Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Early Streets and Roads of Fredonia NY
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2011

            It is almost impossible for us today to imagine what the earliest trails, paths and roads were like when the first white settlers began coming to this remote area of western New York. One clear indicator of what they faced is that the first people  to contract for lots from the Holland Land Co. in Canadaway (later Fredonia), that is Thomas McClintock, David Eason and Low Minigar, came here by boat and built their log cabins as close to Canadaway Creek as they could get.

            In 1802, when they made their first exploratory visits, they found ancient Indian trails and one notoriously bad road more-or-less marked out by a General Edward Paine. By 1801 the Connecticut Land Co. needed an access road through the western New York forests to the land they were trying to have settled and developed in Ohio, later known as the Western Reserve. Paine was hired to lead a company of men to open such a road. How he did it is best described by the accounts of Joseph Ellicott, at the time, and many travelers in later years.

            Ellicott, the agent at the Batavia NY office, was required to submit an annual report to his superior summarizing all aspects of the Holland Land Company’s activities in western New York during the previous year. In his January 1802 report, in the section dealing with roads during 1801, he wrote “While on the subject of Roads it will be proper to mention that I apprised you of the Desire of the New Connecticut Company to have a Road opened from New Amsterdam [Buffalo] up Lake Erie passing through the [Holland Land] Company Lands to the Triangle or Population lands [roughly Erie PA], who solicited the aid of the Holland Company.”  Ellicott had passed this request on and received instructions to prevent it. Although he tried to delay any road-building action, he was unsuccessful. Knowing the road-building was going on, he deliberately turned a blind eye because, he explained, if he had formally objected, the Connecticut Land Company would have appealed to the Road Commissioners of the Towns where the road was to go. Each would certainly have agreed to such an improvement to his Town that cost it nothing, and then would have required the Holland Land Co. to pay an extra tax because its land-holdings had been “improved.”  “It was conceived most proper to suffer them [the Connecticut Co.] to proceed. However it is effected in such an indifferent Manner that unless sleighing is very good it will be found of little or no Benefit, as it [the road] is not opened sufficiently for wheel Carriages to pass.”

            Another contemporary who commented on Paine’s road was the Rev.Joseph Badger. He had been to the Western Reserve under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society taking the “southern route” in November 1800, crossing the Alleghany mountains to Pittsburgh then on to Youngstown, Ohio, and every other small community he could find. He ended up in Detroit, then returned to Hudson, Ohio. “The next morning, October 25th [1801] he took his departure from the Reserve and returned by way of Buffalo to his family in New England.  In his Journal, which he quoted from in his Memoir, he notes that he got as far as Erie, preached there in the afternoon then “Rode on a few miles to Mr.Morehead’s. . . here we lodged.”

            By the 28th he and his companion crossed “the Pennsylvania line, entered the unbroken forest;  following the Indian path, our progress was slow” but they reached Cattaraugus before dark. “Put up with a family living but little above the Indian habits, by the name of Skinner.”  They remained there through October 30th. “At evening General Payne and two or three hands came in from pretending to cut and open a road through from Buffalo to Pennsylvania line.”

            In all fairness to Paine, we should point out first, that Ellicott’s standards for road building were often impossibly high. Paul D.Evans’ The Holland Land Company notes that “He [Ellicott] required that all the main roads should be opened forty feet wide, all trees and saplings to be cut level with the ground if twelve inches or less in diameter; if more than that, they might be cut at the usual height unless standing within eight feet of the center of the road in which case they too were to be cut level with the ground.” A footnote adds that for roads two rods wide [33 feet] a mile of road cleared equaled four acres. Smaller cross roads were opened to a width of fourteen to sixteen feet.

            In addition, when the Rev.Badger saw General Paine, it was in the midst of a very difficult period. With his son, Edward Paine,Jr.,  in the fall of 1796 he had sailed from Buffalo to the mouth the of  the Cuyahoga River to look over the Western Reserve land. Leaving his son to continue the exploration, he returned on foot along the ancient Indian trail to Buffalo. In 1798 he bought 1,000 acres, now Painesville, Ohio. The next step was to gather a large company along with his family to become settlers, ultimately some 66 people who left Aurora NY on 5 March 1801. Their intention was to go by sleighs on frozen Lake Erie but when they had gone 30 miles west of Buffalo the ice failed and they were forced to stop at Cattaraugus until spring, putting up log cabins while a few of the men drove their cattle and horses on to Ohio. It was not until 1 May 1801 that the large company was able to make it to Ohio. (The Lake County, Ohio History notes that Paine and his group arrived at the mouth of the Grand River in June 1801.)
            In other words, after surviving a difficult winter at Cattaraugus Creek and making the arduous journey to Ohio, Paine agreed to return in the fall and clear the old Indian trail, which he did to a limited extent as far as Chautauqua Creek near Westfield.

            Although the Holland Land Co. then surveyed and improved the “Buffalo to Erie” road, it continued to be a source of complaints. When a bridge was finally put across Canadaway Creek in 1809 — the bridge was there by 12 August 1809, the date of a letter in which Joseph Ellicott mentioned that “the Road crosses Canadaway Creek” —  the road was rerouted through Fredonia, but Levi Risley, writing in 1880 about what the village was like in 1821 could say of the road east of 47 East Main St. “From this to the hill the ground was low and wet, and [it was] all timber from the hill standing on that side to the corporation line.” No wonder Hezekiah Barker was willing to allow that easternmost part of his 360 acres to be given for a burial ground, or that Fredonia’s first water works came from springs on the west side of Prospect Street.

            If we fast forward to 1826, we find young Austin Smith, just graduated from the Hamilton NY Academy traveling to Fredonia to become the first Principal of the Fredonia Academy. The first leg of his journey was by canal boat to Buffalo on the newly constructed Erie Canal. From there he boarded the steamship Superior bound for Dunkirk. That was on a Wednesday. Unfortunately, a storm intervened and by Saturday night he had gotten as far as Black Rock. Debarking, he then took the stage coach for Fredonia. In his diary he commented “A man should be iron-bound to ride from Buffalo over the Cattaraugus road.” In fact, he got as far as Roberts’ tavern, West Sheridan, and “was advised to go round by way of Dunkirk. It was awful muddy” he noted “and such a road!”

            Twenty some years after Paine had done his best — or worst — and the road was still awful. An account by Levi Risley gives further insight into what road openings and maintenance meant in those days. This took place in 1816. Because cash was hard to come by, an individual’s taxes were usually paid by doing road work. Levi’s father compromised by offering two days work by two of his sons in lieu of one day of his own, so Levi and brother William joined a six-man crew out on a road leading off West Main Street. “The work was to plow and scrape and turnpike [make level and firm] a few rods of low ground and fill up a ‘slough of despond’ that had been a terror to all wagons that were ‘bound for Ohio.’” To our modern ears, startling enough is the explanation that “the road had been paved with hemlock brush, to keep the wagons from sinking out of sight.”

            This lengthy preamble should give some insight into the efforts that lay behind those laconic entries found in local records such as “a road was opened from the Erie Road down to the mill on the Canadaway.” 

From the day the Town of Pomfret was established by the Legislature, 11 March 1808, until 2 May 1829, when the Village of Fredonia was incorporated and a Charter adopted, all local matters were under the jurisdiction of the Town of Pomfret. Unfortunately, in the Town records only the road’s official designation was used, and that was always a brief description of where it started, or ended, or what it passed by, not the name by which the locals referred to it.

A good example is the survey done by Samuel Berry on 16 April 1822 of a road across or through private property: “Survey of a private Road from the village of Fredonia on the East side of the Creek down the same to a little below the House of Hezekiah Turner on the west side of the creek. This Road . . . [runs] to the Eastwardly end of the Bridge that crosseth the Creek near Mr.H.Turners thence . . . to the public Road on the Westwardly side of the Creek.” The road’s measurements begin “25 links North East of the North East corner of Capt.C.Burritt’s village lot.”

That northeast corner was the intersection of the center line of Main Street with the new street being laid out. The “Bridge that crosseth the Creek” near Mr.Turner’s is what we now call the Risley Street bridge. The “public Road on the Westwardly side of the Creek” is today’s Chestnut Street. The survey itself is of Mechanic Street (today’s Forest Place). It cannot be that someone referring to the road in conversation would use the cumbersome surveyor’s formula of “the road that runs from . . . .” Surely the locals had some kind of shorthand, such as the Turner Road for Chestnut Street or, perhaps, Burritt Lane or Mechanics Lane for Forest Place.

There are some small bits of evidence that that was the case. In an advertisement of 2 July 1827, J.Crane, Esq. of Fredonia and S.Russell, Esq. of Buffalo offered for sale a two-story house “corner of Cushing and Main Streets.” That is, East Main Street and Eagle Street (where Zattu Cushing lived). Obviously, then, the surveyor might call it “the road from Buffalo to Erie,” but the locals just said “the Main street.” We can imagine this was true of most if not all of the other roads in or passing through the village, that is, those which were there before official naming began.

For more than twenty years, what are now village streets were merely segments of Town roads. This continued to be so until 16 March 1866 when the Village was enlarged to include the area it occupies today. In 1829 the Village meant a strip of land ¼ mile wide on either side of Main Street from just east of Chestnut Street to just east of Newton Street. This was enlarged, on 12 May 1837, to a square, 1½ miles on each side, oriented North-South and East-West, with its center at 1 Park Place.

            These measurements tell us something rather odd. Between 1829 and 1837 the Risleys, to call up a familiar local family name, living on Chestnut Street and West Main Street, were not Fredonians. After Zattu Cushing farmed for his first two years here at Point Gratiot, he made his home on today’s Eagle Street, which put him firmly outside of Fredonia for some thirty years until 12 May 1837, two years before he died. That explains why so many of the familiar pioneer names do not appear in the lists of Village of Fredonia officials.

            Another oddity caused by the various “bounds” that were adopted over the years is how little the Village had to say about what are now important Village streets. When the Village was incorporated in 1829, a Charter was adopted and the first officials named. It was not until 1830 that the Trustees got around to officially recognizing its own streets by giving them names. There were, in fact, a grand total of eight: Main, Hamlet, Mechanic, Temple, Eagle, Water, Factory, and Lake. There are three interesting aspects to this list. First, that we have little information about whether these were the names by which the streets had always been known; second, how utilitarian the names are, reflecting their location or function. A cultural anthropologist might find it revealing that although the village began with this kind of naming, it soon began to re-envision itself as living on streets named Forest Place, Garden, Chestnut, and Maple and later Park and Birchwood. Indeed, there is a whole study to be done about the commemorative names such as Barker, Leverett, Cushing, Clinton, Lambert, Curtis, Risley, Seymour, Hart, Howard, Dunn, Forbes, Newton, Green, Glisan and Berry or the patriotic ones such as Free, Union, Washington, and Liberty. Third, that the original eight were not streets created by the village but, rather, inherited when the act of incorporation defined the outlines of the new village, and the parts of the roads within those new bounds became our streets. But this is taking us far away from the 1830 list.

            The name for Main Street hardly needs any comment. It was the really big one  —. H.C.Taylor’s Historical Sketches says the road was laid 6 rods (99 feet) wide — and the only one to run from the village limits on one side to the village limits on the other. Hamlet came from the huge one-stop shopping place known as the Cascade Hamlet at today’s 100 West Main Street. “Cascade” was the early name for Canadaway Creek referring to the natural falls at today’s Laona. In an 1804 letter to Joseph Ellicott, McClintock referred to his location as on “Caskade Creek.” “Hamlet” meant, not a Shakespeare play but the small settlement being built in 1818.The idea was to make the Cascade Hamlet accessible to the folks at Bull’s Mills (Laona), so the narrow alley was “improved” to become Hamlet Street, one of the few street names we know of before 1830.

