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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York

by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher

Chapter IX.
History of Tompkins County Agricultural Society—Its First Officers—Insignificance of Early Premiums Offered—Sales and Purchases of Property—History of the County Poor House—Statistics of its Present Condition-Masonic Societies in the County-Other Societies and Institutions.

There was an Agricultural Society in existence in this county at or soon after the organization in 1817, but no records are accessible in regard to its proceedings. In 1820 the annual meeting, as reported in the American Journal of March 22, was held on the 1st of March, when William T, SOUTHWORTH was chosen chairman, and Platt KETCHUM secretary. Officers were chosen for the ensuing year as follows: William T. SOUTHWORTH, president, Alexander BOWER, George ROBERTSON, Peter HIMROD, William MORRISON and Job ALLEN, vice- presidents; Platt KETCHUM, corresponding secretary; Jacob G. DYKEMAN, recording sec- retary; Luther GERE, treasurer; William R. COLLINS, auditor.

The sum of $186 was offered that year in premiums, and the fair was held on the last Tuesday in November at the Ithaca Hotel. Old residents speak of the "show," as it was termed, as a great success. The fair close with awards to successful exhibitors, after which a procession was formed which marched to the Presbyterian Church, where a prayer was offered by Rev. William WISNER, and an oration delivered by William T. SOUTHWORTH. The premiums awarded were then paid in specie at the close of the church exercises.

There are no attainable records in regard to this society after 1820 for a number of years. The fairs are, however, remembered, showing that their commencement was in 1839. Some authorities claim that the reorganization was in 1841, and another one in 1838. In 1855 the society purchased four blocks of land near the steamboat landing, and in 1857 another block, five in all, bounded on the west by Cascadilla Creek; on the north by Railroad avenue; on the east by Auburn street; and on the south by Lewis street. On this tract was erected a two story exhibition hall, fifty by one hundred feet in dimensions, and a trotting track laid out. In 1875 this property was sold to B. G. Jayne, and forty-five acres bought west of Meadow street and south of Clinton street, in the southwest part of the city. There a large number of buildings have been erected for exhibition and other purposes, and the society, in point of efficiency and resources, stands abreast with any county society in the State.

Abstract of receipts and disbursements of Tompkins County Agricultural Society for 1893:

Balance from last report --------------------------------------------------            $37.82
G. C. McClure, ex-treasurer -----------------------------------------------  52.08
From gate receipts.------------------------------------------------------ 1,075.10
  Rent of building --------------------------------------------------------- 55.00
  Rent of privileges ------------------------------------------------------ 534.96 
  Annual members at $1.00 ------------------------------------------------2,666.00 
  Members paying $5 each -------------------------------------------------- 620.00
  Entries for races ------------------------------------------------------- 312.00
  Advertisers in Premium List---------------------------------------------- 150.00
  Ives Pool Fund, 1893 ---------------------------------------------------- 488.05
  State of New York, 1893 ------------------------------------------------- 259.35
  Note at Tompkins County National Bank ----------------------------------- 500.00
     Receipts for 1893-------------------------------------------------------------- 6,712.54
For permanent improvements ----------------------------------------------- $111.64
  Labor-------------------------------------------------------------------  495.51
  Material, lumber, etc---------------------------------------------------  186.77 
  Salaries------------------------------------------------------------------ 50.00 
  Printing and advertising ------------------------------------------------ 670.71 
  Services of superintendents, police, watchmen, gatemen and clerks ------- 216.00
  Supplies for fair ------------------------------------------------------- 204.84
  Music during fair ------------------------------------------------------- 115.00
  Insurance fees and miscellaneous bills ----------------------------------- 85.66
  Race purses ------------------------------------------------------------- 866.00 
  Payment on indebtedness ----------------------------------------------- 1,130.59 
  Total premiums on stock ----------------------------------------------- 1,425.00 
  Premiums paid for 1892--------------------------------------------------- 183.29	
  Premiums other than above, 1893------------------------------------------ 750.00
     Total disbursements ----------------------------------------------------------- $6,941.01

At the annual meeting of the society in 1894 it was resolved to borrow the sum of $3,500 to pay the indebtedness of the society, and the further sum of $1,500 for needed improvements. The following officers were elected for 1894:

President, George H. BAKER (re-elected); secretary, Carey B. FISH; treasurer, L. H. VAN KIRK (re-elected); directors, R. G. H. SPEED, William NIXON, W. O. NEWMAN. Vice- presidents: Caroline, Henry D. THOMAS; Danby, L. L. BEERS; Dryden, C. D. BURCH ; Enfield, B. OLTZ; Groton, Z. COOK; Ithaca, C. E. SEAMAN; Lansing, Delos HARRING; Newfield, C. SEABRING; Ulysses, A. H. PIERSON.

