ortland is in the most highly prosperous condition, and three National Banks, and a Savings Bank, with other business concerns in proportion, testify to the thrift and activity of the place. The Savings Bank has nearly $500,000 on deposit (an average of $200 to the credit of each depositor), and the four banks show deposits aggregating more than a million dollars, while the statements of each indicate a healthy state that is more than gratifying.
The First National Bank of Cortland was incorporated under the national law in 1863, and was organized in February, 1864, with the following directors, the capital stock being $125,000: Thomas Keator, President; Garry chambers, Arthur Holmes, Rufus Edwards, James S. Squires, Lansing Carley, Nathan Bouton, Dan. C. Squires and Leander Fitts. Thomas Keator, the organizer of the bank, died Jun 25, 1879, and was succeeded by S. Keator as President. The career of the bank has been a flattering one, and a continuation of the charter for another twenty years was applied for and granted February 24, 1883, when it was reorganized with the same Board of Directors then (and still) in office, viz.: Samuel Keator, President; E. Keator, Cashier; Matthew Van Hoosen, Ransom Warren, Hector Cowen, Hon. O. U. Kellogg, Hon. A. A. Carley, E. C. Carley, T. H. Wickwire, C. W. Stoker, John B. Hart, R. B. Smith and Robert Purvis. The bank has declared dividends of from ten to twelve percent, free of taxes, every year, and the statement of July 23, 1883, shows a capital stock of $125,000; value of real estate, $16,000; surplus and undivided profits, $95,000; deposits, $190, 370.
The National Bank of Cortland was organized March 1, 1869, as the Bank of Cortland, with a capital stock of $100,000 and the following Board of Directors: James S. Squires, President; Wm. H. Shanklain, James A. Schermerhorn, H. P. Goodrich, Horatio Ballard, B. B. Woodworth (Cashier), F. H. Hubbard, S. E. Welch, Samuel Sager, C. C. Taylor, Lucius Babcock, Jerome Hulbert, J. C. Pomeroy, S. R. Hunter, A. B. Lamont and George L. Cole. It continued as the Bank of Cortland until the first day of January, 1875, when it was chartered as the National Bank of Cortland, with a capital of $100,000, and the following Board of Directors: James S. Squires, President; George L. Cole, Wm. H. Shanklain, Ed. M. Hulbert, Hamilton Putnam, A. B. Lamont, Byron A. Benedict, Wesley Hooker, John J. Sampson, Nathan Spencer, Samuel Sager and Stephen R. Hunter. The President, James S. Squires has been a resident of Cortland for the past thirty years, having been engaged in trade previous to the organization of this bank, of which he then became President, and has held the position during the fourteen years of its existence. There are associated with him as directors, at the present time, George L. Cole, the Vice-President; Charles L. Selover, the Cashier, and Nathan Spencer, Wesley Hooker, C. W. Collins, B. A. Benedict, L. J. Fitzgerald, Hamilton Putnam, C. H. Parker, Wm. H. Clark, Robert Bushby, F. C. Stratt and Nathan P. Darby. The statement of July 23, 1883, shows a capital stock of $100,000; value of real estate, $14,000; surplus, $27,687.60; deposits, $280,685.04.
The Second National Bank of Cortland was organized the 25th day of November, 1882, with a capital of $100,000, and the following directors: D. S. Bull, Cashier; J. S. Bull, Fitz Boynton, L. J. Fitzgerald, George C. Hubbard, J. R. Schermerhorn, George N. Bliss, Harrison Wells, John D. Schermerhorn, M. H. McGraw, D. F. Wallace, E. A. Fish, H. F. Benton, M. S. Pierce and W. B. Stoppard. The bank is proving a very successful institution, and the statement of July 23, 1883, shows a capital stock of $100,000, surplus (over and above dividend of three per cent just declared), $1,487.50; deposits, $94,000.
The Cortland Savings Bank was organized April 13, 1866, a charter being secured through the efforts of Hon. Stephen Patrick, of Truxton, and the original trustees were William E. Randall, President; Hiram J. Messenger, Thomas Keator, Jedediah Barber, George W. Bradford, Perrin H. McGraw, Henry Stephens, Frederick Hyde, Horatio Ballard, Henry S. Randall, R. Holland Duell, Hiram Crandall, Horace P. Goodrich, James W. Sturdevant, Alphonzo Stone, Silas Blanchard, Raymond P. Babcock, Nathan Smith, Daniel E. Whitmore and Stephen Patrick. The bank was opened September 25, 1866, in a small room on the second floor of Randall's Bank, with Calvin P. Walrad as Secretary and Treasurer, and from this modest beginning its business gradually increased until it was necessary to secure the large room now occupied (formerly Randall's Bank), and the deposits amount to nearly $500,000. The trustees are now Frederick Hyde, President; G. W. Bradford, R. Holland Duell, Henry Brewer, Horace P. Goodrich, Charles C. Taylor, Abram P. Smith, Calvin P. Walrad, James C. Carmichael, Morgan L. Webb, (Treasurer), Stephen Patrick, Madison Woodruff, Norman Chamberlain, Samuel E. Welch, Alphonzo Stone, George N. Copeland, Henry McKevitt, William H. Twiss and A. Leroy Cole, and the statement of the bank, made January 1, 1883, shows the assets to be $449,151.43; liabilities, $426,477.43; surplus, $22, 674.80.
