Afton Historical Society

Founded: The land was first settled in 1786 and it was called Clinton, later renamed Jericho in 1791 and then South Bainbridge in 1814. It finally seceded from Bainbridge in 1857 when it was renamed Afton.

Hamlets within the town: Bettsburg, East Afton, Melendy Hill, Middle Bridge, Ninevah, Ninevah Junction, and North Afton. Named after “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton” a poem published in 1791 by Robert Burns.

Current population: 2,851 (2010 census)

Notable People: Bert Lord (1869-1939) entered state and national politics, being elected to the Assembly at Albany and to the House of Representatives in Washington. Dr. Philateus Hayes was the first mayor of Afton in 1892. He founded the Susquehanna Valley Medical Society. Dr. Carlton J.H. Hayes (1882-1964) taught European History at Columbia University. He was an ambassador to Spain during World War II.

Interesting Facts: Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) married Emma Hale at a home where the present-day fairgrounds are located. Joseph Smith Jr. was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. Afton has continued to have a fair and community event since 1889. The suspension bridge across the Susquehanna River at the village of Afton was one of the finest structures in the state. The length of the span was 362 feet and it was supported by six cables – 558 feet in length – each composed of 132 wires. The height of the towers was 36 feet and the arch of the bridge four feet. On the east side was an approach bridge 70 feet in length. The suspending rods were five-eighths of an inch in diameter, attached to needle beams four feet apart. The weight of the bridge was 100 tons and the carrying weight was 240 tons.

Industry Past: Afton has been home to a number of creameries and agricultural-related industries. A Sash & Blind Company also produced a great deal of products for Afton at one time.

Industry Present: Agriculture still plays a major role in the economy of Afton.

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