History of Westfield, NY
FROM: History of Chautauqua County, New York and its people
John P. Downs - Editor-in-Charge.
Fenwick Y. Hedley Editor-in-Chief.
Published By American Historical Society, Inc. 1921


Westfield -While Westfield is eighth in size among the towns of Chautauqua county, its area 29,341 acres, it is fourth in population, and among the incorporated villages of the county Westfield village is second in size only to Fredonia. About two-thirds of the area of the town is comprised in the gently rising plain sloping back from Lake Erie, and in Chautauqua's famous "grape belt." The southern part of the town is hilly and devoted principally to dairy farming. The soil is productive and many thousands of Westfield's acres are devoted to grape culture, the town's great industry. Westfield is peculiarly shaped. Lake Erie is its northern boundary, and its western a range line running directly south ten miles to the town of Sherman. The east line runs due north from Sherman two and three-tenths miles to Chautauqua creek, which forms the boundary until about two miles south of the village of Westfield, where the line leaves the creek and runs nearly parallel to the shore of Lake Erie to the Portland line, thence due north to Lake Erie. Chautauqua creek in this town forms a gorge with steep, rocky sides towering upward in places to the height of sixty feet. Little Chautauqua creek unites with this stream about a mile south of the village of Westfield and there are smaller streams, all aiding in creating a picture of scenic beauty. The drive between Mayville and Westfield is particularly pleasing, and from the hills commanding a view of the lake the prospect is charming. In Westfield, as in other towns of the county, there are relics left by a prehistoric race and Indians were here in plenty after the white man came. Wild animals, whose flesh furnished food and whose fur clothed the pioneers, once inhabited the heavy growth of timber along the streams and elsewhere.

James McMahan, a Pennsylvanian, was destined to play an important part in the early development of Westfield. He first visited the region in 1795 and in 1801, in company with Andrew Smith, he visited the lake region and made a contract for his brother John to buy township 4, in range 14, which included all the village of Westfield and parts of the towns of Westfield and Chautauqua. The lands were bounded north by Lake Erie, east by the present town of Portland, south by a part of the present towns of Chautauqua and Westfield, and west by Ripley, and contained 22,014 acres of unsurveyed lands, for which $2,050 was to be paid, $1,035 being paid down. James also bought for himself 4,074 acres in the present town of Ripley. He selected for himself out of his brother's township, lot 13, which extended east to the old "Crossroads," or crossing of the trail between Buffalo and Erie by the old Portage road. Here he settled about three-fourths of a mile west of Chautauqua creek, and built in 1882 the first home erected in Chautauqua county. For this purpose he had cleared ten acres of land, where he proposed to build a village to be called Northumberland, in honor of his native county in Pennsylvania. He surveyed the first road of the county in 1805, established the county's first postoffice, also Chautauqua in 1806, and served as postmaster. Edward McHenry settled next to McMahan in 1802, and opened the first tavern in the county; he was drowned in 1803. The history of Westfield before 1829 is that of Portland and Ripley, the parent towns. The first settlers were immortalized with an inscription of their names on the west side of the monument at "The Crossroads." This monument of Bereá sandstone, with base, is a stone five feet high, two feet nine and one-half inches wide. At the ends of the base are two millstones used in the first gristmill in the county.

Purchases from John McMahan of lands in the tract bought by him from the Holland Company: 1801-November, John Allen, lot 4. 1802-May, James McMahan, 13; W. and A. Murray, 25; July, Abram Frederick, 7; W. and A. Fisher, 19; Martin and Nath. Dickey, 16; November, James Brannan, 3; David Kinkaid, 14. 1803-January, Arthur Bell, 3; John Christopher Dull, 27, 30; John Henry, 12; Jere. George, 3; James Morehead, 30; July, James Montgomery, 6; September, Andrew Straub, 26 or 17. 1804-July, Jacob George, 6, 13; September, Laughlin McNeil, 6; John Lyon, 30. 1805-June, John Degeer, 18; November, Alex. Montgomery, 2; Geo. Whitehill, 18. 1806 -June, Hezekiah Barker, 12. 1807-January, David Eason, i8; Low Miniger and John Dull, 18.

The following named persons bought of McMahan by deed: 1806-February, Samuel Frederick, 7; Low Miniger, 26. 1809-September, Nathan S. Roberts, 17.

The number of acres in these several purchases was 6,185.

