Discover your roots and uncover captivating tales at the Cortland County Historical Society’s Research Center. Whether you’re seeking information about your ancestors, notable figures from the region, or properties in Cortland County, our research center stands as your ultimate resource hub.
Delving into the rich resources of the center, I’ve embarked on a fascinating journey into the history of the first settlers in the diverse towns of our county. From the intrepid Amos Todd to the pioneering spirits of Joseph and Rhoda Beebe, the narrative leads to the arrival of Joseph Chaplin, the trailblazing founder of his family in Virgil around 1794-5. Nestled along the Tioughnioga River near what we now know as Messengerville, Chaplin’s homestead took shape, a testament to his prior accomplishment of establishing the inaugural road connecting Oxford and Ithaca. A lineage hailing from Massachusetts added to the tapestry of his story.
Subsequently, the spotlight turns to John M. Frank and his family, the next pioneers in Virgil’s tale. A veteran of the Revolutionary War, John settled upon Lot 43, a designated parcel of land. The family’s remarkable journey spanned from Montgomery County, NY, to Cooperstown, followed by a voyage down the Susquehanna River to Chenango Point, and ultimately upstream along the Chenango and Tioughnioga Rivers to converge with the landscape near Chaplin’s abode in Virgil.
John’s story brims with intrigue; born in Germany, possibly a former Hessian soldier, and undoubtedly a Revolutionary War hero. The inscription etched upon his gravestone attests, “John M. Frank was born in Brunswick, Germany. He emigrated to America at an early period of the revolution; joined the contest for freedom, and fought for Independence.” An intriguing thread in his family dossier hints at his role as a Hessian soldier, once aligned with the British but later captured and reborn as a stalwart of the Revolutionary cause. Yet, amid this compelling narrative, concrete records to validate this chapter remain elusive.
His Revolutionary War pension chronicles enlistment in October 1777, service as a private in Captain Smith’s company within Colonel VanCortlandt’s 2nd New York regiment. The echoes of battle resound in his participation in the Battle of Monmouth, an unwavering commitment that persisted until June 7, 1783.
In 1787, John’s union with Catherine Och in Fort Plain, Montgomery, NY, ushered in a new chapter, marked by the births of three sons: George, Peter, and John. A life well-lived found its closure in 1830, as John breathed his last at 76, finding rest in the embrace of the Old Virgil Cemetery.
A poignant symbol within the Virgil Rural Cemetery stands as a tribute to his legacy, a small stone adorned with a carved violin, honoring his grandson, John M. Frank (1830-1874) 📷Virgil Rural Cemetery. Let the Cortland County Historical Society’s Research Center be your guide to unlocking the secrets of the past, where stories like these illuminate the corridors of time.