Ruth Nichols, the Arkwright Town Historian, was the guest speaker at the recent gathering of the Chautauqua County Genealogical Society in the Barker Library in Fredonia. The genealogical group meets once a month on the third Tuesday evening for a meeting from March through November. A special room of genealogical reearch papers is maintained by the group at the library.
Mrs. Nichols, who has been the historian since 2005, said she has collected a great deal of local history about the town and wanted to share some of it with the group. Using several display boards, Mrs. Nichols started with the a photographic collection of the town supervisors since the town was first organized in 1829. Settlers began to settle in the area in 1810, and the township was formed a few years later. Arkwright was once a part of Villenova, with the main settlement being located at the corner of Center Road and route 83. The first supervisor was William Wilcox. Asahel Burnham built the first cheese factory in Arkwright, and later sold it. Arkwright had its own post office at one time, and the post office was often located in the home of the postmaster. Center Road is the route which goes from the lakeshore area of route 5, through Sheridan and currently ends at Bard Road, Mrs. Nichols said. The road was supposed to be extended through what is now know as Griswold Road, but due to the terrain, it was not completed. Griswold Road was known as the South Center Road for many years. No historical speech is complete without the talk of the famous Chicken Tavern, which was demolished in the 1970’s. A railroad was planned in 1835 through Arkwright, the bed of the tracks in place, and a stone arch was completed, but no railroad tracks were ever put in place. A very informative speech was enjoyed and appreciated by all.
The next genealogical meeting will be on Tuesday September 16th at the Barker Library at 6:30 p.m. New members are always welcome..