Original Purchases in Township 4, Range 14.
1810-April, James McMahan, 12; September, Robert Sweet, 25; Isaac Sweet, 25; John Allen, 4; Laughlin McNeal, 6; John Lyon, 30; Isaac McClurg, 13; Fred. Rogers, 18; James Montgomery, 6; Arthur Bell, 3: John Moorhead, 30; Thos. Gray, 12; Jacob George, 6, 13; Nich. George, 3; Sarah Perry, 13, 18; James McMahan, 25; Geo. Whitehill, 18; David Eason, 18; Wm. Lowry, 13; December, Hugh Whitehill, 18.
1811-February, David Eason, 18; May, John Eason, 25; Andrew Kelsey, 30; John Smith, 31; Thos. McClintock, 17; December, John Fay, 31.
1814-August, Jona. Nichols, 2.
1815-May, Harmon Culver, 2; Joel Loomis, 4; Robert Cochran, 2d, 4; June, Luther Thayer; October, Rebecca McNeil, 6; Stephen Rumsey, 4; November, David Knight, 25; Absalom Peacock, 8.
1816-July, Eben.. Harris, 29.
1817-March, Jona. Cass, 32; Gilbert Dean, 1; Calvin E. Macomber, 31; James McMahan. 6, 20. June, Moses Hurlbut, 20; December, Hugh Whitehill, 19.
1818-January, Dyer Carver, 20; February, Jesse Holley, 5; July, Charles Stanton, 5; October, Daniel S. Bouton, 33.
1819-February, John House, 29.
182I-July, Dolphus Babcock, 37; Eben. Hams, 29; August, John Shipboy, 3; James McMahan, 6; Robt. Cochran, 4.
1823-January, Lyman Harrington, 16; March, Wm. T. Howell, 15; Wm. Sexton, 15; May, John Winchell 29; Matthew McClintock, 10; Charles C. Topper, 16.
1824-July, John Chamberlain, 29; October, Thomas B. Campbell, 18.
1826-October, Isaac Sweet, 25; Henry Abell, 18.

Original Purchases in Township 3, Range 14.
1817-April, Harmon Culver, 40; Benjamin Amsden, 40.
1821-October, Timothy Parker, 57, 58.
1822-April, Joel Loomis, 48; October, Henry A. Haight, 63.
1823-June, Norman Rexford, 46; Silas and Alexander Poor, 63; Ebenezer P. Poor, 62; July, William Tickner, 50; Samuel Adams, 61; Jacob Orcutt, 57; September, Hazelton Winslow, 47.
1824-March, Levy Harrington, 53; Cyrus Bickford, 46; April, Ezra Bickford, 59, June, Larkin Harrington, 38; August, Moses Lancaster, 55; October, David Stanton, 59; Udney H. Jacobs, 52; November, Cyrus Dunbar, 55, 56.
1825-February, Henry Mulliner, 41; March, Asabel Root, 52; April, Udney S. Jacobs, 44; May, Stephen Hoxie, 37; June, Allen Parker, 57; August, Allen W. Ingraham, 37; September, Herbert McLeod, 59; October, Moses Porter, 51; November, Russell Rogers, 52; Elijah Porter, 44; December, Joseph Lyon, 42.
1826-January, William P. Adams, 60; April, John Parks, 49; William Pickard, 49; Mrs. Isaac Coon, 54; Walter Strong, 50; June, Isaac P&rter, 55; July, David Y. Stanton, 51; September, Charles Granger, 42; Zalmon Ames, 64.
1827-April, Frederick Fox, 64; May, Selah Lanfear, 40.

Schools were early established, William Murray teaching in the town as early as 1803. There was a school open for several months in 1806 and Anna Eaton taught in 1807. These were the first schools in Chautauqua county. Town meetings were held in 1805-06-07 at the inn of Widow Sarah McHenry, at Portland Crossroads, the landlady becoming Mrs. Perry in 1807. Life was strenuous during those early years and hardship was a common lot, but settlers came rapidly after the first few years and as the forests retreated before the fields, grain became plenty. The settlers cleared, built and cultivated, but at the same time built saw and grist mills, carding mills and mills for the dressing of cloth. The first marriage in the town was celebrated June 30, 1805, James Montgomery and Sarah Taylor the happy couple. The first white child born in the town was John McHenry, who died in 1879. Dr. Lawton Richmond, a Methodist preacher, came to the crossroads in 1812, being the second physician in the county, and, furthermore, is said to have been the first Methodist to preach in the county. He came to Chautauqua in 1809 and had a large medical practice until 1834, when he moved to Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ferrin Deming, a surgeon of the War of 1812, opened the first drug store in 1814: Other doctors who practiced in the community were Silas Spencer, a soldier and physician of high repute; Carlton Jones, Daniel Lee, Frederick Bradley, Kimball Henn, William S. Stockton, Oscar F. Jones, George A. Hall, Charles P. Graves and John Spencer, a commissioned army surgeon who served as president of the village of Westfield and member of the school board for several years.

