Towns and Place Names

Place names can be chosen intentionally or evolve over time, based on who lived there, what happened there, or prominent natural features. Many places in Livingston County have an origin story, but some are now a mystery.

Do you have information about a place name we missed? Want to share a story about the Corners or a Hollow near you? We'd love to hear from you!

  1. Avon
  2. Avon Place Names

Avon was formed in 1789 as Hartford in Ontario County. The name Hartford was chosen because two European American settlers and early purchasers of land were from West Hartford, CT. The township also included what is the town of Rush today. 

In 1808, to avoid confusion with other towns in the state with the same name, Hartford’s name was changed to Avon, after Avon, CT, a town near West Hartford. In 1818, Rush became a separate town. In 1821, when Livingston County was formed, the southern half of Rush was annexed to Avon again. Finally, by an act of legislature in 1824, the southern half of Rush was returned to the town of Rush in Monroe County.

The Village of Avon was incorporated in 1853.

  1. Caledonia
  2. Caledonia Place Names

Caledonia was formed as Northampton, Genesee County, in 1797. In 1802, a portion of Northampton was split off and became Southampton, and the name was changed to Caledonia in 1806. Scottish families were some of the earliest European settlers in the area. The Roman Empire referred to what is now Scotland as Caledonia, and Caledonia is now considered a poetic name for Scotland.

A small spring-fed lake in the village of Caledonia was referred to by the Seneca Nation as “Gan-ea-di-ya,” translated to “small clear lake” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.37) or “handsome lake.” Also De-o-na-ga-no, or “cold water” in reference to the springs there (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.36).

The Village of Caledonia was incorporated in 1891.

  1. Conesus
  2. Conesus Place Names

Conesus is said to be derived from Ga-ne-a-sos, a Seneca word for “place of nanny berries” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.35). 

The town was formed in 1819 by an act of NYS legislature from parts of Livonia and Groveland as Freeport, Ontario County, but because of an irregularity in calling the first town meeting, it was officially organized in April 1820. The name changed briefly to Bowersville in 1824 before becoming Conesus in 1825.

  1. Geneseo
  2. Geneseo Place Names

Geneseo was formed in 1789 and was originally in Ontario County. The name is derived from Gen-e-se-o or Che-nus-si-o, a Seneca word which translates to “beautiful valley.” O-ha-di also refers to the area and translates to “trees burned.” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.36)

In 1821, when Livingston County was formed, Geneseo was chosen as the county seat because it was geographically central and a hub of commerce.

The Village of Geneseo was incorporated in 1832.

  1. Groveland
  2. Groveland Place Names

Groveland was formed from Sparta, Ontario County, in 1812. According to Smith’s History of Livingston County, the name comes from the groves of trees here in the early days. In 1819, part of Groveland became part of the new town of Freeport, later Conesus.

In 1857, four acres of Groveland land were annexed back to the town of Sparta.

  1. Leicester

Leicester was formed as a town in Genesee County in 1802 and originally named Lester, after the son of Oliver Phelps, partner in the Phelps and Gorham purchase in 1789, which encompassed much of what would become Livingston County (From Phelps and Gorham Purchase, by O. Turner, p. 353.). In 1805, the spelling was corrected to Leicester, the spelling of Leicester Phelps’s name.

The Village of Moscow was formed in 1814, and was incorporated in 1907. It was renamed the Village of Leicester in 1917. According to village minutes, the election of Mar. 20, 1917, put the proposition to change the name to the voters. Velma Maloney, former Leicester town historian, wrote in 1976: the purpose was to match the village, post office, and railroad station names. There was a Moscow, PA, just over the border and there was confusion with railroad mail and freight. She added, “There are a few that maintain that the Moscow Revolution entered into the matter.” (Related to international relations with Russia and the rise of the Bolsheviks during World War I.)

Bloody Hollow – Located at Little Beard’s Creek on the western edge of the town of Leicester near Brian Road. According to former Leicester Town Historian Velma Mahoney, it was named because sisters were murdered there. A farm on Alverson Road, just over the line in Perry, operating in the 1970s and 1980s, was called Bloody Hollow Farm (D&C 5/12/1985). See also Crooked S.

