The Town o f Humphrey was apportioned from Burton (also known as Allegany) in
1836. The Town received its name in honor of Charles Humphrey, Speaker of the
NYS Assembly. Some of the highest summits carry the names of early settlers
(i.e . Bozard Hill, Chapell Hill, Cooper Hill). Humphrey is blessed with excellent
spring water from Wright's Creek, Five Mile Creek, and Forks Creek.
The first settler arrived in 1815. In the earlier days, lumbering was an important
industry, but in the 1890's, dairying, grazing, and cheese making took the
The National Transit Company laid a pipeline in 1880 through Humphrey. A telegraph
was laid along the pipeline in 1887. An oil well was drilled in 1878 which
was abandoned as a dry hole.
The hamlet of Chapellsburg, in the 1870's known as the Humphrey post office, the
oldest hamlet in the Town, was founded by Russell Chapell in 1818, and owed its
existence to being the most central and accessible four corners in the Town. It
was noted as a stopping point on the old stage route from Buffalo to Olean. In
the 1890's, it consisted of a tavern (1824) , several saw mills (1st in 1838), a
shingle mill, a telegraph office, a grist mill (1867), a post office, a hotel, 2
stores, 2 churches , a public hall, a school house, and a wagon and blacksmith
The hamlet of Humphrey Center, (nicknamed "Tickletown"), located approximately 2
miles north of Chapellsburg, in the 1890's consisted of a post office (1877), a
school house, a public hall, 2 stores (1849 - Sawyer & Foote and 1850), 2 blacksmith
shops, a shoe shop, a cabinet shop, a tavern, a cheese factory, a grist
mill, a saw mill, and an ashery. In the 1850's, John Meachum built a pearling
oven and a gassing room. The pearling oven converted potash into pearlash. The
gassing room changed the pearl ash into saleratus. In 1880, James Warren obtained a
license and opened a public house. This was the first and last whisky license
granted in Humphrey.
In the early years, there were 4 cheese factories including Brownson & Abell.
The first physican arrived in 1820, and the first lawyer was Phileman Berry.
The first school within the Town was built in 1820 along Sugartown Creek. It is
interesting to note the difference in school teacher's pay at that time. A male
received $10 to $20 per month, while a female received only 1 to 12 shillings per
Large quantities of maple sugar were once produced in the Town which led to the
area becoming known as "Sugartown".
Source: Cattaraugus County Book 1808-1995/96