The dry goods and carpet store of Mager & Walrad, at No. 11 North Main street, is one of largest mercantile establishments in Cortland, and with its handsome, well-lighted storerooms, large and tastefully displayed stock, would do credit to many cities of much greater population. The history of the house dates back to 1846, when it was established as a general store by J. W. Sturtevant & Co. (E. H. Dowd), in the storeroom now occupied by Dickinson & McGraw. There the business was conducted by this firm for more than twenty years, and was then the largest store in the county, where almost anything desired could be purchased. E. A. Fish was admitted to a partnership in the firm in 1861, and the store was subsequently removed to the room now occupied by a saloon at No. 19 North Main street. The general store system was abandoned about 1862-3, and in 1869 Mr. Dowd's interest was purchased by C. P. Walrad, and the firm name changed to Sturtevant, Fish & Co. Mr. Sturtevant's interest was purchased by the junior members of the firm in 1872, and Fish & Walrad continued the business with much success, removing in 1879 to the handsome new Schermerhorn building. On the 5th day of March, 1883, Fish & Walrad sold the establishment to G. J. Mager, and the co-partnership of Mager & Walrad was formed almost immediately thereafter. There are doubtless many readers who will remember the old firms and the changes that have taken place, and will call to mind the contrast made between the present and former storeroom, and here find an illustration of the progress made by the village. Mager & Walrad carry a fine stock of foreign and domestic dry goods, ready-made garments for ladies, and a complete line of carpets. Their dry goods storeroom is twenty-five feet in width and seventy-five feet in depth, while two large rooms on the second floor are occupied by the carpet department. Much taste is displayed in the arrangement of the stock and the storerooms are very attractive, indicating an enterprise and appreciation of the wants of this progressive era that will doubtless retain for Mager & Walrad the position they have secured.
The business of Newkirk & Hulbert, wholesale and retail dealers in hardware, stoves and machinists' supplies, is an outgrowth of the foundry and machine shops established by Daniel Larned in 1832, conducted by A. & S. D. Freer for many years, and now owned by the Cortland Machine Company. The Freers carried on the foundry and machine shop from 1837 until 1861, when they sold to the firm of Chamberlain & Benson. In 1865 Benson's interest was purchased by H. C. Smith, and Chamberlain & Smith conducted the business until 1873, when they erected the three-story brick building at No. 14 Port Watson street, and engaged in the hardware trade. The business was divided in 1874, the stock company known as the Cortland Foundry and Machine Company taking the foundry and machine shops, and the Cortland Hardware Company succeeding to the hardware business. H. C. Smith then bought out the Cortland Hardware Company, and conducted the business for a time, and sold to C. F. Chamberlain, who was succeeded in turn by Floyd Chamberlain. In a short time, however, C. F. Chamberlain again purchased the business, and forming a co-partnership with C. E. Huntington, under the title of C. F. Chamberlain & Co., continued the business a year and then organized the Chamberlain Manufacturing Company. In 1879 W. S. Newkirk and Ernest M. Hulbert, forming the firm of Newkirk & Hulbert, succeeded the Chamberlain Manufacturing Company, and under their management the business has nearly doubled in four years. Upon the completion of the new Standard block last February, they removed into this handsome building, where they now occupy the four floors fitted up especially for their large business. Here they carry an unusually large stock of hardware, stoves and machinists' supplies, and bid fair to become the most extensive dealers in these goods in Central New York. Both gentlemen are life-long residents of Cortland, but are putting a life into the business that has certainly not been a chief characteristic in the conduct of the mercantile business of the village previously.
