“In 1843 Wm. Hurd Eddy braving the dangers of the wilderness moved his family of six by ox-team still further into the country. Six children including Frances, in her mother’s arms, crowded in the wagon, three were girls, two were boys [and Frances held by Mama] making six children in all. Later in life the girls married becoming Mary Eddy Harvey, Nancy Eddy Simmons, Lydia Eddy Harvey Bowen. The boys, William Henry Eddy married Lucy Pratt, James Wyman Eddy married Jane Harvey. William H. was one of the three Eddy brothers, sturdy pioneers, settlers of Eddyville, for whom the village [Eddyville] was named.” (information was from a family history completed by Mrs. Percy Beach)
The “home on the hill” as it is often referred to is due to the vision of William Hurd Eddy (9 March 1807-5 May 1871). The building has stood the test of time. Built about 1845 with reminiscence and resemblance of homes left behind in the Herkimer area the site continues to draw attention. Looking at the building from different directions reveals varying architectural design influences from the pillars facing the road to the entranceway facing more northeasterly and including the metal roof. This roof design was original and looking closely not a duplicate of the design now being used in modern day homes. So intent on how the structure was to be built, Mr. Eddy bought a 40 acre stand of red pine which was not contiguous to the property he already owned. The pine was cut and the lumber used in thebuilding the house.
Initially Eddy owned a mill that was run by water power and Mr. Bowen, a carpenter and he built the house and store that was attached to the home. “When the mill was run by water power, ...William H. lived in the rooms over the mill while he and Bowen built his home...”. . It has been said that Eddy and Bowen would sit atop the rooms over the mill at times while they were still building the new home and store. Bowen, later married William Hurd Eddy’s daughter, Lydia. (information came from Minia Eddy Sanders from a piece titled: Local History Repeated)
William H. became one of the town’s leading merchants. He was a manufacturer of cheese boxes, served as postmaster and was justice of peace for several years. On May 11, 1871 the following obituary was posted in the Cattaraugus Republican: Wm. H. Eddy Esq. of Eddyville died very suddenly in his store in the place on Friday last. He had been trading with a customer, and before the goods were all put up, he sat down upon a lounge in the room. He sat for some time, and making no reply when the customer spoke to him, she went to him and found he was dead. Mr. Eddy was 64 years and had lived in this county about 30 years. He emigrated from Herkimer County. To his enterprise, much of the prosperity of is due and the place very properly bears his name. A few years ago he disposed of his interest in the cheese box factory and other manufacturies there, and has since continued his attention to his store and the Post Office. His funeral was attended on Sunday last a large concourse of people being present to paytheir last respects to the dead.
Through the years the home has had many tenants as well as some modifications. Minia Eddy Sanders wrote, “After the death of William H. Eddy, “his son James returned to care for his aged mother. After her death the “old home on the hill” descended to Elma Eddy Stebbins, daughter of James Eddy, and her husband, Edwin Stebbins, who died at the home of their only daughter, Mrs. Lottie Aust in Otto, NY. Later the store [was separated from the home and] moved down on the corner opposite the one [store] operated by William Courter. After the move the former William H. Eddy store was arranged as a Macabee Hall and a dwelling house.”
At one point in the history of the building it was occupied by the family of actor James Whitmore. It is said that actor James Whitmore spent summer(s) in the Town of Mansfield. This connection is being further researched.
The township’s most noticed building now is the home of Mansfield Town Supervisor Robert Keis and wife Kelly. The Keis are painstakingly restoring the old building to its original stateliness. It still stands as the “old home on the hill”.
Submitted by Sue M. Cross Town of Mansfield Historian