Bump’s Island – An island, belonging to the town of Leicester, formed by a tight bend in the Genesee River around the turn of the 20th century; located on what is now the Mt. Morris flats on the north side of Rt. 408. Due to changes in the river pattern, the town lines no longer follow the center of the river. The name comes from the Bump family who owned lots on the island (1902 map).

Clute’s Corners – now called White’s Hollow. Originally named for Jellis Clute and his brothers, who opened a road there.

Crapsey Road - named for the Crapsey family who settled in the area in the 1820s, and mistakenly called Cropsey Road for some time, until reverted to Crapsey (Perry Herald, 1/24/1991)

Crooked S – a county-line road between Livingston and Wyoming counties; it was named because of two curves, making an irregular S shape. The name was changed to Brian Road for purposes of conforming to voting regulations and emergency calls when 911 was established in the 1990s. It extends from Rt. 20A to Dunkley Road in the town of Leicester. See also Bloody Hollow.

Cuylerville – The settlement was laid out in 1840 by Col. William T. Cuyler and grew into a center of commerce during the era of the Genesee Valley Canal, 1840-1878. Near Little Beard’s Town.

Downey’s Corners – The intersection of Rt. 36 and Perry Road; a Leo Downey once lived there. See also John Long’s Corners. (Sources: Amie Alden 2017; various newspaper accounts with descriptions)

Dutch Corners – The southeast corner of Leicester on the river flats, marked in the 21st century by a dead-end road, called Dutch Corners Road, south off Jones Bridge Road. The Jones family were longtime residents here and Wadsworth farms on the flats in 1902 were called Dutch Corners East and West. Dutch Corners Road and Perry Road once made an ell on the flats, but by the late 1970s, both became dead ends due to encroachment by the river (Batavia Daily News, 1/18/1978).

Ga-neh-da-ont-weh - Seneca name meaning “where the hemlock was spilled,” located at present-day Leicester village (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.37); see also Moscow

Gibsonville – A vanished hamlet in the southwestern corner of the town of Leicester, now part of Letchworth State Park. Named after Henry B. Gibson, an early landowner, it had businesses, a post office, school, and homes. One of its last uses was as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp during the Great Depression.

Goose Hollow – on Rt. 39 near Keeney Rd; named for geese in a small creek a little past Pine Tavern.

Halite – A hamlet near Cuylerville from about 1907-1930, during the operation of the Sterling Salt Company mine at the site. (D&C, 5/17/1934). Located on the east side of River Road about .8 miles north of Cuylerville. Halite is the mineral name for salt.

John Long’s Corners – at the intersection of Perry Road and Upper Mt. Morris Road. See also Downey’s Corners.

Jones Bridge Road – A road that once crossed between Geneseo and Leicester over a bridge at what is now Indian Fort Nature Preserve; I-390 altered the Geneseo side of the road, and the Leicester side is just a lane as it approaches the Genesee River. Named for Horatio Jones, whose farm Sweet Briar was on the east bank of the river at the bridge.

(Little) Beard’s Creek – Flows west across the town of Leicester to the Genesee River (Source: French’s Gazetteer of NY, maps).

Little Beard’s Town – An important Seneca settlement named for the Seneca chief Little Beard located near present-day Cuylerville. Also called Sin-non-do-wae-ne (1720), Che-non-da-nah (1754), Che-nan-do-an-es (1770s), Gen-e-see, and De-o-nun-da-ga-a, said to mean "where the hill is near." Another form is Dyu-non-dah-ga-seh, interpreted as "Steep hil creek." (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.36).  The large, important village was once home to Mary Jemison and was destroyed in 1779 during the Sullivan Campaign, but was resettled by returning Senecas.

Moscow – Formerly called “Ga-neh-da-ont-weh” by the Seneca, meaning “where the hemlock was spilled” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.37). The village in Leicester was formed in 1814 as Moscow and incorporated 1907; the name was changed to Leicester in 1917. According to village minutes, the election of Mar. 20, 1917, put the proposition to change the name to the voters. Velma Maloney says in 1976: the purpose was to match the village, post office, and railroad station names. There was a Moscow, PA, just over the border and there was confusion with railroad mail and freight. She also wrote, “There are a few that maintain that the Moscow Revolution entered into the matter.” (Related to international relations with Russia and the rise of the Bolsheviks during World War I.)