Although some very successful business careers have been noted is preceeding pages, there is still another, and in comparison, equally successful one to chronicle. It is that of the Cortland Steam Bakery, which was established in a very small way at No. 12 Court street, by Eggleston & Cobb, in 1873, as a family bakery. From the start it was received with decided favor and in less than two years the business had increased to such an extent as to warrant the putting in the steam power, which was done in the spring of 1875. About this time Eggleston retired and the firm of Cobb & Perkins was organized. The business was conducted with a spirit of enterprise that could not fail to win success, and additions and improvements were made from time to time which increased the capacity and extended the business into wider fields. In January, 1881, the confectionery business of L. D. Garrison was purchased and the manufacture of candy began, and from that time the business was increased and extended still more rapidly, the storeroom No. 10 ½ Court street being secured for the retail department and other additions made, until they now occupy the entire two story building, 30 feet wide and 120 feet deep. This building is fitted up in the most convenient manner and with all the improvements in machinery, etc., for the manufacture of bread stuffs, crackers and confectionery in large quantities, and their facilities are not surpassed by any concern in Central or Southern New York. As jobbers in fruits, oysters, cigars, etc., they also rank among the largest concerns in the interior, and their trade extends throughout the counties of Cortland, Broome, Chenango, Madison, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tompkins, Tioga, and the counties of Northern Pennsylvania. Their business last year amounted to twelve times as much as it did the first year, which amounted to no inconsiderable sum even, and contrary to all expectations the first six months of this year have shown a greater increase than that of last year. Mr. Cobb is a native of Homer, and Mr. Perkins of Virgil. They are both young men, and the fact that this is their first business venture adds not a little to the gratification felt at the success they have made.
From the time of their first appearance in the village the Tanner Brothers have taken a prominent position among its business men, and have steadily grown in public esteem, increasing and extending their business until they occupied the leading position among its dry goods merchants. The brothers, Adolphus F. and Abram T. Tanner, came from Dryden in March of 1864, and opened a dry goods and notions store in the Messenger House block. Here they remained until October, 1868, when they removed to the Moore block. Their business steadily growing larger, when they removed to the Moore block. Their business steadily growing larger, when the new Garrison block was completed, in 1878, they secured the large north storerooms, which were finely fitted up for them, and then added a millinery and carpet and oil-cloth department. With one of the most spacious and elegant stores in the village, their trade still more largely increased, and they were fully rewarded for their enterprise. Their dry goods, notions and millinery storeroom is twenty-three feet wide and ninety feet in depth, stocked with the finest goods in the market, and two large rooms on the second floor are occupied for the display of carpets and oil-cloths. Their business career has been one of unbroken prosperity, and when the death of Abram T. Tanner occurred, on the 19th of June, 1883, Cortland lost one of its most highly respected and prosperous tradesmen. The business is continued by Adolphus F. Tanner under the title of the Tanner Brothers, and will undoubtedly retain the position it has gained and keep pace with the progress of the village.
The extensive hardware, stove and tinware business now conducted by Smith & Kingsbury, at No. 12 North Main street, was established in 1859 by E. D. Mallery, in the old brick building at the corner of Main street and Groton avenue. It was the second tin and hardware store in the village, and was started on a very small scale, the store room now occupied by C. H. Gaylord's grocery being devoted to the sale of hardware, and having a small tin shop in the rear. Soon after the business was established, and during the same year (1859), Mallery sold to the firm of Mills & Goodrich, who carried on the business four years, in 1863 or 1864 securing the frame building then standing on the corner of Main and Court streets (and which had been occupied many years as a female seminary), and removing it to the present site turned it into a hardware store and tin shop. Mr. Goodrich then retired from the firm, and Myron H. Mills continued as sole proprietor for two years, when he sold an interest to Josiah Stevens. The business was conducted by Mills & Stephens about two years, and upon the retirement of Stephens, in 1867 or thereabouts, Mills continued the business alone until 1869, when he sold the hardware department to Theodore Perkins, retaining the tin shop. In February of 1870 he formed a co-partnership with F. D. Smith, under the firm name of Theodore Perkins & Co., and the tinware business was again included. W. S. Newkirk succeeded Perkins in 1871, and Newkirk & Smith conducted the business until 1875, when the present co-partnership of Smith & Kingsbury was formed. The business has shown a very large increase the past three years, and Smith & Kingsbury now occupy the entire building, twenty-seven feet wide and ninety feet in depth, with one storehouse in the rear and another on the north side. Their trade is principally retail, but they carry a stock so large as to enable them to wholesale at competitive prices. The stock carried embraces hardware, tinware, stoves, etc., a specialty being made of mechanics' tools, of which they carry a large variety, and the business includes gas and steam fitting, tin roofing and plumbing. Smith & Kingsbury are live, enterprising business men, and it is gratifying to note the fact that their business this year is showing a considerable increase over that of preceding years.
