The following is taken from "Ilion
1852-1952." We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for granting us permission to provide
this information to our visitors.
The early wars for independence very nearly wiped out of existence the few scattered homes of the hardy pioneers who had settled the section then known only as German Flatts. The French and their Indian allies overran the region, burning cattle, homes and mills, and occasionally even scalping a luckless settler. At the time of Brandt's Raid, the historian Benton says there were about 70 houses in this area while Almon in his Remembrancer states that there were 63 houses, 57 barns, 3 grist mills, and 2 saw mills burnt in this raid. This indicates that some 7 escaped.
From this time to the end of the War of 1812, the valley was part of a defensive military position. Heavy military supplies such as cannon went west over the Mohawk River while troops marched along the adjoining turnpikes. Records show that German Flatts furnished its full quota of men, especially in the Revolutionary War. Many familiar names such as Steele, Folts, Clapsattel, Dygert and others appear in Nelson Greene's History of the Mohawk Valley which contained "as large an authentic list as possible of American soldiers that were at the Battle of Oriskany."
Following the Revolution, a number of New England people settled in the section later known as Ilion. Among these was Eliphalet Remington, a name destined to become most important in Ilion's history.
When the Mexican War was imminent, Eliphalet Remington purchased a contract for the manufacture and delivery of several thousand carbines and put up the building that is remembered as the "Old Armory", thereby starting Ilion on its way to fame as a "Munitions Town."
Further government contracts were granted during the Civil War. As a result, skilled mechanics and contractors were attracted to Ilion and a "boom" was on. John Street was developed and the Northeast section of West Hill opened.
World War I caused another building boom with further street development. New homes were built in the section from South Fifth Avenue to Barringer Road. Of greater importance, however, was the extensive employment of women in the plants. Liberty Loans were oversubscribed. There were Heatless, Meatless and Wheatless days. Samuel T. Russell of Ilion was appointed County Fuel Administrator. The Ilion-Mohawk chapter of the Red Cross was formed and did a magnificent job. They also gave material assistance in the influenza epidemic of 1918 when, under them, the home at 28 Prospect Avenue (Mrs. W. E. Best's home) was used as an emergency hospital. Here were brought the most critical cases, forty-eight in all. Of these only three were fatal. This was in addition to the great number of cases cared for in private homes. Six hundred-twenty entered the armed services from Ilion. Of these, twenty-three gave their lives.
Another twenty-one years - and war again ravaged the world. Ilion industries responded one hundred per cent. The allied nations needed money to equip their armies, navies and air fleets. Exciting days followed. Do you remember that day in July when bonds and stamps were sold in Bridge Square with $20,000 being netted? Do you remember how the minute women, headed by Mrs. Ray Simmons, worked that August to obtain pledges from 95% of Ilion homes representing 8,500 persons? From there the factories carried on. In all, Ilion purchased well over $2,000,000 worth of bonds in 1942. As a result, in January of 1943, the U. S. Treasury Department awarded the T Flag to Ilion, the first community in the state and the second in the nation, to be so honored. Ilion qualified for the award because 90% of all the people in the village pledged over 10% of their income toward the purchase of bonds.
Auxiliary Police and Air Raid Wardens were new organizations formed to assist regular peace officers during practice Black-Outs. The Red Cross rooms on Otsego Street, under the direction of Cornelius Daily, president of the local chapter, and Mrs. J. G. Prindle, director of Volunteer Services, were exceedingly busy.
During World War II, 1,442 entered the service of their country from Ilion. Of these, 49 gave their lives.
Every community feels the impact of war but, because of the character of our industries, it has been war which has given much of the impetus to our growth. We are also glad that much of our progress can be attributed to the peace time activities of our people and industries.
Copyright © 2000 Paul McLaughlin/ Judy Breedlove/ Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.