The History of the Village
The Town of Warsaw began with the purchase by Elizur Webster of land from the Holland Land Company in 1803. He bought approximately 3,000 acres of land in the Oatka Creek Valley. After building a log house at a site now commemorated with a plaque on South Main Street, Mr. Webster returned to Hampton, New York to bring his wife and two other families back to the settlement. The Town was part of Genesee County until 1841.
Throughout its' history, Wyoming County's economy has depended on a mixture of agriculture and manufacturing. Early manufactures supplied lumber, flour, matchsticks, map rollers, and cast iron. In 1881, the Warsaw Salt company was organized. Until 1899, Warsaw was the center of salt manufacturing in the United States. As many as 13 different companies produced and shipped salt out of the town. By 1900, few of these companies still operated. One that did survive was the Worchester Salt plant, which became the nucleus of the Morton Salt Company.
The closing of the salt plants spawned a brief resurgence of manufacturing in the town, as the money from the sales of the salt works was funneled into new enterprises. Some of these included knitting mills, the Warsaw Button Company, and the Warsaw Elevator Company. Only one of these companies survives in Warsaw today; the Warsaw Box Company was established near the turn of the century, and still does business under the name of the Fairview Paper Box Corporation.
The post-World War II ear brought a downturn in manufacturing activities in Warsaw. As the transportation networks changed, Warsaw found if more difficult to attract and maintain industry.
Agriculture remains a major part of the local economy, with dairy farming playing a large role. Maple syrup production also contributes to farm income in the region, as does apple growing.
Warsaw's Civil War Monument, which dominates Main Street, reflects a strong abolitionist heritage. In 1833-34, the Warsaw Antislavery Society was formed and in 1835, the town sent five delegates to the first annual meeting of the state society. While Warsaw residents were also supporters of the underground Railroad, one documented story tells of the escape of a slave from Maryland to Wyoming County, where her children lived out their lives.
More may be learned about Warsaw's history by visiting the Warsaw Historical Society.