Baltimore Historic Marker, Preble, NY
This historical marker can be found at the corner of US Route 11 and East Homer-Baltimore Road. The marker stands for the tiny hamlet East of Preble village that was known as Baltimore. It lists a few of the significant things that existed in the town of Baltimore throughout the 19th century. One of the first schools located in the Preble area was here in Baltimore, opening in 1801 on nearby East Hill Road. The Tannery and Shoe Shop was opened in 1810 and would be the area's first major business. A brickyard was located here in 1812 and on. The Post Office was located here from 1812-1832 and proved to be a popular stop. Hotels in town were operated from 1814-1824 and 1830-1856. Each establishment is an interesting insight into the early development of this region of Cortland County, as each existed in early Baltimore history well before the rest of the area became more developed.
Backstory and Context
Baltimore was a small hamlet East of Preble Village in Cortland County. The land was incorporated as a part of the Central New York Military Tract, land awarded to participants in the Revolutionary War. Baltimore at the beginning of the 1800's had a few families in the area and a number of establishments within the first quarter of the century.
The Tannery and Shoe shop was one of the very first important businesses in the area, opened in 1810 by David Crofoot. The Crofoot family was a popular and active family within the Baltimore town area so much that a nickname for the town was "Crofootville". The patriarch of the family was James Crofoot, a revolutionary war veteran. He was born in Connecticut in 1761 and brought his family to the greater Preble area of New York following his time in the war. At their arrival, the Crofoots were mostly tanners and shoemakers, as well as brick makers and layers. They proved to be affective builders, as its said that not a house in Baltimore was built by someone who wasn't a Crofoot.
The school on East Hill was established in 1801, the first of its kind in Preble. This school would have rested very close to where the present-day marker is, as it was located just off of Route 11. The school was known as the "Goose Creek School", probably indicative of the nearby stream. Ruth Thorpe was the teacher here, administering to children from all over Preble, East Homer, and the southern edge of Tully. More schools would be added when Preble was officially incorporated in 1808. Eventually the school at East Hill was taken down by its owners, probably when the schools were incorporated into Preble and Tully districts, John and Jean Currie Van Pattern Ryan who lived near what is now Sears farm.
As mentioned above, the Post Office was incorporated in 1812 with its primary postmaster being Jabez Phillips, one of Baltimore's earliest settlers. Joseph Crofoot was the second postmaster after him. The post office was located in the hamlet until 1832 when it was moved to Preble Corners. But until that day, this area was a center for early settlers of the Tully and Preble region to receive mail, packages, and other goods. Jabez must have been friendly with the Crofoot family, as he is listed alongside David Crofoot in accounts of town clerks and supervisors between the 1820’s and 40’s, positions that both men held relatively often. David was also a veteran of the war of 1812.
David’s tannery would grow into a whole shoe factory until it declined in 1855, likely with the end of his life. The building that was there was torn down in the 1880’s. According to historical accounts, this post office and tannery were perhaps the biggest reasons for individuals in the region to travel to Baltimore.
To add to the list of Crofoot family members, one should know of Mortimer, Joseph’s son, who was a veteran of the Mexican War. Another Crofoot family member, Isaac (cousin to David), built the hotel in the area in 1830. The hotel existed for a long while and passed through various owners. It’s also noted that Isaac ran a tavern out of this same building.
By: Ceili Horton, Jordan Campbell, & Chad Dunham
Van Buskirk, Helen E. The Town of Preble . Records of Ms. Helen E. Van Buskirk. 1937. Cortland County Historical Society .
Preble Bicentennial Committee. . Preble, New York. On The 200th Anniversary of Cortland County, 1808-2008 . 2008 .
Currie , Estella . Town of Preble, Preble's Progress . Cortland , New York . Cortland County Bicentennial Commission , 2008 .
Bogardus , T. Elmer . "Woman Supplies Link in Balitmore History, Miss Van Buskirk, 84, Descendant of Pioneer in Forgotten Hamlet ." Cortland County Express (Cortland ). 1937.
Found with the help of the Cortland County Historical Society.
David Crofoots Business Records Day Book 1810-1811. Found in the archives of the Cortland County Historical Society.
Preble Bicentennial Committee. Preble, New York. On The 200th Anniversary of Cortland County, 1808-2008 . 2008. Found in the Archives of the Cortland County Historical Society.