Watkins Village History
1999--These pages are part of the Schuyler co., NY Genweb page.  Not for commercial use.

The History of Schuyler Co., NY--pub. abt. 1885

Watkins Village

(p. 253--255)

"Watkins, the county seat of Schuyler county, situated at the head of Seneca Lake and named in honor of  Doctor Samuel Watkins, a prominent land owner, and an early resident, and distinguished citizen, is one of  the most pleasant and delightful villages in the state.  The elegant private residences, the public buildings, its hotels, and the romantic scenery of its glen, and the inviting waters of the lake, make it a great resort for the invalid and those who desire rest and recreation.  The views obtained from it and the surrounding hillsides cannot be excelled.  Its settlement and history dates back to revolutionary days, and Indian legends are connected with its occupation by the warriors of the Six Nations.
 It was known in former times as Salubria, and Jefferson, but was finally incorporated under the name and title of Watkins, April 8, 1852.  From the most authentic source (the records having been destoyed) it is believed that the following named gentlemen composed the first official board of the village:  William E. White, Winthrop E. Booth, George C. Quinn, Orlando Hurd, Benoni Peck, trustees;  William H. WIlliams, treasurer; Enoch Armitage, clerk.
--The first hotel was erected in 1801.
--David Cutler was the first settler in 1788.
--Watkins Gas Light Company organzied in 1869.
--St. Mary's Temperance Cadets organized in 178-.
--The first store was opened in 1815, by Allen & Vedder.
--The Watkins Exchange Bank established July 17, 1876.
--The first church in Watkins was completed May 10, 1830.  Presbyterian.
--Duncan S. Magee died May 6, 1869, in the thirty-eighth year of his age.
--The first boat upon Senaca Lake was built by General Charles Williamson, agent for the Putney estate, and plied between the present site of Watkins and Geneva, in 1796.

--Watkins Union School established by an act of the legislature, April 3, 1863.
--The Catholics have fine grounds laid out into a Cemetery near Glenwood.
--The Elmira & Jefferson railroad was opened from Elmira to Watkins, Dec. 3, 1849.
--Fire Department was organized at Watkins in 1853.  First foreman James Haywood.
--Hon. John Magee erected a Presbyterian Church in Watkins, in 1867-8, at a cost of $50,000.
--Dr. Samuel Watkins died in 1851, aged about 80 years.  He was born on Long Island in 1771.
--St. Mary's Catholic Church erected in 1865, Rev. Father Dennis English priest in charge, cost $23,000.
--Catholic Temperance Society organized in 1876.  Thomas H. Barrett, president; John Moran, vice president.
--Hon. John Magee removed from Bath to Watkins in 1864, and died April 5, 1868 in the seventy-fourth year of his age.

--The first name of the post office established at Watkins was known as "Catlin" Nov. 27, 1823, John Diven post-master.
--Dr. Samuel Watkins became a resident in 1828, laid out the village, erected the Jefferson House in 1834, and also erected dwellings and stores.
--Post office changed name from Catlin to Salubria, November 2, 1829, and to Watkins, Sept. 20, 1852, and July 1, 1874, established as a money order office.
--Canadesaga Lodge, No. 196, I.O.O.F. was organized August 20, 1868.
C. Broderick, N.G.;  Henry D. Staring, V.G.;  J.D. Booth, secretary;  H.(R.?) J. Baldwin, treasurer.
--Seneca Council Royal and Select masters, organized April 20, 1870.  Dispensatoin granted to M.L. Egbert, W.E. Woodward, C.E. Robbins, John R. Ellis, George Norman, George Bradley, Adna Barker, S.W. Cass.
--Ladies Library organized Jan. 1, 1870.  First officers: Mrs. Lousia H. Dent, president; Mrs. Daniel Beech, Mrs. T.B. Sellen, Mrs. Dewitt Freer, Mrs. Mary Roe, vice presidents.  Miss Helen Kingsbury, recording secretary.
--First National Bank of Watkins was organzied in March 1864.  Capital $50,000.  George G. Freer, president.  Incorporators, George G. Freer, John Knight, Martin S. Phinney, John B. Hinman, E.L. Sawyer. It was subsequently reorganized as "The Schuyler County Bank".
--St. James Episcopal Church organized Sept. 14, 1830.  Vestrymen, William B. Ireland, Winthrop E. Booth, Alanson G. Everts, Asa A. Norton, Charles Tillinghast, Samuel J. Beebe, Ebenezer Harvey, John Mitchell, Church erected in 1831.  Trinity Church, New York, donated $300 toward its erection. Rev. Dr. Mason, president of Geneva College, held the first service in the month of August 1831.  New Church erected in 1864, and dedicated August 18, 1866, by Bishop Core.  Cost of Church $8,000,  Rev. Duncan Mann, rector.
--Watkins Chapter, No. 182, R.A.M., organized under dispensation June 20, 1864;  Isaac S. Marshall , H.P.;  David P. Day, K.;  Daniel Beech, scribe.  Companions, O.W. Lackey, Israel Jocobson,  J.J. VanGorder, Daniel Disbrow, David C. Row, Abram Beals, John McIntyre, W.A. Bronson, Lemuel Hudson.
--Presbyterian Church organized Sept. 10, 1818.  First members:  William Baskin, Catherine Baskin, Elijah Bacon, Ruth Bacon, John Diven, Eleanor Diven, Charles T. Brown, Bradley Thompson, Miss Olive Bacon, Miss Sarah Thompson, Miss Sarah VanZant, Mrs Anna Norton, Mrs. Polly Smith, Mrs. Patty Phinney, Mrs. Jane Baskin, Mrs. Elizabetrh Diven.
--The First Baptist Church of Jefferson was organized by Rev. Thomas S. Sheardown, Oct. 2, 1846.  First members:  John Mosier, Albert Wilson, William Kinner, William Pratt, T.L. McWhorter, R. Russ, Mary Kinney, Caroline Mosier, Sarah Pratt, Emeline Mosier, Lucinda Cass, Charlotte Mosier, Helen Edgertown, Fanny Winfield, Sarah Wilson.  Church erected in 1851.
--Glenwood Cemetery established March 15, 1865, the donation of Hon. John Magee, and Hon. George Freer, to the trustees of the village of Watkins.  It is a beautiful spot upon the hillside overlooking the village of Watkins., and the waters of Seneca Lake.  Dr. Samuel Watkins, Hon. John Magee and wife, John Magee, jr., Duncan S. Magee, Hebe Ellsworth Magee, Hon. George G. Freer, and many others are interred in this cemetery.
--Jefferson Lodge, No. 832. F.A.M., was instituted under dispensation Dec. 19, 1853.  Lemuel Hudson, W.M.;  Abel B. Ferrell, S.W.;  Ebenezer Thayer, J.W.;  Members:  George B. Gunnip, Oscar Holden, Benoni Peck, Judson Heath, Alonzo Simmons.  Lodge worked under dispensation until August 9, 1854, when the following officers were installed by Brothers James S. French and Squire Newton, of  Union Lodge of  Elmira:  Lemuel Hudson, W.M.;  Judson Hewett, S.W.;  Ebenezer Thayer, J.W.;  Lot B.  Oscar Holden, secretary;  Lemuel H. Thompson, tiler."

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