Instructions for Visit to West Oneonta, NY

(The following are instructions C. [Clothier] Allen Cook gave to his son, Allen Cook, for visiting his old home in 1946. C. Allen left the area in 1880, and returned for a visit in 1920.)

Genealogical Data for Clothier Allen Cook may be found at:

At West Oneonta, Frank Potter’s wife is Dr. Pomeroy’s only child. When her mother learned she was going blind, she committed suicide. They have one child, a girl. In 1920, she was studying the fiddle. She teaches music in some school away from home.

Frank owned the Uncle Isaac Northup farm where I used to work, in 1920. The deed called for 74 acres, but it was said to measure 112 acres. See which it is now and what it is worth an A. on which no. of acres. (Note by Allen Cook during the visit: Sylvester Jack’s place now, 150 acres, SA $7000.) On the south side of the lane going west up to the house, the farm came to the road.

The first house north was Joe Bull. Their youngest boy, Emerson, lived there in 1920. From this farm, a 3-cornered strip ran south to the Northup lane where Bull drove his cows, and then across to his pasture on the East Side of the road. Uncle Isaac always wanted to buy this strip to square him up with the road, but Bull did not see it that way, so they were not very good friends.

On the north side of the lane, close to the road, was a depression which had been the cellar of the Barlow house long before my time. I suppose there is no trace of this now. Barlow was a worthless drunkard. There were at least 2 boys who became quite noted preachers. The girl, Betsy, married Uncle Isaac Northup’s brother, Emanuel. He was tall and slim. After he died, the present Luman Brownson house was her home where she died of apoplexy about 1873.

Across the road east of Joe Bull’s was another Bull farm. I think they were all old women, some of them with cancer of the face.

The next house north was on the West Side of the road. This is the Hanson Niles farm on both sided of the road. He was getting old. He had two sisters there who had face cancers, and an old maid girl, Lizzie. Sometime in the ‘70s, he took Charlie Taber in to do the work, and the farm is his now. He married Kate Lyon. I think this was a mistake. They have some girls. I think they are good teachers. Charlie was quiet, upright and reliable. Kate lost her mind and died. A little north of the house, a creek runs east across the road.

The next house north was on the East Side of the road on the Niles farm so is now owned by Charlie Taber. This is where we lived the last five years. There were 30 maple trees from which we made about 100 lbs. of sugar, boiling it on the stove. An old barn was on the southeast corner. Along the south line, a little west of the barn was a black walnut tree. Nearer the southwest corner were two Talman Sweet apple trees that bore well. They were good eaters and made great pickles.

When I went to school in Oneonta, I walked northeast from the house to the road that runs east from town. The bridge across the Otego Creek was covered and is on this road. (Note by Allen: Gone)

The field across the road west of the road is a part of the Niles farm. It is so stony; I think you can cross it without touching the ground. The people there will not say north or south, but "on the left-hand side" or "going towards town," etc.

A little farther north across the road is the school house (Note by Allen: moved down in front of where he used to live and used for town meetings.) This was new when we moved there in 1871. May and I looked in the window when we were there in 1920, and there were the first boughten (SIC) seats I ever saw.

A little farther north on the east side was the Rufus Strait farm, which came past the school house to join the Niles farm (Note by Allen: Just sold to Widow Smith). We used to go across there to play winters.

A young man named Frank Williams used to own the north house on the West Side, with some farmland as stony as I have told you about, adjoining. Just before we moved there in 1871, he sold it for $300.00 an acre and bought a bigger farm near Richfield in the north part of the county. Years later, he came at least as far west as Grand Island buying houses.

This road south from town to where it turns east towards Oneonta was Tucker St. I don’t think any other streets were named. The road on south is a kind of back road to Otego.

The house at the top of the hill is where Uncle Emanuel Northup lived, and, after him, Mr. Whitman’s son, Henry. This is the river toad to Oneonta. You will cross Otego crick and should come to a church on the south side at the top of a hill, Meeting House Hill. When you go down this hill, you will be on Oneonta Plains with a lake (Allen’s note: pond only) that is said to be fed underground.

