Historical Tidbits of Norwich & Chenango County, NY

Peter B. Garnsey

  • posted February 2007
  • B. 1770 Amenia, Dutchess Co., NY
  • D. 1843 Norwich, Chenango co., NY
Peter B. Garnsey studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1795. He moved to Norwich in 1800 and was prominent in the community and assisted in the growth of the Norwich area. Some of his other business interests were manufacturing linseed oil, operating a woolen mill, he owned an ashery, sawmill and a grist-mill.
Peter married Polly on 25 December 1797, Canaan (New Lebanon) Columbia Co., NY. They had 4 Children.

Mary (Polly) Spier

  • b. 1778 New Lebanon
  • d. 1845 Norwich, NY.
They had four children:
  • Peter B.
    • b. 3 January 1799, Norwich, NY;
  • Polly
    • b. 30 April 1801, Norwich, NY;
  • William G.
    • b. 6 January 1809, Norwich, NY
  • Lavinia
    • b. 17 July 1811, Norwich, NY.
Portraits of Peter B. & Mary (Polly) Garnsey are located in the large print room in the Guernsey Memorial Library

Posted March 2007

In 1799 Peter B. Garnsey was one of two men elected to represent Chenango County in the New York State Assembly. He served one term.

In 1807 Peter Garnsey donated the property to the County for the Chenango County Court House (West Park). The framed house was then moved to the corner of Court street and West Main. Judge Stephen Steere matched his gift by giving the property on the other side of North Broad Street (East Park) to complete the village green.

1804-1828 the land which later became the city of Norwich was owned by thirteen individuals. There was just one road running North & South. In 1804 there were less than twenty five houses, one store, no churches and two taverns. Freemasonry in Norwich, NY 1804-1825 by Archie D. Gibbs.



Posted April 2007

William Bellamy Guernsey, son of Peter B. and Mary (Bellamy) Guernsey, born November 28, 1828, Norwich, NY. He married Jane Madelia Maydole September 6, 1853.

William B. had a good education and was a graduate of Troy Polytechnic Institute. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1852. He served in the Civil War as a Capt. In the 89th Regiment. On January 30, 1864 he was appointed as a Lieutenant-Colonel of the 26th U. S. Colored Infantry. He was promoted to Colonel June 18, 1865 and was mustered out with regiment on August 28, 1865.

William was an inventor. In October 1870 he received a patent for an electric Burglar Alarm which was manufactured and marketed by the Bronson & Company Agents in New York City. This alarm was stated to be “an improvement upon every electric or telegraphic alarm before offered, and excels them all.” What made this alarm unique was that even with the wires cut the bell would sound off so there was no way to tamper with it.

William died July 20, 1898, Norwich, NY. They had no children.

Jane Madelia (Maydole) Guernsey was born April 7, 1831 in Madison Co., NY. She was the daughter of David and Madelia (Hartshorn) Maydole. She died August 31, 1901 in Norwich, NY. She and William both regarded education as being extremely important and when Jane died it was their wish that the Guernsey Homestead become “The Guernsey Homestead Memorial Library” and public park.

...when Jane died it was their wish that the Guernsey Homestead become “The Guernsey Homestead Memorial Library” and public park.

The Guernsey Homestead Memorial Library opened on September 11, 1902. It housed a public library, five elementary libraries, junior high & senior high libraries, as well as the Follett Law Library. After many years of serving the community the original house was torn down in September 1966.

The new Guernsey Memorial Library was built and cost $544,156. The dedication of the new library was held on March 8, 1969 and the doors opened for business on Monday, March 10, 1969.

The Otis A. Thompson Local History Room was made possible by funds from a $100,000 bequest from the estate of Otis A. Thompson. The woodwork was done by Jim Rydzewski of Oxford. The stenciling in of the rooms was created and painted by the late Thomas F. Lloyd and was signed & dated in 1980. The Local History Room was dedicated on June 8, 1980. The Guernsey Memorial Park was made possible thru a bequest of Mr. Claude Reynolds. The park has numerous trees and flowers for all to enjoy as well as a small playground. The Park Dedication was held August 1, 1982.


Posted September 2010


Q. - Which Norwich Mayor made Ripley’s Believe It or Not column?


A. – Frank Zuber – he served as mayor for 16 years ( 1929-1945) and never asked for a salary.

        (Source: Chenango Union- February 5, 1975)

 (To read more on Frank Zuber come visit the Otis A. Thompson Local History Room and read,  His Honor the Mayor, by H. Claude Hardy-1953. )


Posted 2011

Question:  Which statue in Norwich was called “Beautiful Jane”.


Answer: The statue atop of a drinking fountain in the middle of Broad Street for horses and dogs. This fountain was donated by the Ladies Improvement Society, after a horse had dropped dead in the street from thirst.


Posted 7/11/2011

Question:  Where in Norwich was the Gold Cure Sanatorium, which opened in 1894, located?


Answer: On the site where the old East Main Street school stands.  Alcoholics from all over the country came to take bichloride gold treatment.


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