Chemung County NY
History of Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga 1879
Chemung County Section - Chapter 43
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1879 History - Table of Contents

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Societies, Etc.

The Agricultural Society--The New York State Fair Grounds--Chemung County Mutual Insurance Company--Chemung Valley Historical Society


AN organization by the name of our caption was organized in 1853. Its officers for 1853-54 were Charles Hulett, President, and A. I. Wynkoop, Secretary. The society held a successful fair Oct. 10 and 11, 1854, and for some years afterwards, but finally fell into a low state, and the society lapsed for some two or three years.*

It was reorganized Feb. 22, 1860. The first meeting was held Feb. 1, at which a committee was appointed on constitution and by-laws, consisting of Judge Hiram Gray, A. I. Wynkoop, Harvey Luce, B. S. Carpenter, and S. T. Arnot, who reported a constitution drawn according to the act of April 13, 1855, respecting the incorporation of agricultural societies. The constitution was adopted, and articles of association were filed in the county clerk’s office, appointing Harvey Luce, Alonzo I. Wynkoop, Bezabel S. Carpenter, Samuel C. Smith, Orson Fitch, and John S. Hoffman trustees for the first year. The same were signed by Hiram Gray, Gabriel Liverich, Charles Evans, John Benedict, Lafayette Smith, James Whitney, R. R. R. Dumars, Darius G. Davis, Eli Wheeler, and John W. Miller.

The first officers elected were A. I. Wynkoop, of Chemung, President; J. T. Rathbun, of Elmira; J. O. Scudder, of Southport; Youngs Little, of Baldwin; S. Minier, of Big Flats; William Worden, of Veteran; J. G. Widrig, of Horseheads; Hiram Tuttle, of Erin; Jacob Swartwood, of Van Etten; William Savary, of Catlin, Vice-Presidents; B. S. Carpenter, of Elmira, Secretary; S. T. Arnot, of Elmira, Treasurer; Trustees, Harvey Luce, S. C. Smith, one year; J. Liversay, A. Frost, two years; O. Fitch, J. S. Hoffman, three years.

A lapse in the records and in the doings of the society occurs until 1867, when a good fair was held on Oct. 8 and 9. The receipts from all sources were $1300, and the expenditures $1605.63. In 1868 another fair was held, the receipts being $1513, and the disbursements $2610.

In 1870, ‘73, ‘74 fairs were held, but the secretary’s books do not show the treasurer’s report.

The presidents of the society have been as follows: 1860-68, A. I. Wynkoop; 1869-70, A. R. Frost; 1871, George W. Hoffman; 1872-73, A. S. Diven; 1874-75, James McCann; 1876, De Witt C. Curtis; 1877-78, H. C. Hoffman.

D. W. C. Curtis was the secretary for many years.


*The loss of records precludes further details.


extending from Hornellsville to Binghamton in its scope and jurisdiction, held its first fair in Elmira, June 28, 1854. It was a very creditable exhibition of flowers and fruits, and other fairs were held in the same village subsequently. In 1855 the display of flowers was a notable one.


