The surface of the country and the disclosures of the plow revealed to the early settlers of this town evidences of its occupancy prior to their advent, and partially indicated the character of its occupants. On the farm originally settled by Timothy Hatch, on the west side of the river, about a mile and a half north-west of the village of Sherburne, were the remains of caches, where corn had been buried; while in the field adjoining it on the north numerous arrow heads, stone chisels, hatchets and pestles have been disclosed by the plow. About four miles north of Sherburne village and one west of Handsome brook, were the remains of an embankment, constructed of coarse gravel, in the form of a horse-shoe, with the open ends towards the north. It was about four rods wide at the outer ends and seven or eight rods deep to the center of the bow. From the lowest point in the center to the highest part of the embankment, it was full twenty-five feet. Embankments extended from each extremity of the bow, that to the east fifteen or twenty rods long, terminating in a swamp, and that to the west, being much longer, terminating at the foot of a hill, and nearly in range with the other, but disconnected from the main structure by an opening two or three rods wide....Read More
Collection: History of Chenango and Madison Counties New York
Afton Lodge, No. 360, F. & A. M., was organized as Nineveh Lodge, January 11, 1855, at which time the first communication was held, and was chartered June 20, 1855. The name was changed June 24, 1862, when it was decided to remove the lodge from Nineveh, where the meetings had formerly been held, to Afton. The first officers were Harvey Bishop, Master; Platt Bishop, S. W.; C. G. Northrop, J. W.; Fenner Brown, Secretary; W. H. Scott, Treasurer; T. C. Healy, S. D.; J. Kelly, J. D.; Jesse Brown, Tiler; E. M. Brown and E. Badger, Stewards. Meetings are held on the 2d and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Vallonia Chapter, No. 80, R. A. M., was organized December 19, 1856, as No. 62, at Vallonia Springs, in the town of Colesville, in Broome county, where the meetings were originally held. The charter was granted February 3, 1857. The first officers were R. W. Juliand, High Priest; T. C. Healy, King; and E. Bishop, Scribe. The chapter meets the 1st and 3d Tuesdays of each month. Vanderburg Post, No. 12, G. A. R., S. N. Y., was organized April 5, 1878. The charter members were John Robb, Alonzo Phillips, Washington Mead, W. H. Wilder, John S. Kelley, Perry Ellis, A. Huffcut, Geo. P. Smith, Theodore Cables, Charles G. Aynsworth, James A. Houston, B. Whitaker, Geo. Figger, John Higley,...Read More
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,...Read More
The first church in the town was of the Presbyterian order. It was organized in 1802, by Rev. Daniel Buck, who was the first pastor, in the log school-house, which stood on the east bank of the river, within the limits of the present village of Afton and was the first school-house in the town. That church disbanded about forty years ago, but is perpetuated in a measure by the Presbyterian Church of Nineveh, which was organized in 1831, largely by members from this. Many of the members of this church had united with the Universalists, who were a numerous and influential organization at an early day, and with whom the Presbyterians were associated in the building of the Universalist Church, which was erected in 1818, and is the only one of the churches in the village on the east side of the river. The Baptist Church of Afton was organized as the South Bainbridge Baptist Church. At a meeting of a number of members of several Baptist Churches, at the house of Moses Caswell, Friday, January 15, 1836, to take into consideration the propriety of locating a church of this denomination in “South Bainbridge,” articles of faith and practice were agreed upon and it was unanimously resolved to request a council of examination to convene at the house of Isaac Seely, February 17, 1836, to admit them to...Read More
The officers elected March 2, 1858, were as follows: Daniel A. Carpenter, Supervisor; Edgar Garret, Clerk; Hiram Willey and Morris J. Madge, Justices; William Corbin (William Corbin did not qualify and John Carr was appointed in his place March 16, 1858), Robert M. Littlefield and Jackson W. Poole, Assessors; Albert Pratt, Commissioner of Highways; Thomas Yale and George F. Hard, Overseers of the Poor; Eli M. Shay, Collector; Luman C. Pollard, William Corbin and James Poole, Railroad Commissioners (Before the division of the town, Bainbridge had issued bonds for $60,000 in aid of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, and $30,000 of this was assigned to Afton as her share of the indebtedness); Whitcomb Broad, Harvey A. Wakeman, Wilson Landers (Wilson Landers did not qualify and Potter Thomas was appointed in his place March 16, 1858) and Reuben Dean, Constables; James Poole and J. Dwight Chaffee, Inspectors of Election. Following is the succession of Supervisors and Clerks from the organization of the town:– Supervisors Clerks 1858-9. Daniel A. Carpenter. Edgar Garret. 1860. Charles W. Griswold. Lewis Post. 1861. Jonathan Farnsworth. Alonzo L. Farnam. 1862. Joseph B. Chaffee. Geo. M. Champlin. 1863-4. James B. Cook. do. 1865. Jonathan Farnsworth. do. 1866-7. Edgar Garret. do. 1868. Jonathan Farnsworth. do. 1869. Erastus Fisher. do. 1870. Presson R. Peck. do. 1871. Horace C. Chamberlin. do. 1872. Robert M. Littlefield. John C. Chamberlin. 1873. John...Read More
