History


Before the first settlers came, in 1792,  the tall, thick forests  were broken only by twisting streams of the Oriskany and the narrow, centuries-old Oneida Trail, but once  one wagon had made a path from Paris more followed, and soon a similarly hilly, muddy track  led from Cherry Valley bringing more and more New Englanders westward. Within just a few years, so many small cabins and water-powered mills were clustered along “Big Creek” that the settlement became known as “The Huddle.”  By 1805, the community of three-hundred boasted one church,  two “dry goods” stores and three taverns as well as the essential  sawmills,  gristmills and  a distillery. With the advent of regular postal service in 1806, a more suitable name than “The Huddle” was required, and because it was the swift waters of Big Creek had made the settlement’s growth and rapid prosperity possible, the name “Waterville” was selected.  Waterville gained local fame first for its distilled products; then for the prime cattle fattened on mash - a distillery by-product - and ultimately it was a by-product of the cattle industry that made successful hop cultivation possible!  Richly fertilized hop yards  soon replaced fields of corn and wheat; farmers became wealthy hop dealers overnight and built elegant houses in the village. By the late 1860’s,  prices throughout the world-wide hop industry were controlled by brokerage offices in Waterville and the title “Hop Capitol of the World” was secured when a consistently reliable Hop Extract was developed here in  1876.  It was an era of wealth and elegance, and “the rest,” as they say, “is history.”  Read about the people and events that have made Waterville the village it is today --- all just a mouse-click away, on line, at  The Waterville Public Library's Historic Archives.