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April 17, 2014

Fire Prevention

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, April 16, 1814

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

COOPERSTOWN FIRE LAW

The Trustees of the village of Cooperstown, are determined rigidly to enforce the following Bye-Law:

And be it further ordained, That no person shall, between the thirtieth day of April and the first day of December, in each and every year, deposit any fire-wood, timber, boards or other obstructions, in any street or alley within this village, and suffer the same to remain twenty-four hours, under the penalty of one dollar, for each and every offence, and further penalty of fifty cents, for every twenty-four hours thereafter.

—Providing always, that lumber and other materials, for the purpose of building, may be deposited opposite the lot so to be built upon, by a written permission of one of the Trustees.

COMMENT: This Bye-law was Section IV of the Village Street Law enacted by the Cooperstown Trustees on May 21, 1813. Reprinting it again (and for weeks) was no doubt because the Bye-Law, obviously intended to reduce the danger of fire when during the warmer months, would have come into effect again on April 30, 1814. NOTE; It is our intention to continue to print in full any and all Cooperstown Village Bye-Laws and other official enactments printed in the Otsego Herald.

New Cooperstown Business

NEW FIRM. Cabinet-Making Business. ELI F. BENJAMIN, informs the public generally, that he has taken Mr. CHARLES E. BARNARD, into co-partnership, and that in future the above business will be carried on by them, under the firm of Benjamin & Barnard, at Mr. Benjamin’s old stand, one door north of the dwelling-house of Dr. J. Russell, and nearly opposite L. M’Namee’s store;

--where they intend keeping constantly on hand, a general assortment of MAHOGANY and CHERRY FURNITURE, of the newest fashions and as low as can be purchased in Albany or New-York. Mr. Benjamin tenders his sincere thanks to his former customers, and the firm are confident of giving satisfaction to those that please to favor them in their line of business. ELI F. BENJAMIN, CHARLES E. BARNARD.

Wanted immediately, a large quantity of boards and plank, both cherry and pine; also Cherry and Maple Scantling, for which the highest prices will be given.

Cooperstown, April 12, 1814.

COMMENT: Eli Foster Benjamin (1790-1856) was born in Dutchess County, but came to Middlefield in 1810 to marry Mary (Polly) Hughes (1791-ca. 1863), 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. His shop would have been on Pioneer Street (then West Street), more or less opposite to today’s Tunnicliff Inn.

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 his home 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.... [Later] he moved to Utica and...opened a mahogany chair manufacturing company. In Cooperstown, he left his accounts with his brother, Miles Benjamin, also a cabinet maker.”

“Traitor” Released

Judge Ford, who had been arrested on suspicion of treason, has been discharged for want of sufficient evidence on which to find an indictment. Judge Livingston took occasion to compliment Mr. Ford on his acquittal from an imputation which, from the manner of its removal, should in justice reflect no dishonor on his character. A bill for treason has been found against a Mr. Baxter, of some part of our northern frontier.

COMMENT: As we have noted earlier, Judge Nathan Ford (1763-1829) was the founder of Ogdensburg, in Northern New York State on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence River. With merchant David Parish (1778-1826). He did his best to keep that town neutral in the War of 1812. Not surprisingly they also supported the anti-war Federalist Party.

Following his arrest for treason (for, among other things, allegedly signaling to the British forces across the St. Lawrence River by hanging two blue lights in his Ogdensburg window), Ford was sent to New York City for trial. But he made effective use of his extensive political and social contacts, with evident success. Judge Henry Brockholst Livington (1757-1823) was a very prominent New Yorker who had been since 1807 a Supreme Court Justice.

Judge Ford’s Federalist friends were delighted at his release: the “Cooperstown Federalist” (now “The Freeman’s Journal”) wrote that: “This gentlemen has made himself very obnoxious to the ‘powers that be’ by an honest declaration of his political principles and a decided hostility to their views in the prosecution of an unnecessary, impolitic and ruinous war. His life has frequently been threatened by the military....”

Murder!

Norfolk, March 30. At a late hour last night, a fracas took place in Little Water-street, between one Middleton, who keeps a disorderly house in that street, and a sailor by the name of Tom Taylor, belonging to the flotilla.

Several blows passed between them in Middleton’s house, and afterwards in the street before his door, and the sailor proving the strongest, Middleton’s wife handed him a pistol, the muzzle of which he applied close to Taylor’s breast and shot him dead on the spot. Middleton was immediately taken to jail.

COMMENT: A “disorderly house” was a polite name for a house of prostitution.