History of Windsor, New York


About the year 1712 a tribe of Tuscarora Indians, fleeing from the south, where they had been engaged in a sanguinary warfare with the whites, came into the vicinity now known as the township of Windsor. Here they attempted to make a permanent settlement, and built a village known in their tongue as Ouaquaga. At other points along the valley of the Susquehanna these red men made similar settlements. It is, however, with the particular portion included within the bounds of Windsor that we are now concerned.

The Tuscaroras were not the only denizens of this section, for at a date not distinctly fixed by history, a number of white people, whose very names have long since been forgotten, occupied a portion of the valley near where the Indians had located. We are able definitely to establish the date of the coming of Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs, as having taken place in 1735. A chapel was built through the influence of Mr. Johnson at Ouaquaga, and missionaries sent among the Indians. In 1754 a fort had been constructed in the village, and from this time on Ouaquaga became an important outpost, which distinction extended even down to the time of the American Revolution.

Because of Tory and Indian plots which resulted in massacres of the whites at Cherry Valley and in the valley of the Wyoming, in 1778 Colonel Butler was dispatched with a body of American soldiers to destroy the village and to drive out the people who inhabited it. So effectually did this officer carry out his instructions that when the army of Clinton visited the place in the summer of 1779, little was to be found of this once strong outpost. Writing of Ouaquaga in 1779, Lieutenant Beatty, who accompanied Colonel Butler and his men the year previous, says:

“It was built on each side of the river, with good log houses, with stone chimneys and glass windows. It likewise had a church ançl a burying ground and a great number of apple trees. We saw the ruins of an old fort which formerly was here many years ago. The Indians abandoned this town last fall, when they heard of our detachment coming to destroy it. They had just left it when we came in, but we did not catch any of them, but burnt their town to ashes and the detachment returned.”

A decade later, this part of the valley of the Susquehanna attracted John Doolittle, who settled at the mouth of the creek bearing his name thereafter. To be specific, his coming took place about 1785. Without delay Mr. Doolittle began to clear up a farm. He had not been engaged at this very long before David Hotchkiss, with his four sons, Amraphael, Cyrus, Charles and Gideon, found their way into the neighborhood. Out o this family came many good business and professional men of Broome county, some of whom still are to be found in this vicinity. In 1787, Frederick Goodell located in the township, John Garnsey the year following, Joel Guernsey in 1797, and Samuel Stowe in 1793, all of New England birth and prominently connected with the later history of Windsor. Other early settlers were Sebastian Comstock, Paul Atwell, Captain James Knox, Stephen Weeks, Leverett Russell, Jacob Springsteen, Justus Beecher, Jasper Edwards, Roswell Higley, Ezra Barton, Colonel Leman Mason, John S. Eggleston, Elias Whittemore, Jarius Stewart and Thomas Judd.

As indicating the rapid growth made by the town, it is only necessary to state that in 1805 one thousand souls were numbered within its borders. Three years later this number had increased to 1,979.

March 2nd, 1807, the township of Windsor was created. At that time all its present territory was included within its boundaries, together with the territory of Sanford and Colesville, which were taken away in 1821 to form separate townships. Two other slight changes have been made since then, namely: in 1831 a portion of Conklin was added to Windsor, while in 1851 Windsor relinquished a small part of its territory to the township of Conklin. As at present constituted, Windsor comprises 54,573 acres of land, being the largest township in Broome county. According to the census of 1820, just prior to the removal of the two townships mentioned, Sanford and Colesville, the population of Windsor was 3,354. There remained in Windsor, by reason of this change, in 1825 only 1,929 people. It was inevitable, however, that such a prosperous community should take on added population, and we note the following fluctuations in the census returns: In 1830, 2,175; 1840, 2,368; 1850, 2,645; 1860, 2,672; 1870, 2,958; 1880, 3,286; 1890, 3,035; 1900, 2,967 ; 1910, 2,495; 1920, 2,137.

