Originally called Winchester, the town of Marion was created from the town of Williamson on April 18, 1825. It is an interior town lying slightly west of the center of the county with nearly 17,400 acres, whose surface is broken by sandy hills and gravelly ridges.
The first settler, Henry Lovell, came to what is now Marion in 1795. History acknowledges that Henry Lovell was a great hunter, and that in one day he killed thirty deer. A child was born to the Lovells soon after their arrival in Marion. This was both a joyous and sad distinction. Having lived only a few weeks, their child became both the first birth and first death in Marion. The child was buried under a large maple tree in back of the Lovell’s home by their only neighbors, Daniel and Mrs. Powell.
Education was important to the early settlers of Marion. On March 27, 1839, the Marion Academy was incorporated, and in that same year, a cobblestone building to house the Academy was erected. An 1841 catalog from the Academy lists the names of over 218 pupils, including the following three Native Americans from the Buffalo Reservation: William Jemerson, Cephas Two Guns and Peter Wilson. The school died out, and its charter was given up in 1851. With no preparatory school, several Marion residents engaged a young man, Mr. Collier, from Oberlin College to prepare some of the town’s young people for college. This venture led to the establishment of the Marion Collegiate Institute. The Institute obtained its charter in 1855 and served student of Marion and the surrounding area for 49 years until it was taken over by the Board of Education of the Union Free School in 1904.
Today, with a population of nearly 5,000, Marion is still primarily a farming community. It is noted for its fruit orchards and vegetables — particularly from the rich muckland in the eastern part of the town.
* Ezra T. Phelps Farm Complex, 4365 East Williamson Road
– Homestead of one of the prominent early settlers of Marion. Private residence.
(* Listed on New York State and National Registers of Historical Places)