The Town of Richfield


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

Page 56. RICHFIELD. Area 20,418 acres. Population 2,526.

This township was formed from Otsego in 1792. It then included the
townships of Exeter and Plainfield, which were set off from it in 1799.
The surface is rolling and moderately hilly with a mean elevation of 150
to 200 feet above Canadarago (or Schuyer) Lake. Several wooded mountain
peaks near the eastern boundary rise 300 feet higher. Canandarago Lake,
the northern portion of which is within this township, lies in a deep
valley and is fed by a number of streams which enter it from the
northwest. Its outlet is Oaks Creek, through which its waters flow
southward into the Susquehanna river. The settlement of this region was
rapid as soon as the close of the Indian wars made it safe to establish
homes in the wilderness. The northern portion of Otsego county was
regarded with especial favor in consequence of its beautiful lake
scenery, fertile soil, good timber and eligible millsites and water

The most important landed proprietor who located here in the early times
was John Tunnicliff of Derby, England, who, in 1756, purchased 12,000
acres belonging to the Otsego patent. In the year 1774 he made a
further purchase of 600 acres from the Schuyler patent, this purchase
including a portion of the present village of Richfield Springs.


The springs that have made this locality famous as a health resort were
long known to the aborigines under the name of "Medicine Waters." The
following beautiful description is given of the original spring and of
Canadarago Lake: "At the summit of a gently-rising eminence in the mist
of shrubbery, and overshadowed by the lofty and majestic branches of the
fir and pine, there issued forth from beneath the roots of a gigantic
tree a crystal mineral fountain of life and health. About three hundred
rods to the south of this fountain was a romantic and beautiful lake
silently sleeping in a quiet valley, skirted on either edge by
heavily-wooded alpine ranges, whose giant forest trees were boldly
reflected in the deep blue waters that were disturbed only by the
screaming waterfowl or the light canoe of the red man as he glided
swiftly over its silver surface. The elk, moose and timid deer drank
from its silent waters in the wild solitudes of the primeval forest.
Two wood-covered islands rested within the bosom of this picturesque
lake, one of which has sinc disappeared, and, as tradition says, the
last of the once powerful tribe, the Canadaragos, sank with it far
beneath the dark waters."

From the discovery of these springs and their preparation for public use
by Dr. Horace Manley in 1820 the village dates its fame a a watering
place. The efficacy of the waters was found to be very great in the
treatment of many forms of disease and with every returning season the
number of visitors increased.

"The location of Richfield Springs is remarkable for natural beauty, not
only in its immediate surroundings, but it occupies a position in the
midst of the most charmingly diversified mountain and lake scenery. The
mountain sides, in many instances, and especially where bordering upon
lakes and streams, are jutted with immense ledges of rocks, or cut with
deep ravines that assist in giving that romantic character to this
portion of the state of New York which it so eminently possesses. Six
beautiful lakes are distributed in this vicinity, almost within sight of
each other. This was a region of popular resort of the aboriginal
tribes of the valley of the Mohawk and western part of the state before
the whites encroached upon it."

To the natural advantages so plain to the red man the white brother has
added those of art and culture. Electricity illuminates the streets and
pure water from a mountain lake finds its way to the dwellings.
Railroad connection is now perfect on the north with the "elaware,
Lackawanna and Western" and the "New York Central" to the south with the
"Delaware and Hudso" system by way of Cooperstown and Oneonta.

VILLAGES: There are two villages in this township, viz.: Richfield
prings (population 1,53) and Monticello (population 218). Brighton is a
hamlet with postoffice at Richfield Springs.

SCHOOLS: Number of districts 11; number of teachers 20; number of
children of school age 558.

The Richfield Springs Union Free schoo has an excellent building and is
supplied with modern apparatus, charts, natural history specimens and a
circulating library of 1,000 volumes. The academic department, subject
to the visitation of the regents, awards classical and scientific
diplomas and has also a commercial course and a teachers training class.
The faculty consists of a principal and twelve assistants. Total
attendance about 450.

CHURCHES: There are nine churches in this township, viz.: At Richfield
Springs, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Universalist.
At Monticello, Baptist, Episcopal and Universalist. At Brighton,

NEWSPAPERS: At Richfield Springs are published the Richfield Springs
Mercury, weekly and the Richfield Springs Daily, during the months of
July and August.

Transcribed by Karen Flanders Eddy.

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