History of Chemung County 1892 - Towner
Chemung County NY
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Our County and its People
A History of the Valley and County of Chemung
by Ausburn Towner, 1892






The Town of Catlin - Its Situation - Pioneers of the Town - A Locality the latest settled in the County --Those coming early not staying very Long - Others who remained --The first Log I-louse and the first School-House ---The first road laid out, the first Birth, Death, and Wedding - Officers of the Town - Peculiar resolutions passed at Town Meetings - Roads and Railroads - Schools and Churches - Cemeteries - Principal Settlements - Postoffices and Postmasters -Tile chief Industries of the Town.

MANY of the hills and valleys of Central and Southern New York were resonant with the sound of the axe, the cabins of the pioneers dotted the landscape, and hamlets sent forth the hum of industrial pursuits while the territory embraced within the township of Catlin was yet an unbroken forest. It lies in the northwestern part of the county and consists of hilly uplands diversified by narrow deep-cut valleys.  An active and restless industry has denuded the hills and shorn them of their once crowning glory, the pine, hemlock, maple, and beech. The soil is best adapted to grazing, although abundant crops of some of the grains are produced. The elevation of some of the hills, being in height from 300 to 500 feet above the valleys, are not especially


adapted to the growth of wheat and corn. The principal streams are Sing Sing Creek and Post Creek, which discharge their waters into the Chemung River. Some of the smaller streams reach Seneca Lake through Catherine Creek.

Catlin was taken from the town of Catherine, and organized April 16, 1823, about seven years after the initial settlement. The first town meeting was held at the house of Uzal Dickerson, May 13, 1823. Horace Tupper was elected supervisor; George Lewis, town clerk.

Early settlers of the town were John Martin, Aaron Davenport, Benjamin Cure, Charles King, Erastus Beard, Jacob King, Horace Tupper, Edward Beebe, Abel N. Sweet, Andrew Phineas, William Rowley, Darius Wood, Dennison Herrick, Jacob Bucher, James T. Smith, Benjamin Lewis, William Haynes, Uzal Dickerson, Peter Ostrander, John P. Cornell, Orange Hubbell, Ebenezer Close, Elder Thomas Sheardown, William Locey, Alanson Owen, Jeduthan King, David Johnson, Mathias Backer, Jonathan Woodruff, Benjamin Cure, jr., James Wheeler, Stephen 13. Munn, John 1. Kimball, Washington Savory, Abram Kimball, Willis Savory, Elijah Shoemaker, Alanson G. Evarts, Lucius Tracy, Claudius Townshend, William Masters, De Witt C. Talmage, William Teeter, Johnson Carter, Samuel Sterling, Abram Primmer, Lewis Thompson, Timothy Wheat, Seth Rice,

Capt. John Martin, a soldier in the War of 1812, settled in the southwest part of the town about 1816. After making improvements for a few years he sold his property to Charles King. Aaron Davenport and Benjamin Cure came a year or two later and settled near Mai-tin. They also removed from the town some years later. Horace Tupper, Erastus Beard, Edward Beebe, and Darius Wood settled in 1820. Horace Tupper settled upon the farm long owned by William J. Carter. Andrew Phineas and William Rowley settled in the valley of Post Creek in the same year. Abel N. Sweet and Dennison Herrick from Connecticut came in 1821. Sweet settled upon the farm occupied by his son, the late Dennis Sweet. James 1. Smith settled upon the farm afterward owned by his sons Philip and Sanford in 1823. Jacob Bucher located in the valley of Post Creek in 1824. He had a large family. Samuel one of his sons, afterward owned the farm where Jacob Bucher settled. Benjamin Lewis, Uzal Dickerson, and John P. Cornell settled


about this time. William Haynes settled farther up the creek than Jacob Bucher and afterward sold to Thomas Kniffin. Peter Ostrander settled on Reeser's Hill not far from 1825, but soon located at Post Creek. Orange Hubbell built the first house north of James 1. Smith, near Catlin Center, on the middle road. About 1827 or 1828 William Locey, Ebenezer Close, the Rev. Thomas Sheardown, Alanson Owen, Jeduthan King, Miles Gregg, and David Clemens located on the middle road. In 1828 David Johnson settled in Johnson Hollow, where he built a frame house. In 1832 Mathias Backer purchased where Jonathan Woodruff had settled in the previous year.

