Town of Barton History


Patricia Shipman, Town Historian

The Town of Barton was formed on March 23, 1824 and is located in the southwestern corner of Tioga County, encompassing 60 square miles. The population was 8925 in the1990 census. Waverly is the only village in the Town of Barton, with a population of 4787 (1990 census), incorporated in 1854. A prominent businessman, Joseph Hallett who copied it from Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley,” eliminating the “e.” chose the name

The origin of the name, “Barton” is vague. In an early dictionary, the word barton was defined in part as “the domain lands of a manor.” Since no prominent person by the name of Barton ever lived or owned property in Barton when it was surveyed, it is a reasonable conjecture that the word, “barton” (meaning manor) was written on an early map and filed in Albany. When the map was examined and the only name found on it was “Barton,” that was the name given to it.

Most of the early settlers came from New York, Connecticut or Pennsylvania. One of the earliest and most prominent was John Shepard. In 1796 he bought 1,000 acres, which covered all the land on which Waverly now stands. Others living in Barton before 1795 and operating farms and sawmills were Luke Saunders, John Hanna, Samuel Ellis, Ebenezer Ellis, James Swartwood, and Stephen Mills. Businesses in the nineteenth century included the Novelty Furniture Works, the Butter and Oyster Pail Manufactory, the Sayre Butter Package Company, grist and flouring mills, saw mills, creameries, and wagon and blacksmith shops.

Businesses in the twentieth century included the Spencer Glove Company and the Waverly Sun newspaper, both owned by Hart I. Seely and located in Waverly; the Tioga Mills, Inc., a feed mill company and Agway, Country Foods Division of Syracuse, N. Y. as a pet food plant. Others are the Food and Drug Research Laboratories, located on Route 17C, just east of Waverly, State Line Auto Auction, O’Brien’s Inn, and one of the most interesting, the J. E. Ranch. Following, is a brief history of the J. E. Ranch: In 1938, the O’Brien brothers, Ed and Bill, met Col. Jim Eskew, who discussed with them the possibility of establishing a ranch and winter quarters near Waverly. The O’Brien’s were members of the Waverly Board of Trade and convinced the Board to purchase and give to Col. Eskew a 240 acre farm overlooking Chemung Valley, with the proviso that he make it his winter quarters. When the rodeo first opened, a crude road was cut and the arena accommodated only a single lane of traffic. At the opening performance, traffic was lined up a mile and a half waiting to get in, proving that people loved the idea of a rodeo. Over the years, Col. Eskew was considered one of the leading citizens in this part of the country. People with the rodeo bought homes nearby and raised their families.

However, War II brought a close to J. E. Ranch when Eskew’s two sons went to war with most of the other cowboys and Eskew’s wife, Miss Dolly, died. Things never got back to normal, and ended the days when Waverly was the “Rodeo Capital of the East.” Frank Clancy’s father, Fog Horn Clancy, wrote My Fifty Years in Rodeo, which included the history of the Ranch.

Today, Barton’s elected officials include a Supervisor, two Town Justices, four Councilmen, a Town Clerk and Collector, and Superintendent of Highways. The Tioga Central School District serves the Town of Barton. In Waverly, the elected officials are the Mayor, six Trustees, a Clerk-Treasurer, a Village Justice and a Street Department Superintendent. Waverly has its own Waverly Central School District.


Town of Barton

110 Front Street, Owego, NY 13827                                  Phone: 607-687-2460                                Email: