Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Webster Block / 38-40 West Main Street
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2012 

            The building once known as the Webster Block was in place at least by 1848 when the Censor of 18 April announced that “the Webster Block is undergoing a complete metamorphosis.” The result can be seen in the elaborate woodcut advertisement that ran in the Censor on 15, 22 and 29 May, 1849. It showed the two-door building with three occupants: Frazine & Starr, dry goods and groceries at today’s 38 West Main Street, with “A. E. Cherry, Dentist” on the second floor. At 40 West Main Street was Baker & Cowden, successors to G. N. Frazine, tin and copperware and stoves, with their “Tin Factory” on the second floor over the store.           
In April 1938, when local businessman Henry Leworthy described the buildings he remembered from April 1878, he said, “In the business block here, Joel Hendee I think had a grocery store in the first building at that time. Near there, Lew Hughes had a saloon.” An 1879 business directory lists Hendee at what was then 21 Main Street, today’s 40 West Main Street. For Hughes, the directory lists a “restaurant.”
The Woleben Block /45-53 West Main Street
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2012

The site spanning today’s 45 West Main Street to today’s 53 West Main Street has had three major buildings on it. In the summer of 1816, a large wooden building was put up on the site just east of the alley that would become Forest Place. It was put up by Risley & Fellows.  J. & R. Plumb had a store in the east part, and there was a large room over their store, with just the floor laid, used for Baptist meetings. Mrs. Rachel Cushing’s funeral was held there in August 1816. In another upper room, the Chautauque Gazette was begun in January 1817.
Over the years the building deteriorated until on 13 April 1843 the village Trustees ordered that the ramshackle building be removed, lowered or torn down. It was finally removed and on 26 May 1846 a new building, this one of brick, was begun. It was completely up by March 1847 and finished in April. A May 1847 woodcut advertisement shows the new building and its tenants: J. Havens, at #1, at the corner of Forest Place; D. Barrell at #2; P. Perkins & Son at #3; and Hilton & Case at #4. The New Book Store was over #2; H. F. Smith, trunk and harness maker, over the front entrance; F. P. Isherwood, tailor over #3; and the Fredonia Censor printing Office over #4.
  On 28 February 1850, the building burned. At the time it was occupied by C. Dudley & Co., dry goods; Perkins & Webster, dry goods; Hilton & Lamson, dry goods; the Odd Fellows Hall; Dr. Hall’s office; H. F. Smith’s saddler shop; and the Censor office.
A new larger brick building was in the planning by 23 April 1850 and was partially ready in April 1851, utilizing some of the bricks from buildings abandoned when the Van Buren community collapsed. (Other bricks were shipped to Buffalo for building there.) There is a chart of the building’s occupants in the Censor of 8 February 1853 showing the IOOF Hall on the third floor over stores #4 and #5.
In 1915 the Odd Fellows bought Mrs. Fenner’s lot on West Main Street adjoining the Woleben Block, intending to put up a large building next door, occupy the upper two floors and open the third floor into their Woleben Block quarters. The plans were never carried out, with the Odd Fellows, instead, taking over the American Block at 5-11 East Main Street in 1923.
The Union Block / 1-3 East Main Street
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2012 

Howard Brothers           
Edward Howard became a partner in a clothing mill in Fredonia in 1825. His family included sons Lewis S. (b.1836), Edward D. (1842), Frank W. (1844, and Clarence M. (1848).            
Lewis worked as an assistant to the Post Master in 1851. By 1853 he was in charge of the office which also sold newspapers, magazines and other small items. In 1860 he was Deputy Post Master and had taken Edward in to clerk in the Book and Stationery Department. In March 1865 he was offering jewelry items including a fancy watch and in September 1866 Lewis and Edward advertised they had five different kinds of American Watches for sale. In 1867 Edward became a full partner with Lewis. 

The Censor had been owned by several people after Henry Frisbee sold it in 1838. In 1842 it was bought by Willard McKinstry and Levi L. Pratt. The paper had several offices until 1862 when it moved to 4 Center Street. In 1863 the Post Office and its “bookstore” was moved there as well.           