As one of the oldest shoe dealers in the village, Mr. Van Alstine assists materially in tracing some of the changes that have taken place on Main street. He began shoemaking in 1861, in a small frame building then standing on the plot of ground now occupied by the Schermerhorn residence on South Main street, and which had previously been occupied by a liquor store. It was moved to the rear of the lot about 1863 or 1864, and Mr. Van Alstine then carried on business on the Samson block a couple of years, when he sold out and engaged in the livery business. In 1869 he formed a co-partnership with Henry Purdy, and they opened a shoe store in a little wooden building which stood on the present site of the Schermerhorn block. Here they remained four years, in 1878 removing to the Calvert block and commencing a wholesale and retail trade in boots and shoes. After the death of Purdy, in 1874, the stock was closed out, but Mr. Van Alstine again engaged in the retail trade in the Calvert block, in 1875. The old frame building, which has been supplanted by the handsome Schermerhorn block, was again occupied by him, however, from 1876 to 1878, when preparations were being made for the building of the new brick structure. He occupied the old post-office block, on the northwest corner of Main and Court streets, from that time until he removed to his present location in the Dexter House block, in 1880, where he now carried a very nice stock of boots and shoes, and does custom work and repairing.
When the Taylor Hall block was completed, in 1865, the Apgar Brothers, of Ithaca, came here and opened a book and stationery store in the north storeroom. They only remained three years, however, and in 1868 sold their stock to A. Mahan who added a music department to the store, and in 1870 formed a co-partnership with D. F. Wallace. Under the firm names of A. Mahan & Co. and Mahan & Wallace, the business was conducted by these gentlemen four years, they adding the book bindery, which had been established by Horace Dowd two years previously, in 1873. In 1874 the partnership was dissolved and the business divided, Mahan taking the music and sewing machine business and Wallace the book, stationery and binding business, which he has since conducted with much success. About four years ago Mr. Wallace began jobbing largely in wall paper, and in that branch has been highly successful, last year standing fifth among the jobbers of wall paper in the State outside of the city of New York. The book and stationery business has about doubled since 1865, and the wall paper business increased about five-fold. An idea of the extent of this business may be gained from the statement that Mr. Wallace now occupies the large north storeroom, basement and adjoining basement in the Taylor Hall block, the entire back half of the second floor of this block and a good-sized storage building in the rear. His wholesale trade extends throughout Central New York and Northern Pennsylvania, and the completeness of his stock attracts retail purchasers from all the neighboring towns. Mr. Wallace is certainly one of the most enterprising of those whose business comes under the head of the "Commercial Interests of Cortland."
Success has been made in commercial as well as in manufacturing circles, an illustration of which is furnished by the career of A. Mahan, the well-known dealer in musical instruments and sewing machines, at Nos. 9 and 11 East Court street. Mr. Mahan came to Cortland from Virgil, where had had been engaged in the produce business for a number of years, in 1868, and purchased the book and stationery establishment of the Apgar Brothers, in Taylor Hall block. He added pianos, organs and sewing machines to the stock and successfully continued the business until 1870, when he formed a copartnership with D. F. Wallace. Under the names of Mahan & Co., and Mahan & Wallace, these gentlemen remained in partnership until 1874, when the business was divided, Mr. Wallace continuing in the book and stationery trade and Mr. Mahan removing the piano, organ and sewing machine business to the large new building he had erected for this purpose at Nos. 9 and 11 East Court street. Here he gave his sole attention to the building up of a trade in these goods, and the success he has met may be judged from the statement that he now handles sewing machines by the car load lots, and four wagons are constantly employed in delivering pianos, organs and sewing machines throughout this and surrounding counties. Under his energetic management the business steadily increased, growing to such proportions as was not dreamed of when he commenced, and he has become the largest dealer in pianos, organs and sewing machines in Central New York, his trade extending not only throughout a radius of twenty-five miles, but into Syracuse, Ithaca, Binghamton and even into other States. It is but a few years since he sold a handsome grand piano to Present White, of Ithaca, for Sage College, and lately he has received orders from Connecticut for two grands and a square piano. A reputation that brings orders from such points must necessarily be a wide and extensive one, and could only be acquired by the strictest integrity in dealing with a large number of people. But representing the leading piano and organ manufacturers in the United States, and always having in stock the largest assortment of their best makes, he has been enabled to draw his patronage from among those who desired quality in the instruments they purchased, while buying in large quantities he was enabled to give them a large benefit in price---and to his superior management, combined with these advantages offered, his success is doubtless largely due. Mr. Mahan's trade is principally retail, with a small jobbing trade near by, and amounts to an aggregate sum that is really surprising. He occupies a greater part of the building, 45x80 feed in dimensions, at Nos. 9 and 11 East Court street for his warehouse, and has besides a large storehouse, where is kept in stock the surplus pianos, organs and sewing machines. He employs a number of sub-agents in the surrounding towns, and displays his energy and executive ability by constantly working up new territory and extending his business to still greater proportions. And that he will retain the position he has gained of the largest and most prominent individual dealer in musical instruments and sewing machines in Central New York, no one who is acquainted with the gentleman can have any doubts. Mr. Mahan is also interested with F. A. Bickford, a practical gunmaker of large experience, in the firm of F. A. Bickford & Co., dealers in guns and sporting goods generally, who occupy a portion of the Mahan block. He is also one of those enterprising and public spirited men who are giving of their time and means to promote the welfare of the community, and who will yet give to Cortland the position in the manufacturing and commercial world, to which it is entitled by reason of the facilities and resources possessed, despite the laggards who wait until success is assured before giving their support to schemes for its advancement. Mr. Mahan is President of the village and resides on North main street in that elegant home erected in 1881, which, with its pure Queen Ann architecture, its two acres of lawn, beautiful fountain and well kept grounds, forms one of the most pleasing dwelling places in the village and adds so much to the attractiveness of this portion of Cortland.
