ALABAMA - 200+ YEARS
Researched and compiled by Cindy Amrhein - Town of Alabama Historian

1790 – William Poudrit (now spelled Poodry) a Frenchman and fur trader was the first white settler in the
area of Alabama. He settled on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation with his Indian wife. There is still a
long line of Poodry's on the reservation today.

1806 – James Walsworth settled in West Alabama at the intersection of Lewiston and Meadville Road
becoming the first settler in Alabama proper.

1810 – James Walsworth turns his home into an Inn. It was one of the only stopping points on the route
from Lewiston to Batavia. People naturally stopped there to rest on their way to Batavia to purchase land.

1824 – First Saw Mill erected, in Wheatville, by Samuel Witcomb.

1825 – circa – Tonawanda Indian Baptist Church is built, originally of logs. A new church of brick is later
built prior to 1892.

1826 – Tonawanda Indian Reservation is reduced to 12,800 acres.

1826, April 17 – The town of Alabama was formed from Shelby in Orleans County, and Pembroke in
Genesee County. Originally it was named Gerrysville.

1827, September 27 – Ely Stone, one of the first Baptist Ministers in Alabama purchases land directly
opposite the Tonawanda Reservation. Six days later he immediately resold it to the Baptist Convention of
New York. It is documented that the Baptists operated a school that adjoined the Reservation. This is what
I believe to be the location of the school that was attended by Ely Parker.

1828, April 21 – The name of the town was changed to Alabama.

1830 – Federal Census for Alabama is 815

1831, December 15 – Land is purchased from the Holland Land Company creating the towns first cemetery,
now know as Wheatville Cemetery on Lewiston Road half way between Alabama Center and Wheatville.
At that time it was not known by that name. It was purchased by the Trustees of the burying ground in the
town of Alabama.

1832 – Alabama Baptist Church in Alabama Center is formed.

1838 - A "Mr. Church" becomes the head of the Alabama Chapter of the American Anti-Slavery Society. This
is the first reference I've found of an Anti-Slavery Society in the town.

1839, February 18 – The Baptist Congregation of Elba branches off into South Alabama becoming the Baptist
Church and Society of Oakfield and Alabama. At some point the name is changed to the Oakfield Alabama
Baptist Church.

1840 –Federal Census for Alabama is 1798

1840 – circa – The Alabama Hotel was built by Isaac Duel and Amos Starkweather. It is still in business today
as a restaurant.

1841, September 27 – Oakfield Alabama Baptist Church purchases land in South Alabama to build a church, a
school, and a parsonage. By 1842 the church is built.

1842, January 22 – Oakfield Alabama Baptist Church purchases land for a burying ground, which later
becomes Reed Cemetery in Oakfield. (At this time Oakfield was still part of Elba)

1842, May 19 – Oakfield Alabama Baptist Minister Rev. Augustus Warren and his second wife Maria sell the
town of Alabama the burial ground now known as Basom Plot. (I believe this to be the Baptist Churches first
Cemetery)

1843, January 9 – The First Universalist Society of Alabama Church is formed. Legal Organization is filed in
the clerk's office on September 11th that same year.

1845, October 27 – Universalist Church purchases 60 rods of land for a cemetery and to build a church. The
cemetery is still on this property but there is no evidence that a church was ever built.

1846, March 21 – A convention was held in the courthouse in Batavia in support of the Tonawanda Indians
keeping their land. According to a dishonestly obtained treaty of 1842, they were to abandon their land by
April 1, 1846. At that time it was reported to be one of the largest assemblages in the county's history.

1848 – Alabama Sour Springs Hotel is built by J.C.Colton of Lockport and Thomas W. Olcott of Albany after
nine sour springs were discovered which were thought to contain healing properties. It contained about 100
sleeping rooms, a large ballroom on the third floor, and verandas on three sides.

1850 – Federal Census for Alabama 2054

1850, September 6 – Alabama Methodist Church, which formed in the 1840s, purchases land in Alabama
Center to build their church.

1850, September 5 – Alabama Baptist Church purchases land in Alabama Center to build their church.

1853, March 22 – The Freewill Baptist Church in Wheatville is incorporated.

1855, March 24 – Wheatville Cemetery Association is formed.

1857 – circa – Oakfield Alabama Baptist Church builds a school where the parsonage stands today.

1857, April 8 – Town of Alabama purchases land next to Nichols Hill Cemetery for a gravel bed. Which is
eventually sold to the Wheatville cemetery association in 1888 by a town resolution.

