The forests of Cattaraugus County provided a means to a living in this harsh territory. As an article titled "Black Salts" explains when the pioneers arrived here to claim their stake of the Holland Land Company holdings, there were trees everywhere. First a very crude home had to be raised and then land had to be cleared to provide growth of food for the people and grass to graze the animals. In the History of Cattaraugus County by n 1879 most townships have a listing of land owners showing the number of acres they owned and then listing how many acres are cleared. This was a backbreaking task. No power tools would be available for years and years. These folks mostly relied on their ax. Quickly the heartly pioneers learned they could sell the potash after burning the trees they felled. The process described in the "Black Salts" article was followed to make the black salts and then it had to be dragged off to sell at a distant village. In the very early days of settlement this was a way to generate a few dollars. Money, and jobs were not available. Work however, was very plentiful with no pay. Once the land was cleared the settlers attention turned away from the making of black salts and they engaged in planting and tending crops and many moved on to becoming dairy farmers, making and selling cheese.
Logging in the Cattaraugus County was then becoming a new industry and in the late 1800s and early 1900s many logging camps and companies were prevalent. Here are photos of logging when it was an industry in its early years. Potash/ black salts was now made by these companies in much larger quanities. It is referred to as chemical processing. In this group of photos will be some examples of the things that are discussed in articles such as black salts. We have no actual photos of the chemical process or black salts. There are piles of logs that have been stripped of the bark and the wagons used to haul "chemicals". Notice how the folks all got "dressed-up for picture day". The suits were not normal attire for working in the woods. Also women and children were a part of the lumbering camps at the time, it was their home. My mother-in-law had stories of a camp in the hills of Salamanca where as a young girl she helped her mother with the cooking. She was born in a lumbering camp in Olivedale, PA. Her father was a logger so that is where the family was living in her early years.
It should be once again stated that timber of superb quailty was shipped worldwhide from the forest here in the County. The fine quality of this lumber was well recognized.
Sue M. Cross, Town of Mansfield Historian
Information source: History of Cattraugus Co, Philadelphia: L. H. Everets, 1879