Submitted by the Ischua Valley Historical Society
The Ischua Valley Historical Society (IVHS) was founded in the 1960s by a group of local volunteers whoh wanted the history of our area to have representation and protection. The stated mission of the IVHS is to collect, preserve, research and interpret the historical and cultural heritage of the Ischua Valley region of New York State. This area encompasses the towns, villages and hamlets of Yorkshire, Freedom, Machias, Farmersville, Lyndon, Franklinville, Humphrey, Ischua, Hinsdale, as well as Cadiz and Fitch, New York.
The IVHS objective is to bring together those people interested in history and especially the history of our area as defined above, with a focus on education and maintenance (preservation and protection) of historical resources for present and future generations.
The IVHS has a very large collection of antique photographs (including antique glass plates), documents, a large library of local newspapers used in the research of genealogy, as well as miscellaneous collections of farm equipment, woodworking tools, furniture, china, and other objects that display life in the early 19th and 20th centuries of Ischua Valley residents.
The IVHS has acquired three distince properties that are used to house and/or display our collections. The Miner's Cabin, located at 9 Pine St is the second piece of property obtained by the IVHS and is used as a Museum, for Society meetings and for montly public programming and speakers. The original property holding of the IVHS is a piece of property located in the hamlet of Cadiz, a mile or so south of Franklinville. Cadiz, at one time, was the biggest and most prosperous community in the Ischua Valley and it has a great deal of history. The IVHS Howe-Prescott Property consists of a salt-box style house, and houses furniture of the period, and a barn at the rear of the property. The house was built circa 1812, and is considered a "pioneer" house by those who formed the original IVHS. The third piece of property, recently acquired through a donation, is a building in the historic Park Square section of Franklinville, 3 Park Square. The building is going to require a great deal of restoration before it can be put to use.
Plans for the IVHS are many and varied. The Board is interested in making the Franklinville area an area of tourist interest, focusing on the history of the area. The village has a number of century homes (one hundred years old), and the three properties are a testament to the entrepreneurial people who have lived here.
The immediate plans for the Miner's Cabin is to empty it of all extraneous material and create a museum that is what a Victorian house looked like when it was built in 1895. Once the miscellaneous material is removed, the Miner's Cabin needs freshening up inside. It has beautiful woodwork throughout the first floor. The floors are patterned in lovely differing colors/types of wood. The woodwork itself is quarter sawn oak, and is in pristine condition. The walls need to be re-papered in period wall paper in several but not all of the rooms. And the ceiling in one of the bedrooms needs to be replastered. There was water damage to the ceiling and it has discolored the ceiling and caused the old plaster to crack. In 2014, the IVHS Board approved and paid for the restoration and painting of the exterior of the house, but nothing has yet been done to the interior. The expense of restoration and painting was a large drain on the treasury but it was well worth the new look and interest gained in the community.
Once all the extra materials are out of the Miner's Cabin, we also want to restore the third floor ball room to a useable space. This will require an investment of time and money. The large space is not insulated or even finished and will need extensive carpentry work to make it so. There is bare lathe and plaster. The IVHS does not have any record of what the space looked like in the 1890's but the stories that have been told would indicate it was a very practical space. Lighted with candles, and draped with many yards of mulsin over the rafters. They have had an engineer come in to evaluate what would be needed to be done to allow the IVHS to use the space as is, and it was said there are a minimum number of requirements to meet safety standards, once it is restored.
The property in Cadiz is a project that is very long term. Officers and Board members have dreams of turning it into a WNY "Sturbridge Village" type of destination. Undoubtedly, this will take the committment and resources of the community to bring this to fruition. Plans are currently underway to make a permanent blacksmith shop in the barn, and allow the local "smithies" to meet there and offer training there.
The IVHS would like to plant field crops to allow for demonstrations on how the equipment they have on hand was used. At the Cadiz Heritage Day Festival The IVHS had in 2016, there were several demonstrations or exhibits for viewers to witness, including blacksmithing, churning butter, maple syrup collecting and processing, and quilting and other women's handwork. They plan to extend the demonstrations each year to show more and more how people lived in 1890, and how much change has taken place.