Fish Tavern on the Old Chautauqua Road

This house, long known as “Fish Tavern” was built in the early 1800’s by Nathaniel Fish, who came here from Sandwich, Mass., March 1, 1812. Shortly thereafter he built this house and opened it as an inn or place of entertainment, the first in the town of Mansfield, then named Cecilius.

This house, the first frame house to built in the town of Mansfield, being located on the Chautauqua Road, was a  welcome haven of rest for many a weary traveler moving west during the “Great Migration”.

The Nathaniel Fish Family was prominent in the early history of the town. Nathaniel was the first collector; his son, Prince William, was one of the first justices of the Peace; Nathaniel and Nancy Fish’s daughter, Mahala, was the first white female child born in the town on December 20, 1822. Prince William Fish and Lois Grover were the first couple to be married in the town.  Aaron Razy performed the wedding ceremony on January 1, 1824.

As the Great Migration subsided, then came the drovers with their herds of sheep and cattle driving east to market in New York City, also to Buffalo, NY over this same road.  This Fish Tavern became a very popular Drover’s Inn as did several other houses along the Chautauqua Road. One such house was located on the next farm to the east and another a mile west of here and two others to the northwest named Vinton Stand, which was near Ashford Junction. Baker Stand had another house west of Devereaux on Route 242 at the junction with the Franklinville Road. Taverns were plentiful due to the number of travelers and also because the distance that could be covered in a days time was very limited due to the very poor condiditon of the roads. As late as 1867 herds of cattle were moving east over this road which was by this time well-worn and so stony that the animals often became footsore, at times so bad that it was necessary to stop for days.

Fish Tavern was built after the plan popular in those days, a wide hall extended thru the center with a stairs leading to the second floor where the Ball Room was located in the center. The west half of the lower floor consisted of one large room used as a dining room and lounge, to use the modern terms. Across the back was a very large woodshed, into which huge logs were drawn to be cut into fireplace wood. Drovers could help with chopping if the wished a bigger fire in the fireplace for more warmth.

About 1875 Charles Locke, a descendant of Nathaniel Fish, lived here, taught the local school during the winter, cut wood on moonlight nights, farmed this 100 acre farm and studied surveying, later becoming a leading surveyor in Western New York.  More recent owners were members of the Windsor family, who owned this place better than 75 years. An interesting fact is that the Windsors had a fostor daughter by the name of Watkins.  The current owners in the year 2013 are named Watkins. Is there a connection? Further research is necessary to explore that question. 

Fish Tavern built in the early 1800s was still standing when the first printing of the Chautauqua Road Road Trip Tour Guide was printed about 2008. In about 2010 the building started to come apart. Time and expossure to weathering,  as well as a fire, has taken its toll on the old tavern.  'Fish Tavern' now in a state of dishevel.  The remains of the building as of October 2013 is still visible to the traveler following 'The Old Chautauqua Road' / or those traveling Route 242 to Little Valley, NY. 

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