Bolivar, Allegany Co., New York
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Bolivar, Allegany County, New York

[Source: Gazetteer and Business Directory of Allegany County, N. Y. for 1875. compiled and published by Hamilton Child; Syracuse: 1875, pp 66-71.]


BOLIVAR was formed from Friendship, Feb. 15, 1825.  A part of Wirt was taken off April 12, 1838.  The first town meeting was held March 1, 1825, and the following named officers were elected:

The town lies upon the south border, west of the center of The county, and contains 22,600 acres.  The surface is a broken, hilly upland, the hills in some parts being too steep for profitable cultivation.  It is drained by Little Genesee Creek, which crosses the north-west corner, Honeoye Creek, which crosses the south-east corner, and Horse creek, a small tributary to the latter stream, which flows through the south-west part.  The soil upon the hills is a reddish clay loam, and in the valleys a gravelly loam.  It is generally best adapted to grazing.  The people are principally engaged in farming, dairying being the chief pursuit in the northern and western parts.

The population in 1870 was 959; of whom all, except fifteen were native and all, except three, white.

BOLIVAR, (p. o.) situated on Little Genesee Creek, and on the line of the proposed R., N. & P. R. R., in the north-west part of The town, contains a church, (M. E.) one hotel, three general stores, one boot and shoe store, one grocery, a grist mill, a small tannery, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, harness shop, two shoe shops, cheese factory, thirty-seven dwellings and about 180 inhabitants.

SOUTH BOLIVAR, (p. o.) (locally known also as Honeoye Corners and Honeoye Forks,) situated on Honeoye Creek, in the south part, contains a wagon shop, blacksmith shop, nine dwellings and about fifty inhabitants.

