Native Americans lived in our region for thousands of years. Long before the earliest records, the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ (Cayuga) people built extensive settlements throughout the area. These settlements were systematically destroyed by the notorious Sullivan-Clinton expedition in 1779.

We know nothing about the earliest settlements in Forest Home, but an old map suggests a Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ settlement in the area that is now Cayuga Heights. Archaeologists have found stone tools near Game Farm Road, and a campsite on Kline Farm, which is at least 1,000 years old.  The road signs entering our community, which say “Forest Home – Settled 1794”, overlook the early history of the region.

For more information, see: Kurt A. Jordan, “The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ People in the Cayuga Lake Region: A Brief History” (Tompkins County Historical Commission 2022), https: thehistorycenter.net/Sys/Store/Products/288446.

The first European settlement in the area now known as Forest Home was in 1794, one of the earliest in the Ithaca area. The reason was waterpower. The fast flowing waters of Fall Creek powered numerous mills. Today the mills are gone but people still remember a time when Forest Home had shops, a school, even its own post office.

An 1888 envelope postmarked at the Forest Home Post Office (Bruce Brittain)

In 1998, members of FHIA were instrumental in having the central parts of Forest Home registered as the Forest Home Historic District.

We are fortunate that several local historians have recorded the changes from early industry to a residential hamlet, with photographs, memoirs, and historical essays. Here are some of their efforts.

Another item of historical interest is a home movie of the 1935 flood in the hamlet, made by a member of the Bull family. Bruce Brittain has created a viewer’s guide to the movie, which was donated to the History Center and has been digitized and made available online. See Fall Creek Flood, 1935.

Additional information on the history of Tompkins County in general and Forest Home in particular is available at the History Center. Visit them online at www.thehistorycenter.net or in person at 110 N Tioga St, Ithaca, NY.