The first house on the Plains on the south side was the Sanford Shepard farm. Frank Potter’s older half brother, Leon, owned it in 1920, and was called the best farmer around there.

On the East Side of the Plains downhill on lower land was a whisky still in early days. It was changed to a creamery. We sent our milk there at least as early as 1870, and as long as we kept cows, which was probably 1873. You should go over both roads to Oneonta.

The upper road leaves Oneonta on Chestnut St. Just as it leaves it rounds Cape Horn with Lower Deck on the lower land on the south.

After you turn west to cross the covered bridge, Horace White’s house was down in the field on the south side, with the barns on the north side near the road. Chauncey (C. Allen’s brother) worked there one summer.

The next house west was on the south side. It belonged to Daniel Hodge. He had two old bachelor boys, Walter and Delos. Walter had a cooper shop near the road. The farm was around the Horace White farms to the north and south road from Oneonta. Just before we came west in 1880, Delos built a good house on this road and got married.

Jim Ferguson lived farther north on this road. He took May (C. Allen’s daughter) and I to this home (in 1920) for overnight. When he took us back to West Oneonta, Walter Hodge was in the field hoeing potatoes. I went down in the field and talked with him. He was 75 years old.

Just west of the bridge on the north side was a red house. Jesse Perry lived there once, and I think after we left, Albert Rouse for a while. Just west of the house was a graveyard on a hill. I think the road crowded it. It may have been moved away. There was a graveyard on the Hanson Niles farm not far from the house.

When we were there, Robert S. Cook owned the Frank Williams house, moving there from his farm across the road west of the Cook burying ground. He was one of the three families of Cook half-brothers. In 1920, his son, Hammond Cook, or I think Hammond’s widow, lived on the Rufus Strait farm.

Going west on the south road in West Oneonta, I think the last house on the south side was where Billy P. Cook lived. He was tall and bony with broad shoulders and about 6 ft, 2 in.

A little out of town, a road branches across the Niles Creek and west up through the woods. In 1920, I stayed nights a Luman Brownson’s and took a walk before breakfast. One morning, I went up this road found Little Rob. Cook, 84 years old, mowing the south bank of the road, headed west in the woods, using a scythe. In 1880, there was a large rock near the road on the south side in the woods that had a small stream of water running through it – where it was a good place to drink. I did not see it in 1920. I wonder whether it is there.

At the top of the hill, beyond the trees on the north side of the road, was the Amasa Ward house. There were so many large flat rocks in the yard, they are worth going to see if they have not been ground and put on the road. In the valley beyond is Mill Creek, running south.

Going back and continuing towards Otsdawa, you will go up a hill through more woods. When Giles Phillips took us to Almon Mudge’s a little ways along this road, on the right had was what was called the Big 4. This was a pine stub perhaps 15 ft. tall and four good-sized trees growing from the top.

On the other side of the road is where Steve Hopkins went off the road when drunk and was killed. There used to be four narrow boards, nailed together in a square and painted black, standing for a marker. I did not see it in 1920 so suppose it was not kept up.

Just as you pass the trees on the right hand side, if you go a little ways up the hill, you should find some new growth wintergreen, just right for eating.

A little farther along, down the creek, Rufus Strait had a sawmill. When we worked the road, a part of it was to throw stones out with a hoe. Rufus objected to having the stones on his meadow, as he called it.

Once in a while, someone would throw a stone that lit on the roof of the mill, which did not suit Rufus, though I do not think the mill was ever run then. You might try shying a stone down to the creek.

The next house was Tim Fletcher’s. One year he had lots of potatoes and cut them and fed them to the cows. This was said to be a legal way to water milk. I used to cut them in the cellar to fill a basket that held ½ bu., then shoulder it, then carry them up the stairs south into the woodshed, then north up more stairs to the level of the house floor, then south on two planks to the south door, then west to the road, and then north perhaps 15 to 20 rods, to the cow barn. I worked for Uncle Isaac Northup at $10.00 a month in 1878 and 1879 when I was 15 and 16. I cut the potatoes one of these years before April 1, when hired men began work, as I was not more than 14 years old.