Two or three years previous to the first permanent settlement Zephaniah Smith, a hunter from Unadilla, Otsego Co., was accustomed to spend the winter in this vicinity in hunting, returning in the summer to Otsego Co.  His last visit was during the winter of 1818-19.  He built a log hut about sixteen feet square, with a chamber, in which several of the first settlers lived till they could build a house of their own.  He directed many of the first settlers to this town.  This rude structure was the first human habitation in the town.  The first permanent settlement was made Dec. 8, 1819, by Timothy Cowles, a native of Vermont, who came in from Otsego Co., and settled on lot 61, where he remained till about 1850, when he went west and soon after died.  His sons, Alvin T. and Erastus Cowles, the former of whom was born in Otsego Co., in 1808, and the latter, in the town of Friendship, June 19, 1819, came in with him and still reside in the town.  Alvin lived with his father till 1833, when he took up land on lot 52.  In the spring of the same year Jonathan Hitchcock, in company with Alvin Richardson and Nathan Gilbert, moved into the county.  Hitchcock took up land on lot 48, in this town, in the south part of the village of Richburg, while his companions located in the present town of Wirt, both of these towns being then a part of Friendship.  Hitchcock Actually made the first improvements in the town, if we except Smith, though Cowles was the first to move his family in.  Hitchcock bought the claim of Zephaniah Smith.  He renovated the hut Smith had erected, putting in a new floor, and a new roof in place of The bark one.  He also built a linter, or lean-to.  During this season he cleared a piece of land on which he planted corn and potatoes, and later in the season he cleared some five acres, on which, in the autumn, he sowed wheat.  In the latter part of November he started for Unadilla, Otsego Co., after his wife and children, four in number, leaving his step-son and step daughter, Samuel and Polly Buckley, who came with him, at Azal Buckley's, in the town of Wirt, till his return.  Mr. Hitchcock returned with his family Feb. 15, 1820, finding that Christopher Tyler, who had come in during the winter, had taken possession of the house.  Mr. Tyler was born in Rhode Island, July 21, 1787.  He removed to Friendship from Otsego Co., in company with Timothy, Asa and Austin Cowles, who also, it appears, remained a short time in that town, and the latter two of whom moved into this town soon after him.  He lived with Mr. Hitchcock till June, 1820, then he removed to his own land on lot 55.  Mr. Hitchock lived in the town till his death in 1863, with the exception of one year.  He was born in Northampton, Conn., Aug. 5, 1770.  His son, Horace, who was born in January, 1812, and came into the town with the family, has since lived there, with the exception of six years.  Eli Lesuer, who was born in Unadilla, Otsego Co., Nov. 25, 1796, removed thence to Bolivar in the autumn of 1821, and selected land on lot 62, where he built a log house.  He then went back to Otsego after his family, returning with them the following January.  The nearest grist mill and physician, he says, were at Friendship, a distance of twelve miles.  The settlers were accustomed to put their grists upon a sled, to which two yokes of oxen were attached, and a man was selected to take them to the mill.  The journey occupied two to three days.  The only article which commanded money was black salts, which all the first settlers made.  They were usually drawn to Friendship, but on one occasion Mr. Lesuer says he drew them to Franklinville, in Cattaraugus Co.  He is still living in the town.  Samuel Davie was born in New Jersey, Feb. 14, 1790, and removed with his parents at an early age to Otsego Co.  In March, 1823, he removed to this town and bought of Abram Crandall, a land speculator at Friendship, a piece of land he had selected on lot 62, upon which was a small log house, but no clearing for a garden plot and for corn.  He remained until about the first of June, when, having made his garden and planted some corn, he went back to Otsego Co. after his family, returning with them the same month.  He brought with him a team of horses, which he says was the first in town and the only one between "Notch Hill," in Wirt, and Ceres.  He served as a soldier for a short time in the war of 1812; and during the late war of the Rebellion he enlisted and was accepted by representing himself to be only forty-four years old.  His two sons on hearing of his enlistment, with much difficulty prevailed upon him to relinquish the idea of joining the army, and he only consented to do so on their promise to enlist themselves, which they finally did.  He has resided in the town since he first came.  Ebenezer Kellogg removed from the same county and settled on lot 56, in or about the same year (1823).  Abel Root, a native of Otsego Co., removed from Madison Co., to Scio in February, 1822, and in February, 1824, to lot 54 in this town, where he remained till 1845, when he moved to Illinois.  Three children (Abel Jr., David C. and Truman B.,) who came with him, and one (James H.) who was born here, still live in the town.  David C. Root lived with his father till he attained his majority, (in 1829) when he took an article for land on lot 38, upon which he removed his family in 1831, and where he still lives.  Abel Root Jr. married in 1826 and settled on lot 46, where he remained till 1839, when he removed to lot 38, where he still lives.  He was the first settler in “Root Hollow.”  H. B. Newton moved in from Madison Co., in 1824, and settled at Bolivar village.  In 1825 he and Asa Cowles opened a store there, which was the first one in the town.  In 1831 he opened at the same place the first hotel, which he continued to keep till 1845.  He died in the town in 1873, aged severy-four years.  Isaac and Wm. Wellman and Samuel frost moved in from Vermont the same year (1824,) and were the first to settle in the north-east part of the town.  The Wellman brothers located on lot 16, remaining only a year, and Frost, on lot 24, where he lived about three years.  Isaac Case and his son Bradford W. Case, the latter of whom was born in New Bedford, Mass., Sept. 6, 1812, moved from Onondaga Co. with an ox team and settled in the south-east part of the town of Wirt in January, 1822.  Owing to the depth of snow they were unable to reach their destination, so they stopped at Levi Applebee's near the center of Wirt, till March, when they moved into the house the father had built the previous year.  In 1825 they removed to lot 16 in this town.  B. W. Case has lived in this town and Wirt since he first came to the county.  He was a mechanic, and built nine saw mills for different parties in one year.  He relates that in 1825 Samuel Frost and two or three of his sons went one Sunday afternoon to pick chestnuts a little south of their house.  at night Mr. Frost started home to do the chores, leaving his boys to follow when they had finished picking.  When the latter reached home their father had not arrived and apprehending danger form his protracted delay they went over to Isaac Case's to get help to search for him.  They repaired to the locality where he had been picking chestnuts, but could find no trace of him.  The next morning the neighbors were alarmed and joined in The search, and in the afternoon, as no tidings were learned of him, Mr. Case went to Friendship village to procure additional help to join the search, so that by Monday night some twenty or thirty men had gathered together.  A corresponding number of women had collected at the house of the missing man to help to cook and provide for the searchers.  The search was continued until Thursday night, at day and more or less at night, when they met in council and decided that it was useless longer to continue it.  While they were thus engaged Mr. Case bethought him to look in a small gully near by.  He soon discovered tracks which he followed to a muddy place, and while making a detour around this he discovered Mr. Frost lying beside a log, very weak and nearly insensible.  A rude litter was constructed on which he was carried home.  He was able to be around again in a few days.  A ten quart pail with which he started for home was found on Tuesday, half full of chestnuts, and the large quantity of shucks which were found strewn around near it indicated that he had spent the previous night in walking between two large trees twelve or fourteen feet apart.  We presume Mr. Frost became lost in The woods, though we are not advised upon that point.  Peter Ayers removed from Seneca Co. to the town of Wirt in April, 1821, and in 1827, to this town, where he has since resided.  David Thurber moved in from Cayuga Co. in March, 1829, and settled on lot 46, where he remained till his death in February, 1845.  His wife still lives upon the old homestead.  Jeremiah Burdick, from Cortland Co., and Leonard Daniels, from Otsego Co., came in 1830, the latter in October.  Burdick settled on lot 55, and lived in the town till his death in 1873.  Daniels settled on lot 53.  Elias Scott, a native of New Hampshire, removed with his father to friendship, from Genesee Co., in 1828, and in 1831, to lot 39, in this town, where he has since lived.  Levi Lesuer, from Otsego Co., settled on lot 55, in June, 1832.  Charles Cowles, from Steuben Co., and James Davie, from Otsego Co., settled in The town in 1833.  Davie on lot 54.  In 1834 John Phillips, from Vermont, settled on lot 24.  Clark Millard moved in from Otsego Co. and settled on lot 60, in October of the same year.  In March, 1850, he removed to the town of Genesee, where he still resides.  His son Nelson, who came with him, still lives in the town.  S. W. Thomas was born at Angelica, Oct. 14, 1814, and in June, 1834, he removed to Richburg and entered The store of Nelson Hoyt as clerk.  In 1836 Mr. Hoyt removed to Bolivar village and built and opened a store, which says Mr. Thomas, was the first “regular” store in Bolivar.  It was built in the winter of 1835-6, and opened in February, 1836.  Mr. Thomas also connected himself with Mr. Hoyt as clerk in this store, and sold the first goods in it.  In 1840 he entered into partnership with Mr. Hoyt, and three years thereafter he opened a store of his own.  He has since continued that business in this village, with the exception of two years spent in Richburg in the same business.  Mr. Hoyt kept the store till his death about 1857.

