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December 6, 2012


From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Dec. 5, 1812

Compiled, with comments


Weather: Utica 1812

Almanack: Look for snow,

then rain or clear.


On Wednesday morning last, between 3 and 4 o’clock, the inhabitants of this village were alarmed by the cry of fire! which proved to be in the building occupied by Messrs. Coopers, as a Store house.

The fire was bursting through several parts of the building when first discovered, which was soon consumed. By the timely exertions of the citizens, with the new fire Engine, the buildings, contiguous, were saved. It is supposed the fire caught from a Stove, on a part of the building occupied by Mr. E. F. Benjamin as a cabinet makers shop.

The building altogether was about 90 or 100 feet long, and the loss estimated at about 2500 dollars.

COMMENT: The building had been William Cooper’s original home in Cooperstown, located where the gate to the Cooper Grounds on Main Street now stands, but had been moved down the street so as not to interfere with the view of the Lake (down Fair Street) from his new home of Otsego Hall, located where the Cooper statue now stands.

Eli Foster Benjamin (1790-1856) was born in Dutchess County, but came to Middlefield to marry Mary (Polly) Hughes (1791-ca. 1863) in 1810, by whom he had two children. The following year he bought a lot from Isaac Cooper on the south-west corner of Fair and Lake Streets, and built a home which (with additions) remained there until about 1874. Eli, however, soon moved to Utica, where he remained the rest of his life, though his brother Miles Benjamin stayed on in Cooperstown. About 1874 the house was moved across the street, to become Glimmerglass Cottage at 8 Lake Street.

According to James Taylor Dunn, “Pioneer Cabinet Makers of Cooperstown” (1955): “Eli F. Benjamin, a local grocer, turned to furniture construction in 1810 in Cooperstown. He was the first cabinet maker to resort to barter. He would take many items in exchange. This was the result of the western land panic in 1819 and many bank failures. A few years later, he moved to Utica and with Tillman opened a mahogany chair manufacturing company. In Cooperstown, he left his accounts with his brother, Miles Benjamin, also a cabinet maker.”

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