1857, November – The Tonawanda Indians enter into a treaty with the United States to avoid being re-located.
They buy back their own land, which is reduced in size to 7,549.73 acres.

1859, October 27 – Polly (Franklin) Hoag Frisch is convicted of murder in the first degree for the death of her 7-
year-old daughter Frances, by means of arsenic poison. Polly is believed to have murdered her husband
Henry and daughter Eliza Jane but she was found not guilty. Originally she was to be hung but her sentence
was commuted to imprisonment for life. She was pardoned by the Governor on December 9, 1892 and
released.

1860 – Federal Census for Alabama is 2061

1861, February 25 – The Freewill Baptist Church of Wheatville purchases land in Wheatville and build their
church. The church disbanded sometime after 1904.

1868, April 12 – Tonawanda Indian Presbyterian Church is organized. A one room house was built on the
same spot were the present church stands which was built in 1871.

1870 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1805

1877, March 13 – Rev. Stephen V. Ryan purchases land that is used to build St. Patrick's Church.

1880 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1975

1882 – The West Shore Rail Road purchases a strip of land from the Tonawanda Band of Indians for $724. This
was necessary in order to run the tracks from Akron to Alabama, and continuing east.

1884, January 1 – West Shore Railroad opens. Adelbert Thompson begins drawing stone to build what is now
known as the Basom Hotel.

1884, February 29 – Rowley & Eddy of Medina purchase land in Basom to build a lumberyard.

1884, April 18 – According to a news article, schoolhouse in district #15 on Iron Bridge Road was burned to the
ground. It was not rebuilt.

1884, August 1 – West Shore Railroad opens depots in Alabama.

1887, October 6 – A Rural Cemetery Association is formed for the cemetery situated on Nichols Hill. Cemetery
was to be known as Wheatville Cemetery. This caused confusion with the cemetery that already existed in
Wheatville.

1888, March 8 – Alabama sells land 2 rods wide (33 ft.) to the Wheatville Cemetery Association, which is added
to the Nichol Hill Cemetery.

1889, May 24 – The Methodist Episcopal Church on the Tonawanda Reservation is dedicated after its
construction. This church is no longer standing.

1889, October 25 – The Hamlet of Basom is formed as the new post office is opened. It was named after Sabret
Basom the Alabama town Supervisor.

1890 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1654

1890 - circa - Dulcimers are made in South Alabama by Perry Wright Sr.

1894, May 11 – The body of Ira P. Howland, which had been stolen from the Alabama Cemetery a year earlier,
turns up in a cornfield on Lewiston Road on the then Howland Farm. Charles Underhill found it while plowing.

1898, January 4 – Rev. James B. Quigley, Bishop of Buffalo quit claims to The Diocese of Buffalo the church in
Wheatville which is known as St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church. This conveyance also included property in
Byron, and four parcels in Pavilion including a 3-acre cemetery.


1899, November 23 – The Basom Methodist Church is dedicated after its construction.

1900 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1611

1902 – Alabama Produce Company was built by Douglas Potter, Rollie Lumely and William Briggs and known to
locals as "The Elevator".

1903, March 31 – Wheatville Post Office Closed. Alabama Apple Dryer was also built during this year.

1910 – Federal Census for Alabama is 2231

1910, July 6 – The Rural Carrier Co. purchases an automobile for Alabama mail delivery.

1911 – Oddfellows buy the old schoolhouse #2. With help from men from the Tonawanda Indian Reservation
the building is rolled down the road on logs and around the corner. It is the present day Oakfield Alabama
American Legion Post in Alabama Center.

1912, September – Alabama Sour Springs House struck by lightening and burned to the ground during
ownership of Albert Beals. It had closed as a hotel shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War due to declining
patronage.
(Daily News article 9/4/1912)

1920 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1530

1920, May 8 – Engine on West Shore Railroad derails in Basom.

1921 – William Cottingham, deputy Sheriff for Alabama, drops dead of a heart attack at the county court house
in Batavia. He had served Alabama for 20 years after being appointed by Sheriff Pixley in 1900.

1921, July 28 – The southeast and southwest corners of the business district in Alabama Center are destroyed
by fire.

1922 – New Post Office in Alabama Center is built after fire of 1921 destroyed previous building.

1922 – Home Bureau Club of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation was formed. (From an anniversary article in
Batavia Daily 2/28/1952)

1924 – Lester T. Ross of South Alabama invents the Lester T. Ross Snow Plow. By 1925 Alabama, Alexander,
Bethany, and Oakfield were successfully using it for snow removal.

1924, September – Klu Klux Klan Officers form Basom and Alabama are named in a Batavia Daily News article.