On the north side of the hill, a little beyond the barn, snow sometimes lasted till June. You may find some now, but I guess it has been too warm.

N. E. from here, on a road on the north line of the farm, was a small schoolhouse where Nettie Whitman once taught.

Looking east from the house, on the next hill, are woods with an open field on the south. The woods belonged to Enos Thayer, whose house was farther south, probably out of sight form this point. The field belonged to Tim (Fletcher?) and had an old orchard on it. Tim decided his line was a little ways in the woods and gave what was his to us for fuel. There were some good-sized trees on it.

He also gave us fuel from his woods on top of and over the hill southwest of his house. I think I had Mr. Whitman’s oxen to haul some of it, but I think Tim must have hauled most of it.

The horse barn was just north of the house, and the hog house down the hill S. E. of this barn. An old hired-man house was S. E. across the creek. Tim was planting corn and I was dropping land plaster on it when Willard F. Huntington, C. P.’s son, traveling afoot, tried to insure Time. This was on the hillside just across the road from the house. If the same house is there, I should like to have you stay long enough to see where I carried potatoes.

Lee Cook, a small old man, and I think brother to Billy P., lived in the N. W. part of West Oneonta. One morning, I walked the road west of this corner. Part way up was the log house where Parmer Matteson lived when we left in 1880. I was at a town meeting once when they voted him $14.00 aid for the year. His wife was a sister to Smithy Aldrich, who always carried an umbrella because he didn’t know whether it was going to rain or not. Hee-Hee-Hee. Once in the moonlight, Smith got afraid of his shadow and ran himself down.

I think the road up this hill would be too steep for a car. There were volunteer apple trees growing in the north ditch. I could pick the apples from the road. They were wild hog apples.

About halfway up on the south or left hand side was the vacant Matteson house. There was quite a patch of good potatoes growing in the yard. I went in and looked around.

At the top of the hill were the Enos Thayer buildings on the left-hand side. His daughter, who had married a Baker from across Otego Creek, lived there. I walked on to where we had cut the trees north of Tim’s old orchard.

There were two Matteson children, Sarah Jane and Adelbert. I do not know what became of the girl, but the boy made good. In school, they were considered jokes.

The hill going up out of West Oneonta on the north is Cooper Shop Hill. At the foot of the hill on the street was the Niles farm where Senith, Nathaniel, and Henry, sister and brothers, no longer young, lived. All were said to be well educated. The first two were opius (SIC) eaters and I think never married. Henry was bright but an idle dreamer. He married Luman Brownson’s sister, Lucia. They are said to have had some bright children. The older Nileses (SIC) used to run a brickyard.

A part of our farm was east of the road. The Niles farm joined this part on the south and east, that on the east being a swamp. In 1920, Adelbert Matteson had bought a part of the Niles farm and had built a good house just south of our line. He had drained the swamp and was said to be prosperous.

The next farm of 100 acres on both sides of the road to Mr. Whitman’s was our home for four years – 1871 to 1875. The house was old and slab-sided with a very steep roof. This is where the Uncle Robert Cook lived who went hunting with an Indian and then went hunting the Indian. I think the lumber was cut on the farm the first winter, the house repaired in 1872, and lots of company in 1873. There were 80 feet of porch, I think, 6 ft. wide. See about it.

The tops of the rafters were cut off and a tin roof put on. On the flatter parts of the roof, the sheets of tin were soldered. On the steeper parts, the two sheets of tin had the edges bent up and placed together, and the top of the two sheets bent over together to make them waterproof, the ridges perhaps an inch high running up and down the roof. Of course, these sheets were soldered the other way.

Just off the porch and east of the south door was a large black locust tree that flowered in spring. I think it was gone in 1920.

