UNION was formed February 16, 1791. Portions were taken off to form the towns of Norwich and Oxford, (Chenango Co.) Jan. 19, 1793; Greene, (Chenango Co.) March 15, 1798; Tioga, (Tioga Co.) and Lisle, March 14, 1800; Chenango, in 1808; Vestal, Jan. 22, 1823; and Maine, March 27, 1848. A part was re-annexed from Tioga, (Tioga Co.) April 2, 1810, and from Lisle, April 11, 1827. It is one of the west border towns, lying south of the center of the County. It covers an area of 20,872 ½ acres, of which, in 1865, according to the census of that year, 16,510 ½, were improved. In the north the surface is hilly and the soil a rich slaty and gravelly loam, while in the south is the intervale of the Susquehanna with its fertile alluvium. The hills admit of tillage to their summits. It is watered by the Susquehanna River, which forms the southern boundary, and Nanticoke, Patterson and Little Choconut creeks, all of which are tributary to the Susquehanna. All the creeks flow in a southerly direction, Nanticoke through the western, Patterson through the central and Little Choconut through the eastern part.
The Erie R. R. extends through the south part, following the general course of the river.
In 1870 the population of the town was 2,538. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1871, there were fourteen school districts and sixteen teachers employed. The number of children of school age was 863; the number attending school, 680; the average attendance, 362; the amount expended for school purposes, $6,243; and the value of school houses and sites, $10,737.
UNION, (p. v.) located on the Susquehanna River and the Erie R. R., in the south-west part, is an incorporated village 1 of about 800 inhabitants. It is distant eight and one-half miles west of Binghamton, and thirteen and one-half miles east of Owego. It contains two churches, 2 (M. E. and Presbyterian,) a Union school, a banking-house, 3 a printing office, (Union News) a foundry and machine shop, 4 a grain cradle manufactory, a planing mill and sash and blind factory, fourteen stores, four wagon shops, four blacksmith shops, three hotels, a bakery, a harness shop, three shoe shops, two millinery stores, one jewelry store, two cooper shops and a tin and stove store.
UNION CENTER, (p. v.) located near the north line, on Nanticoke Creek, four miles north of Union, contains two churches, (Congregational and M. E.) two stores, a saw mill, 5 a planing mill, a rake factory, 6 a blacksmith shop, a shoe shop, a cooper shop and about one hundred inhabitants.
HOOPER, (p. o.) (named from Philander Hooper,) located about the center of the south border, on the Erie R. R., two and one-half miles east of Union and six, west of Binghamton, contains a store, a blacksmith shop, a school house and a dozen houses.
CHOCONUT CENTER, (p. o.) located near the north-east corner, on Little Choconut Creek, four and one-half miles north-west of Binghamton, contains one church, (M. E.) a school house, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, a steam feed mill and about sixty-five inhabitants.
ASHERY CORNERS, located on the east line, south of the center, contains a school house, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, a grocery and harness shop and about twenty houses. 7
Permanent settlements were commenced in 1785 by Joseph Draper, who located at Union Village; Nathan Howard, from New London, Conn., and Jabez Winchop, an exhorter, at Hooper, and Bryan Stoddard, near Hooper, who were squatters on the land purchased the next year by Joshua Mersereau; Nehemiah Crawford, a squatter, who settled one mile east of Hooper; Winthrop Roe and ___ Fitch, who settled at the mouth of Nanticoke Creek; Gen. Oringh Stoddard, one of the Commissioners appointed by the Boston Company to treat with the Indians, who settled one mile east of Hooper; and Lewis Keeler, 8 from Norwalk, Conn., a tailor by occupation, who lived with Gen. Stoddard. But this locality was perhaps first visited with a view to settlement, by Col. Hooper, the patentee of the tract bearing his name, who was sent by Bingham, Cox, and, it may be, others, to survey the shores of this part of the Susquehanna. He traversed it up and down, in an Indian canoe, managed by a faithful Indian whom he employed. He would lie down in the canoe, with an Indian blanket thrown over him, and take the courses and distances with a pocket compass, in this incumbent position. He took this precaution through fear of being shot by Indians on the shore. 9 Jeremiah and Benjamin Brown also located near Hooper, in 1785. The following year came Joshua Mersereau, 10 from Staten Island, who settled at Hooper, Oliver Crocker, 11 (whose father was one of the sixty proprietors of the Boston Purchase, and preceded him a short time,) who came "with his pack upon his back" and settled about two miles east of Hooper, on lot 208 of Chenango Township. A Mr. Gallop was a temporary settler at Union as early as 1787, but at what date he came or how long he remained we have not learned. Walter Sabin settled at Hooper about 1788, and kept the first school in the town. John Mersereau, brother of Joshua, came in 1792, and settled first on the south side of the river, in Vestal, but afterwards moved to the north side. His purchase embraced the site of Union Village. The same year came Abner Rockwell, who settled near Union Center; Elnathan Norton, from Stockbridge, Conn., who settled three miles east of Union Center, where he lived a few year, when he moved to Union Center and kept a tavern; and Medad Bradley, from Berkshire Co., Mass., who settled at Union Center. Elisha B. Bradley, also from Berkshire Co., Mass., came in 1793; Isaac N. Martin, from Berkshire Co., Mass., came in about this time, perhaps a little earlier. Henry Richards, from Wyoming Flats, Penn., settled soon after Oliver Crocker, on the farm east of his, which he bought of Amos Draper. Ezekiel Crocker Jr., 12 second son of Ezekiel Crocker, was an early settler near Little Choconut Creek. Amos Patterson was an early settler in the east part of the town, on the Allen farm. Rowland Davis, from Mass., came in in 1794. He worked a farm with Oliver Crocker for two years, after which he bought a farm about one mile north of Hooper, on which he resided till his death, in 1841.