Tompkins County Poor-House

It was ten years after the organization of this county before action was taken by the Board of Supervisors towards the establishment of a county poor-house. The first record in regard thereto appears in the proceedings of the board on the 22d of November, 1827, when a resolution was passed declaring the advisability of establishing a poor-house and appropriating the sum of $4,000 for that purpose. Of the sum appropriated, $1,500 were to be levied at that session, $1,250 in 1828, and the remaining $1,250 in 1829. A committee of one from each town was named to superintend the work of building, consisting of the following named persons: Solomon Sharp, Dryden; John Guthrie, Groton; Sullivan D. Hubbell, Hector; Elbert Curtis, Danby; Nicoll Halsey, Ulysses; Gilbert J. Ogden, Enfield; John White, Newfield; Nicholas Townley, Lansing; Ira Tillotson, Ithaca; Charles Mulks, Caroline.

The site chosen is in the town of Ulysses about six miles northwest from Ithaca The original building was of wood, erected under the resolution of 1827 and added to from time to time as became necessary. Quite extensive out-buildings were also constructed upon the farm of 100 acres, the soil of which is first-class, perhaps as good as can be found within the limits of the county.

Through age and long use the original building and its additions finally reached a condition necessitating very extensive repairs, practically rebuilding, or else the erection of an entirely new structure. Public sentiment throughout the county favored new, more commodious and comfortable buildings, and on the 20th of November, a committee was appointed to take into consideration the entire subject, embracing repairing of the old house or the erection of a new one, and also change of location. In February, 1892, the board refused to change the location, authorized a new building, and at a special session in June, 1892, appropriated $20,000 for the purpose. The new structure is of brick, ample in size, and constructed with special reference to the comfort of inmates and economy in details of management.

The Board of State Charities, in their annual report for 1892, notes that the new building was in process of construction; that there were, on the 1st of November, thirty-six men and ten women inmates; there were no insane: and that three children had been born in the house during the year then ending.

The county superintendent of the poor is, by resolution, made keeper of the house. The average cost of support of inmates per year was $62.71.

The report of the Board of Supervisors for the year ending November 15, 1893, shows that the whole number of days' support for the year was 14,298; for which the cost of board and clothing was $2,440.13. The average cost per week was $1.19 and a fraction. On November 15, 1892, there were thirty-six persons in the house; November 15, 1893, forty-eight persons.

STATISTICAL.—The Supervisors' reports for 1893 show that in the town of Ithaca there are 16,293 acres of land, and in the city, 2,940 acres. The assessed value of real estate, including village property and the real estate of corporations, was, in the town, $568,585; in the city, $2,599,376. The total assessed valuation of personal property in the town was $38,725; in the city, $512,155. The amount of town taxes for the town was $5,842.27; for the city, $34,745.41.The amount of county taxes for the town was $1,557.98; for the city, $10,892.65. The aggregate taxation for the town was $8,961.45; for the city, $56,553.26.The rate of tax on $1 valuation was, in the town, .015; in the city, .0182.

Report of the indebtedness of the County of Tompkins and of each town, village and ward therein for 1893:

County of Tompkins. Promissory notes For building County House $15,000.00 In three annual installments.
Town of Enfield Bonds In aid of Penn. and Sodus Bay R. R 14,691.75 In 1901 by sinking fund.
Town of Groton Bonds In aid of Ithaca and Cortland R. R 10,115.91 In 1900 annual sinking fund.
Village of Groton Bonds Waterworks 28, 000.00 In 30 years yearly sinking fund.
Ithaca town and city Bonds In aid of Geneva and Ithaca R. R. 30,836.19 In 1901 annual sinking fund.
Ithaca town and city Bonds In aid of Ithaca and Athens R. R. 75,000.00 March 1, 1899, $15,000 annually.
School Dist. city of Ithaca Bonds Building annex to High School 15,000.00 Within ten years at the option of the School Board.
School Dist. city of Ithaca Mortgage Ground occupied by H. School annex 4,000.00 At the option of School Board.
Old village of Ithaca Bonds In aid of Ithaca and Cortland R. R. 29,509.55 In 1900, by sinking fund.
Town of Newfield Bonds In aid of Penn. and Sodus Bay R. R 45,800.00 In 1901 int. paid semi-annually.
Town of Ulysses Bonds In aid of Penn. and Sodus Bay R. R. 54,200.00 In 1901 int. paid semi-annually.
Village of Trumansburg Bonds For building School House 13,500.00 In nine annual payments.
School District No. 8, Town of Groton Bonds For building School House 9,000.00 In ten years.

Landmarks - Chapter X

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