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125 Years Ago
The season 1888 opens with the biggest real estate deal yet recorded for Oneonta in the purchase by Geo. I. Wilber, from A.C. Lewis, of all remaining to the latter of the old Ford place, 156.75 feet on Main Street, at about $30,000. This includes the east half of the Union Block, 22.5 feet, a fine four-story brick building, store on the street and three flats above – as well as a large barn and tenement in the rear, and the well-known old stone dwelling now used as a boarding house. The lot has an irregular rear, 180 feet in length, and varies in depth from 223 feet on the west line to 169 on the east line.
The Ford property had originally a frontage of about 259 feet. It was purchased in July, 1881, by A.C. Lewis and C.B. Pepper at $11,500. Subsequently, Mr. Lewis gave his partner $1,000 bonus for his half interest. In 1882, D.F. Wilber purchased 80 feet, corner of Ford Avenue, with space in the rear for a barn, at $3,500. The next sale off the property was to M.S. Roberts, of East Meredith, who joined with Mr. Lewis in the building of the Union Block, securing 22.5 feet frontage with good rear, at $2,500. Now, Mr. Lewis closes out his interest at $30,000. Allowing $8,500 for his half of the Union Block and some other improvements, Mr. Lewis has put into the property $21,000. He takes out at least $30,000 plus $6,000 previous sales, making a clean profit of $15,000, which, considering the time involved, less than seven years, may be considered a pretty fair speculation.
March 1888

80 Years Ago
Word of the national banking holiday came as a surprise to Oneonta’s three banking institutions, the Wilber National Bank, the Citizen’s National Bank & Trust Co., and the Oneonta Building & Loan Association, and to other banks throughout this vicinity. Bank employees were at their places of business Saturday morning ready to open as usual when telegrams were received announcing the holidays and ordering all banks to close. The text of the telegram read: “You are hereby advised that Governor Lehman has declared a banking holiday effective today, March 4, and Monday, March 6, during which all banking institutions will be closed. J.A. Broderick, Superintendent of Banks.” Officials of the three Oneonta banking institutions Sunday reaffirmed their confidence that the banks of this vicinity are in exceptionally good condition. They are ready to resume business as soon as they are permitted to do so. As far as Oneonta and vicinity is concerned the banking holiday is simply a temporary cessation of banking activity which will be resumed as soon as possible, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
March 1933

60 Years Ago
Oneonta’s Board of Public Safety last night granted 19 licenses to master plumbers in Oneonta, the only men authorized to supervise plumbing installations in the city. The qualified master plumbers are Walter W. Eldred, Wilbur Newell, Fred R. Whitney, Milton D. Mitchell, Stanley Olds, A.J. Rorick, Jack Evans, Arthur Evans, Lavern Ginther, Robert J. Daley, George S. Andrus & Sons, Howard Edmunds, S.E. McKean, William H. Ziegler, Jack Thaler, Louis M. Baker, Oscar W. Butts and Earl D. Wilsey. An Electrician’s license was granted to Donald Rorick.
March 1953

40 Years Ago
The Oneonta Symphony Orchestra voted last night to go ahead with its planned May 13 concert, hoping that donations from area residents will carry the $1,500 cost of the event. Orchestra committee and trombonist, Donald C. Robertson Jr. of Sydney said last Sunday the orchestra has only $70 in its treasury. Half of the symphony’s 70 members who gathered for a meeting at the Oneonta State fine arts building voted to form a board of directors and elected three members to it – Mary Anne Mazarak and William Manly of Oneonta and Jeanne Herst of Cooperstown. Robertson said last week that the 20-year-old symphony was in danger of folding due to financial and organizational problems. He said the formation of a board of directors will do a great deal to alleviate the organizational problems. The orchestra’s financial problems have centered on the hiring of paid conductors to replace unpaid conductor Dr. John Mazarak, Oneonta State music director.
March 1973

30 Years Ago
Catskill Airways recently took delivery of a prop-jet airliner, which will be put into service between Oneonta and New York City in approximately two weeks. The airplane, a Beechcraft 99 was purchased to accommodate increased demand for passenger seating. It will hold 15 passengers and will be flown with two pilots aboard. Currently the airline operates a Beechcraft “Queenair” which carries ten passengers and one pilot. Costing approximately a half million dollars, the new plane flies at 280 mph, carries more baggage and freight, is more fuel-cost efficient and takes only 35 to 45 minutes to reach New York City.
March 1983

20 Years Ago
Nearly 10 years ago Ray Groves of Otego read an article about illiteracy. “I couldn’t believe it – that in this country where we have public education that there could be that many people who are functionally illiterate,” he said. “I thought what it must be like for somebody that can’t read the road signs, and can’t read a map. It made me want to get involved.” For nearly a decade, Groves has devoted several hours of each week to teaching people to read as a member of Literacy Volunteers of Otsego and Delaware Counties. “This is a gift – if anybody could give this gift to somebody, it would be one of the greatest things you could do.”
March 1993

10 Years Ago
The OHS boys’ postseason basketball ended in a 56-46 loss to the Red Hook Raiders in a first-round Class B regional matchup game at Binghamton University. Red Hook’s senior point guard Dave Jutton, who was averaging 16 points a game, spurted for 36 points and proved unstoppable. With Oneonta leading 33-20 with 5:30 left in the third period, Jutton hit three three-pointers and two free throws and the Raiders eventually overtook the Yellowjackets for the win.
March 2003



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