How well do you know your town? Have you ever asked yourself what your town has to tell you from its past?
The New York State History Room has many town histories in its collection. Most relate to Delaware and Otsego counties. Some of the books we have are general county histories and gazetteers that will give you fun historical facts of the day too. It has been pretty hot here lately, but it has happened before. In July of the year 1911, Otsego County saw temperatures that reached 94 degrees and then in July of the following year temperatures got as low as 39 degrees.
Here is some information from some of our town history books.
In the book “Franklin Lore” by Maria Sherrill Miller Albrecht, we learn about the first meeting of one of the longest organizations of its kind, the Washington Reading Circle. Started by a group of women with the intent to study current and historical events, the Circle’s motto is “Onward, upward, patriotic and progressive.” Readers of “Franklin Lore” also discover that the Miller Family farm was a part of the Underground Railroad route up the Ouleout Valley. You will learn about the status of women, the first flower show, and Frank Pom — who got a welcoming from his father he never expected.
The book “Two Centuries in Westford” by the Westford Community Association highlights a range of topics for the town including businesses, education, families, servicemen, and more. Although once known as the honorary “Hop Capital of New York State,” Westford has primarily supported a strong history of dairy farming. In 1933, there were 133 farms but this number had dropped to nine by 1985. Westford was home to the Maple Valley Cheese Factory. It started in 1890, the factory received the bulk of more than 20 farmers’ daily milk production. The standard ratio was 10 pounds of milk to one pound of cheese. The cheese was packaged and shipped on the D&H to New York City. When Borden’s arrived in 1920, and higher dairy prices lured farmers’ away, Maple Valley Cheese closed. Westford is also home to famous sons Andrew Sloan Draper, the first Commissioner of Education for New York state, and Alden Chester, a future chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
The Fly Creek Historical Society put a book out in the 1990s, “Fly Creek Area Yesteryear” that concentrated on the postcards and photographs of the area. A visual history of the town’s progress and personalities, interior photographs of H.E. Jones Hardware Store, the Union Cotton Mill, the Toddsville Methodist Church, and a never completed trolley system over Mud and Chalk Lakes can be found in this book.
A bigger book, “The Story of Walton,” covers 1775 to 1975 with topics from early pioneers to Walton’s first automobile. Immediately seeing the potential of an automobile for his business, Dr. Holley traveled to Detroit to get one. It cost him $540 in 1901. The automobile was a one cylinder Oldsmobile. Another fact states the town of Walton was formed from the patent belonging to William Walton. He was involved with the formation of the first Chamber of Commerce, which became the New York State Chamber of Commerce. Fascinating early pioneer stories and their travels to Walton can be found in this book.
If you’re researching an area town, stop in and use our town histories and discover the people, places, and industries of the past that have influenced our present.
Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at www.thedailystar.com/librarycorner.