From the Times Herald Weekender, March 8, 1975.
Transcribed by Crist Middaugh.


By George C. Crawford

The eight school districts will receive $1,719.43 in public money - in 1896, that is.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1820. Rachel Gilbert taught that summer and Austin Cowles the winter term. A schoolboy in 1895 would find “instead of one old spelling book and a bit of charcoal, innumerable books, tablets, charts, and apparatus of all description.” In 1885 the district school No. 1 became a union school.

Town of Bolivar was formed from Friendship, Feb. 15, 1825. The town lies almost entirely in the Mississippi valleys since all its streams are tributaries of the Allegany which flows into the Ohio and then into the Mississippi.

The northeast corner is an exception to this as the water there runs into the Genesee valley streams, and this portion of the town is therefore a part of the St. Lawrence valley. The “divide” is not far from Allentown.

Bolivar was named after Gen. Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator.

The first town meeting was held at the store of Hollis B. Newton, March 21, 1825, with the following elected: supervisor, Asa Cowles; town clerk, Austin Cowles; assessors, Pliny S. Evans, Johan French, Eli LeSuer; collector, Elijah Fuller; overseers of the poor, Johathan Hitchcock, Simon Wightman; constables, Elijah Fuller, Philip Appleby; school commissioners, Levi Appleby, Alvan Richardson, Ebenezer Kellogg.

Zephaniah Smith built a hunting cabin in 1816 of logs and a covering of birch bark. The first permanent white settler was Timothy Cowles, a Vermonter, who arrived in 1819. Jonathan Hitchcock came that same year and occupied the hut vacated by Smith.

Other early settlers were Christopher Tyler, Luther Austin, Eli LeSuer, Samuel Davie, Ebenezer Kellogg, Abel Root, Leonard Daniels, Issac Case, Thomas Wait, David Thurber, Asa Stetson, Elias Scott, John Phillips, Clark Millard, Azel Buckley and the Wellman brothers Issac and William.

Hollis B. Newton was a very important citizen. He came in 1824 and opened the first store, and also manufactured furniture. He built the first hotel in Bolivar in 1831, later as the Clark House. He provided the site of the Catholic church.

Owing to the plentiful supply of pine and hemlock sawmill was a flourishing business. The first sawmill was erected in 1822 below the village. In 1824 a gristmill was built in the village.

South Bolivar boasted a cheese factory built in 1887 producing 43,000 pounds of cheese in 1893. The oil industry effected the entire area at about this time.

During 1881 the Olean and Friendship railroad was built and later extended to Angelica. Barney S. Dunn was in charge of Bolivar office in 1895.

Bolivar, like other oil towns, liked fast horses. It was a common sight to see the fine horses being driven through the streets.

“The architecture of the buildings betrays those unmistakable signs which speak of the times when fortunes were made and lost in a day, when houses, hotels and almost everything sprang up with the mushrooms in a single night, “ reads one account. Bu some houses were built well by people who came to stay, especially those of E.C. Garthwait, George Bradley, Dr. Joe Cutler, C.R. Kilbury and H.L. Zimmerman.

The village was incorporated in 1882. At the first meeting, March 23, 1882, the following board officers were named: D.A. Newton, president; J.E. Patridge, J.S. Kincade, I.J. Cooper, trustees; F.S. Gulick, clerk; J.H. Voorhees, street commissioner; H.D. Patridge, chief of police. In 1890 the village had nearly 1,500 population. In 1882 the population was nearly 5,000.