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Coddington Road:

Taken from an old newspaper clipping.
No date was on the article.(Written about 1952)


Donated by Town of Danby Historian Susan Hautala:
Retrieved for the Tompkins Co. site by; Town of Danby Overseer, Sandra Clary

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The history of Coddington Road goes back a lot farther than the most recent chapter, written two months ago when it was annexed to the City of Ithaca and the name of "Coddington" appeared in local headlines, with great regularity. R. H. DENMAN of Cliff St. has dug into the records on this road, and comes up with the following historical narrative.

Coddington Road is an unusual road in that it has been called by this same name for probably more than 100 years. Most roads, being named for a prominent farmer or some times another resident, will come to be known by another name when the property acquires a new owner. An example of this is in The Town of Caroline where Middaugh Road came to be called Bates Road, then sometime when the Bates were gone, interested residents succeeded in having the name of Middaugh restored and approved by the Town Board.

There are other reasons for roads changing in name. For example Slaterville Road, was originally called Catskill Turnpike, it being a part of the old across-the-state turnpike of that name. This was one of the first roads out of Ithaca to be "macadamized." Since this was done about the time drivers were acquiring automobiles it seems to have become a route on which to venture out to Slaterville Springs. Hence it came to be called "Slaterville Road."

While there are other roads than Coddington Road that have stabilized names, for example Bostwick Road, the former seems to be of the most interest at he present time. Coddington Road starts at he extension of S. Aurora St. (Danby Rd.) just outside the Ithaca city line, extents easterly to where it touches the end of Hudson St. Ext., then runs southeasterly to the north line of Tioga County then on into Willseyville. The first section of the road, between Danby Road and Hudson St. Ext., has lately been called "Coddington Crossroad" for convenience in referring to this section in matters of sewers and water supply.

The road is paved its entire length with recent re-paving and widening over the northern half. After going up a rather steep grade a half mile from the city line, the road levels off and has only slight grades on the remainder of its length.

The writer and his brother who traveled five miles of this road to and from high school learned the grades by heart (or muscle). This was in the dirt road days, traveling by bicycle when the road was dry (and dusty) and by horse in mud and snow.

The road roughly follows the foot of the steeper slope of the hills, on the westerly side of the valley. The old DL&W railroad was to the east of the road-sometimes in sight, always within "tooting" distance. Formerly, 50 years ago and more, the residents were mostly farmers or farm workers living in houses some distance apart. Today these intervening spaces are filled with many small houses occupied by non-farm workers, particularly for the first five miles of the road. Conditions about 100 years ago as shown on the 1852 Tompkins County map, were not much different than 50 years ago, except for the change of ownership of most of the farms. This map, a copy of which is in the real estate office window opposite City Hall, shows the names of farm owners at that time. (Another copy of this map may be seen on the wall in the County Clerk's office.)

The first farm at the corner of Danby Road was James TALFREY, at the corner of Hudson St. Ext. was "Depot," for the original railroad. At the top of the first pitch in the road was the STEEMBURG farm on the right. The farm buildings have been gone for many years.

Farther along on the right was D. J. SEAMANS, later NELLIGAN, then MATTERN, now Hugh COSLINE of American Agriculturist at 406. Incidentally, all the houses on Coddington Road to the Tioga County line have house numbers assigned by the respective Towns of Ithaca, Danby and Caroline, with numbers reserved for new houses.

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The NEILLIGANS had a large white barn across the road, which was destroyed by fire. A part of the stone basemen wall was preserved and now forms a part of the artistic Dr. CHAMPLIN house. Next beyond on the left was the DOWNING farm (now SMITH). And beyond that well back from the road was the S.W. MIDDAUGH farm, later MILLER (now BODINE).

Some distance beyond on the upper side of the road is a pleasant farm house, that was occupied by HAZENS for nearly 100 years. A little beyond HAZEN'S was the PEW farm, later owned by the VanDUSENS for many years (now GILES.) The last farm on the left before reaching the gully and the BURNS crossroad, now UPDYKE 699 was owned by the CODDINGTONS at the time of the 1852 map as was also the next farm (803).

The road was no doubt named for these families or their predecessors on this road, although people of this name have not been known in the vicinity for 75 years or more. The name, however, will be found on the oldest monuments in the South Hill Cemetery, which is across the road just beyond the former CODDINGTON farm.

Also in this old part of the cemetery are the graves of Jacob and Rebecca DENMAN one of whose sons, Charles married Sophia CODDINGTON. This is a clue to one reason why persons of this name are no longer found in the region-descendants running to girls.

Another reason is that other CODDINGTONS sold out and moved away. Old county records show that more than a score of them sold parcels of land in the City and Town of Ithaca before the time of the 1852 map.

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Beyond the cemetery on the right at the next gully is a former farm house, now apparently a rural residence. Across the gully on the left is another farm house. On the opposite side is the old schoolhouse, now the Coddington Community Building. No mention is being made of the many small and recently built houses.

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Continuing our attention to farm and former farm houses mention will be made of those of historical interest. A little beyond the last mentioned farm and on the right is a former McGRAW farm, (now POWELL). The McGRAW'S, Cornell fame, owned several farms or mortgages on farms on this road. Near the Ithaca-Danby town line on the left is the former WALLENBECK farm, now the Richard L. WALKER (1003).

