Many of us know of a short cut to and from Fly Creek on state Route 28, by avoiding Route 28 through Cooperstown. The short cut is county Route 26.

Next time you take it, use your imagination as you pass through quiet Toddsville, and think about what a busy mill town it once was.

Tiny Oaks Creek provided water power for a cotton mill, paper mill, grist mill and saw mill. Additionally there was a blacksmith shop, jeweler's shop, carriage shop, shoe shop, church, saloon and chair and paint shop, along with about 200 inhabitants.

In about 1796, Jehiel Todd and his family of five sons and two daughters came to this area from Wallingford, Conn., purchasing about 150 acres of land on what was called the Tubbs Patent, owned by Judge William Cooper of nearby Cooperstown.

Before the Todds made the purchase, Samuel Tubbs had recently built the first frame building on the land, along with a grist mill on the Hartwick side of the creek.

This settlement was half in the town of Hartwick and half in the town of Otsego. It was first known as Tubbs Mill.

The Todds enlarged the grist mill and built a woolen factory on the Hartwick side of the creek and later a saw mill and finally a paper mill on the Otsego side of the creek.

After Samuel Tubbs died, the name was changed to Todds Mills, later to Todds Ville, and later to its present Toddsville.

In the 1880s, Samuel Shaw succeeded in having the named changed to Seymour, in memory of the late Horatio Seymour, governor of New York.

A petition was quickly circulated and the name was restored to Toddsville.

The Todds apparently developed their manufacturing activities quickly. They built houses for themselves and their employees.

For many years, the weekly newspapers of the county were printed on paper made in Toddsville's paper mill. The Oneonta Herald used stock from this mill from its first issue in 1853 until 1887.

Paper manufacturing was much different than we know it now. The material in paper was cloth in the form of rags, as the wood pulp manufacturing method hadn't yet been perfected. The result was a paper so durable that newspapers printed from the late 1800s and back are still in excellent condition, unlike today's paper that will yellow and crumble in a much shorter time.

The Union Cotton Mill began around 1810 as a wooden building, where cotton spinning took place.

It was replaced by a stone building around 1828 and operated by the Todds and other companies until 1897.

Raw cotton was transported from southern states to the north via the Hudson River to Catskill, and then brought northwest by horses hitched to large wagons.

The round trip required two weeks, and large fleets of wagons were needed to keep the raw cotton coming in and the finished products moving out.

The Union factory manufactured calico prints, sheeting, ticking and more for merchants in villages and cities from this area south to Philadelphia, and west to Lake Erie.

Once the factory ceased operation, the stones from the mill were later used in the construction of the original section of the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.

A stone store was also built in 1828, across from the cotton mill. The store is seen today on the grounds of The Farmers' Museum, having been moved from Toddsville in the mid-1940s.

All of the Todds' mills thrived until the end of the 19th century when roads and modes of transportation began to improve.

On Monday: The Delhi-Walton football rivalry goes way back.

City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or e-mail him at

His website is

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