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History of Johnsburg, New York in the Adirondack Mountains

Johnsburg, in area the largest town in Warren County, was partitioned from the original Town of Thurman on April 6, 1805.  It is located in the northwest corner of the county, and within its boundaries are six hamlets with post offices.  They are: Bakers Mills, Johnsburg, North Creek, North River, Riparius and Wevertown. Other neigborhoods include Sodom, The Glen, and Garnet Lake.   

In 1788 John Thurman, a wealthy New York City merchant, bought from the state government 25,200 acres of Township #12 of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.  Under the leadership of our founding father, the first clearing took place about 1790 on Elm Hill, located one mile south of today's hamlet of Johnsburg.  This name was taken from Thurman's given name and was spelled Johnsburgh until 1893.

Land was cleared along Beaver Brook (now called Mill Creek), and a grist mill and saw mill were erected at the falls of the brook.  A distillery was opened which produced a market for rye.  In 1795 a woolen factory was built, but was converted to a cotton factory two years later.  Thurman erected his Calico printing works, one of the first in America.  He also built ash works and made large quantities of pot ash, for which farmers were paid one shilling per bushel for ashes.

Joseph Hopper kept the first tavern, one of the places chosen for annual town meetings and elections.  John Richards was elected the first town supervisor, a position he held several times afterwards.  Robert Waddell operated Thurman's store at Elm Hill and conducted business dealings for him, for John Thurman often traveled to the shipping ports of London and New York.

On Sep. 27, 1809 Thurman was run through and killed by an enraged bull in Bolton, N.Y.  He was 79 years old.  John Thurman, a man who contributed much to the town's evolution, is buried inside a cut stone enclosure within the Wevertown Cemetery on Rt. 28.

From 1832 until the 1890s there were tanneries that provided many jobs.  Logging made the lumbering industry thrive between North River and Glens Falls by utilizing the Hudson River for river drives.  Several streams were dammed by area men taking advantage of water power for operating saw mills and grist mills.  With the arrival of the railroad in 1871, transportation was revolutionized, and North Creek developed into the hub of our town with its ever-growing businesses.  Garnet mining continues today by the Barton Mines Corp., our longest operating family-owned industry.

By 1894 there were twenty-one rural school districts offering education through the eighth grade.  The first high school was built in 1898 in North Creek.  Today's Johnsburg Central School offers an excellent education to about 430 students in grades K-12.

 The Town of Johnsburg proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2005.


~ Courtesy of Doris H. Patton, Johnsburg Town Historian

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