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Ontario Town

Ontario Town Hall is located at 1850 Ridge Road, Ontario, NY 14519; phone: 315-524-7105.

Beginnings [1]

Ontario was set off from Williamson as Freetown in 1807. The name was changed to Ontario in 1808. It originally included Walworth which was taken off in 1829. The town takes its name from Lake Ontario, which forms its northern boundary.

In 1810 Noah Fuller, while hunting, found two salt springs, which he secured by title and sold to Stimson & Shanks, who commenced manufacturing salt that same year.

In 1811 a Mr. Knickerbocker, in digging a well near the center of the town, discovered the first bed of iron ore here in the form of red oxide. Extending east and west it had an average width of half a mile and a depth from 6 to 40 inches. Little notice was taken of Knickerbocker's discovery until 4 or 5 years later when Samuel Smith, one of Walworth's pioneers, constructed a forge near the furnace dam and began manufacturing iron. Soon afterward 2 more forges were erected. In 1825 Henry S. Gilbert built the first furnace at Furnaceville. The iron was drawn to Rochester. In 1840 the Clinton Iron Company erected another furnace which operated until 1867 when the plant was burned.

The Lake Ontario Shore Railroad was constructed through the town and opened in 1874.

The first settler in Ontario was Freeman Hopkins, who came from Rhode Island and located on the lake shore in 1806. Being a Quaker, he returned with his family to the east upon the beginning of hostilities with the British in 1812, but came again to this town in 1818. He built the first saw mill, and becoming blind in old age he drowned himself in a cistern. The birth of his daughter Melissa on May 7, 1806, was the first in Ontario.

In 1807 Peter Thatcher settled with his family in the north part of the town in a log cabin which he had caused to be built the year before. He came in a one-horse wagon from Oneida County, and was the pioneer blacksmith in Ontario, building a log shop near his home in 1811. Daniel Inman came here from Connecticut in 1807 and purchased 400 acres where Ontario village now stands. He erected his log dwelling on the site of the old steam mill. In 1810 he built the first tavern and at an early day put up a saw mill. He was the first postmaster and collector in town, and a prominent and influential man for many years. He subsequently went west with his son, Joseph.

  1. Honorable George W. Cowles, editor, with H. P. Smith Landmarks of Wayne County New York, D. Mason & Company, Publisher, Syracuse, 1895.
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