Until 1791, in which year James Ross and Jabez Winchop built the first grist mill, the nearest milling facilities were at Tioga Point, and thither the early settlers carried their grists. It was a common practice among them, however, to grind a portion of their corn by means of a hollowed-out stump and a pestle suspended from a spring-pole, the whole so constructed that when the pestle was borne down upon the corn the pole caused it to recede again when the downward pressure was removed. The first death was that of Mary J. Fisk, June 13, 1789; the first birth that of Joseph Chambers, July 4, 1790. Jabez Winchop opened the first tavern in 1791.
Several Indians had temporary huts near the river, which they occupied more or less for several years after the country was settled. They had a means of obtaining salt which the whites never discovered. They crossed the mountain about opposite Judge Mersereau's, on the south side of the river, and, after an absence of about twelve hours, returned with a kettle of salt, which, immediately on their return, was warm. So cautious were they of revealing the source whence they obtained their supply of salt that all efforts of the early settlers to discover it proved unavailing. John D. Mersereau relates that, when a lad, his father and himself endeavored to follow the Indians when it was known they had set out for salt; but they soon appeared to suspect they were watched and either remained where they were, or turned from their course. Never more than two sat out upon the expedition. 13
This town furnished 176 men for the army during the war of the Rebellion. 14
The first Church (Ref. Prot. D.) was organized in 1789, at Union village, and the first settle preacher was Rev. John Manley.
The First Presbyterian Church of Union, located at Union village, was organized with fourteen members, July 17, 1822, by Rev. Benjamin Niles, Horatio Lombard and Marcus Ford. The first church edifice was erected in 1820; the present one, which will seat 600 persons, in 1871-2, at a cost of $15,000. Rev. John Whiton was the first pastor; Rev. C. Otis Thacher is the present one. There are 138 members. The church property is valued at $20,000.
The Union Center Congregational Church was organized with seventy-three members, Nov. 2, 1841, by Rev. Nathaniel Pine, its first pastor. Their house of worship, which will seat 300 persons, was erected in 1840, at a cost of $1,500, and was rebuilt in 1870. Rev. Charles W. Burt is the present pastor. There are 103 members. The Church property is value at $6,000.
The M. E. Church of Union, located at Union village, on the corner of Union and Nanticoke streets, was organized by Rev. Charles Burlingame, its first pastor, March 4, 1842. The first house of worship was erected in 1848; the present one, which will seat 450 persons, in 1871-2, at a cost of $12,000. The present number of members is 120, and the present pastor, Rev. A. J. Van Cleft. The value of Church property is $18,000.
The Grace Church of Union, (Episcopal) located at Union village, was organized with five members, in February, 1871, and the following April Rev. J. E. Battie became its first pastor, though services were conducted by Rev. Wm. A. Hitchcock, rector of Christ Church, Binghamton, in Nov. 1870, and are still continued by him one each week, in the absence of any settled pastor. A church edifice, which, when completed, is to coast about $4,000, is now in process of erection. The Society numbers eighteen communicants.
1 - It was incorporated June 16, 1871. The following named persons constitute the first and present board of officers: F. B. Smith, President; E. C. Moody, Clerk; M. C. Rockwell, E. C. Mersereau and T. P. Knapp, Trustees. It was laid out into streets, and lots of three-quarters of an acre in size, in 1836.
