On April 5, 1841, the town of Croghan was formed from Watson and Diana. A few years later, in 1848, a small section of Croghan township was taken to form the town of New Bremen. The town and village of Croghan were named after Colonel George Croghan, a soldier during the war of 1812. Croghan served with distinction at the battle of Tippecanoe and the sieges of Fort Meigs and Stephenson in Ohio. Although the town was named after Croghan, there are no records to indicate whether he actually visited his namesake or, indeed, why his name was used – other than his military accomplishments were recognized during William Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign in 1840.
The town includes 109,530 acres, which consists of forests (state and privately owned), rich farmland, swamps and wasteland. A portion of the town falls within the Adirondack Park. The Indian, Oswegatchie, Beaver and Black Rivers flow through the town providing public recreation (fishing, kayaking, canoeing and boating). Located on the Beaver River are several power plants providing waterpower. Logging, farming and the production of maple syrup are major industries. There is also a die cut manufacturer, two specialty paper mills, a water-powered mill, several small businesses, plus unique stores in this area. Croghan is home of the famous Croghan bologna, which was first prepared by Swiss immigrant, Fred Hunziker, in 1888.
The settlements listed in 1880 included Croghan village (which was known as French Settlement), Beaver Falls (which was known as Rohr’s Mills), Belfort, Naumburg (which was also known as Prussian Settlement), Bent’s Settlement (now known as Indian River) and Jorden or Jerden Falls (which is now a ghost town). The settlements located in the town today are the village of Croghan and the hamlets of Beaver Falls, Belfort, Indian River and Naumburg. There are two post offices – Beaver Falls and Croghan.
The rich, fertile soil, water and forests lured the first settlers, and it was immigrants from the Alsace-Lorraine region, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland that first settled the area. The religions of those early settlers were predominantly Catholic and Protestant.
Today the township consists of year-round residents and people from all areas of New York, as well as other states who have built camps here or own land. They have come to this area to enjoy the picturesque woods, streams, rivers and the quiet life, as well as hunting and fishing. In the Long Pond area is Oswegatchie Camp, owned and operated by the New York State Future Farmers of America Leadership Training Foundation, Inc., where young people utilize the facilities.
The first town meeting was held at the grist mill in Belfort and the following were elected as first town officers: Supervisor, Benjamin R. Ellis; Town Clerk, Abraham Fox; Assessors, Joseph Hammond, Frederick Ford and Ira Wilcox; Commissioners of Highways, Silas Wilder, Joshua Snyder and Simon Putnam; Justices of the Peace, Robert A. Eakin and Willard Barrett; Inspectors of Schools, Benjamin E. Ellis, Joseph Richler and Robert Smith; School Commissioners, Jacob House, Isaac Shaver and Charles Holmes; Collector, Joseph Virkler; and Constables, Jacob House, John C. Cook, Jehu Farr and James Rophinot.
The agrarian backbone of the town has made for hearty, self-sufficient residents. It’s the people that made the town. Some of the names associated with town of Croghan are Jean Baptiste Bruet, Marie Anne Liendecker (Lyndaker) Bruet, Basselin, Lewis, Rice, English, Lehman, Zehr, Strife, Nortz, Tanzer, Spencer, Farney, Steiner, Marilley, Henry, Nuspliger, Virkler, Marilley, Haller, McElhearn, Schorge, Monnat, Chartrand, Schantz, Bachman, Turck, VerSchneider, Bush, Grunert, Tiss, Putnam, Lallier, LeFevere, Jones, Hoppel, etc. The town of Croghan has seen its share of young people leaving the area recently, but still finds many surnames the same as when the first census was taken.
As times change, so does the type of business. Tanneries, blacksmith shops, cheese factories, gristmills, hotels and saloons, sawmills, paper mills were once in abundance, but no more. The town has seen many changes especially in the paper industry, which was once prosperous. Farming still exists but on a much larger scale. Logging is another industry that is changed from skidding by horses to heavy equipment that is costly. It is hoped that the town of Croghan, as well as Lewis County, will see another 200 years plus through hard work and stewardship by each resident, plus wise leadership by our local and county government.