Town of Tioga


Town of Tioga History


Carole LaPlante, Town Historian

A general treaty was made in Canandaigua on November 11, 1794 between the Six Nations and Colonel Thomas Pickering representing the United States. The land that now comprises New York State was purchased for $10,000.00 The Hartford Convention awarded Massachusetts 6,000,000 acres, which included what was later to become Tioga County. 230,000 acres of this land became known as the Boston Ten Town Purchase and was sold to sixty land speculators for the sum of a little less than $5,000 payable over a two-year period.

Town of Tioga was surveyed and platted by Peter W. Yates and associates. It became known as the “Yates Location.” Some of the early settlers in the “Yates Location” were Ransom, Schoonover, Draper, Canfield, and Alden.

On March 22, 1788, the legislature was passed to organize the “Old Town of Chemung” which had the same boundaries as the present Town of Tioga. This designation was changed by legislation on February 16, 1791 when the County of Tioga was formed. A portion of “Old Town of Chemung” became a new town called Owego; which it was from 1791 to 1813. By the act of April 12, 1813, the names of the two towns, Owego on the west side of Owego Creek, Tioga on the east side, were exchanged one for the other and remain as such today.

The present boundaries of the Town of Tioga are as follows: easterly, by the Owego Creek, which separates it from the Town of Owego, southerly, by the Susquehanna River, which the Town of Nichols: westerly, by the Town of Barton: northerly, by the towns of Candor and Spencer.

The town of Tioga includes 35,805 acres, which are primarily upland with small areas of riverbed flats. The chief watercourses are the Pipe and Catatonk Creeks. Major William Ransom built three sawmills and two gristmills on Pipe Creek. Major Ransom also built the first log house in Tioga, in the area that B.B. Franklin’s flouring mill would later be erected.

David Pixley built the first gristmill on Owego Creek sometime around 1793. Prior to the building of the gristmill, grain had to travel to Wilkes-Barre by canoe. The trip usually took about two weeks.

Town of Tioga has several hamlets, Tioga Center, Smithboro, Halsey Valley, Straits Corners and Goodrich Settlement. Thomas Nicholson bought 2000 acres, including what is now Halsey Valley. He had a daughter born after his untimely death. The daughter died at the age of eighteen and this area was known as “Girl’s Flat” for many years afterward.

The early settlers opened a variety of businesses: hotels, blacksmith-shops, flouring mills, steam sawmills, shingle mills and tanneries. The Erie and Southern Central Railroads ran through the town along the Susquehanna River and had depots at Tioga Center and Smithboro.

The first school was built before 1800, but the records were lost in a fire. A union school was organized in 1871. The value of the schoolhouses and land was $13,985.00. The teachers’ salaries in 1877 were a total of $4,280.79. The amount raised by taxes was $2,041.77 and used money on hand for the rest of the school budget. Town of Tioga had 19 country schools at the turn of the century with a total enrollment of 320. District #8 in Smithboro had the greatest number of students at 43, and Ross Hill School District #5 had the fewest at 5.

The early church services were held in barns, schools, or whatever was available by circuit preachers of the Methodist and Baptist denominations. The early union church was used jointly until 1827 when it was struck by lightning and destroyed.

Town of Tioga today remains a rural community with small businesses and dairy farms. Several civic-minded individuals joined together about twenty years ago to form the Tioga Center Festival Association. They purchased land beside route 17C bridge to have a park. This park has grown with many community events held there, as well as weddings, church services and family reunions. The ultimate goal of the organization is to turn the park over to the town. This is just one example of the community spirit you will find in our rural, friendly and on-the-move town!

Carole LaPlante can be reached at:

16 Court Street
Owego, N. Y. 13827
Phone: 607-687-8660

Limited version of slide show, Copyright 2002 GD


Town of Tioga

110 Front Street, Owego, NY 13827                                  Phone: 607-687-2460                                Email: