Following the Revolutionary War, the upstate New York area was organized into Military Tracts. The surveyors were responsible for naming the areas and one of the assistant surveyors, being a classical scholar and professor at Kings College (Columbia), assigned names from Roman generals and statesmen and Greek men of letters. Tully is derived from the middle name of Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (Jan.3, 106 - Dec. 7, 43 BC) was Rome's most famous orator, lawyer, and statesman, and achieved the highest political distinction by serving as consul in 63 BC. His numerous essays, speeches, and letters have exerted an enormous influence upon subsequent ages from ancient times to the present.
The first settler was David Owen, who build a log cabin in 1795, and the first Annual Town Meeting was held on April 4, 1803. By 1860 the population exceeded one thousand. The Village of Tully was established in 1875. Our current population (2014 census) was 870 in the Village of Tully (0.6 sq. miles) and 2,738 in the Town of Tully (25.9 sq. miles).
Prehistoric Beginnings - About 350 million years ago, the Tully bedrock was mostly silty and sandy clay at the bottom of a shallow sea. This sea bottom also included some limy layers that were destined to become known as the Tully Limestone. The great glaciers, beginning about two million years ago, shaped the major features of Tully's current landscape, widening and deepening the pre-glacial trending in a southwest direction, and forming deep "new" valleys cutting across the original ones.
The Landscape At one stage, the edge of the glacier stood at Tully Valley and built up an enormous bank of end moraine, about 600 feet high, across the valley. The moraine's crest now forms a segment of the St. Lawrence-Susquehanna drainage divide. As the torrents of meltwater flowed away south, they spread quantities of gravel and sand that now make up much of the valley floor. It is the most extensive area of glacial outwash in Central New York.
Soils - The blanket of ground-up rock which the glaciers spread over the valley sides and uplands contained limestone and other materials that make today's soil more fertile than the pre-glacial soil. The glacial load also included many boulders, some several feet in diameter, derived from ledges many miles to the north and northeast.
Although the lowland soils are largely sandy and gravelly, there are occasional areas of clay-rich soil where the meltwater streams formed into ponds, at least temporarily. The upland soils are more silty.
Tully Limestone - Limestone, ten feet or more in thickness, crops out along many of the hillsides in the area, with shale rocks both above and beneath it. In 1839 the early geologists named it the Tully Limestone because of the excellent outcrops in the vicinity. Scientifically, Tully Limestone is unique among the New York rocks in that its most distinctive fossil species is not found elsewhere in America.
Salt - Deep beneath the visible surface, and about 60 million years older than the Tully Limestone, are the salt-bearing strata which once contributed much to the economy of the region. To recover the salt, the Solvay Process Company built wells in the Tully Valley, penetrating the salt beds at an average depth of 1300 feet (700 feet below sea level). Salt mining operations began in 1889 and ended in the 1980s.
Recreation and Aesthetics - The great glaciers of the Ice Age provided more than good farm lands, soils, and favorable industrial sites. Glacial erosion formed long, steep hill slopes, making them ideal for skiing. As the glacier receded, masses of ice that lay buried beneath the outwash plain finally melted, leaving sags and depressions that now hold the lovely Tully Lakes. These kettle lakes attract both wildlife and people. The beauty of the high hills and wide valleys, along with easy access to the metropolitan areas of Syracuse and Binghamton, have made Tully an attractive location for family residences and businesses.
The TOWN of Tully covers a large area, with elevations ranging from about 1220 to about 1800 ft. above sea level. The center of the VILLAGE of Tully is at about 1252.