To learn more about the history of Newfield, see Newfield Historical Society
Contact: Alan Chaffee / Town Historian (607-564-7778)
The region that now makes up the Town of Newfield had long been used by various Indian tribes, especially as they traveled through Pony Hollow, a broad, flat, fertile glacial valley, on their way to and from Cayuga Lake. The town itself was first settled by Americans around 1800 after the Indians were driven out of the area by General John Sullivan at the order of General George Washington in 1799. Since the town has two large creeks, many settlers clustered near them. In 1802, Eliakim Dean purchased land along the west branch of the Cayuga Inlet, land that is now the Village of Newfield. Here he built the town’s first saw mill in 1809. Two years later he constructed a grist mill near what is now the intersection of Mill Street and Newfield Depot Road. By 1836 Newfield had 21 mills that did everything from produce lumber to grind flour.
It is here along the west branch of the Cayuga Inlet that the majority of the town’s residents lived and over which was built in 1853 the red-painted covered bridge, the state’s oldest covered bridge still in daily use. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Newfield Covered Bridge is a symbol of historic pride for the entire town. (Read “Keepers of the Newfield Covered Bridge“ from Finger Lakes Magazine, Fall 1987.)
Beside the unincorporated village, Newfield has four hamlets: Stratton, Trumbulls Corners, Kelloggs Corners, and Newfield Station. These were, at one time, thriving communities in and of themselves. Over time they lost their general stores and most of their churches and are now residential communities. One reminder of the past that has lasted is the one-room Kelloggs Corners School House. Built in 1887, it was moved intact to the grounds of the Newfield Central School on Main Street. Its old desks, blackboards, and other paraphrenalia are a reminder of a bygone era.
The town has had its share of disasters over the years. In 1875, a fire in the center of the village destroyed all its records; in 1905, a flood destroyed seven bridges; the bridges were destroyed again in 1935; and in 1944-45 a blizzard caused roads to be closed for a month. Newfielders seem to take it all in stride.