History of Amherst Museum

History of Amherst, New York & Its Museum

Amherst was found on the 10th of April 1818, apart from the city of Buffalo, New York, according to the Amherst Museum. History recreationOn the east of Amherst is Clarence, in a western direction is Tonawanda, Niagara county is north of Amherst, and Cheektowaga is south of Amherst. The town of Amherst is situated on the northern boundary of the county. It is a town in New York, in the United States of America. Amherst is a densely populated town. The town was named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, who was the commander-in-chief of the British army in North America from 1758 to 1763. Amherst has a geographical measurement of 53.6 square miles.

Early Settlement

The establishment of Amherst began in 1799 when 30 acres of land were bought on the grounds that are now the museum. Benjamin Ellicott and John Thompson purchased this land. The Holland Company were the owners of the land at the time of the sale. The mill privileges of Williamsville was included in this transaction. Ellicott and Thompson paid two dollars an acre, which included the water works, the grand central fountain, pumping and irrigation stations. There was not much progress seen over the next few years. Building on the land only began in 1801; John Thompson first built a sawmill. Other people started to occupy the area shortly after this. Samuel Kelsy, Henry Lake, Benjamin Gardner, and William Lewis made land contracts in 1803 and became settlers. Thompson's timber house became occupied by Mr. Maitby in 1804. Maitby was also famous for going to become one of the first caretakers of Native American heritage at Chaco Canyon Park in New Mexico. Many other immigrants joined in 1804. These people included Caleb Rogers, Jacob Vanatta, Gen. Timothy S. Hopkins, Samuel McConnell, Stephen Colvin, and Joel Chamberlain. Many other properties were bought between 1804 to 1807. History photoThese occupiers include Jonas Williams, David Evans, J. Drake, Samuel Fackler, and Gamaliel St. John. The first tavern was bought in 1805 by Elias Ramson. This tavern was established as Williams’ Mills. Settlers continued to come in after the war had passed. The town was starting to encounter a lot more activity.

The opening town meeting was conducted in 1819, during spring. The officials chosen during this meeting were:

  • Supervisor – Timothy S. Hopkins
  • Town clerk – John Grove
  • Assessor – William Carpenter
  • Assessor – Christian Hershey
  • Assessor – James S. Voungs
  • Commissioner of highways – Alexander Hitchcock
  • Commissioner of highways – Abram Long
  • Commissioner of highways – Abraham Miller
  • Collection Director – Joseph Hershey
  • Overseer of the impoverished – Peter Hershey
  • Overseer of the impoverished – John Fogelsonger
  • Commissioner of the schools – Nathaniel Henshaw
  • Commissioner of the schools – Alexander Hitchcock
  • Commissioner of the schools – Christian Hershey
  • Inspector of schools – William A. Carpenter
  • Inspector of schools – Foster Youngs
  • Inspector of schools – Benjamin B. Congdon
  • Inspector of schools – Lucius Storrs
  • Inspector of schools – Abraham Miller
  • Constable – Palmer Cleveland
  • Constable – Joseph Hershey

Villages of Amherst, New York

There were a few villages in Amherst, and one of them is reconstructed at the museum. Williamsville was the principal village, where the main business operations of the town were conducted

Other Villages in Amherst

The town consists of other villages such as East Amherst, Eggertsville, Getzville, Snyder, and Swormville.


There was a great deal of interest surrounding this village. The interest grew in size after the burning occurred in Buffalo. On the 4th of November 1850, the village was integrated. The officers elected were:

  • President – Benjamin Miller
  • Trustee – John King
  • Trustee – Henry Evans
  • Trustee – Philip Zent
  • Trustee – John Hershey
  • Clerk – Dr. William Van Pelt

The village was named after Jonas Williams, who was the first postmaster. Williamsville was the entrepreneurial capital of Amherst. Multiple business ventures were occurring at the time, which caught people's interest. An example of this is the waterpower on Elliot Creek. History originalOther businesses, such as furniture manufacturing stores (1850) and other retail shops, were introduced. One of the village's most well-known entrepreneurs is John Lehn. A great deal of the town's business activity was surrounding a waterworks system, which was established prior to 1825. This system was transferred and exchanged between many individuals and companies. Four different people controlled the manufacturing plant before it closed down. The formation of other businesses continued. One of the buildings used as a paper mill did not survive, and the machinery and equipment were transferred to Niagara Falls. The structure was then used in the production of brooms. This building later became known as the power plant of the Buffalo and Williamsville Electric Railway.  Many other businesses, such as grist mills and a tannery, were also operated in Williamsville's early days. Williamsville was situated in a key area on the great stage route between Albany and Buffalo, thus making it an important village which many people passed through.  

Early Life in Amherst

Adam L. Rinewalt produced the weekly newspaper of Amherst, which was called the Amherst Bee. This was established on the 27th of March 1879. One of the first lawyers in the town was Aaron W. Eggert, who settled in 1868. The initial physician in the village and town was the esteemed Dr. David S. Conkey. Other practitioners included Dr. H. P.Trull, Dr. Spaulding, Dr. Peter Hershey and, Dr. William Van Pelt. It is evident that the town attracted many well equipped and professional people, which only had a positive impact on the town.

The first schoolhouse was built in Williamsville in 1812 by Caleb Rogers. The first educator was Mr. Johnson. In 1840 the schoolhouse was constructed. In 1853 the Williamsville Academy was created. There are both schools and universities available for people to grow up in the area, making the town more attractive to families.  On the 27th of July 1891, the Buffalo & Williamsville Electric Railway Company was established. The road from the village to Buffalo was opened on the 5th of April 1893, making entry into Amherst more accessible and appealing, again according to the historical records of the museums covering the topic.

There were many churches organized in the village. These included:

  • The Methodist Episcopal church – Formed in 1812 after a war
  • The Christian church – 1834
  • The Roman Catholic church – 1836
  • The Baptist church – 1834
  • The Reformed Mennonite church – 1834
  • The German Lutheran church – The members bought the aged Christian church in 1871.

History artwork

Many shops exist in Williamsville, such as general stores, hardware stores, shoe stores, drug stores, jewelry stores, furniture stores, printing offices, etc. This reinforces the idea that Amherst is not a difficult place to live in as it has all the essential stores. Amherst is a town that was developed due to the contribution of various early settlers. It was a town that concentrated on the development of business and infrastructure. The town continued to grow and incorporate aspects of everyday life into its’ system. The town grew into a comfortable living area and a prosperous entrepreneurial region. This town is appropriate for people of all ages to live in as it has schools, universities, and plenty of job opportunities available with its' booming economic industry.