In February 1868 W. McKinstry & Son (Louis) and L. S. Howard & Bros. bought the old Taylor & Jennings store lot at today’s 1 East Main Street (formerly the Putnam store). At the same time, Orson Stiles bought the lot next east of it. The old wooden stores that had been on the lots were sold to L. B. Greene and were to be moved to his lot further east on Main Street. However, on 29 April 1868 they were destroyed by fire.  

It is not clear that it had been planned ahead of time, or if the fire changed their plans, but Stiles, the McKinstrys and the Howards did combine and built a single building designed by Enoch A. Curtis and called the Union Block (1-3 East Main). It was being built in 1868 and had its grand opening in March 1869. It was a stone building with brick facing, the brickwork done by Stephen Johnson. It was three stories high, about 50 feet wide on Main Street running back about 55 feet. A notable feature was the curved corner at Main Street and Water Street. On the first floor the Howards had the Water Street corner for their Jewelry/Bookstore/Post Office. Stiles’ “Union Banking Company and Chautauqua County Savings Bank” occupied the east half of the first floor. The Censor’s offices were on the second floor above Howards, E. A. Curtis had an office over the front half of the bank, and at the rear was a barber shop. The entire third floor housed Ladd & Pringle’s photography studio.            
In September 1875 Edward and Clarence formed the Independent Watch Co., then the Lake Shore Watch Co., and the Empire Watch Co., all based at 63 Main Street (today’s 1 East Main Street). Frank took over a bakery/grocery at 7 Water Street. In 1876 Edward and Clarence bought the Pettit Eye Salve business and in 1878 sold the book and jewelry store to Frank. In December 1885 Edward and Clarence had moved their watch business to Peoria IL. At the same time Frank advertised what he called “The Empire Watch Co., 63 Main St., Fredonia N.Y.” authorizing all Express Agents to take orders for his watches. In the Chicago Sunday Tribune of 16 June 1907 there was an article quoting Richard W. Sears “that if a watch firm at Fredonia N.Y., years ago hadn’t sent him a watch, C.O.D., with privilege of return if he thought he couldn’t sell it, he might still be [a] dealer in coal, wood, and lumber in northern Minnesota.” Since it was in 1886 that the incident occurred , it must have been Frank Howard’s 63 Main St. business that inspired Sears, not the Fredonia Watch Co. of Edward and Clarence.           
The Union Block was taken down and replaced by the current bank building in 1929.
The Center Block / 10 – 18 West Main Street
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2012

For almost the first 50 years of the Fredonia settlement’s existence, large gatherings had to use borrowed sites: schoolhouses, barns, inns, and churches. However, in 1851 the Erie Railroad reached Dunkirk, which caused Central Avenue to be made into a plank road, which allowed a horse-drawn omnibus to connect the Village to the Railroad depot, which made it possible for lecturers and theater companies to easily reach Fredonia.   
  In 1852, the Center Block at today’s 10-18 West Main Street was built with a Concert Hall on the third floor, the first “purpose-built Hall” in the Village. In 1871 the American Block went up at today’s 5-11 East Main Street, with its Union Hall on the third floor. (The Union Hall did so well that the Concert Hall in the Center Block was sold and remodeled for the Masonic lodge.)  
In April 1891 the Village Hall/Opera House was opened and became the venue for most performances. Fire and other accidents since the late 20th century have left only one of the original Center Block buildings intact (10 West Main Street.)
The American Block / 5–11 East Main Street
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2012 

            On 28 April 1868, fire destroyed a row of old wooden buildings on East Main Street just east of Water Street. The loss included the furniture and undertaking store of the Barmore Brothers. They moved their business to a temporary location and by January 1869, L. A. Barmore bought out his brother, A. L. Barmore’s, interest in that store and in the East Main Street property as well.            
That gave L. A. Barmore a ¼ acre lot on East Main Street with a 53½ foot frontage. Forming a partnership with G. W. Porter and C. M. Ball, the three hired E. A. Curtis to design their brick, 3-story, 4-building block at today’s 5-11 East Main Street.           
 Porter’s building at 5 East Main Street was put up first, going up by August 1869; Ball’s was the second, at 7 East Main Street; Barmore’s the third, at 9 East Main Street; and all three shared in the cost of the fourth, 11 East Main Street.           
A May 25, 1870 Censor item suggested the block be named the Petroleum Block “in view of the source from which the funds were largely derived.”           
