History of Unadilla

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Unadilla was settled around 1770 by Europeans and far earlier by Native American peoples at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Unadilla rivers where the village of Sidney is now located. Unadilla is a First Nation word meaning “Meeting Place.” Many battles took place around Unadilla between settlers and Natives Americans during the Revolutionary War when both Sidney and Unadilla were destroyed. From 1777-1784, Joseph Brant commanded a war party of Loyalist Native Mohawks and Loyalist farmers who were instrumental in British victories of what was the Upper Province of New York. Aiding in the destruction of large agricultural areas in order to deny food stocks to Washington’s army and to deprive the Rebels of much need resources, Brant and his men carried out a protracted guerilla war in support of the crown.

It is interesting to note that the Seneca, Mohawk, Onondaga and Mingos took place in these battles on the side of the British against the armies of George Washington.

Archeological evidence indicates that the Iroquois occupied upstate New York as far back of 1100 A.D. The Onondaga were the first of the Iroquois tribes to be positively identified in New York from sometime between 1450 and 1475 on land that is now part of the Onondaga Reservation about 1 ½ hours away from Unadilla. The Onondaga, Seneca, Mohawk, the Algonquin and many other tribal groups developed complex trade and warfare relationships with each other forming several significant alliance groupings by at least the 16th century resulting in the famous Iroquois Confederacies sometime around 1570. Many tales survive of these peoples who remain natives of the region and everyone knows names like Hiawatha, an Onondaga who had become a Mohawk war chief. The area is sprinkled with historical plaques marking locations of important Revolutionary War battles involving both settlers and the Native Americans.

The ten-year period between 1784-1795 was probably the lowest point for the Iroquois peoples. There was a high cost for opposing the rebels but a slow recovery has been made and continues to the present as exemplified at the Iroquois Museum in nearby Schoharie. Festivals are held and a special powwow occurs every Labor Day weekend.

Unadilla was rebuilt around 1801, making the summer of 2001 its Bicentennial celebration, to be held the second Sunday of July. The Village was an important stop for travel west on both the original highways, the Jericho and Catskill Turnpikes. Unadilla was incorporated in 1889. A thriving tourist trade brought by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad centered on the fabled Hotel Otesaga until it burned down. Unadilla remains a site for local tourism and partakes in the General Clinton Canoe Regatta every Memorial Day, a series of canoe races along the Susquehanna from Cooperstown to Bainbridge nearby. Crossing the river from Delaware County into Unadilla is very much like crossing the bridge to Brigadoon, a gentle place with many of the old values and a feel of the past. We think Unadilla is the “Village Beautiful.”