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- There are many significant dates in Boonville’s history. The first is the year 1795, when Gerritt Boon and others representing the Holland Land Company arrived in this area. The sawmill they built on Mill Creek burned. The following spring they returned, rebuilt the sawmill and a gristmill, and thus in 1796 founded the settlement that was to become Boonville.
- On March 28, 1805, the Town of Boonville was incorporated. The sesquicentennial was observed in 1955 during a July week-long celebration that drew over 25,000 people.
- In 1839, digging and lock making started for the Black River Canal, which was completed to Boonville in 1848. Until its abandonment in 1921, the canal brought economic prosperity to the area.
The first issue of the Boonville Ledger was published in 1852. The weekly newspaper eventually became the Boonville Herald and Adirondack Tourist.
The village was incorporated in 1855, the same year the Utica-Black River Railroad was completed from Utica. Along with the town’s sesquicentennial, the village’s centennial anniversary was celebrated in July 1955, an event that drew the largest crowd ever in the village.
Colonel Charles Wheelock left town with the 97th New York State Volunteer Infantry, headed for Civil War battlefields in 1862 (click on the link for more about Colonel Wheelock and the 97th).
The telegraph came to Boonville in 1866, when the Bank of Boonville also opened. Three years later, the popular Empire House hotel burned to the ground.
In 1871 the Boonville Union Agricultural Society held its first fair.
Following his death in 1885, native son Cornelius B. Erwin generously bequeathed money to local churches and for the establishment of a park and library. Named for its benefactor, Erwin Library and Institute was built on Schuyler Street at a cost of $13,000 in 1890.
Twenty-five carbon electric streetlights were installed in 1898, and the first telephone lines were installed in 1900. The Boonville Municipal Commission was founded two years later to provide electric lights to village residents. That same year Rural Free Delivery mail routes were established.
There are many other important events that chronicle the local history. Among them are the 1933 milk strike; the building of radio station WBRV in 1955; a record-breaking 55-below morning in 1957; the last passenger train to leave Boonville in 1961; the first Woodsmen’s Field Days; construction of churches, schools, an art and community center, and a state highway; destructive fires, explosions, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and a microburst; the closing of the Ethan Allen plant; and the dedication of the flagpole in the Little Village Park on July 5, 2002.
Another date that became one of Boonville’s most important historical events is September 24, 2005. On that date, an authentically designed old-fashioned covered bridge was dedicated in Erwin Park, along Route 12 in the village. Many volunteers helped turn an idea into a reality.
Note: This essay was written by Judy Routson, and parts of it were originally published in her Boonville Herald column on August 24, 2005. If you have any corrections or comments, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
Please visit us again soon for more Boonville history!