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News of Otsego County

Cooperstown history

Bound Volumes: August 5, 2021

Bound Volumes

August 5, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

Wisdom for the Merchant – Are you a merchant? Enter on your day book everything you let go on credit at the moment you dispose of it; never put it off till another time. The memory is treacherous and you may forget the number or price. Post your books every Saturday. Look frequently at your accounts. He who looks at his books often, understands his accounts and turns to them with pleasure; while the man who posts his books but once a year, and turns to them but seldom, always does it with reluctance; he hates to settle an account, and had rather lose a few cents than draw of a bill.

August 3, 1811

The Old Badger: Willow Brook has been altered again

The Old Badger

Willow Brook has
been altered again

Originally published in The Freeman’s Journal on Aug. 3, 1977.

Willow Brook runs into Otsego Lake near the foot of Pioneer Street. Its course has been altered to run down the far side of a strip of land there, which is being readied for whatever is going to be built – probably houses. The brook ends at the Lake, but … Where does it begin?

I’ll trace it to its source by going upstream, like an eel. Once it leaves the Lake, the first obstacle is what we call Lake Street – at first it was First Street. This used to be a busy section of town: a tannery, a smithy and a butcher shop on the Lake side of the road with Cory’s coffin factory and Weeks Livery on the other. The brook runs under the road and along the edge of the skating rink behind the Cooper Inn (which Henry Phinney built in 1816 as a residence, calling it “Willowbrook”), under a delicate stone-arched foot bridge and then through a base of a fine stone wall and into a tunnel where it moves diagonally under Main Street toward the space between the banks.

In observer in 1909 wrote that “in front of Slote’s is dug very deep, as they are turning the course of Willow Brook close to the First National Bank, so as to have room to put up the new building of the (Otsego) Farmer (It actually became Crist Publishing Company and later the Second National Bank, then the National Commercial (and now Key Bank). The walls of the stream area made of concrete, and the top also, but what’s going to keep the top from falling in, no one knows.”

Bound Volumes: July 29, 2021

Bound Volumes

July 29, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

With what contempt does the freeman of America glance at the silly attempt of such things as emperors and kings to induce them to join their sanguinary play, which sends thousands in an hour to their long home; while the Americans are infinitely better employed in cultivating their fertile fields and extending their settlements into a vast wilderness, raising flocks and herds of cattle and sheep, and all kinds of grain – making their own ploughs, wheelbarrows and carts, and clothing themselves richly from their own wool, cotton and flax, for the surplus of which the emperors and kings and things in Europe are quarreling for the pre-emption.

July 27, 1811

Bound Volumes: July 22, 2021

Bound Volumes

July 22, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

A Comet! Another of those singular and extraordinary bodies has made its appearance within view of our globe. It was discovered a few evenings since, but its apparent smallness and the haziness of the atmosphere, prevented its being again seen for several evenings. Its present place at dark is a little south of west, and about 25 degrees above the horizon. It has changed its place considerably since it was first observed, and is now apparent five degrees higher above the horizon. From this it is evident that it has passed its perihelia, and it must be receding from the sun, and the the planets. (Ed. Note: The writer witnessed this comet in May in Chillicothe, Ohio)

July 13, 1811

BOUND VOLUMES: July 15, 2021

Bound Volumes

July 15, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

185 YEARS AGO

Under an apparent state of inaction as a party in this county, certain of the Whig corps are making preparations for a vigorous onset at the Fall campaign, by a gratuitous and other distribution of the Evening Journal, one of the most violent of the opposition papers published in the state. Having no confidence either in the ability or force of their local agent, a foreign power is sought to effect revolution in public sentiment, and the county is to be flooded with the vituperations and falsehoods of Thurlow Weed, a hireling, whose notoriety as connected with the Morgan excitement, makes him a fit instrument for political mountebanks and knaves to work with. We refer to this movement of the enemy, not because we fear the corrupting influence of Weed’s labors, but simply to apprise our democratic friends that their opponents are not so inert as they would feign induce the public to believe.

