Yorkshire-Early Government Structure, Roads and Bridges

It was April 13, 1820, when the town of Yorkshire was formed and the first town meeting was scheduled to "be held at the house of Robert Steele, in said town, on the first Tuesday of March next".  At this meeting on March 6, 1821, town officers were elected to the positions of supervisor, town clerk, assessors, collector, commissioners of highways, overseers of the poor, and commissioners of common school. The first supervisor elected was Samuel G. Sulton. The Historical Gazetteer [author William Adams, Publisher Lyman Norton, 1893]  has a detailed listing of supervisors, town clerks, and justices of the peace on page 1116 that span the years 1821 to 1893.  In the year 1890 two voting districts were formed by the town board and these are still in existence today. They were District No. 1 of Yorkshire Centre, now Delevan, and District No. 2 of Yorkshire Corners, now Yorkshire.

Sixteen highway districts were set up. To each was assigned a path master whose duty it was to keep the roads cleared and in passable condition. Initially, labor to construct [the roads] out of logs and fieldstone came from the residents themselves. By the year 1848, thirty-five path masters were assigned.  A total of 69.8 miles for town highways existed by 1860.  It was not until the 1920s that road construction began to improve greatly.  Town of Yorkshire History, compiled by F. E. Westover, goes into great detail on road development. Snow removal by the town did not begin until the 1930s. Prior to that, snow removal was by shoveling or ordinary farm plow behind a team-drawn sleigh.

Money was appropriated through taxes to help construct bridges and with the three main settlements situated near several creeks, there were many [bridges] to care for. At the Forks, where the Cattaraugus Creek joined with Lime Lake Outlet and Elton Creek, there was a bridge called Ryder Bridge. It is gone now and the road leading up to it is a dead end. The Covered Bridge at Yorkshire Centre [possibly the pictured bridge] was built in 1870 and spanned the Southern Branch of Cattaraugus Creek.  Later in 1921, when Route 16 came through the village of Delevan, this bridge was dismantled and good materials were taken to nearby Lime Lake to be used in the construction of cottages by Dr. Myron Fisher and Blaine Persons. In 1964 this bridge was again replaced with a steel bridge.

Information submitted to Cattaraugus County Bicentennial History, 1808-2008, by Jackie Cornwall, Town of Yorkshire and Village of Delevan Historian

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