OLD ALLEGANY COUNTY NAMES ARE FOUNDED IN INTERESTING HISTORY
From the Wellsville Daily Reporter, July 30, 1955 & written by Jerome Kates, Amity Town Historian
The meaning of the names applied to places and families has long been of interest to many people. For many centuries the masses did not have a surname but were identified largely by the trade or occupation each man pursued. In 1066 when William the Conqueror took over England he found that men did not possess a surname. For military purposes, he ordered a census of the manpower. Men then took a surname and from that time many English names have come down to us. The same is true of Napoleon when he took over a section of West Germany. The men of Zena were required to take a name for the chief purpose of a military census.
What is in a name? This question has been asked frequently. Its value is to be found in the owner of the name or place according to an estimate of the values and the effect of the name on the individual and the community. Many people in this busy life of our day never take thought of the origin and meaning of many of our historic places and names. Yet, on occasion, thought and action spring up.
A short time ago, Charles E. Whitcomb and the historian of the Town of Amity attempted a trip to the site of "Triana Mills". After driving down the road through barbed wire gates, we came to the river where the mills stood many years ago. Mr. Whitcomb could scarcely discover the site of the mill race because of the heavy undergrowth and it was not possible to get down to the river. Mr. Whitcomb, however, could remember that there had stood a large boarding house at this point operated by Jim Keenan who was superintendent of the shingle mill and of the saw mill. There were also six dwelling houses and a timber one-way bridge across the river.
Phillip Church built and operated the two mills from which millions of feet of hard and soft lumber were shipped to all parts of the country. The saw mill had the standard equipment of that day. There were three up and down saws but there were no circular saws. The first saw was a single blade, the second was a slabber that would cut a plank and a 12 or 14 inch timber. The third was a gang saw which had 28 saws, one inch apart. Squared timbers would be piled one upon another, fastened and ripped into board lumber.
Phillip Church died in 1874 and S. Hale Whitcomb supervised the property until the business was liquidated. S. H., as he was familiarly known, ordered Jim Keenan to wreck the mill "from ridge board to the floor of the flumes". In the flood of 1889 the bridge was washed out and "Triana Mills" ceased to exist except as a matter of history. The road from the present river road down to Triana Mills coming out at Belvidere Corners is now only an outline of half a century past when many heavy loads of timber passed over it. Incidentally, according to C. E. Whitcomb, this road has never been taken up by the town.
The house on the river road opposite Triana Road was built by John B. Church about 1840. It was known as the middle farm when it was a part of the Willets Estate and is now owned and operated by Russell and Mrs. Fanton. Church named the house "Triana". It is the first known use of this name and the reason for its use is not known. The name "Triana" was given to the street in Belmont which runs from the corner of Milton and Genesee streets north to the village line. The reason for this name in all probability was the fact that the extension of the road led down to Triana Mills, which in the early days of Belmont history threw much weight to the industrial and economic life of the village.
Mr. Whitcomb advances the idea that the name Triana originated with the name of the sailor Rod Patrick Triana, lookout on the flagship Pinta of Christopher Columbus crew who first sighted land. He allows that he cannot prove his statement but he claims he read it in a reliable history.
Isaac Willets purchased the property at the corner of Washington Ave., (now Willets Ave.) and Genesee Street extending northward. He enlarged the house and later other additions were made. The sign board at the main gate of the present home reads "Triana". When the family gave it this name and for what reason is not known. However, Triana has a sweet-smelling savour in our township.
There are many other names and places in our township which attract our attention. The one name and place which attracts the attention of this historian is the name which for many years was applied to the farm on which he lives. The Morehouse Farm, known for many years as "The Peacock Farm", was a section of land opened up in about 1800 by the Hyde family. Nathaniel Dyke, the first of the family, was buried at Elm Valley. In about 1804 John Thacher Hyde, who married into the Dyke family, opened up his farm. In about 1840 David Sprague built a house that was a story and a half high with the front porch inset. Later Nehemiah Bosworth took possession of the property and it was he who gave it the name "Peacock Farm". He kept several peacocks and at night these birds would go to roost in the large pine tree which stood on the east side of the road opposite the house. We are told by some of the older generation that if anyone drove by at night making enough noise to awaken the birds he would be greeted by the most outlandish soul-piercing shrieks.
When Charles W. Morehouse took over the farm he attempted to continue the tradition by placing several peacocks on the farm. His luck with them did not hold, for the birds would wander down to the Erie railroad tracks and eventually they were all killed. The pine tree in which all these birds went to roost died with the birds and its roots were burned out. The present occupant of the farm while a lover of Early American clocks would much prefer to retain the old name of "Peacock Farm".
If any who have read this article are sufficiently interested to suggest other names and places for study as to their historical values and interest, the historian of the Town of Amity would appreciate hearing from them.