Half a century ago, when Cortland was one of the smallest villages in the county, and was jealous even of Homer's seemingly brighter prospects, the furniture business of J. C. Carmichael & Co. Was established in a frame building then standing on the site now occupied by the three story brick building at No. 11 Port Watson street. The founder of the business was J. McFarlan, and it was in 1834 that he founded the house which for forty-nine continuous years has occupied the position of the leading furniture and undertaking establishment in Cortland. In 1851 J. C. Carmichael entered the business, being admitted as a partner in 1855, and the firm of McFarlan & Carmichael continued until 1866, when the senior partner's interest was purchased by Mr. Carmichael, who has since conducted the business, and is today one of the oldest merchants in the village, having been engaged in this one business here for thirty-two years. When the magnificent new Standard block was completed last spring, the desirable storerooms now occupied were fitted up especially for the furniture business, and J. C. Carmichael & Co. have now one of the finest furniture establishments in Central New York, displaying a stock that one would only expect to see in the larger cities. The three floors devoted to the business are models of elegance and convenience, and when compared with those in which the furniture business has been conducted in the past, form one of the best illustrations of Cortland's growth and progress. Mr. Carmichael has been one of the foremost citizens of the village, having twice been called to the Presidency, and has done not little towards advancing its interests and promoting its rapid growth.
In 1847, when G. W. Bradford came to Cortland and entered the drug store of Daniel Bradford, as a clerk, the village contained but a small proportion of its present population, and Main street, from the Cortland House to the Eagle Hotel (now the Messenger House), was about the extent of the village. Besides Daniel Bradford's there were dry goods or "general" stores kept by J. Sturdevant & Co., W. O. Barnard, Orrin Stimson, Asa Lyman and James Van Valen, the harness store of Henry Brewer, J. McFarlan's furniture store, the foundry and hardware store of A. & S. D. Freer, and Homer Gillett and Lovett Cudworth and Isaac M. Seaman's grocery stores, while Andrew Dickson kept a dry goods store and the postoffice in a building then standing on the northeast corner of Main and Port Watson streets. Mr. Bradford remained a clerk in that drug store nine years, and in 1856 opened a drug store in the storeroom now occupied by him, and for twenty-seven years has carried on the drug business in this location. Here he has continued in the drug business without change, witnessing a thriving manufacturing town grow up about him, his own business increasing and extending to such proportions never dreamed of when starting. And this is the only instance noted in which a business house has continued in the same location and without a change in the name of its proprietor for such a period in Cortland. The old Dixon block, then a three-story building, has been transformed into the four-story Keator block, but with the exception of having been enlarged and somewhat modernized the storeroom now occupied by G. W. Bradford's drug store is the same one in which he commenced and for twenty-seven continuous years has conducted the drug business.
One of the first harness makers in the village of Cortland was Henry Brewer father of the subject of this sketch, and founder of the large harness manufacturing business now carried on at No. 9 Port Watson street. Mr. Brewer started business on his own account in 1834, beginning in a small way by renting a room in the second story of the small frame building then standing on the site occupied by the present factory, and began making harness. His tireless industry and close business habits made him successful, and as his business grew larger a workman was employed to assist him, and in time a room on the first floor was rented, and still another man employed. Steadily and surely the demand increased for his harness, which were made very strong and found to wear well, and it was not many years before four or five hands were employed and the whole building, 20x24 feet in dimensions, two stories, was occupied and finally purchased. In January, 1862, this building, with the Eagle Hotel and another building adjacent, was burned to the ground. The business was continued in a building on the opposite side of the street until 1864, when it was removed to the large three-story brick structure erected on the site of the burned building, and the working force again increased, the first floor and part of the second being occupied. As the business was steadily increasing, he subsequently admitted his son, Henry L. Brewer, to a partnership, under the title of H. Brewer & Son, but upon the failure of the junior member's heath this partnership was dissolved and Mr. Brewer continued the business along until 1874, when he sold to E. H Brewer & Co., and retired from active service. E. H. Brewer & Co. conducted the establishment until 1877, when J. A. Schermerhorn was admitted, and the firm name changed to Brewer & Schermerhorn, who continued in partnership until 1879, when by the death of Mr. Schermerhorn, E. H. Brewer became sole proprietor. The growth of this business has probably been more steady and sure than any other noted, and its reputation extends into many distant States. The entire building 24x50 feet in dimensions, three stories, is now occupied for the manufacture of harness, from fifteen to twenty men being constantly employed, and their product being sent to points in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Dakota. Fine work (track and road harness) has been a specialty with this house for many years, and their success in a great measure is due to their peculiar method of manufacturing. All their fine work is made on a system of combination dies and forms, which ensure perfect proportion and accurate work and are fully protected by patent. A noteworthy fact that might be mentioned here is that it is not found necessary to employ traveling salesmen, as al the orders come direct from the houses to whom only circulars are sent, and indicating that the reputation acquired in forty-nine years is not without its profit. Mr. E. H. Brewer is one of the most enterprising of Cortland's young business men, and besides successfully carrying on this large harness manufactory, is the senior member of the Cortland Box Loop Company, which gives promise of becoming the largest concern of the kind in this country.