The forests of Windsor have almost from the beginning of its history been an important feature contributing to its prosperity, the first saw mill, operated by water power, having been built by Nathan Lane prior to 1800. Mr. Lane also has the credit for establishing the first grist mill within the borders of the township. Others who at a very early date carried on the lumbering business were Doolittle and Hotchkiss, in connection with grist mills, Jesse and Uri Doolittle, Julius Edwards, Henry Williams, Rodney and William Guernsey, Richard Randall, John Dusenberry, Grovel Buell, Phineas Doolittle, Isaac Higley, James E. Waite and Joseph H. Brownell. In 1835 fifteen sawmills were cutting their way through myriads of logs in Windsor. It will be of interest to add that at the same time there were 13,297 acres of improved land in the township, with 38,570 not improved, that there were owned by the inhabitants 2,879 head of neat stock, 523 head of horses, 5,040 sheep, 1,675 swine. That the feminine portion of the population was thrifty and industrious we may conclude from the fact that in 1835 there were manufactured in Windsor 3,919 yards of full cloth, 5,351 yards of flannel, and 7,229 yards of linen and cotton goods. Besides the fifteen saw mills spoken of above, there were in the township one fulling mill, one carding mill, one distillery, one rope works and two tanneries, besides two grist mills. At that time the total assessed valuation of real estate in Windsor was $177,734, and that of the personal property was $10,266.

As was the case with all the other townships of Broome county, great interest was taken from the beginning in the schools of Windsor. Because of lack of trustworthy records, however, we are not able to give accurate dates as to the establishment of the first school in the township. We do know that in 1817, when Joel Garnsey, George Wilson and Thomas Blakeslee were school commissioners, there were 694 children of school age in the township. The number increased so that 730 boys and girls were enumerated in the fifteen school districts of Windsor in 1838. For the maintenance of the several schools of the township the State appropriated that year $418.96.

We should give more than passing notice to Windsor Academy, which for many years occupied a most enviable reputation in the educational world of its day. This institution was opened in the fall of 1836, in the old frame schoolhouse which stood just north of the churches on the Green. Nathaniel Sumner, a native of New Hampshire, a very gifted man, was the first principal of the Academy. In May, 1837, the Academy was incorporated by an act of the Legislature and was carried on successfully until 1868, when the consensus of opinion among the people of the village seemed to favor the continuance of the institution as a high school, rather than as an academy. A consultation was held August 11th, 1865, to consider the feasibility of establishing a graded or union school. At this time the trustees of the Academy expressed the opinion that if the people of the district preferred a union free school they would not object to the use of the academy building for that purpose. Definite action, however, was not taken on the matter until March 2d, 1868, when the trustees passed a resolution to sell the building to the union school, and this closed the career of the Academy. The old school is still held in sacred memory by many men and women of distinction all over the country. Under the new educational system the present school maintains a very high standard.

In 1896 an act of the Legislature granted articles of incorporation to the village of Windsor. Thus far in recording the story of this township we have referred chiefly to Ouaquaga as being the center of life for Windsor. At this point Daniel Stow started a tavern in 1815. The hamlet also boasted of a tannery operated by Harvey Perkins, a store conducted by John Dusenberry, a grist mill, two saw mills, and a few small stores. As will be seen, Ouaquaga was then an important trading center.

In 1830 the tide of fortune turned for Ouaquaga. At that time an influential man named Elias Whitmore opened up a tract on the site of Windsor, and he and George Dusenberry opened stores there. The new village began to gain ground upon Ouaquaga, and in the short space of two years Windsor, as the hamlet was called, took precedence over Ouaquaga, which never regained its lost prestige. This advantage thus gained by Windsor it has retained to the present time, and the visitor finds the village at the present time a beautiful and well ordered community. A number of thriving industries have occupied the thought and attention of the people of the village, among which may be mentioned the making of whips, planing of lumber, the making of rakes and the building of bridges and well curbs, wagons and carriages. Some of these industries have passed away by reason of changes wrought by time and modern centralization. We may mention one industry which still survives the mutations of the present day. For a great many years the making of whips has held a prominent place in the life of Windsor. Adin W. Coburn, a shoemaker, made the first whips in Windsor. Encouraged by the ready sale his whips found, he engaged a practical whip maker, Rufus Morey, to come on from Westfield, Massachusetts, and unite with him in the building of a little shop in Windsor. Prosperity attended their efforts and both men became wealthy. The business also proved to be a great help in developing the village. Mr. Coburn sold out to I. G. Owen in 1872, but opened a new factory the succeeding year under the U. S. Whip Company, of Westfield, Massachusetts, Mr. Goodenough remaining to the present time one of the directors of the concern.

It is interesting to note that whereas there are today only five whip factories in the United States, two of them are in Windsor. The Coburn Whip factory, a wooden building, was burned in 1907, piior to its sale to Mr. Owen. The building which Mr. Coburn put up to replace the one destroyed by fire was also burned while occupied by Mr. Owen. The factory was immediately rebuilt, and the brick structure erected at that time is now occupied by the Empire Whip Company. The officers of this concern are William Dennison, president; S. P. Quick, vice-president; J. N. Wheeler, secretary and treasurer; A. M. Keyes, manager. The directors now are William Dennison, Albert Manwarren, S. P. Quick, Annie L. Edwards, L. P. Bennett, J. N. Wheeler and A. M. Keyes. The capital stock of the firm is $25,000, and fifteen hands are steadily employed.

