Office of the County Historian

Savannah, New York

The town of Savannah was created from the town of Galen on November 24, 1824, and is comprised of nearly 21,000 acres. A savannah is an extensive open plain covered with grass. The town was aptly named. The southwest portion of Savannah is comprised of an extensive swamp of nearly 1,900 acres which was covered with coarse grass.

Savannah was a part of Lot 27 of the Military Tract, land given to officers and men who served in the Revolutionary Army from the State of New York. It is bounded on the north by Butler, on the east by Cayuga County, on the south by Seneca County and on the west by Galen.

The highest point of land in Savannah is Fort Hill, site of a Jesuit mission established by Father Rene Menard as early as 1657. Much earlier, about 1300 A.D., this area was the site of an Owasco village. It was described by Beauchamp as an oval earthwork, about a mile south of the Savannah village comprising about 5/8 acre.

The first settlement in the area was by Dr. James Young. Dr. Young, a veteran of the American Revolution, settled on Lot 37, near the Seneca River. A well was dug on this property which produced a strong brine. A salt works was established but was proven unsuccessful and only lasted about three years.

Soon other settlers began to arrive in Savannah - Joseph Mosher, George Vredenburgh, Daniel Harrington, along with many others. Royal Torrey built the Crusoe House in 1824. It stands on what is now Route 89 just north of the former village of Savannah. In 1825, the Crusoe House was the site of the first town meeting in Savannah. Several years later, it served as the first post office. Today, the Crusoe House is the oldest building in the town of Savannah.

The village of Savannah was dissolved over twenty years ago, and the town is now governed by Supervisor, Donald Colvin, and the town board. Mr. Colvin has been supervisor of Savannah since 1958. He has held the office of town supervisor longer than anyone in the history of the town, and, perhaps, in the state.

Crusoe House, Route 89 North, Savannah

- Built in 1824 as a hotel, the Crusoe House served as the first post office and meeting house. It is the oldest building in the town of Savannah.

Wiley Schoolhouse, Hogback Road, Savannah

- Former District #11 one-room schoolhouse built in 1874. Completely restored.