The 31.4 square mile town of Malta located at coordinates 42°58′N 73°48′W was originally part of the land of the Mohawks, native Americans from the Iroquois nation. There is evidence of Indian habitation near Shenantaha Creek Park dating back to 5000 BC. The Mohawks called themselves Kahnlakenhaka, or People of the Flint Place. Their trade in flint to other tribes, and later furs to the Dutch who traveled up the Hudson in the early 1600's, made them quite wealthy. The British enlisted their cooperation to fight the French during the French and Indian War in 1754. The Mohawk tribe remained allies of the British when the Revolutionary War began. At the end of that war, the defeat of the British and their allies meant that the Mohawks were forced to give up most of their territory in New York.
Modern day Malta dates back to just before the Revolutionary War when two settlers (possibly named Drummond and McAlpin) took up residence; however, as British Loyalists, they left the area after their side's defeat in the war. Drummond Creek, just west of the Northway and Raymond Road is named after one of these settlers.
Saratoga National Historic Park was the site of the Battles of Saratoga, two pivotal clashes that marked the beginning of the end of the Revolutionary War. The Park's website describes the importance of these battles: “Because of the incredible impact caused by the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga, they are known as the "Turning Point of the American Revolution", and are considered by many historians to be among the top 15 battles in world history.”
The earliest documented settlement of Malta, in 1771, included a colony of people migrating from Connecticut, with Michael Dunning possibly the leader – it is not known for sure. By 1802, the formal town boundaries were created from part of the Town of Stillwater; and in 1805, a section of the Town of Saratoga was added. At that time the town was called Dunning Street, for the location of its post office. The current post office is still located off Route 9 (Dunning Street) on Hemphill Place.
The Town of Malta website provides a clue as to the final name of the City of Malta. A malt brewery was built within the town boundaries by 1764. The cluster of buildings surrounding it came to be known as Malt-ville, later the entire town took the name of Malta. The brewery site was in the area now known as Maltaville, a hamlet north of Round Lake off Route 9. Malta prospered through a successful agricultural industry as well as mills constructed on its streams and rivers for the energy needed to produce lumber, oil from grain, and textiles.
By the beginning of the 19th century, the town included many inns, hotels, wagon and carriage shops. Today you can sense the character of that era in buildings that remain in the city's Historic District as well as surrounding areas. An interesting list of local landmarks can be found here. An early history, written in 1878, can be found here.