Janet M. Cross, Town Historian

Town Hall: (518) 873-6555

Email: janetmcross@gmail.com


History of Elizabethtown (AKA Pleasant Valley)


Revolutionary War Veterans from Vermont first settled Elizabethtown in 1792. The pioneers arrived in an area known today as New Russia. At that time the Upper Boquet River Valley was known as Pleasant Valley. The Town was formally organized on February 12, 1798 and included an area of 822 square miles. The town, and the village at its center were named after two women named Elizabeth Gillilland, the wife and a daughter of landholder William Gillilland, who came to Essex County before the Revolutionary War.


During the early years, cutting and marketing lumber was the chief industry of Elizabethtown’s residents. Maple sugaring was an important industry. Tourism replaced lumber as the main industry in the late 1800’s. As the county seat and government center, Elizabethtown is now a center of public and commercial services.


George Levi Brown published the best history of Elizabethtown in 1905. The book is available online from the Library of Congress at http://openlibrary.org/books/OL7001736M/Pleasant_Valley.


The Hand-Hale Historic District on River Street was listed on the National Register in 1979. The Hale House that dates from 1818 and is located on the North side of The Branch was the residence of Judge Robert S. Hale. On the South side, of River Street, Judge Augustus C. Hand built the brick Greek revival structure, in 1849. he was the grandfather of Learned and Augustus N. Hand, the eminent justices of the US Circuit Court of Appeals.


Related Links: History of Essex County 

                           Northern New York Historic Newspapers




Year Round Destination

Town of Elizabethtown

New York

Town Hall (18) 873-6555 / Court (518) 873-2047

Fax (518) 873-9584 / TownHall@elizabethtown-ny.gov