Over the two central buildings, Barmore and Ball built the “Union Hall,” not to be confused with “the Union Block” at 1-3 East Main Street. The Censor of 3 January 1872 allowed as how they had provided the village “with the best public hall, aside from the Opera House at Dunkirk, in the county.” The hall was 50 by 100 feet, 26 feet high. It had a “comfortable 1,000 floor seating capacity (no galleries), and a platform 25 by 30.”  The visiting public seems not to have agreed with the Censor’s evaluation because, some two years later, significant changes were made.           
From the Censor of 3 January 1873:  The public will be glad to learn that Union Hall is hereafter to be entirely comfortable. The east stairway now goes straight through the wall into the room over Barmore’s store [9 East Main Street], then turns and rises to a hallway in the third story from which the audience room is entered about the center. With self shutting doors at the foot of the stairs and at the entrance to the hall, consumption seed [dust?] will not be scattered there as it used to be through the front entrance now closed. The third story hallway is eight feet wide and a door by the head of the stairs leads from it into a commodious dressing room in front which also communicates with the stage. The new entering hall also communicates with a third stairway to the street so that with the west stairway which remains in front as before but will not be opened except for egress, there will be three ways of getting out. There will also be an extra dressing room or cooking room for festivals when required, and altogether Union Hall is now perfect. . . .”           
 Over the years there were a variety of businesses and offices in the four buildings as well as many performances and meetings at Union Hall. By 1923 the Odd Fellows had a half-interest in the American Block purchased from the Frank Ball estate. However, on 16 September 1923 a fire badly damaged “the third floor of the American Block, known to all older Fredonians as Union Hall….The flames had eaten through to a net work of wooden girders supporting the roof” and “weakened the roof structure….The roof started to collapse at the rear and then the entire roof fell.”            
The Odd Fellows then bought up the other half interest and began to repair the damage.   The building was virtually gutted and rebuilt. What had been Union Hall was “divided into a lodge room, banquet room, ante-room, coat room, and kitchen. The lodge room is the largest of the rooms, occupying the Main street end of the building, the old stage having been removed. Back of the lodge room is the banquet room, which will seat 150 persons. The kitchen is commodious. . . . The ceiling of the lodge room is seventeen feet from the floor, the rooms in the rear being lower, which allows the construction of a fourth floor in the rear half of the building. This will be made into quarters designed for the use of the Rebekah Lodge, with other rooms for storage purposes. A balcony in the lodge rooms provides a point of vantage for musicians or for speakers on special occasions.”           
 “No changes have been made in the arrangement of the second floor, the front being used as offices by the Tremaine Insurance Agency and the offices formerly occupied by Dr. Lodico having been leased to Dr. Tenant. The large east room in the rear will be used as lodge rooms by the Maccabees, it having been their quarters for many years past. The west room will house the Odd Fellows Club.”            
The Odd Fellow’s rooms were opened for public display on 8 May 1924. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Lunch Wagons and Diners of Fredonia
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2011 

            Although lunch wagons were being manufactured by 1887 and diners by 1891, the first local reference is in The Fredonia Censor of 9 April 1919 which had an article headed “Chateau de Hot Dog.”  It explained that the Village Trustees were wrestling with the deep questions of “when is a wagon not a wagon,” “when is a building not a building,” and if a building is horse-drawn onto a lot, has it been erected or not?  “Many persons who have objected to the modern D.A.V.& P.—B.&L.E. 1882 model Lunch wagon now gracing the Main street side of the former Columbia site have urged that some action be taken by the Village Trustees. The Building Code applies if the wagon is a building. On the other hand, if the building is a wagon, it does not apply.” With “lunch wagons invading the sacred and very disreputable looking Columbia Hotel property, West Main street is in a bad way.”  
The Hotel Columbia (1 Park Place) had burned down on 27 January 1918 leaving a rubble strewn block that took time to clear. Apparently, at least one lunch wagon was put on the site. It seems to have been in the shape of a railroad diner or a streetcar, but why 1882? Probably the Censor’s idea of humor. It is even possible there was not room in the 2 April issue, as close to April 1st as a weekly newspaper could get. What the Trustees thought is less clear, because there is not a word of it in their Minutes. What is in the Minutes, of the 14 April meeting, is notice of a petition to the Board from Warren J. Hall for permission to put a temporary lunch wagon on the site, which was granted. The car may, in fact, have been the one sitting on the empty lot waiting a decision when April Fool’s Day came around.            
On 29 June 1920, the former owners of the Columbia Hotel sold the property to A. William Russo. When he later began clearing and excavating, the diner had to be moved off which accounts for the ad Hall placed in the Censor of 17 May 1922: “FOR SALE—Lunch wagon 22 feet long, 11 feet wide. Inquire Hall’s Restaurant, 6 Center street.” In fact, the correct number was 8 Center Street. Hall had taken over the restaurant that had been there for a number of years run by Ernest Michalski.           
On 27 March 1924 Harry V. Hotchkin applied to the Board for permission to put a dining car on a lot he had purchased at 41-43 West Main Street. He had purchased the dining car from Silver Creek and, because no photographs or drawings were available, he included a detailed description of the car’s construction and some sketches of how it would look on the lot. Unfortunately, according to the Censor of 16 April 1924, a Samuel Lyon of Westfield and a young lady friend “were soused to the gills” at a dance hall on Roberts Road after which they came into Fredonia. “Not liking the appearance of the new lunch wagon on Main street, they started to tear it down.” Apparently not too much damage was done.           
That Main Diner first appears in the city directories in 1925 as the Main Lunch Wagon. By 1930 it is being run by Mrs. Bertha Hall, Warren Hall’s wife. A. K. Dickinson bought it from a Mrs. Burlage in 1942. In 1951 it was sold and moved off. The property owner, Raymond Arnold, had a permanent, brick structure put up named Arnold’s Restaurant. According to a Censor article of 28 February 1952, the then owner of the diner, Mike Palermo, was moving it to a lot near the Kimball Stand at Rte. 380 and Rte. 60.           
It was not too long after the Main Lunch Wagon appeared on West Main Street in 1924 that “Mr. Mulholland of the Dunkirk Dining Car Corporation” petitioned the Village Board for permission to install “one of their steel-constructed dining cars on the Park Garage property.” That was on 8 February 1926. The Mulholland Spring Co. of Dunkirk had been in operation since 1881. In 1913 they began manufacturing automobile bodies at their Washington Avenue plant and in September 1925 they formed the Dunkirk Dining Car Corporation to sell the dining cars they were beginning to build. These steel-framed cars were 30 feet long and ten feet wide. The “Park Garage property” was at 9 Day Street where the Park Garage and Park Diner were located. Walter Ehmke had the diner in1926 and it was taken by J. C. Donnelly in 1927. The Censor of 9 May 1928 reported that “Our enterprising restaurateur, Jack Donnelly, has opened another lunch car. This one at ‘Kendalville,’ out East Main road near Silver Creek. (“Kendalville” referred to the Kendall camp grounds and service station on East Main road.)  Donnelly apparently ran into financial difficulties during the depression since his lunch wagon is listed in the County Treasurer’s notice of tax delinquents in 1931and after. Donnelly moved the lunch wagon out on East Main Street opposite Cleveland Avenue at 174-178 East Main Street. In April 1933, George Kopp bought the diner and planned to move it to 24 West Main Street.             
A serious fire that destroyed the buildings at 20 through 28 West Main Street had occurred on 1 March 1933, which made the location available for Kopp. He intended to make improvements to the dining car before moving it to the property he was leasing from Mrs. Josephine McPhee who owned the Petz Bros. building at 24 West Main Street and from Edward Crimens who owned the Crimens Cigar Store at 26 West Main. When the refurbished Park Diner was relocated, it became 24 West Main Street. In August 1948, the then owner, Harry Stanton, moved the Park Diner one lot west to 26 West Main Street. Ollie M. Finch had it by 1961 and Frank DeJohn bought it in October 1966. By 1969 it was Richard DeJohn as proprietor and by 1972 it was transformed into Richard’s Park Pub or just Park Pub. It has been altered and much added to as well as renamed the Park Pub Deli and Spaghetti Factory (1991) and DeJohn’s Italian Spaghetti House (2004).           