Moscow Landing - A stop along the Genesee Valley Canal near Jones Bridge Road and River Road intersection. Also describes the area around the intersection and up to Rt. 36. The area has long been known to flood seasonally (sources: various newspaper accounts of accidents, residences, etc.).

O-ha-gi – A Tuscarora village on the west side of the Genesee River; name translated to “crowding the banks”; an Oneida village was nearby, possibly on east side of river, called Dyu-hah-gaih, meaning “the stream devours it” [the bank] (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.38).

Old Leicester – the area just west of the Jones Bridge Rd. and River Road intersection (Sources: 1852, 1902 maps). May relate to a settlement marked on 1829 map near the site and labeled Leicester on the 1840 Burr map.

Pennock’s Corners – There was a tavern owned by a Capt. Pennock east of the corners in Leicester.

Pine Tavern and Pine Tavern Corners – located at the intersection of five roads on southwest side of Leicester. Named for the former Pine Tavern establishment at the junction, said to be built around 1800. The name Pine Tavern is labeled as early as 1852, when a Jones owned it (1852 map).

Rice’s Falls – On Beard’s Creek at Dunkley Road, Leicester (From History of Livingston County by Smith)

Smokey Hollow – A ravine or hollow near Gibsonville (Nunda News 10/4/1884); in 1902, Smoky Hollow Road paralleled the town line between Leicester and Castile and continued into Castile; Smokey Hollow seems to be on both sides of the town lines.

Squawkie Hill - located east of Upper Mt. Morris Rd. between High Banks Rd. and Oaks Rd. Named for the Squawkiha, a people whose name was derived from the Meskwaki, an indigenous nation in Michigan.

In the 1700s, some Meskwaki people were adopted by the Seneca and settled in Newtown, now Elmira, New York. Their name became the Squawkiha. In 1779, during the Sullivan Campaign of the Revolutionary War, the army entered Newtown and the Squawkiha fled to the Genesee Valley. Their settlement became known as Squawkie Hill. In 1797, the Treaty of Big Tree set aside the Squawkie Hill area as a Seneca reservation. The land was sold in 1831.

            Other Seneca names for the place include Da-ya-it-ga-o, interpreted as “where the river comes out of the hills” or “where the valley widens” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.38).

Teed’s Corners - at intersection of Peoria Rd. and Rt. 36. Named for tavern-keepers Pell and Achsah Teed who kept an inn near Teed’s Corners; Pell died in 1851 (Velma Mahoney, Liv. Republican 6/10/1971)

White’s Hollow – Formerly Clute’s Corners. Named for John F. White, a partner in the salt well at the hollow. Located at the gully south of the intersection of Perry Rd. and Upper Mt. Morris Road (From Velma Mahoney).

  1. Lima
  2. Lima Place Names

Lima was formed as Charleston, Ontario County, in 1789 and renamed Lima in 1808. The name purportedly comes from Lyme, CT, the origin of many of its early European American settlers. A Seneca settlement at the site of the village of Lima was known as Ska-hase-ga-o, translated to “Once a long creek” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.36). In about 1789, Lima was briefly known as Mighell’s Gore after Abner Mighells purchased the western portion of the town, which was a large, triangular tract of land, or “gore” (Source: Lima 1788-1964 by Jenks).

The Village of Lima was incorporated in 1867.

  1. Livonia
  2. Livonia Place Names

Livonia was formed as Pittstown, Ontario County, in 1796 and named for the early Pitts family settlers. In 1808, the town of Livonia was formed from a portion of Pittstown. Resident Hon. George Smith proposed the name of the town after the historical Baltic region of Livonia, now in Estonia and Latvia. In 1819, a section of Livonia was removed to form part of the town of Conesus.

The Village of Livonia was incorporated in 1882.

  1. Mt. Morris
  2. Mt. Morris Place Names

Mt. Morris was formed from Leicester, Genesee County, in 1818 and named in honor of Robert Morris, financer of the American Revolution and early owner of a large tract of land on the west side of the Genesee River, including Mt. Morris.

Early names for the town include Sho-no-jo-waah-geh, a Seneca name meaning “big kettle” and signifying Big Kettle’s Town, which may have come from a large copper distilling kettle brought by European Americans. Big Kettle is a name often attached to Gen. William A. Mills, who was a prominent early white settler. Big Kettle may also refer to a Seneca leader’s name (History of Livingston County by Doty; Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, Seaver, 1824; Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.36). Additionally, the town was referred to as Allen’s Hill after Ebenezer “Indian” Allen and later called Richmond Hill.

