & F. Thornton dealt in dry goods; W. B. Scudder had a stock of general merchandise; W. & J. Treverton, and also J. F. Geen sold paints, oils and glazier's goods; D. R. Davis was the village barber; M, J. Pace made and sold bakestuffs; J. S. Jamison taught writing school; Pew & Paddleford were liverymen; N. L. Somer & Co. sold hardware; W. L. Waller dealt in dry goods; and H. G. Phelps and H. Pritchard were proprietors of the local flour and grist mills. Over in Knoxville Dyer Ford sold groceries and patent medicines; D. J. Shaw dealt in dry goods and Yankee notions, but later on built and opened the Corning Exchange.

Such, substantially, was the condition of mercantile interests in the village half a century ago, but succeeding years worked wonderful changes. Within the next ten years, following 1842, the village suffered severe losses by fire and many of the best business places were completely destroyed. These disasters led to the formation of fire companies as a partial means of preventing still further conflagrations and their consequent loss, and the liberality of the business men was sorely taxed to provide fire apparatus, which could not be purchased at the expense of the town at large. Having a population of about 1,200 in 1848, many public improvements were necessary, and the town showed little inclination to pay an expense from which persons outside the village received no direct benefit. Therefore the interested citizens determined to produre an order of incorporation.

The petitioners were Horace G. Phelps, James C. Davis and Joseph Herron, who made application to the Court of Sessions on the 31st of August, 1848, and on the 6th of September, following, Judge McMaster granted the order of incorporation, subject to ratification by the electors of the incorporated district. The election for this purpose was held on the 25th of October, and the result showed 118 votes for and 5 against the proposition.

The first election of village officers was held January 12, 1849, and resulted as follows: Horace G. Phelps, Laurin Mallory, George T. Spencer, Aaron H. Foster and James S. Robinson, trustees. On the organization of the board, Mr. Mallory was chosen president, and Thomas Messenger, clerk. However, in 1858, the powers of the municipal body were increased through charter enactment, after which time the office of president became elective instead of appointive.

The village trustees, under the first order of incorporation, were necessarily compelled to inaugurate many public improvements. They were the legislative and executive power of a municipality of 1,300 inhabitants, and with mercantile and manufacturing interests of greater importance than is usual in such villages. The highways were in great need of attention, and sidewalks must be laid and lights provided. Soon afterward the Erie railway was completed to the village and police protection was imperative. About the same time the locality was visited with a series of disastrous fires, by which many of their prominent business blocks were destroyed. So seriously was the loss felt in the community that the trustees, on the fourth of January, 1851, adopted a resolution by which a regular fire department was organized; and within one week from that time Rescue Fire Co. No. 1, and Rescue Hose Co. No. 1, also Rough and Ready Fire Co. No 2, and Rough and Ready Hose Co. No. 2, were brought into existence, and soon afterward equipped with the necessary apparatus for extinguishing fires. The name Rough and Ready was changed to Neptune, and in 1857, Alliance Hook and Ladder Co. was organized. This was the nucleus of the present fire department of the city, an organization surpassed by none and equaled by few among the volunteer organizations of the State.

In 1862 the department was incorporated under the State laws, and upon organization Alfred Jones was elected president, and George W. Pratt, secretary. As the village and subsequent city enlarged both in population and business importance, so, also, was the department increased in members and efficiency, until it was a distinct branch of municipal government, controlled by a full board of officers, as follows: Marvin Olcott, president; G. D. Gorton, secretary; W. L. McGeorge; treasurer. The chief engineer is F. L. Clute; 1st asst., W. H. Christie; 2d asst., J. Lazarus. The fire wardens are W. B. Walker, E. B. Seymour and D. F. Fero.

