Horseheads is a town in Chemung County, New York, United States. The population was 19,485 at the 2010 census. The name of the town is derived from the number of bleached horses' skulls once found there.
It was the first of September 1779. Under orders the forces of General John Sullivan, burdened down with heavy military equipment, marched north in their journey through a wooden wilderness from Easton, Pennsylvania, over to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and on up the Susquehanna River to Newtown (Elmira). They continued north through what is now known as Horseheads to the Finger Lakes region and west to Genesee. They returned about three weeks later, having accomplished the purpose for which they had set out. The larger portion of the army under the immediate command of General Sullivan returned by the way it went.
The journey had been particularly severe and wearing upon the animals, and their food supply was found insufficient. Arriving about north of Fort Reid on September 24, 1779, they were obliged to dispose of a large number of sick and disabled horses. The number of horses was so great that they were quite noticeable, and the native Iroquois collected the skulls and arranged them in a line along the trail. From that time forward, that spot was referred to as the "valley of the horses' heads" and is still known by the name given to it by the Iroquois.
Around 1787, the first settlers arrived, making the area one of the first in the county to be populated. The town of Horseheads was formed from the towns of Elmira and Chemung in 1835. Fairport, the current village of Horseheads, set itself off from the town by becoming an incorporated village in 1837. The former Chemung Canal passed through the town.