From the Wellsville Daily Reporter, January 4, 1985.
Transcribed by Crist Middaugh.
Allegany County’s changing face
[Boundary] changes mark early history
By Bill Green
Belmont - One of the basic things to keep in mind when delving into the history of Allegany County is that in the first half of the 19th century this was a very dynamic place growing from less than 50 permanent residents to nearly 50,000 population. In that period of time there were at least 45 changes in boundary lines between towns. Every few years a new town would be erected. Unless one pays close attention to the evolution of the changing town pattern one can be become very confused in searching for family information.
This true story illustrates the point. A correspondent was looking for the grave of one Stephen Easton. From a family Bible it was known that he was born in Angelica in 1806. It was said that he lived in the same house all his life. His grave could not be found in Angelica. A search lead to his marriage in Amity shortly after 1830. His residence appears on the 1869 atlas in the Town of Ward. The solution? He indeed was in one place - the towns changed!
Angelica became an official town in 1805, and was redefined in 1808. Parts of the town went to Alfred in 1816 and Almond in 1821. Scio and Allen took sizable chunks off in 1823. Half of what is not Amity was taken off in 1830, and 18 square miles of Amity were combined with a smaller amount from Alfred in 1856 to form the town of Ward. Eaton’s property is located in that part of Ward that was originally in Angelica, then later in Amity.
The record area for change is a six-square mile section in the southeast corner of Wellsville that was previously in five other towns. Scio and Belfast were constantly altering their boundaries. Granger, Belfast, and New Hudson were known by other names for short periods of time.
Scanning the old census records will show a particular town gradually increasing in population then suddenly losing half that population. This is also accounted for by the erection of new towns. In the 1855 census Scio was the most populus town in the county. That was just a few months before the birth of Wellsville, which was formerly a part of Scio. The same is true of the county as a whole, and must be taken into account when studying the overall changes. When first erected in 1806 Allegany County had 49 towns on the surveyor’s subdivision map. In 1808 21 western towns became parts of Cattaraugus County and Erie County while six towns on the east were annexed from Steuben County. In 1846 two northern towns transferred to Wyoming County, and two northeastern ones changed to Livingston. Finally in 1856, Ossian changed it allegiance to Livingston County.
This did not cause too much of a record problem for the eastern and western towns, but the towns to the north still have to come to Belmont for land records.
Although the precedent went unnoticed at the time that Allegany County went over the legislature system, it appears that the supervisor represents the town as a corporation, and not the people thereof. At the time a town was set up officers were elected. In addition to chairing the town board it was the duty of the supervisor to represent the town at the annual county meeting to receive the road money.
Evolution of Allegany County towns
1805 - Angelica
1808 - Alfred, Ossian, Nunda, Caneadea.
1815 - Friendship from Candeadea.
1816 - Rushford from Candeadea, Alfred enlarged.
1818 - Pike from Nunda.
1819 - Centerville from Pike.
1821 - Almond from Alfred, Independence from Pike.
1822 - Cuba from Friendship, Hume from Pike.
1823 - Eagle from Pike, Scio from Angelica, Allen from Angelica.
1824 - Andover from Alfred and Independence, Orrinsburg from Caneadea, Andover changed.
1825 - Bolivar from Friendship, Haight from Caneadea, Orrinsburg from Belfast.
1826 - Burns from Ossian.
1827 - Caneadea Reservation sold by Indians became part of Caneadea, Hume, & Church Tract, Church Tract from Nunda, Portage from Nunda, Church Tract from Grove.
1829 - Birdsall from Angelica.
1830 - Amity from Angelica and Scio, Genesee from Cuba.
1831 - Annexation to Belfast.
1835 - West Almond from Almond, Alfred and Angelica, Clarksville from Cuba.
1837 - Haight changed to New Hudson.
1838 - Wirt from Bolivar and Friendship, West Grove and Grove.
1839 - West Grove changed to Granger.
1846 - Genesee Falls from Pike and Portage, Genesee Falls, Pike and Eagle to Wyoming County, Portage and Nunda to Livingston County.
1851 - Willing from Scio and Independence.
1854 - Alma from Willing.
1855 - Wellsville from Scio, Andover and Willing
1856 - Addition to Scio from Amity, Ward from Amity and Alfred, Ossian to Livingston County.
1868 - Transfer from Andover to Wellsville.