The Boston Historical
Boston State Road
New York 14025
Age of Boston
Physically the town of Boston is very old. Scientists tell us that
the shale rock, which underlies this area, was formed under the
sea in the Devonian age, about 280,000,000 years ago. Later, the
land was raised up so that before the glacial period, our hills
were higher by possibly 1,800 feet than they are at present. When
the great ice sheet came down from the north and overran Western
New York, its great weight depressed the land and it has never come
back to its preglacial elevation. Then too, the glacier planed off
the top of the hills to a considerable extent.
Eighteen Mile Creek existed before the ice age but its valley was
narrower than at present, and it flowed into a river which went
southwest through was is now Lake Erie, and into the Mississippi
During the glacial period, which began about 750,000 to 100,000
years ago, the ice sheet moved up eighteen mile creek valley and
must have dammed up the stream and at one time it drained into Cattaraugus
Creek near Springville. At the most southerly advance of the ice
it reached a point south of Boston, near the Pennsylvania line.
There were four or five major advances with warm interglacial intervals,
probably covering many thousands of years. The high ridge of hill
south of the Cattaraugus Creek is a morain deposited by the last
major advance of the ice, which is known as the Wisconsin glaciation.
Each advance of the ice up the Boston valley widened and deepened
the valley and cut away the spurs between the tributary creeks on
each side so that it was gradually converted from a “V” shaped stream
valley into a “U” shaped glacial valley.
Whenever the glacier receded, as it melted under warmer conditions,
it dropped its load of earth and rocks which it had pushed ahead
of it as it came down from the north. This accounts for the boulders
of granite brought from Canada and found all over this area. The
earth from the glacier washed into the soil and into the lake which
was backed up in the valley behind the retreating glacier. The soil
in the lake settled to from the wide flat floor of our valley. Some
idea of the depth and size of this lake may be had by observing
the valley out across the western hill, crossed by the Zimmerman
and Feddick roads, where the outlet of this glacial lake overflowed
west and down the valley of Hampton Brook.
The last glacier probably melted in Boston Valley about 8,000 to
10,000 years ago. What a desolate landscape our hills and valley
must have been. Not a blade of grass nor tree nor shrub but only
mud, gravel and rocks everywhere. Gradually, we suppose, seeds were
brought in by the birds and winds and vegetation was re-established.
As the centuries passed a forest of mixed hardwoods and evergreens
covered the landand animals and birds became abundant.
It was probably 4,500 years after the ice disappeared, or 5,500
years ago, when the first human beings visited the valley. These
early visitors were not the Indians that the settlers encountered
but a more primitive people who knew nothing of farming nor pottery
making. They lived by hunting everything edible; berries, nuts,
shellfish, snails, fish, and game. This kind of life required them
to move frequently to find more food, so they had no settled life,
but moved about wherever food was to be found. Such food as they
cooked was roasted over a fire or “stone boiled” by dropping heated
stones into bark, skin, or basketry containers to boil the contents.
When the hot stones dropped into cold water they often split and
these split stones are found at sites along Eighteen Mile Creek.
Fish were caught with barbless fish-hooks, spears, and probably
nets and notched stone sinkers are sometimes found. Acorns and other
vegetal foods were ground on shallow stone mortors, millers or hand
grinding stones to form a kind of flour. All these artifacts have
been found in the valley. Skins probably provided the only clothing
and their weapons were rather crude.
Later than these primitive people were the “woodland people” who
practiced some farming, made pottery and made and smoked clay pipes.
They may have come into this region from the south and southwest
where higher cultures were developing. Probably these Indians came
in about 3,000 years ago and were related to the “mound builders”
of the Midwest. They raised corn and beans and were therefore more
inclined to live in permanent villages than the earlier people.
However, as the game was killed off and the agricultural land exhausted,
they moved to new locations. Anthropologists are able to distinguish
the artifacts of these different cultures.
Before the Europeans arrived in this part of the country the Indian
living hereabouts were known as Eries, from whom our county and
great lake are named, Neuters and Wenroes, all related to the Iroquois
who formed the Five Nations of the area to the east. Trouble arose
between these Indians and the other Iroquois and in 1654 the Eries
were exterminated. From then until the Sulivan expedition of the
Revolutionary period destroyed their power the Iroquois Five Nations
ruled west of the Hudson River, with the Seneca tribe dominant in
The Iroquois Indians, known as Indians of the long house, built
houses so poles and bark, in villages, which were sometimes palisaded
by setting up logs twenty or more feet high. These palisades were
further strengthened by piling earth against them on the inside
and outside. As the total population of the Five Nations, at the
time when the first Europeans arrived, is estimated at 5,500, have
been only a scattered occupation of this area. Where a village existed
for any length of time there is bound to be an accumulation of broken
pottery, lost tools and weapons, and when the village was abandoned
or burned, a surviving ridge of earth where the palisade had been.
