History of the Village of Avoca, Steuben County, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

THE VILLAGE OF AVOCA. - It is extremely doubtful whether pioneer Buchanan ever contemplated the possibility of an attractive and flourishing village near the point where he located in 1794 and opened a public house. Still this worthy frontiersman lived to see a post settlement where Avoca now stands, though the locality was then commonly known as "Buchanan's," also as "Eight Mile Tree." It was the beginning made by the pioneer that led to the founding of the settlement and subsequent village, and the store opened by George and Alonzo Simons made the latter a fixed fact. Yet the Simons Brothers' stock of goods comprised only a small quantity, the whole amount being brought to the place on two pack horses. In 818 the settlement had attained sufficient importance to justify a school, hence one was started at that time, and about nine years later the Methodists built a small meeting house in the hamlet.

However, the name Avoca was not given the village until the latter was well founded, and was adopted, it is said, at the request of a young lady of the settlement, she at the time being on her death bed. Among the hamlets of the valley this was for many years one of minor importance; a convenient stopping place on the stage route, a postoffice point of some little note, but previous to the construction and operation of the Buffalo, Corning and New York Railroad in 1852, Avoca enjoyed none of its present prominence. But even railway companies are capable of ungenerous actions, and exorbitant freight charges sometimes have a tendency to delay municipal growth. Such was the case with Avoca for many years, but a competing line, as the D., L. & W. Railroad proved to be, relieved the abuses of the past and gave additional impetus to all local enterprises. Manufactures were established, business interests were enlarged and increased, and even the farmer reaped a full share of the profits created by this new thoroughfare of travel and transportation.

In 1883 the village was incorporated and its first officers at once made provision for such conveniences and protection as villages require. The ordinances provided for streets regularly laid out, for sidewalks, lights, and also the health of the inhabitants. A good supply of pure and wholesome water was obtained from a reservoir located about two miles northwest of the village, and with this assured increased fire protection was a natural consequence. Thus suitably provided with all the elements of municipal convenience, and with a location in the most beautiful part of Cohocton valley, the observer is both pleased and surprised at the attractions and business thrift which seem to prevail on every hand. Today Avoca has a population of about one thousand inhabitants, and is well supplied with business and manufacturing enterprises. Of the milling interests we may note the Avoca Milling Company, and the firm of Billings, Beals & Company, flour manufacturers, the saw mill of M. A. Hoadley, and the cigar factory of W. N. Clutchey.

The mercantile interests are represented as follows: Smith & Hoadley, C. W. Marlatt, and W. R. Sutton, general merchants; J. M. Willis, grocer; Robert Gay, grocer and baker; D. S. Jolly, restauranter; W. H. Fultz and J. Hall, clothiers; J. B. and M. A. Sturdevant, hardware dealers; J, W. Griswold and Frank Gilmore, jewelers; Baldwin & Mattice, furniture dealers; E. D. Hess, druggist; A. White, photographer; Charles Cropsey, druggist; J. Towner and Gallup & Abbey, meat dealers; B. Palmer, shoe shop; A. L. Richards, D. Roberts, wagon makers; G. O. Noxon, broom maker; Milo Sharp and Henry Zigniuss, harnessmakers; W. C. Loucks, L. S. Veeder and J. C. Hovey, hotel keepers. In the same connection may be mentioned the Avoca Advance, an enterprising weekly newspaper, established about 1878, and since March, 1888, owned and published by George C. Silsbee.

The officers of the village for the year 1895, are as follows: J. B. Sturtevant, president; Walter H. Wood, J. Hall and Oscar C. Billings, trustees; William R. Sutton, treasurer; J. H. Shaffer, collector. The Board of Water Commissioners comprises J. Hall, president; Walter H. Wood, secretary; Oscar C. Billings, treasurer, and J. B. Sturtevant, commissioner.

The public institutions of the village comprise the graded school, also the Baptist, Evangelical Lutheran, and Methodist Episcopal churches. The history of Avoca religious societies will be found in a later chapter of this volume.


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