The community today known as Washingtonville has a recorded history which dates to the early 1770s.
John Bosley, his family, and slaves were the first to settle here, establishing a grist and saw mill to support early development of the area. The mill was fortified after hostilities with the Iroquois intensified as a result of the American Revolution. Fort Bosley was garrisoned by local volunteers as well as Continental Army troops throughout the war, suffering numerous Iroquois attacks. The Bosleys remained here until 1795.
Joseph and Samuel Hutchinson purchased the homestead of the Bosleys and had the “Town of Washington” laid out in 1796, the community namesake being then president, George Washington. Throughout the 19th century, the community supported the developing local agricultural economy and was a popular hotel stopover point. ‘Washington’ came to be known as ‘Washingtonville’ around 1840. Washingtonville was incorporated as a borough on April 28, 1870.
As the community transitioned into the 20th century, farmer and Congressman Alexander Billmeyer became known for the wildlife park that he had established just east of the borough. It was Frank DeLong, however, that will forever be known as Washingtonville’s favorite son. DeLong was a financially successful inventor credited with improvements to the hook and eye and was also a real estate investor in Philadelphia.
DeLong’s philanthropic contributions to the community included the Jane E. DeLong Memorial Hall and DeLong Memorial School, both of which still exist today. Other community gifts such as Sunset Lake and the Blue Springs Driving Club have been lost to time. DeLong passed away in 1939.
Changes in and around Washingtonville impacted the community during the latter half of the 20th and early 21st century, including the establishment of the Montour Steam Electric Station and later the United States Gypsum plant, the closing of the DeLong Memorial School, decreases in family farms, the closings of small businesses, demolition of the rediscovered Bosley family log cabin, and most recently, the development of solar farming. Institutions such as the Washingtonville Volunteer Fire Company and the Washingtonville Lutheran Church have been community mainstays over the years.
Despite inevitable change, redevelopment of the DeLong Memorial School as the DeLong Village, improvements around the community supported by the borough council, Washingtonville Revitalization Committee, and the Montour Area Recreation Commission, as well as preservation of treasures such as the Jane E. DeLong Memorial Hall and reconstruction of the Bosley family log cabin at the Montour DeLong Community Fairgrounds, have ensured that Washingtonville remains a community synonymous with rich heritage and country charm.
MARC thanks Washingtonville Borough Mayor Tyler Dombroski and Washingtonville-area historian John Marr for the photos and information provided here.
To learn more about Washingtonville Borough, click the image below for the ‘Welcome to Washingtonville Borough’ brochure.