After Colonel McMahan and Edward McHenry, there came from Pennsylvania many settlers with families previous to 1815. Arthur Bell was a Revolutionary soldier. He and his son William were prominent Presbyterians. So also was James Montgomery (1803). Thomas McClintock (1807), was a tavern keeper. David Eason (1807) was first sheriff, and State Senator (1823-24). James McClurg was the first merchant and a man of financiering ability. Asa Hall, and sons George and Asa were soldiers of 1812. Jonathan Cass (1811), first tavern keeper of the village and merchant. Elizur Talcott (1812), cloth dresser; Jonathan Nichols, Revolutionary soldier; Amos Atwater (1813), wool carder, cloth dresser; Eber Stone (1813), miller; Reuben Wright (1814), cloth dresser; Allen and Reuben G. Wright, his sons, prominent business men; Col. Nathan Bird (1815), a soldier of the Revolution, foremost in public enterprises of the county, originator of the Buffalo and Erie line of stages. He kept for years a "free tavern" at his house for emigrants. Every year valuable pioneers arrived. Thomas B. Campbell (1817) was a stirring business man, county clerk, judge. A great many who came following the pioneer period were New Englanders or of New England descent, from the eastern part of the State, while some were "Pennsylvania Dutch" from the Keystone State. Thomas Norton, who came in 1819, is said to have been the first cabinet maker in Westfield. For a few years beginning in 1824, Young says Westfield received considerable new blood from Warsaw. Oliver Lee (who afterwards moved to Silver Creek), John McWhorter, Augustus U. Baldwin, merchants; Aaron Rumsey, tanner; Daniel Rockwell, hatter; Larned Gail, hotel keeper; James D. Carlish, tailor; Calvin Rumsey, tanner; Lorenzo T. Phelps, harness maker, etc.

Westfield was erected a town March 29, 1829, being taken from both Portland and Ripley.

The first town meeting in the newly formed town was held at the Westfield Hotel, April 7, 1829, Asa Farnsworth then and for many years thereafter the proprietor of that hotel. The officers elected were: Supervisor, Amos Atwater; town clerk, Daniel Rockwell; assessors, Hiram Couch, Robert (2) Cochran, Jonathan Cass; collector, Lyman Reddington; overseers of the poor, Low Miniger, William Bell; highway commissioners, Seth G. Root, William Sexton, James Montgomery; school commissioners, Robert Dickson, Warren Couch, William Bell; school inspectors, Russell Mallory, Austin Stone, Abram Dixon; constables, Robert p. Stetson, Lyman Reddington; fence viewers, Isaac Mallory, Low Miniger, Gervis Foot; poundmaster, James McClurg. It will be noted that there was quite a plentitude of officers, and here again is an opportunity for naming a large proportion of the prominent settlers, some of whom held several offices each. Austin Smith, a young man of sterling qualities, a lawyer who was destined for a long and useful life came here in 1830. Abram Dixon, lawyer, had at that time lived in the town quite a number of years; his buildings were of brick, his house on the south side of Main street. Hon. David Hall and Joseph White were the other two lawyers; they were able men. John G. and Watson S. Hinckley, of Massachusetts lineage, practiced law in later years. John M. Keep was a teacher and an able lawyer. Zadoc C. Young was a lawyer. Sextus H. Hungerford made himself prominent and.= popular about 1837. In 1841 Hon. George W. Patterson came to town as agent for the Chautauqua land office and passed a long life of great usefulness, both as public official and private citizen. The coming of Dr. Francis B. Brewer in 1861 and Col. Jeremiah Drake, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor, while in command of a brigade, was an example of the 90 soldiers Westfield sent to the front to uphold the Union cause. The Lake Shore railroad was opened in 1852 and the prosperity which began about 1840 has constantly attended the town.

While farming and grape growing are the towns great source of wealth, the business interests of the town have always been important.

The "hominy" mills were the first used in Westfield and Chautauqua county. John McMahan built the first gristmill near the mouth of Chautauqua creek, about 1804. Soon thereafter a sawmill was built. Nathan Cass built a sawmill and a gristmill in 1811, where the Westfield mill was erected later. Mr. Vorce owned the property later, and reopened it after a freshet carried away the dam. Amos Atwater and Eber Stone owned it next. In 1818 another gristmill was built on the papermill site. Amos Atwater built a sawmill in 1820 and Simeon J. Porter soon after built an oilmill. Timothy Pope owned a sawmill that was built early on Chautauqua creek. Hiram Couch and Mr. Pope later had a carding and cloth-dressing mill there, which about 1850 was changed to a gristmill. Aaron Rumsey (1825) built a large tannery below the bridges east of the creek, and in 1840 William Tiffany started a tannery.

