Driving along Route 219 will takes you North to South through Cattaraugus County. Nearly splitting the County in half, this is a popular roadway used to travel from Buffalo to Ellicottville or Salamanca. You are sure to see plenty of other vehicles along your way, as well as many prosperous businesses and modern companies. Hidden is a rich history full of the buzz of rising communities and industry when the County was first inhabited.
Site 1: Cattaraugus County is separated from Erie County by the Cattaraugus Creek. This provided a means of travel for many early pioneers who settled in the fertile regions of the Zoar Valley then later relocated to areas near Otto, East Otto, and Mansfield. Site 2 heads South where you will see Franktown Cemetery on your left, past Connoisarauley Rd. There are many early settlers’ gravesites here, one being the first settler to East Otto, Henry Frank Sr., born in 1752 and died 1840. Resting here are one veteran of the Revolutionary War, four of the Civil War and two from WWI.
Coming up is Ashford Hollow, and the next three sites are located within short distance of each other, near Snake Run Rd. On the right, just past Snake Run Rd, is Site 3. “Century Farm” is located here earning the name because the same family has owned this property for over 100 years. This farm attests to the strong will and desire of the small farmer to continue working the land. Site 4, the Ashford Hollow Cemetery is almost directly on your left after Site 3. Early settlers and Veterans from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars are buried here also, with dates listed from the 1830’s through the 1880’s. You will see a sign on Ahrens Rd. for the Griffis Sculpture Park, Site 5. Follow that road to discover the first outdoor sculpture park, where you can interact with nature and art on a 400+ acre outdoor art museum created by Larry Griffis Sr. with over 250 sculptures along the ponds, fields, and throughout the woods. Site 6 is the Antler Shed Whitetail Museum just off Rt. 219 on Hebdon Rd. View 6,000 sets of whitetail antlers, over 3,000 shed antlers, and hundreds of hunting related artifacts from the 1880s to present. Site 7 is on the corner of Hebdon Rd and is the St. Paul’s Cemetery also known as the Plato Cemetery. Here you will find gravestones dating back to the 1800’s, with some belonging to WWII, WWI and Civil War Veterans.
When stopped at the “T”, directly in front of you is the Holy Cross Cemetery, or Site 8. This is a large cemetery with burials from the 1800’s through the present including many Veterans from WWI, WWII, the Civil War, the Korean Conflict, and Vietnam buried here. Site 9: Traveling slightly off Rt. 219 onto Fillmore Drive will take you to the Nannen Arboretum, located on the corner Parkside Dr. This amazing place has over 200 trees and shrubs for you to discover, embrace, and relax near, as well as nature and garden programming. On your return to Rt. 219, you will pass Site 10. Formerly known as the Larimer & Norton Building, it is now called Ellicottville Square, housing many new businesses. Previously it was a planing and saw mill, operating in the early 1900’s and manufactured rough-turn “Louisville Slugger” brand bats. Approximately 1.4 million bats were produced here annually.
Continuing on, will take you through downtown Ellicottville, where one of the large Brick Buildings, constructed in 1852, was the first condominium building in New York and the structure for which the New York State condominium laws were written. The stop light denotes Ellicottville’s Public Square and contains the next four sites. At the stop light, on the right will be the Ellicottville Historical Museum, Site 11. This site has been the location of the County Clerk’s office, a bank, a German Protestant Lutheran Church and a millinery shop. In the late 1880’s, a belfry was added, and it became a firehouse, then a Home Economics Classroom, a public library and now the Museum. Across Jefferson St. is the Town Hall, site of the first County Court House. Rt. 219 will then turn left, where you will see an amazing large church and further down on its right side, a white house with black shutters. The house is Site 12 and the church is Site 13. The house is referred to as the First Frame House in Ellicottville. Constructed in 1817, the lumber to build with was hauled from eleven miles away in Kill Buck. Much history has occurred here, originally being the home of a tavern and trading post, then for County meetings between 1818-1821. St. John’s Episcopal Church holds a famous 306 year old bell in the belfry, originating from Malaga Spain. This was the first Episcopal church in the County and an excellent example of Roman Gothic Revival church architecture.
After the turn, on your left, by the town clock, is a large brick building and Site 14. Known as the 1887 Building, it was once a schoolhouse until 1978. The town came together to buy the building when it was being threatened by destruction. The Holy Name of Mary Roman Catholic Church is up next on the left and is Site 15. One of the oldest parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, it dates back to 1847. Site 16 will fast approach on your left side. It is the Jefferson St. Cemetery. Recently added to the National Registry of Historic Places, it dates back to 1817. Over 400 people rest here with early citizens who were active in the development of this town. Holiday Valley, Site 17, cannot be missed. In 1956 Dick Congdon, John Fisher and Bill Northrup decided to pursue their dream of opening a larger, modern ski area. Opened January 7, 1958 when the first skiers rode the T-bar up to ski down Yodeler, Champagne, Holiday Run and Edelweiss.
Site 18 will have you in the town of Great Valley. It is the Chamberlain Cemetery and about a 1/2 mile North of Great Valley. Gravestones date all the way back to the late 1800’s. At the main intersection in Great Valley is the Evergreen Tea Room, Site 19, and located on the opposite upper corner when you are at the stop sign. This has changed names many times to adapt to the needs of the times, previously being the Plank Road House, the Halfway House, the Fenton Hotel, and the Harrison House. Built in 1838 it may have originally been called the Plank Road House for the road it was built on. Back in the early 1800’s the roads were constructed out of planks of wood.
Site 20, Green Cemetery, is coming up on the left. This is a large cemetery, with many Civil War, WWII, and Korean Veterans. As you have traveled through the last three sites you have been what is known as the Peth Area, leading to Peth Rd, Site 21. This area was known primarily for early logging and settlement with many moving to this area for business opportunities.
Rt. 219 leads you through the City of Salamanca, located in the Seneca Nation of Indians Territory. The Seneca have a rich history and culture; information can be found at www.sni.org. You will come to a “T” in the road, where Calvary Cemetery is located directly in front of you. Turn left onto Rt. 219 and shortly after, you will see the Kill Buck Catholic Cemetery otherwise known as the Ellicott Street Cemetery. Many Irish names can be found on the tombstones, and is a great example of the diversity of immigrants to the new country. This cemetery is Site 22. Site 23, the Kill Buck area, begins at Kill Buck Rd. This area was originally inhabited by an Indian Tribe whose chief was named Kill Buck. The Natives were expert hunters and fishermen, but were eventually persuaded into leasing out their land.
Soon after you will reach the Town of Carrollton. Now few businesses remain, but in the early 19th century the tree covered hills provided employment and an important railroad junction. At one time 50,000 bundles of wood were being shipped east daily from a business employing 500 workers. The next site and the final one, Site 24, is the Limestone Cemetery, in the town of Limestone, established prior to 1865, this is the resting spot for many WWI, WWII and Vietnam Veterans. One prisoner of war was also buried here. Woodsmen were noted to be in the town of Limestone, located next to Carrollton, as early as 1814, originally being called “Fullersburg”. Lumbering was also very abundant here, as well as oil production and a tannery that was built in 1858. Job Moses struck the first oil well in New York State in 1865. Also calling this area home, a small group of people immigrated from County Clare, Ireland to the head of Irish Brook Run. This area is now in Allegany State Park and Carrollton, and known as Little Ireland. Another prominent group who relocated to this area was the Franciscan Fathers of Allegany in 1867, perhaps with ties to the Franciscan Fathers who founded St. Bonaventure University in 1858 in the interest of promoting Catholic-Franciscan education.