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Gowanda Village

Gowanda Village Hall is located at 27 East Main Street, Gowanda NY 14070; phone: 716-532-3353.

The Cattarugus Creek flows through Gowanda Village; at this point the creek is the dividing line separating Erie and Cattaraugus Counties; therefore, the village straddles the county line.

Beginnings [1]

This flourishing village is situated on both sides of Cattaraugus creek; we shall give a brief sketch, confined as far as possible to the part on the north side of the creek, which is in the Town of Collins. We have mentioned the settlement of Turner Aldrich in 1810. He erected a saw-mill soon afterward and a grist-mill about 1818. The locality was known as Aldrich's Mills. The mills were situated on the site of Romer's axe factory. His son, Turner Aldrich, Jr., also lived in the vicinity.

The erection of a grist-mill probably embarrassed the Aldrich's, for about 1823 Ralph Plumb* bought their property, and soon afterwards established a store on the north side of the creek, the first in the whole village. It was probably he who selected the name of Lodi for the village which began to grow up there, and for over twenty years it was known by that name. In 1824 or '25, a post office was established there. As however there was already a Lodi post office in this State, (in Seneca county) this office was called West Lodi. This appellation was retained about ten years when it was changed to Persia, the name of the town on the south side of the creek. The village was still called Lodi until its incorporation, on the 7th of December, 1847, when the name of Gowanda was adopted for both village and office. The largest part of the village is on the south side of the creek, but there have been several business establishments on the north side to which we will now call attention.

Mr. Plumb's store was built on what is now called Perry street, near the old Eagle tavern. It was soon moved down near the bridge, where it was kept many years by Mr. Plumb ; afterwards by Chauncey Bigelow and others until 1856, when it was abandoned. H. N. Hooker went into mercantile business on the north side about 1836 and continued in it nearly twenty years, when he moved to the other side. There is now no dry goods store on the north side.

A woolen-factory was built between 1830 and '34, but it was carried on only a few years. Ralph Plumb erected a carding-machine and cloth mill above the old grist-mill as early as 1840, which he carried on several years. The building is occupied by Slaght & Kellogg as a hardware store. In 1835 James Lock established a foundry, called the Lodi Furnace. It was purchased by Ashbel R. Sellew in 1841, who enlarged it and began the manufacture of stoves and plows. In 1851 Levi Stope and Mr. Tucker became partners, the firm being Sellew, Tucker & Stope. Mr. Sellew became sole owner in 1855, losing all in the great fire of 1856. The establishment was rebuilt the same season on a larger scale. Alexander N. Popple becoming a partner, and remaining so until his death. Mr. Sellew is now sole proprietor and carries on an extensive business in the manufacture of plows, agricultural implements and various kinds of machinery. The grist-mill owned by C. C. Torrance was built soon after the great fire of 1856. A large amount of both custom and merchant milling is done there. Joseph Straub has an extensive wagon, carriage and sleigh manufactory, established by him in 1862.

One of the most important manufacturing establishments in Erie county, outside of Buffalo, is the axe foundry erected by N. & J. P. Romer in 1876, though it did not reach its present size until 1881. They employ from thirty to sixty men, and manufacture three hundred axes daily. The Gowanda Brewery was built in 1866 by Frank & Brennershall; A. Fisher, the present owner, took possession in 1878.

* Mr. Plumb became a very influential citizen, being eleven years the supervisor of Collins, one year a member of the Assembly, and three years the sheriff of Erie county. His son, T. H. Plumb, was also supervisor several years.

The first hotel in the Collins part of Gowanda was the Eagle tavern, built in 1824 by Mr. Vosburg. The Farmer's Hotel was built in 1865 by Conrad Fiegle. It was rebuilt in 1878 by Louis Fiegle, and was sold in 1880 to Henry Aglee. The Gowanda Hotel, of about the same age, is owned by A. Fisher. The Grand Central Hotel was built in 1879, by F. Conger.

The Hon. Cyrenius C. Torrance is the only lawyer of Gowanda living in Erie county; having established himself there over thirty years ago. He was the district attorney of Erie county in 1863-'64-'65, and has also, although a Democrat, been three times elected as supervisor of the Republican town of Collins. Hon. Henry F. Allen, now a member of the Board of Claims of the State of New York, was until recently a resident of Gowanda and a partner of Mr. Torrance. He was a member of the Assembly from the fifth district of Erie county in 1878.

The other business men of Gowanda—in Collins—are as follows: Theodore N. Kingsley, druggist and grocer; Rooker & White, dealers in groceries, etc.; J. A. Bestrip, dealer in furniture; R. P. McMillen, dealer in groceries, etc.; J. Moll, merchant tailor; J. Danvers, carriage maker; John Jacobs, cigar manufacturer; Slaght & Kellogg, dealers in stoves and hardware; and Michael Moll, dealer in meat.

Gowanda has but one church in Erie County, which is the Presbyterian. It was organized and a church edifice was built in 1826. The building burned down in February, 1843, and the present house of worship was erected the same year, the church being then under the preaching of Rev. Sylvanus Cowles. It is now under the spiritual direction of the Rev. A. B. Robinson. Hiram Adams is the elder; Nicholas Romer, William Peacock, S. S. Brown and James Owen are the trustees.

  1. Smith, H. Perry, editor, History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County, D. Mason & Co., Publishers, Syracuse, 1884.
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