May 1995

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Arkport History

A letter from

James S. Drake

May 6, 1959

Mr. James Drake
County Attorney
Bath, New York

Dear Mr. Drake:

As the teacher of local history in this community, 1 have been requested by the local Fire Company to prepare a brief history of Arkport Village for use by the organization.

Can you help me with these questions? In my research in the community, no person, or old papers or manuscripts, have definitely answered them.

1. When did Arkport first get a post office, and who was the first postmaster? where was it? 2 I find some divergence of opinion as to where the various schools were located, prior to 1870. Do you have any records to clarify this? 3. The approximate date of the coming of the second railroad, which we knew as the Pittsburg, Shawmut, and Northern, is available, but no definite year for its arrival in Arkport? Do you know how or where I might get this information ?

Incidentally, your mimeographed manuscript on the humorous history of Steuben County which was distributed at the County Fair, has been a valuable teaching aid for me, with my seventh grade classes. I am very appreciative of it!

Any help you can give me will be most gratefully received and appreciated on this project.

Very truly yours,

(Miss) Janice Collins

May 14, 1959

Miss Janice Collins
Arkport Central School
Arkport, New York

Re: Shawmut railroad, Arkport post office, early schools.

Dear Miss Collins:

Your letter of the 6th was received.

By 1882, the main line of the Lackawanna railroad was completed from New York city to Buffalo. A branch connecting line was wanted with the Pennsylvania oil fields and industrial center of Pittsburg. In 1884 the Lackawanna completed this connecting line from near Pittsburg to Wayland on its main line and thence to Arkport. It was intended to run this line the last ten miles into Hornell to connect with the Erie, but there being a competing line, permission was necessary from the old railroad commission (now public service commission). The Erie objected and the case went eventually into court. While the litigation was still pending, a group of Hornell people asked the Lackawanna to construct a railroad from Hornell over the hills to Avoca. A corporation had already been created (Hornellsville-Conhocton Valley railroad company), but lacked the capital and hence the Lackawanna was called in. President Samuel Sloan of the Lackawanna came in person and went over the proposed route and at a meeting in Hornell said the terrain forbid the route, and suggested that, since the Lackawanna could not as yet build the last ten miles into Hornell, that the people of Hornell do so. The Rochester-Hornellsville and Western railroad corporation was created and this corporation did complete the road. On November 15, 1888, the opening was marked by a round trip excursion (ten coaches) from Hornell to Bath by way of the road to Arkport and thence the Lackawanna branch (Pittsburg-Lackawanna) to Wayland and thence on the main line to Bath. Strange as it may seem, the court of appeals soon after handed down its decision in favor of the Lackawanna, granting permission to complete its road into Hornell. The Lackawanna then took the ten miles over and it became a part of the Pitts-burg-Lackawanna railroad. In 1900 a reorganization took place and the Pitts-burg-Lackawanna road was taken over by the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Western. It became commonly known as the "Shawmut" and was 170 miles in length.

I am sorry I cannot tell very much about the post office at Arkport. It was in existence in 1890. I suggest that you write the Postal Department in Washington. You will be informed of its creation and the list of postmasters.

The first schoolhouse was known as the "Cory" and existed prior to the creation of any school district with defined boundaries. Nathan Cory had a family of five married sons when he came into the Arkport area in the spring of 1798 and bought a hundred acre tract from Hurlbut. The early settlement was on the banks of the Canisteo river and about where the road to Canaseraga meets the river, his son Johnson erected a log tavern with a log lean-to for a schoolhouse. School was held only during the three winter months and Eleazier Cory taught that winter of 1798. In 1801 Abigal Hurlbut started to teach. The tavern and school part burned later on, but I cannot find any date. I do not know what happened to the records of the old town school commissioner of Hornellsville, so I have no information on details. It is possible that the record went to the state education department (some were filed in the county clerk's office and some in Albany and some in the home attic). You might write to the state education department.

The same is true of the records of the several school districts that were created, changed and re-numbered down through the years. By 1870 the greater part of the Arkport area was in district seven. I might mention that the Cory school was the first in the town and twelve years before any in what is now Hornell city.

As a matter of interest the records of the old school commissioner of the town of Wayne was recently sold at an auction and I now have it. It lists the various districts, changes to meet new areas settled, teachers, attendance, state aid, local tax (could pay in firewood, or board and lodge the teacher, or furnish something to the school in lieu of money), and the number of births, deaths and marriages in the area. In the early years these records of births, deaths and marriages were obtained by the teacher and were intended to be filed with the county clerk. Usually the information was obtained from the pupil so that errors crept into many of the records.

Hoping that I have been of some assistance to you and that you will keep up the interest in local history, I remain.

Very truly yours,

James S. Drake

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