History of Madison NY
Since the arrival of our first settlers, we have taken pride in our leadership in business, education, agricultural pursuits and innovation.
Samuel Mott founded a company in 1868 which has become synonymous with quality in the apple products line. An apprentice lawyer in Madison, named Samuel Nelson, took his learning experiences and went on to become a United States Supreme Court Justice, helping to decide the Dred Scott case among others.
Business has always been at the forefront of township interests. From the Motts Apple Cider Vinegar plant, grist mills and cheese manufacturing of the past, to restaurants and the various individual business venues today, the Town of Madison continues a rich business tradition in Central New York.
Agriculture in our area continues a progression that has seen the evolution from grain to hops to dairy and beyond. Today, an emphasis on "green foods" has seen the emergence of "organic produce farms," which supply local and regional demand.
Whipple Bridge with people on the banks. ca. 1920's
The rich tradition of education in the Town of Madison has seen one-roomed schools grow into a centralized school system that is an area leader. Students from Madison have gone on to varied walks of life and have found that the strong educational foundation they received has led to success in a variety of fields of endeavor.
Innovation has also found fertile ground in the Town of Madison. It has come from the agricultural arena with items to increase hops production patented by William W. Edgarton, from the skilled masons who contructed both the locks for the Chenango Canal, the historic Landmark Restaurant building in Bouckville and some of the most beautiful cobblestone homes in New York State, or the invention of the collapsible bumper for autos by Madison native Richard Bicknell.
Innovation is also displayed annually at the Madison/Bouckville Antiques Show, attracting crowds in excess of 40,000. And it appears in our commitment to "green technology" with the recent construction of two windmill projects and more planned for the future.
Visit us at our many "Bed and Breakfast" locations, shop at the new Madison Marketplace, talk to our friendly people and most of all enjoy the country setting of a true slice of rural America. We are proud of our contributions to the Central New York region.
[ Top of page ]
Hops in Madison
In 1808, James D. Coolidge (or Cooledge) began cultivating hops in Bouckville with roots gathered from neighbors’ gardens. By the fall of 1816, Cooledge took the first western hops to market in NYC. His neighbor, Solomon Root sold two tons of hops in 1817 or 1818 at $1,000 per ton. After that, local farmers included growing hops on their farms.
By 1859, New York State produced 80% of all hops grown in the United States. In 1878, the Town of Madison was the second largest hop producer in Madison County.
Bouckville Original Site: "Hop pickers circa late 1800s at the original home of James D. Coolidge, Route 12B South of Route 20, Bouckville."
"Original hop yard located in the field behind where Troops Scoops, Bouckville is today. Ernest Dahn identified as third from left."
A hop kiln on Scenic Route 20, going west in Bouckville (a dirt road back then). The pointed top let the smoke out from the fire that burned in a stove on the main floor. The top floor consisted of slats with hops laid over them to dry before baling and taking to market.
Read more of the hops story, and see the historic marker awarded to the Town of Madison Historical Society by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
[ Top of page ]
Motts Apple Cider Vinegar in Madison
MOTTS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR PLANT -- 1869 -- Samuel Mott or “S.R.” Mott established a cider mill to ship apple cider vinegar on the Chenango Canal. By 1871, S.R. produced 9,000 barrels of vinegar a year. Clipper ships laden with 100 case lots of Mott’s vinegar sailed around Cape Horn to California.
Mott grew his business to be called, among other names, the Genesee Fruit Company and Duffy-Mott Company where high quality apple cider, champagne and vinegar were produced from apples shipped in from around the country. Eighty bushels of apples were squeezed at each press. Mott built a large complex of buildings on Route 20 where the Cider House Show field is today to produce 20,000 barrels annually. Railroad tracks ran past these buildings across Route 20 to ship to Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other distributing centers; one in South America.
Motts original cider vinegar plant on Chenango Canal, Bouckville.
Workers in building on east side of Chenango Canal. After running as a cider mill, this building still stands today known as New York State's longest-running feed mill. The Bouckville Feed Mill closed in late 2019.
Genesee Fruit Co. Plant: Part of Mott complex, consisting of a cider mill, bottling plant, cooperage and vinegar works built on Route 20, Bouckville where Cider House Show field is today. Side rails held boxcars of apples to be processed.
Photos and information are credited to the Town of Madison Historical Society (TMHS), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that meets every third Monday of the month at 6:15 pm in their own building at 3606 South St, Madison (the old American Legion). The TMHS offers a monthly speaker program, country dances, dinners and a place to gather for the community. They also provide a tour guide shuttle bus driver during the annual Bouckville-Madison Antique Show. Local research may be done by appointment in their Archives Room. Contact Town of Madison Historian Diane Van Slyke at email@example.com, 315-729-8323 (cell).