Town History

Early Settlers
Two men named Drummond and McKelpin, both Loyalists, were thought to be among the earliest settlers of Malta but left the area as Revolutionary War activity increased.

John Hunter and Ashbel Andrews were also early settlers (c. 1774), along with Michael Dunning (from Connecticut) and his family of a wife, six sons, and three daughters. Other early settlers were John Rhodes, Jehiel Parks, Luther Landon, Dean Chase, Ebenezer Valentine, Ebenezer Dibble, Ebenezer Millard, Obadiah Tompkins, Reuben Doolittle, Cornelius Abeel, Robert Hemple, and William Marvin.

The first town meeting was held at the home of Michael Dunning Sr. on April 6, 1802. By 1813, Malta had 211 property owners, and more schoolhouses needed to be built. By 1828, public funds spent on education totaled $531.81 for 456 students; by 1878, spending was $1068 for 451 students—twice the cost of 50 years earlier.

Economic History
Historically, Malta has been primarily an agricultural town with many prosperous farms. However, its earliest settlement was Maltaville (c. 1764), which boasted some small shops and mills. It was the home to a malt brewery (leading to the name “Malta”) and also had a few mills (saw, grist, and woolen), powered by nearby streams. As the town of Malta grew toward the beginning of the 19th century, it had wagon and carriage shops, many inns, and two hotels.

Malta’s economic and cultural heritage reflects the settlement patterns and building types of 18th and 19th century rural America. Malta experienced none of the commercial bustle of the Saratoga County towns located along the Erie and Champlain Canals. It was relatively remote from the resort activities of Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. However, the Route 9 and (eventually) Interstate 87 (the Northway) corridors impacted Malta’s economic growth and fostered the establishment of service stations, restaurants, and motels. Development consisted primarily of farmhouses, churches, small commercial enterprises, and local industries to serve a self-sufficient rural community. Only recently has the character of the town begun to change, with accelerating suburbanization resulting from easier access to the urban centers of the Capital District and the North Country.