Inside was the heating stove, and between this and the door was my father’s rocking chair, where he liked to sit cold mornings and watch the smoke go straight up as the fires were started in West Oneonta. On the East Side of this room is the small shelf where, if it has not been repainted, will be under the shelf the words, "Wm. Yager Graner."

The S. E. room is the parlor. In the ceiling near the northwest corner is a rough place where the old plaster did not come off.

When he was there, Uncle Holden’s bed was in the N. W. corner of the kitchen. It was in this room, the day I was 10 or 11 years old, that two boys (probably his brothers) tried to lick me. I got one down, tripped the other over him, and got out and shut the door before they got up. I ran off towards Niles’s Swamp, and they gave it up as a bad job. Anything like this tickled Uncle Holden.

We boys slept in the bedroom at the head of the kitchen stairs. Daphnea (his half-sister) had the room east.

You are to go down cellar here and look at the underpinning. The hall from the east door has a curve where it comes into the sitting room. To make the baseboards curve, they sawed into the backside of the board in many places, which let it, bend without hurting the outside surface.

I don’t think any of the outbuildings were the same in 1920.

A brook ran across the N. E. corner of the part east of the road. At the top of the hill along the north line was a wood lot, then an open field and the rest for the whole width of the farm was woods. There was a big black cherry tree along the West Side of the road, a little north of the house. It was gone in 1920.

The next house is the Whitman farm. Nettie married Darwin Arnold. Their son lives there and is said to be doing well. My room used to be at the right – at the top of the kitchen stairs. The cellar was large and had a stream of water at the side that ran out on the East Side. There were usually 15 bbls. of cider. It is worth seeing. I don’t remember whether it had 168 or 268 acres. I think it ran east to the Otego Creek. The woods were up the hill on the West End.

Next on the east is the Cook burying ground. Some of the Whitman farm has been condemned and added to it. My father’s grave is clear on the East Side, not far south of the N. E. corner. Little Ruth’s (his sister) is just north of his. She was said to be very pretty. There are other Cooks buried there. I do not know whether my grandfather, Holden Cook, is there or not. Don’t forget the contribution here. I do not know who is in charge.

The house at the foot of the hill north of the graveyard was where Rice Cook, the odd one of the three Cook half-brothers, lived. The land ran west across the road on the north side of the Robert S. Cook farm. A son, Bill Rice Cook, lived there when we left in 1880. He did not amount to anything. He came to our house sometimes. He was a good writer. My father thought well of him for this, as he was a poor writer. Once at the last place we lived, Bill Rice had apples to sell and delivered some to us at 10 cents a bushel.

Here the road going north crosses Harrison Creek. Once _______ Whitman Sessions and my mother were somewhere north and were coming home after dark, probably moonlight. They had our top buggy and a young horse – I don’t know whose. When the horse struck the bridge, he backed off the West Side of the approach. ________ was driving. No one was hurt, and not much damage done. It was 10 feet or more straight down. If it is the same now, you should look at it.

The left-hand road follows up Harrison Creek, and was a part of the Oneonta to Morris Turnpike 14 miles long.

Up this road on the West Side, some distance from the road, is where Al Rous, Gertrude’s father, lived once. Then Tim Fletcher had the next farm south. I think the buildings were gone in 1920 when Mary Day Cook’s son lived on the Rous farm. May and I took Frank Potter’s horse and buggy and drove up this way. We stopped at the Cook’s and borrowed a glass, which we left with Mary. We stopped at the deer lick and got a drink. You should go prepared to do the same. The deer lick is a sulphur (SIC) spring a few rods west of the toad on a level spot.

Somewhere along here, where a small brook crosses the road from high ground on the west, south of the brook and west of the road, was a small smooth spot where a schoolhouse where my father went to school stood. In 1880, just the stove chimney was standing. In 1920, there was just a mound. That may be gone now.

