Conewango, an Indian term signifying "walking slowly" was formed from Little
Valley in 1823. In 1826 and 1832, Conewango was divided creating the Towns of
Randolph and Leon respectively.
The first landholders within the Town were recorded by the Holland Land Company
in 1815 with the first settler arriving in 1816. The early settlers built rude
log homes and made productive fields out of the wilderness. Considerable timbering
took place in the Town, but dairying was the leading interest. The Town
contains some of the best farming and grazing land in the County. With dairying
came 5 cheese factories (i.e. Connewango (1870), Axeville (1869), Rutledge
(1871), Highland (1878), and Elm Creek (1874); wool production, as well as maple
syrup and vegetable crops. A settler on Conewango, Andrew Pope, invented the
"Pope Milk Pan" which was patented in 1869.
In 1823 the only road (known as Mayville or old Chautauqua Road), hardly what
might be called a road, passed through the northern part of the Town. Communications
and shipping facilities were provided by the Atlantic and Great Western
Railroad (western division of the Erie Railroad) which ran through the southern
part of the Town, while the Buffalo and Southwestern Railroad had tracks down the
valley of the Conewango Creek with a station at Rutledge.
Various settlments existed within the Town of Conewango: East Randolph lies
partly both in the Towns of Conewango and Randolph.
Conewango Station (Old's Corners), on the Buffalo & Southwestern Railroad, had a
store in 1822, preceded by an inn in 1817.
Elm Creek, (named derived for the unusual number of elm trees along the Creek
banks was a small settlement, with a cheese factory, Good Templars' Hall, several
shops, a saw mill (1823) and a grist mill (1827).
Axeville derived its name from the occupation of an early settler (axe maker).
In 1840 a post office was kept here. This hamlet contained a school house,
creamery, and a few dwellings.
Rutledge (home of the first settler in Conewango - 1916), was a village in the
northwestern part of the Town along old Chautauqua Road. It once consisted of 2
stores (i.e. Camp & Holbrook), a tavern (1820), hotel (1827), a blacksmith shop,
a wagon shop, a post office (1825), a physician (1820), 4 churches (i. e. The
First Methodist Church In Conewango), and a library (1824).
The Hollow was located about 3 miles north of Rutledge. Here a sawmill, grist
mill, fulling mill, ashery, hotel, and grocery existed.
Pope, a hamlet located nearly in the center of the Town, contained a post office
In the early years of the Town of Conewango, there also existed a brick yard
(1828), 3 distilleries (1830 ), a tannery (1833), a boot and shoe shop, a house of
entertainment (1816) and a store (1831) various saw mills ( first in 1820) and
grist mills (first in 1822), a school (1820), wool carding and cloth dressing
Cattaraugus County Book 1808-1995/96