Swart-Wilcox House Museum
Oneonta, NY 13820
Helen Rees - HKRcat@aol.com
Lawrence Swart (1753-1841) was one of three Swart brothers from “Schoharry” who fought in the American Revolution. The older brother, Peter Swart, went back to Schoharie and took over the family farm on the Schoharie Creek. His two brothers eventually moved “west” to the Oneonta area. David Swart purchased land on the south side of the Susquehanna River (now known as Swart Hallow). Lawrence & his wife lived on their land until 1841, when Lawrence and his son, David Swart sold the land to Peter Collier and Jared Goodyear.
Peter Collier and Jared Goodyear were Oneonta entrepreneurs who purchased the Swart land in an effort to attract the railroad to Oneonta. Large portions of the Swart farm north of River St was sold to the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad. Smaller parcels of land along River St were sold to the railroad workers.
In 1867 the remaining 74 acres of the Swart farmland was sold by Jared Goodyear to Henry & Phoebe Wilcox, a newly married couple from Franklin, NY. They renovated the house in the current fashionable Victorian style. Henry farmed the land and engaged in the lumber trade, keeping a daily diary. They had three children, Fred (1867-1954), Myrtle (1870-1875), and Merton (1878-1970).
Phoebe died in 1903, and was the last female influence in the house. Henry died in 1912 at the age of 77. Fred and Mert, often referred to as “the boys”, lived in the house as bachelors until their deaths. When Mert died in 1970, it marked the 103 year of the Wilcox family living in the house.
The Wilcox property was left to a family cousin, Van B. Smith of Otego. He held an auction at the house in 1972 where Jim Lettis auctioned off much of the contents of the Wilcox house.
In 1974 the City of Oneonta bought the remaining 14.6 acres of the Swart-Wlcox farm land with “Forever Wild Funds”. They paid $130,000 for the property. It was used as the focal point for the City of Oneonta’s Bicentennial Celebration. After the Bicentennial it was boarded up.
In 1988 four teachers from Greater Plains Elementary School asked the City of Oneonta if they could take the abannoned structure and use it as the focus of the 4th grade local history curriculum. The City agreed, and thus began the Friends of Swart-Wilcox who have been the force behind the restoration and programing of the 200 year old property and house.
Swart-Wilcox House Museum is a member of the South Central Regional Library Council.