The first store opened in the village for the sale of drugs exclusively was that of A. Sager, near the corner of Main and Court streets, on the present site of the Schermerhorn building, in 1857. The business was comparatively small, but Mr. Sager continued there until 1861, when desiring to enter the service of his country, he sold to Dr. T. C. Pomeroy, and went out as a volunteer with the seventy-sixth Regiment. Being discharged on account of disabilities in May, 1863, he returned to Cortland, and in June again embarked in the drug business in the old Barnard block, on the corner of Main and Mill streets. Many readers will remember this building, which would now appear very common looking, but was then one of the most prominent buildings in the village. It was three stories in height in front, with the roof sloping back until it was only two stories high in the rear, and would look rather stunted in comparison with the building now occupying the site. Along-side of it, and where the Dexter House stands, was an old-fashioned two-story gable roof building, occupied by L. Dexter's billiard saloon and Henry Woodruff's tailoring establishment. A shed projected from the top of the first story and a sign extended across the pavement, giving it quite a different appearance from that which this corner now presents. In the fall Mr. Sager let down the floor about sixteen inches, put in a new front, and rearranging the interior of the storeroom made it quite an attractive store. He conducted the business alone until the spring of 1865, when he formed a co-partnership with Thomas Dalton, under the firm name of A. Sager & Co., which continued one year, when Mr. Dalton withdrew to engage in business in Western Pennsylvania. He is now a member of the firm of Smith & Dalton, of Syracuse. In April, 1866, this corner was purchased by Mr. Sager and L. Dexter, and the property divided, for former taking the building occupied by his drug store and the latter the old two-story building. Mr. Sager then built the frame building in the rear for a storehouse, afterward occupied by Harrison Wells, and carried on business alone until the spring of 1870, when he formed a co-partnership under the old name of Sager & Co., with W. A. Pierce, a book-keeper in the National Bank of Cortland. This partnership was dissolved after a year and seven months' continuance, Mr. Pierce going to Syracuse and becoming a member of the firm of Smith & Pierce, in the same house which Mr. Sager's former partner---Dalton---has since entered. In 1872 Mr. Sager and Mr. Dexter rebuilt the entire corner, making it a uniform three-story building, with Mansard roof, and the latter's part of the block was then opened as the Dexter House. The present firm of Sager & Jennings was formed in the spring of 1876, under the name of A. Sager & Co., the firm name being changed to Sager & Jennings in the spring of 1881. The business has steadily increased, and the store is now one of the largest in the village. Mr. Sager same to Cortland from Syracuse in 1856, having read medicine with Alfred Mercer with a view to practicing, but entering the drug business here and finding it congenial, continued in it with the success noted. He served honorably in the war of the rebellion, and came home from it a Brevet-Major. Mr. E. F. Jennings, the junior member of the firm, is a native of Palermo, Oswego county, and came to Cortland in 1871 as a clerk in his partner's store, having just left the University of Illinois, where he had been preparing himself for the drug business. After a service of three years with Mr. Sager, he went to Hamilton, Madison county, and formed a co-partnership with a former clerk of Mr. Sager's, under the title of Root, Jennings & Co., but only remained there a year, returning to Cortland and forming the present co-partnership.
