Get It's Name? 

by Ron Taylor 3/2009 

Always of interest, how did a name come about, led me to County Historian's (Craig Braack) files and his explanation about our town of Bolivar, NY which follows:

"BOLIVAR (1825): (Locally pronounced "Bah--lih--ver") This town was named for the great South American liberator Simon Bolivar.  Just west of the present village of Bolivar lies the hamlet of Kossuth named for Louis (Lajos) Kossuth Governor of Hungry during its fight for independence and democracy (1848-1849). Formed from Friendship, February 15, 1825."  

The recent interest about the name came from my email receipt from former Wellsville resident, Ric Main and his comments and research items follow:

"The attached article is written and researched by Clara Houck. She is now in an assisted living home. Her son is a neighbor/friend of mine. Clara was the village's first official librarian. She has authored a number of books on the area (never for profit) and is by far the most noted unofficial historian in central New York. A very, very thorough woman in her efforts.
I have always had a hang up on how Bolivar, NY was named. Don't know why, just did. I've always said I was going to find out how Bolivar of Madison County was named when I had time and then I'll have an answer regarding Bolivar, Allegany County. Today I had the time and basically the same answer as always - Simon Bolivar. That is unless you make a connection with the surnames in the attached article having "removed" to Allegany County."


"The date mentioned in the article regarding Bolivar is 1819 which one might question as it is generally noted that the Erie Canal was first opened 1825. It was actually done and opened in phases with some of the first parts taking place between Rome and Chittenango as proof by Mr. Clinton, to the powers in Albany, that it could be done. The flat, muck soiled valley of this area was easy, quick digging  allowing Clinton to make quick progress and believers of our State's government from whom he sought funding. This was several years prior to its grand opening in 1825.
Very small communities came into existence almost as quick as each section filled with water. Bolivar was one of them, serving as both a competitor and supplier of goods and services to Chittenango Landing just 7/10's of a mile eastward.

Bolivar today consists of 12-14 homes including one under construction (guessing the 1st in over a hundred years). Chittenango Landing is now a very large museum on the old canal just a 1/2 mile north of Chittenango Village. Canaseraga is about 1 1/2 mile east of Chittenango on SR 5&13. I reside on a small hill in the village and can see both Bolivar and Chitt Landing on the canal from my residence when the leaves are off. Chittenango Creek runs approx 300 yards east of my house.
So remains the mystery of naming Bolivar. I asked the 2 historians I visited today the possibility of someone traveling west to Allegany County and bringing the name. They suggested that Simon Bolivar was as popular as George Washington at the time and that Bolivar of Allegany probably was named in a similar fashion. I tend to agree with him.
Ric Main"

Note: Don't become confused with all the similarity of names mentioned in the articles below, of Allegany County names vs. these, of Madison County.  rt