TPL_BEEZ2_NAV_VIEW_SEARCH

TPL_BEEZ2_NAVIGATION

TPL_BEEZ2_SEARCH

Rushford Related Articles

1926: East Rushford is Doomed

THE LITTLE HAMLET OF EAST RUSHFORD IS DOOMED

 

Taken from the Andover News February 5, 1926

Submitted by William A. Greene 2007

 

The Village is to Sink Beneath the Waters of a New Lake,

Made to Develop Electric Power for a Great City.

 

          East Rushford is doomed. Within twelve short months this little village will be completely submerged under thousands of tons of water.

          It was Caneadea Creek, running thru the timber-covered hills in Allegany County that lured the first settlers to East Rushford, and now the same slender thread of water has spelled the doom of that town.

          Where the early settlers rolled their logs into the stream to be whirled to the saw to pulp mill, progress has decreed that the waters of Caneadea Creek shall be harnessed between the giant hills and turned to power.

          Soon, the people of East Rushford will gather their personal belongings and seek new homes, leaving the place where their ancestors struggled for a livelihood with axe and oxen.

          No ill feeling exists in their minds toward those who have purchased their property, and while there is regret that they must move on to strange places, they feel that “its different when you know that no one else will live in our homes.”

          When the dam of the Mohawk Power Company, owner of Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation, is completed in the gorge of Caneadea Creek, and the waters are checked, East Rushford at its western end will be at least twenty feet under water.  From this point to the dam is a distance of two miles, at the dam the water will be 125 feet deep and the dam will be 140 feet high.  The cost of the project is estimated at $2,000,000.

Old Town Skeleton

          Today East Rushford boast but a scant two score dwellings, a gristmill, sawmill, store and schoolhouse.  It has fewer than 100 inhabitants.  But the village today is just a skeleton of its former rugged self.  East Rushford’s palmy days go back to the decade prior to the Civil War, when Caneadea Creek hummed with industry of a half thousands souls.

          But Caneadea Creek proved a fickle mistress.  After luring those hardy settlers to her banks, she waited patiently for years until log cabins had been replaced with frame dwellings, log fences with rail fences until plank roads had been built thru the gorge and the community had multiplied in numbers; and the, in one angry night perhaps to avenge the clearing of her hills; she swept the town away, boiling over her banks and leaving nothing but twisted piles of debris. Many of the settlers immediately set to work to rebuild the town, but many other left and the town never again reached its former prosperity.

          To get the story of this little village proved a difficult cast.  Memories have failed, and dates are conflicting.  But in the home of Mrs. Carrie Daley, whose grandfather was one of the first settlers in the town, was found a book of reminiscences of the pioneers of the village and from those some dates and events were taken.

          The book dealt with the town of Rushford for the most part.  The town is about two miles from East Rushford.  But it was discovered that Rushford and East Rushford are closely bound together in history, at least as far as families and major events are concerned.  For example, here is one of the passages of the book:

          “The relationships in our town are marvelous to contemplate. Probably there is no other man in the country who has more relatives than F. G. Gordon, belonging to the large families of Gordon’s and related to all of the Grays, all of the Tarbell’s, and the Kendall’s, and, as if that were not enough, he must marry a Woods.”

          But it known, that the writer discovered Woods all thru East Rushford, and that is not an intended pun.

          And it was found that these relationships extended all thru the territory.  The descendants of the pioneers held fast to their birthplace and have propagated a healthy stock of hardy adults and clear skinned, and for the most part, blue-eyed lively youngsters.

Destroyed by Flood

          In the history of the town, the outstanding catastrophe was the flood of 1864.  As far as could be learned, the settlement had not been named at that time, and while there are a few of the older inhabitants that vaguely remember it, details appear to be lost.

          Mrs. Daley, the oldest resident, was a child when the water of Caneadea Creek reduced the place to desolation.  She recalls the story her father told of how he stood on one of the hills near his home on the night of August 16th, and watched as her grandfather’s house was swept away.  A light had been left in the house, and her father watched until the light went out, snuffed by the floodwaters.  No one in the settlement was killed by the flood.

