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Town History ~

Humphrey was first used by Indians as a plentiful hunting ground.  Known for its awesome beauty and virgin timberland, some of its highest summits are several hundred feet above the Allegany River.  The Town itself is watered by Sugartown Creek, a tributary of Great Valley, Wrights Creek through the middle and the Five Mile Creek which flows into the Allegany River.  Its hills were named for the early settler: Chapell, Howe, Riley, and Bozard.  It has 22,583 acres.

In 1779 the Holland Land Company completed a survey of the Town and in 1815 Russell Chapell was its first settler.  In 1824 Russell Chapell opened a hotel, tavern, and livery stable at the bottom of Chapel Hill.  The livery stable still stands today.  Mr. Chapell would go for supplies for himself and his neighbors traveling to Pittsburgh using a flatboat along the Allegany River.

Humphrey consisted of hamlets known as Chappellsburg, Humphrey Center, Sugartown, and the Five Mile.  The name Humphrey came from the Speaker of the House at the time and it 1836 it became a town.

The early Chapellsburg contained the hotel and livery, a store with post office, several mechanic shops, a school, two churches, a telegraph office, shoe shop, blacksmith shop, sawmills, a grist mill, a town hall and cheese factories where milk from about 800 cows was processed.  Later more stores came into business and in 1895 there was a oil boom.

The Free Will Baptist Church was first organized in 1838 in the Sugartown Valley and is now an apartment house.  The First Baptist Church of Humphrey was organized at Chapellsburg in 1945 and still serves the community today.  The Catholic Church, St. Pacificius was organized in 1855 and for years people came from miles around to attend its quaint Sunday Service.  The Union Church was built in 1859 on Church Road, Five Mile and is now the newly located Five Mile Baptist Church.  However, the old church stands in its place as a remodeled home.

The first school was taught is 1820 on the Sugartown Creek.  By 1877 the Town of Humphrey had seven districts at the cost of $1,218 a year, and the schools were conveniently located for the children to walk to them summer and in winter.  There was a school at the top of Bozard Hill which is now a hunting camp and recognizable today, nonetheless.  Drake Hill School is still standing as a summer home.  The Humphrey Center School is gone, but the Five Mile School, once a grange hall, is a remodeled house.  One of the last schools to close was taught by Pearl Bay for years, and not closed until the 1960s much to the distress of the older folks in town who fought to keep it open.  This was the Humphrey School House by Timme's Store, and it is also still in its place as a home.

There are two burial places at Chapellsburg, the Protestant Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery at St. Pacificus.  Humphrey Center has two small cemeteries.  The Five Miles Cemetery is near the Humphrey line, but in Allegany.  There is also a burial place in Sugartown nearly, but in the Town of Great Valley.  These town cemeteries are made up of early settlers, Chapell and wife Phobe themselves, many veterans of the Civil War and World Ware, and many friends and neighbors.

Our town became a land of farms.  Today we have a couple of large farms operating, but mostly small farms and horse farms.  Sometimes the large fields are contracted out for green beans or corn to larger business.  We now have Weber's Greenhouse, Timme's Auto Body, Tickletown Trade, Chapel Hill Raceway, Child's Blueberry Farm, Stock's Construction, Fig's Tree Service and the well-known Pumpkinville.  Betty's Hair Salon and Mt. Echo Bible Institute are gone, but we have a new housing development called Mountain Loft.  We are fortunate to have the Humphrey Fire Department, and each year they have the Humphrey Blueberry Festival there.  Our Town Hall and Highway facility has been enlarged and improved.  We have more than 700 residents.


   Town Hall - PO Box 100, Great Valley, NY  14741        716-945-2319 (T) (F)