            Mechanic was called that because it was the location of a large foundry and a blacksmith shop both of which employed what Franklin Burritt in 1899 called “artisans and craftsmen,” that is, in the language of 1830, “mechanics.”  Burritt also tells us that the name originally used was “Tin-Pot-Alley” because the lane, as it was at first, had a “rambling rail fence” running from the corner of Main Street to William A.Hart’s home, the building at today’s 50 Forest Place at the corner of Hart Street.  “The deep rail fence corners were receptacles for old pots and rejected tin pans and stove pipe” and the clippings discarded by the tinsmiths.

            Temple Street seems to have been named in reference to the Baptist Church building which had gone up in 1823 where that village street began. It seems odd that it wasn’t called Church Street. Apparently the local version had been “Chapel Street” since that is the name still being used in some property deeds of 1835 and 1842 and in ads for D.D.Franklin’s “Cabinet and Chair Shop” in 1841 through 1843.

            The Eagle Street name is a mystery. The road, of which the village street had been a short segment, was known as the Cushing Road as late as the 24 September 1828 issue of the Censor since it ran through the 353-acre lot and the 130 acres just below it belonging to, and past the home of, Zattu Cushing. Was the village decision to choose another name a slight directed at him? What is more likely is that the village fathers didn’t want to honor one local pioneer to the exclusion of all the others. “Eagle” may have been meant to be patriotic, although that is an impulse that shows up somewhat later. Perhaps a large eagle was spotted there, or, more likely, shot there.

            Water Street is almost as easy to explain as Main Street. This was a stub of a lane leading down from Main Street to the water’s edge, Canadaway Creek, where horses and other livestock could be watered. A bridge was not built there until 1833. Factory Street, which is the name that could have been used for Mechanic Street, referred to the wool-carding factory or mill of Abel Griswold and Eliakim Crosby on Canadaway Creek where Norton Place now runs. In 1818 it was purchased by Jared Risley and later by James Norton. The street remained “Factory” at least until the Trustees’ Minutes of 18 June 1849, but became “Mill Street” by the time of the 1851 map of the Village of Fredonia.

            The last of the eight village streets to be named was Lake Street. That is, today’s Central Avenue. If you started out at the Temple Street intersection and made your way north on that street in 1830 you would travel a few feet and then find yourself on the Town Road that had been surveyed in 1808 and again in 1817, although the road was almost never used until the railroad arrived in Dunkirk in 1851 because it was virtually impassable. The Observer in January 1886 had a series of articles about the history of Dunkirk. At the time Dr.Ezra Williams first came to Dunkirk, around 1817, “Central avenue was then a continuous forest from Third street to Fredonia. The only road for teams [of horses] to the latter village, was westerly to near the mouth of the Canadaway creek, thence by what is known as the Creek road.” An 1886 reminiscence by George Rood, then 86, describes his logging opposite today’s 108 Central Avenue and how “From the bend in the road where Dr.Williams’ residence now stands [in Dunkirk], down through and far beyond, what is now Dunkirk, was nothing but a continuous mud hole.”

            It was another two years before any new streets were officially added to the list. It was 15 November 1832 when the first street created by the village appeared. That was Canadaway Street. The most significant fact about this street was that it led nowhere: there was, as yet, no Water Street bridge. Isaac Saxton and Alanson Buckingham had petitioned the Trustees to lay out the street through their property solely so that they could sell off building lots to prospective home owners, a notable “first” in the history of the village, but a practice that was to become the norm. Three years later the next street was recorded (18 May 1835), Barker Street. Since Hezekiah Barker had died on 5 July 1834, it would seem this was the first opportunity to honor one of Fredonia’s pioneers who was safely departed.