July 18, 1836

Bound Volumes: July 8, 2021

Bound Volumes

July 8, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

Among items of mail remaining at the Post-Office in the Village of Otsego (Cooperstown) are letters addressed to: Samuel Anderson, Nehemiah Burch, Benjamin Bissell, Isaac Childs, Cornelius L. Cary, William Dean, Sumner Ely, Revilo Ford, Micah French, William Griffin, John Jackson, James Johnston, Jonathan Kingsley, William Lindsley, Darius Moon, Patty Miller, Chauncey Newell, Freedom Potter, Sally Potter, James L. Palmer, John Robinson, Eliphaz Spencer, Stephen Skiff, Isaac Stone, Sally Thatcher, Nathaniel Todd, William Van Brunt, Cornelius W. Van Denburgh, Levi Warner, Sylvanus West and Patty Ward. (Ed. Note: Recipients of mail were liable for postage prior to delivery)

July 6, 1811

Bound Volumes: June 24, 2021

Bound Volumes

June 24, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

We are informed that Walter Rodgers, the boy wounded on board the frigate, and who behaved with so much firmness, has been appointed a midshipman in the Navy of the United States.
To Farmers—The clear profit in the produce of a farm is nearly all that can give it a certain value, and all that can ever make a farmer wealthy. If he derives no more from the produce of his farm than the mere worth of the labor bestowed on it, his situation is but little better than that of the daily laborer who works for his substance. It is well known that farms in this state
do not average more than a third of the clear profit which is in general derived from the same number of acres in Great Britain; and it is equally certain that farms here,
are upon an average, of better soil than those of that country.

June 22, 1811

Bound Volumes: June 17, 2021

Bound Volumes

June 17, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

Gallantry of an American Youth – In the late conflict between the United States frigate President and the British ship of war Little Belt, a gunner’s boy on board the frigate who had his arm broken by a shot, while under the hands of the surgeon in the cockpit, requested that he would make haste in dressing his wound, that he might get on deck again. On the surgeon’s asking what he would do on deck, wounded as he was, the little American replied, “If I can’t do more, I can at least be shot at!” It is known that the heroism of this lad has attracted the earnest attention of the secretary of the navy.

June 15, 1811

Bound Volumes: June 10, 2021

Bound Volumes

June 10, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

Advertisement – Just received and for sale at the Book Store of H. & E. Phinney, The Christian Soldier: or Heaven Taken by Storm – Shewing the holy violence a Christian is put to in pursuit after glory. By Thomas Watson, Minister of the Gospel.

June 8, 1811

BOUND VOLUMES: May 27, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES

May 27, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

From the desk of poor Robert the Scribe – Zounds! Sir, you may as well swear you’ll never do it! I’m out of all patience with these “by and bye” folks. “One hour of the present tense is worth a week in the future.” Why, I know a bachelor as well calculated for matrimonial felicity as every virtue and every accomplishment can render him; but he has been putting off the happy time, from one year to another, always resolving that he would marry “by and bye” – and “by and bye – till the best ten years of life are gone, and he is still re-resolving,” and I fear “will die the same.” He that would gather the roses of matrimony should wed in the May of life. If you wish only the withered leaves and thorns, why, poor Robert says, put it off till September. “Procrastination is the thief of time.”

May 25, 1811

BOUND VOLUMES: May 20, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES

May 20, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

200 YEARS AGO

The following is copied from the London Courier: The sea is ours, and we must maintain the doctrine – that no nation, no fleet, no cockboat shall sail upon it without our permission. America declares that England must not presume to declare a port in a state of blockade, unless she can keep a force actually before that port. England must replay; we will not condescend to mince and carve out and dwindle down our system of blockade. We will not talk of this port and that port. There is but one Navy in the world, the British Navy. The whole continent we consider as one port, and so long as Bonaparte persists in his present system, we warn all powers that the Continent is in a state of blockade, and they must not presume to trade with it without our leave. This is the doctrine which we must enforce, and the sooner we do it the better!

May 18, 1811

Robert Badger Seaver: The Badger

Robert Badger Seaver: The Badger

Bob Seaver was born in Boston in 1924 and spent his childhood summers on Otsego Lake in his grandfather’s camp, Wranglehurst, now called Highview, near Hickory Grove and, for reasons no one knows, across the lake at Camp Chenango.

