"PIONEER LEADER IN THE VALLEY"
Milltown and its neighbor to the north, Factoryville ( present East Waverly ) were both thriving communities when Waverly was little more than a forested wilderness.
And it was largely due to the efforts and influence of John Shepard that the two settlements along Cauyga Creek became important centers of trade and industry.
Shepard came to the Valley at the age of 23 and purchased 600 acres of land along the creek in 1788. On this property were two buildings - a sawmill and a grist mill. To these mills came the settlers from Owego and beyond as they were the only mills between Binghamton and Wyoming, Pa.
The name Milltown was a natural as Shepard added a distillery, an oil mill and various factories. He purchased an additional 340 acres, where he operated a farm for more than 20 years.
Then, in 1796, he paid $ 5.00 per acre for 1,000 acres of land in New York, which included the present site of the village of Waverly as well as land to the north and west.
Milltown gradually grew until during the 1830's it was a prosperous settlement, serving as market place and shipping point for lumber and grain. Lumber, especially, was brought to Shepard's landing, formed into rafts and floated down the Susquehanna.
While taverns, stores, a post office, even a school, were being added to Milltown, the northern settlement across the border remained little more than the Walker Mill ( built in 1800 ) and farm land.
That was soon to change as in 1821, Major Flower surveyed Shepard's lands. As a result of this survey, the Chemung - Owego Road ( Chemung Street ) and the Ithaca Turnpike (Cayuta Avenue ) were laid out. Lots were sold and a community began to form.
Again it was the Shepard family that led in the development of the new town. Located very near the one trail from east to west, within a few years Factoryville consisted of two taverns, a school house, two stores, tailor shops, a harness shop and a coffin maker.
The location of the post office in the Isaac Shepard Mill was a further cause for the rapid growth of the community.
When Factoryville was at its height, around 1850, a church, two general stores, three mills, taverns, nearly a dozen shops and markets, a blacksmith and a cabinet maker served the 500 inhabitants.
As Milltown declined in proportion to the growth in Factoryville, so did the little community along Shepard's Creek lose out to the new settlement to the west. When the Erie Railroad decided to locate its station near Broad Street, Factoryville was gradually eclipsed in importance by Waverly.
Factoryvile held out as a separate political unit until it was incorporated into the Village of Waverly in 1889.
Descendents of John Shepard continued to play a major role in the growth of the area, carrying on a tradition begun by the pioneer. It was largely through his effort and because of his desire to see the new towns prosper that a wilderness was turned into the viable communities located in the Valley today.
Many members of the Shepard family and other pioneer settlers are buried in " The Rest " cemetery located at Springs Corners.
Note; "The Rest" used to be known as the "Milltown cemetery."
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Ernie Miles...... This page was updated Wednesday, 26-Mar-2008 06:52:08 PDT.