Village/Hamlet of Schenevus

Below is an article from the Town of Maryland Bicentennial program written in 1991 by Minnie Beams, the former Schenevus Village Historian:

History of the Village of Schenevus

Schenevus, settled in 1793 under the name of Jacksonboro, is the only incorporated Village in the Town of Maryland*. Incorporation took place on June 6, 1870, forty one years after the establishment of the Post Office in 1829

Scenevus, meaning “speckled fish,” is a community rich in Indian lore.  Chief Schenevus and his beautiful daughter Manaho are an important part of its legendary heritage.  This heritage is demonstrated by various area names, Schenevus Creek, Manaho Gorge, and name of the village itself.

The settling of the white man in Schenevus begins early in the settlement of New York State.  One of the first establishments in the village was the Sisko Tavern in 1795.  It was located  on upper Main Street and was made of wood and stone.  It had doors large enough to accommodate a team of horses in order to draw in the backlog for the fireplace.

Early in the Village’s history, mills of all sorts sprang up all along both the Schenevus and Elk Creek to supply the needs of the ever increasing population.  Saw mills, grist mills, a cooper shop and a tannery wire early village businesses.  In 1865 the building of the railroad brought more industry to the area.  Dairy products, wood and potatoes were some of the commodities shipped by rail.

The Schenevus Fair, started in 1864, was well known for its wondrous attractions.  It became famous for its handword exhibits.  For many years it was the leading fair in this part of the state.  Families came from near and far, with basket lunches, to exchange news while they enjoyed the displays.  The fair was discontinued in 1914.

Other local entertainment was provided by theatricals, musical evenings and other events held in the Hubbard Opera House located in the Monitor Building on Main Street next the Borst house.

Electricity came to Schenevus around the end of the century.  An electric light plant was built on Schenevus Creek.  As a result of this power dam, a small lake was formed where fishing parties took place in winter and conoers wandered up the creek in the summer to enjoy the park.

In 1894, the Schenevus National Bank was opened and it was about that time that telephone service came to the area.

The first school in the Town of Maryland was established in 1805.  Over the years, Schenevus had many one room schools.  The Schenevus Academy was built on Arch Street in 1872 and became known for its Teacher Training Class.  A red brick school followed on that site in 1911.  It gave way to the present Schenevus Central School, Andrew S. Draper, opened in 1941.

From the Revolutionary War to the present time, Schenevus has seen its citizens serve in the military.  The Soldiers Monument, erected by public subscription was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1894.  It lists not only the names of the 208 volunteers from the town of Maryland who served in the revolution, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War and World War I.  Veterans of World War II are honored by a second monument located in the front of the Andrew S. Draper School building on Upper Main Street in the village.

Sons of our area also served with valor in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and in Iraq.  Loca. citizens have done their part to support those who served their country.  One example of their efforts was their faithful participation during World War II in a Civilian Ground Observer Corps.  Residents of Schenevus were part of the more than 60 people who kept a constant 24 hour daily watch for enemy aircraft.  In 1943, during a training exercise, watchers were credited with logging over 97% of the planes within spotting distance of their station.

The growth of shopping malls, the emergence of a car for every family member, and the building of the Interstate I-88, which passes the village, have made Schenevus a quieter, less busy place to live.  People in the village, however, still take pride in its history and tradition of over 200 years of peace and prosperity.

Minnie Beams

*In December of 1994, Schenevus voted to dissolved its village government becoming the Hamlet of Schenevus within the town of Maryland.

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