His mother was from Springfield Center and his father was a pilot from WWI who was recuperating in Cooperstown. Bob attended Phillips Andover Academy and Amherst College, graduating in 1946 as an English major, then joined the crew of the U.S.S. Niblack as first Lieutenant in the Pacific at the end of WWII.

He taught school in Philadelphia and San Francisco and for several summers at the Mohican Reading School in Cooperstown, before he moved permanently to Cooperstown in 1960 to become supervisor of the experimental “talking typewriter” reading program for dyslexic and autistic children at Bassett Hall.

On the side, he taught at the Cooperstown Elementary School and ran an antiques shop near Hickory Grove.

He was president of the PTA in the early 1960s, a founding member of the Brookwood Foundation, a member of the Otsego Golf Club, the Mohican Club, the Friends of the Cooperstown Library and an original member of the Town of Otsego Planning Board. All these organizations, their members, friends and the people Bob ran into during his daily strolls on Main Street served as bait for The Badger.

In the early 1970s, Bob, who had been writing “Bits of my mind, written on paper,” regularly since he was in 7th grade, began submitting a weekly column about, in his words, “anything,” to The Freeman’s Journal. It was to be called The Badger, which was Bob’s middle name (and also a somewhat nasty omnivore that is related to otters, polecats, weasels, skunks and ferrets).

Bob left us more than The Badger; Badger Lane, near Hickory Grove, is home to a few old camps on Otsego, and Badger Park, once the Village Gardens, was donated to the Village of Cooperstown by Bob and his family to provide a skating rink for the kids.

The Badger—tales, observations and histories about everything and anything he found interesting, humorous or annoying, appeared regularly in the paper for the rest of Bob’s life. It was one of the most popular columns the Journal published. About half of them, 111 to be exact, have been compiled in a book—Cooperstown, Otsego and the World … as seen by The Badger, published in 2005, just before Bob died. The Freeman’s Journal has been given permission to reprint them here. Additionally, Bob’s wife, Veronica, is hard at work on Volume II, as envisioned by Bob, and we look forward to bringing these further stories to our readers in future editions.

Click To Read This weeks Excerpt of ‘The Badger’

BOUND VOLUMES: May 13, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES

May 13, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

185 YEARS AGO

Nature is beginning a length to throw off her sable mantles and everywhere Spring is appearing in all its primitive loveliness – the God of the seasons is breathing upon the autumnal earth and changing it from gloom to glory. There is a lofty and peculiar spirit belonging to the vernal developments of nature which man would do well to imitate. As the harvest in autumn depends upon the seed committed to the earth in spring, also the character of the man depends upon the principles implanted in the minds of youth in the springtime of life.

May 9, 1836

BOUND VOLUMES: May 6, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES

May 6, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

185 YEARS AGO

Congress has been between five and six months in session and the general appropriation bill is not yet passed. The consequence is that the salaries due on the first of April have not been paid, to
the great inconvenience of those officers of the government who have no other dependence. In the meantime, the members of Congress take better care of themselves and they draw their pay at their pleasure, even in advance. This is not very fair. To whom should the blame attach? If we look at the daily account of doings of Congress we find the proceedings filled with dilatory motions – speeches of some days duration made upon an amendment to defeat an ordinary appropriation and supported by only six votes after consuming 58 days in the discussion.

May 2, 1836

BOUND VOLUMES: April 29, 2021

BOUND VOLUMES

April 29, 2021

Compiled by Tom Heitz/SHARON STUART, with resources
courtesy of The Fenimore Art Museum Research Library

210 YEARS AGO

Who was the first Democrat? A gentleman claiming the name of federal, requested to be informed whence the name of democrat came, and who was the first democrat? For the information of such gentleman, I would observe, that the word democrat came from Democritus, a Grecian philosopher, who flourished between three and four hundred years before the Christian era; this same Democritus was the first Democrat I can find by searching the ancient writings; I take it his political opinion was, that the supreme power ought to remain the people; and this is the opinion of his followers to this day.

April 27, 1811

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