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Columns

February 9, 2013

Oneonta building projects made news in early 1888

Andrew Bresee was in for quite a surprise when he began constructing a home in 1888. His project was among a number of building projects going on in Oneonta in the early months of 1888, as the village was expanding outward from today’s center city.

“The sale of a building lot and the construction of a house at the corner of Main and Otsego streets has made necessary the removal of the remains of several persons who have long been buried there,” it was reported in he Oneonta Herald of Jan. 5. “On Monday Andrew Bresee and an assistant began the work of exhuming the bodies, or what was left of them. The remains of five persons were discovered, and all that was left of the bones was placed in a small box and buried, to await the sound of Gabriel’s trumpet, in the old portion of the Riverside cemetery,” found today in the back of the First Presbyterian Church, 296 Main St.

The article did not specify which side of Otsego Street the house was built. This section of what was then still a village was far removed from building activities until the latter 19th century, having been farmland for several local residents.

“As to who the people were who have so long remained in undisturbed slumber at this spot, there seems obtainable only meagre (sic) information. J.R.L. Walling, who owns the farm which the lot was sold, says that when his father, Simeon Walling, moved to this locality in 1786, and bought the farm on which Mr. Walling now lives … there were then several graves, marked by rude stones, at this spot, and that thereafter was one burial there.” Walling said it was a man by the name of Adams who had come to the area with a surveying crew to map out the original Wallace Patent, of which Walling made a purchase for his farm. Walling’s home was once found at the corner of Main Street and Walling Avenue, where the United Presbyterian Church is today.

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