The borough of New Lebanon was incorporated August 22, 1866, and the first election was held September 25, 1866, C.N. Smith being elected burgess. As a rural village New Lebanon has long enjoyed an importance in the township of Mill Creek, though its lack of railroad facilities and manufacturing enterprises has prevented its progress in population. Its best claim to fame is derived from the location here of the McElwain Institute, a splendid academic school at which hundreds of young men and women have received a training for responsible careers. The influence of such a school cannot be measured better than by referring to the many who have received their preparation for life within its walls.
The first settler on the site of New Lebanon bore the Dutch name of Rynheer Van Voorhies, who built his log cabin here in 1803. Thirty-five years later Ephraim Van Voorhies, who owned the estate of the pioneer settler, laid out part of the land in town lots. The leading industry of the village was the woolen mill which was built by Daniel Bruner in 1862. Mr. Bruner, whose family are still prominent in Mercer county, was identified with this woolen mill until his death in 1892, and his business enterprise was one of the main resources of the village. Among the first industries of the village was a grist and saw mill, which was built in 1855 by Gordon and Muse, the latter member of the firm having opened the first store in the village in 1848. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1867.