2 - An Episcopal Society was organized about a year ago, (present time April, 1872,) and is preparing to build a church edifice.
3 - Messrs. Chandler & Rockwell's banking-house was established in May, 1866.
4 - The Union Agricultural Works, of which H. Day & Son are proprietors, are located on Main St., and give employment to six men in the manufacture of agricultural implements, steam engines, grist and saw mills &c.
5 - The Union Center Steam Saw Mill, (J. C. & B. Howard, proprietors,) contains one circular saw, four and one-half feet in diameter, the motive power for which is furnished by a seventy-five-horse power engine, and has a capacity for cutting about 2,000,000 feet of lumber per annum.
6 - The Union Center Hand-Rake Manufactory, (Barzilla Howard, proprietor,) produces about 20,000 rakes per annum.
7 - In addition to the business interests already noted are the following which are removed from the business centers: Wells & Brigham's brickyard, located in the east part, uses three machines for pressed and common brick, gives employment to fifty men and manufactures from four million to five million bricks per annum; the Nanticoke Mill (custom and flouring) (James E. Harrison, proprietor,) located on Nanticoke Creek, about one mile west of Union Village, has three runs of stones, with a grinding capacity of 400 bushels of grain per day; the Union Hand-Rake Manufactory, (Aaron Heath, proprietor,) located about one mile south of Union Center, on Nanticoke Creek, produces from 18,000 to 20,000 rakes per annum; John C. Waterman's circular saw mill, located about one mile south of Union Center, has a capacity for cutting about 400,000 feet of lumber per annum; Ward's Plaster Mill, (Luke Ward, proprietor,) located at Nanticoke Creek, about two and one-half miles north of Union, has a capacity for grinding about eleven tons per day---about 300 tons are ground per annum; the Union Brick Yard, (A. P. Keeler, proprietor,) located about three miles north of Union, does an extensive business.
8 - It is related of Keeler that, in 1793, he went to Conn. To visit his friends and on his way back, a little west of Deposit, he fell in company with a woman, on horseback, who was going to Lisle to visit her brother and cousin and invest a few hundred dollars she had in lands. They were soon on such good terms that he mounted the horse beside her and before reaching Binghamton they were engaged to be married, and accordingly, the next day, they were married at Binghamton, about one mile above which place they settled. Keeler was afterwards sheriff of Tioga Co. He built the first house, except the old ferry-house, at Binghamton, and kept the first hotel there.
9 - Annals of Binghamton, p. 95.
10 - Joshua Mersereau was a native of France and, in company with his father, fled to this country during the French Persecution, and settled on Staten Island. He was then a young man, and by occupation a ship carpenter. During the Revolutionary war he was appointed a Major by Gen. Washington, who, afterwards discovering that he was a better business man than soldier, changed the appointment to Commissary General for the exchange of prisoners and Quartermaster General of the Continental army, which office he filled till the close of the war. He was an intimate friend of Washington's and his house was frequently honored by the presence of the latter. After the close of the war he was elected member of Assembly, which office he filled till 1784, when he moved to Unadilla (Otsego Co.) While residing there he was nominated for State Senator in opposition to Judge Wm. Cooper, of Cooperstown, by whom he was defeated by one vote. Form there he moved to Union. At that time there were but few settlers in this section of country. There was one house at Binghamton, in which lived a man named Lyons. Joshua and William Whitney lived a little north of Binghamton; and one or two persons were living at Campville, Tioga county. Mr. Mersereau was commissioned to survey the Hooper, Wilson and Bingham patents, and received for that service a farm of 300 acres, located at Hooper. He named the County, also the town of Union. He was the first judge of the County and filled the office of First Judge till his death in June, 1804.
Statement of Lawrence Mersereau, third son of Joshua Mersereau, who came here with his father, in his fourteenth year. He is now in his hundredth year. Lawrence enlisted at the age of fourteen and was commissioned as ensign. Gov. Lewis gave him a Captain's commission. He filled the two offices ten years. Any soldier, he says, worth $250, was entitled to vote, and in order to enable him to vote for Washington, for the second term to the Presidency, his father gave him five acres of fine land. He enjoyed good health, retained all his mental faculties and transacted all his business until the Thanksgiving of 1870, when he was attacked with a severe fit of sickness, which somewhat impaired his mental faculties. So vigorous was he previous to his sickness that, in 1866, he climbed his apple trees and picked the fruit. He converses freely and has a retentive memory. His father and his father's brother, John Mersereau, originated the first line of stages which ran between New York and Philadelphia. Lawrence frequently accompanied them on their trips and he recollects riding in the stage with Washington several times. He says, at one time Washington was expected to take dinner at the house of his father, who sent him to catch some black fish, of which Washington was particularly fond. He went, as he supposed, according to his father's directions, but returned without having caught any. His father whipped him, and having again instructed him where to go, sent him a second time. He returned with seven fine fish in due time for the feast. Lawrence lived on the old farm at Hooper until 1837, when he moved to Union Village.
