The Town of Morris


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

Page 41. MORRIS. Area 24,035 Acres. Population 1,689.

There were early settlements in this region, but the present township
was not organized until 1847, when it was set off from Butternuts. The
surface is varied and attractive, rising in broken uplands from the
fertile valley of the Butternuts creek, which receives numerous
brooklets. The western ridge terminates in a steep bluff bordering on
the Unadilla river.

The township derives its name from General Jacob Morris, a son of Lewis
Morris, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and who,
with his brother Richard, received a patent of 30,000 acres of land in
this vicinity to indemnify them for the loss of property destroyed by
the British during the Revolution.

An early and influential settler was Mr. Paschal Franchot, a native of
France, who raised here a family of ten children. His son Richard was
one of the leading men of his time in the county. He was supervisor of
the township, representative in the Congress, first colonel of the 121st
New York regiment in the rebellion, and the first president of the
Albany and Susquehanna railroad. Other early settlers whose names have
been perpetuated are Ebenez Knapp, Benjamin Stone, Jeremiah Cruttenden,
Jonathan and Ansel Moore, Amos, Jacob & Ichabod Palmer, Benjamin Lull
with his five sons, Benjamin Jr., Joseph, Caleb, Nathan, and William,
Dr. William Yates, and Ziba Washbon.

Some of the customs of those days are thus described by the late Ashel
S. Avery of Morris, in his contribution to Hurd's history of the county:
"It was a common thing for a shoemaker (cobbler) to 'whip the cat,' that
is, go into a farmer's house, put his kit in the corner of the room, and
with one last, made perhaps from a stick off the wood-pile, make the
shoes for the whole family--the largest first, then cutting down the
last to the next smaller size, the farmer furnishing the leather.
'Rights and lefts' shoes were unknown. The shoe pegs were all made by

"In the square room of well-to-do people were brass-ornamented andirons
in the fire-place. In the summer time this fire-place would be filled
with sparrow-grass (asparagus); but after wall paper became cheap,
fire-boards, with a landscape on them, filled up the space. It was a
great invention when the tin baker was made; quite an improvement on the
bake-kettle, or the board on which the Johnny-cake was baked before the

"One stage coach ran from Cooperstown to Oxford three times a week. It
was a four-horse yellow coach, and looked, in the children's eyes, as
large as a circus does now-a-days. The postmaster could have carried
any one mail in his hat. The postage on a letter was as follows: To
Garrattsville, 6 cents; to Cooperstown, 10 cents; to Albany, 12 1/2
cents; to New York, 18 3/4 cents; and to Philadelphia, 25 cents. There
were no envelopes; the sheet of paper was folded up so as to tuck one
edge into another, and sealed with a wafer or sealing wax."

VILLAGES: There is only one village in this township, viz.: Morris
(popuation 553). Maple Grove is a hamlet on the southern border
(population 44). South New Berlin, on the river, is mostly in Chenango

Morris has always been one of Otsego's pleasantest villages. One of the
best and best attended annual fairs of the county is that held here by
the Butternuts Valley Agricultural Society.

SCHOOLS: Number of districts, 12; teachers, 16; children of school age,
295. The Morris High Schoo is the oldest union free school in the
county. In its building and equipment it ranks among the best. Its
academic department fits for either normal school or college, and also
for professional schools of law and medicine. Its faculty consists of a
principal and five assistants.

CHURCHES: At Morris, Baptist, Episcopal (with "Morris Memorial
Chapel"), Friends, Methodist, and Universalist; at Maple Grove,

NEWSPAPERS: The Morris Chronicle, at Morris.

Transcribed by Karen Flanders Eddy.

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