When the first settler arrived in Boston and built his cabin about
where Liebler Road intersects Route 219, old records tell us that
nearby was an opening in the forest of about thirty acres, except
for a few trees. Here was an earthen embankment about two feet high,
with a ditch on the outside about two feet deep, enclosing a space
of about two and a half acres. “There were a few trees growing on
the embankment, one of them being a chestnut from two and two to
two and a half feet in diameter.” This undoubtedly marked the site
of an old palisaded village and may have been in what is now Patchin.
It is also recorded that there was a trail from this site to where
Hamburg now is and from there along the ridge, where Pleasant Avenue
leads to the lake.
By the time the settlers arrived here the Indians were living on
reservations at Buffalo, Cattaraugus Creek or elsewhere, but occasionally
they would pass through the valley. Their days warfare were over
and they were harmless except for petty thievery.
When the nineteenth century opened on this area the hills and valleys
were covered with a dense growth of hardwoods, pines and hemlocks.
Much of the valley was swampy and almost impenetrable but there
were some exceptions. Charles Johnson, who arrived in 1803, chose
his land because there was an opening in the forest of about fifty
acres, which he could put under cultivation without the labor of
clearing it. Most of the settlers had to cut and burn the trees
before they could sow wheat or corn. As there was no market for
lumber, in fact no saw mill within reach, the trees were cut and
as soon as dry enough were burned. This had its advantages as the
wood ashes could be gathered, water leached through them to secure
lye, which could then be boiled down to produce “black salts”, or
potash, which could be sold. This was often the first and only cash-producing
product, which the settler could hope for until his crop of wheat
or corn could be harvested.
Meat could be had if the pioneer was handy with his gun. Deer, bear,
raccoons, rabbits, partridges and wild turkeys were all present
in the woods and wildcats and wolves were ready to kill the cows
if they wandered far a field. Before the fields and pastures were
cleared and fenced all the cattle wore bells to frighten off these
animals and so that the stock could be located in the woods and
brought home to yard or barn for the night. Bears were partial to
pork and the pig pen had to be high nd strong to protect its occupants.
The Holland Land Company owned all this land and was so eager to
sell it that credit was given settlers if they would clear some
land, build a cabin and raise crops. The settler “articled” his
land; that is, he entered into a contract to make the required improvements
on his land and to pay an greed sum each year until principal and
interest were paid in full, when he would receive his deed. Land
about here was sold for from $2.00 to $2.50 per acre. Many settlers
were never able to complete their contract and so either sold their
interest in their claims or the land reverted to the company.
When the pioneer arrived at his selected home site the first task
was to fell trees and build a logcabin which would serve as a home
until mills were built and he became prosperous enough to have frame
buildings. The log cabin usually had holes for windows, sometimes
covered with cloth in winter, as glass was an expensive luxury.
A blanket often served for a door. A fireplace of stone or sticks
and clay was usually built a fire on the earth floor. How these
hardy folks survived a winter is a mystery to us who live in warm
modern houses. Wood was the only fuel but there was plenty of that.
The man who could handle an axe could build his cabin, shelter his
stock, fence his land, and provide fuel with no other tools.
Oxen were preferred to horses because, although slow, they were
strong and capable of hauling heavy loads. There were no roads until
enough settlers had come to build them. Trails were followednd enough
trees cut to let the cart or sled through. If the mud became too
deep for passage tree trunks were laid across to form “corduroy
In the fall of 1803 Charles and Oliver Johnson, brothers, made the
first purchase of land in Boston, paying $2.25 per acre. The following
spring Charles came into the valley with his family and ettledust
south of where Liebler Road joins Route 219. Oliver Johnson, Samuel
Eaton, and Samuel Beebe came a little later, settling nearby at
the north. In 1805 Deacon Richard Cary, veteran of the Revolutionary
War, arrived with a sickly wife and eight children, settling just
south of the Johnsons. He had three cents in his pocket and a debt
of two dollars but he eventually became a prosperous farmer. His
first cabin was twelve feet square, with cloth windows and a blanket
for a door, but it sheltered the family of ten. Both the Johnsons
and Deacon Cary had to take their first crop of wheat forty miles
to Chippewa to have it ground.
