Transcribed from the Wellsville Daily Reporter by Crist Middaugh.


Passing through….Karr Valley

By Cindy Lorow
Staff Writer

Almond - Karr Valley, nestled between the hills of Almond and West Almond, continues its farming tradition that dates back to the time the area was first settled.

It’s first settlers, led by the Rev. Andrew Gray, made their way from Luzerne County in Pennsylvania in 1796, according to Helene Phelan of Almond.

Stone House Almond NY

Phelan, who is a member of the Almond Historical Society and an author of several books dealing with the history of the area, said the Gray and a small group left Luzerne County because of Indian troubles.

The valley, which was carved out by glaciers, did not get its name until the following year when three Kerr brothers - Walter, Joseph and Samuel - brought their entire family from Pennsylvania to settle there.

"It was probably named for them because there was so many of them. They just took over,” Phelan mused.

She said popular stories about the Kerrs center around Grandmother Kerr, who was a midwife and took care of many people throughout what is not the Hornell-Almond area.

Phelan said the Kerr family was Scottish descendants. She said it is not known when or why the spelling of the name changed to Karr.

One of today’s most talked about landmarks dated back to early settlement times is the remains of the first stone house built in the area.

The stone house was built in 1822 by Stephen Major, who bought the property from the Rev. Gray in 1805. Major tore down Gray’s log cabin and built his stone house near the site.

Before a fire gutted the house several years ago there was talk among members of the historical society to restore it. “But, now it will be too costly,” Phelan said.

All that’s left of the structure, located on property now owned by Joseph Costello, is it’s four stone walls.

Phelan said Moses Van Campen, who was an active Indian fighter during the American Revolution, was among the first settlers of Karr Valley and later worked for Allegany County as its first surveyor.

Karr Valley was actually settled before the Village of Almond, Phelan said, because the valley was prime for farming and what is not the village was swamp land.

She said the settlers from Pennsylvania came up the turnpike that ran from Bath to Hornell and went over the hill, then-called Lincoln’s Notch, to find their way into the valley.

The hill’s named came from the Lincoln family, who lived in the area just below the Almond village limits. Phelan said the turnpike became a busy place, prompting the family to develop a toll bridge near what is now the Almond Dam.

Once the toll bridge, which was run between 1816 and 1820, settlers taking and earlier route and moved into Almond village.