In the same year in which the first village officers were elected the Erie Railroad was completed to Corning and opened for traffic This was by far the greatest acquisition in local interests and contributed largely to early prosperity. Within another year or two the road was completed to Hornellsville and points farther west, thus giving the village a trunk line of railroad with all its accompanying advantages. In 1852 the Rochester branch was also opened, and the products of both Canisteo and Conhocton valleys poured into the village on their way to Eastern markets. The Chemung Canal was in full and successful operation at the same time. In less than another quarter of a century the Syracuse, Geneva & Corning Road was ready for business, affording ready connection with the New York Central Road and also points in New England. In view of these things it is not surprising that Corning was a business center of much importance previous to the outbreak of the late war, and when peace was restored renewed activity added still other interests to the village. In 1868 the now celebrated glass works were removed from Brooklyn to Corning, bringing to the village at least one hundred experienced workmen, many of them having families. One industry led to another, each succeeding family increased the importance of the municipality, and we find as early as 1888 population and volume of business sufficient to warrant a city charter, with all its attendant prestige and advantage. Of this the people began to speak at least two years before the act in fact passed the Legislature, and among the more prominent factors in bringing about the desired result were F. D. Kingsbury, Franklin N. Drake, Amory Houghton, jr., Harry C. Heermans, John Hoare, sen., E. D. Willis, F. R. Brown, Stephen T. Hayt, George W. Pratt, Q. W. Wellington, Dwight A. Fuller, George B. Bradley and others. The bill creating the city became a law and received the executive sanction on the loth of March, 1890. Within the city limits were about 1,800 acres of land.

The first election of city officers was held April 2, 1890, with result as follows: William E. Gorton, mayor; D. F. Browne, recorder; L. B. Robinson, chamberlain; Thomas O'Brien, overseer of the poor; George Hitchcock and Thomas Hiffernan, justices of the peace; William A. Foster, Peter Griffin and S. C. Robertson, supervisors. Aldermen: John Peart and William Hunt, First Ward; John W. Fedder and William T. Brady, Second Ward; E. Clisdell and William T. Rubright, Third Ward; John Cogan and James McMahon, Fifth Ward; George Clark and Albert Pritchard, Fifth Ward.

Mayor Gorton found the work of organizing the several departments of city government to be a rather arduous undertaking, yet he applied himself industriously to the duties of his office, and within a very short time all branches were working smoothly and well. Doctor Gorton's term of office covered two years, and his administration of affairs proved very acceptable to the people.

In 1892 Benjamin W. Wellington was elected mayor, and showed himself to be an entirely capable and efficient public officer. His was the first Republican term in the mayoralty, the, change contemplating several new appointments, yet all were satisfactory and worthy Under Mayor Wellington the new city hall was built, in 1893, at an expense of nearly $40,000.

The present mayor, William W. Adams, was elected in the spring of 1894, and although a new man in public office, his administration has been clean, careful and conservative, with an aim to promote the welfare of the city rather than for personal advantage.

In all departments of city government Corning has been fortunate in the selection of officers, and today ranks among the best and most liberally conducted municipalities of the State. To a great extent politics is subordinate to the public good, the heads of departments and commissioners being chosen with reference to fitness rather than party affiliation. The popular plan of delegating the control of the several arms of city government to constituted commissions has shown beneficial results in the aptly called "Crystal City." However, let us here note the names of present officials connected with local government, and then refer briefly to some of the more important branches which have made for our city its excellent standing.

Mayor, William W. Adams; city clerk, William L. McGeorge; chamberlain, John Greentrup; city attorney, E. D. Mills; street commissioner, Rufus C. Palmer; city engineer, Harry C. Heermans; recorder, W. J. Tully; acting recorder, George Hitchcock; chief of police, James Ryan; captain of police, John Brennan. Aldermen: C. H. Lovell, George Walsh, First Ward; Dr. H. A. Argue, C. H. Duerlin, Second Ward; Valentine Rettig, W. J. Cheney, Third Ward; Peter Farrell, T. F. Reilly, Fourth Ward; Dr. G. W. Lane, A. A. King, Fifth Ward. Assessors, S. B. Nichols, N. D. Rowley, P. D. Haradon; justices, George Hitchcock, B. F. Marriott; overseer of the poor, James Peart.

Police commissioners - James A. Drake, Henry Beck, Edward P. Graves, C. G. Cole.

Sewer commissioners - F. D. Kingsbury, president; H. P. Sinclair, secretary; Q. W. Wellington, treasurer; Samuel T. Hayt and Thomas Dwyer.

Excise Commissioners - W. T. Brady, Joseph F. Moore, Charles W. Hayt, W. J. Tully.