In the following years came: Jonathan Bump, Benjamin Whaley, Job
Palmer, Ethan Howard, Kester and Serrill Alger. The first frame
barn was raised at Charles Johnson's in 1807. The following year
Asa Cary, a brother of Richard, took up land south of his. Finally
in 1809 a grist mill was rectedy Joseph Yaw, probably near where
Boston Village now stands.
In 1811, a Free Will Baptist Church was organized and soon after
built a church which stood east of Route 219, between Liebler Road
and Maplewood Cemetery. Years later when this church ceased to function,
the building was moved to Patchin road and converted into a hide
house at a tannery. In this church the Rev. Cyrus Andrews preached
for ten years. Another Baptist minister, eRev. Clark Carr, settled
near the Concord line and preached around here throughout his life.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 brought dismay to the settlers, as it was feared
that the Indians stirred by the British would raid the settlement.
Charles Johnson (afterward colonel) was captain of the ilitia.JosephPalmer's
barn was stockaded; that is, and enclosure was built about the barn
by erecting logs to form a primitive fort, as a place of refuge
in case of need. When the British burned Buffalo some of the men
were there trying to defend the place. Deacon Cary's son Calvin,
a twenty-one year old youth who weighed over three hundred pounds,
was attacked by three Indians; he shot one, killed one with his
clubbed musket, and was killed and scalped by the third.
Soon after the war the Torrey family located in what is now Boston
Village, long known as Torrey's Corners. Captain Torrey kept a tavern
there and his sons Erastus and Uriah became prominent citizens.
Talcutt Patchin, who served in the regular army and was sounded
at the battle of Chippewa, married a daughter of Richard Cary and
settled north of the settlement later of bear his name.
Town is Formed
The Town of Boston was formed on April 5 th , 1817 by dividing the
Town of Eden. The name was doubtless borrowed from Massachusetts
as New England place names are repeated in many states all the way
to Oregon. The first town meeting was held the next year and Samuel
Abbott was elected supervisor. Other officers elected were; town
clerk, two poor masters, three assessors, four commissioners of
highways, one collector, three commissioners of common schools,
two constables and twelve overseers of highways. From this record
it is clear that considerable settlement of the town had taken place
and we read that there were one hundred and fifty-three taxable
inhabitants in the town. It was voted to build a pound, where stray
animals could be kept until claimed by the owner, and Charles Johnson
was elected pound master. Fifty dollars was to be raised by taxation
to cover town expenses. Of course a dollar was of far greater value
than in the twentieth century, and dollars were very hard to come
by. The following Quakers were taxed four dollars each in lieu of
military service; Mathew Middleditch, John Kester, Stephen Kester,
William Pound, David Laing, Thomas Twining Jr., Aaron Hampton, and
James Miller. One result of this meeting was a law that , “Any person
who shall suffer a stalk of Canada thistle to bloom on his or her
lot or farm shall pay a fine of fifty cents for each blossom to
any person suing for the same.” Evidently, there were weeds inhe
wilderness and foreigners at that.
In February 1818, Aaron Skinner, then twenty-one years old,
started from Shelburne, Mass. to walk west to seek his fortune.
He walked across part of Massachusetts and all of New York State,
nd from Buffalo walked on the ice on Lake Erie to Camp's tavern
(near where Camp Road ends). From there, he and three other young
men walked to White's Corners (Hamburg). He later wrote that the
snow was so deep that there was no work and there was little money
in circulation. He went to Batavia, probably walking, seeking employment,
but found none and so returned to White's Corners. “When spring
opened, he with Linus Dole, took a job of clearing land at $22.00
per acre of a man by the name of Coburn, on Eighteen Mile Creek
a mile or two above Johnsonburg. (Probably where the Johnson brothers
lived.) He taught school in North Boston and Boston in winter and
in summer worked on farms until he was able to buy a farm.
1819, Solomon Fosdick drove a covered wagon from Rensselaerville,
near Albany, to Buffalo and then out to Boston, where he worked
as a carpenter for many years. At first the family lived in a log
cabin east of Route 219 a little north of the intersection of the
Boston Colden Road. “Living in a log cabin with nine children could
not have been, even under the happiest circumstances, an easy arrangement,”
wrote Raymond Fosdick, a lineal descendent. Later the family moved
to a frame house on the Trevett Road, near the town line. The Fosdicks
were eager to advance themselves andolomon taught his trade to three
of his sons. Torrey's Corner's with a population of perhaps twenty-five
families, was beginning to show signs of future growth.