The assessment rolls for 1926, 1927 and 1928 show a Theresa Tucholski with a “lunch wagon” on Water Street, no numbered address given. (She may have been Theresa the wife of Walter Tucholski of Dunkirk.) However, by the time of the 1930 Directory, Walter Johnson had a diner at 16 Water Street, probably the earlier lunch wagon’s location. A 1935 map of Fredonia business locations has an entry for the Water Street Diner at 16 Water Street.  The 1938 Directory lists it as a restaurant although a September article in the Censor refers to it as “Johnson’s Diner” being remodeled. However, the 1944-45 Directory lists 16 Water Street as “vacant.”            
One other diner on record is the Family Diner about at today’s 3771 East Main Road  (the Paper Factory). It was opened by Sam and Joseph Militello in 1949 and sold to William “Irish Billy” Collins of Arcade in September 1962. He had it until 1968 when it was sold to Blossom Domenico who renamed it the Family Kitchen. By the time of the 1972 Directory it was standing vacant, and was gone from the site thereafter.
Flag of Our Union
By Douglas H. Shepard

              There were at least three versions of the view of the Common painted by Julia Parker. One, now in Barker Library, has a flag on the Academy building. According to the conservator who worked on it, on the back in pencil is the title “Flag of [illegible].” Because it was painted in the early days of the Civil War, it may well have been called “Flag of Our Union.” The rest of the inscription is “Painted July 21st 1862 / by Julia Lovina Parker. / From the balcony of [illegible] Hotel [in July 1862 it would have been the Johnson House] / Fredonia, N.Y.
              A later note on the back, in ink, says it was: Repaired and cleaned by Edgar R. Boniface of Boniface Art Shop, 72 East Fourth Street, Dunkirk, N.Y. October 15th 1931. That was just prior to its being lent to the Historical Room of the D. R. Barker Library. The early catalogue, which assigned the accession number 201, notes that it was painted “from the steps of the old Johnson House” and was “loaned by Dr. Bozovsky and family Nov. 1931.”
              There was another version of the same scene, without a flag and showing other minor differences. The two were given to the Museum by the family. But there was still a third version, again somewhat different, that must have stayed with the family. The Museum has only a photograph of it. The Historical Room Catalogue, Item 202 entry, is for a photograph of the painting, “Given by Dr. Bozovsky and framed by order of the Board of Managers, Nov. 1931.”
              Julia L. and her twin, Julius J. Parker, were born in Fredonia on February 8, 1838, the children of Joel R. and Lavinia Scott Parker. She attended the Academy for nine terms, from the third term of 1852 through that of 1856. There is no reference in the Academy records to her having studied painting.
              In both the 1855 and 1860 censuses she is found living “at home.” In 1862 she painted Barker Common. Whether all three versions were done close together in time is not clear. In 1863 she married Walter R. Wilcox, son of Major William Wilcox of Arkwright.
              Julia and Walter Wilcox had three children: Lizzie, born April 1865, died June 1870; Louise born 1867, died 1917; and Walter born August 1869, died May 1870. In that same year, in August, Walter R. Wilcox, age 43, died, leaving his widow and the three-year old Louise.
              In 1873, Saloma, wife of Sewell S. Clark died, and a year later, in June 1874, Mrs. Julia Wilcox married Mr. Clark.
              In 1889 Louise graduated from the Normal School (where V. D. Bozovsky was then studying) and took a position teaching in the South.
              Vacil D. Bozovsky was born in Bulgaria in 1865. After some preparation there, he came to Fredonia and entered the Normal School, where he studied from 1886, graduating in 1890 in the college preparatory program. In 1893 he and Louise Wilcox were married and they lived in Ann Arbor while he completed his M. D. degree. They then moved to Ohio for a time, finally returning to this area and settling in Dunkirk. Their children were the twins Vacil Wilcox and Elizabeth Katherine, Carol M., and Clara Louise.
              In August 1917, Julia Parker Wilcox Clark died, and five days later she was followed by her daughter, Louise Wilcox Bozovsky. In September 1919, Dr. Bozovsky married Mrs. Elizabeth W. Tuthill.
              His daughter Carol studied piano at the Normal School in 1918 and Clara Louise did the same in the following year. In March 1924 Clara married Frank G. Daggett, son of the Clayton Daggetts of Girard PA.
              In October 1931 the family had at least one of the paintings restored, and in November 1931 two of them were lent to the Historical Room and a photograph of a third version was donated.