Board of Health - C. A. Rubright, E. W. Bryan, M. D., John B. Dailey, H. M. Bourne, Charles W. Fassett, J. L. Miller. W. S. Cobb, health officer and clerk of the board.

Fire Department Companies - Alliance Hook and Ladder Co., No. 1; Pritchard Hose Co., No. 1; Crystal City Hose Co., No. 2; Independent Hose Co., No. 3; Corning Protectives, No. 4; Magee Hose Co., No. 5.

The educational branch of city government in Corning is one in which every loyal citizen feels a just pride, and for the maintenance and support of the public schools the local authorities make generous provision. In this action the board of education has ever received the approval of the taxpayers, as the appropriations are worthily applied, and there is no evidence whatever of prodigality. The present admirable school system is the outgrowth of a beginning made as early as the year 1839, when a public meeting was held at the house of S. B. Denton, at which time Judge Johnson, William L. Waller and Charles Clark were chosen trustees of old district No. 14, of the then town of Painted Post. A school house was thus provided, in fact two of them, but in later years a consolidation of school interests was effected. On April 13, 1859, a special act of Legislature constituted a board of education in district No. 9, which, of course, was the village school district. At that time the free school system was put in operation, although the academy building was not completed and occupied until September 1, 1873. This structure, known as the Corning Academy, or High School, needs no extended description in this place; it stands today a monument to the generosity of an intelligent public. The building has been repaired and enlarged as occasion has required, and within the last year nearly $30,000 has been expended in enlargements and sanitary improvements.

In district No. 9 are three good schools, one of which is the academy just mentioned. When the city was created it included within its limits district No. 13, town of Corning, or at least so much of that district as comprises the present Fifth Ward. This was formerly Knoxville, and by the acquisition Corning gained another excellent school. However, this district is separately supported, receiving no support from the city other than from its own territory. Its affairs are controlled by a separate board of education and at the expense of the district known as No. 13.

The personnel of the board of education in district No. 9 is as follows: Amory Houghton, jr., George R. Brown, Edward Clisdell, O. P. Robinson, David S. Drake and William E. Gorton. Officers of the board: Amory Houghton, jr., president; George Hitchcock, secretary; Q. W. Wellington, treasurer. Superintendent of schools, Leigh R. Hunt.

The board of education in district No. 13 comprises Luman S. Conover, Dr. George W. Lane, Charles Billinghurst, Frank H. Viele, William A. Pierce, John McBurney and T. H. Cole, jr.

Corning is abundantly supplied with pure and wholesome water for domestic and public purposes. The system was established in 1871 and '72, at an expense of about $25,000, but for some reason it was a constant source of expense instead of profit to the village. Further improvements entailed additional outlays of money until the public had invested nearly $40,000 in the plant, and yet the concern was continually a source of expense. In order to be relieved of this burden the trustees offered to lease the works, but without success for some time, and not until young Harry Heermarts, law student, determined to establish it on a paying basis, He associated with T. L. Lawrence, and the two leased the plant and system for thirty years, beginning January 1, 1877. Their capital consisted chiefly of energy and good judgment, and within three years the works were on a self sustaining basis. Soon afterward a profit was realized, and today, notwithstanding the large outlays for extensions and maintenance, the firm are lessees of one of the best enterprises in Steuben county. The city is well supplied with excellent water from a large reservoir on the hill on the south side, while connected with the system is a pumping station of equal utility. From 500,000 to 800,000 gallons of water are pumped daily, and the number of taps is about 800.

The Corning Gas Company was incorporated August 1, 1862, to furnish the village with gas for illuminating purposes. This is an important adjunct of municipal welfare although electric lighting has in a measure displaced gas. The officers of the company are C. S. Cole, president; F. D. Kingsbury, treasurer and general manager; E. B. Seymour, secretary. Superintendent, W. H. Christie.

As a manufacturing and mercantile city, Corning ranks exceedingly well among the industrial centers of the State. This fortunate condition of affairs is largely due to the railroad facilities, by which the local product is easily and quickly shipped to markets in any direction. Indeed our enterprising city has two recognized trunk lines of railroad - the Erie and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, while the Fall Brook system is so complete and important to local interests as to be of equal value with the lines mentioned. In addition the Fall Brook Company have here their central offices for business management, while their construction and repair shops furnish employment to hundreds of workingmen.

