Historical Towns

Stony Creek, NY

Stony Creek shares it history with Thurman having been part of this town until 1852 when 87 square miles were section away from Thurman to form Stony Creek.  The first settler’s came in 1795, and the local commerce was lumbering, and as it grew it included a peg factory, boom handle factory, tannery, woodenware factory and cooper’s shop, as well as their own personal farms.  At one time there were five churches and 3 post offices and a general store.   Prominent names are John Bowman (1816-1891).   John Bowman, relocated from Rutland VT and had learned the trade of tanning.  He became proficient in all parts of the business, so when he moved to Stony Creek in 1852, began the tannery as well as leather manufacturing.   There wasn’t much in the town at the time; so he was one of the forefathers.  The work was back breaking; but he developed the tannery to employ up to 19 employees and had a capacity of 40,000 sides of leather a year.    Others development started in Thurman thereafter with new churches, schoolhouses and stores which were carved out of the unbroken forest.     Stony Creek was well known for it tanning in the Adirondacks.    John and his wife Jennie, suffered the early death of their infant daughter.   John devoted much study to the formation and plans of different cemeteries.  There were 18 different cemeteries in Stony Creek.   John later lost his beloved wife in 1880, and enlarged and beautified the Laurel Glen Cemetery thereafter with a handsome fountain and carriage house nearby.  John even built a elaborate summer Victorian mansion across from the cemetery.   A life size marble statue of John himself was cared to represent his figure climbing the steps to the family tomb.  He dedicated a trust fund for the care of the mausoleum, greenhouse, residence and ground.  A meticulous person as he was.  John also believed in reincarnation.  He expected the house to be in “Waiting readiness” for him to return. 

Other significant names of the past include Daniel Gill and son, Columbus Gill.  Daniel a British soldier, who relocated to the America’s.  He deserted the British army to take up arms for the colonies; and later became a teacher.  He raised sixteen children of which Christopher, (Known as “Lum”), built a local grist mill and sawmill.  Lum served a Stony creek’s supervisor twice, postmaster and assemblyman.  Another politician, John O’Neill was the longest elected town supervisor of Stony Creek.

Believe it or not, there were 10 school districts and schoolhouses in the town before Stony Creek separated from the Town of Athol (1852).  Today, the town has preserved one of the Schools (District #4). 

In 1854, the Stony Creek United Methodist Church was organized and in 1856, the church was built.  The arrival of its bell (a long talked about event) was celebrated as a landmark of its history.  The bell weighs 457 lbs and can be heard nearly a mile away.  It was said that the wild beasts arouse from their lairs and howl.  The church served the community for 150 years.  In 2009, the church as placed on the NYS Historical Registered of Historic Places and in 2010 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On August 1, 1904 was the storm of all storms for Stony Creek.  The local paper reported 14” in 4 hours with thunder and lightning causing the waterways to rush over the lowlands and tumble down the mountains.  The dam gave way; the streams picked up local timbers carrying them downstream to knocking down many foundation supports of homes and hotels.   No lives were lost, but the local goods of Proprietor Collin’s  hotel could be seen from miles away.