The Westfield Marble and Granite Works were established in 1846. Samuel Nixon and his sons, E. C. and S. Frederick Nixon became interested and carried on a business of rapidly growing proportions. Hiram Couch and Lester Stone built a woolen factory in 1848, south of the bridge, which was operated for many years. In 1852 the manufacture of agricultural implements was begun by Buck and Patchin. About 1853 Crossgrove, Kimball and Wells started a foundry and machine shop. The Chautauqua Company was formed next year to manufacture agricultural implements, which from 1855 to 1860 included mowers and reapems. George P. York manufactured Buckeye mowers, and William H. Wilson and Abel Patchen made the first oil tools used in the oil country and manufactured engines.

An important manufacturing concern was the Townsend Manufacturing Company, organized in 1864, to manufacture locks; the company did a large business for many years. The Westfield Manufacturing Company began to manufacture articles of wood in 1871. In 1874 the Shackleton Steam Heating Company was organized. Andrew Burns engaged in the manufacture of grape baskets in 1884. Dexter N. Morse operated a large manufactory, with steam sawmill, planing and other machinery. F. R. Mosher operated a shingle mill, and in 1883 moved his business and added a lumber yard. The Westfield Papermill is the only one in the three western counties of this State. Its site was deeded by the Holland Company in 1823 to Judge T. B. Campbell. Ephraim Sanford later bought the log dam and sawmill that had been constructed. J. G. Harris and G. W. Norton bought the property and built a gristmill. Soon after 1864 Allen Wright organized the Westfield Paper Company, which built a paper mill at considerable expense, where the first "news" paper in Western New York was made. In 1866 the mill began to turn out round paper boxes that were in great demand for packing grapes. In 1869 Reuben G. Wright became proprietor, rebuilt and enlarged the mill, which has since passed through various hands and seen chaDges and vicissitudes.

The Crowell Clutch and Pulley Company began business in 1889 and prospered. The Westfield Waterworks has many miles of mains and complete, approved apparatus for a fine gravity waterworks system to supply the village with filtered water from Chautauqua creek. George 1vV. Patterson was the president of the board, the engineer of the work and the acting superintendent for years after the organization of the water board.

Barcelona began its existence in 1831, when the Barcelona Company laid it out as a city on Lake Erie, although the location was not designed by nature as a terminal or important gateway of either water or railroad traffic. But a brick hotel was erected, five stores established and a thriving business was done. Cattaraugus, Mayville and Barcelona were surveyed into lots by the Holland Land Company, and they were regarded as the most important places in the county. Barcelona was made a port of entry and in 1828 Judge Truman B. Campbell erected a lighthouse for the government, which was lighted by natural gas carried in wooden pump logs from the noted gas spring about three-fourths of a mile east.

Previous to 1845 there was but one forwarding house at Barcelona, which by excessive charges had repelled most of the traffic in provisions, etc. At this time Mr. E. T. Foote built a small wharf and began a forwarding business which soon commanded the bulk of the trade. In 1847 the increase of business had been so great that he built a wharf costing $20,000 on the north side of the point. Government appropriations for the harbor finally ceased and Mr. Foote built a long wharf and freight houses on the east side, inside the bar, suitable for the accommodation of small steamers and sail vessels, and carried on a trade in flour, salt, lime, etc., making lime from material brought from Canada. His property was finally sold by him to Stephen Rumsey for $12,000. Mr. Foote was a son of Stephen Foote and was born in Litchfield, Conn., in 1804. He came to Westfield in 1816 with his father. The elder Foote took up lands on both branches of Chautauqua creek and built a log house on the old French road, near Glen mill. Gervis as a young man settled on the Peacock land, near the lake, where he lived thirty years, and made many improvements. From Barcelona he went with the general tide of business to Westfield and kept a grocery. Cynthia, his daughter, married A. K. Comstock. The Foote family, originally from England, were extensive land owners in Connecticut. One member of the family married Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, and others married colonial governors.

Joshua La Due, an early resident of the county, who came from Auburn, was in 1846 appointed keeper of the lightouse at Barcelona, which position he held several years. General Joseph Farnsworth, who settled in Barcelona in 1816 and engaged in the mercantile trade, was born in Groton, Mass., in 1765. He built the houses and shops on the "Abbott Place," and manufactured plows, axes and edge tools for many years. David L. Cochran, a native of Pennsylvania, settled between Barcelona and Westfield, where he operated a sawmill and indulged in scientific studies. Mr. Cochran lived to the great age of ninety-four years, his death occurring in 1890.

