Our History

Ron Belczak, Village Historian

Ron Belczak, Village Historian

Settlement at Churchville began in 1806

when Samuel Church purchased eight hundred and ninety-seven acres in what was known as West Pultney. Along the banks of Black Creek Samuel constructed a saw mill in 1808 and later, a grist mill at about 1810. With the construction of Buffalo Road in 1811, the property of Samuel Church was now connected to Rochester and the Towns of LeRoy and Batavia permitting travelers to witness the fertile farm lands and contemplate settling in the area. Unfortunately, the War of 1812, a conflict between the United States and Great Britain, put a halt to further settlement in the area. Many of the war’s bloodiest battles, of which Captain Samuel Church participated in, were fought just seventy miles east of the Church homestead. In 1815, the war ended and the first store owned by Linus Pierson opened in the area. Just shortly after, a public house was constructed to accommodate the stage coach passengers. Development in this area was further accelerated when the Tonawanda railroad was constructed through the village in 1837. By this time, located within the village was one flouring mill and custom mill, one saw mill with two saws, one steam cloth dressing and wool carding manufactory, one tannery, one distillery, one ashery, three stores, two taverns, one grocery, two carriage and sleigh shops, four blacksmith shops, one axle shop, one saddle and harness shop, one plough shop, one painter’s shop, two shoe maker shops, one cooper shop, two doctors, two tailor shops, three milliner shops, and one butcher shop.

Francis Willard, one of the world’s most famous women in the suffrage movement, was born in Churchville on September 28th, 1839. Although she left the area at the age of two years old, she returned often to visit her relatives and speak in the village churches.

On September 21st, 1852, the village of Churchville officially formed, taking its name from Samuel Church who owned all the land in the present village limits. From here, the village continued to grow both in population and social well being. New businesses, along with the construction of churches and schools, continued to add value to the area.

Just ninety years after the settlement at Churchville, the following article appeared in the Rochester Post Express newspaper providing insight to life within the village. “One thing is certain: Churchville is not behind her sister towns as far as improvement and enterprise is concerned, in any degree, and this fact can be substantiated after a visit to the place has been made. It is made up of a class of citizens who are cultivated and refined and who have constantly their “shoulder to the wheel,” and who are bound to keep pace with the times and make their village one of the important towns in Monroe County and western New York. It is not saying too much when the writer states that it is the “banner village” in Monroe County as a place of residence, and within easy access of the city of Rochester. As one passes through the well shaded streets and avenues there are observed many sightly and handsome building sites, very desirable, which can be purchased at a reasonable figure and it can be truly stated that those who are looking for a place of quiet, away from noise and disturbances of every description known in city life; and away from malaria and other diseases, a better or more inviting place could not be selected than Churchville. Just take a look at the handsome and large business blocks, the new school building in architectural design not excelled in the county; notice, too, the four churches, the new assembly hall now nearing completion and the many fine and slightly residences, a number of which are illustrated in this paper to-day. All of these and many other features of attraction can be witnessed in this village of healthfulness, beauty and progress.”

Even today the Village of Churchville continues to reflect “healthfulness, beauty and progress”…. an inspired vision created by the hard work, thoughtfulness and sacrifices of a previous generation.

Historical Buildings and Landmarks Video

Cynthia Howk, Architechtural Research Coordinator of the Landmak Society of Western New York photographed and narrated this presentation for the Village of Churchville in 2007-08. Included are photographs of interesting historical architecture in the Village of Churchville and the Town of Riga. The DVD was produced by Video Concepts Unlimited and may be purchased at the Newman-Riga Library in the Village of Churchville.

Historical Walking Tour

The Village of Churchville is full of interesting history that many residents may not know about.  In 2003 Nikki Torcello, with the help of Ron Belczak, Village Historian, made a Historical Walking Tour of the Village of Churchville to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.  Please take a look at the brochure and find out more about Churchville while taking a stroll around the Village.

Heritage/Arbor Day Tree program

Since 2002, the Village of Churchville has planted a tree on Arbor Day, and since 2007 the trees have been planted in honor of or in memory of people who have made significant contributions to the village. Below is a link to a map with the locations of the trees, the year it was planted, and for whom it was planted.