Afton is situated on the Susquehanna River, near the center of the town, and on the Albany & Susquehanna R. R., by which it is distant 28 miles from Binghamton and 114 from Albany. It lies mostly upon the west side of the river, and principally along the street running parallel with it. The hills which bound the valley upon the east side are somewhat precipitous and largely covered with primitive forest or second-growth timber; while upon the west they are more rolling and susceptible of cultivation. It contains five churches, (Baptist, Episcopal, M. E., Universalist and Presbyterian,) a Union school, with academic department, three hotels, a newspaper office, (Afton Home Sentinel, John F. Seaman, publisher,) a private bank (Enos M. Johnston & Co.,) a flouring and grist-mill, a saw-mill, a sash and blind factory, two wagon shops (kept by L. E. Jackson and W. E. Fleming,) three blacksmith shops (kept by H. M. Swift, O. E. Sackett, Jr., and Wm. R. Herkimer and Allen Estabrooks,) four shoe shops (kept by W. A. Piper, J. R. Brown, ? Randall and Eli Christian,) two manufactories of butter tubs and firkins, one harness shop (kept by R. E. Smith,) thirteen stores of various kinds, and a population of 700. The village is growing very rapidly. The Susquehanna is spanned in the upper part of the village by a suspension bridge, which...Read More
The first bank in Afton was established in the winter of 1875, by Carver & Crassaus, who did business only one winter, in the building now occupied as a saloon by Brower & Hunt. They were from Bainbridge and continued their residence there. E. M. Johnston & Co.’s Bank (private,) located in Willey’s Block, was established Jan. 1, 1876, by Enos M. Johnston and Devillo C....Read More
The grist and flouring-mill is located one-fourth mile north-west of the village, and is owned by Asa Pixley. The saw-mill is located about one-fourth mile up the river, on Kelsey Brook, about seventy rods above its mouth, and is owned by George Landers. It was originally built about 1809, and the mud-sills in the present building are the same as were used in the construction of the first. The water from the creek is conducted to the mill by a race about forty rods long. Wright & Hinman’s sash and blind factory was built in the fall of 1869 by Addison Brewer and Wm. A. Wright, who did business a little over four years, about half the time in company with J. B. Pierce, when Brewer sold his interest to the remaining partners, who, in 1875, admitted Harvey Hinman to partnership. In September, 1878, Pierce sold his interest to Wright and Hinman, who have since conducted the business. They employ from six to eight men in the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, moldings, brackets and scroll work. The machinery is propelled by a sixteen-horse-power engine; which also furnishes power for the establishment of John B. Pierce, who gives employment to six men in the manufacture of butter tubs, pails and firkins in the same...Read More
The first lawyer in Afton was probably George Smith, who was here in 1830. He came in a young, single man and married a daughter of Henry Olendorf. He practiced here several years and removed to Norwich, where he died. He was the only lawyer of any note who located here until the present ones came in. The present (1882) lawyers are Jacob B. Kirkhuff, George A. Haven and Josiah D. Merritt. Jacob B. Kirkhuff was born in Stanhope, N.J., September 12, 1836. He read law in Red Creek, N. Y., with Jacob B. Decker, with whom he remained six months. He entered the Albany Law School March 7, 1861, and was admitted on examination in November of that year. He commenced practice in Red Creek the same year and after six months removed to Savannah, in the same county. After two years spent west, in 1870, he located in Afton, where he has since practiced, since the spring of 1879 in company with Josiah D. Merritt. He has been a notary public since 1873. George A. Haven was born in Pitcher, N. Y., October 1, 1844, and read law in Oxford with Hon. Solomon Bundy. He entered the Albany Law School in September, 1872, and was graduated May 17, 1873, having been admitted a month or two previously at a general term. He commenced practice in Oxford in...Read More
Previous to the division of the town of Bainbridge, the village and post-office at Afton were known as South Bainbridge. The first postmaster was probably Albert Neely or Joseph P. Chamberlin, at least fifty years ago. Josiah Wright succeeded Chamberlin about 1830. Next was Zaccheus Smith, who came here from Delaware county and kept hotel in the Sullivan House. He held the office till about 1840, and was succeeded by Murlin Jackson. Cornelius Atherton was appointed about 1855 or ‘6, and was followed in 1861 by Lewis Post, who held it till his death February 12, 1863, aged 54, when Daniel A. Carpenter was appointed. Carpenter was succeeded in a short time by E. M. Shay, who held the office till June 23, 1877, when Theodore L. Willey, the present incumbent, was appointed (We have been utterly unable to procure a satisfactory list of the postmasters at Afton. The above is as complete and accurate as the best available authorities could make...Read More
