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Work of Dryden's Forefathers Exposed

By Laurence Beach, Village of Dryden Historian

This past summer, in the year of 2000, reconstruction of State Route 13 on North and West Main Street in the Village of Dryden, disclosed work of the past 200 years. This road through Dryden was originally cut through the woods from Oxford, NY to Ithaca by Joseph Chaplin in 1794, and was known as the Bridle Road.

On West Main Street last summer, just east of Virgil Creek, contractors reconstructing the roadbed uncovered and removed logs, placed there as road base by our forefathers between 1784 and 1849.  Other logs were found in the vicinity of the old Grove Hotel (46 West Main Street).  According to Project Engineer, Russ Simcoe of the State Department of Transportation, the logs were in excellent condition and were removed to the fill area south of the Village.

The Centennial of the Presbyterian Society, 1808 to 1908 , reiterates a Masonic Funeral procession for William Thompson.  He had united with the church in 1817.  The solemn procession led by the Masonic Chaplin, followed by friends and neighbors, move from the old Hurd Farm house, east of Willow Glen, over the bumpy corduroy road to the Presbyterian Church.  The coffin rested on a bier covered with the Masonic Emblem.  No horses or carriages were in the procession.

Upon arrival at the Church, Pastor Robertson refused to allow the Masonic Chaplin to enter the pulpit for a Masonic service.  After much discussion among Trustees of the Church, broader views allowed the services to continue, followed by burial in the Presbyterian Pioneer Cemetery.

Further east on West Main Street, a cistern was found at the intersection with Lewis Street.  This was one of a number of such cisterns built in the Village in 1876.  The Old Village Hall, built that year, to house a Village office, lock up, and Fire House.  A hand-pumping machine was purchased and cisterns were used as water reservoirs.  Others were located near Weaver's Drug Store, Library Street and the Methodist Church.  Other locations have since been covered.  The cistern at the Methodist Church was filled a few years ago when a Town of Dryden highway truck fell into it.

Also uncovered by the resent construction was a stone ditch leading from the south side of West Main Street, near the Post Office, to a water storage  cistern on the north side of the street.  At the main four corners of Dryden, a stone footing was uncovered.  At this site a watering trough for horses, apparently fed by an artesian well, was used by those who "came to town" in the 19th century.

Going back to the old Lehigh rail crossing near Rochester Street, a storage vault for batteries was found.  These powered the railroad warning signals of lights and bells.

Lastly, by the present Cayuga Monument Company, rails and steel plates that held them to the wooden ties, were dug up.  This was a rail siding for the Old Farmers Feed & Milling Company, where box cars of bulk and bagged feed were unloaded.  After the death of Seward Lupton, President of the company, the Business was sold to the Dryden Grange League Federation Cooperative (G.L.F.)

Uncovering the log road, cisterns, horse watering trough, railroad siding and other evidence of the work of our Forefathers, are similar to the work of archeologists who uncover and expose such information for today's residents.

In 1988, near the Willow Glen Cemetery, the Route 13 project unearthed evidence of Native Indians who encamped in the area, before our ancestors became established in this region.

Such knowledge relates to the history and growth of Dryden, and is used to teach school youngsters, and adults about the community in which we live.

Information came from stories of my ancestors and my personal knowledge of Dryden Village, gathered over more than 80 years.
References used include the centennial history of the Presbyterian Society 1808-1908, and the
George Goodrich,
Centennial History of the Town of Dryden 1797-1897
(Available from Dryden Town Historical Society,
 Box 69, Dryden, New York  13053.  Cost is $13.00, postpaid)

Signed Laurence Beach

Thank you Laurence Beach "Beachy" for sharing this story with the Tompkins Co., NYGenWeb Site.

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