The women owned the land and the long houses, the men hunted to provide food and defended the tribe from enemies and danger. The old men and women helped grow the crops and take care of the fields.

They grew corn, beans, squashes, pumpkins, melons, sunflowers and tobacco.  They picked all kinds of berries, fruit and nuts that grew wild in the forest.  They got honey from the wild bees and made maple syrup from the sap of the mighty maples.  They hunted buffalo, moose, elk, deer, squirrel, pheasants, rabbits, raccoon, woodchuck, pigeons, duck and geese not only for the meat, but for the furs, feathers and skins.  The streams were pollutant free and were full of eel, perch, pike, trout and salmon, just to name a few.  Bears, panthers, wolves and wild cats lurked in the glens.  There many rattlesnakes to be found and wild horses roamed the open lands.

They made axes, chisels and knives from flint that they found.  The also learned to make pottery from the clay along the streams.  They tanned the leather to make clothing and moccasins.  They made needles out of bones and porcupine quills.  Out of bark they make rope, baskets, pails and canoes.  The processed salt and petroleum products from springs and they gathered lead from mines witch were kept secret from strangers and early settlers.  They were a very smart people.

The Indians that lived on our side of what is now New York State were the Seneca’s and the Onondaga’s.  We know they had villages near Cuba, Letchworth State Park, Shongo, Hume, Houghton, Caneadea, Belvidere, Belmont and near Alfred.  They had camping sites at or near West Clarksville, Alfred Station, Scio, Wellsville, Hallsport and Stone Dam.  We know this because flint knives, arrow heads, pottery and other artifacts have been found in these areas.

The first white man to enter the territory was probably an adventurer and scout name Brule.  Later would come a Franciscan Friar, Joseph de la Roche D’Allion.  We have no dates on when they were here. But we do have the date of 1767 when David Zeisberger made his journey on the “Forbidden Trail”, which passed through the town of what is now known as Andover.

The “Forbidden Trail” was owned exclusively by the Iroquois Federation, which once was a vast Indian empire that stretched across New York, lower Canada, Northern Pennsylvania and into Ohio and Illinois.  The Seneca Indians, who still own some tribal land in Allegany County, were a part of the Iroquois Federation and were and still are designated as the “Keepers of the Western Door”.  This means that it was their duty to keep all intruders from using the Ohio and Allegany River Valleys or to sneak into Iroquois controlled land.

The trail stretched from Tioga, Pennsylvania which is east of Elmira, to the west towards Salamanca into Pennsylvania, by route of the Allegheny River.  It zigzagged with the lay of the land, along the border between New York and Pennsylvania. On penalty of death, any enemy Indian, or white settler was forbidden the use of this trail by the powerful Iroquois Nation.  If caught, they were to be burnt to death. If an Indian accompanied a white settler, then they both were to be burnt.

Why didn’t the Indians want anyone on this trail?  The land along the trail was very rich and fertile. The Indians grew crops in this rich soil.  In 1779 when the first white men were starting to move into the western part of New York State, they stumbled across the trail and found the almost incredible fields of corn, beans and pumpkins along the trail.  The trail crossed numerous rivers and streams in which drinking water could be used, fish and eels could be caught, and other animals could be found. Not only did the streams provide water and food, they were a source of travel.  The Indians would use their canoes as a means of transportation.  It was much faster than walking and riding horses.  The streams ran both north and south, east and west, so they could go in just about any direction they wanted.

The trail was also intertwined throughout the forest.  Not like the forest of today. Back then the trees were two to three times as big as they are today, as they had never been cut.  The trees were four and five feet thick at the stump, vines hung from the limbs, and there was a lot of underbrush.  So in the forest the Indians could hide from their enemies without being seen.  They could also get wood for fires and boats, and bark for canoes, homes and weapons.

Some of the trail was in the lowlands and valleys and some was along the ridges overlooking the valleys.  From these the Indians could spot the presence of an enemy from afar.  These higher trails were also used when the river bottom routes were flooded. Everything the Indian needed was along this trail.  So you can see how important the trail was and why it was forbidden to anyone except the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy.