11 - Crocker was from Richmond, Berkshire Co., Mass. The year previous to his settling in Union (1785) he worked lands on shares, as a tenant, with Gen. Joshua Whitney, and saved from his summer's earnings $100, with which he purchased 400 acres of land in this town. He was appointed, by his father, agent for the sale of lands in New York. He frequently went to that city, always on foot, and, to make the trip pay, he brought back with him goods to sell to the settlers. While returning on one occasion he procured, by permission, from a cider mill in N. J., which he passed, a half bushel of apple seeds, which he stayed there long enough to dry and pack in his knapsack. A portion of these seeds he planted on his farm here, and the rest he took to Genoa, (Cayuga Co.) where he had purchased 1250 acres of land, and commenced the second nursery in Cayuga Co. He built a hotel on his farm here in 1800, where a public house was kept for many years. It was one of the first kept in the town. "While employed in clearing his land he lived, he says, for a length of time upon roots and beech leaves. He boarded, or rather tarried by night, with William Edminster and his family, who were driven to nearly the same straits. They were relieved, in some degree, by a scanty supply of cucumbers, and still later by a deer or two. As young Crocker assisted in shooting the deer, so he shared in eating them. He says that while reduced to these extremities for food, he would become so faint at his work that he would scarcely be able to swing his ax."
12 - Mr. Crocker lived here but a short time. His dead body was found in the Chenango River, into which he is supposed to have fallen from his canoe. He had lent his own, large canoe to a neighbor to go to mill and taken in exchange (temporarily) two smaller ones, which he tried to make answer his purpose. When last seen he was standing with a foot in each boat.
13 - Annals of Binghamton, p. 104.
14 - The following is a list of casualties which occurred among them:
Charles Langdon, private of the 50th Engineers, died of camp fever at Washington, July 2, 1864.
Edwin Kipp, private 50th Eng., died at White House, Va., June 10, 1862.
Judson Balch, private 16th Battery, died of diarrhea, June 10, 1865.
Levi Howard, private 50th Reg., died at Washington, April 10, 1864.
Charles Gardner, private 50th Eng., died in October, 1864.
Huson Gardner, private 50th Eng., died from injury received on the cars, Nov. 10, 1863.
Wm. H. Kipp, private 50th Eng., died of diphtheria, April 10th, 1864.
Lewis Howard, 51st Infty., died at Covington, Ky., Aug. 30, 1863.
James Fredenberg, 16th Battery, died at Andersonville prison, Aug. 22, 1864.
Jasper Waterman, private 18th Battery, is supposed to have died at Philadelphia, Pa.
Benj. Whittemore, private 109th Infty., killed in battle of Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864.
Austin R. Barney, 137th Infty., killed at battle of Lookout Mountain, Oct. 30, 1863.
Benj. F. Dunning, 89th Inf., died at Fort Schuyler, N. Y., April 16, 1864.
John J. Englesfield, private 89th Infty., was killed at the battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
John Cannine, private 137th Infty., was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3d, 1863.
Ezra Cleveland, private 89th Infty., died from wounds, Dec. 7, 1864.
Lewis Kipp, private 76th Infty, died of chronic diarrhea at Rappahannock Station, Va., Nov. 18th, 1863.
Manton C. Angell, Capt. 16th Infty., was killed in the battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862.
David Millen, corporal 109th Infty., was killed while leading his company in battle of Petersburgh, Va., July 30, 1864.
Wm. J. Millen, private 61st Infty, was killed in battle, May 8, 1864.
Squire D. Gager, corporal 109th Infty, died of small pox at Washington, Feb. 14, 1864.
Friend Pratt, private 89th Infty., died from a wound in the fall of 1864.
Henry H. Pulsipher, 16th Heavy Artillery, when last heard from was in Andersonville prison, where he is reported to have died.
Benj. F. Mason, corporal 137th Infty., killed in battle of Lookout Mt., Nov. 24, 1863.
Frederick Miller, private 50th Eng., died in hospital at Washington, D. C., Sept. 1, 1864.
James F. Marble, private 21st Cavalry, is reported dead.
Franklin Dunning, private 89 Infty., died of disease at Washington, D. C.---(Town Records.)
Transcribed by Mary Hafler - May, 2007.
Town of Union
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