Compiled by Lois Barris
This work is a combination of two journals of the Holland Land Company in Chautauqua County. The first was found in the collection of the Chautauqua County Historical Society in Westfield NY. This is a marvelous leather bound and securely buckled notebook apparently generated by a field agent traveling about the County on horseback, probably carrying the journal in a saddlebag. The contents of the journal indicate that the writer\’s main function was to distribute notices to the owner or occupant of properties on which payment was delinquent. A second task of this agent was to record a description of each of these properties on which payment was overdue. This would no doubt help the land agent resell the property in case of abandonment or foreclosure.
This first journal was a double-page ledger organized chronologically by lot, town and range. It recorded the name of the person to whom the properly was sold and the date of the contract, the name of the present occupant, a description of buildings, the amount of land cleared and the number of fruit trees on that property. The planting of fruit trees seemed to be an indication that the occupant intended to stay a few years. The right hand page was used for the description of the property and occasionally some rather pointed comments. This information begins with an asterisk (*) in this work. For part, north, south, east, west and middle, pt, N, S, E, W, and M are used.
The second journal was found on microfilm at Reed Library on the campus of New York State University College at Fredonia. It caught my eye as it seemed to be a duplication of the information in the Westfield journal, without the descriptions of the properly and containing, in addition, names and dates of the renewal of contracts, probably as a direct result of those delinquent notices distributed by the writer of the first journal. These renewals were all dated in late 1829 or early 1830 so we can date the first journal from early to mid 1829. The second journal is distinguished by its beautiful penmanship. It seems to be written by the same person who did the field work, but was probably copied in the office at his leisure. The first may have been written somewhat hurriedly and perhaps using his knee or his horse for a writing desk. There are a few differences in spelling or additional information in the second book and these differences are especially noted in this work.
This compiler\’s main interest is genealogy and enjoys finding surnames in an easily accessible alphabetized form, thus the reasoning for the format of this book. Everything about one individual and his properly is combined in one place in an alphabetized listing. More information can be referenced from the listing by lot, town, and range starling on page 151. By using this, the researcher can learn something about other early settlers in the same vicinity. The maps found starting on page 144 will locate lots in other towns and ranges that may be directly connected with the one you are researching.
It must be remembered that this compilation contains the record only of those contract holders in Chautauqua County who were overdue in payment on the property. Those who were making regular payments or had already received deeds are not listed. Also, there are many reasons for the failure to make payments. The contractor may be still living on the property but without funds to make payments; taken up other property near by; sold the contract to someone else, or abandoned the property and moved on. Some may have contracted for Chautauqua County property with the Holland Land Company office in Batavia but never came to this county to claim it.
I have taken the time to compile this work because in these journals I have made connections to early settlers whose names I could find nowhere else. I hope it will yield as much information to other researchers.