At about this point the road enters and cuts across a corner of the Town of Danby about 2 ˝ lots, shows this part of the road only as a trail. Continuing on the present Coddington Road pass the German Cross Road on the left and pass the gully we find on the right the Merwin WALKER farm (1114). This was originally owned by Jacob DENMAN, previously mentioned, who had bought parts of two or more military lots and settled here in the early 1800's.

This homestead portion passed to a son Jacob Smith DENMAN then to John LYONS then to Patrick DRUMMOND and later to Jackson GRAVES who was a retired school superintendent. Other DENMAN lands were sold to Ithiel POTTER. Simon LITTLE and to a son, Moses T. DENMAN (see M. T. DENMAN on the 1852 map).

It was mentioned that another son of Jacob DENMAN, Charles married Sophia CODDINGTON. Further, a daughter, Hannah, married S. W. MIDDAUGH (see 1852 map). There were four sons and four daughters of Jacob and Rebecca TOWNLEY DENMAN.

The son Jacob Smith DENMAN became the superintendent of schools of Tompkins County and was the originator of Teachers Institutes. He wrote "DENMAN'S Bookkeeping for the People" and later established the "Mercantile Reporting Company " in Brooklyn, an organization like "Dun and Bradstreet," possibly its predecessor. His younger son was the artist Herbert DENMAN who, among others works, painted the murals in the old Waldorf Astoria ballroom. He also illustrated magazines.

Passing the former JEWELL farm on the right and the Banks crossroad on the left we come in about 4/10 of a mile to the Floyd DORN farm (1219). This was one of the former McGRAW farms. Mr. DORN, a prominent Holstein breeder and dairyman, son of Fred DORN, previous owner, is one of 10 children. Of the seven still living, four live on this road, one Earl, in Ithaca and two outside the state. One of the latter is Dr. Harold F. DORN, a biological scientist.

The next place on the right is the M.T. DENMAN farm previously mentioned, held by the family for about 75 years then by the Earl DORN family for about 25 years, now by Dr. William LONGAKER (1272).

We are now approaching the settlement of Morris Chapel and will skip mention of many of the houses although some are of local historical interest. The Church, that was on the right opposite the Middaugh Road has recently been torn down. The schoolhouse opposite is now occupied as a residence. This is known to old residents, as the "new." schoolhouse. It was built in the "Gay Nineties" to replace an old one which was on the same side of the road, one-quarter mile to the south.

This new one was up to date for the times, having a basement with hot air furnace, main floors of hardwood, boys' and girls' cloakrooms, a porch and a belfry with a large bell operated by a rope extending down into one of the cloakrooms: but no plumbing. This was District School No. 18, now part of the Ithaca City School District.

About 3/10 mile beyond is the Caroline Depot Road on the left and Steventown Hill Road on the right. The old house on the right corner, now MIDDAUGH, was formerly owned by George SEELEY. Diagonally across the large house now Ernest THOMPSON, was formerly owned by Smith STEVENS and then son Fred STEVENS, who taught farm mechanics at Cornell for a time and invented an improved trip for hay slings. A neighbor below on the Caroline Depot Road, W. H. BAKER, invented the famous BAKER gun made for many years by the Ithaca Gun Co.

[print is cut off, can not make out, will write what is there only]

These corners may be called "Steventown"
and judging from the nam__________________________________
the road going up the_____________________________________________________
here-"Steventowns Hill___________________________________________________
miles from here where____________________________________________________
leads off to the right. _____________________________________________________
Rd. turns slightly east_____________________________________________________
Town of Caroline…For___________________________________________________
mile it ran almost ________________________________________________________
on the town line.
At the next corner, _______________________________________________________
Rd. is on the left and D____________________________________________________
on the right. The next_____________________________________________________
former PUGSLEY place___________________________________________________
a prominent farm with _____________________________________________________
and a house with tall_______________________________________________________
house is now gone and _____________________________________________________
one farther back now_______________________________________________________

In the early times_______________________________________________________
of this farm and farm____________________________________________________
were more occupied in ___________________________________________________
than in farming par_______________________________________________________
the next place on the _____________________________________________________
lumbering was carried____________________________________________________
quite recently. Said to____________________________________________________
settled by a RIDGEWAY_________________________________________________
the younger son of one___________________________________________________
ed gentry in England_____________________________________________________
has been occupied by_____________________________________________________
until the last few years____________________________________________________
About 50 years ago_______________________________________________________
Mary RIDGEWAY, became ________ent physician. It is of interest to note that now
her niece Dr. Mary RIDGEWAY TINKER, has her office in Brooktondale and serves all
the surrounding territory.

Beyond the RIDGEWAY farm, about 4/10 mile on the left, is Ridgway Road, formerly White Church Road. The church, now gone, was at the other end of this road on what is now called White Church Road. Two railroads formerly ran close together through the valley bottom here, the little settlement was called "White Church" and had a flag station and a post office at he time.

In here is a watershed divide. Part of the rain falling here goes north to Cayuga Lake and thence to the St. Lawrence Valley and part flows south to the Susquehanna River and on to Chespeake Bay.

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