Another concern of the same kind known as the Windsor Whip Company is doing a good business here, employing about half a dozen hands. This is a private enterprise owned and operated by J. C. Elliott. S. P. Quick still does a saw mill business, although lumbering is now at low ebb in the township. I. W. Hawkins has a planing mill here, and four garages and one service station meet the needs of those who own automobiles in Windsor. The commercial interests of Windsor are well cared for by the following tradesmen: H. W. Manwarren, hardware; L. H. English, druggist; Mrs. Addie George, notions; W. R. Chase, furniture and undertaker; L. P. Bennett, grocer; M. A. Tompkins, shoes; E. C. Sleeper, general store; The MeKinney Company Community Store; John R. Stevens, grocer; M. A. Tompkins and L. P. Bennet, East Side general store.

The Windsor National Bank, one of the most substantial institutions of the kind in this part of the country, meets the needs of the people of Windsor and vicinity successfully. rrhe officers of this institution are at present: Albert Manwarren, president; L. H. English, W. C. Armstrong, vice-presidents; Harvey Sims, cashier; Henry R. Woodruff, bookkeeper. The directors are Albert Manwarren, Henry R. Woodruff, L. H. English, W. C. Armstrong, S. P. Quick, Frank L. Goodenough, N. A. Hulbert, George Livingston and Harvey Sims. This bank was organized June 5th, 1909.

The Town Hall occupies a central position in the village and is a fine building, used for housing part of the fire apparatus, providing a place for holding elections and a commodious play house for moving pictures and other entertainments. The village has two well supported fire companies, the S. P. Quick Hose Company and Hose Company No. 2.

The five churches of Windsor include the Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Free Methodist Episcopal, and Christian Alliance. Two of these churches stand on the Village Green, on the terrace of which Mr. F. L. Goodenough erected in 1900 in white cement letters six feet in height the word “Windsor.” This word has withstood all changes wrought by the elements to the present time. The two physicians of the village and the outlying country are: W. C. Armstrong, M. D., and A. J. Stilson, M. D. Dr. G. E. Smith conducts a dental office in the village.

The first paper published in Windsor was the “Windsor Times,” which was established in 1873 by William Haley. He was soon succeeded by A. E. Benedict, who continued the publication for about a year. In 1875 the “Windsor Advance” was established by S. C. Clizbe. After a somewhat checkered career the paper was moved to Afton, where it was known as “The Sentinel.” The “Windsor Standard” was founded by Charles E. Babcock, a successful newspaper man, in May, 1878, and did a good business from the beginning. He was followed by W. D. Osgood. At the present time Mr. Brainerd W. Russell is the publisher of “The Standard,” and is making the paper one of the most successful country journals of Broome county. Besides issuing the paper, Mr. Russell does a job business.

The two hotels are the Windsor Inn and the Eagle Hotel. The last-named house has a history dating back into very early times, having been the stopping place for the stage which ran from Binghamton to Windsor and on to points to the eastward. It was for many years the rallying point for local politicians, and many conferences were held in its rooms, often behind closed doors, between the leading political leaders of Windsor and men from other parts of Broome county who were active in shaping matters in this field. Elections were for a long time held in the Eagle Hotel, the inspectors sitting inside, and voters handing their ballots in through a window. This pioneer hotel has recently been entirely renovated and refurnished; and is under the management of “Pop” Turner, as he is familiarly known.

Reference was made in the preceding paragraph to the political events with which the old Eagle Hotel has been connected. It is fittmg to add that Windsor has been represented in the State Legislature by Joseph H. Brownell, Dr. Isaac C. Edwards and S. Peter Quick. A number of her other sons have occupied positions of honor and trust in the county, notably John A. Rider, who was for many years county treasurer of Broome county. The present incumbents of the various village offices are as follows: President, William Waller; trustees, Albert J. Buell and F. L. Goodenough; water commissioners, W. R. Chase, H. C. Leaman, and F. M. Philley.

Among those now living in Windsor who trace their ancestry to pioneers are Mr. F. L. Goodenough, the Hotchkiss family, the Manwarrens, and many whose names must be omitted for lack of space. One of the most distinguished daughters of Windsor was Alice Freeman Palmer, who will always hold a sacred place in the memory of all who knew her in Windsor, as well as by the many others scattered all over the world who were honored by having come under her influence. Windsor was her birthplace, and she lived here for a number of years. Professor Arthur Knox, well known as an educator in the Binghamton and other schools of the county, and Henry Knox, also were prominently connected with early settlers of this township.