The first industry that was established in Boston seems to have
been a distillery at Torrey's Corners, about 1818. No license was
required in those days and drinking was very general. A mail route
fromuffalo to Olean, through Hamburg, Boston and Concord was established
in 1820 and a post office was opened at Torrey's Corners with the
name of Boston. There was a tannery in Torrey's Corners and one
on the Patchin Road, owned by a Mr. Stephens, and about this time
Talcutt Patchin built another tannery here.
A Presbyterian Church was organized here at an early date and in
1837 Solomon Fosdick and his son, John Spencer, built the building
which still stands on the west side of Route 219 in the village
of Boston. This building, known as St. Paul's, has been used
by several denominations. As early as 1814, a Baptist organization
existed in Torrey's Corners and in 1834, they erected a church building
just south of where St. Paul's now stands, but this was torn down
many years ago.
The Methodist Church was not formed until 1824 and the Boston building
was built in 1852. In 1857, a German United Evangelical Church was
incorporated and bought the Presbyterian building and took the name
St. Paul's Church. St. Martin's Lutheran Church, on the Cole Road,
was built in 1861, and in 1869 St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic
Church was built on the Boston Cross Road.
Apropos this account of a distillery and the churches
a story comes down to us without documentation. It seems that in
the 1850's, there was a tavern across the road from St. Paul's Church,
and when it caught fire the neighbors hurriedly formed a bucket
brigade to fight the fire. Although they were unable to save the
building, they did save the stock of liquor which was carried across
to the church. The owner was so graeful for their efforts that he
invited them all over to the church where they consumed the stimulants.
It was reported that they had such a merry time that it was necessary
to redecorate the interior of the church after their revels.
The Love Murder in North Boston
Twining and Benjamin Kester with some other Quakers settled at what
came to be known as North Boston. A sawmill operated there as early
as 1816 and a tavern soon after. There was a family of Thayers,
the father, Israel Thayer and three sons: Nelson, Israel Jr., and
Isaac. They were a poor family and had borrowed money from a boarder,
John Love. He lived with them when not sailing the lakes in summer
or peddling in winter. In the fall of 1824, John Love disappeared
after staying for a time with the Thayers. Soon after this the Thayer
boys were observed to have more money to spend than formerly and
to be riding Love's horse about. When questioned thy said that he
was away but had given them the use of the horse. Shortly after
this they tried to collect debts owed to Love and when they produced
a power of attorney, which was obviously forged, suspicion of foul
play was aroused. The authorities offered a reward of ten dollars,
quite a sum in those days, to anyone who could find Love's body.
Afteran all day search it was found a few yards from the cabin of
Israel Jr. where it was buried in a shallow grave with some brush
thrown over it. This was in the gully between the present Zimmerman
and Heinrich Roads.
All four Thayers were arrested and the boys confessed
that they had murdered John Love. The father was freed but the three
sons were hung on the west side of Niagara Square in Buffalo on
June 7 th , 1825. The execution attracted a large crowd to whom
a sermon was preached before the hanging. This story is the most
widely known of any event in the history of Boston.
in North Boston
office was opened in North Boston in 1832. In 1843, there were nineteen
families living here, totaling forty-three people. In the fall of
that year an epidemic occurred in which twenty-eight people were
all ill and ten died. An investigation showed that all these families
but one were using water from a well at a tavern. One man had quarreled
with the inn keeper and his family secured their water elsewhere
and was the only family to escape the illness. It was learned that
a traveler had died of typhoid fever at the tavern shortly before
the epidemic and that it was this disease which was prevalent. Without
any doubt, the well had become contaminated and had spread the disease
but apparently that was not understood at the time. We hope they
closed the well. In any case, there seems to have been no recurrence.
in North Boston
For several years following 1846, political conventions for the
southern district of Erie County were held at North Boston by both
parties. These brought many visitors to the town and enlivened the
place considerably but after the Erie Railroad was built through
Hamburg most of the conventions were held there.
a Quaker Meeting House was built. Later it was converted into a
dwelling, now the home of Mrs. John Dominski.
We do not know
when the first school was opened in the town, but since there were
three commissioners of common schools elected in 1818, there evidently
were schools operating or contemplated. The early schools were very
elementary and were open for only a few weeks in the year, as the
children were kept busy at home most of the year. The Fosdick boys
attended a school near where the Boston-Colden Road meets Route
219, and after finishing there, they walked to Springville to attend
the Springville Academy. The Trevett Road was the only route to
Springville then, but a walk of over twenty miles a day did not
seem too great a price for an education. There were no school buses
and they did not need a gymnasium.