              Dr. Bozovsky died in June 1933.
Naming the Village of Fredonia
By Douglas H. Shepard

                            As a number of writers have pointed out, the term Fredonia seems to have begun with Samuel L. Mitchill, legislator, scientist and public gadfly. Mitchill was born in New York in August 1764. He studied medicine and law and was a member of the New York State Legislature and of Congress. After the American Revolution, he had become interested in the question of what permanent name the new country should adopt and spoke and wrote about it whenever he found the opportunity.
                            There was much debate on the subject at the time. Constant repetition has made it so familiar that it is difficult for us now to imagine a time when "the United States of America” were heard merely as descriptive terms, not as the country’s name. True, the states were now united and it was that group of united states within the Western Hemisphere, the area known as “America,” that was being referred to, but what should its name be?
                            There were many suggestions, including America, Columbia, United States, United States of America, New England, and Anglo-America.
                            What Mitchill favored was “Fredon” and, when a poetical version was called for, “Fredonia.” The earliest recorded argument in its favor is found in a broadside, printed probably in 1803, with the title Generic Names for the Country and People of the United States of America. The text refers to its “authors” who “are citizens of the United States, and are zealous for their prosperity, honour, and reputation. They wish them to possess a name among the nations of the earth. They lament that hitherto and at present the country is destitute of one. The piece is signed, and some of the phrases used match those in later writings known to be Mitchill’s, so this 1803 broadside is also ascribed to him. It is impossible to tell if there really was a group for whom Mitchill was writing, or if that was merely a pious fiction.
                            Where did Mitchill himself get the name? The only clue is his own statement that the etymology of Fredon “is obvious and agreeable, it may mean a free-gift; or any thing done freely; or the land of free privileges and doings." Obviously, it is a coined word that sounds, to him, suggestive of “Free.” It is certainly not derived from Latin which used libertas or licentia for the two major aspects of freedom. No source earlier than this 1803 broadside has ever surfaced.
                            The next significant mention of the term was by Jedediah Morse who had published the American Gazetteer in 1797. When he came to revise the work for a second edition, he included a brief discussion of the controversy in his “Preface,” and in an Appendix, he provided a long entry for “Fredonia” showing what an article about the country would look like using that as its name. Morse’s preface is dated March 1, 1804. In it he explains that “a specific name for our country has long been a desideratum. . . . Much has been said in private conversation, and some things have been written on the subject . . . .Several names have been suggested….”
                            Columbia” would certainly honor the memory of the discoverer, Morse says, but it would be difficult to form the necessary variants. (Mitchill had already pointed out that the country itself could be Fredon or, in poetic contexts, Fredonia; the people would be Fredes or Fredonians; and the adjective form would be “Fredish.”)
                            Morse makes clear that he is not presuming to give a name to his country, only to show by example how convenient and useful the suggested term would be. The entry in the Appendix is headed “Fredonia,” and simply describes the country, substituting “Fredonia” wherever “United States” would have been used.
                            Mitchill followed up soon after with a poem celebrating the Fourth of July, 1804, printed as an Address to the Fredes, or People of the United States. On the title page, interpolated just after the word "Fredes" in the title, Mitchill has an explanatory sentence: “The modern and appropriate name of the people of the United States, is Fredes or Fredonians, as the geographical name of their country is Fredon or Fredonia, and their relations are expressed by the terms Fredonian or Fredish.”
                            Morse, too, continued the effort. In the sixth edition of his Universal Geography (1812) he paraphrases his own Gazetteer: A general name [this may be the typsetter’s misunderstanding of “generic” which Morse may have taken from Mitchill, since Morse had earlier used the phrase “a specific name”], proper for comprehending the whole territory under the government of the United States, has long been a desideratum. The following was suggested several years ago in the American Gazetteer, and is here inserted for the purpose of showing the great convenience of such a name, and of prompting the proper authorities in due time to adopt this, or such other name, as they shall judge more appropriate. What follows is a shortened version of the Gazetteer entry describing the country and using “Fredonia” throughout.
                            What this tells us is that the subject of what name to give the country was still a matter of some discussion in 1812, and that “Fredonia” was a leading contender. The question then remains, how the word came to the attention of the Canadaway settlers.