One of the most important industries of Southern New York is the Corning Glass Works, which, with its allied interests, furnishes employment to about 1,000 persons, and also, through its pay rolls, provides the means of subsistence to at least 3,000 more. In Corning these works were established by the removal of the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works in the year 1868, being induced to such course through the representation of Elias Hungerford that coal, rents and employees could be procured in this village at less expense than in the former location. At that time the company comprised Amory Houghton, sr., Josiah Oakes, George P. Bradford and Amory Houghton, jr. As an inducement to the removal, the village, through individuals, took $50,000 of stock, while the company took $75,000, and also brought to Corning 100 regular and skilled employees. A reorganization was effected at the time of the removal and the concern became known as the Corning Flint Glass Company. For three years at least the company did business at a heavy loss, finding the Cumberland coal not suited to their purposes, and being brought into direct competition with the large Pittsburg factories; and in. 1871 it became nepessary to dispose of the local plant, which was purchased by Nathan Cushing, of Boston, and placed in charge of Amory Houghton, jr., as manager. With an exceedingly doubtful future before him, Mr. Houghton began the operation of the works, on borrowed capital, running economically, devising and introducing specialties, endeavoring in every way to place the works on a paying basis. Subsequent results showed the wisdom of his policy, for the end of the year showed a small profit. In 1872 Mr. Houghton purchased the works and became the sole proprietor. Three years later, in 1875, the " Corning Glass Works" was incorporated with a capital of $50,000, Amory Houghton, jr., president and treasurer; Charles F. Houghton, vice president, and Henry P. Sinclair, secretary. From the time of the purchase in 1872, under the new management, this enterprise has been successful from every point of view, and is now regarded as the leading industry of Corning and one of the most noted in the State of New York. As originally established in 1868, the works covered two acres of ground, and employed about 150 men, boys and girls; as now constituted the works cover six acres, and employ regularly about 400 persons, and occasionally as many more. Connected with this splendid industry are the cutting shops, although under different ownership and management, but taking the raw product from the glass works and finishing it so beautifully that Corning is known throughout the land as the "Crystal City." The well known glass cutting firm of J. Hoare & Co., whose wares are sold throughout the United States, and in many foreign countries as well, was the outgrowth of a business established in Corning in 1868, by John Hoare, he coming to the village with the Brooklyn Flint Glass works. Mr. Hoare began in a small way and increased the capacity of his shops as rapidly as the demand for his products increased, and it is a fact well known that the output from the Hoare works is among the best in the world, while the proprietor himself was the pioneer manufacturer of rich cut glass in this country; and he was the first man who ever turned glass in a lathe, and also the first who ever made glass for store window sashes. At the noted exhibitions of fine goods at Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, Mr. Hoare was awarded the first prize in each case, and generously turned over the exhibit to his principal customer in each city. At the Columbian Exposition he was awarded four medals for superiority, in design, finish and general beauty. The works of J. Hoare & Co. are an important industry in Corning and furnish employment for about 250 persons.

In 1890 T. G. Hawkes & Co. was incorporated for the purpose of carrying on a general business in cutting and selling fine glassware. However, since 188o the name of T. G. Hawkes has been known in local manufacturing circles, and during the period from that until the present, the product of the Hawkes factory have found their way into almost every civilized country where fine cut glass is appreciated and used. Previous to 1880 Mr. Hawkes was an employe of John Hoare, but in the year mentioned began business for himself in Corning, in a small way at first, but enlarging the capacity of his shops as demand for for his product has increased; and in the short space of fifteen years he has built up a business that requires the employment of 245 workmen. As evidence of the superior excellence of his goods, we may state that at the Paris Exposition, in 1889, the Hawkes exhibit was awarded the grand prize in open competition against the entire world. Nearly all the articles comprising that exhibit were eagerly sought and taken by the nobility of Europe.