            It should be pointed out that there is almost no record of the deliberations that must have gone into choosing each street’s name. Except for an extended article such as the one by Burritt or chance remarks in other sources, we have no way of being sure what the namers had in mind. We are forced to guess. On the same day as Barker Street arrived, two others were added to the list. Nassau and Green. (“Green” for a local family? We don’t know.)
            For Nassau Street we are told the source. In the 12 April 1899 article in the Censor in which Franklin Burritt objected to changing Mechanic Street to Forest Place, he mentioned, in passing, that Nassau Street “had been suggested by the Risleys in honor of a great historical personage and a street in New York city.” Nassau Street in lower Manhattan was named in honor of Maurice of Nassau, prince of Orange (1567-1625) who first freed the Netherlands from Spanish rule. However, that doesn’t really explain why either a short New York City street or a Dutch prince was something a short Fredonia street needed to honor. (Our Nassau Street only ran as far as Barker Street.) For that matter, why the English chose to change Pye-Woman Lane, its name at least until 1696, to honor a Dutch prince is equally mystifying. Nevertheless they did and the Risleys did. Where Nassau Street was to  be run had been an alleyway from Main Street giving access to the rear of the large, wooden hotel building — in 1835 it was Abell’s Hotel — where the trash bins, outhouses and horse stables were located. No wonder when Nassau Street was opened, the local wags referred to it as Nasty Street. Unfortunately, there were other unpleasant aspects to the street yet to come, as we will see.

            In May 1837 the Village of Fredonia enlarged its bounds to the square
1½ miles on each side. That meant the eastern bounds along Main Street moved from today’s Newton Street out to Clinton Street, and the north bounds from Terrace Street to today’s Cottage Street. And what that meant was more roads within the village’s jurisdiction. So by March 1839 the Board of Trustees was ready to name the roads and paths it had recently acquired: Ridge, Chautauque, Chesnut (it was frequently spelled that way), Garden (the “street from Mechanic to Temple.” i.e. Risley Street), and Berry (where Samuel Berry’s home stood).

            In 1846 Ridge Street was changed to Seymour and in 1847 the Nassau Street troubles began. The three Risley brothers had built their packet seed business into the largest enterprise in Fredonia at the time. To put things in perspective, in 1847 when each Risley field worker earned $6.00 per month, property taxes ranged from $1.00 to $4.00 and up to $10.00 for those with homes and businesses. Charles Burritt the druggist, Franklin’s father, paid a respectable $11.86 that year, and Henry Frisbee, former owner of the Censor, $11.87. The Risleys paid a total of $71.01! Their closest competitor was Leverett Barker for whose brick home (the Barker Historical Museum) and tannery he paid $53.57. Clearly, the Risleys were very important. Another sign of their standing in the community was having the architect John Jones design and build their three Greek Revival mansions at the northern edge of their seed gardens. The three were spaced out along Garden Street, Elijah,Jr.’s near the creek, William’s in the middle and Levi’s near Temple Street. It was William Risley who took the next step.

            On 7 April 1847, he presented an “Application to the Village Trustees proposing that Nassau Street be “extended across Barker Street to Garden Street.” A two-man committee, appointed to go with a surveyor to look into the matter consisted of Suel H.Dickinson and Thomas Warren. Warren had married a Risley sister, Philena, in 1810 and, in the 1840s, with a small seed company of his own, had used the Risley Seed Co. wagons to distribute his seeds country-wide. We could not call him entirely disinterested, so it is not surprising that the committee returned at 7 p.m. that same day with a report in favor of extending Nassau Street according to a survey already completed.

