US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in TRANSACTIONS OF THE SIXTY-SEVENTH NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONFERENCE, 2002, ed. Jennifer Rahm (Washington, DC, 2002). Used by permission.


An oxcart brought Colonel John Randall the 300 or so miles from Stonington, Connecticut, to Pharsalia, New York, to build the first house in town in 1797. The lands were wooded with mixed northern hardwoods (beech, birch, maple) growing in thin rocky soils. By 1875, when Berthier Mathewson, farmer and justice of the peace, owned the property, nearly 70 percent of the 23,458 acres in Pharsalia had been improved, leaving only 7,651 acres wooded. Gross sales of farm products that year totaled $71,382 and, aside from a couple of merchants, a hotel keeper and a saw mill, farming was the dominant occupation of the 1,103 residents.