Then you will come to the Cooper schoolhouse on the West Side with a road going up the hill to the west. I remember going to school here once when I may have been 6 or 7. I remember my father taking me once in the cutter when he kept me under the covers; it was so cold.

Just a little north, on the West Side, was the Wilson Day farm. He was said to have taught school 40 winters. In 1920, his daughter that Elisha (his half-brother) left the money to, lived there. I think she was 84. We have a snapshot of her and me that May took. If it comes handy, learn how old she lived to be.

The next house on the West Side was Jay Smith, who married Rovilla Culver. He had just finished building a big barn and was disappointed because I did not think I had time to look it over. I think he is alive, but his wife died. I think the barn would still be worth looking over, but you may not have time.

The next house on the east was Dan Bowen’s. He had several boys, and some crazy spells.

Perhaps a little north of here, on the West Side, my father had a small farm with a barn some distance from the road and woods on the upper end. I went with him once in the winter to care for some cattle at the barn, and in the summer to the woods to look after the cattle.

A little north of this, on the West Side, was the Matteson farm. There were two boys and a girl, not young anymore. I don’t know whether there were any others. These were of the simple order, but I guess they made a living. The oldest boy, Dave, had a hitch in his walk and was called Stub and Twirl. The girl had a chance to marry an old man, Wilson Hoag. She told him it was the spring of the year, the cows were coming in, and they needed her at home. Later, she said she was damned sorry she did not marry him. Theodore said he was sorry she did not marry Wilson, as it would have made another place go.

Then you will cross Harrison Creek. On your right will be the Rat Rous home. A little farther north, he had a sawmill and another house where Al and Nancy lived when first married. Later, they lived on the East End of the Rous farm, up over or on top of the hill.

A little farther on, on the East Side, was where Truman Stanton lived the five years he worked for us for $1.00 a day.

Then came the tollgate, which was gone in 1920, where an old couple named Palmer lived, and the house where I was born. On the West Side was a barn that was new the first I can remember. The east door was near the road and level with it. The first I remember it, it ran west down hill with a cow stable at the West End under the main floor.

The old house where my grandfather lived was northeast of the new house, near the corner and running east. The big barn stood in a big orchard father east. I think all these were gone in 1920. Also a big pine tree that stood in the yard near a wooden pump just S. W. of the house. When he was little, Chauncey got one of his middle fingers in the pump while it was in use. For a while, it was thought he would lose the end of the finger, but it healed with a large scar.

Just east of the cellar door was the door to the milk room with an outside door at the East End. The milk room with an outside door at the East End. The milk was strained in pans and set on racks with a stove for cold weather. Here you are to look at the underpinning in the cellar, the painted bedroom upstairs in the north end, and the date 1828 on the West Side of a stove under the N. W. corner. Learn who owns it, how many acres, and worth how much an acre. (Allen’s note: Road changed. Owned by Dave W. Swede (?), 78 acres, $2,500).

Crossing Harrison Creek, the Harrison schoolhouse (Allen’s note: gone) stood near the creek halfway to the house on the left side, which my father owned and where we lived and milked 27 cows in 1870. The house was common and was red. We called it the red house. In 1920, a man named Brockaway lived there and had a good house. If you stop, get the points on the farm.

Across the road and a little to the east was a small, rather long one-story house, where Tim Fletcher and his mother lived when he was a boy. In 1870, a Mrs. Mackey and her boy, Henry, about my age, lived there. She and Daphnea helped milk at one cent a cow. I think Daphnea taught the school that summer. Perhaps earlier than this, Daphnea used to rig up as an old woman and start out at nearly night to find a place to stay, and she fooled the most of them.

Across the creek lived Dan Brewster. He had a gristmill with millstones and waterpower. They were not very prosperous till Dan invented a buckwheat huller that was a success. (Allen’s note: gone).