            The survey itself is a very peculiar document. Made on 7 April while the committee looked on, the center line of the proposed street began at Main street, ran northwest 1,160 feet to today’s Terrace Street. There it stopped abruptly, made a right angle turn some 60 feet, turned left 97 feet, left again 60 feet and then northwest on its original course some 1,115 feet to Garden Street. The odd jog was to avoid running Nassau Street through a building that happened to be standing in the way, a building owned by the other local power, General Leverett Barker. So the evening meeting concluded with instructions to the Clerk to “draw [up] a notice & serve [it] on L.Barker tomorrow that the street is laid according to the same [the survey].”

            In May 1847 Barker took his case to the Court of Common Pleas, claiming that the extension crossed his land, which had been improved and cultivated. The court found for Barker and declared the Trustees’ actions reversed and annulled. (At the same time, Barker had a street, Terrace, surveyed through his own land, although it was not officially opened until August 1851.)

            The Trustees — Thomas Warren was the one to make the motion — agreed that no work was to be done on the stretch of road between  “Garden Street & the South line of Gen.Barker’s land” and that nothing was to be paid to William Risley for work on that section. Risley, for his part, appealed the decision, lost his appeal, and then requested and was granted permission by the Board “to bring a Writ of Certiorari in the name of the Corporation” provided he execute a bond of $500 “to save and keep harmless the said President [Mayor] & trustees & their successors in office from all costs and expenses in the prosecution and determination of said suit.” The writ of Certiorari was to ask a superior court to review the lower court’s decision. The Trustees had said “You’re on your own” and Risley had answered “I haven’t given up.”

            There is no further record in the Trustees’ Minutes of the outcome of all this, except that Nassau Street did go through. Perhaps the issue became moot when General Barker died on 11 May 1848. The next mention of the street, on 5 April 1851, is that its name was to be changed to Center Street.

            That too raised a fuss, according to Franklin Burritt. “I remember distinctly the clamor that was raised over the changing of the name . . . . It was a question for some time whether the name, Center, should stick or that of Nassau be restored . . .  The questions were pertinently asked, “Why Center Street? Center of what?”

            Of course, the answer, as Burritt knew perfectly well, was the center of William Risley’s Greek Revival mansion. No longer would one have to go down Mechanic or Temple streets and then in on Garden.There was now a single, grand avenue going directly from William Risley’s store on Main Street to his own front door.

            There is another set of village streets that came about through a lawsuit. Hezekiah Barker’s son Charles died intestate on 7 July 1840. The estate was probate but a dispute between some of the heirs caused the whole matter to end up in the courts. Ultimately, William Barker brought suit against his brother Samuel Barker “and others.” The outcome was that three Commissioners in Partition were appointed to settle the matter. They determined that the property, a large rectangle on the east side of Central Avenue should be surveyed into building lots which would be auctioned off with the proceeds divided among the heirs. The formal survey was dated 18 October 1852. (It had taken twelve years to settle the matter.)

            The lots along Central Avenue were immediately  accessible, but to reach into the rest of the land required laying out some new streets. Therefore Day Street was run from today’s Church Street northwest to Dunkirk Street (Central Avenue), while Free Street (Lambert Avenue) was laid from Temple northeast to a corner, then north parallel to Central Avenue. Those two streets gave access to the lots on the south and east. To do the same for interior lots, another street was laid across the middle of the land dividing it roughly into two halves, so it was called Division Street (today’s Curtis Place).

            Day, Division and Free were officially admitted as public streets in November 1852. The fact that Day Street began at Church Street calls for some explanation. The 1851 map of Fredonia shows Barker Common with Day Street running from East Main Street to Church Street and Church Street from Day almost to Center Street. However, both are outlined with dotted lines meaning they were proposed streets, not yet officially accepted by the village. The reason for that is that the village didn’t own the land. On 18 April 1825 Hezekiah Barker had finally deeded the Common he had long promised to the Town of Pomfret. In November 1852, it still belonged to the Town which meant that village residents could freely walk along the paths they called Day Street and Church Street, but legally they were walking on the edges of the Town Common. For the same reason, the village’s Day Street as laid out in 1852 could only begin at the edge of the Common and run down to Central Avenue.

