April 25, 2004

The Village of Dryden around the Civil War

The period right before and during the Civil War seems to have been a good moment for the Village of Dryden, if not a great a time for the country in general. George Goodrich looked at development in the area around the time of the village's incorporation. (Discussion of the Civil War itself is in other sections of the book.)

Chapter XXV.

Dryden Village in the War Period.

While the town and rural districts have been declining in population ever since 1836, the village of Dryden has had a slow but steady and continuous growth from the beginning of its settlement. Perhaps, however, at no time was that growth so rapid as at the commencement of this period. The building of the stone Woolen Mill by A. L. Bushnell at this time afforded a promise of future buisiness prosperity to the village, but if its somewhat checkered career, involving at least two failures, and two fires, in one of which all of the combustible material was destroyed, could have been foreseen, the high hopes based upon its success would have vanished. Still in its periods of prosperity is has been a source of great advantage to the village, giving employment to a considerable number of inhabitants, and at no time has it been capable of yielding products of so much value as at present.

The building of the stone block in 1852-3 by Jeremiah W. Dwight was a great undertaking for a young business man in a small village, but under his efficient direction and management it has always been a success, affording a good and continuous income from the investment.

At about the same time P. M. Blodgett built next west of the stone block the three-story wooden building known as the Blodgett block, which was not so successful, and which was destroyed by fire about 1866. Stimulated by these improvements, Col. Lewis Barton, who kept the old hotel opposite the stone block, enlarged it by adding a third story at this time, (1855.)

Col. Barton was a very popular landlord and a public spirited citizen, serving as president of the village in 1860, and as marshal on various occasions, one of which was a large temperance parade. He came to Dryden from Virgil early in this period and did in 1863. Among his descendants were Lieutenant Daniel W. Barton, who was killed in the battle of Spottsylvania, May 12, '64; Chas. W. Barton, whose surviving son, Daniel W., resides at Elisabeth, N. J.; Mrs. Mary E. Hiles, whose surviving son was recent engaged here in tracing out the annals of the Hiles family, and Lucy Ette Spiece, of Ardmore, Pa., who is now the only surviving child of Col. Lewis Barton.

Dryden Woolen Mill
Dryden Woolen Mill.

The first newspaper published in the village came from the handpress of H. D. Rumsey, in 1856, and was first known as "Rumsey's Companion." After several changes in name and ownership it was discontinued, within two years after it commenced publication. It had, however, fortunately for us, published and thus preserved under the title of the "Old Man in the Clouds," the series of articles which have been of great aid in the preservation of the early history of Dryden. In July, 1858, it was revived under the name of "The Dryden Weekly News," by Asahel Clapp, who continued its publication successfully until 1871, when he removed it to Ithaca where it is still published by his son as The Weekly Ithacan. Soon after, a new paper was published at Dryden village under the name of The Dryden Herald, which, after changing hands several times, was greatly enlarged and improved under the management and ownership of A. M. Ford and now under the proprietorship of his son, J. Giles Ford, is one of the most enterprising local papers to be found issued in a country village.

The war itself left but very little impress upon the village, and, as already stated in the town history, it was from a business point of view a time of unusual prosperity.

The advent of the Southern Central railroad in 1869 has already been referred to and produced no great immediate change in the affairs of the village. To the merchants the advantage of reduced freight rates and quicker transportation was offset by the ease and frequency with which their customers sought places in larger towns to do their trading. To the farmers, because it offered a better and nearer market, especially for such bulky articles of produce as potatoes and hay, the permanent benefit of the railroad has been considerable, and without railroad facilities to-day our condition would be deplorable. A proposition was made when the Ithaca & Cortland railroad was being built that by raising the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, the junction could be secured within the limits of Dryden village, and at almost any other time it would have been seriously entertained, but at this time, the village had almost exhausted itself in the effort to secure the Southern Central, and affected with the reaction already being experienced from the decline of the unusual prosperity of the preceding years, the people were content to let the opportunity pass by.

The merchants of this period included J. W. Dwight & Co., (the company including E. S. Farnham, Isaac P. Ferguson, and A. F. Tanner) in the stone block, George L. Truesdell and William H. Sears, in the Exchange block, and Hiram W. Sears, Eli A. Spear, and later Merrit Baucus, in the brick block. Hiram W. Sears, who married a daughter of John Southworth, for a number of years carried on an extensive business in packing pork, buying wool, and other mercantile enterprises.