The first birth in town was that of Almond W. Cowles, in 1820; the first marriage, that of Daniel Kellogg and Sophia Hitchcock, in 1825; and the first death, that of a child of Luther Austin, in 1823.  The first school house was a log structure, built on the north-east corner of lot 55, on lands now owned by S. G. S. Rowley, in the early part of the summer of 1820.  The first school was taught the same summer by Rachel Gilbert, at severy-five cents per week.  Austin Cowles taught in the winter of 1820-21.  The first saw mill was built in 1822, on Little Genesee Creek, on lot 55, near the village, by an association of early settlers, consisting of Christopher Tyler, Asa and Austin Cowles and Luther Austin, the latter of whom was the millwright.  Asa Cowles erected the first grist mill on lot 54, at the village, in 1824.  Luther Austin built the first framed house on lot 55.  Morris Wilson built and opened the first store at Honeoye Corners.  He also kept the first public house there.  Two brothers named Warner opened a grocery store at the Corners soon after Wilson did his.

The first religious services were held by the Methodists and conducted by Austin Cowles, in 1820.  The first Church was organized by the same denomination in 1828.

The First Baptist Church of Richburgwas organized in 1832, by Rev. Eliab Gowen, and the church edifice, which will seat 250 persons, was erected in 1840, at the cost of about $2,500.  Rev. Joseph Wilcox was the first pastor; Rev. C. F. Blakeman is the present one.  There are seventy-seven members.  The Church property is valued at $4,500.  [Information furnished by Mr. H. Fritts.


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