Camillus Timeline

A military incentive becomes a new town

Most of what is now the Town of Camillus was encompassed in the Central New York Military Tract. This parcel of nearly 2 million acres of bounty land was set aside by the brand new United States government to compensate New York soldiers for their efforts in the Revolutionary War. To incentivize soldiers to fight on behalf of the patriot cause, the Province of New York (prior to becoming a state) guaranteed each soldier at least 100 acres at the end of the war (depending on rank). However by 1781, New York had enlisted only about half of the quota of soldiers set by the U.S. Congress. In search of a more enticing offer, the NY legislature authorized an additional 500 acres per soldier, using land from 25 Military Tract Townships to be established in Central New York.

Each of the townships was to comprise 100 lots of 600 acres (2.4 km2) each. The United States Congress approved the plan in 1789 and the arrangement became final in 1799. The townships were at first numbered (1 through 28), but were later given (mostly) classical tradition Greek and Roman names, along with the Carthaginian general Hannibal, and a few honoring English authors. Camillus was established in Township 5, named after the Roman soldier and statesman Marcus Furius Camillus who lived 446-365 BC.

Parts of the southeastern areas of Camillus, known as Fairmount, was part of the original Onondaga Reservation territory that came under New York State control after the Treaty of Cayuga Bridge in 1795. This section, originally incorporated into the Town of Onondaga, was annexed to Camillus in 1834.

Article source: Kathy Crowell's History of Camillus

A brief look at Camillus throughout the centuries

1790 - The first white settler, Isaac Linsday, arrived in the area that would later become Camillus.

1792 - Isaac was joined by his brothers James, William, and Elijah. William Linsday discovered the large deposits of gypsum (plaster) which would lead to a prosperous new industry in the area of the Village of Camillus.

1795 - Isaac built the first wood-frame house in the area, a house that still stands at #3 Leroy Street.

March 8, 1799 - Town of Camillus is named after the Roman general Marcus Furius Camillus and is the only Town in the United States to bear that name. The Town of Camillus occupies nearly 35 square miles of land, which includes Fairmount, Amboy-Belle Isle, Warners, and the Village of Camillus.

1808 - The first school of record in Camillus was housed in a log cabin.

1811 - The Camillus Post Office was established.

1825 - The Erie Canal opens. As many as 19 mills sprang up along the Nine Mile Creek because of the power source that it provided and its access to the Canal for shipping of goods to eager markets. Stores also developed along the canal to meet the needs of the boat crews and passengers. Wider docks to accommodate barges and warehouses to store grain and other products produced in Camillus and other nearby towns were built by the Dill brothers, thus it became known as Dill’s Landing in Camillus.

1829 - Fire destroyed the records of the first 20 years of the Town of Camillus’ history.

1838 - Railroad line from Syracuse to Auburn further enhanced the lives of Camillus residents and attracted businesses that became well known around the world for their products.

Maxwell Memorial Library, Camillus, New York

The Presbyterian Church, built in 1868, is now Maxwell Memorial Library.

1852 - Although a longstanding dispute exists, there is ample and compelling evidence that a group of very influential government leaders and businessmen from Camillus protesting the “Fugitive Slave Law” wrote the proclamation on which the principles of the Republican Party are based. This historic event happened during a meeting at the Rowe Hotel in the Village of Camillus. a full two years ahead of all other claimants’ evidence to the title “Birthplace of the Republican Party”. A detailed publication of this event is available through the Camillus Historical Society.

1861-1865 - Camillus was considered a major distributor of grain in Central New York.

First Baptist Church, Camillus, NY

First Baptist Church, built in 1880, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

1894 - Camillus Cutlery is established to manufacture what would become world-famous knives, attracting skilled cutlers from England and Germany who immigrated to the area to work for the company.

1894 - Syracuse Pottery was a family-owned business that manufactured flowerpots made from the red clay found in a portion of Camillus and shipped an estimated 8 million pounds of pottery from their plant every year.

1909 - Electric “trolley cars” were introduced in Camillus.

1912 - The first airplane, flown by Harry Atwood, landed in a field in Amboy and established a long-distance flight record from Chicago to New York.

1927-1938 - Amboy Airport became the original home of the Syracuse Municipal Airport, making Camillus the center of aviation activity for the whole county. In 1929, the airport earned national recognition came with the first mail run. Notable aviators who landed here were Charles Lindbergh, who arrived in the “Spirit of St. Louis” to a crowd of 2,000 people in 1927, Will Rogers and Wiley Post in 1931, General Jimmy Doolittle in 1932, Amelia Earhart in 1936, and Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan in 1938.

1939-1945 - The airport played an important role during WWII as a landing field for military planes, but as military operations became more demanding, the need for a larger landing area led to the purchase and development of the location where Syracuse’s Hancock Airport now stands. However, Camillus continued to play an important role as a training field for civilians to move supplies and equipment, as well as for coastal patrol pilots watching for enemy subs and ships.

1946 - Kallet's Drive-in theater opens on former farmland near the corner of Kasson Road and West Genesee Street and shows movies until 1960.

1952 - West Genesee School District consolidated in 1952 and formed Central School District #1, which included the towns of Camillus, Onondaga, Van Buren, Geddes and Elbridge. West Genesee High School opens that year. See the digital collection of West Genesee yearbooks.

1970s - The West Genesee High School Wildcat Marching Band begin competing at state and national contests resulting in more than 35 titles including the Grand National Class AA title in 1990.

1995 - The girls' lacrosse team forms at West Genesee High and has won seven New York State Championships.

2002-2005 - The West Genesee High boys' lacrosse team wins four consecutive New York State championships among its 15 state and 34 sectional titles all time.