Among the other substantial manufacturing industries of this progressive city we may mention the Corning Brick and Terra Cotta Works, which, in its special product is a noted concern in the country, and one of great importance in local circles, employing many persons in its various departments. The officers of the company are C. A. Rubright, president; H. O. Dorman, vice president; C. W. Rubright, general manager, and Morris E. Gregory, secretary.

The Southern Tier Mills are also worthy of special mention, and were built in 1868 by Hayt & Olcott, the firm being succeeded by Mr. Hayt in 1869. The buildings were burned in 1879, and immediately rebuilt, with brick, far more substantial than the old building, and equipped with modern machinery for the manufacture of flour. The present capacity of the mills is 200 barrels of flour per day.

The Preston and Heermans foundry and machine shops were established in 1867.

The Corning Iron Works were founded in 1889 by William E. Gorton and manufactures all kinds of cast iron work and railway specialties. The officers of the company are William E. Gorton, president, and E. D. Mills, secretary and treasurer. The company was incorporated in 1893; capital $100,000. The Corning Lumber Company is another substantial business enterprise of the city, officered as follows: Glode Requa, president; George W. Foster, secretary; W. H. Clark, treasurer. The Corning Manufacturing Company are builders of the popular " Victor Warm Air Furnace." The officers are E. P. Graves, president; V. Haischer, secretary, and E. R. Stasch, superintendent. The Corning Stone Company, whose extensive works are southwest of the city, was organized many years ago, and is therefore one of the old industries of the locality. They produce fine building and dimension stone. The officers are Jared Pratt, presidents; E. C. English, secretary and treasurer. The Corning Stove Company manufactures the well known Garnet stoves and ranges, do a large business and employ many workmen. The officers are George W. Drake, president; L. D. Streeter, vice president; L. H. Drake, treasurer. The Hood Furnace and Supply Company, manufacturers of hot air furnaces, is another staple industry of the city. Its officers are C. S. Hood, president; W. A. Adams, vice president, and James C. Hood, secretary.

In addition to the industries thus specially mentioned are many others of less magnitude, yet all combine to promote local growth. In mercantile pursuits all branches appear to be well represented, with competition in each line of trade sufficient to prevent monopoly. The stores, blocks, and public buildings of Corning surpass those of any other municipality in the county, and the number of commercial men who daily register at the principal hotels indicate a heavy volume of trade in retail as well as wholesale houses. Much of this prosperous condition is due to the energetic efforts of the Board of Trade, which comprises a number of the best and most liberal men of the city. The board is a large body in point of membership, and its object is to promote the growth and welfare of the city in every direction. The officers are Stephen T. Hayt, president; Quincy W. Wellington, vice president; William Walker, treasurer; John L. Lewis, secretary; and O. W. Wellington, Amory Houghton, jr., S. T. Hayt, George J. Magee, Austin Lathrop, T. S. Pritchard, George W. Pratt, George Hitchcock, John Hoare, Thomas G. Hawkers, William Walker, John Peart and Justin M. Smith, trustees.

The city is well supplied with hotels, in fact appears to have more public houses than the demand requires. The traveling patronage is distributed among the three principal houses, the Dickinson, the St. James, and the Wellington, the first mentioned being the largest and best equipped.

The history of Corning's banks, past and present, may be briefly stated. The old Bank of Corning, the pioneer of the financial institutions of the village and city, was organized and began business June 1o, 1839, being then founded and supported chiefly by the Corning Company. Its career covered a period of about twenty years, with varied successes and reverses, yet useful on the whole. It went into liquidation about 1856, and its currency was redeemed by stockholders, who also paid the depositors. Next came the George Washington Bank, organized under the State law by J. N. Hungerford and George W. Patterson, with $50,000 capital. This bank first began business in Concert block, and later on built and occupied the present First National Bank. The life of the George Washington Bank was comparatively brief. Mr. Hungerford withdrew from the concern in 1859, and organized what was known as the "J. N. Hungerford Bank," which he continued until his death. His executor, Mr. Hadden, took the assets and undertook to pay the creditors, but his tragic death only served to further complicate the affairs of the bank, and it finally passed out of existence in 1883, and was soon forgotten. The Corning Savings Bank was organized by Cole & Thompson about 1856 or '57, and did business about five years.

