The Town of Ashford, as we know it today, was once part of the territory known as
Ellicottville. In 1824, Ashford was created from a portion of Ellicottville. In
1835, a portion of the Town of Otto, lying north and east of Connoisarauley Creek
was annexed to and formed a part of the Town of Ashford. Ashford has four main
settlement areas - Ashford, Ashford Hollow, Riceville and West Valley.
It was not until 1816 that any portion of the land included in the Town was
contracted from the Holland Land Company. The first settlement in the Town was
near Ashford Hollow in 1817, followed by the erection of a tavern and blacksmith
shop (1821), grocery store (1822), sawmill (1828) , grist mill (1833). In the
1870's, Ashford Hollow was also the home of a post office, hotel, church, school
house (1822 at Thomas Corners), three stores (i .e . furniture), feed mill, sawmill,
cabinet shop, tin shop, 2 wagon shops, 2 blacksmith shops, shoe shop,
harness shop, cooper shop, a doctor's office, butter & cheese factory.
The hamlet of Riceville (also known as East Ashford) located a short distance
north of West Valley, was named in honor of its first settler William Rice who
built a sawmill in 1834. Along with its settlers, it saw the construction of 2
churches, a public school, post office, store, a blacksmith shop, and ink factory.
At West Valley (once known as "Beebe Lot") the first settlers arrived in 1829,
followed by a sawmill, tannery , post office, harness shop, 2 churches, school
(1839), hardware & tin shop, clothing store, feed & grocery store, 3 blacksmith
The principal waterways are: Cattaraugus (which provides a separation from Erie
County); Buttermilk named derived from the whitish color of its waters); and
Connoisarauley (Indian for "an ugly stream") Creeks. The southern portion of
this 33,204 acre town, has hills attaining an altitude of about 300 feet from
which, so I am told, one can see the water of Lake Erie. A 185 foot bridge was
built across Cattaraugus Creek in 1862.
In its early years, the principal occupation of the farmers was the manufacturer
of cheese and butter as noted by the existence of 10 such factories (i.e. Neff &
Source: Cattaraugus County Book 1808-1995/96