January 17, 2011

Hamlet populations, 1895

I was very happy this weekend to find David Marcham's amazing Ups & Downs of a Rural Life: Elmira, Cortland & Northern RR 1867 to 1967 and On. It chronicles the history of the railroad line that connected Elmira to Canastota, crossing through Varna, Etna, Freeville, and McLean.

There's all kinds of great stuff there - history, stories, maps, a list of sidings - but one small detail on page 140 caught my eye - populations of stops from 1895. The largest city on the line was industrial giant Elmira, at 30,893. Ithaca was next at 11,079, and Cortland had 8,590. These populations "do not include surrounding rural areas."

Within the Town of Dryden, we can see that Varna had 208 residents, Etna 377, Freeville 312, and McLean (largely in Groton) 453.

I did some complex calculating a few years ago to estimate the populations of Varna, Etna and the Dryden part of McLean using 2000 census data.

'Downtown Varna' had 679, an increase of 471. That might seem like a huge increase, but over more than a century it's not a tremendous rate of growth except perhaps compared with Etna. I found 'downtown Etna' as defined by the Comprehensive plan to have 379 residents, an increase of only 2. Freeville had 505, an increase of 193.

The Dryden part of McLean had 324 residents, fewer than the complete McLean of 1895, but a most of McLean, especially the older parts of McLean, is in Groton I don't think it's comparable.

Posted by simon at January 17, 2011 6:59 AM in , , , , ,
Note on photos