Schoharie County NYGenWeb Site

A Short History - Town of Broome

by Betty M. Chichester, Town Historian

In 1795 a petition was presented to the State Legislature for the organization of a county to be named Schoharie after the principal stream that runs through the territory. The request was granted April 6, 1795. By 1797 the six original towns were organized and by 1848 the last of the sixteen towns in the new county were formed.

The Town of Broome was one of the original, and was very large including more than half of the present towns of Gilboa and Conesville and portions of the Town of Middleburgh. The town was formed March 17, 1797 and called Bristol. Bristol was the name of the birthplace, in England, of John Dies, one of the early settlers of the area. In 1803 there were 1083 inhabitants in Bristol. The name was changed April 6, 1808 to Broome in honor of John Broome, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York. Broome Center, now in the Town of Gilboa was actually the center of the town in the early days, before its division into the new towns.

The first town meeting was held at Richtmeyer's Tavern in Conesville on April 4, 1797. The original Broome Post Office was in Conesville and carried the Broome name until 1836 when the name was changed to Conesville P.O. Apparently most of Bristol's affairs were carried on in this area. Meetings through the years were held in Mackey and Livingstonville with Livingstonville being the hub of the Town. Much of this information comes from the original minutes book from the Town of Broome dated 1797-1846. This book is now in the possession of the Town Historian.

There were five post offices in the Town of Broome spanning the years from 1810-1943 until Rural Delivery took over. The last post office to close was in Livingstonville in 1943. Livingstonville postmaster from 1818-1871 was Asa Starkweather and from 1871-1943 was Myron Losee (according to an article from the 1987 Schoharie Historical Review).

In the late 1800's there were eight churches in the Town. Now there are only four left. They are the Gates Hill Church, Christian Church in Bates, Scott's Patent Church and the Livingstonville Community Church (formerly the Methodist Church). The Livingstonville Church is the only one holding regular services; the others hold services in the summer and on special occasions.

Livingstonville has four of the oldest buildings in the Town. The general store, built by Myron Losee in 1870, at one time housed the store, post office, town meeting hall and the Doctor's office. The Livingstonville Hotel also hosted town functions but was a main stopping off place for travelers between Catskill and Oneonta. It was very popular for its dances, summer play productions, and concerts which were held in the huge ballroom upstairs. This hotel was in operation until the 1980's - now hopefully someone will purchase it and restore it, to preserve the history or it will be history. There is another small building from the mid-1800's, which was first a jeweler's shop, then a doctors' office and lastly a post office. This has been unoccupied since 1943 when the post office closed. Lastly is the Drovers Holm, an inn located south of Livingstonville. This was very popular with the drovers when taking their cattle south to Catskill where they were boarded on ships to go to New York.

We had The Stone Store which was built by Danforth for his daughter. The house is still there but the stone building was unfortunately torn down in the 1960's. The stone was trucked away to be used for fireplaces and other building purposes.

On top of the mountain in the back of Livingstonville we have the David Williams Homestead, structurally pretty much the same as it was when it was built. David Williams was the captor of Major John Andre in the Revolutionary War. After the war he came to the area with his bride. His remains were buried with high military honors in Livingstonville Presbyterian Cemetery, later moved to Rensselaerville and then to his final resting place in the Old Stone Fort Cemetery in Schoharie.

In 1860, Broome was a thriving community with a population of 2,182. Many farms dotted the hillsides and businesses abounded in the four major settlements of Livingstonville, Hauverville, Franklinton and Bates (originally called Smithton).

By 1980, the population had declined to 761. Census figures for 1990 showed a reverse in this decline; population was 926, an increase of 21% over the previous ten years. Of the approximately 29,000 acres of land in the town, three-fourths of the remaining property is owned by non-residents. The number of active farms has dwindled to a mere half dozen and the area has become a haven for retirees and people from the cities, who are trying to find a quiet, peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

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