1925 – Do-ne-ho-ga-weh, (The Keeper of the Western Door), Chief Thomas Poodry head of the Tonawanda Band
of Indians dies. Born in 1858, he was elected head Sachem of the Wolf Clan about 1894 after the death of
General Ely S. Parker.

1926 – Alabama commemorates its 100th Anniversary during a celebration that included a parade, concert, and
a super at the Odd Fellows Hall. There were also several robberies and house break-ins during this year.

1926 – Cort J. Fuller, aged 71, shot dead in house in South Alabama by John J. White during a hold-up.

1927 – Mrs. Nancy Miller of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation celebrates her 108th birthday.


1926, September 15 – Lt. Harmon J. Norton, aviator dies in freak flight accident.

1927, March 29 – Harry N. Brackett, Postmaster of Alabama dies of a heart attack while driving his automobile
while driving from Buffalo to Alabama.

1930 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1734

1937, May 10 – Cornerstone is laid for the Tonawanda Indian Reservation Community House.

1939, May 13 – Dedication of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation Community House. Mrs. Walter Henricks (Sah-
Nee-Weh), chairman of the Daughters of the American Revolution committee on Indian Affairs, along with the
residents of the Reservation, were responsible for the construction.

1940 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1763

1945, June 15 – Alida P. Norton sells her property of 339.35 acres to the People of the State of New York and
becomes the White Memorial Game Farm.

1948, October 9 – Alabama Volunteer Fire Department becomes incorporated.

1950 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1766

1951, April – Alabama Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary is formed.

1951, March 30 – Mrs. Mary Jane Ingalsbe, at 101 years old, states she owes her longevity to skipping the cake
and eat pickles instead.

1952, February 16 - Former General Store in South Alabama was purchased in 1951 and remodeled into the
Oakfield Grange and its first public event was held this day.

1958, July 19 – Train wreck in Basom. Thirty-five cars of the West Shore Line are derailed. There were no
injuries.

1960 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1931

1960, July 21 –Pony Express Centennial, sponsored by Genesee County, passes through the Hamlet of Basom in
the town of Alabama, as well as Pavilion, Stafford, Leroy, Batavia, Elba and Oakfield.

1966, October 7 – Gary D. Doctor of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation becomes the only person from the
Reservation or the town of Alabama to be killed in action during the Vietnam War. He was 20 years old.

1968, January 11 –Alabama Historian, Helen B. Klotzbach, assists other historians in investigating the Spirit Lake
area in Alabama which is designated an ancient Indian site.

1970 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1872

1972, March 22 – After years of controversy the Town of Alabama adopts town-zoning laws.

1976, May 16 – Opening of the Town of Alabama Museum in the Alabama Town Hall. Alabama also celebrated
its 125th anniversary this year.

1980 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1926

1980 – New York State begins a Bald Eagle Restoration Program that included the Iroquois National Wildlife
Refuge.

1981, November – Alabama Produce building is demolished.

1986 – The first eaglets to hatch in Western New York in 37 years happened at the Iroquois National Wildlife
Refuge.

1986, August 2 – Robert Crossen retires after being Basom Postmaster for 33 years.


1987, July – Post Office in Alabama Center Closes.

1990 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1998

1990 – Alabama residents defeat Composting Plan.

1991 – Wheelabrator, a trash-to-energy facility, plans to build in Alabama and causes controversy.
Wheelabrator cancels plans a few years later due to negotiation problems with Niagara Mohawk over pricing in
electric output.

1991 – Kiwanis honors four law officers for outstanding service, one of them being Basom resident Robert
Bachorski.

1992, August – 911 service goes into effect in the Town of Alabama.

1993, July 24 – The Basom Hotel with 28.6 acres goes up for auction, with no takers. It is eventually sold and
becomes a residence.

1993, August 28 – The TV show "Assignment Earth", produced and distributed by World Net a branch of the US
Information Agency that produces "Voice of America", comes to the wildlife refuge areas of Alabama to film the
Osprey Re-introduction Program. The programs were viewed worldwide.

1999, August 26 – After 55 years of operation, the State Department of Environmental Conservation announces it
will close its pheasant-raising farm in Alabama known as the John White Memorial Game Farm.

1999, September - The Basom Trading Post owned by Ellen and Robert Bachorski closes after 150 years of
continuous proprietorship.

2000 – Federal Census for Alabama is 1881

2001 -- Alabama celebrates its 175th Anniversary with a weekend long celebration, parade, dance, music, historic
costume contest and an all denominational church service.