          A plank road had been built before the flood in 1852, at the instigation of John McGraw, who was considered one of the best businessmen in the district.  He founded McGrawville, near East Rushford.  The people of this district bought stock in the enterprise, but only one half of Mr. McGraw’s statement prove true.  It paid the lumbermen, but did not prove profitable to the stockholders.  This road ran from McGrawville to Rushford, thru East Rushford.  The flood washed this road away and it has never been rebuilt.

          A cyclone visited the district in the early 1830’s, but here again records are not available.  The cyclone blew out of Olean and stretched it’s devastating had over the territory.  It passed thru Hinsdale, Rushford and McGrawville and destroyed millions of feet of pine timber thru Belfast and Belmont.

          Having discovered that both cyclone and flood had left their marks of the village, records of a fire were sought to complete the cycle.  The search was only partially successful.  There was a “big fire, when the old hotel burned,” but what hotel and when it burned remains a mystery.

          Towns seem to be a bit like people; at least most of them have some kind of a family or civic skeleton.  East Rushford is in this class and this is the story:

          About thirty years ago, (1896), perhaps longer, a rare outsider entered the settlement and in passing over the land of one of the villagers, discovered a bee tree.  Now there seems to be a special law regarding bee trees.  A bee tree belongs to whom-so ever finds and marks it, even though it stands on another’s property.

          There is a catch in this somewhere but the natives swear it’s true.  Well, the outsider found the bee tree, marked it, and went away, evidently planning to return, cut down the tree, and get the honey.

          Forthwith, the outsider, when he returned and found his tree cut and the honey gone, threw a blot all over the fair escutcheon of the village.  He shouted his wrath all over the countryside and dubbed the village “Honeyville,” and this slur stuck for many years.  Even today residents of nearby towns are likely to refer to East Rushford as Honeyville.

Men of Prayer

          The territory surrounding East Rushford was not without it characters.  There was one man who gloried in religious phrases.  He used them continuously.  One day he entered the village store and shouted: “Hallelujah to the Lamb! Give me half a pound of you two shilling tea.”  There was another man who was noted over the countryside for his long prayers.

          One morning the hired man tiptoed out of the house before the prayers were begun.  At the door he met a stranger who wished to see the owner of the house.  “You can’t see him now,” said the hired man, “he is at prayer.”  Then he crept to the window and listened for a moment.  Returning he said: “He is with the heathens now, and he will be with you in ten minutes.”

          The town never built a church but held its religious services for many years in the old schoolhouse with its hard, backless benches.  The denomination was Wesleyan Methodist.  Just how old the school is could not be determined.  Some said it had passed its eightieth year, which is possible but not probable.  While this old structure stands with its back to the hill, it does not seem likely that it had withstood the flood.  Mrs. Daley said she attended this same school and that it had been standing for many years before that.  She is 63 years old.

          East Rushford is about 70 miles a little west of south of Rochester and is tucked away in a valley sheltered with hight, pine-covered hills.  Mrs. Gilbert in her books speaks of the wild, romantic scenery and she is right.  It is a beautiful country.  This entire territory was at one time owned by the Holland Lumber Company.  A company composed of wealthy merchants of Amsterdam, Holland.

The Deacon’s Sawmill

          The first gristmill was built by James McCall; Deacon Lewis operated the sawmill and bucket factory; Milton McCall, a linseed oil factory; Amos Stone & Company, a foundry; and William Gordon and Sons, a carding machine for wool; John Dabball, a door sash and blind factory; Asa Worden and brother, a tannery and Deniel and James Haynes, a furniture shop; Nelson McCall kept the general store and post office and Samuel Thomas and Alexander Thomas a blacksmith shop.

          All of these industries were washed away with the flood and now but two industries are operating in the village, L. C. MeElheney’s sawmill and Fred Miller’s gristmill.  From one of the most noted town in the county, East Rushford has faded with the years; at one time, twice the size of Rushford, it now has fallen way behind, and now it is to disappear entirely beneath the waters of a lake which are later to be harnessed and produce light, power and heat for this modern age.

TPL_BEEZ2_ADDITIONAL_INFORMATION