The marble business now conducted by S. M. Benjamin at No. 89 North Main street, was established by O. W. Dowd in 1849. S. M. Benjamin worked in Dowd's shop nine year, and it is said that during this time he never lost even half a day---a record to which but few journeymen can point in these days. In 1860 S. M. and J. W. Benjamin purchased the marble business of Dowd and for twenty-two years the Benjamin Brothers honorably and successfully conducted the business, the partnership only being severed by the death of J. W. Benjamin on the 13th of June, 1882. In this, as in the other classes of business in the village, much progress has been shown. When Mr. Benjamin worked for Dowd in 1848-50 only plain two-inch slabs, to set in the ground, were sold, while now principally fine monumental work is sold. Since the death of his brother, Mr. S. M. Benjamin has continued the business alone, and the reputation acquired by the Benjamin Brothers for satisfactory work and honorable dealing, ensures the patronage of the best people. A building twenty-six feet side and seventy feet in depth is occupied for the business, five skillful workmen being employed, and a fine stock of finished work is shown, special designs being made to order. As one of the older business men, Mr. Benjamin is worthy this recognition, which is with pleasure accorded him
The handsome shoe store of Jay & Smith, in the new Standard block, which was opened to the public last March, has met with decided favor, and purchasers of fine goods have learned that it is to their interest to visit the new establishment. One advantage possessed by them is the fact that they are also wholesale dealers, and consequently can offer inducements to retail purchasers that are not within the reach of regular retailers. They occupy a basement and two floors in the Standard block, the elegantly fitted up store room (twenty-two feet wide and ninety feet in depth), No. 30 Main street, being devoted to the retail trade, and the basement and second floor being occupied by the wholesale department. They are gaining a large trade in Central New York and Pennsylvania, selling both the jobbing and retail trade. Mr. E. W. Smith, the junior member of the firm, is a commercial traveler of many years' experience, and possesses a large acquaintance, not only with the trade, but with the Eastern manufacturers, and derives therefrom considerable benefit in buying goods. Mr. George E. Jay is well known here, and pays particular attention to the retail trade. They carry a very full and complete line of fine goods in all varieties in the retail department, and in the wholesale department the medium grade of goods is made the specialty. Their flattering success (doubtless largely attributable to the inducements they are enabled to offer, both in the wholesale and retail trade,) is very gratifying to their friends, and certainly gives them promise of a very bright future.
Identified with the business interests of the village for a lifetime, a brief sketch of Stephen D. Freer will not be without its interest to a large number of readers. His father, John A. Freer, was one of the earliest settlers in Cortland, having located here in 1802. S. D. Freer was born in 1815, and as a boy attended school at the "four corners," a mile south of the village. When seventeen years of age he entered the post-office, then kept by Canfield Marsh, as a clerk and apprentice at the hat finishing trade. He did not remain there long, however, and in 1834 entered General Randall's store, on the southwest corner of Main and Tompkins streets, as a clerk. In 1837 he went into the employ of his brother, Anthony, in the foundry business, and in 1838 the firm of A. & S. D. Freer was formed. They conducted the foundry and a large hardware store until 1861, when the business was sold. In the meantime he had engaged in the coal trade, upon the opening of the S., B. & N. Y. Railroad, in 1854, and also conducted that business until 1865. He was a member of the firm Sears, Freer & Cottrell, organized in 1864, who manufactured fax-seed oil in the old paper mill for a few years, and entered the coal business again, after the failure of this industry to prove a success, in 1873. His last venture proved a decided success, and in 1874 he purchased the large frame building on the corner of Railroad street and the S., B. & N. Y. Railroad, where he successfully continued this business until August, 1883, when he removed to the new coal buildings and offices just completed, opposite the Cortland Wagon Company's works. The buildings are the finest in this section, the coal pocket structure being one hundred and eighty-eight feet in length and forty-eight feet in height, with a capacity for dumping fifteen cars at one time. It is supplied with al the improvements in screens, sieves, etc., for preparing the coal without labor while loading on wagons, and is a model of its kind. The offices are very finely appointed, and the whole forms an establishment unsurpassed in Central or Southern New York. Mr. Freer is one of the few business men who are natives of Cortland, and have been engaged in business here all their lives, but he is by no means a laggard in making the improvements that the rapid growth of the village makes imperative to keep pace with its progress, and is honored alike for his enterprise, his integrity and his qualities as a citizen.
