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BURNS (1826):  This town was named for the Scottish poet Robert Burns.  Located in the town is the village of Canaseraga, an Indian word meaning “among the milkweeds.”  Also here is the hamlet of Garwoods, named after an early settler name James Garwood and the hamlet of Burns-near Arkport.  Formed from Ossian, now Livingston County, March 17, 1826.

BURNS WAS formed from Ossian March 17, 1826. Ossian was formed from Angelica March 11, 1808, and was in Allegany county until annexed to Livingston in 1856. Burns was named in honor of the Scottish lyric poet Robert Burns. It is a part of the Morris Reserve. It is the northeast town of the county, and contains 15,482 acres. The surface is hilly and broken and well suited for dairying. Oanaseraga Creek, flowing north and northeast through the central part of the town, and its branches, South Valley and Slader creeks, flow through beautiful little valleys from 400 to 700 feet below the tops of the hills. The population has been 1860, 1,064; 1870, 1,340; 1880, 1,671; 1890, 1,506; 1892, 1,513

The first known clearings were hacked from the forests along the upper Canaseraga Creek in 1805 by Moses and Jeremiah Gregory, Samuel Rodman and John Gaddis.  Where these settlers came from is not known but it is possible Jeremiah Gregory came from West Sparta.  At least a man of that name had settled there about 1792.  At least seven families settled in Burns in 1806.  The next wave of settlement came after the township, still part of Ossian, had been transferred from Steuben to Allegany County—in 1808. 1817 saw the arrival of the Whitney family from Vermont and they named their area along the Canaseraga Creek the Whitney Valley.  Down to the early 1850’s Whitney Valley remained the name of the Post Office at Canaseraga while Whitneys Crossing served in the same capacity at Garwoods until the Post Office there was closed in the 1930’s.  By 1869 there were Whitney properties from Poags Hole across the township almost to the Town of Grove line.

While the pioneer families were shaping their farms from the forests, county and township lines were being organized and re-organized in the Southern Tier.  Allegany County was formed on April 7, 1806.  Two years later on March 11, Ossian-Burns was transferred into the new county.  That same act of the State Legislature designated five townships in Allegany County, all of them larger than they are today with shapes quite unfamiliar to us.  The five Allegany townships as of 1808 were Angelica, Alfred, Caneadea, Nunda, and Ossian.  Then on March 17, 1826 Burns was separated from Ossian with the latter, however, remaining for the next 30 years in Allegany County.


The map below is from the 2004 edition roadmaps published by the

Allegany County Department of Public Works.

Click here to view larger map.

Map of Town of Burns, N.Y.


External Links

Current Town Officials

History of Burns Website

Town of Burns Website

Marjorie Dieter Mastin Historical Society




Additional Information

Burns/Canaseraga History Related Articles

Burns Photo Gallery

Burns/Canaseraga Cemeteries

Burns/Canaseraga Schools

Burns/Canaseraga Veterans

1865 Burns/Canaseraga Census