The Town of Unadilla


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

Page 63. UNADILLA. Area 28,349 Acres. Population 2,601.

This township was formed from Otsego in 1792. It lies at the confluence
of the Susquehanna and the Unadilla, and is watered by the many
tributaries of thise rivers. It is believed to have been settled to
some extent before the Revolution, but where or by whom is not known.
Like all other parts of the county, it filled up rapidly as soon as
peace permitted.

Unadilla village dates from about 1790, but its early importance was due
to the construction in 1802 of the Catskill and Susquehanna turnpike, an
important highway which terminated here, the point being known as
"Wattles' Ferry", from Sluman Wattles, a leading pioneer in that region.
The village was on lands of the "Wallace patent." Among the first
settlers were Aaron Axtell, the village blacksmith, who purchased the
first lot; Solomon Martin, a soldier of the Revolution and of the war of
1812, sheriff of the county and member of assembly, from whom Martin
brook was named; Daniel Bissell and his kinsman, Guido L. Bissell; Dr.
Gordon Huntington, the leading physician of that region and member of
assembly from 1805 to 1809; Joseph S. Bragg, whose son Edward S. Bragg
became brigadier general in the Rebellion and a congressman from
Wisconsin; Moses Axtell, one of the "Boston tea party" and a hero of
Lexington and Bunker Hill; Stephen Benton, a landholder and merchant;
Captain Uriah Hanford, William Wilmot, the first cabinet-maker, Samuel
Crooker, the four Cone brothers Dr. Adanijah, Daniel, Gilbert and
Gardner, who, with their descendants, have had an important share in the
development of the village; Elisha Luther, John Fiske, a soldier of
1812, Whitney Bacon, David finch, Henry Ogden, who was member of
assembly in 1820, Niel Robinson, John Eels, justice of the peace and
supervisor, and Calvin and Lorin Gates, who purchased land here about

Among influential citizens of a later date were Sherman Page, an able
lawyer, member of assembly in 1827, member of the 23rd and 24th congress
and associate judge of the county; Major Christopher D. Fellows, who
from his advent in the village at the age of fourteen to that of
ninety-three, "was an active and intelligent force in nearly all that
advanced the interests of the place," Dr. Gaius Leonard Halsey, author
of the "Reminiscenses" included in "The Pioneers of Unadilla" by his son
Francis W. Halsey; Clark I. Hayes, whom farmers have to thank for
improved breeds of farm stock throughout this valley; Eli C. Belknap, a
leading lawyer; and Arnold B. Watso, than whom no more useful man has
ever lived in Unadilla. Alike in educational, religious and financial
affairs he was among the first and best.

Ebenezer Gregory came from Gilbertsville to Unadilla Center, where he
built the stone house that is still standing. He reared four sons and
four daughters, who with their descendants have contributed much to the
social and business life of Unadilla.

Among the early proprietors in the vicinity of Sand Hill, in the eastern
part of the township, were Daniel Buckley, John and Aaron Sisson, Samuel
Merriman and Elisha Lathrop. John Sisson came as early as 1790 and
settled in the vicinity afterwards called Sisson Hill. In the same
vicinity were Captain Seth Rowley, a veteran of the Revolution and
Captain Elisha Saunders, who was both physician and soldier, and who was
killed at the battle of Queenstown in 1812.

Unadilla is pleasantly situated on the north bank of the Susquehanna
river, and on the line of the Albany & Susquehanna railroad, 99 miles
from Albany and 44 from Binghamton. It has a superior system of water
works, with reservoirs 150 feet above the village, and an electric light
plant furnishing 26 arc lights for the streets, with incandescent lights
for the stores and dwellings. It is a manufacturing place of some
importance, having a large milk condensery, a carriage factory making
the superior Hanford carriages and wagons, a large tailoring
establishment and several cigar factories. It is one of the most
attractive villages on the line of the railroad, being noted for its
wide and shady streets, its beautiful river view, its handsome
residences and its well kept private grounds.

VILLAGES: There are three villages in this township, viz.: Unadilla
(population 1,172), Unadilla Center (population 73), and Wells Bridge
(population 165). Rockdale, on the Unadilla river, is mostly in
Chenango county.

SCHOOLS: Number of districts 18, teachers 21, children of school age 44
[sic]. The Unadilla Union Free School and Academy, which in 1894
succeeded the former academy, has a large, modern building with superior
sanitary arrangements, city water and electric lights. It ranks as a
High School under the university of the State of New York. Its course
of instruction includes the natural sciences, ancient and modern
languages, and teachers' training class. It has a library of over 2,000
volumes, besides reference books. The Academic department prepares for
college and grants regents' diplomas. The faculty consists of a
principal and eight assistants.

CHURCHES: At Unadilla, Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian.
At Wells Bridge, Baptist and Methodist. At Unadilla Center, Methodist,
and a Methodist church at Sand Hill, in the eastern part.

NEWSPAPERS: The Unadilla Times, a weekly paper, established in 1854.

Transcribed by Karen Flanders Eddy. 

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