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May 18, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Continuing on from 1986 ...

We continue this week by answering the question we asked if anyone remembers the old Cooperstown National Bank?

On May 13, we wrote: “Martha Dickison, Delaware Street, called to tell us about the Cooperstown National Bank where she worked at her first ‘real job’ after her graduation from school. The CNB opened for business on July 5, 1904, with Andrew Smith as president, Dr. D.E. Silver as vice president, and John Kirby as cashier. At first the bank was located on the north side of Main Street, west of the Main and Pioneer corner several doors. In May of 1909, the Cooperstown National Bank moved to the Bowen Block in the space now occupied by the Cooperstown Decorating Center.

“Martha remembers with fondness working at the CNB  ‘a very pleasant place to work,’ she states. At that time Frank Smith, son of Andrew Smith, was president. The Cooperstown National Bank never recovered from the Great Depression and the bank holiday proclaimed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Martha is perhaps the last survivor of the CBN  all the others she worked with there have gone on.”

 The beginning of June, wereceived a history question from Tom Goodyear of the Cary Mede Farm in Springfield Center. Tom wondered if anyone remembered the WONPR, specifically what was it and where was it located?

The answer appeared in the column of June 6 as follows:  “The WONPR mentioned inlast week’s column was the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform and Mrs. Bradley Goodyear, Tom’s mother, was at one time head of this august group from which position she worked tirelessly to bring about the repeal of prohibition. Tom remembers that the organization was headquartered where the Vets Club is now on Main Street.”

In the column of June 25, we were able to answer a question about the hauling of milk by boat on Lake Otsego: “In closing, two weeks ago we asked (thanks to Charles Byrnes) if anyone remembers the different names of the boat which once hauled milk on Otsego Lake. That boat’s name evidently was ‘The Deerslayer’ and according to Charles the original name was the ‘Mabel Coburn.’ Marian Becker Keyes, Beaver Street, remembers riding on the milk boat with the milk cans clanking around her.

“When Marian called to discuss the Deerslayer, she also mentioned a most intriguing subject about which we have read very little. Marian  wonders if there was everway stations located in the village for the Underground Railroad. As a young girl, she remembers hearing references made to certain homes on Elm Street between Pioneer Street and Susquehanna Avenue.

These homes were reputed to have triple basements where slaves could be sequestered until it was safe enough for them to move to the next station on the network. In fact, Marian remembers being in one of these basements, which she says have long since been filled in. We confess that we have not come across anything about the Underground Railroad in Cooperstown. We have read that there might have been such activity in Oneonta so perhaps it is logical to assume that Cooperstown may have been the next stop for the fugitives. Has anyone else ever heard any references to the Underground Railroad in Cooperstown?”

To the question about the Underground Railroad in Cooperstown, we received this in information for the column of July 2:

“John Bowers, Beaver Street, remembers that he, as a boy growing up here, used to play frequently at Pomeroy Place, the large stone house on the corner of Main and River Streets. He was told that the house once had a tunnel to the river which could have been used by escaping slaves.” On July 16, we turned to the subject of the graveyards located within the confines of the village with:

“In closing, we note that one can learn a great deal about the early history of the village by wandering through the three graveyards which still exist within the corporate limits. Last week, we had the pleasure of meeting Marian Starr who lives, with her husband George, on the Allens Lake Road. George Starr is a descendant of one of Cooperstown’s first families. George’s ancestor, Joshua Starr, was a potter in the very early days of the settlement of the village.

Joshua was a man to whom details were most important because when one observes the Starr gravestones in the Christ Church Yard one notices that the two Starr tombstones are askew when compared to the others in the cemetery.

“In many early graveyards, people were buried on an east-west alignment and so it is in Christ Church Yard. However, Joshua Starr made certain that he and his wife would be buried on a true east-west line. Therefore the Starr stones are on such a line while the other stones in the burial ground are set in a generally east-west line.

“While chatting with Marian we once again realized how fortunate Cooperstown is to have so many descendants of the area’s “first families” still residing here.”

And finally, on July 23, regarding descendants of the area’s “first families,” we wrote: “In closing, we again make the mention of those early pioneer families whose descendants are still residing in this area. One such family is the Bowers family, many scions of which are still about our village.

“One such is N. Pendleton Bowers who participated in our July 5 candlelight ceremony by ringing the bells of Christ Church two hundred times. Penny enjoyed his participation for, as he related in a conversation with us after the weekend was over, he felt that he was representing all the members of his family, past and present.”

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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