THE COMMUNTIY DEVELOPS
The first settlement was made in the center of the township
and this hamlet was called Boston Centre for many years. Here Talcutt
Patchin operated his tannery for about ten years, and then he decided
to try a fresh start in life. He took his wife and three children
to Olean, where he built a flatboat and floated to New Orleans,
going from there to that part of Mexico which later became Texas.
In 1850 the citizens of Boston Centre petitioned for a post office
but were told to select another name to avoid confusion with Boston
and North Boston. They selected Patchin as the name of their post
office in honor of their former neighbor who was gone but not forgotten.
A Universalist Church Society was formed here in 1835, and before
1850 they had built the building now the Town Hall. This building
stood practically unused for over fifty years but was kept up by
the Universalist Women's Sewing Society until taken over by the
John Anthony bought a farm here some time in the 1830's where, with
his wife and ten children, he carried on a successful farming operation.
He was supervisor two years, justice of the peace sixteen years,
and town clerk eight years. He and others set out extensive apple
orchards in the valley. It is revealing to read an account book
kept by him, between 1835 and 1845, of wages and prices of those
days. For one day's work in the shop together with
a log for a trough $.75
two days' chopping $1.25
one and a half days' harrowing $.94
quarts milk $.06 1 lb. 10 oz.
butter at .15 per lb. $.25
bu. Oats $.18
doz. Eggs at .09 per doz. $.36
Other farmers were raising sheep, and a woolen mill was busy just
north of the Edgar Rockwood farm, 1.1 miles south of Patchin. Several
saw mills and grist mills operated at various times along Eighteen
Mile Creek but it is difficult to find any trace of them now.
In the years before the Civil War, many Germans were coming to this
country and several families came to Boston. Martin Keller had a
tavern, a store, a blacksmith shop and a tailor shop in a little
community of Germans on the Feddick Road near the Keller Road, but
no trace of this community remains.
There are no records of the men who went from Boston to serve in
the Civil War, but there are at least twenty veterans buried in
the cemeteries. How many fell in battle or died in prisons or hospitals
we do not know, but the men of Boston answered the call to arms.
There used to be a bell factory in Boston Village, operated by the
Yaw family. It was the largest bell factory in the United States,
making five hundred cow and sheep bells a day beside staples and
hasps. We do not know when it started nor when it closed, but an
atlas of 1866 shows the factory just below the Catholic Cemetery
across the creek from Boston. Another atlas of 1880 shows that it
had been moved east of the main road a little north of Boston Cross
Road. There are a few of the old bells in the valley but the business
died when the farmers finished clearing and fencing their pastures.
Ambrose Yaw had a daughter, Ellen Beach Yaw, born in 1868, in the
house east of Naber's store on the Boston Cross Road, who was to
become perhaps the widest known Bostonian. She developed a splendid
voice and, after study in Europe. She traveled all over the United
States and Europe doing concert singing. She sang soprano and could
hit a higher note than any other singer atthe time. She died in
California where she had lived for several years.
the mid nineteenth century the brothers, Orrin and Jesse Lockroad
were prominent citizens. They lived in the house earlier occupied
by Talcutt Patchin, now the Simmeth place, near Omphalius Road on
Route 219. Orrin was supervisor several years and later sheriff
of the county. Jesse was a magistrate and justice of the sessions.
Two other brothers were prominent in the county. Dr. T. T. Lockwood
was an eminent physician and at one time mayor of Buffalo. The Hon.
Daniel H. Lockwood served as district attorney and member of congress.
Van Rensselaer Cary, grandson of Deacon Richard Cary, was a successful
farmer, civic minded citizen, and early president of the Erie County
As hemlock trees were plentiful here and the bark was used to tan
hides into leather, tanneries were built all over the country. There
was a tannery, previous to 1870, on the creek bank in Boston Village
and there were two others in Boston Centre. After the hemlock trees
were cut off and chemical tanning developed, all these tanneries
went out of business.
The Boston Centre Library Association was formed in Patchin in 1889.
This library was housed in the home of Thomas Cole, back of a blacksmith
shop, on the northwest corner of Patchin Road and Route 219. Later
it was in the home of Dr. Blanchard. After seven years the library
was closed and the books were divided among the members.
Road to Springville
The road from Hamburg to Springville probably follows the old Indian
trail as far as that extended, and beyond that point the early settlers
blazed a trail following the route of least resistance. By 1812,
a road was open to Springville, but from the bridge south of Boston
Village, it followed the route of Trevett Road. It was not until
1840 or 1841 that the present route of the State Road was opened.