The early settlers of Catlin were not daunted by hardships, but labored bravely to establish homes and secure fortunes in a wilderness country. The original dwellings were built of logs, but the activities of progressive industry soon gave them homes of modern architecture. John Martin built the first log house in 1816. A log schoolhouse was built in 1820 on Martin's Hill. Eunice Bartram was the first teacher. The first road was laid out in 1823 and extended from Martin's Hill to Post Creek. Horace Tupper built a furnace on his farm about 1825 and James 1. Smith furnished the charcoal for the fuel. De Witt Talmage built an ashery in 1826. Stephen 13. Munn erected the frame for a gristmill at Post Creek about the same time, but it was never completed. Jacob Bucher built the first tavern on Post Creek and occupied it for several years. John Ostrander, who was probably the first carpenter in the town, built the first grist-mill in 1827 ; it was afterward owned by William G. Northrup. A saw-mill was also erected on the creek above the gristmill in the same year by James Wheeler. John Ostrander built a blacksmith shop for Jacob Harmon, first blacksmith at Post Creek, in 1837. The first marriage in town was that of Benjamin Cure, jr., and Miss Betsey Doty in 1826. The first recorded death was that of Horace Tupper in 1827.

The town of Dix was formed from the north part of Catlin, April 17, 1835. The name of the town was from judge Phineas Catlin, who was appointed one of the commissioners in 1797 to lay out a road from Catskill Landing on the Hudson River to Catherine's town near Seneca Lake. He was the first supervisor of the town of Catherine from which Catlin was formed.


The supervisors of Catlin up to the time of the formation of the county were :

1823-26, Horace Tupper; 1827-31, Claudius Townsend; 1832, Peter Mills; 1833,Claudius Townsend ; 1834, Lucius Tracy; 18:35, Alanson G. Evarts ; 1836, Timothy Wheat.

The town clerks from the formation of the town to the present time have been :

1823, George Lewis; 1824-25, John P. Cornell; 1826, John Woolsey ; 1837, Daniel Lane ; 1838-41, Abraham Primmer 1842--43, Henry Backer 1844-45, John Small 1846, Caleb S. Upson; 1847-48, Sidney L. Ringer; 1849-50, Nelson Colgrove; 1851, Robert H. Thayer; 1852, John Cooper- 1853-55, Milo P. King; 1856-57, Lewis Hornbeck ; 1858, Amos F. Curry; 1859, Luther Palmer; 1860-61, Samuel Sherman 1862-64, Horace Burns; 1865, Joseph J. Cooper; 1866, Nelson Colgrove 1867, Nathaniel Owen, 1868, Calvin J. Barbour; 1869, Nathaniel Owen ; 1870, C L. Tenbrook ; 1871-75, James H. Bennitt; 1876-79, J. J. Cooper; 1880-82, E. H. Cummings; 1883, J. J. Cooper; 1884, J. D. Kimball ; 1885, George Smith; 1886, A. D. Wright-, 1887-88, John Spencer; 1889, A. D. Wright; 1890-91, George Smith.

The justices of the peace during the same period were

Lucius Tracey, Alanson G. Evarts, Jacob King, Lucius Tracey, John P. Cornell, Benona Peck, John D. Myers, Daniel Tracey, Ira Cole, Abraham Hyatt, Ezra Southworth, John D. Myers, Seth Rice, Samuel M. Hastings, Ira Cole, 11. King, A. N. Sweet, Samuel M. Hastings, John Woolsey, Abraham Primmer, Daniel Lane, Ira Cole, John Woolsey, Johnson Carter, Asa D. Smith, Ira Cole, Abram Hyatt, Samuel M. Hastings, A. N. Sweet, Henry Stewart, Henry Hall, John N. Beers, N. Colgrove, Daniel Lane, Alanson Owen, Cornelius L. Tenbrook, Nelson Colgrove, Henry 11. Peck, James M. Woodworth, Watson Cole, Joseph Cartwright, Philip M. Wight, Walker V. Personius, Richard House, Joseph 11. Price, John 11. Bedford, Asa D. Smith, Philip M. Wight, Amos F. Curry, John F. Mosher, William Edminster, Sidney A. Palmer, William 11. Shaw, Philip At, Wight, James Ross, Mai-tin Bailey, Levi B. Edminster, William Dilmore, Ebenezer Nye, John Chandler, Charles R. King, Joseph H. Price, Philip M. Wight, George Westlake, Andrew Saylor, Cornelius L. Tenbrook, William J. Carter, Martin Bailey, Isaac L. Kniffin, Cornelius L. Tenbrook, Jacob Gould, Philander A. Woolsey, Alexander D. Wright, EInathan Personius, William McPayne, Joseph H. Price, James Smith, EInathan Personius, Isaac L. Kniffin , Morris Edminster, Nathaniel Owen, Elnathan Personius, Isaac L. Kniffin (1891).

The following are among the resolutions passed at town meetings several years after the organization of the township, and will call to mind the scenes and conditions of life as remembered by some of the old residents :

1836.--- Voted to pay $20 for each wolf killed in town."