In 1779 the Iroquois Confederacy lost its control over this area in which the trail was located.  General Sullivan fought and defeated the Iroquois in the battle of Newtown, near what is now Elmira. This opened the trail to the white settlers and they successfully used it to settle western New York and migrate into Ohio and Kentucky.  The forming of New York State was done through many treaties with Indians, trading and finagling.  Then through the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, the Morris Reserve, the Holland Purchase and the Pultney Estate, Allegany County as we know it was formed.

Between the years of 1795 and 1824, settlers were beginning to move into and live on the land that was to become the Town of Andover.   In 1796, Nathanael (Nathaniel) Dike with his Indian wife, Ester (Esther) Burrill (Burrell), two sons, Isaac and James, and daughter, Phebe (Phoebe) had come from Connecticut and started “Dikes Settlement”.  At almost the same time, some historians even say before the arrival of the Dike family, Stephen Cole, with his family, Hannah Burrill  (Burrell) sister of Ester (Esther) ; son Thomas; daughter Azuba (Azubah): and possibly a son named Abisha, came from Tiaga County, PA; thence up Purdy Creek from Canisteo, over the hills and into what was to become the Allegany County area.  They also located in the sheltered valley soon to be called “Shoemaker’s Corners”. This area around Andover was first noted as a settlement in about 1798, when certain travelers, enroute from Ceres to Canisteo, stopped for horse shoeing and other necessities.  In 1803 a saw mill was added and in 1805 crude vats for the tanning of hides was built. This settlement later became known as “Elm Valley”. Daniel Cole, son of Stephen, was the first white child born in the county – 2/18/1797.  The first wedding of the area was that of Isaac Dike to Pamelia Gibson in 1802.  James Dike married Phoebe Pritchard of the Corning area.  James T. Hyde, who came to the settlement in 1796 from Vermont, later married Phebe Dike. The first death in the new community was in 1798 that of Zeriah Dike, aged ten months and five days, daughter of James and Phebe Dike.  Two more infant daughters of James and Phebe, Lydia died in 1801 and  Leottey died in1803, all being buried there in Elm Valley, which is the oldest burying ground in the town.  Nathanael Dike died and was buried there in 1813 and son James in 1844.  The first religious services were conducted at the home of Nathanael Dike in 1808, with Rev. Silas Hubbard, a Presbyterian minister, officiating.

Thaddeus Baker Sr. came to Andover in 1792 and surveyed the towns of Andover, Alfred, Almond and Independence.  He returned to Vermont and in June of 1807, he returned and brought back his wife Elizabeth Ann Castle and six children.  In 1806, his brothers, Seth and Alpheus, had come to Andover, cleared some farm land and sowed two nurseries, then returned to their homes. Alpheus Baker, born 1762 in Woodbury, Connecticut, came from Granville, Washington County, New York to Andover in 1807 and moved into the two-room log house of Thaddeus Baker.  Alpheus Baker and his wife (unknown name) had seven children with another one born in September after they arrived here. They lived with Thaddeus until March 26, 1808, when Alpheus moves his family to “Andover” village.  Alpheus’ brother Seth Baker went back to Vermont about 1809, sold his farm there, then returned to Andover and paid Mr. Stephen Cole $150 for the farm west of the village.  He married Azuba Cole, daughter of Stephen, on September 4, 1809, the first marriage in Andover of which there is any record.  Seth died in 1822 and is buried in Hillside Cemetery here in Andover, along with his wife Azuba. There were only five families in the area at that time. Thaddeus and Alpheus Baker, Nathannael Dike and Stephen Cole in Elm Valley and Messrs. Culver and Fulsom, who occupied a farm together.  In these earl days the town was not called Andover, but Bakerstown. Joseph, another Baker brother, along with Joseph Woodruff came in 1809.  Woodruff got 300 acres west of Alpheus’ farm and Baker acquired another farm.  Alpheus and his sons cut a road from their farm to the Bridge.  (Baker’s Bridge, now known as Alfred Station.)

