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History

History tells us that those who came through this bountiful region during the Revolutionary War couldn't wait to return and take up residence. The signing of the Big Tree Treaty with the Iroquois nation at Geneseo in 1797 was a signal that land was available for the settlers who came here from New England. This treaty led to purchases of the frontier lands west of the Genesee River.

The first known settler was John Woodward. According to legend, he stayed only two years and then disappeared into obscurity. The year 1809 brought Samuel Gates, who is recognized as the first permanent resident. He cleared land on a site overlooking Silver Lake, raised the first wheat crop and planted the first orchard. The first child of a settler to be born here was his daughter, Nancy Gates.

On early maps of the area, Silver Lake was known as Little Lake. The name of the village and the town did not become Perry until after the War of 1812. Perry previously had several names, including Slabtown, Shacksberg, Beechville, Columbia and Ninevah. These names were reflective of the status of the village having five names in as many years by the original settlers.

It is suggested that the name change to Perry originated when the postal authorities decided there were too many Ninevahs in New York State. There is little written on any meetings about the topic, or the decision that made General Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, the namesake of what became a thriving mill community on the banks of Silver Lake Outlet.

The mill sites are immortalized with inscribed boulders that can be seen on a walking tour of the village.


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