William Knapp, who lives at Bainbridge, is believed to have been the first physician who practiced in this locality. He removed to Elmira. Dr. Nathan Boynton, who was located at Bettsburgh, and Drs. Starkey and Root, who studied with Boynton, and the latter of whom practiced in company with him at Bettsburgh, practiced here at an early day. They all removed to Elmira. Abraham Benton, brother of Orange Benton, studied medicine with Dr. Boynton at Bettsburgh and settled in the village on the east side of the river, where he practiced several years nearly fifty years ago. He was a noted temperance man. He sold out in 1837 to Elam Bartlett and removed to Illinois. Dr. Bartlett practiced some ten years, when he bought a small farm in the town of Colesville, on which he died, January 9, 1862, aged 53. Herschel D. Spencer, M. D., came in from Lisle, his native place, and bought out Dr. Bartlett. He practiced here till his death July 27, 1857, aged 33. Dr. Koon, who came from Mt. Upton, succeeded Spencer, and remained about three years. The present physicians are James B. Cook, Philetus A. Hayes and George Bissell. James B. Cook, was born in Harwinton, Litchfield Co., Conn., July 20, 1817, and studied medicine in Oswego, N. Y., with Drs. Gardner and Brown, with whom he remained a little over two...Read More
The first settlement in Afton was made in July, 1786, by Elnathan Bush, who came in from Sheffield, Mass., with his family, then consisting of his wife and four children. They came as far as Cooperstown on horseback, and thence by canoe down the Susquehanna, leaving Cooperstown May 2, 1786. He settled on the west side of the river, opposite the forty acre island, known as Stowel’s Island, about two miles below Afton. This island and another near it, one of which contains ten and the other forty acres, had been cleared and cultivated by the Indians, and derive their name from Hezekiah Stowel, who subsequently owned them. Mr. Bush had visited this locality with a view to settlement before the Revolutionary war, in company with two others who were relatives. The Dominie Johnston (Col. Witter Johnston,) was then living at Sidney Plains, where he settled in 1772. He left his improvements during the war and returned to them at its close, having rendered service therein as Colonel. He (Johnston,) continued his residence there till his death October 4, 1839, aged 86. Lois, his wife, died there July 27, 1787, aged 22; and Jane, his second wife, Sept. 26, 1817, aged 47. January 30, 1790, Mr. Bush exchanged his property here with Hezekiah Stowel for a piece of land on lot 74 in Bainbridge, nominally containing 81, but actually...Read More
Receipts And Disbursements For School Purposes Amount on hand Oct 1, 1876 $ 14.36 ” apportioned to districts 1,926.04 Proceeds of Gospel and School Lands 102.47 Raised by tax 2,251.58 From teachers’ board 384.00 From other sources 290.36 Total receipts $4,968.81 Paid for teachers’ wages $4,184.38 ” ” libraries .67 ” ” school apparatus 10.84 ” ” ” houses, sites, fences out-houses, repairs, furniture, etc. 278.05 Paid for other incidental expenses 453.11 Amount remaining on hand Oct. 1, 1877 $41.76 The Union Free School District No. 12, of the town of Afton, was formed a joint district August 8, 1874, by consolidating districts numbers 5 and 12, under authority of D. G. Barber, School Commissioner of the Second School District of Chenango county, given July 8, 1874. The number of persons in the district at the time of its formation qualified to vote was 184. The first school meeting in the new district was held at the Union school-house in district number 12, Sept. 25, 1874. R. M. Gallup was chosen Chairman, and Thomas Covert, Clerk. D. A. Carpenter, Thomas Covert and D. C. Church were elected trustees; G. M. Champlin, Clerk; and Deloss Lyon, Collector. At a special school meeting held in the new schoolhouse of District No. 12, Oct. 6, 1874, at which time there were 200 persons qualified to vote, it was decided to establish a...Read More
Cook’s Hotel was opened in December, 1878, by Nathaniel M. Cook, the present proprietor, who in that year converted it to its present use from a saloon which he had kept there since 1872. The Central House is owned by Richard Munson and kept by Miles Parsons, who became the proprietor in April, 1879. The Sullivan House was built about fifty-six years ago by Josiah and Alfred Wright, brothers, and is now owned by Erastus Sullivan, who has kept it since March 10, 1869. He came here from Oneonta, his native place, in 1845. A hotel which stood on the site of James Nickerson’s residence was previously kept by Madison...Read More
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. 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...Read More
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