Beyond the mill and part way up the hill was lived a Phillips family, where we used to go to play. On the top of the hill was some smooth, cleared land where the Butts Family lived. I think they were quite prosperous. Farther south on the same hilltop was the farm of Bill and Susan Harrison, who raised quite a family of boys. I went to school with the oldest boy, Jim. He was working at the carpenter’s trade in Oneonta in 1920.

If you go to Cooperstown, you should go north from the Cook burying ground, through Laurens to the farm where Frank Potter was born and I worked, then through Hartwick to Cooperstown. The Potter house had 21 rooms. Sometime while he lived there, Delos built a new barn, running east and west on the West Side of the road. When he learned that Ike Gregory was building a bigger bar, he added a section to the West End of his to have the biggest barn around. You can see that the seam where this was added.

When Horace Harrison and wife and son took May and I to Cooperstown, I took them for a ride around the lake in a little steamer. If it is not too early for the steamer, you might imitate it. This is where Ruth Stonebarger taught athletics a few years. The town is built on James Fenimore Cooper land. We came back down the Susquehanna valley and had more scenery. It was on this drive that I took May’s picture in a hop yard.

I guess I told you to be sure to see Charlie Taber and tell him, "Hello" for me. I think his oldest half-brother, Fred, about my age, is in West Oneonta. He took May and I to Oneonta.

If you find I have left anything out, let me know and I will send it after you.

Some Whitman and Arnold points: _________ Whitman married Riley Sessions (or Serrious), and had one girl, Emily, a very nice girl, I think about a year younger than I. She married Herbert Arnold, a younger brother of Darwin Arnold. I doubt his being as old as she was. They lived in Oberlin, Ohio, and ran a laundry. This is all I know of the family. I wish you would bring it up-to-date. They paired me off with Emily at Nettie Whitman’s wedding.

The Arnold farm was between Otsdawa and Otego, near Uncle Dennis French. I have been there evenings and played.

Nettie Whitman, the youngest of the family, about 8 years older than I, married Darwin F. Arnold in March 1879, I think I had my invitation to the wedding when Delos Hodge cornered me in West Oneonta and pumped me about the wedding. I told him I had been there all winter and if anything like that was going on, I thought I would know about it, which was strictly true. He reported that I said I had been there all winter and had not seen a sign, which was far from the truth.

When I was at Mr. Whitman’s, they had two books I spent some time reading. One was History of the War of 1812 and with Mexico; the other (was) Indian Wars of the United States. When I was there in 1920, I talked with the boy about them. I doubt whether he knew about them. He said they were packed away, and he did not know where they were. I suppose they were subscription books, not outstanding. I doubt he’s ever looked at them again, so they have no value to him. I wanted your children to read them, because I had. Now I suppose it would be the grandchildren who would enjoy them, and I should like to see them again. If you can pry them loose, please do so.

In 1899, Daphnea told me we were related to Prof. N. N. Bull. Stephen Bull was a brother. I think young Arnold married his daughter, but am not certain. If he married any Bull, his children would be our distant relatives. I have forgotten this man’s given name. Please clear up these points.

When I was there, the cow barn was 42 ft. long. The timber that was the upper part of the stanchions was a single stick pine. The pine here is much better than the Michigan pine, which is better than the western pine.

Learn where Mr. and Mrs. Whitman and Nettie are buried, when Darwin Arnold died, and whether he was buried with her.

Jim Ferguson, etc. – I think his mother was Robert S. Cook’s girl. His wife was an Andrews, related to Elisha’s mother. He’s got her in Illinois, near Elisha’s. He came and got May and I and we stayed at his house overnight. I should like to have you see them. They live near Milford, east of Oneonta. If you come south from Cooperstown, it might do to have an appointment to stop there for supper.

Everywhere you go, you make it a point to see the pictures, especially of the older ones whom I knew, and I should like to have snapshots of the places where I have lived, among other pictures.

I was on hand and helped when the Baptist Church was raised. There was some debate on where the church should be built. Uncle Isaac settled it by buying this lot and donating it.

Clothier Allen Cook

Compiled by Gary O. Green
As of: 19 February 2004