Waverly is the largest village in Tioga County, New York, United States. It is located southeast of Elmira in the Southern Tier region. This village was incorporated as the southwest part of the town of Barton in 1854. The village name is attributed to Joseph "Uncle Joe" Hallett, founder of its first Fire Department and pillar of the community, who conceived the name by dropping the 2nd "e" from the name of his favorite author's novel, Waverley by Sir Walter Scott. The former village hall is listed on the National Historic Places list.
Waverly is part of the Binghamton Metropolitan Statistical Area. The village is also in a mid-sized community known as the Penn-York Valley, a group of four contiguous communities in New York and Pennsylvania: Waverly, NY; South Waverly, PA; Sayre, PA, and Athens, PA. with a combined population near 30,000. As of the 2010 Census, the village had a total population of 4,444.
In earlier times, this territory was a prime location for Native American travel, trade, and warfare because it is strategically situated atop a valley surrounding the confluence of two rivers along the New York state border where the mouth of the Chemung River empties into the Susquehanna River as it turns southward into Pennsylvania. This locale was likely occupied by the Susquehannock people for several centuries before European pathfinders discovered this place. French explorer Étienne Brûlé was probably the first European to visit the area, meeting with the Susquehannocks and travelling down the Susquehanna River in 1615. In the wake of the Beaver Wars of the mid-Seventeenth Century, the area came firmly under the control of the Iroquois, until the Sullivan Expedition during the American Revolutionary War broke their power. The Battle of Newtown (August 29, 1779), the only major battle of that expedition, occurred approximately west of the current location of Waverly.
John Shepard was one of the more prominent early white settlers, buying , including all of what would become Waverly, and building a mill on the banks of Cayuta Creek in 1796. The settlement would soon became known as Milltown. Originally Milltown was believed to be located in Pennsylvania until it was resurveyed and it was found to be mistakenly 1/4 of a mile north of the border, which moved the settlement into New York State. Soon this burgeoning area came to be known as Factoryville. An adjacent smaller community named Villemont also became established.
At the beginning of the railroad age the community began to thrive. From 1849-51, the New York & Erie Railroad reached the vicinity, opening a rail connection eastward to New York City via Binghamton, and westward to Lake Erie via Elmira. Soon after, in 1854, Waverly became an incorporated village. Waverly become an important railroad junction in 1869 when construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad from Wilkes-Barre, PA reached northward to this village on the New York State line and increased its viability by effectively linking both railway operations. This also helped spur the economic development of Sayre, Pennsylvania, Waverly's southern neighbor and former home to Lehigh Valley Railroad's locomotive yard and shops. At the height of the railroad age, approximately forty one trains entered the village per day and the population of the village was nearly triple what it is today. During this time, the largest celebration in the village was held: the August, 26th 1910 Old Home Celebration which lasted four hours and packed the streets with spectators.
Several factories of historical significance contributed to a flourishing period in Waverly's development. They included the Hall-Lyons furniture factory which was located on Broad Street and the Manoil Manufacturing Co. whose prominence as a toy company, especially from 1937-1941 when it produced hollow-cast toy soldiers (sometimes called dime store soldiers) along with toy airplanes and cars, was located on Providence Street. Businesses in and around Waverly in the twentieth century included the Spencer Glove Company and the Waverly Sun newspaper, both owned by Hart I. Seely and located in Waverly; the Tioga Mills, Inc., a feed mill company and Agway (Country Foods Division) of Syracuse, New York, as a pet food plant. Others are the Food and Drug Research Laboratories, the State Line Auto Auction and O’Brien’s Inn, known for its scenic view of the Chemung Valley. The J.E. Rodeo Ranch operated during the 1940s and 1950s in Barton.