The banking house of Q. W. Wellington & Co., known throughout the entire State as an entirely safe and reliable private bank, was organized under the laws of New York, on the ist of September, 1862, and issued currency until the arbitrary provisions of subsequent legislative enactments necessitated redemption and retirement of its bills. The members of the original firm were Quincy W. Wellington and Samuel Russell, jr. After four years Mr. Russell withdrew, and Mr. Wellington operated the bank as sole owner until 1884 when his son, BenBamin W. Wellington, acquired an interest and became partner. However, the old firm style of Q. W. Wellington & Co. has ever been the designation of the bank's management, and its standing in financial circles is too well understood to require any comment in this chapter. Glancing over the last report of the condition of business in the bank, we notice a surplus of nearly $i05,000; undivided profits, $38,000, and an aggregate of deposits, $690,000. Of a truth this bank needs no further comment at the hands of the present writer.

The First Nantional Bank of Corning was organized in May, 1882, by the late Franklin N. Drake, assisted by Judge Bradley, C. C. B. Walker and others. However, Mr. Drake was the leading spirit of the enterprise, a large stockholder, and held the office of president from the organization until the time of his death, December 28, 1892. He was then succeeded by his son, James A. Drake, the present chief officer of the institution, and at the same time Judge Bradley was elected vice president. The first board of directors comprised F. N. Drake, O. W. Bump, George B. Bradley, Edwin C. Cook, James A. Drake and C. C. B. Walker. The original capital was $50,000, later on increased to $i00,000, but subsequently reduced to the amount first mentioned. The first cashier was O. W. Bump, who was succeeded by James A. Drake, and on the election of the latter to the presidency, D. S. Drake was appointed in his place. This bank is an entirely safe, successful and well managed institution, enBoying the confidence of business men throughout the region. Its accumulated surplus amounts to $75,000. The present directors are James A. Drake, George B. Bradley, D. S. Drake, C. M. Hyde, C. E. Drake and G. W. Bump.

By an act of the State Legislature, passed July 19,1853, the village of Corning was designated as the seat of justice for the second jury district of Steuben county. This was a fortunate event in the early history of the place and one which contributed much to local growth and importance. The court house was built during the years 1853-4, at an expense of $14,000. It stands on a commanding elevation of land just outside the business center, and is a comfortable structure though now quite old and hardly in keeping with the beautiful dwelling properties in the vicinity. However, the supervisors of the county have authorized an appropriation of $10,000 for a new court house in the district, to which the city will undoubtedly add a considerable amount for the same purpose.

The First Presbyterian church of Corning, as now designated, was originally organized as the Presbyterian church of Painted Post, and located at Knoxville. The society was formed in 1810, but not until 1832 was a church home provided. A second edifice was erected in Corning village in 1842, and in 1843 the name was changed to First Presbyterian church of Corning, and incorporated as such. The present substantial church edifice was built in 1867. A second Presbyterian church was organized in Corning in 1845, by withdrawing members from the mother society. The only pastor of the new church was Rev. Horatio Pettingill, D. D. The offshoot united with the parent church in 1849. The succession of pastors of this church has been as follows Clement Hickman, 1812-16; Thomas Lounsbury, 1821-23; Mr. Gilbert, 1823-25; Reuben Sanborn, 1826-27; David Harrower, 1827-29; David Higgins, D.D., 1829-31; John Barton, 1832-35; John Smith, 1835-38; F. W. Graves, 1838; Samuel M. Hopkins, D.D., 184042; Joshua B. Graves, t 842-47; Job Pierson, 1847-49; A. L. Brooks, 1848-51; R. E. Wilson, 185155; Darwin Chichester, 1856-59; William A. Niles, D.D., 1858-72; Anson G. Chester, 1872-75; M. L. P. Hill, 1875-82; John S. Bacon, acting pastor from 1882 to 1893. Rev. Dr. Alfred J. Hutton, the present pastor, was installed in February, 1895. This church has 300 members. Its elders are Uriah D. Hood, Cyrus S. Hood, Charles E. Benedict, Edward Clisdell, and Francis A. Williams. The deacons are Rollin P. Perry. Noble Hill, and C. W. Ecker. Trustees, George B. Bradley, William W. Adams, John H. Lang, H. C. Heermans, David S. Drake, Alfred M. Gannon, Edward Clisdell, F. D. Kingsbury, and H. P. Sinclaire, jr.

