The Eaton/Joslin House is tied with the Cochran house as being one of the oldest houses in Springville.

The Cochran house today.  The apartment house on Cochran Avenue is one of the oldest structures still standing in Springville.

By Derek M. Otto

I often hear the question asked, “what is the oldest house in Springville?” Luckily in Springville, we have been fortunate enough to have preserved some of our Main Street and downtown areas. Houses are a bit different than a business district, and in Springville, some of the houses were once part of the business district. By that, I mean that some of the houses were businesses on Main Street and were moved from Main Street to their current position. That is the case for much of the north side of Eaton Street, where many of the houses were small storefronts or barbershops in a former life, so some of the structures are older than what the property title states.   

With the history of fires we have had in our village, amazingly, there are two houses in the village that are still standing and can be given the title “oldest house in Springville” —The Eaton House on North Buffalo Street and the former Samuel Cochran Home and Forest Hotel on Cochran Avenue.  Both were built in 1823.

Peregrine Eaton a was a son of Rufus Eaton, the founder of Springville. Rufus surveyed the land and cut parcels to sell, which became Main Street and old part of the village.  Franklin, Buffalo, Main, Mill, Pearl and Church Streets are the oldest parts of the village.

Christopher Stone, the first settler, built a small structure on Buffalo Street before leaving Springville to continue west. (A replica cabin was built on the spot several years ago.) It is believed that Stone left because of the lack of water.  He had set up his settlement of dry creek, which is still the dry creek on Buffalo Street.

Samuel Cochran was born in Vermont in 1785. He would marry and with his new wife Catherine,  moved to Painted Post.  They realized that water was not plentiful there and propaganda from the Holland Land Company listed what is now Springville, Cold Spring.  Being unhappy with the lack of water,  Samuel came in 1808 to build his temporary home.  His wife and child returned in 1809 and had to remove snow from the primitive cabin before they could move in.  A few years later, Cochran built a better log cabin at the corner of Franklin and Central avenues.  He built a better frame house on Main Street in 1823.  At this time, that portion of Main Street was not in the village.  The village ended at what was West Avenue, or today’s Central Avenue. As soon as the house was up, travelers passing through would ask to spend the night and it became a public house in 1824.  At one point, it was called the Forest Hotel, and Cochran ran the business until he died in 1844.  He was the first permanent settler in the entire town of Concord. Now this is not a misprint. Cochran built the house on Main Street,  and the Cochran House was one of the properties that would be moved.  In 1883, the Buffalo Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad came to town.  The house was  moved to Cochran Avenue and continued to operate as hotel.  (The carriage house wasn’t moved, however, and is still standing on Main Street, three house east of Cochran Avenue.)

Rufus Eaton arrived in Springville in 1810 and had purchased a good portion of the land that Christopher Stone had settled.   He arrived in Springville when he was 40 with his wife and eight of his 11 children.  He and his brothers had experience in setting up villages.  When he was 16, his brothers and Eaton started the township of Eatonville in Herkimer County.  Rufus Eaton built the first sawmill, was the first Justice of the Peace, and donated much of the land around the village that was used for the Presbyterian Church, old cemetery, village square, Chapel Street and old Griffith Institute. Eaton is most noted for being the first postmaster in 1820.  In those days, the postmaster named the post office, and Eaton named the post office Springville.    

In 1823, The Eaton family built a stately house on Buffalo Street.  The house stayed in the Peregrine Eaton family until the 1850s when the Joslin family rented the house.  In 1860, the Joslins bought the house and the house is still in the Joslin family.  That’s almost 160 years in one family. One of the unique things about the house is that it pretty much the same house it was in the 1800s with the exception of a small addition to the side.  The Eatons remained in Springville many years after Rufus died in 1845. Eaton Street, Eaton Park and Eaton Pond(Trout Pond) are all reminders of the family legacy.