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TOWN CEMETERY

ARKWRIGHT, NY

The Town Cemetery and the famous old Chicken Tavern of Arkwright have a common bond.  They once belonged to the Town family.  In January 1826 Asa Town born 1770, son of Asa and Eunice (Town) Town with his wife Sally and children Aaron, Francis, Amos, Joel, Lyman and Betsey came to Chautauqua County and bought of Bethuel Harvey, father-in-law of Aaron, a portion of lot12 which Bethuel had bought in its entirety from the Holland Land Co.  Aaron had been living in the Genesee County section and had been married for about ten years to Lucina Harvey daughter of Bethuel and Clarissa (Claracy) Gerdiner Harvey.  They had three sons:  Bethuel Harvey born 1817, Hiram Martin born 1821, and Horace J. born 1822.  Lewis was born in Arkwright that same year, 1826, Silas in 1830, Harriet in 1831 (the wife of Rev. Arden Spencer), Julia Ann in 1831, (the wife of William Farrington), Clara, who marred Samuel Morey, and Oliver, the youngest in 1838.
Aaron’s holdings were mostly on his father’s lot 11 though he did add some from lot 12 from Bethuel Harvey, but in 1853 he bought from Chauncey Abbey part of the original Abbey holdings – the south west corner of lot 13 at the junction of the Forestville road with present Route 83 (Laona to Hamlet).  The Abbey family claim that Chicken Tavern was already there wen David Abbey bought that virgin land and that a Mr. Butterfield had been running it, but we feel that there is confusion with the 1850 purchase on lot 11 by Horace J. Town from William R. Butterfield which is now known as Town’s Corners.  Aaron Town ran the tavern for many years and handed it from one son to another so that each might acquire "a stake" to buy a farm.  Oliver was the last owner.  He died in 1901 and his widow lived at the tavern until she died in 1931.  The tavern, deserted, rapidly deteriorated and collapsed about five years ago.
The tavern was the boarding place for the men who worked on the proposed Erie railroad from Dunkirk to Salamanca.  Ground was broken at the end of the route in Arkwright on Nov. 7, 1835.  The project was abandoned at a later date at an expense of a quarter million dollars and rerouted through Forestville east to Salamanca.  Much of the grading is still visible in Arkwright in the farming section.
Chicken Tavern was one of the oldest buildings in Arkwright.  It was the scene of many parties, dinners, dances, law suits and town meetings.  There was even a blacksmith shop on the property.  The tavern was a stopover place for the stage route from Lake Erie to points south.  Horses were exchanged here for fresh ones and would change back on the return trip.  Passengers paid a fare of six and a half cents a mile and were allowed fourteen pounds of baggage free.  If their portmanteau or brass nail-studded hair trunk weighted more they had to pay for it at the same rate per mile as they paid for themselves.  In Summer the carriages would roll along easily enough, but woe betide the unwary traveler at other seasons.  The male passengers were required to aid in raising the wheels out of each mud hole into which they sank, often to the axle.
Town Tavern is mentioned in the underground railroad back in 1858 when slaves were escaping to Canada.  John Little, father of a colored family at Arkwright Summit at that time, was instrumental in helping many of the negroes.  John Little, his wife and several children are buried on their farm in a little cemetery long since lost.  But his sons William Patrick Little and Riley L. Little served in the Civil War and are buried in the Town Cemetery in back of Chicken Tavern.  William was the last buried in the cemetery.
The tavern was the scene of many heated law suits.  These suits were often tried by young law students from the law firm of Sherman and Scott of Forestville.  They were assisted by their supervisors.  The story is told of a spirited case being tried where much oratory was given on both sides.  The pleas, charging and decision of the jury carried the proceedings well into the wee hours of the morning. Some mischievous wags stationed themselves along the wooded sections of the road to Forestville and while the magistrates were driving along the narrow dark road the boys would let out with a cat call of a blood thirsty beast still prevalent in the woods in those early days.  We sympathize with the poor horses that were made to take the lawyers to Forestville under the whip.
Chicken Tavern was noted for its splendid cooks.  In its early history it had a Dutch oven in the yard to do the vast amount of cooking for the family and the tourist trade.  The inn was famous for its chicken dinners but there is also another story in its early history.  A party of militia who came through by coach stayed the night at the tavern.  A drinking party turned into a brawl, and the men began to ply each other with their pillows.  In no time the floor was thick with feathers. Feathers or chicken with dumplings… Chicken Tavern was its name and a grand old place it was.
To reach the cemetery do not attempt the approach from the tavern.  Instead, go east on Route 83 about a hundred feet and ascend the embankment where there are no trees.  The cemetery is back from the road about a hundred feet, under the small trees toward the tavern.
About five years ago two of us searched for buried stones and unearthed many of these given, but the late Clarence Black, who had ancestors buried here, said that there should be twice the number of stones.  Perhaps some of our readers can help us with names of persons in the cemetery that we missed.



QUERIES

A98  BRUMAGIN:  Can anyone give the names of the parents of Simeon and Ephraim Brumagin who settled near Summerdale about 1820 (near Mayville)?  Simeon died at Lakewood and Ephraim died near Wattsburg, PA.  There may have also been a Peter Brumagin near Westfield.  Was told they came from Wales via Canada and Vermont.  Is this true?  WGS

A99  WEAVER-COLE:  I wish to obtain information on Belle Weaver Cole, a famous American singer who has been all but forgotten.  She was born in Chautauqua County and also visited Jamestown during a world tour (musical).  Belle Weaver Cole made a few records in England where she made her home but they are rare.  I found one in Australia.  I know of no record in America unless among Jamestown relatives.  There are a few in collectors’ hands in England.  Query:  Does anyone have a record?  KM  Can anyone add to her biography?  Fenton:  Claybourne Sampson lists her as daughter of Philander and Ellen Weaver of Harmony and Jamestown.  Philander died April 24, 1900 in Jamestown age 84 but the woman on his lot is not Ellen but Mary who died 1885 age 65.  Also on the lot is Mary E. Toudray, died 1888, age 37.  Can anyone help us out on this Ellen-Mary bit?

A100  BROWN:  Trying to locate the graves of Lucian and Clarissa Emilene Brown.  Clarissa died in 1884 and Lucian between 1872 and 1884.  KD

ANSWERS

A98  BRUMAGIN.  We had answers from two people who gave us names to descendants to contact.

A99  WEAVER-COLE.  Was sent an obituary on Belle Weaver Cole, the singer, which we forwarded to the woman who is writing a book on famous singers.

A100  A phone call to Lake View Cemetery brought forth this information:  Lucian Meiggs Brown, born May 25, 1812 in Yates County died Jan. 19, 1878 in Jamestown, son of Meiggs Brown.  Mother unknown.  Clarissa Emilene was born in Otsego Co., no date, died in Jamestown, July 10, 1884 age 75, daughter of Thomas and Clarissa Slayton.  He is buried in a single grave along Lakeview Avenue and she on her won lot on Buffalo Avenue section.  The Fenton Society would be glad to hear from readers.  We were intrigued by the Meiggs name when one of our answers gave a Charles Meigs Newton.  Are they related?  Fenton.
 


SOURCE: Fenton Historical Society Deserted Cemetery Series.  From the Jamestown Journal 25 January 1969, compiled and written by Edna Ingham