Afton is situated on the south-east corner of the county and lies wholly within the original township of Clinton. It was formed from Bainbridge November 18, 1857, and derives its name from Afton Water, a small river in Ayrshire, England, immortalized by the Scottish poet Burns. (A somewhat bitter feud was engendered by the division of the town of Bainbridge and the discussions preceding it, and to give Afton a precedence over its rival, a name with an initial preceding the letter B was selected. From Rev. E. T. Jacobs’ article on The Rise and Present of Afton. ) It is bounded on the north by Bainbridge and Coventry, on the east by Delaware county, on the west and south by Broome county.
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The surface is a rolling upland, separated into two nearly equal parts by the broad, beautiful and fertile valley of the Susquehanna, which crosses the town diagonally from north-east to south-west, and is one of the most productive in the State. The hills rise by long and gradual ascent to the height of 300 to 500 feet above the valleys. They are very productive and generally susceptible of cultivation to their summits. The principal streams other than the Susquehanna are Kelsey Creek and Harper Brook, which flow through the central part and empty into the Susquehanna on the north, and Bennett Brook, which flows through the north-east part and empties into the Susquehanna on the east, near the north line of the town. Pratt’s Pond, situated about a mile north-east of the village of Afton, is a beautiful sheet of water. It is about a mile in circumference, elevated twenty-five feet above the surface of the river, and has no visible inlet nor outlet; yet its waters are pure and fresh, as if constantly changing. It “lies like a mirror, with its frame of sloping banks, grassy and clean on the south and west, while at the north-east there spreads out in beautiful undulations of surface a grove of second-growth chestnut, oak and pine.”
The town is underlaid by the rocks of the Catskill group in which on the farm of Perry and Enos Ellis, about four miles east of Afton, a quarry was opened some five or six years ago from which good building and flagging stone is obtained. Another quarry on the Robert Corbin farm, also in the east part of the town, was opened some ten years ago.
The soil is a sandy loam and alluvion in the valleys, with some clay on the valley ridges; and a gravelly loam upon the hills. The soil in the river bottoms is very fertile, well adapted to corn, tobacco and hops. It is a dairy town, nearly every farmer keeping as many cows as his land will subsist. Dairying is carried on very largely in a private way.
The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad traverses the town in the valley and to the west of the Susquehanna.
The population of the town in 1875 was 2,237; of whom 2,193 were native, 44 foreign, 2,230 white, 7 colored; 1,140 males and 1,097 females. Its area was 28,369 acres; of which 17,582 were improved, 9,160 woodland, and 1,627 otherwise unimproved. The cash value of farms was $1,216,740; of farm buildings other than dwellings, $138,065; of stock, $149,924; of tools and implements, $38,395, amount of gross sales from farms in 1874, $113,321.(Census of 1875)
There are 14 districts (13 Common and 1 Union school,) having school-houses within the town and two that have not. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1878, there were 17 licensed teachers at the same time during 28 weeks or more. The number of children of school age residing in the districts Sept. 30, 1877, was 639. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1878, ten male and twenty female teachers were employed; the number of children residing in the districts who attended school was 518; of whom only 9 were under 5 or over 21 years of age; the average daily attendance, during the year was 298.175; number of volumes in district libraries 943, the value of which was $402; number of school-houses, all frame, 14, which with the sites, including 4 acres and 79 rods, valued at $1,603, were valued at $10,405; the assessed value of taxable property in the districts, $988,420. The number of children between eight and fourteen years of age residing in the districts Sept. 30, 1877, was 133, of whom 122 attended district school fourteen weeks of that year.