                            Some of the sources suggested included Spafford’s Gazetteer, “an early name proposed for the United States,” and Morse’s Geography. The two last probably refer to the same thing.
When the question of source first arose in 1886, Mr. J. L. Bugbee wrote to Levi Risley asking him who had named the village. Risley then wrote to A. H. Walker in Michigan, whose family had come to Sheridan by 1804 or 1805. In his answer, Walker is paraphrased as saying “the name was found in a new book, called ‘Spafford’s Gazetteer’ and that it should be received as the name for the village when it should be incorporated.” Risley himself is paraphrased as saying that when his family returned to the village from Ohio in 1814, “he is quite sure the place was known as Fredonia, having been named some time before by a young lawyer by the name of Price, who left as early as 1816, and went to Buffalo.” Bugbee goes on to say that “Mr. Risley says that he recollects Spafford, a book binder, and his Gazette, but was under the impression that Fredonia was named previous to his coming to the place. After a short residence he removed to Erie, Pa.”
                            Let us first deal with the Spafford matter. There was a local bookbinder of that name in the village from 1826 through 1827. However, he was Oliver Spafford and, of course, he is first found here much too late for naming the village. The Gazetteer referred to was compiled by Horatio C. Spafford, not Oliver. The first edition, A Gazetteer of the State of New York, was published in 1813. In fact, the Preface is dated, Albany, August 12, 1813. In that edition, the village is called “Canadaway” under its own entry (p.171) and in the article on Pomfret (p.275). The second edition did not appear until 1824, and, of course, the name Fredonia is used (pp.420,614).
                            As we have seen, Fredonia was suggested as the name for the United States as early as Mitchill’s broadside of 1803 and Morse’s Gazetteer of 1804. It appeared again in Morse’s Universal Geography of 1812, which is undoubtedly the geography referred to. It was certainly a well-known work and one that continued to circulate for many years showing up, for example, in a list of books James Hull had for sale at his bookstore in Fredonia in March 1819.
                            If Morse’s Geography is indeed the source, how and when was the name Fredonia applied to the village? One aspect of this matter should be cleared up first, because it has caused a good bit of confusion. There are two different “namings.” One has to do with applying the name Fredonia to the little settlement formerly known as Canadaway. Until its incorporation many years later in 1829, there was no legal mechanism for assigning a name, merely local acquiescence and increasing use. The legal “naming” had only to do with the Post Office.
                            In a thoroughly confusing sequence of events, the first area post office, named Canadaway, was established on June 18, 1806, except that it was located four miles east of the village in what is now Sheridan. The second post office was, in fact, located in Canadaway, opening on May 6, 1809, but it was named Pomfret.              Samuel Berry, the first postmaster of the Pomfret office, was succeeded by Jacob Houghton on August 19, 1813. Houghton was replaced by M. W. Abell on April 22, 1817.
                            Since Houghton was very much involved in renaming the post office, it must have occurred between August 1813 and April 1817. Houghton’s daughter, Mrs. Bradish, wrote that her father described the event to her. The village was called Canadawa (pronounced Canadaway). “After a long discussion and the proposal of several names, Fredonia was mentioned and after many objections and arguments pro and con, was adopted.” George C. Rood, in two separate accounts, remembered the meeting as taking place in June 1816. Although it was later said that Judge Houghton suggested the name and “cast the first ballot” for adopting “Fredonia,” in a follow-up letter to the Censor, his daughter specifically said that her father and a Capt. Sprague “wished the old name, Canadaway, retained.”
                            At least this account supports the fact that there was a meeting of “the city fathers,” as Mrs. Bradish called them, and it was conducted in Parliamentary fashion. (These transplanted New Englanders would have been perfectly familiar with decision-making by town meeting.) Since there was no incorporated village, “city fathers” must mean the important men of the day. George Rood said the meeting was held “at the tavern on the West Hill,” (originally built by Richard Williams, in 1816 owned by Henry Abell), that is, on the north east corner of Chestnut and West Main, across from the home where Judge Houghton and his family lived. He also said that Asa French was a participant and was the one to first propose the name, Fredonia. French, too, lived on West Hill. Mrs. Meacham wrote that, according to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Burritt, Daniel C. Garnsey chaired the.meeting. Garnsey, a lawyer, had settled in Canadaway in 1816, although the first record of his name in the Holland Land Co. ledgers is for November1816.