As the road was the only means of contact with the larger settlements,
it was a community project to maintain and improve it. Road taxes
were worked out instead of being paid in cash. It was a narrow dirt
road until about 1850, when a private company took it over and built
a plank road for the use of which toll was collected. A toll house
stood just north of Howard Cary's house, south of Liebler Road.
Sawed timbers, three of four inches thick, were laid across the
road forming a paved surface which, when new, seemed a great improvement
over the mud and dust of the old highway. But the planks soon warped
and curled up and broke in weak spots so that the road deteriorated
rapidly. In ten or twelve years the company gave up trying to keep
the road in repair and its upkeep reverted to the town. Probably
much of it was buried under gravel. A few years ago the remains
of this road was uncovered, in a ditch, several feet below the present
highway. For many years the road was dusty in summer, muddy in spring
and fall, and snow covered in winter. In sufficed for the horse
drawn vehicles as residents of the town seldom traveled farther
away than Buffalo. Finally in 1909, the State took over this road
and a paved road was built. This and the advent of the automobile
began to change the whole picture of the countryside.
Growth of a village
Before the days of paved roads and automobiles, the people of the
town depended upon local stores and shops to supply their needs.
Stores, taverns, and post offices had to be within easy driving
distance of the farm, and this accounts for the three hamlets Boston,
Patchin, and North Boston, each with its post office.
About 1890, there were in the village of Boston, the following places
of business; one general store, a grocery store with the post office,
four shoe shops, four blacksmith shops, two hotels, a wagon shop,
a hardware and tin shop, a saw mill, a grist mill, a jewelry store,
a harness shop, a meat market and a telegraph office. There was
a doctor, a lawyer, carpenters and masons, all dependent on the
patronage of those living in and around the village. A horse drawn
stage ran from Hamburg to Springville daily. Several cheese factories
operated outside the village within easy hauling distance of the
farms, where milk was proving to be the best paying product.
The 1880, a pipeline had been laid from Pennsylvania to Buffalo
to bring crude oil to the refinery.This line passes through Boston
and is still in use, with a daily capacity of 5,000 barrels. Several
wells were drilled n the town in the hope of striking oil but none
were successful. It was several years later that gas producing wells
were drilled, although there were several springs in Boston which
gave off gas.
The Horse Thief
About 1890, there was excitement caused by the stealing of several
horses. A vigilantes committee was formed, officers elected, and
the members were sworn in as deputy sheriffs. When, in the fall,
a valuable bay mare was stolen from Charles Churchill, who lived
on Route 219, 1.3 miles south of Patchin, the vigilantes when into
action. They determined who the thief was, but it was some time
in mid winter before he was apprehended as he drove through Colden.
As it was late in the day, the officer took his clothes away from
him and locked him in a second story room at the hotel, intending
to take him to jail in Buffalo in the morning. Some time in the
night, the thief threw the bedclothes from the window, dropped into
a snow bank, hitched up the horse and escaped.
was traced through Holland to South Wales, where the trail was lost.
The next day his home was located, near East Aurora, and the stolen
bedclothes were found under the barn. After watching the house two
nights he was almost caught when he drove in with groceries for
his family. He escaped by running away, but a thaw had set in and
he lost his boots in a muddy field. The next morning the searchers
found a farm where he had told the farmer that he had lost his boots
while hunting a lost cow, and had been given an old pair of boots.
A day later, he was located but again ran away before he could be
caught. Although a reward of $50 was offered he was not apprehended.
On a cold night in 1903, a dance was in progress at Schunk's Hotel
in Patchin when a fire broke out in the horse shed spread to the
hotel. Over a hundred guests vacated the hall but some lost their
overcoats and wraps, which caused considerable discomfort, as it
was twenty degrees below zero. The hotel and the town hall across
the road burned down, but this prompted Fred Frank to organize the
first fire company, in North Boston. The Boston Fire Company was
formed in the fall of 1908, and at a later date, a company was organized
in Patchin. Beginning with old fashioned hand pumps these companies
have repeatedly acquired improved equipment until today the town
has three well equipped fire fighting organizations with a mutual
Through the years, there have been many fires in Boston, but most
of them have been confined to one or two buildings. In 1893, several
buildings burned in the village of Boston, but the worst fire took
place there on August 20 th , 1920. Fire started shortly after midnight
in the Boston Garage, where the village fire pumper was temporarily
housed. Being unable to save the pumper left the fireman to form
a hopeless bucket brigade. Calls went out to nearby places and their
fireman responded. A call to Buffalo brought a fire engine from
there. A flood had washed out two bridges in the valley, but in
spite of that, the run from Buffalo was made in thirty-five minutes
and the engine pumped from the creek onto the fire. However it was
too late to save five buildings: Boston Garage, the house of Charles
Hund, the two story Grange Hall, Schmitt's hotel, and the hotel
of Jacob Michardzinski. The loss was estimated at $30,000.
Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad
In 1903, construction was started on a railroad through the Boston
Valley. A steam shovel, donkey engines, and dump cars were brought
in to make the cuts and fills to form a roadbed along the eastern
hillside. Building a trestle across the gullies made most of the
fills and dumping earth from them but at Landon Brook, south of
Boston Village, the gully was so deep that cables were stretched
across and tracks laid on them instead of building a trestle.
In 1906, people were delighted when the Goodyear brothers of Buffalo
began operating the railroad from Buffalo to Wellsville. This railroad
formed a connection between railroads, saw mills, and coal mines
owned by the Goodyears in Pennsylvania, and their docks and steamships
on the lakes. It was advertised as the “scenic route” and was busy
with both passenger and freight traffic, but it lasted only ten
years as the whole Goodyear empire began to crumble. In 1916, the
tracks and bridges were sold as junk, at wartime prices, and later
most of it was shipped to France but, it is said, part of it was
sunk in the Atlantic by Germans submarines. The loss of the railroad
was a dire blow to the prosperity shipping facilities to take its
Boston Valley Telephone Company
the railroad was being built in 1904, the contractor on this section
wanted a telephone so that he would not have to drive to Hamburg
each time he needed to contact his employer or order supplies. He
interested Frank X. Weber, and together they visited the telephone
companies in Hamburg and Buffalo but they were not willing to extend
their lines as they did not think there would have enough subscribers
to make a line pay. Frank X. Weber, Fred Frank and Jacob Broadbeck
organized the Boston Valley Telephone Company and sold shares for
$10, only one to a person. These men, with some help, set the poles
and strung the wires. Mr. Corbit, the railroad contractor, was the
first to have a telephone installed. It was planned to have one
telephone each in North Boston, Patchin, and Boston, but by the
time the line was finished, there were several subscribers. Eventually,
there were seventeen lines extending as far as Colden, West Falls,
New Oregon, and half way to Springville. In 1925, there were 342
telephones in operation, and 351 shares had been sold. This local
company operated from 1905 to 1932 and paid an average dividend
of more that 10%. On January 1 st , 1932 the Bell Telephone Company
took over the lines after paying the stockholders $32,000. This
local effort had paid off handsomely.
When in 1908 the rural free delivery of mail was started in Boston,
Howard Owen began delivering mail with a horse and buggy. He continued
his daily rounds until 1957, but in the later years he used an automobile.
During World War II, he published a monthly booklet, the Boston
Valley News, which he mailed to everyone who was in service from
here. These booklets were much appreciated by the service men.
Creamery and Grange
About 1909, the Boston Creamery Association opened a creamery, on
the Boston Colden Road just off Route 219, to which many farmers
brought their milk. This building has since been converted into
In 1911, the Grange was organized with twenty-six members. After
meeting in various places for four years, the Grange bought Hund's
Hall n Boston Village. This building was destroyed by fire in 1920.
As the Grange grew in membership, it became increasingly difficult
to secure satisfactory meeting places and in 1933, the present Grange
building was started. Dedication took place October 14 th , 1935.
In 1936, they celebrated their silver anniversary. The Rockwood
and Trevett families furnished more members than any other families,
and Mrs. Eliza Trevett who lived to the age of ninety-eight was
Back Creek Murder
History repeats itself, and in 1944, murder again occurred in our
town. In a summer cottage on the Back Creek Road between North Boston
and Patchin, Walter Nowicki of Blasdell, shot and killed Jacob Schmidt
and his son, Lawrence Schmidt. He also wounded Miss Edna Halliday.
The victims were all from Kenmore. Nowicki then turned the gun on
himself with fatal result. A love triangle seems to have been the
cause of the tragedy.
Each year the Boston fire companies have held a carnival to raise
money to carry on their work. Beginning in 1949 and continuing until
1959, international bicycle races were held in connection with the
carnival at Patchin. These were arranged by Ted Nowak and resulted
in two Olympic trials and attracted considerable interest of sports
In 1920, the Boston Rod and Gun Club was organized, and in 1931,
it became the Boston Valley Conservation Society. In 1949, a long
club house was completed on Zimmerman Road. This building has served
the community well, not the least among the activities centering
there have been the many square dances.
