of the City of Johnstown has been provided by our
City Historian, Noel S. Levee. If you are
interested in further information please contact
Noel @762-7419. You can also find further
historical information by clicking on the
Community Information link to your left and going
to the Historical Society page.
By 1754, Johnson was actively settling Palatine Germans on this Patent. The year of 1758 is given as the beginning of clearing the land for his home and town. Johnson's overseer, Thomas Flood, was already haying and harvesting crops by 1760.
The lack of specialization, normal to the frontier, encouraged Johnson to advertise in big-city newspapers for tradesmen and artificers who would make goods for the settlers or process the raw materials the frontier produced. He welcomed a sword-maker, hatter, breeches maker, indentured shoemaker, tanner, wheelwright, collar maker, surveyor and a gunsmith. Robert Adems, the storekeeper, used the endless ashes created by the clearing of the fields to make potash. Johnson's nephew, Dr. John Dease from Ireland, was the first neighborhood physician followed by Robert Adems' brother, Dr. William Adems.
Johnson Hall and some other buildings on the plantation were completed in 1763.
By 1770, the town was endowed with several "good houses" and a "neat stone church", one or more grist and saw mills and a steady stream of new inhabitants were developing other industries. The town consisted of four north and south streets with four that ran east and west. Johnson also opened one of the first free co-ed and interracial schools in New York. "The town", Johnson wrote in 1771, "is a mere thoroughfare, every day full of sleds...which really makes the place more lively than Albany or Schenectady, who are suffering from the want of snow".
Johnson's petition in 1771 to establish the county seat at Johnstown, which lies "at the terminus of several public roads and where there is a good church, parsonage and Glebe and about 20 houses", was adopted the following year. A new church was built in 1772 and the courthouse and jail were completed in 1773.
The Hall Plantation and the town were built to be Sir William Johnson's personal retirement community, a place where he could enjoy his remaining years. Johnson felt that his enjoyment of good living was another of his virtues. He believed his example would "stir up a spirit of industry amongst the people here".