Town of
Hope
Hamilton County, NY
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Introduction

Welcome to the Town of Hope's website.


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A Brief History of Hope

 

It was a land largely uninhabited when John Bergen and 23 associates purchased 19,589 acres from the Mohawk Indians on July 31, 1772, "Bergen's Purchase." The Turtle Clan of the Mohawks were the rightful owners. The purchase was signed by Mohawk Chief Hendricks, by drawing a turtle rather than a signature. Gideon and Jeremiah Homestead were the first settlers, arriving from Massachusetts in 1790. It was an inviting area where the mountains fell back from the river and provided a wide valley. In 1801 David Isdell built the first stone house in the territory, later the sight of the infamous kidnaping of his daughter by an Indian.

 

Hope became a gateway for further development to the north. Originally part of the town of Wells, the electors in the southern district seceded. On April 15, 1818, the Town of Hope was formed. The population was 608. It is uncertain how the town got its name. Hope was booming. Agriculture and sawmills were the mainstays. By 1825 there were 2662 acres cleared with 1343 sheep and 368 cattle. Previously part of Montgomery County, in the 1830's Hope became part of Hamilton County. By 1840 there were 5,373 acres cleared with a thriving harvest of oats and barley. Development had expanded along the East and West Stoney Creeks. Sawmills, tanneries and businesses sprung up. By 1850 the population was 1,125, the highest it would ever be. School districts and road districts were formed. On April 5, 1860 with 380 residents the western portion of Hope formed a new township in what is now Benson.

 

In the late 1800's Inns and hotels flourished. By the early 1900's the population dwindled with the development to the north and the demise of the tanneries to Johnstown and Gloversville. By 1905 the population fell to 317 residents. By 1925 population plummeted to 163. The sawmills, tanneries, mining operations and businesses disappeared. The cleared land was reclaimed by nature. The settlements around Bennett and Middle Lakes were abandoned. Tourism continued, there were hotels, inns and boarding houses. The Route 30 corridor provided travelers with gas stations, tourist cabins, restaurants and lodging. The hum of the sawmills, the sound of double bladed axes clearing land, the teamsters driving their teams hauling logs and plowing fields, the laughter from the one room school houses, was no more. Eventually, Hope rescinded to a mountainous residential community much as it is today. Largely undeveloped with glistening lakes and streams, rolling hills and peaceful valleys. Appealing to outdoors man, hunters, fisherman, hikers, recreation enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil friendly place to live, much as it did in the 1700's. A proud and cordial community of good neighbors.