Christ church, Episcopal, and its parish, in Corning, were organized April 2, 1841, by Rev. Richard Smith. The Corning Company donated to the church a lot on West Market street, on which a chapel was built, and subsequently used until the erection of the stone edifice on the corner of Walnut street and East avenue in 1854. However, the congregation and society at length outgrew the church home, and during the years 1893-94 the present beautiful church edifice was erected. This is without question one of the most elegant and complete church structures in the southern tier, and was built at a total cost of about $75,000. The memorial windows are noticeable features of the interior, among them that privided by Mrs. Amory Houghton, jr., in memory of her father, Alanson Bigelow; also that furnished by Marvin Olcott in memory of his parents; by William Bigelow in memory of his children; by Charles F. and Mrs. Houghton in memory of their daughter; together with three others in the chancel, furnished by the Chancel Guild. The rectors of Christ's church, in succession, have been as follows: Richard Smith, M. A. Nickerson, J. Field, James Eaton, G. M. Skinner, F. J. R. Lightbourn, N. Barrows, E. Z. Lewis, L. D. Ferguson, Lucius Sweetland, William Montgomery, Joseph Hunter, E. S. Wilson, S. R. Fuller, Roy McGregor Converse, and Walter Coe Roberts, the latter the present rector, who came to the church in April, 1888. The communicating members in Christ's church number 274. The wardens are John Hoare and Joseph J. Tully; vestrymen, Q. W. Wellington, Amory Houghton, jr., Charles F. Houghton, J. B. Maltby, Thomas G. Hawkes, R. H. Canfield, Austin Lathrop. E. A. Kreger.

Methodism in Corning began as early as the years 1832, although not until 1839 was the Corning circuit formed. The first house of worship was built in 1839, the second in 1860, and the third, the present large and beautiful church edifice, during the years 1893-94. It stands on the site of the old church, and cost $40,000. This church has more than 800 members, and is the oldest in Steuben county. The present pastor, Rev. Henry C. Woods, began his services here in 1891.

St. Mary's church, Roman Catholic, of Corning, was the outgrowth of early missionary services conducted by Rev. Father Patrick Bradley about the year 1842. Seven years later a church edifice was built, but the larger church, the present edifice, was begun in 1866 and was in course of construction for several years before completion. In 1873 the bishop of the diocese purchased the old State Arsenal on the hill, which was converted into a convent for use of the Sisters in Charge of the parochial school connected with St. Mary's parish. In December, 1860, Father Peter Colgan, present priest in charge, was appointed to St. Mary's.

The Baptist church of Corning was organized August 24, 1841, with twenty four original members. The church edifice was erected in 1849 and 1850, and dedicated May 8th of the year last mentioned. The church numbers 242 active members, and is under the present pastorate of Rev. P. W. Crannell.

A Free Will Baptist church was organized in Corning in 1865, but is not now in existence. Other and more recent organizations in the city are the Congregational, Free Methodist, and German Lutheran. The First Congregational church of the Fifth ward was formed as a society in September, 1889, with thirty seven members, but now numbers about 200. Rev. Nathaniel E. Fuller has been the pastor since organization. The Free Methodist church was organized in 1894 and built a house of worship during the same year. The German Lutheran Society, also recently formed, purchased and now occupy the old church edifice of Christ church. The pastor is Rev. W. Stern.

