In the preparation of the following pages, I have not attempted to give a complete history of the town of Oneonta. My main object has been to put into a more preservative form some of the facts that have been derived from the recollection of the older inhabitants as well as from family papers, which, in the lapse of time, would be forgotten and lost to the public. This is not so much a history as it is a sketch of history, but it may be made a beginning of a more pretentious historical work. I have endeavored to make it trustworthy, and in my efforts in this direction, I have not relied upon any information pretended to be conveyed in the recently published large “History of Otsego County,” which is better known as a voluminous compilation of gross inaccuracies in which are transmitted to future times the names of the good and bad, equally bespattered with praise.
If the names of any of the older settlers have not received deserved mention, the omission is due to the fact that their representatives or those having information to give, have withheld or neglected to furnish facts which they alone could furnish.
Oneonta, April, 1883.
The territory comprised within the present boundaries of the town of Oneonta, previous to the war of the Revolution, was little known except as the scene of many a sanguinary conflict between different Indian tribes which contended with each other for its possession. The Delawares, whose home was on the river bearing their name, had been in peaceful possession of the upper Susquehanna valley from time immemorial; but long before the outbreak of hostilities between England and her trans-Atlantic colonies, the Tuscaroras, a warlike tribe from Virginia, wandered up the Susquehanna from Chesapeake Bay and laid claim to the upper portion of the valley as their hunting-grounds. From that time, with brief and uncertain intervals of peace, up to the close of the Revolutionary struggle, the war between the contending tribes was waged with relentless fury. Many a proud chief and valiant warrior fell beneath the tomahawk and became the victim of the merciless scalping-knife.
Eventually the strife between these aboriginal tribes terminated in favor of the invaders, or Tuscaroras, who thereupon allied themselves with the Six Nations occupying the more northern and western portions of the state. They formed small settlements, one within the present town of Oneonta, at the mouth of the Otego creek, and another at or near the mouth of the Charlotte. The former was on the farm now owned and occupied by Andrew Van Woert; the other on what is known as the Island on the farm of James W. Jenks. At both these places Indian utensils and implements of war have been found in large numbers; at both, Indian orchards of some extent were standing a few years ago.