Clarence is a town located in the northeastern part of Erie County, New York, United States. The population was 30,673 according to the 2010 census. This represents an increase of 17.42% from the 2000 census figure. Clarence is also the name of a postal district in the south part of the town with ZIP code 14031. It is named after the House of Clarence in England.
The local Native Americans called the area "Ta-Num-No-Ga-O," which means "Place of Hickory Bark."
The Town of Clarence was the first town to be established in Erie County (1808), and many other towns, villages, and cities have been formed from parts of this original town. In 1810, the Town of Buffalo, from which the City of Buffalo later originated, was divided out of Clarence. Then in 1823, Newstead and Alden were formed respectively from the east and south parts of Clarence. Then finally in 1833, Lancaster was also formed from the town. The defunct Town of Willink was also a source of new towns, primarily in the south part of the county, being completely partitioned for this purpose.
Western New York was part of the Holland Purchase. When Genesee County was established in 1802, all of the region was part of the Town of Batavia, the single, original town of Genesee County. Clarence was, along with Willink, originally part of Genesee County. Clarence was split off from Willink in 1804, before Niagara County was created from part of Genesee County in 1808. Clarence (in the north) and Willink (in the south) then comprised the entire area of what would, in 1821, become Erie County.
One of the first settlers (1799) in the town was Asa Ransom, who has given his name to several locations. He settled in the southeast part of the town, now known as Clarence. In 1807, Asa Harris, a former colonial officer from the American Revolution, established a tavern in the town in the community of Harris Hill in the southwest part of Clarence.
Some have suggested that the town is named after a type of carriage, called a clarence. Such a carriage is pictured on a sign at the eastern edge of town. However, the name probably derives from the English Dukedom of Clarence in London, which also gave its name to the aforementioned carriage.
During the War of 1812, the press of the "Buffalo Gazette" was moved to Clarence, out of harm's way of the British troops.
By the end of the 19th Century, industry came to the town in the form of brick kilns, potash mining and gypsum mining. National Gypsum and Atlas Gypsum operated mines in the 20th Century west of Clarence Center north of Roll Road near the intersection with Harris Hill Road.
Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash
On February 12, 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center around 10:20 EST. The commuter flight was operating between Newark Liberty International Airport and Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The aircraft involved was a Bombardier Q400. There were 45 passengers and 4 crew members killed as well as one victim on the ground.