Painted Post Lodge, No. 117, F. & A. M., was organized under dispensation from the Grand Lodge, in June, 1808, with John Knox, master. This lodge at one period in its history was known as No. 203, but in 1856 the number was changed to i17, which, it is understood, was the original designation. The membership numbers 196. The past masters have been as follows: John Knox, 1808-14; Joseph Gillett, 1815-17; John Knox, 1818-21; Henry Stearns, 1822; Laurin Mallory, 1823-25; Daniel E. Brown, 1826-31. No further record of the lodge is extant previous to 1846, and it is probable that there was a suspension of work during that period. The masters since 1846 were Samuel Boyer, 1846-48; B. P. Bailey, 1849-53; William A. Spencer, 1854; J. B, Lower, 1855-57; J. H. Lansing, 1858-59; C. May Gamman, 1862-65; John Evers, 1862-65; F. E. Spaulding, 1866-67; C. H. Thomson, 1868-69; T. S. Pritchard, 1876-71: H. A. Balcom, 1874; W. J. Bryan, 1875-76; J. J. Tully, 1877-78; J. S. Earle, 1879-8o; A. D. Robbins, 1881; C. E. Greenfield, 1882; James Hoare, 1883-84; A. J. Etheridge, 1885-86; W. F. Sheehan, 1887-88; A. J. Etheridge, 188g; G. B. Hill, 1890; W. F. Sheenan, 1891; John Comosh, jr., 1892; E. B. Seymour, 1893-94; W. J. Cheney, 1895.

Corning Chapter, No. 190, R. A. M., was chartered February 7,1866, and now numbers about 125 members. The past high priests have been as follows: Charles H. Erwin, 1866; C. S. Cole, 1867-70; Edward Clisdell, 1871; G. W. Fuller, 1872-74; J. H. Hitchcock, 1875-76; T. S. Pritchard, 1877-82; C. E. Greenfield, 1883; A. D. Robbins, 1884; J. S. Earle, 1885; W. A. Wicks, 1886; G. B. Hill, 1887; W. E. Vanderhof, 1888; W. F. Sheehan, 1889; T. S. Pritchard, 1890; James Hoare, 1891; T. S. Pritchard, 1892-93; John Comosh, jr., 1894-95.

Corning Council, No. 53, Royal and Select Masters, was instituted June 5,1871. The Thrice Illustrious Masters have been as follows: H. A. Balcom, 1871-74; C. H. Thomson, 1875-77; A. D. Robbins, 1878-81; T. S. Pritchard, 1882-84; G. B. Hill, 1885-86; W.A. Wicks, 1887; J. S. Billington, 1888; C. V. Hutchins, 1889; John Comosh, jr., 1890; H. C. Austin, 1891; C. E. Greenfield, 1892; Hugh H. Kendall, 1893-95.

The Masonic bodies of Corning also include four Scottish Rite organizations, to which we may also briefly refer in the following order:

Corning Consistory, S. P. R. S., 32°, instituted September 14, 1866. Post Commanders - Charles H. Thomson, 33°, 1866-78; Frank D. Kingsbury, 32°, 1879-81; George W. Fuller, 33°, 1882-84; Truman S. Pritchard, 32°, 1885-87; A. D. Robbins, 32°, 1888-90; Charles E. Greenfield, 32°, 1891-93; Hugh H. Kendall, 33°, 1894-95.

Corning Chapter, Rose Croix, A. A. S. Rite, was instituted September 14, 1866. The past masters have been as follows: Austin Lathrop, 32°, 1866-67; Frank D. Kingsbury, 32°, 1868-79; Charles H. Thomson, 33°, 1880-82; Daniel F. Brown, 32°, 1883-85; George W. Fuller, 33°, 1886-89; Truman S. Pritchard, 32°, 1890-95.

Corning Council, Princes of Jerusalem, A. A. S. Rite, was institnted September 14, 1866. The past M. E. Soy. P. G. M's. have been as follows: George M. Smith, 32°, 1866-68; Robert J. Burnham, 32°, 186971; Frank D. Kingsbury, 32°, 1872-73; Daniel F. Brown, 32°, 1874,82; Charles H. Thomson, 33°, 1883-85; Frank D. Kingsbury, 32°, 1886-89; Hugh H. Kendall, 33°, 1890-94; George B. Hill, 33°, 1895.

Corning Lodge of Perfection, A. A. S. Rite, was instituted September 14, 1866. The past T. P. G. M's. have been as follows: Henry A. Balcom, 32°, 1866-79; Joseph H. Hitchcock, 32°, 1880-82; Ahaz D. Robbins, 32°, 1883-85; Daniel F. Brown, 32°, 1886-90; Joseph C. Moore, 33°, 1891-94; Egbert Shoemaker, 32°, 1895.


Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]


NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates


All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy