History of Napoli, New YorkWritten by: Ella A. Sibley (Mrs. Charles E. Van Aken)
Circa 1920 Contributed by: John D. McIntyre
The township of Napoli lies west of the center of Cattaraugus County in the eighth range of Holland Land Company's survey and contains 23,063 acres, is bounded on the north by New Albion, on the east by Little Valley, on the south by Coldspring, and on the west by Conewango. The township is six miles square and contains sixty-four lots, or eight lots each, and range containing lots Nos. 1 to 8 extends along the eastern boundary of the township. As originally erected in 1823 from Little Valley, Napoli embraced all of townships 1, 2 and 3, and bore the name of Coldspring, on account of wonderful springs on lot 38 (Pigeon Valley) of the present township.
In April 1828 the town was divided, the southern part embracing townships 1 and 2 keeping the name of Coldspring on account of Coldspring Creek, and town 3 taking the name of Napoli.
Geography of Napoli, New York
The surface of Napoli is elevated; the highest point in the Jamestown road being near the western line of lot 13 has an elevation of 2,005 ft. On lot 4 near the northern line, latitude 40 d. 12 m. 3 s., longitude 18 d. 29 m. 39 s., is a marker for triangulation, supposed to be the highest point in Cattaraugus Co. This elevation, estimated from the known elevation of the Jamestown road, is about 2300 ft. Within the memory of the writer a mound on a round topped hill between these two points was excavated and a quantity of Indian implements found. Until recent years arrowheads were often found by plowmen in that vicinity, marking it as a battleground.
Fine springs of water are found on nearly all the hills of the township as well as in the valleys. Creeks are numerous, nearly all of them finding their way into the Coldspring Creek which rises at the cold springs on lot 38. Two small streams, Bucktooth and Sawmill creeks, flow directly into the Allegany River a short distance west of Salamanca. Two others flow into Elm Creek and one into Little Valley Creek. The valley of the Coldspring Creek in the town of Napoli is approximately 700 ft. lower than the highest elevation on lot 4.
Within a few rods of its source the Coldspring Creek receives its first tributary, a stream which drains a large swamp situated on lots 31 and 32. This swamp covers six or seven hundred acres. With it are two ponds, the larger noted for its pond lilies and the smaller for its great depth. The muck of the swamp is covered with sphagnum moss and huckleberry bushes. Large quantities of the moss have been shipped to greenhouses, three carloads going to New York City as well as several carloads to Buffalo and other cities. This swamp is bordered with laurel, tamarack, spruce, and hemlock. Quantities of Christmas trees have been shipped to Buffalo and other cities.
On lot 3 and 4 a sandstone ledge, known as "millstone grit," crops out near the top of the high hills, the same, though in lesser quantities and smaller size, as that found in "Rock City" near Little Valley and in the "Rock City" near Olean. Wherever these rocks occur the soil is sandy and of little value except for forestry purposes. Most of the hills, however, are good farming land, adapted to grazing and to raising of such crops as hay, corn, oats, and potatoes, buckwheat and all kinds of fruit except peaches and grapes which suffer from the severe cold of winter, the temperature sometimes dropping to 30 degrees or more below zero. Some sections of the town are well adapted to truck farming, but dairying is the principal industry. The Coldspring Valley soil is a muck loam; in the northeastern part of the town the soil is a shale loam while the hill soil is largely clay loam with a "hardpan" subsoil. The valleys through which the smaller streams flow are a gravelly loam. Very few virgin forest trees are left excepting maples which have been kept for sugar making, which is quite an extensive industry during the spring season. There is considerable second growth timber consisting of beech, birch, maple, oak, chestnut, ash, cherry, basswood and hemlock. The virgin forest contained considerable pine but very little of it remains.
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Up to 1819 there were no roads, every man slashing a way wherever he wished to travel. Timothy Butler, Timothy Boardman and Sargent Morrill, in 1819, cut a road from Little Valley through to Sargent Morrill's home, following what is now the Jamestown Road to the point on lot 13 known as the "Narrows" thence southwesterly across lot 13 to the present Bucktooth Road which line they followed for a short distance, leaving it a little to the north of the site of the present residence of George Tarbox, from there they turned westward crossing the corner of lot 20 and continued across lots 19 and 27 to the line of the present Jamestown Road, thence across lot 35 to the line between lots 42 and 43, following that line westward to lot 50 and thence to the home of Sargent Morrill on lot 50. There are grades and old cellars and even old fashioned rose bushes still marking the old road way along parts of it not now in use. Just when the Jamestown Road from lots 13 to 42 was officially laid out, cannot be stated as there is no record of that road in the county clerk's office.
