A Century Of Cooperstown


Smith’s and Telfer’s were called upon to photograph pretty nearly everything that went on in and around town. They snapped the bride at the Bundy-Tennant wedding in 1908, and a tableau at the girls’ orphanage in 1918 (far left). They covered Fourth of July parades and made a nice candid shot of Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Cooperstown in 1914 (left). And, of course, they recorded the Otsego County fairs, with their snappy chorus lines and the fearless birdman, “Professor” Myers (right).

Sporting Life: on land, on sea, in the air

Doubleday Field (right) is named after the Civil War general whom some researchers claim invented baseball. (Others disagree and Abner Doubleday himself made no claims.) It is situated right in the center of town, near the National Baseball Museum.

Because of the lake, baseball, and two fine golf courses, Cooperstown has been much more active in sports than most villages of its size. In addition, “Professor” W. H. Martin (low man at right in the three-man stand), for years the gym instructor at the Clark Gymnasium, coached many boys in the town in the arts of tumbling and trapeze work. Guy Palmer (upper left), who joined a circus, was one of his pupils. TeIfer took annual posed pictures of the high school football team (above) as well as such random and charming shots as the single sculler on the lake and two precariously perched bicyclists of the early eighties.

In The Good Old Summertime

The lake served this lady aquaplaner well, but serious fishermen disdained it and took off northward by trolley.

With beautiful Lake Otsego at their front door, Cooperstonians have always enjoyed a ready-made summer playground. Group swimming parties and picnics by Leatherstocking Falls (left) were favorite pastimes in 1903 when these pictures were taken. But the girls’ camp known as Pathfinder Lodge, which inspired its campers to such posturing as that at right, has given way to one run by the Baptist Church—and now the ghost of the Deerslayer, who trod these shores, can once again rest quietly in the grave.

Capers and Characters

To a good half of humanity, the very sight of a camera does odd things: They primp, they preen, they put on funny hats, they “mug.” From the cut-ups above to the girls below, Cooperstown has been no exception to the rules which require fire chiefs (far right) to show off and little boys caught knitting to look embarrassed (patriotic fervor trapped them during World War I). A sadder note, however, is struck by Crazy Kate (right), who did not know her picture was being taken. Every town used to have its village eccentric ; and every town accepted and understood.

A Biginning and an End

Putt Telfer stands more than a few notches above the good country photographer that he was. He had imagination, an awareness of the dramatic, and an excellent sense of composition. Back in 1913 when Telfer was 54, he snapped the fine picture (above) of an “aeroplane” piloted by E. V. Fritts at the Fair Grounds. A quarter of a century (and many thousand pictures) later, Telfer at 79 climbed up a flight of stairs and took the picture at right from the second floor window of a building on Main Street. It was the funeral of Joel White, Cooperstown’s last Civil War veteran, who died in 1938. While State Trooper Jack Cunningham saluted the riderless horse, Telfer captured the end of an era.