In the Beginning...In 1788, the New York Legislature created the Township of Chemung. The Township covered the area of the present county and was inhabited by approximately 1000 settlers scattered throughout the valley.People soon discovered a more accessible location for a settlement was where Newtown Creek emptied into the Chemung River. A new settlement was established that became known as Newtown. Henry Wisner, the landowner, laid out the roads of the village and then created a second village called Wisnerburg. Landowner Guy Maxwell established a third village, "DeWittsburg." In 1792 the three villages officially joined to form the village of Newtown.The village of Newtown officially changed its name to Elmira in 1828.
Although the origins are disputed, the most frequently told version of the story suggests the following: During a meeting at Nathan Teal's Tavern to discuss a new name, Elmira Teal, the young daughter of the tavern owner, made her presence known by running in and out of the meeting room while her mother repeatedly called her name. Hearing the repeated calls to young Elmira, someone at the meeting suggested the town should be named Elmira, to which everyone agreed. The century was new and the citizens were optimistic about their future, they wanted a name that would distinguish and reflect these feelings.Over the years Elmira became central to events of significant historical interest and the birthplace of many individuals who have made contributions to our lives. The material presented on the associated pages "Pages In History" offers a glimpse into "The Story of Elmira" that began in 1788 and continues each and every day.