The first merchants in Afton were probably Sayres Burgess and Isaac Miner, who did business during the war of 1812 and a few years afterwards in a frame building which stood on the site of the store now occupied by Harris Briggs. Burgess lived and died in the town. His death occurred January 7, 1832, aged 35. Miner, in company with David Cooper built on Kelsey Creek, about 1809, the first saw-mill in the town. There has been a mill there ever since. The old mud-sills are still in use. The mill is about one-fourth mile above the village and some seventy rods above the mouth of the creek. The water is conducted from the creek to the mill by means of a race about forty rods long. Albert Neely did business some three or four years and left the town at an early day. Hiram Long, a native and resident of the town till his death, February 9, 1844, at the age of 45, did business some six or seven years from about 1825. He afterwards, about forty years ago, built the Musson House, which was kept by his brother Lewis some ten years. Heman B. Smith, who was born September 11, 1803, and died August 28, 1858, came from Delaware county and opened a store about 1828 or ‘9, and kept it some eight or ten years, when he failed. He was succeeded by David Loveland, who continued about two years, and died here August 20, 1842, aged 63. Murrin Jackson came from Butternuts, Otsego county, soon after Loveland failed, and was the principal merchant here for a good many years. He sold to J. B. Chaffee about the opening of the war of the Rebellion and removed to Binghamton, where he died. Chaffee did business some six or seven years and failed, when he removed to Binghamton where he now resides.
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Whittington Sayre and ??? Goodsell commenced business on the east side of the river about 1815 or 1816 and continued some two years. Goodsell came from Cooperstown and returned there. Sayre removed to Elmira and engaged in the lumber business. Their store stood a little above where Stanton Donaghe now lives. They are the only merchants who have done business on the east side of the river.
Following is an account of the present merchants and those who have been associated with them:–
Daniel A. Carpenter, general merchant, commenced business here in 1854, in company with his brother-in-law, Daniel Carpenter, to whom he sold his interest in 1857. In 1859, he and Eli M. Shay bought out Daniel Carpenter, to whom they sold again at the expiration of five years. The latter continued about three years, a part of the time in company with his son-in-law, James Collins, with whom two or three years later he removed to Bath and afterwards to Addison, where they now reside. Daniel A. Carpenter recommenced business in the fall of 1869, and has since continued it. He is a native of Afton, where he was born August 13, 1820. He is a son of Benjamin S. Carpenter, an early settler and prominent man in Bainbridge. He was elected Sheriff in 1864, and served one term.
Eli M. Shay subsequently engaged in the sale of groceries and clothing, which business he still continues, having been associated from 1876 to February 1878, with Norval W. Fletcher. Mr. Shay came from Colesville, in Broome county.
George B. Hickox, hardware dealer, a native of Gilbertsville, Otsego county, came in from Sherburne and commenced business in the spring of 1865. After one year he was associated about two years with Robert Paddock, who sold his interest to B. Frank Williams. The latter remained a like period and sold to Charles Fisher, who sold his interest to Mr. Hickox, April 1, 1879.
Harris Briggs, grocer, came in from Coventry, where he had carried on mercantile business six years, and commenced business here April 1, 1866. He was associated as partner with H. S. Chamberlin three years, and with C. L. Seeley about one and one-half years.
R. N. Gallup, came from Walton, Delaware county, in the spring of 1866, and commenced the hardware business. In March, 1877, he sold to his son, Russell Gallup, who still carries on the business, having been associated the first six months with Robert Beach, the second six months with Porter G. Northrup, and the succeeding two years with Robert Yale.
Charles Hill, grocer, came from Meredith, Delaware county, and commenced business in December, 1868.
Albert C. Hyde, druggist, who is a native of Afton, commenced business in the early part of 1869, in company with Joseph Angell, under the name of Angell & Hyde, and bought his partner’s interest at the expiration of five years.
Martin D. Howard, furniture dealer and undertaker, commenced business December 29, 1869. He came from Hartford, Conn., where he was engaged in the manufacture of locks.
Enos M. Johnston & Sons. In the spring of 1875, Enos M. Johnston, Hiram Cornell and H. B. Johnston, commenced a general merchandise business, under the name of Johnston, Cornell & Co. In the spring of 1878, E. M. Johnston bought Cornell’s interest and admitted to partnership another son. E. C. Johnston, and the business has since been conducted under the name of Enos M. Johnston & Sons. Joseph A. Decker, grocer, commenced business in August, 1877. He is a native of the town.
Henry G. Carr, druggist, commenced business in October, 1877. He is a native of the town. He bought out T. L. Willey, who had done business some three years.
H. J. Fox, general merchant, commenced business April 1, 1878. He came from Binghamton, where he had done business nearly four years.
Mrs. A. L. Welch, milliner and fancy goods dealer, came from Worcester, Otsego county, and commenced business in March, 1879.