The Cortland County Agricultural Society --- Its First Fairs --- List of its Presidents --- The Cortland County Farmers' Club --- Its Organization and first Officers --- Value of its Work --- List of Officers --- The Cortland County Bible Society --- The Young Men's Christian Association --- County Buildings.

The County Agricultural Society.---The formation of the first agricultural society in Cortland county in 1818 has been described in the general history, with the details of the first fair held. It is not known just when this first organization closed its career of usefulness, but it is probable that event and the organization of the second society in 1838. It is conceded that to Henry Stephens, more than to any other person, is due the credit of making the first organization a success.

    On the first day of October, 1838, a meeting was held at the court-house for the purpose of organizing the second and present agricultural society. Wm. Berry was chairman of the meting and Henry S. Randall secretary. The first officers chosen were John Miller, president; Joseph Reynolds and Peter Walrad, vice-presidents; Rufus Boies, treasurer; Paris Barber, secretary. The first fair was held at the Eagle tavern in Cortland village and was considered a success for that period, although it was considered necessary in 1840 to reduce the highest premium from $3 to $2. Jesse Ives was chosen president in 1841, and in the following year, an appropriation was secured from the State, for the advancement of agricultural interests, through the medium of the society. The fairs were held at the court-house, in the Eagle Tavern, and perhaps elsewhere until the grounds in Homer village were secured. These were occupied until 1857, when the present tract of land between the villages was secured. Improvements have been made and buildings erected from time to time on these grounds, until now they are admirably adapted to their purposed and among the most commodious and convenient fair grounds in the State.

    Following is a list of the presidents of the society who have been elected annually, beginning with the year 1841: Jesse Ives, Dan Hibbard, Wm. Randall, Jedediah Barber, Rufus Boies, H. S. Randall, Amos Rice, James S. Leach, Peter Walrad, Hiram Hopkins, Noah, Hitchcock, Anthony Freer, Paris Barber, Israel Boies, Alfred L. Chamberlain, Joshua Ballard, S. D. Freer, Manly Hobart, W. P. Randall, W. E. Tallman, S. D. Freer, Geo. Murray, Wm. A Boies, H. B. Van Hoesen, C. C. Taylor, A. L. Chamberlain, F. H. Hibbard, A. D. Blodgett, H. Dennison, J. C. Carmichael, S. D. Freer, A. L. Merrill, James M. Smith (four successive years), James H. Clark, A. D. Blodgett, James M. Smith, L. J. Fitzgerald (1882-83), C. W. Gage, 1884.

    The Cortland County Farmers' Club. --- This organization was formed in the year 1878, through the call of a meeting at the office of John S. Barber, esq., for Wednesday, February 13th. Allen B. Benham was chosen temporary chairman of the meeting and T. Mason Loring temporary secretary. A. P. Rowley stated the object of the meeting, and on his motion the following officers were appointed: president, A. D. Blodgett; vice-president, Dwight H. Hitchcock; secretary, T. Mason Loring. On motion of James M. Smith, A. P. Rowley, was chosen treasurer. A. P. Rowley, A. B. Benham, Charles Copeland and T. Mason Loring were made a committee to prepare a code of by-laws. Chas. H. Price, one of the members, offered the gratuitous use of a room in Taylor Hall Block, for the temporary convenience, of the club, and the first regular meeting was held there on the 23d day of February, 1878. At this meeting the following question was discussed: "Plaster, it uses and the time of applying it."

    The club received numerous acquisitions to its membership during the first year of its existence, and its intelligent discussions of questions of importance to the farmers of the county awakened a good degree of interest. During its life of about six years the club have invited and been addressed by many able men, among whom may be name Prof. Roberts and Prof. Law, of Cornell University, Hon. Harris Lewis, president of the State Dairymen's Association, Mr. Powell, of Syracuse, James Root, of Skaneateles, and others.

    In the membership of the club are many men who are both practical and theoretical farmers of distinction, who have given their best thoughts to the consideration of various important topics, either in carefully prepared papers, or in extemporaneous discussion. Among the more prominent of these we may mention Hon. B. F. Tillinghast, Hon. Stephen Patrick, A. D. Blodgett (president of the club since its formation), H. P Goodrich, D. E. Whitmore, Dr. Kingman (veterinary surgeon), A. B. Benham, Le Roy Gillett, A. P. Rowley, T. Mason Loring, Charles Taylor, Dr. Jewett, Prof. J. H. Hoose, A. Sager, Prof. Milne, Robert Purvis, Martin Sanders, George Conable, Dr. Gazlay, B. S. Conger, M. F. Cleary, and many others.

    The club has met every two weeks since its organization, except during the summer work season, and has accomplished an amount of good that is inestimable.

    The efficiency displayed and the satisfaction given by the first officers of the club, as given above, is testified to by the fact that the president and treasurer have held their offices ever since their first election; H. P. Goodrich was vice-president for five years; while the secretary's office has been filled C. M. Bean and W. A. Bean since the first election. Hon. B. F. Tillinghast is now the vice-president.

    The Cortland County Sportmen's Club. --- This club was organized and incorporated in April, 1866, by J. A. Schermerhorn, J. C. Carmichael, J. S. Ormsby, F. E. Knights, M. H. Mills, W.R. Randall, D. C. McGraw, D. H. Burr, J. B. Fairchild, F.O. Hyatt, V. Carpenter, and M. Coats.