Alpheus’ son Seth, born March 7, 1799, in Granville, N.Y., married an Elizabeth Woodruff, daughter of Joseph, born March 4, 1805, was four years old when she came to Andover.  Seth was then ten years old.  They were married about 1824.  Seth learned the trade of a millwright and carpentry and in 1815 at the age of 17, he helped to build Strong’s Sawmill, the first in the area; in 1819 he helped Luther Strong build a gristmill.  In February of 1817, Alpheus Baker and his sons cut a road to Greenwood. Seth Baker and Elizabeth Woodruff Baker had twelve children.

This Seth Baker died at the age of 84 in April of 1883, his wife at 82, in December of 1887.  Of this family, Seth, Elizabeth, their children Seth, Newell and Susan are buried in the Baker Cemetery on the farm on Baker Road.

Seth is described in the Allegany County history as a man of “unimpeachable veracity” and to him is owed much of the written history.  He kept a handwritten journal of the life in those early days, which is still in the Baker family.  Matthias Corwin IV settled on Corwin Hill now known as Pingrey Hill in 1818.  Barnabas Eddy and Edwin Brown settled East Valley also in 1818.  Robert Boyd came from Canandaigua in 1819 and settled on what is now called the Barrett Road.  All were farmers.   Historians differ in opinions of whether Nathanael Dike, Stephen Cole or Willard Adams actually built the first framed house and barn in Elm Valley.  The date however of these constructions seems to be in 1817 or 1818.  Asa S. Allen built the first framed house in the village, probably at about the same time.  Mr. Allen came to this area in 1817, and in 1819, set up a trading post with his brother Caleb.

The census of 1820 reports nine towns in Allegany County with a population of 9,330.  The towns of Pike and Centerville had been formed from Nunda.  Rushford and Friendship came from part of Caneadea.  Ossian, Angelica and Alfred remained.

In 1820 the county sheriff was Joseph Wilson.  His bill for household expenses, including fuel, was $600.94.  It was voted to acquire a loan of $6,000 to build a court house and clerk’s office at the county seat in Angelica.  Part of the money was to be used to improve roads and $1,000 was to be parceled out among the towns to build bridges. Luther Strong built the first saw and grist mill, about ¾ miles east of the village going towards Greenwood in 1819, and kept the first hotel in 1820 in the village.

The first school house, a log structure, was erected in the village on about 1822, before that Lois Strong had taught classes in her father’s home as early at 1819.  According to an 1854 village map, the building stood near the corner of Center and First Streets.

How did we come up with the name Allegany?   We can blame this on the Indians.  It is an Algonkian word perhaps derived from the Delaware Indians and from the name of the ancient tribe of Indians named the Allegwei, which probably meant “Long River”. The actual name was first applied by settlers of western New York because of the trail that followed the present Allegany River. The county founded in 1806, is one of 20 counties in the state that owes its name to the previous Indian presence on this land.

The Town of Andover was formed from Independence in 1824.  A part was reannexed to Independence the same year, and a partial of land was annexed to form the Town of  Wellsville, in November 22, 1855.   To find the right date of the forming of the Town of Andover you have to do a little researching, as there are two different dates to choose from. The first place I looked was in the book “The History of Allegany County” written in 1879.  According to that book the date was January 28, 1824.  Then I went to the book “Allegany County and Its People” written in 1896.  This book states January 21, 1824 as the date the town was formed.

So which date is right?  From there I went to the Andover Newspapers.  In the January 1, 1904 edition, it says the town was formed on January 21, 1824.  The November 11, 1921 edition agrees with the previous paper.  The February 26, 1961 edition plays it safe by saying that the town was formed in 1824. In the Andover Town Hall is a banner that hangs on the wall that says January 21, 1824.   So again, which date is right?  I let you decide your own date.  The only thing that really matters, is that is was done.

How did we end up being Andover?  Well we were first called “Bakers” or “Bakers Town” in 1809 after all of the Bakers that had done so much for this area.  In 1815, we were named “Strong’s Mills” after Luther Strong.  Then in 1823, a Mr. & Mrs. James Adams and family came to this area from Mt. Holly, Vermont. At that time this area was unnamed.  It was Mr. Adams that suggested the name of Andover, after a town by that name in Vermont, in the year 1824, and it’s been “Andover” every since.  What a colorful history this Town of Andover has had. Some people passed through and some stayed.  Some left their mark, and some just left.  But Andover is still here trying to be a home for the ones that love it here.