An event of comparatively recent date was the dedication of a tablet to the memory of Mrs. Rebecca Ashley a few miles from the village of Windsor, on the 17th of June, 1909. Mrs. Ashley was the daughter of Martin and Sarah Kellogg, of Deerfield, Massachusetts, having been born December 22d, 1695. When eight years old, Rebecca was captured at the time of the sacking of Deerfield by the Indians and taken to Canada, where she lived until she was thirty-three years old, when she was rescued by her brother Joseph and taken back to Massachusetts. After serving for some time as interpreter in an Indian mission school at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, she went in 1753 with her husband, Benjamin Ashley, to be interpreter for Rev. Gideon Hawley, who was sent to serve as a missionary to the Ouaquagas, who at that time lived on the east side of the Susquehanna river, at the base of Ouaquaga mountain, some two miles north of the village of Windsor. Here she lived and served for four years, until her death in 1757, being dearly beloved by the Indians, who gave her the name “Wausaunia.” Mrs. Ashley was buried about four miles from Windsor.

June 17th, 1909, Tuscarora Chapter, D. A. R., went twenty-five strong from Binghamton to participate in the Bunker Hill Day observance at Windsor. The services of the morning were largely attended, being held in the town hail, which was decorated for the occasion. The programme included music by the Windsor band, invocation by Rev. M. Hoskins, an original poem by Mrs. Sweet, who also related many interesting particulars regarding the life of Mrs. Ashley, and a historical article written and read by Mrs. Madeleine White Ashley, formerly of Holyoke College, and at the time of this event wife of Professor Andrews, principal of the Windsor High School, followed by an address by William F. Seward, now librarian at the Public Library, Binghamton, New York, on the subject “Bunker Hill.” The climax of the day came when after a dinner repast served by Mrs. Morley, herself a Daughter of the American Revolution, the chapter drove to the farm of James Chase four miles out from the village and took part in the dedication of a monument marking the grave of Mrs. Ashley. This monument is in the form of a boulder cut from a rock found in the vicinity of the Indian fort which once stood near by. It now bears upon its side a brass plate inscribed to “Wausaunia,” in these words:

In Memory of
Rebecca Kellogg Ashley.
Born Dec. 22d, 1695
In Suffield, Mass.
Died Aug. 1757 in Windsor, N. Y.
Interpreter for the Indians
at the “Old Fort,”
A Mission Station
in Charge of
Rev. Gideon Hawley in 1748.

Erected by
June 17th, 1909.

Mrs. Pinckney A. English, who was living at the time of the dedication, states that she remembered the old Mission Station, having as a girl played with Huldah Moore, later Mrs. Luke Doolittle, of Binghamton, New York, around the old cemetery, where she saw the original head stone at the grave of Mrs. Ashley so many times that she become quite familiar with the inscription upon it. She said the stone was about two feet high and about eighteen inches wide, a common gray sandstone, chiseled on the outside with the following inscription: “Wausaunia, Mrs. Rebecca Kellogg Ashley, born Dec. 22d, 1695, who died 1757.” As she remembered the grave, there was a small stone at the foot, without inscription.

The Windsor of today is known as one of the best farming communities of this part of the State, the dairying interests being largely represented in all parts of its territory. One of the most up-to-date farmers of the younger class is Mr. A. B. Griffin, who has recently served as president of the Broome County Dairymen’s League. Mr. Frank L. Goodenough also has a number of dairy farms in the vicinity of Windsor village.

Other villages and hamlets of the township of Windsor are: West Windsor, six miles from Windsor, with a Baptist church and a district school; East Windsor, a station on the D. & H., which also serves the needs of Windsor itself, where are to be found a store or two and a postoffice; Damascus, Lester, Edson, Wake, Occanum, Cascade Valley and State Line.

The assessed valuation of Windsor township is now as follows: Real estate, $1,481,790; personal property, $230,000; franchises, $132.48. The officers of the township are: Wells Harris, supervisor; B. W. Russell, town clerk; A. B. Hanson, Charles S. Wright, J. R. Chafey, assessors; E. I. Simpkins, superintendent of highways; Louis S. Stannard, Lee L. Thurber, justices of the peace; Lyle B. Edwards, superintendent of the poor; George Bond, Chester Mallery, David Batsholts, Floyd Bell, constables.

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