The Village of Mount Morris was incorporated in 1835.

  1. North Dansville
  2. North Dansville Place Names

Dansville was named for Capt. Daniel Faulkner, an early European American settler of the area (from History of Livingston County by Smith). A Seneca village called Kanuskago or Ganuskago once occupied the present village site.

The town of North Dansville was originally the northwest quadrant of the town of Dansville, Steuben County. After residents petitioned to join Livingston County, the quadrant was annexed to Sparta in 1822.

According to the History of Steuben County, today’s village of Dansville was named South Sparta in 1824 to distinguish it from the town and village of Dansville, Steuben County. However, after petitioners from South Sparta complained that their mail was constantly delivered to Steuben County, South Sparta became Dansville again. Subsequently, the village of Dansville in Steuben County was renamed South Dansville.

In 1845, the Village of Dansville in Sparta, Livingston County, was incorporated. The next year, Sparta was split into three towns: Sparta, West Sparta, and North Dansville.

In the 21st century, there are four Dansville entities: the town of North Dansville with the village of Dansville in Livingston County, and the town of Dansville with the village of South Dansville in Steuben County.

  1. Nunda
  2. Nunda Place Names

Nunda was formed from Angelica, Allegany County, in 1808 and annexed to Livingston County in 1846. The name comes from the Seneca Nun-da, meaning “hilly,” or O-non-da-oh, “where many hills come together” (Indian Names of NY, Beauchamp, p.37). Other sources translate to “People of the Hill” or “Meeting of the Hill.”

The Village of Nunda was incorporated in 1839.

  1. Ossian
  2. Ossian Place Names

Ossian was formed from Angelica, Allegany County, in 1808. The name came from a legendary third-century Irish Gaelic poet that apparently was invented by Scottish writer James Macpherson in the 18th century. 

In 1857, the town of Ossian was annexed to Livingston County, making it the last town to join Livingston.

  1. Portage
  2. Portage Place Names

Portage was formed from Nunda, Allegany County, in 1827. The name comes from “portage” (por-TAJ), the act of carrying boats on land when waterways are unnavigable. The three landmark Genesee River waterfalls on the western border of Portage, now in Letchworth State Park, interrupted the river thoroughfare. The town’s name is pronounced “POR-tedge.”

Portage was annexed to Livingston County in 1846.

Note that the village of Portageville is in Genesee Falls, Wyoming County, just across the Genesee River from the town of Portage. The post office there was known as Portage from 1825-1828 before becoming Portageville.

  1. Sparta
  2. Sparta Place Names

Sparta was formed in Ontario County in 1789. The town was named for an ancient city-state in the country of Greece.

In 1822, a portion of Steuben County, containing the village of Dansville, was annexed to Sparta. The large town of Sparta was divided in 1846 to form the towns of Sparta, West Sparta, and North Dansville.

  1. Springwater
  2. Springwater Place Names

Springwater was formed from Sparta and Naples, Ontario County, in 1816. Some sources credit Seth Knowles with suggesting the name Springwater for the numerous springs found in the hills (History of the Township of Springwater, Robinson). Another account credits John Roberts (c.1766-1850s) with naming the town (History of Peter Roberts Family by Marion E. Scott, 1990). 

Prior to 1816, the town of Naples was known as Middletown, as it was about halfway between Canandaigua and Bath. 

  1. West Sparta
  2. West Sparta Place Names

West Sparta was formed in 1846 when the town of Sparta was divided into the present towns of Sparta, West Sparta, and North Dansville. West Sparta’s eastern border was formed by the Canaseraga Creek.

  1. York
  2. York Place Names

York was formed from Caledonia and Leicester, Genesee County, in 1819. The origin of the name may have been Hon. Joseph York, assembly member from St. Lawrence County who, as chairman of his committee, favorably reported on and presented the bill for the formation of the town (from Nancy O’Dea). Another theory holds that the town was named after local resident Holloway Long’s dog, York.

Piffard 1872

Piffard, located in the southeast part of York, was originally called Piffardinia, after David Piffard, an early resident. The Post Office here was called Spotswood for a brief time in the 1840s, but we do not know why.

Updated 2022