The old Indian trail from the Allegany Reservation to Buffalo, Niagara Falls and then to Canada passed through this town, entering on lot 41 and following the general direction of the Coldspring Creek, passing into the town of New Albion. Over this trail Governor Blacksnake carried important messages during the War of 1812.
Other roads for the use of the pioneer were rapidly cut and the whole town was soon like one neighborhood. It was not an unusual sight to see an ox team hauling a wagon or a sled loaded to its utmost capacity with neighbors going on a visit, or to a husking bee, a logging bee, or to help some pioneer raise a building.
The first sawmill was erected by James Waite on Waite Creek about 1826. Another was erected by David Brown on lot 42. Mr. Davis erected one on lot 5, Otis Pratt another on lot 16, and Lyman Giles one on lot 17 in 1840.
A tannery was established on lot 59 in 1821 by Nathan Bennett. It was afterward move to Napoli Corners and later sold to Thomas Carter. Charles Sibley built the first ashery on lot 38, where he received ashes from people who burned "fallows" to get their land in readiness for crops. From these ashes he made potash which he or his sons drew to market in Buffalo. Groceries or other supplies were brought back on the return trip. These were sold by Mr. Sibley to his neighbors.
Silas Miller built a carpenter shop at his home on lot 20 and Stephen Hatch built one at his home on lot 5. These two men made all the furniture for the young married people of the town. They also made all the coffins which were used for several years.
Elias Bushnell operated a blacksmith shop for many years at Napoli Corners. Daniel Whitmore a wagon shop and Mr. Earl a shoe shop at the same place.
Two stores were operated at Napoli Corners, and a hotel was run by Ashbel Bushnell. At this period there were also two churches, but later two more were built.
Eben Sibley built a creamery at Coldsprings on lot 38 in 1870. It was 25 ft. by 75 ft. and three stories high. He received milk from about 800 cows. In 1877, he received 1,832,590 lbs. of milk from which he made 147,959 lbs. cheese and 61,663 lbs. butter, the sales of cheese amounting to $11,827 and the sales of butter to $45,234.
The South Napoli Creamery was built by Aaron Goodspeed in 1875. It was 32 ft. by 60 ft. and two stories high. This creamery received milk from about 500 cows and made about 300 pounds of butter and 16 cheese per day. Later Eben Sibley purchased and operated this factory also.
William Peasley built a cheese factory in Peasley Hollow of about the same capacity as the factory just described. Later another cheese factory was built on lot 13 at a point on the Jamestown Road known as the "Narrows." This had sufficient capacity to care for the milk from about 500 cows. The Napoli Dairyman's Association recently built a cheese factory at Napoli Corners. That one and the Peasley Factory are the only ones in operation in 1920, and these only when the price of milk runs too low at the large milk manufacturing plants.
For the most part patrons living in the west part of the town sent their milk to the Borden Condensory at Randolph and those living in the east part to the Merrell-Soule Powdered Milk Plant in Little Valley. There seems to be a natural division of the town, thereby; those living in the northeasterly portion do their trading, marketing and banking in Little Valley, while those residing in the southwesterly portion go to Randolph to transact most of their business; in fact the southwest corner of the town of Napoli lies within the village of East Randolph.
These villages are also the nearest shipping points for most of the town, the township itself having no railroad facilities. Such conditions instead of increasing the business of the town, have caused a decline since the railway shipping points have increased in importance.
As a consequence in 1920 there is only one church at Napoli where services are held, one store in operation and the Post Office which does very little postal business located in that store. There are no industries of any consequence except the two cheese factories referred to which are only operated under emergency circumstances.
POPULATION and LIFE
In 1865, the population of the township was 1,231; in 1875 it was 1,094; in 1900 it had fallen to 925, and in 1905 to 730. In 1919 there were 211 males and 185 female voters registered. The census of 1920 showed only 636 inhabitants. Some of this decrease is perhaps due to the fact that families are decidedly smaller than in the pioneer days, but is chiefly due to the higher wages, social and amusement attractions of villages and cities, as well as the shorter hours of labor. The higher cost of living at centers of population are usually almost entirely overlooked. The activities of the Grange, the Farm Bureau, and the Dairyman's League, as well as the construction of improved roads have done much to bring about better conditions in farming communities and increase the interest in dairying and other farm products.
|Annette E. Waite
Randolph, NY 14772
(716) 358-3926 (H)
|Victoria L. Bedell
9004 Route 242
Little Valley, NY14755
(716) 938-6510 (H)
|Information from 2008 Cattaraugus County Directory|
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