Of the live, enterprising men who have done so much towards making Cortland the place it is to-day, none are deserving more commendation than Theodore Stevenson. First in all schemes of public improvement, in all plans for the development of the resources of the village, and first to give of his time and his means to advance its interests and assist its growth, he is a type of that class of self-made men who, public spirited and enterprising, by force of their own strong will often succeed in carrying themselves and the place with which they have identified themselves to the highest pinacle of success. And all unprejudiced minds will agree with me in saying that Theodore Stevenson has proven himself to be a man of inestimable value to this community. He came to Cortland in 1872---a visitor. The attraction of the beautiful village decided him to locate here, and he engaged in business as an insurance and real estate agent, but more especially as a representative of the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company, with which he has ever since been identified. That success which must attend will directed efforts---push and a strict attention to the duties, the obligations of his calling---attended him, and he built up for himself a prosperous business in this line. He early perceived the possibilities of the village, but was not in a position, financially, to take advantage of the opportunities offered until 1880, when he made his first investment in real estate, and erected a fine residence on Church street---a two-story, French roof dwelling, with bay windows, heated by steam and supplied with all the modern improvements. This was the first house in the village so furnished, and was intended for his own occupancy. But he also erected a neat two-story dwelling, with bay windows to top of second story, on Groton avenue---a very desirable residence, which he was not long in selling. In 1881 he purchased a lot on Clinton avenue, on which stood a small house and barn. Here he erected three seven-roomed Chautauqua cottages, with projecting roofs and wide piazzas, also building a large double house on the lot and refitting the barn into a pleasant dwelling place. Early in 1882 he purchased of H. P. Goodrich twelve acres of land east of the S., B. & N. Y. Railroad (balance of Hubbard and Pomeroy tracts), and laid out Garfield street, from Crandall to Hubbard, grading and laying a stone walk all the way around. Four cottages (three of them double) were built on this street, a house on same tract, on Crandall street, and a large four-gable double house, with wide halls and fine stairways, at No. 130 Elm street, and in the fall a single cottage and large double house of twenty-two rooms were built on a sub-division of same tract, on Pomeroy street. In December of 1882 and January of 1883 the balance of this tract, on the east side of Pomeroy and extension of Elm streets, was cut up into lots, and on the south side of Elm, near the U., I. & E. Railroad, he built a three-story block, 40x100 feet in dimensions, with large wing in the rear, for the Excelsior Top Company. This work was done in twenty working days during the coldest part of the winter, it being necessary to scrape the snow off the ground to lay the foundation. In the spring of 1883 another cottage was erected on the west side of Pomeroy street and a large double house built on the north side of Elm, Excelsior street also being extended north from Elm. Six acres of the choicest land on Monroe Heights were purchased in April, and when West Court street was extended over the hill, here will be erected some of the handsomest residences in Cortland. In July the Kinney tract, east of the U., I. & E. Railroad, was purchased, and Franklin street laid out to Elm on the north. An acre of land being sold to the Sanford Fork and Tool Manufacturing Company (Nixon & Rickard), he contracted to erect parallel with the Excelsior Top Company's building a three-story block, 32x50 feet in dimensions, with an addition 40x100 feet in the rear, all set on solid mason work foundation and constructed in the most substantial manner. Work was progressing very rapidly on this contract at the time of writing, and the balance of the tract had been cut up into lots ready for sale, the Kennedy tract purchased and also plotted on Elm street, and this street extended clear to the Tioughnioga river. Besides doing all this work, Mr. Stevenson has been largely of his time and means to promote the welfare of the community in other respects, and while it is admitted that his labor is not without its rewards, it is claimed that he is entitled to the fullest recognition of his services. All that he has done has been accomplished in the face of adverse circumstances, under which the majority of men would have succumbed, and while his work is not yet done, there cannot be the least doubt but that he will success fully complete all that he has set himself to do. He is a far-seeing, shrewd, energetic business man, display a boldness that is somewhat startling to the average person, but with sufficient conservatism to prevent rashness, possessing not only the mind to plan but the executive ability to carry out his projects, and were there a few more such men in Cortland it would be making still more rapid progress, and soon be admitted to the sisterhood of cities.
While it was found impossible to give place to every one of the manufacturing industries, it will readily be perceived how much more is it so to review each representative of the commercial interests,---so numerous, ind(e)ed, that were it attempted a small volume of itself would be required. And much as I would like to present sketches of the old established houses of S. E. Welch and Warren & Tanner, in the dry goods trade; C. W. Collins' immense crockery establishment; H. M. Kellogg's large hardware store, established by the Wickwire Brothers long before they thought of weaving wire cloth either on hand or power looms; Garrison & Co., Squires & Co., C. H. Gaylord and Randall & Co's. grocery houses; A. M. Schermerhorn's great carriage and wagon repository; J. C. Gray and C. F. Baldwin, the jewelers; W. B. Johnson's drug store, established by Abner L. Smith and Theodore Perkins, in 1865, and at one time conducted by Isaac W. Brown and the late George H. Arnold; Harrington & Co., and E. M. Reid & Co's. large clothing houses; R. Beard & son's prosperous furniture establishment, and the other business concerns, both wholesale and retail, embracing every branch of trade---for which purpose notes were taken---the limits of the work forbid it, and they must consequently be omitted. Suffice it to say, however, that wonderful progress had been made in commerce as well as in manufacture, and that the extent of these interests in a village of 6,000 inhabitants, and which only four years ago contained a population of but "3,398, and was chiefly noted for the location of the State Normal School," is the cause of much surprise among its visitors. And having now completed the task which it was my pleasure to undertake---whether satisfactorily or not I, of coarse, cannot judge---with my sincerest thanks to those who have so kindly assisted me with both information and encouragement, and the hope that the work will prove to be not without its benefits, I will say ADIEU!
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