Erected in 1935 by the New York State Education Department. This historic marker is located next to our last remaining grist mill at Sterling Center on the northeast corner of the Sterling Center bridge on State Route 104A. map
Though this sign stands next the Sterling Center grist mill, this is not the first grist mill referred to in the text. This sign represents the entire town of Sterling, rather than simply the hamlet of Sterling Center where it is located. The first two mills in the town stood across the creek from one another, two and a half miles north, in Sterling Valley. The grist mill and saw mill are mentioned in regard to providing the 1813 date mills were first built in the town. One or both of these mills may have been completed in 1812 or earlier. Both are now gone. An early mill was built near this sign shortly after. It was replaced by the current mill some time later.
This sign mistakenly spells Lord Stirling’s name with an “e” as the Town is spelled today. Also, the phrasing of his name on this sign might be misleading. It would seem as though his last name was Sterling. During the Revolutionary War he was addressed as Major General Lord Stirling. His name was actually William Alexander and he preferred the title Lord Stirling after having made claim to the title Earl of Stirling in Scotland. Read more on William Alexander‘s page under our Revolutionary War veterans.
Stirling was the last of the 28 new townships laid out following the Revolutionary War. The surveyed area for these townships in Central New York was known as the military tract. Prior to each township having a population large enough support it’s own town government, several towns were governed together. Stirling was first governed as part of Aurelius and later by Cato. In 1812 Stirling separated from Cato and formed its own town government. Over the years, the spelling was changed to Sterling.
From the original directive to create the Township of Stirling:
Beginning on bank of Lake Ontario at northwest corner of the township of Hannibal and to run southerly along west bounds of said township to the northerly bounds on the township of Cato; then westerly and southerly along the bounds of the township of Cato to the northerly bounds of Galen; then northerly along a line extending to the bank of said Lake and continuing northeasterly along said Lake to the place of beginning. It will include 60,000 acres. Resolution made September 11, 1794.