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County History

The Rich Lore of Former Allegany County Town Names

Newspaper clipping from the Jean Lang collection. Original source is unknown.
Transcribed by Crist Middaugh.


Postal History yields rich lore of former town names

Hobbleville, Phillipsville, Shoemakers Corners and Mixville are names few Allegany residents know, but they are places they visit each day.

Hobbleville is now Belvidiere, and Phillipsville is the county seat, Belmont.

Shoemakers Corners has been changed to Elm Valley and Mixville is now named Wiscoy.

The towns are listed in a Gazetteer of New York published in 1860, and a postal history of western New York.

The Postal History lists other names that are not familiar to present residents. It explains that before rural deliveries were made, post offices were opened in rural areas, usually in the postmaster’s kitchen.

Otherwise, it would take a day-long trip to go to the nearest postoffice in established communities.

Some colorful names used for small post offices include Aristotle, in the town of Allen, which closed in 1902; Canakedier, in the town of Almond, which was discontinued in 1847; Church Tract, which became Grove in 1828; Dewitts Valley, which was changed to Burns in 1846; Haight, in the town of New Hudson, which was discontinued in 1838; Higgins, which was discontinued in 1903, in the town of Centerville; Mills Mills in the town of Hume, which closed in 1903; Palestine, which was discontinued in 1847, in the town of New Hudson; Oil Creek, which was changed to Cuba in 1824; Summer’s Valley, changed to Rockville in 1839; Styx, which was discontinued in 1885; in the town of Allen; Utopia, in the town of Wirt, which closed in 1903.

Residents in the town of Caneadea had a little trouble settling on a name for one if its communities.

When the post office was opened on June 10, 1850, the community was called Oramel. Four months later, the name was changed to Rounsville. Two years later, the name was changed back to Oramel, which it still is today.

The Gazetteer of 1860 lists the communities in the county, and gives a description of each municipality.

Angelica, the oldest community in Allegany County, “…was formed from Leicester, (Livingston County) Feb. 25, 1805. Alfred and Caneadea were taken off in 1808, Allen and Scio in 1823, a part of Amity in 1830, and a part of West Almond in 1833; and a part was annexed to Alfred in 1816. It lies a little north of the center of the county.”

The village was incorporated in 1835. Besides the county buildings, as the county seat, the Gazetteer said, “It contains the Angelica Academy, five churches, one bank, one newspaper and several mills and manufactories. Population 846. The first settlement was made on the site of the village in 1802 by Philip Church.”

The community of Phillipsville, later Belmont, was incorporated in 1853. The Gazetteer said, “It contains three churches, two sawmills, a flouring mill and about 100 inhabitants.”

The largest community, then as now, was Wellsville. According to the Gazetteer, “Wellsville was formed from Scio, Andover, and Willing, Nov. 22, 1855. It is an interior town, lying south east of the center of the county. Its surface is very broken and mountainous, the highest summits being 800 to 1,200 let above the valleys. The declivities are too steep for profitable cultivation.

“The Streams are Genesee River and Dyke and Chenunda Creeks, all flowing in narrow and deep valleys winding among the almost precipitous mountains. The soil is mostly a sandy loam.

“Considerable pine lumber is still manufactured in town. Wellsville (postal village) on Genesee River, was incorporated Oct 12, 1857; it contains four churches, two weekly newspaper offices, two flouring and three sawmills. Population 1286.

“The first settlements were made in the valley of the Genesee, about the commencement of the century.

The county seat in 1860 was Angelica, and the Gazetteer said, “The courthouse is an old dilapidated brick building, built in 1819, and now entirely inadequate to the comfortable accommodations of the court. The jail is a wood structure erected in 1849.

“It has no facilities for the proper classification of prisoners, and no means of ventilation. The jail has an average of six inmates supported at a weekly cost of $2.75 each.

“The clerk’s office is in a separate building, contiguous to the courthouse. The poorhouse is located upon a farm of 180 acres in Angelica, two miles east of the courthouse.

“It is a stone building, affording ample accommodations for the inmates, but is destitute of means of ventilation. The average number of inmates is 57, supported at a weekly cost of $1.03 each. The farm yields a revenue of $1,000.”

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