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The Town of Cherry Valley


Image and text from Otsego county New York Geographical and Historical
by Edwin F Bacon, Ph B. 1902 Oneonta NY

Page 22. CHERRY VALLEY. Area 24,058 Acres. Population 1,802.

Cherry Valley township was organized in 1789 and then comprised all that portion of the county east of Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna river, and including the whole of the present town of Springfield, but with the increase of population it was repeatedly subdivided until eight
townships had been formed from the original one.

The surface is generally hilly. The highest elevations in the county
are in this township, several points exceeding 2,000 feet in height.
Among these is Mount Independence, three miles east of Cherry Valley
village, and formerly regarded as the highest, but the New York State
Survey has recently determined a higher point, namely a hill two and
one-fourth miles northwest of Center Valley on which a signal station of
the survey has been established. This summit is 2,301 feet above tide,
and is the highest known point in the county.

The waters of the central and southern part flow into the Susquehanna,
while the northern part is drained by tributaries of the Mohawk. The
soil is fertile, particularly in the valleys, where are found many of
the finest farms in the county.

The village of Cherry Valley is beautifully situated on Cherry Valley
creek near the centre of the township, and is romantically environed by
hills. It was the first white settlement in the county, dating from a
land grant made by the authorities of New York to John Lindesay and
others in 1738, the settlement being made two years later. Its name was
derived from the abundance of wild cherries that grew in the vicinity.

The early history of this place is of unusual interest and importance.
It has been given in part in connection with the general history of the
county. The massacre of 1778 desolated the place. A few brave settlers
mained under the protection of the garrison, which was called away the
next summer; but a second surprise and massacre by the savages in the
spring of 1780 (eight being killed and fourteen carried into captivity)
caused the unfortunate settlement to be completely abandoned.

"It was indeed wiped out of existence, all that remained--the fort, the
church, and every dwelling being burned, and thus the results of the
labors of nearly forty years were destroyed and the valley returned into
the undisputed possession of the beasts and the birds, and Cherry
Valley, a few years before the largest and most prominent of the
frontier settlements of New York, was but a name." (Sawyer's History,
page 41)

But with the return of peace the settlers who had survived the horrors
of war and massacre returned and sought their former homes, though they found only a wildernes, but the hardships they had endured fitted them for their new struggle. The village rose from its ruins and its
builders were soon re-inforced by the western tide of emigration of
those days, and in a few years Cherry Valley was again the largest
settlement south of the Mohawk.

In 1783 General Washington, accompanied by Governor George Clinton and other distinguished men, being on an extended tour through the state, visited Cherry Valley. The party was entertained at the house of Col. Samuel Campbell. Judge William W. Campbell (a grandson of Samuel), in his "Annals of Tryon County", relates the following incident of this visit. Gov. Clinton, observing several stout boys, remarked that they would make fine soldiers sometime. Mrs. Campbell replied that she hoped the country would never need their services. "I hope so, Madam," said Washington, "for I have seen enough of war"

Cherry Valley has been the birthplace or residence of some distinguished men, among who are the following:

Col. Samuel Campbell, a distinguished patriot of the Revolution and one
of the heroes of the battle of Oriskany, where he took the chief command after Gen. Herkimer was wounded.

Col. Samuel Clyde, also one of the heroes of the battle of Oriskany and
of the border wars of the Revolution. He was the first sheriff of
Otsego County.

Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, president for sixty years of Union College,
Schenectady, whose first pastorate was at Cherry Valley.

Hon. William W. Campbell, Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, and author of "Annals of Tryon County," "Life of DeWitt Clinton," and other works.

Hon. Jabez D. Hammond, an eminent lawyer, Otsego County Judge, Member of Congress, author of "Political History of the State of New York," and "Life and Times of Silas Wright."

Hon. Levi Beardsley, lawyer, State Senator, and author of "Beardsley's
Reminiscences," a valuable contribution to local history.

Dr. Joseph White, an eminent physician and surgeon, president of the
Otsego Medical Society, of the New York State Medical Society, and of
the Fairfield Medical College. He was almost equally distinguished in
law and in finance, a man of wonderfully varied attainments.

Rev. Solomon Spaulding, the first principal of Cherry Valley Academy and the reputed author of the "Book of Mormon," which he wrote as a romance.

Other noted men of the early time were the lawyers Alvin Stewart, James
O. Morse, James Bracket, Isaac Seeley, George Clyde and Horace Lathrop. The Cherry Valley bar was famous throughout the state. Sawyer says in his history: "The history of this country, and probably of the whole world, presents no other case in which a village of less than a thousand people has possessed, at one time, so great an array of local talent, in active and successfull practice."

Among the early settlers who are honorably remembered were also
Archibald McKellip, James Thompson, James Cannon, Wiliam Peeso, Dr. David Little, Major John Walton, Robert Shankland, a native of Ireland and a famous patriot and Indian fighter, James and John Wilson, and Edwin Judd.

An old lady, writing of the early times in Cherry Valley, related the
following of Alvin Stewart, the wittiest and most successful lawyer of
his time in the state: "He was a teacher at first in the cademy, and
always kept his eyes open when he made the prayer at the opening of the
school. One scholar, bolder than the others, said, 'Mr. Stewart, why do
you always keep your eyes open when you pray?' He said, ' we are
commanded to watch as well as pray.' But he was much liked by his
pupils. I wish I could remember all the funny things I've heard of him.
An old lady told me that once a boy did something against the rule, and
he told him to go and get some withes. When the boy came back he told
him he thought he should have to kill him;and as he threatened, he kept
poking the withes in the ashes to season them. When school was
dismissed, he took up the bundle of sticks and told the boy to run; and
he whipt all the benches and chairs, and the boy escaped unscathed. He
was addicted to taking too much sometimes, but he afterwards reformed
and became a great temperance man."

VILLAGES: This township contains three villages, viz.: Cherry Valley
(population 772), Salt Springville (population 119), and Center Valley
(population 107).

SCHOOLS: Number of districts in the township 12. Number of teachers
16. Children of school age 295.

The Cherry Valley High School is the successor of the famous old Cherry Valley academy. It is a Regents' school of high grade, with a wide range of scientific and classical instruction. The building has
recently been enlarged, improved, and supplied with new apparatus. The
library contains 1,500 volumes.

CHURCHES: There are four churche: Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist
Episcopal, and Presbyterian.

NEWSPAPERS: The Cherry Valley Gazette, one of the oldest papers in the county (established 1818), is the local organ for Cherry Valley and
adjoining townships.

Transcribed by Karen Flanders Eddy.
[email protected] 
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