    The principal objects of the club were the preservation of game and fish in the county, the proper enforcement of the laws bearing upon that subject, and the general elevation of manly sports. In these directions the club accomplished excellent results, but it was dissolved about two years ago.


    The society was organized in Cortland village on the 27th of August, 1816. Its first officers were: Rev. Elnathan Walker, president; Elder Alfred Bennett, vice-president; William Sears, corresponding secretary; Jesse Searl, recording secretary; John Keep, treasurer. The society has accomplished much good, more than twenty thousand dollars having been contributed to the spread of the Bible.

    In the Cortland Observer, printed at Homer Village, of the date of September 24th, 1830; we find the following, which is of interest in the connection:---

    "ANNIVERSARY.---The annual meeting of the Cortland Auxiliary Bible Society was holden at Cortland village on the 21 inst. An appropriate discourse was delivered by Rev. Alfred Bennet. The report of the directors was read by the Rev Luke Lyons, by which it appears the fifty-seven destitute families in the county have been supplied by the society since the last annual meeting, besides fifty bibles which have been given to the poor by a generous individual; that the county has been nearly supplied; that a debt due the parent society has been paid; that $133 remain in the treasury, and $422 have been transmitted to the American Society on the extra supply…. The officers chosen for the ensuing year are as follows: Rev. Luke Lyons, president; John Osborn, vice-president; Franklin Sherrill, corresponding secretary; Jesse Searl, recording secretary and treasurer.

    "Directors - Rev. John Keep, Rev. Alfred Bennet, John Keep, esq., John Hubbard, Daniel Miller, Lemuel Dady, Rufus Boies, Gideon Hoar, Augustus Donnelly, Nathan Dayton, Samuel B. Hitchcock, Charles Chamberlain, Elisha Grow, Jared Babcock, Asa G. Atwater, Joseph L. Clapp."

    The Young Men's Christian Association.-----This association was organized March 17th, 1868, with the following charter members: A. F. Tanner, C. W. Collins, H. C. Smith, H. F. Benton, R. A. Smith, L. D. Garrison, J. A. Todd, J. D. Fredericks, W. H. Myers, T. E. Pomeroy, A. N. Rounsvell, Lewis Bouton.

    Following were the first board of officers of the association:---

    President --- A. F. Tanner.
    Vice-president --- H. C. Smith.
    Recording secretary --- J. D. Fredericks.
    Corresponding secretary --- C. W. Collins.
    Treasurer --- R. A. Smith.
    Directors --- H. F. Benton, W. H. Myers, A. N. Rounsvell.

    The first business meetings of the association where held in Fireman's Hall, and the first devotional meetings in the Squires block. Early in 1869 the association moved into rooms in Taylor Hall block, where they remained until February, 1882, when the again moved into the Schermerhorn block, and now occupy the entire third floor of that block. Four large rooms are used, including a parlor, gymnasium, reading room and prayer room.

    The present membership, consisting of males only, is 130. The rooms contain about $200 worth of furniture, and furnish about the only attractive place for young men to spend their leisure to their profit. The rooms are open every day (except Sunday) from 8 a. m. to 10 p. m. Bible classes, gospel and young men's meetings are held.

    The present officers of the association are as follows:---

    President --- Elmer Bangs.
    Vice-president --- Dr. E. B. Nash.
    Recording secretary --- E. G. Gould.
    General secretary --- W. N. P. Dailey.
    Directors --- C. F. Brown, E. Jennings, C. E. Selover, W. D. Tuttle, B. L. Webb. 1


    The memory of the old and insignificant structure, which served as a place of deposit for the valuable county records during a period of nearly sixty years, has not yet faded away; indeed, it is perpetuated by numerous lithographic prints which have been scattered through the county --- and honor that probably would not have been paid the old building had it use not been prolonged until it actually became the laughing stock of citizens and strangers. But the imperative necessity for a new building became at length so pressing that in 1873 the Board of Supervisors appointed a committee to examine into the subject and report. With these initiatory steps Supervisor Matthias Van Hoesen, of Preble, was, perhaps, more prominently identified than other member of the board.

    A preliminary report was made to the effect that a new clerk's office was need (a self-evident fact), and that one of proper size and character could be built for from $15,000 to $18,000. The subject rested in abeyance until the next year (1874), when another committee was appointed with broader powers. Mr. Hicok, of Homer, made a proposition that, as the town of Homer would build and present to the county a suitable office, it was the duty of the board to accept the offer and locate if in that village. This proposition (which was the last flickering attempt to locate a portion of the county buildings in Homer) was rejected.

    The last mentioned committee reported, in 1875, in favor of the erection of a two-story brick structure, fire-proof, and to be located either on the old site, or on land owned by the county just west of the courthouse; the building to cost about $17,000. In December, 1875, the location was definitely fixed on the old site and proposals for the building were solicited. The bid of L. G. Viele was accepted by the building committee of the supervisors (composed of M. Van Hoesen, W. A. Bentley and D. McGraw) and the present handsome and convenient structure was erected. It was ready for occupancy in February, 1877, and the contents of the old building (which had been temporarily deposited elsewhere), wee rearranged under the supervision of Deputy Howard J. Harrington and placed on file in excellent order. R. W. Bourne is the present county clerk, and Howard J. Harrington, who has been in the office for about sixteen years, is deputy.

1 - This account of the Y. M. C. A. was kindly furnished by the general secretary.
Transcribed by Jinny Angelis - May, 2006.

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