            It was not until some twenty years later that a transfer was made. On 6 May 1878 “M.M.Fenner Supervisor of the Town of Pomfret appeared before the Board and stated that he did not feel authorized to expend the sum usually ordered by the Board of trustees for Care and Keeping of the Parks [the two halves of the Common].”

            “He therefore offered on behalf of the Town of Pomfret to place the custody of the Parks in the hands of the Board of Trustees — until the Voters of said Town at the next annual meeting shall have an opportunity to take action.” The offer was accepted, and on 17 March 1879 “The following communication was ordered on file and the proposition accepted.

                                                                                    Fredonia N.Y. March 17, 1879

To the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Fredonia.


                                                                                    The following is a correct copy of a
Resolution adopted by the electors of the Town of Pomfret at noon of Tuesday February 18, 1879 in town Meeting assembled.

            Resolved  — That the Public Parks belonging to the Town of Pomfret but located in the Village of Fredonia be placed in the custody of the President [Mayor] and Board of Trustees of said village.
            I have the honor as present custodian of the public property of the town, to tender you the custody of the public parks, in accordance with this Resolution.
                                                                                                            Respectfully yours,

                                                                                                            Milton M.Fenner”
            And that is when Fredonia’s Day Street was finally allowed to begin at Main Street. Church Street had a similar history that adds to our understanding of how Fredonia’s streets developed. Its presence on the 1851 map makes clear that there was, de facto, a street named “Church” long before it became official. The name Free Street appears first in the survey of Charles Barker’s estate in 1852 and must be related to the furious debates then raging over the Fugitive Slave Act and all the other free vs. slave states issues. The same is probably true for Liberty and Union streets, which appear, like Church and Day, within dotted lines, as proposed streets on the 1851 map.

            It seems odd that in as self-consciously patriotic a place as Fredonia there are so few “patriotic” street names other than Washington Avenue (1891). There was a Ludovici Street in February 1904 (changed to Link in 1914) and a Pulaski Street in 1947, both apparently honoring foreigners of note, but otherwise no Adams, Jefferson, Franklin or even Lincoln.

            By far the most frequently used source has been personal names, either to honor those who were gone or commemorate the owners through whose lands the streets were laid. We have already noted Berry, Seymour, Hart (for a while, then renamed Davis, then Hart again) Barker, Leverett, Day, and Lambert. To these we could add Risley, Newton, Forbes, Glisan, (the original name of part of Newton Street), Gillis, Clinton (originally Ball Street), Cushing, Norton, Dunn, Howard, Kapple, and many more.

            There is one other class of streets we should touch on, and that is Fredonia streets of record that never existed. The compilers of certain kinds of reference books, such as biographical dictionaries like a Who’s Who or city directories, work very hard gathering and verifying the accuracy of their listings, so to prevent an unscrupulous competitor from copying all or segments and publishing it as his own, compilers build in fake biographies and, more important for us, fake streets, to use as evidence in court cases. They call them “burglar alarms.”

            Fredonia residents in 1972 were probably quite surprised to find their village streets included Dresden Avenue, which ran from Nellie Lane southerly to Pasture Street. Or that Griffin Way reached from La Bonte Avenue to McCormick Lane, and Pepper Road went from Nellie Lane to Emily Street, at least according to Manning’s Dunkirk and Fredonia Directory of 1972. By the time of the 1979 Directory, Nellie ran from Dresden to Hill Road, while Hill Road didn’t run anywhere.

            Griffin Way survived into 1983 as did Nellie, Pepper and Emily. In addition Sand Hill Drive was added, running from “Gansett easterly:” although, according to this listing Gansett didn’t run anywhere either.

It is not too much to say that a study of our village’s streets leads us into a multitude of interesting byways.

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