" Voted that fence shall be 4 ft 6 inches high, and six inches between the rails."

1837.-" It was ordered by the electors present that cattle be free commoners."

1838.- Voted to pay fifty cents for each fox killed in town."


The " act " relative to cattle, passed in 1837, was repealed at the annual town meeting in 1 850

Much attention has been paid to the roads of the town and they are usually good during the summer and fall ; but nature sometimes interposes her restrictions; excessive rains make frequent repairs necessary, and heavy snows blockade some of them for several weeks during the winter. The office of highway commissioner is one of responsibility and is in Catlin, perhaps, the most important office in the town. Patrick Murphy was elected to that position in 1891. A portion of the Northern Central Railway, constructed in 1849 by the Elmira and Jefferson Railroad Company, extends near the east line of the town. The Syracuse, Geneva, and Corning Railroad, completed in 1877, extends through the western part of the town in the valley of Post Creek.

The common schools of Catlin have been largely instrumental in the development and strength of the county. The district boundaries have been changed from time to time as convenience required ; new and better school-houses have taken the places of the primitive structures of earlier times. The first school building was occupied in 1820. There are eleven schoolhouses in the town and parts of three districts having their houses in Schuyler County. In 1840 the amount of State funds apportioned to Catlin for school purposes was $196 50 and in 1891 $1,405.99. The aggregate number of days of attendance during the last preceding year was 26,768.

A branch of the Baptist Church of Big Flats held religious services in this town in 1836 and after, and were supplied by ministers from other places. There have also been several Methodist classes in the town. A few families known as Seventh-Day Baptists have resided here for several years. They have held few if any religious meetings, but have walked circumspectly according to the dictates of conscience and their religious belief. A flourishing union Sabbath school has been conducted for several years in the schoolhouse at Catlin Center.

The First Methodist Church of Catlin is the only church edifice in the town. The cornerstone was laid July 16, 1881, and the church dedicated March 8, 1882. Ministers are supplied from the church at Big Flats.

The principal cemetery of the town is at Post Creek on land given


by Stephen B. Munn for burial and school purposes. The first one was near Smith's Corners, which was the place of interment of some of the early settlers, but from the fact of the graves being unmarked it is supposed that the first burials were in the cemetery on Martin's Hill. There is also one in Johnson Hollow, which has received considerable care and attention from the people of that locality. Pine Valley Cemetery is in the eastern part of the town.

Post Creek. -The principal settlement is Post Creek in the western part of the town, on the line of the Syracuse, Geneva, and Corning Railway. It has a railroad station, postoffice, school, hotel, grist-mill, blacksmith shop, and grocery. The postmasters here not otherwise and heretofore named with the dates of their appointments are as follows

Jacob Bucher, July 19, 1854; George Fero, June 23, 1863.

Tompkins Corners, near the south line of the town, has a postoffice, church, schoolhouse, grocery, blacksmith shop, and general repair shop. The postoffice was first established under the name of Tompkins Corners, and Joseph H. Price, appointed April 6, 1870, was the first postmaster. The name was changed to Catlin and Mr. Price was reappointed as postmaster on January 25, 1872. He was succeeded by Horace B. Owen, December 30, 1885 ; William Upson, May 2, 1889; Nathaniel Owen, August 6, 1889.

Catlin Center was named as a postoffice with the appointment of Joseph Cooper as postmaster on June 22, 1854. He was succeeded by Nelson Colgrove, December 22, 1855, who held the office until April 13, 186o, when the office was discontinued.

Fero. -Another postoffice was established at Fero, near the center of the town, on July 15, 1889, by the appointment as postmaster of James H. Bennitt.

Kendall Station, near the northwestern Dart of the town, was established as a post-town July 14, 1879, by the appointment of Merrick Kendall as postmaster. It was discontinued March 29, 1882 ; re-established May 1, 1882, with Mr. Kendall reappointed as postmaster. He was succeeded on May 13, 1887, by John D. Chambers and the name of the office was changed to Chambers on December 18, 18go.

Persons residing in the eastern part of the town receive their mail at Pine Valley and Millport in the town of Veteran.


In the early history of the town and the existence of the Chemung Canal lumbering was a leading pursuit. Several saw-mills were located in different parts of the town, on Post Creek, Sing Sing Creek, and a steam mill at Catlin Center. " Forests fell before their force " and the little remaining timber is sawed by portable mills. The business of today is agricultural, and the staples are hay, buckwheat, oats, and dairy products. Two creameries, one at Sing Sing in Big Flats and the other at Pine Valley in the town of Veteran, receive considerable of their patronage from the farmers of Catlin. The grist-mill on Post Creek, owned and operated by Johnson Bucher, does custom work, especially for those residing in the western part of the town.

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