The Town that Disappeared
Settling an untamed land was always hard. Finding the right spot, clearing the land, building shelter, starting a new life all were tasks handled daily by the energetic people who came to Western New York and made it their home. One such settlement was Waterboro, NY.
Chances are you have driven past the spot a thousand times if you live in this area and never knew it existed. Records indicate that if you are driving east along Route 17, now 86, just before you reach Exit 14 there is a section, which passes over some railroad tracks. Looking at a map you would have no indication anything existed there nor would you if you were standing on the very spot. This is because in the summer of 1820 everything changed.
The settlement, which cropped up around a sawmill and gristmill, most likely using the natural resource of Davis Brook burned to the ground. History tends to change stories, especially in the oral tradition, but we can assume that fire broke out feeding off the dry grass ravenously devouring all but four of the four hundred buildings of the settlement. The sawmill, gristmill, and the two hotels that existed were reduced to ash and blackened timber. Settlement homes and the dreams of a new life were reduced to nothing. Nothing has ever been documented about the loss of life but again we can assume that some may have perished trying to save what they could. Failing and watching as their town was decimated some had vowed to rebuild.
It is here that we discover that while trying to rebuild the town, a Scarlet Fever epidemic broke out causing most to leave their dreams behind and move to the neighboring city of Kennedy’s Mills, now Kennedy. However, the story does not end there. With everything left behind unfinished or in ruins the only thing showing that ever a settlement was there was the cemetery. Supposedly the last resting place of hundreds of people it too was wiped clean by some unknown force. The Davis Brook once a positive energy source for a thriving community overtook its banks and washed out the graveyard. Over time it is said that the brook settled back to its original course and what remained was unsettled land once again.
It is not clear if this story is true but some say it is the case. No one that I asked who grew up within walking distance of the site even knew it existed. Possibly, some unknown force wanted the land back wiping it clean of all evidence that man had once tried to build upon its dusty knolls. One thing is for sure that whatever happened the story of Waterboro will always be told.