Cyrus French developed a flourishing business in the hardware block. G. H. Sperry and Alanson Burlingame inaugurated the coal and lime business at the railroad station. H. F. Pierce conducted a moderate furnite and undertaking business, while Harrison Marvin and Otis Murdock conducted the boot and shoe business.

The Woolen Mill flourished in the hands of E. Rockwell, the tannery was greatly enlarged and improved by the Kennedy Brothers, and the grist-mill was managed by John Perrigo, assisted later by his son, Charles M.

The medical profession was reinforced during this time by the arrival of Dr. Wm. Fitch, from Virgil; and Dr. J. J. Montgomery succeeded to the practice of his father.

The old hotel passed from the proprietorship of Col. Lewis Barton to Deuel & Jagger, then to Jagger alone, and afterwards into the hands of Peter Mineah, whose co-partner at one time in the business was Ex-Sheriff John D. Benton, while James H. Cole developed the Grove Hotel after the Blodgett House was destroyed by fire. Mills Van Valkenburgh, Garry E. Chambers, W. W. Hare and Silas S. Montgomery developed into lawyers from law students in the office of Milo Goodrich.

A literary society, sometimes in the form of a reading circle and at others as a debating club, flourished in these days and many of the older citizens will remember with what earnestness and zeal Dr. Briggs, J. W. Dwight, T. J. McElheny, John C. Lacy, and many others maintained the affirmative or the negaive of numerous questions in debate at the old school house. Our attention has recently been called by one of the old members of this literary organization, to the beneficial results which were seen in the subsequent careers of some of its members, and a little reflection should awaken in us of the present generation an appreciation of such means of self-culture.

In the year 1857 Dryden village was incorporatied, the population then being about four hundred and the corporate limits including 999 1/4 acres. The petition for incorporation was signed by Thomas J. McElheny, Isaac P. Ferguson, George Schenck, Lewis Barton, Freeman Stebbins, Hiram W. Sears, William W. Tanner, David J. Baker, N. L. Bates, Abraham Tanner, Jeremiah W. Dwight and fifty-eight others, and upon the vote taken upon the question of incorporation one hundred and twelve ballots were cast, of which seventy-eight were in the affirmative. In 1865 the village was re-incorporated under a special charter (chapter 320 of the laws of 1865) prepared with great care by Mills Van Valkenburgh, then an attorney residing the village and afterward county judge.

The first officers elected in 1857 were as follows: Trustees, David P. Goodhue, Rochester Marsh, William W. Tanner, John B. Sweetland, and Isaac H. Ford; assessors, Augustus H. Phillips, Orrin W. Wheeler, and John C. Lacy; collector and poundmaster, Godfrey Sharp; treasurer, Horace G. Fitts; clerk, Thomas J. McElheny.

The following table gives the names of the presidents and clerks of the village to the present time:

David P. Goodhue,1857-8Harrison Marvin,1876
Freeman Stebbins,1859George E. Goodrich,1877
Lewis Barton,1860J. E. McElheny,1878
Freeman Stebbins,1861John H. Pratt,1879-80
John C. Lacy,1862John H. Kennedy,1881
John Perrigo,1863Erastus H. Lord,1882-3
John W. Phillips,1864D. R. Montgomery,1884-5
Rochester Marsh,1865-6Albert J. Baker,1886
Eli A. Spear,1867John H. Kennedy,1887-8
D. Bartholomew,1868D. R. Montgomery,1889-90
G. H. Washburn,1869George E. Goodrich,1891-4
Alvin Cole,1870C. D. Williams,1895
John H. Kennedy,1871-2George Sutfin,1896
Rochester Marsh,1873E. Davis Allen,1897
G. H. Sperry,1874-5
T. J. McElheny,1857S. S. Montgomery,1867
M. Van Valkenburgh,1858C. D. Bouton,1868
Harrison Marvin,1859S. S. Montgomery,1869-70
William H. Sears,1860George E. Goodrich,1871-2
I. P. Ferguson,1861William E. Osmun,1873-5
Mott L. Spear,1862George E. Goodrich,1876
William H. Sears,1863-4W. H. Goodwin, Jr.,1877-80
C. D. Bouton,1865L. D. Mallery,1881-2
M. Van Valkenburgh,1865D. T. Wheeler,1883-94
William H. Sears,1866E. D. Branch,1895-7

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 94-8.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

Posted by simon at April 25, 2004 11:35 AM in ,
Note on photos