Glimpses into the Past

Editor’s note: I am happy to announce that I am once again the Historian of the Town of Westport after a 4 year hiatus from this position. Many people have commented on the long absence of this newsletter featuring bits of history of our beautiful town. I hope the return of this publication is informational and inspires readers to do additional research on the featured topics. If my readers have questions and/or comments, or suggestions for future topics, please send them to me at

Tidbit: did you know that the appointment and duties of the Town Historian are governed by the Title U, Articles 57 (Divisions of History and Public Records) and 57-A (Local Government Records Law) of the New York (State) Arts and Cultural Affairs Law?

View the Westport Library Association’s Historic Westport Photo Collection.

Walking Tour, Westport, New York

Historian Reports

Graphic Timeline




1642 Father Isaac Jogues was tortured by Iroquois Indians on the island in Coll’s Bay.
1764 William Gilliland surveyed and named the patent of Bessboro.
1770 The first settlement within the borders of our town was formed by Edward Raymond near the mouth of the brook which empties in Lake Champlain near Camp Dudley. This settlement was almost entirely destroyed during the Revolutionary War.
1785 Hezekiah Barber made the first permanent settlement within the town of Westport.
1798 A township was formed which included the present day Elizabethtown and Westport.
1800 Enos Loveland formed a settlement near the present Hoisington Cemetery on Ledge Hill Road.
1800 The first map of the Village was made. The map laid out 34 lots and 3 streets: Washington, Liberty and Water Street. Water Street ran north and south along the lake shore and intersected Washington and Liberty.
1800 John Halstead built the first frame house (Halstead Tavern) at the top of the lake hill.
1802 Main Street was laid out and the number of lots was raised to 62.
1804 Charles Hatch settled at Northwest Bay; Jesse Braman and Aaron Felt settled near the falls in Wadhams.
1807 The first church was organized in our town. It was a Baptist church and was called “Northwest Bay Church.”
1808 James Coll started a new settlement near where Edward Raymond had lived in 1770.
1811 The first schoolhouse was built.
1815 The name of Westport was given to the town when the division was made from Elizabethtown.
1815 The first town meeting was held at the home of Charles Hatch.
1816 The first Methodist church was organized here.
1819 Charles Hatch began building the Old Stone Mill.
1822 Lumen Wadhams came to the settlement now named after him.
1823 The first post office was established at Wadhams Mills.
1825 Merriam’s Forge was built on the Boquet River near the Essex Town Line.
1848 Francis Jackson built the Sisco furnace near Northwest Bay. “Jacksonville” was the most important iron enterprise in Westport’s history.
1849 The settlement known as “Cheever” was removed from the Town of Westport and added to the Town of Moriah.
1850 The population of the town was 2352 according to the census. That was the highest the number of residents ever reached here.
1876 A fire destroyed the buildings containing the old Lake House hotel, a home, several stores, the Post Office and the Town Clerk’s Office.
1876 The railroad between Albany and Montreal was finished opening the doors to Westport’s tourist industry.
1882 The first known murder to have been committed within the town occurred when Betsy Wells Debosneys was shot and stabbed by her husband on the lake road to Essex.
1887 The Westport Inn opened on the site of the former Halstead Tavern.
1887 The Westport Library Association was incorporated; and the Westport Library built the following year.
1889 The village schoolhouse was built near what is now the Federated Church parsonage. This schoolhouse was in use until the present day central school was built in 1933.
1891 Westport Water Works was chartered bringing water from the “Mountain Spring” to the village.
1897 A flood swept away the ruins of Merriam’s Forge.
1906 The steamboat “Ticonderoga” was built and carried passengers and freight between Plattsburgh, Burlington and Westport.
1907 The Village of Westport becomes incorporated.
1916 First hard top state road built through the main village street.
1921 A concrete highway was built between Westport and Wadhams.
1929 Westport Yacht Club was built.
1936 A fire destroyed 4 buildings on Main Street between the bank and what is now Bessboro Gift Shop. A grocery store, harness and plumber shop, soda fountain and a second story apartment were lost.
1966 The Westport Inn was demolished.
1992 The Incorporated Village of Westport was abolished.