Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cooperstown Pursuit #3

by: Kate Betz, Manager of Public Programs
Due to political infighting, the village that we all know as Cooperstown almost wasn’t. In 1807, two rival factions headed by Elihu Phinney (the publisher of the Otsego Herald, Cooperstown’s first newspaper) and William Cooper proposed bills to incorporate the village and begin municipal services under two different names. Cooper favored the name Cooperstown (for obvious reasons), while Phinney favored Otsego. Phinney won in the state legislature because his party, the Republicans, had temporarily gained control. Cooper dominated village politics, however, and ensured that village trustees refused to enact any policies or begin any municipal services until the “mistake” in naming was corrected. The correction was five years in the making. In 1812, the village was reincorporated as Cooperstown. Never one to admit defeat, Phinney labeled the village Otsego until his death in 1813, more than a year after reincorporation.

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