The village of Delta was situated in
the eastern part of the town, a portion of it in the Town of Western.
The village was located on the delta between the Mohawk River and Potash
Brook, the Mohawk River being an ideal location for obtaining power to
run the mills. It was in the vicinity of here that the first known
settlement in the Town of Lee commenced. In 1790, Esek Sheldon and
his three sons, Stephen, Reuben and Amasa, came into this area. Stephen
Sheldon built the first house, a small log cabin, and remained in the Delta
Village the rest of his life.
The village itself was built on one street, running north and south, near the western bank of the Mohawk River. The main highway into Delta was Long Hill Road from Elmer Hill. Just to the west of Long Hill Road was Short Hill Road and the two met at the watering trough at the foot of the hill. Just below the village ran Beaver Brook which provided trout for many fisherman over the years. There were hills on all sides of the village and those on the south side rose to a height of 100 feet. In prehistoric times this same territory was undoubtedly a large lake.
Several lines of businesses had their rise and fall in the village of Delta. Grist mills, saw mills, a mill for the carding of cotton, a distillery, a canning factory, and several brick kilns, as well as a plow factory and woolen manufacturing establishment. Bricks from these kilns can still be found today in homes in Westernville and Rome.
The first school in the neighborhood of Delta was taught by Lurene Rudd, a daughter of Prosper Rudd. She kept the first winter school in that locality in 1804 and had over 80 pupils from Delta and nearby Elmer Hill area.
The Union Library of Lee and Western was located at Delta prior to 1820.
The first post office was established in February, 1834, with Franklin Peck as postmaster. Franklin Peck was the son of Gates Peck, an early settler in this region.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in Delta was holding meetings as early as 1838, and possibly sooner. On August 7, 1841, Asa Hartshorn and his wife Mary, sold a parcel of land to the church. The church was built in 1843 with John Slee being the first class leader and Adin Sly the second. George Gary was the first presiding elder. Among the early pastors of this church were Rev. John Roper and Elisha Wheeler. This church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1882. In 1910 the building was dismantled and moved to Blossvale where it stands today.
In the early 1840's the Calvinistic Methodists held house services in the village. This was discontinued about 1848.
In 1852/53 the distillery burned and was not rebuilt.
Around 1854 Eliakim Elmer built the Empire Hotel here. For many years this landmark was owned and operated by Herbert Kane and his wife. The Empire Hotel was dismantled piece by piece and moved to Westernville before the land was flooded in 1912. This building was reconstructed at Westernville and is now their Town Hall.
The second oldest cheese factory in the United States was built in Delta at the foot of Short Hill Road. The local farmers of Lee and Western formed a stock company to build and operate the factory.
By September 1881, a corn canning factory was running full blast in Delta. This factory had been erected by John Stout, a young man and son of a wealthy gentleman of New York City. The factory was purchased by Olney & Floyd in 1884, and was operated by them until 1910. In 1891 400,000 cans of corn were being processed at Delta, and by 1892 approximately 100 people were employed at this canning factory. By March, 1911, the canning plant had been taken down and removed, along with the machinery & equipment, to the new factory that had been built at Lee Center. The brick smoke stack, over 100 feet high, was dynamited enough to make it collapse, and the bricks taken to Lee Center where the smoke stack was rebuilt.
The Baron Steuben Lodge was organized here in 1887.
Daily life continued in the village of Delta. It was a prosperous and thriving village, surrounded by fifty or more productive farms. Several generations were born and died there, many of them descendants of the early brave pioneers who settled the area.
In 1903 the voters of the state of New York approved the expenditure of monies for construction of the Barge Canal. One phase of this was the building of a dam to form a reservoir for regulating the canal's water level. The site of the village of Delta and surrounding countryside was chosen. A great many shook their heads and said it would never happen. But happen it did. Work on the structure began in November of 1908.
The village in 1909 contained about 100 buildings, including several stores, homes, barns. The population at this time was about 175 residents. Approximately 4.3 acres of land was flooded. Two hundred ninety five buildings, including 70 homes, were removed or torn down, five miles of roads were submerged, along with two cemeteries and several private burial plots.
By 1912 the little village of Delta lay under a large lake, rightfully named Lake Delta. Gone were the shade trees lining the road, gone was the landmark hotel, gone was the village green, gone were homes and people who had lived their lives there.