                            In an 1884 reminiscence, Levi Risley stated that the name, Fredonia, “was given by Mr. Price a lawyer.” This is probably a reference to Joseph Price, a lawyer and amateur poet, whose work appeared in the Chautauque Gazette. However, he seems to have been living in Mayville and there is no record of his residing in Canadaway, although there is no reason why he might not have suggested the name in conversation. A correspondent from Laona, signing himself “S.A.D.,” in 1864 wrote that the name was given by another lawyer, John French. That may have been a confusion between the Sheridan postmaster, John French, and Asa French, a local blacksmith, mentioned by George Rood.
                            Another anonymous writer, the Censor’s Chautauqua Lake contributor, pointed out that H. L. Taylor’s authoritative History (p.95) stated that the name was given at a public meeting of the citizens on January 1, 1817. The anonymous correspondent then goes on with what tradition had passed down as the events leading up to the naming. “At the Fredonia meeting above mentioned many citizens proposed to call the village Macedonia after the place made famous by Philip and Alexander the Great. There was just then a strong anti-slavery sentiment springing up, and as the pioneers in such movements are quite apt to be more zealous than wise (as witness the prohibitionists in our own day) it was objected that ‘massa’ as belonging to the slave oligarchy was inadmissable. The contest was warm but finally a compromise was made, a ‘free’ was put in place of the objectionable ‘massa,’ and Fredonia it is unto this day.”
                            What must be re-emphasized about all of this, is the distinction between renaming the village and renaming the post office. It will be remembered that the post office named Canadaway was situated in Sheridan. The postmaster had been Orsamus Holmes from June 1806 to March 22, 1816. He was succeeded by the John French mentioned above. The office was closed down on August 6, 1817.
                            If there had been local opposition to the name Canadaway for the post office, there would have been a citizens’ meeting to change the Sheridan office’s name. Clearly, then, it was the community itself that was being renamed. No one is on record as objecting to the name “Pomfret” for the town, so renaming that post office must have been a way of certifying the change in the community’s name. It was merely a mechanism to give it official sanction.
                            Because he was then post master, late in 1816, Jacob Houghton wrote to the Postmaster General in Washington informing him that the citizens of the village had determined that the name should be changed to Fredonia, and thus the name of the post office within the village should reflect that change. This was probably intended to take effect on the first day of the new year. On January 2nd 1817, R. J. Meigs replied to Houghton, “Sir—I have changed the name of your Office to Fredonia. ——To make the change effectual, it should be noticed in your State Prints [newspapers].”
                            On January 25, 1817, Houghton sent out formal notification of the name change which was duly noted in the Buffalo Gazette of January 28th, the Albany Argus of January 31st, and the Ontario Repository of February 4th, 1817.
                            James Hull had begun the Chautauque Gazette on January 7, 1817 as printed and published in Fredonia. This too was noted in other state newspapers. The Buffalo Gazette which, on November 26, 1816 had referred to a new store at "Canadaway Village” (J.& R. Plumb, Groceries) and in the December 24th issue had referred to a petition for a Turnpike Road to the village of “Canadaway,” on January 21st noted that they had “received two numbers of the Chautauque Gazette printed at Fredonia (late Canadaway).” This was a week before the official notice from Jacob Houghton, so obviously it was understood that the Village had changed its name. The post office change merely followed suit.
                            It was pointed out by several commentators that after the formal naming of the village “months elapsed before the name was in common use…. For some time afterward, both names were in common use, and when the post office took the new name, that of Canadaway gradually disappeared and the new one came into general use.” This description is verified by the report in the Ontario Repository of April 29, 1817, that an act had been passed in Albany to lay out a road from “Canadaway. . .to the town of Perry.” Another source of verification is the Town of Pomfret’s road survey records. The field notes of a survey done in July 1816 still refer to the village as Canadaway. However by July 1817, the next time such a reference is made, it is to Fredonia.
                            Thus we see that Mitchill’s arguments for naming the country Fredonia found their way into Morse’s 1812 geography, catching the fancy of some Canadaway residents who, in June 1816, voted to rename the village. The post office was renamed as of January 1, 1817, and the name, long accepted out of custom, became official on May 2, 1829 when the State Legislature voted to incorporate the Village of Fredonia.