Poolville, New York, is a small unincorporated hamlet just south of the Village of Hamilton in Madison County. In 1792, John Wells and Abner Nash, both from Amherst, Massachusetts, were wintering in Paris, NY, and became restless, and took a walk in the woods, then known as the Wilderness, and eventually settled in what is now Poolville. They walked through the area now known as the Nine Mile Swamp, and followed the East Branch of the Chenango River, and settled where Poolville is located. They built a cabin and returned to Paris.
In late winter 1792, Wells, Nash, John Muir, and Patrick Shield returned to Poolville with Mrs. Wells and their infant son, one horse, an oxen, a small dog, and two hogs. In their new settlement, the party secured land and built cabins.
New pioneers followed, and Wells opened a public house. Israel Church arrived and opened a store. Reuben Slater opened a grist mill. Others continued walking through Poolville and settled in a town they named Forks, now Earlville.
Enter the Pools. About 1810, Abijah Pool and his sons Abijah Junior and Isaac arrived from Plainfield, Massachusetts. A few years later, Justus Shattuck built a factory making clothing, and the Pools joined his business. Gideon Randall Pool arrived a few years later and formed a partnership with Shattuck. Caleb Lowd and Elias Hunt came from Boston and started a boot and shoe manufacturing business. Randall Pool built and operated a grist mill on the river behind the home known by many locals as the Tuttle house, a brown house located on the river. Remnants of the dam and floodgate are still evident. Randall Pool died in a mill accident on December 12, 1827. Amos Pool took over his brother’s share of the business. Over the next few decades, the mill would be a grist mill and a saw mill. The mill was eventually bought by George W. Berry, the son of Henry.
Poolville as a Business Center with a US Post Office. In 1830, the village acquired a post office and was given the official name of Poolville, and that marked the start of Poolville becoming a thriving business center. In the 1830s, there were several factories – wool carding, cloth dressing, boot and shoe manufacturing, factory machine making – and contained several stores and shops and taverns. Emirs Wood started a machine shop in 1830, and Caleb Lowd built a tannery from native stone in 1831. The tannery was run under the name of Loomis, Lowd, and Company. In 1855, Henry Berry bought the tannery and it remained in the Berry family for many years. The Berrys modified the tannery to become a woolen stocking mill, and then into a cold storage facility. The property was converted into a residence and is now the charming home of Eric and Julie Morse.
The Pools started a highly successful shoe and boot business, probably on the property near the current railroad track. Caleb Lowd managed the mill under the name Thaxter-Pool. Nathan Eaton purchased it and also started an ashery and country store. Both failed in 1850. A Congregational Church and a Methodist Church were established.
By 1860, the manufacturing businesses had left Poolville. The Village evolved into a farming district with hops, milking cows, and a highly prized line of bulls.
The Poolville Country Store. Sometime in the 1850s, N. Peck started a store which was purchased by George W. Nash, who operated it until 1909. The general store had many subsequent owners, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Farnsworth owned and operated it until the 1980s. Mr. Farnsworth was a Colgate professor who taught his students small-business management at the Poolville Country Store.
In 1983, Dominic Yacabucci bought the Poolville Country Store and made it into a fine dining, white-table-cloth restaurant. Yacabucci was hugely successful but sold the property and business to a young couple from New York City, who operated it for a few years before selling it to Roger Foater and Charles Wilburn in 2000. The restaurant offers the finest dining in the area! http://www.poolvillecountrystore.com/
Another country store was build in 1865 by D.W. Hyland on the corner diagonally oppose the Poolville Country Store. That corner is now our village green. J. M. Jennings, in partnership with Cook and Dunham, and Charles Conley, owned the store. It burned on May 7, 1932.
Poolville Hotels. In 1822, Samuel Pool built a hotel on the corner of Earlville Road and Poolville Road. It burned in 1879. When the hotel owned by Samuel Pool burned in 1879, F.B. Kinney built another one on the same location. It also burns and a third hotel was built by D.C. Green in 1884-85. It suffered serious damage in the tornadoe of 1926 and was demolished. 1926 was the first year on record that a tornado swept through Poolville. The next was 2014.
Railroad Town. The Utica, Chenango, and Susquehanna Valley Railroad came to Poolville in 1868. Andre Forbes built the Railroad Hotel on the west side of the tracks in about 1868. Sparks thrown from the locomotive smoke stack ignited a hotel fire, and the structure burned on April 27, 1898. A. M. Sly was the proprietor when it burned.
Because Poolville had rail service, the Empre State Dairy Company opened next to the tracks. They shipped milk, butter, and cheese north and south. The railroad stopped running in the 1990s, but discontinued stopping in Poolville in the 1950s. Between 2000 and 2010, the owner of the railroad bed decided to run high voltage power lines from the north to a distribution site well south of Poolville. His business plan was to sell power to NYC, but local residents were infuriated over the high tension power towers and lines that would have run through the Chenango Valley and beyond. Many Poolville residents successfully fought the power lines. In 2013, a serious storm washed out many parts of the tracks. The railroad should again start operating in 2019. In 2018, a few trains tested the tracks, blowing their whistles while going through Poolville. A Lovely sound!
Hops were grown successfully in Poolville for decades, but a hops fungus devastated the business. Farmers turned to green peas, snap beans, and cabbage. The 1880s and 1890s saw migrant camps set up around Poolville to house migrant workers who picked the crops. Produce was shipped to big city markets to the south. Costs became high, migrants got into trouble in some of Poolville’s three taverns, and bad weather impacted the hardest. Large scale crop farming was abandoned. SUNY Morrisville College https://www.morrisville.edu/ has joined many local farmers in an effort to reinstitute hops production in the area.
In the mid-20th Century, the Village had three taverns, three gas pumps, two blacksmiths, a butcher, a dress shop, and a jeweler’s shop. But times change and so did Poolville. Except for the Poolville Country Store and Jim Pounds’ machine shop that repaired tractors and other large farm equipment, all commercial business has left Poolville. The Pound’s Machine Shop was owned an operated as Ken’s Tractor Repair by Ken House until his untimely death in 2017. It has a new owner. https://www.manta.com/c/mm5c4s0/kens-farm-repair
The Post Office, located five buildings north of the United Methodist Church, was decommissioned in 1993 when the USPS reduced the number of branches nationwide. The PO had been a place where people met and exchanged greetings and news, and it is very much missed. The most famous postmaster was pulp-fiction writer Herman Petersen who was widely read in newspapers across the country. Herman Petersen books can still be found on www.Amazon.com. Ms. Marian Betts was the last postmistress. The home that contained the PO was demolished in 2013.
A schoolhouse was built in Poolville in 1913 and operated until 1957. The old schoolhouse was turned into a volunteer fire department, community center, and library. The fire department held many fund-raising events that became a important social events in the village. The Community Center Center – https://sites.google.com/site/poolvillecommunity/ – held similar events, thereby providing village residents with a sense of community. The fire department was required by NY State code to combine with Earlville, and that was a great loss to Poolville. The Community Center still holds events, including a montly farmers market throughout the winter, and Poolville Days events in the summer. See Poolville Community section of the website for information on the Fire Department.
The Website PoolvilleNY.com wishes to acknowledge a 1968 booklet written by Herman Petersen and Alma Berry for much of the content of this history. The online archives of Utica Observr Dispatch were also quite helpful, as were many long-time residents.