The trade of Barcelona held up well for quite a number of years. The country was rich in natural resources and there were no competing harbors near enough to cause concern. The "William Peacock" steamboat was built in 1831, by a company principally of Westfield people, to transport passengers between Buffalo and Erie, and the Barcelona Company was formed to develop the place. Among those interested were Smith and Macy, of Buffalo, Charles M. Reed, of Erie, Nathaniel A. Lowry, Elial T. Foote and Samuel Barrett, of Jamestown, Augustus U. Baldwin, Calvin Rumsey and Thomas B. Campbell, of Westfield. The building of the great railroad lines along the shore of Lake Erie, destroyed the importance of this port. The trade gravitated to Westfield naturally and that community grew so rapidly that in 1833 it was incorporated a village, this giving added impetus to that already prosperous center of trade. Business concerns multiplied, new industries came in and Westfield in common with the entire "grape belt" has passed through three-quarters of a century of gratifying prosperity.

Sextus H. Hungerford organized a State bank in 1848, which was succeeded by the First National Bank of Westfield, the latter institution organized in July, 1864, beginning business October 1 of that year, F. W. Brewer, president. Westfield Academy was chartered by the Legislature May 5, 1837. The "Westfield Republican," founded by M. C. Rice claims the honor of being the first Republican newspaper in the State.

Presbyterian (1808), Methodist Episcopal (1831), Baptist (1825), Episcopal (1830), Universalist (1833), German Evangelical (1861) and Roman Catholic churches flourish in the village, with the Academy Union School and graded schools furnishing educational advantages of the best character. The village postoffice was established June 15, 1818, on the east side of the creek, Fern Deming, postmaster. The first postoffice (Chautauqua) in the county, established on the west side of the creek, May 6, 1806, James McMahan, postmaster, was discontinued when the Westfield office was opened. The locality first occupied along Main and Portage streets has remained the business - section, while the residence district has spread over a wide area of beautiful homes, lawns and well shaded streets. The churches and school buildings are handsome and in keeping with the general beauty of the village, gas, electric and water systems have been installed and the Patterson Memorial Library, gift from Miss Hannah Patterson, testifies to the public spirit which distinguishes Westfield's citizens: The fraternal orders are well represented and since 1883 William Sackett Post, Grand Army of the Republic, has been an institution of the village.

As the chief occupation of the town of Westfield is farming and grape growing, the population has not increased rapidly since the town became fairly well, settled. In 1860 the number of inhabitants was 3,640 and did not vary more than 100 from that figure until 1880, when it had fallen to 3,323. In 1900 it had risen to 3,715, and according to the State census of 1915 it was 4,707, of whom 343 were aliens. Westfield village reported for the same census a population of 3,319.

The principal manufacturing interests of the village are: Armour & Co., grape juice; D. N. Morse, grape baskets; Welch Grape Juice Co., grape juice; Westfield Lumber Co., also six small factories. These industries employ 158 men and 25 women, 53 being office employees.

The supervisors of Westfield since the erection of the town are as follows: 1829, Amos Atwater; 1830, John McWhorter; 1831-33, Amos Atwater; 1834-35, Robert Cochran; 1836-37, George Hall; 1838, William Sexton; 1839-40-41, Elijah Waters; 1842, Thomas B. Campbell; 1843, James Pratt; 1844, Thomas B. Campbell; 1845-47, John G. Hinckley; 1848, Alvin Plumb; 1849-50, Austin Smith; 1851, George Hall; 1852, Alvin Plumb; 1853-54, Joshua R. Babcock; John G. Hinckley; 1856-57, William Vorce; 1858-60, George W. Patterson; 1861-66, Sextus H. Hungerford; 1867, George W. Patterson; 1868-69, Francis B. Brewer; 1870-71, Henry C. Kingsbury; 187279, Francis B. Brewer; 1880-82, Edward A. Skinner; 1883-85, E. H. Dickerman; 1886-1905, S. Fred Nixon; 1906-15, William H. Thompson; 1816-17, Gerald D. Gibbs; 1918-20, Robert Douglass.

Westfield is third among the towns of the county in the value of its real estate, Pomfret being first, Hanover second, Westfield third. The full value of real estate as reported by the equalization committee of the Board of Supervisors in 1918 was $5,169,032; the assessed value, $4,031,845; equalized assessed value, $4,055,473.

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