The town has been exceedingly fortunate in the doctors who have
served the ill and the ailing. Dr. Blanchard lived in Patchin for
a long time, and later Dr. Jennings came to Boston Village. He traveled
over the hills for miles around for nearly fifty-seven years, answering
all calls of sickness and distress at any time of day or night,
in all kinds of weather. Dr. Jehle also served for many years in
the same village. More recently Dr. Hans Krakauner carried on in
the same fine tradition until his death in 1961.
the death of Dr. Jennings, a memorial library was started in the
village of Boston in 1939, with Leland Dye as president. This library
served for a time, but it was difficult to finance it adequately
and its usefulness was limited. In 1947, a movement was started
by George Stein, which resulted in the formation of the Boston Free
Library Association. A library was opened in the old firehouse on
the Boston Cross Road. In January 1949, this library became a part
of the county system and since then has been operated under contract
with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. In 1955, the library
moved into the remodeled brick schoolhouse on the State Road. Later,
the building was acquired by purchase from the school district.
This library, with county assistance in financing, continues to
grow and stimulate intellectual growth, especially among the children
and younger residents.
economy of Boston has changed greatly over the years. After the
difficult times of early settlement, it developed as a general farming
area. Sheep, producing wool and mutton, were profitable for a time;
but as the land was cleared and put under cultivation, it became
evident that the hill farms were best adapted to milk production,
potatoes and cabbage, while the richer land of the valley was suitable
for more diverse crops. Fruit growing became popular and at one
time there were extensive apple orchards in the valley. As the hill
farms were cultivated, the topsoil washed away and they became unproductive.
Polish emigrants, who by hard work and long hours have succeeded
in making a living in spite of the poor soil, brought many of these
farms on the west hill.
Whereas in earlier times, life on the farm was hard and social contacts
few, the introduction of electricity of lighting and power, (about
1922 in the valley and later on the hills), the telephone, radio
and television have revolutionized country living. Improved farming
and milking machines have lightened the labor and improved communications
have opened new vistas socially.
Mrs. May Pingrey is believed to be the oldest living resident of
the town. She has seen many changes during her lifetime. Automobiles
have brought the city nearer, and more and more of the residents
of the town have found employment in the industries of the city
to supplement or take the place of the farm. This has changed the
character of Boston to a considerable degree. The beauty of our
countryside has long been recognized and many city dwellers are
moving into the town and building developments are wiping out the
farm lands of the past. It now looks as if within a few years it
will become a typical suburban community. The building of the modern
elementary school in North Boston in 1959 marked a great advance
in educational opportunity for the children.
Because Boston has changed so much through the years and the new
residents know so little of its past, this brief history has been
written. This history may not be long or important to the nation,
but it is worth preserving; and we who live here should be proud
to be Bostonians.
details on Boston history see:
- The collected material
of the Town Historian in Boston Free Library.
- Johnson, Crisfield,
History of Erie County, 1876
- Smith, H. Perry, History
of Buffalo and Eire County, 1884
- White, Truman, History
of Erie County, 1898
- Fosdick, Raymond B.,
Annals of the Fosdick Family
- Topographical Atlas
of Erie County, 1866
- Illustrated Historical
Atlas of Erie County, 1880
- Reinstein, Julia Boyer,
Historical Atlas of Cheektowaga.
- Ashcraft, A pictorial
History of the Building of the B. & S.R.W. in Boston
The following men are known to have gone from Boston to serve their
country in war, but there are doubtless others whose records are
S. M. Blakeley
J. C. Underhill
Glenn J. Koelmel
Howard E. Cary
Albert J. Kreitzbender
Clanrence F. Kummer
Raymond J. Drescher
Joseph J. May
Burnell J Dye
Robert J. Owen
Earl C. Follman
Leroy C. Pfarner
Fredrick L. Fuchs
Michael J. Rucker
Harry P. Toms
Fred G. Umber
Frank X. Weber
Carl L. Andres
Howard W. Jenson
Norman R. Pfeffer
Clayton E. Andres
Walter T. Jones
Edwin J. Pohle
Warren E. Berger
Floyd M. Seufert
Norbert L. Klein
Dr. Hans Krakauer
Robert E. Sherman
Robert C. Friedman
John F. Gasper
Robert H. Weber
Ray T. Gasper
Robert L. Wegner
Theodore H. Wierzbic
LeRay F. Williams
Richard D. Holscher
Clarence M. Ott
James J. Jehle
Who Did Not Come Back
Robert Lee Rucker