A Brief History
Early history shows us that the great woolly mammoth roamed through the no-man's land that was the Town of Queensbury as a tooth and tusk have been found in the region.
We know Native Americans hunted and fished here as their tools have been found at the edges of waters of the town. As colonists moved inland during the 18th century, our region found itself at the center of a battle for control of North America. Blind Rock became a boundary between the lands of the English and those of the French. The great Military Road traversed the area from Fort Edward to Lake George used by thousands of soldiers. Battles were fought here and Chief King Hendrick and Colonel Williams both met their fate in the pass on the way to Lake George.
Following the French and Indian war, settlement was needed on the lands north of Albany and land patents were obtained by speculators who hoped to come and develop the area. Abraham Wing purchased the Queensbury Patent from Daniel Prindle of Connecticut and brought the first hardy Quaker pioneers here from Dutchess County in 1763.
As the town’s founder and first Supervisor (he would serve three terms), Wing undertook to establish a strong working government based on the English system and spelled out in the Patent: “And we also ordain and establish that there shall be forever hereafter in the said Township One Supervisor, Two Assessors, One Treasurer, Two Overseers of the Highways, Two Overseers of the Poor, One Collector and Four Constables elected and chosen out of the inhabitants of said Township yearly and every year on the first Tuesday in May at the most public place in the said Township, by the majority of Freeholders thereof” (Holden. History of Queensbury, New York. page 366)
The town was just getting established when the American Revolution broke out and once again the area became a victim of war: British General Burgoyne's troops passed through, pillaging and causing the settlers to flee for their lives downstate; and the town was burned to the ground by Carleton’s Raiders.
Following the Revolutionary war, life returned to "normal" as north-south roads were opened, lands were purchased, and immigrants from New England arrived to begin a life of farming and lumbering. Trees were felled and log cabins were built. Laws were established and the government met on a regular basis to provide order and needed services.
Asa Stower served as town supervisor for 17 years – seven different times – between 1798 and 1835. During that time, Queensbury became a strong agrarian community. Farmers were self-sufficient and also furnished food for the growing village of Glens Falls and the summer population at Lake George.
Horses and wagons were followed by stagecoaches and later the railroad. The Old Military Road between Fort Edward and Fort William Henry was transformed into a Plank Road, and a series of small hamlets emerged at crossroads throughout the community. These hamlets offered consumer goods, a post office, a church, a school, and a place to share news and gossip. Social life was centered around the Grange at the Oneida.
As the 19th century came to an end, subsistence and family farming was on the wane. Former farmlands were sold off into lots as farmers relinquished their holdings in the face of competition from larger commercial agribusiness. Chicken farms and vegetable stands remained the last vestige.
During this time, Jerimiah Mead was first elected and served 20 consecutive years as Supervisor in years covering World War I and the Great Depression.
New homes developed after World War II with housing developments dotting the landscape. Even before the Northway – and certainly after – main roads opened the town to more newcomers, and the town began taking on the business-residential character identified with suburbia. The one room schools that dotted the town were closed and consolidated into a central school district on a large piece of land on Aviation Road that originally was an airport. The airport that was first established on that site was moved to the east side of the town. H. Russell Harris served as supervisor from 1946-1958, 13 consecutive years, and governed as Queensbury transitioned from agrarian to suburban.
Government began to wrestle with growth in the town, and officials and residents began considering planned development and ways to mesh housing, business and commerce with a growing tourist emphasis. Roads, infrastructure, lighting, and sewer projects were planned to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.
An actual government complex was built to house a growing town government with departments, large budgets and distinctive services for the public. Jerry Solomon began his long political career with the town in 1968, and went on to serve in the state Legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming our leading national citizen in the 20th century.
Hovey Pond Park was begun and recreation flourished for the citizens and visitors. Golf and skiing were developed as private businesses. And a community college emerged as a major education and cultural center in the region with wide support.
Women made their way into government leadership when Fran Walter became the first woman supervisor, serving from 1980 –87.
Today, our government continues to provide services based on needs and uses a democratic approach to solve our social problems and issues. And as years pass, the citizens of the town make real what is promised on the road signs leading in: “Queensbury: A Good Place to Live”