An act of the Legislature of 1871 enabled the county of Chemung to purchase grounds for holding the fairs of the State and County Agricultural Societies, and to improve the same, and to raise for that purpose by taxation a sum not exceeding $50,000, and to convey the lands and improvements to the State Agricultural Society, with such reservations as the Board of Supervisors should deem proper. These provisions were to be inoperative until the same were approved by the people at an election to be held for that purpose. An election was ordered by the supervisors on May 15, 1872, the vote for such election being passed at a special meeting held April 29, 1872. The election was held accordingly, and resulted in 3034 votes for the proposed action, and 1340 votes against it, and the Board decided the proposition carried. On June 11, at a special meeting held that day, the Board appointed the chairman, Edmund Miller, M. V. B. Bachman, C. H. Rowland, N. Owen, and George Maby a committee to receive proposals for the sale of land for fair purposes, and to confer with the New York State Agricultural Society as to the location of the same, and the terms on which the State Society would accept the same, and the terms on which the State Society would accept the same. On motion, the names of the members of the committee, except that of the chairman, were stricken out of the appointment, and thereupon the chairman appointed Jud Smith, M. V. B. Bachman, C. H. Rowland, and C. W. Gardner his colleagues on the committee. Subsequently the Board visited several sites offered for fair grounds. The majority of the committee reported the selection of 59 acres, at $400 per acre for a portion, and $412.50 for a portion, and submitted resolutions that the Board cause the chairman and clerk to sign the agreement with the State Society for the transfer of the lands to the society, and to issue bonds to the amount of $50,000, dated July 1, 1872, bearing seven per cent. interest, payable in ten annual payments, and apply the proceeds to the purchase of land, and transfer the same and the balance of the money to the State Society. The conveyance of the land to be made conditional, the land to forfeit to the county in case the society ceased to hold fairs in some part of the State, except when prevented by war, insurrection, or pestilence, and in case of the dissolution of the society the land also to revert to the county. The bonds were to be sold at par. The report was signed by Bachman, Rowland, and Gardiner. Miller and Smith reported against the purchase of the land and signing the agreement, charging the committee had no power to go as far as they had, and that the land in Southport was a favorable location. Mr. Smith offered a resolution to reverse the action of the committee, but it was not carried, and the original resolutions of the majority of the committee were concurred in, and their action affirmed by a vote of twelve for to six against.

Mr. Miller, as chairman, declared he would not sign the bonds for the purchase of the lands unless he was compelled so to do by mandamus, whereupon Mr. Miller was unseated as chairman by a vote of thirteen to five, and Thomas Cuddeback, of Big Flats, was elected chairman pro tem.

Mr. Miller and others applied for an injunction to stay the issuance of the bonds, but without effect, and bonds to the amount of $50,000 were issued. The report of the treasurer of that society stated that he had received the bonds of the county to the amount of $50,000; had paid $24,479.25 for the purchases of the premises near Elmira, had expended $29,520.75 in buildings and improvements, and in addition had expended $13,897.03 for improvements from the society’s treasury.

The lands adjoin those of the Elmira Driving Park Association on the north, and are very eligibly located. The State Society has held its fairs hereon regularly in course since 1872, and its next one will be held here the present autumn.

The investment of the county, as shown elsewhere, is, original amount of bonds, $50,000; interest paid to Feb. 1, 1878, $15,750; interest yet to be paid, $3500; total, $69,250. $30,000 have been paid on the bonds and $20,000 are yet outstanding; payable $5000 per annum.


was incorporated April 2, 1838, by an act of the legislature, John Arnot, Robert Covell, William Maxwell, Stephen Tuttle, William Jenkins, Simeon Benjamin, Samuel Partridge, Theodore North, and William Foster being the incorporators. It is now a thing of the past, and has been for many years.


was organized June 1, 1876, by the adoption of a constitution and the election of officers. The object of the society, as declared by the constitution, is to "discover, procure, and preserve whatever may relate to the past and present history of the Chemung Valley, and to collect and preserve all objects of prehistoric and historic value or interest."

The officers first elected, and who still hold the positions, were Judge Hiram Gray, President’ Rev. Dr. N. W. Cowles and Judge Ariel S. Thurston, Vice-Presidents; Major R. M. McDowell, Recording Secretary; Dr. W. H. Gregg, Corresponding Secretary; Thomas H. Perry, treasurer; Dr. I. F. Hart, Curator and Librarian; Executive Committee, Col. H. M. Smith, Chairman, Rev. D. R. Ford, and Dr. W. H. Gregg; Finance Committee, Dr. I. F. Hart, E. A. Scott, J. D. Baldwin.

On June 8, 1876, the last meeting--so far as the records of the society show--was held.


was organized in 1847-48, and in 1849 held an annual meeting, at which Simeon L. Rood was chosen president. The organization was kept up for several years, and in 1854 the temperance people met in convention, and put a ticket into the field for the Assembly and county offices. A State ticket was also in the field on the question of prohibition, which received ninety-eight votes.