Transcribed by Crist Middaugh

Olean Times Herald, Tuesday, January 27, 1976


Allegany County 1861-95: Years of War; Prosperity

By George C. Crawford

(Mr. Crawford of Delevan, retired superintendent of Pioneer Central School, occasionally writes history features for the Times Herald.)

April 15, 1861

President Lincoln issued the proclamation “calling forth the militia to the number of 75,000 to suppress the rebellion.”

Allegany County was one of the first counties in the state to send men. Capt. C. C. Gardiner of Angelica was first to respond with Co. I of the 27th Regiment. The county furnished two regiments of men for the Army of the North. In some cases, all the able-bodied males of a family went.

War Meetings were held with the patriotic speeches bringing many enlistments. When the dead began to be sent home, however, the glamor of enlisting waned. Bounties had to be offered to stimulate enlistments and fill the quotas. Towns vied with each other to offer the largest bounty. Every town had its own “war committee.”

But times were god back home. Merchants kept marking up their good to keep pace with rising wholesale prices. Farmers received inflated prices for everything as did the manufacturers.

Those who stayed at home also played a vital part in the war. Many were the trips father, mother, brother and sister made to the battlefields to help care for the sick and wounded. Many boxes of provisions, clothing and supplies were sent to the men in the field and in hospitals.

County taxes rose from $50,835 in 1861 to $131,000 in 1870. The population numbered 40,814 and the need for good transportation became apparent.

Railroads were projected with the Belmont and Buffalo being the first. It was to follow the west side of the Genesee through the towns of Angelica, Belfast, Caneadea, Hume and Pike to connect with the Erie at or near Silver Springs. It was never completed although some towns along the route bonded themselves to provide aid.

A narrow-gauge road was built from Angelica through Friendship, Wirt, Bolivar, Genesee and on to Olean. It did not run very long.

Angelica made a fight for a road and became the terminus of the C.N.Y. & W. Rushford was on a narrow-gauge road which ran for a short time from Cuba to Attica.

The Western New York and Philadelphia was constructed in 1882 along the abandoned Genesee canal bed.

An 1895 account lists some of the county’s leading people: Jonathan Allen and William C. Kenyon, presidents of Alfred University and “teachers of a very high order of excellence;” Marshall B. Champlain, “the eloquent advocate, state legislator and attorney general;” Prof. James Baxter, the founder of the Baxter Institute of Music, started 1853 and the first of its kind in the United States; Philip H. Welch of Angelica, “a brilliant humorist and master of sarcasm;” Madame Alberti of Alfred, daughter of President Allen, “peerless in the art of education;” Dr. T. H. Norton of Rushford upon whom the University of Heidelberg conferred the degree of Ph. D., “summa cum laude;” William Muldoon of Belfast, in certain styles the champion wrestler of the world.

“Allegany may point with pride to such a list. Her representative are in every state and in foreign countries. Her sons adorn the bench, grace the pulpit, are successful in business, achiever distinction in scientific pursuits and ornament all the learned professions, as well as grace the humbler walks of life, and her daughters are found to be worthy, womanly sisters of such noble brothers, acquitting themselves with credit in the domesticity of the home, in the business office, on the lecture platform, in the pulpit and in the world of letters, and they are known and honored in many climes,” wrote on eloquent supporter.

Banking got off to a slow start in the county. A branch of the Erie County Bank of Buffalo was established in the ’30’s but closed after a few years. By 1845 there were private banks at Angelica and Cuba, and possible one or two elsewhere. The First National Bank of Friendship organized February 1, 1864.

By 1894 there were two banks in Cuba, the Cuba National and the First National; two in Friendship, the First National and Citizen’s National; two at Wellsville, the First National and Citizen’s National. State banks were located in Alfred, Andover, Angelica, Belmont, Bolivar and Fillmore. Private banks were in Andover, Belfast, Belmont, Canaseraga, Friendship, Hume, Rushford and Scio.

Even the bird lovers kept records. The once common raven was last reported in 1893 from Elm Valley; wild pigeons which once were said “to darken the sky with their flights, and were shot and netted by dozens and scores as late as the early seventies” were becoming scarce; crows were on the increase “due to their cunning and persistent robbing of eggs and young;” the English sparrow appeared in 1874, “a good bird picking up the waste grain and crumbs about the streets.”

The potato beetle arrived 1871 much to the dismay of the people. But thanks to Paris Green and the lady-bug which fed on beetle eggs, the decline was evident.

Up to the end of 1895, there had been a total of 5,500 oil wells drilled with 3,500 still producing. In 1882 there were many wells doing a hundred barrels a day but major production soon fell off. The market price of petroleum was $1.25 (The first discovery of petroleum in America was that of the Seneca Oil spring at Cuba by Roche-d’Allion, a French Jesuit, July 18, 1627.)

In 1892 there were 80 cheese factories making a total of 8,538,800 pounds. Two leading firms, Ackerly and Sill of Cuba Wm. C. Burdick and Co. of Alfred, did a combined business of over $800,000 a year.

Judge Philip Church of Belvidere is credited as the pioneer in breeding of both cattle and sheep. Other leaders were William Simpson of New Hudson, L.D. Stowell of Black Creek, D. B. Whipple of Cuba, Jerry Clark of Andover, William G. Tucker of Elm Valley, Daniel Gardner and Richard Charles of Angelica, Joel Carr, Joseph Lockhart and S. S. Carr of Almond, H. Vanderhoof of Belmont, J. E. Middaugh of Scio, Cobb Bros. of Independence and David Norton of Friendship.

Allegany County had come a long way since the early settlements at the beginning of the century.