Great Valley was formed from the Town of Olean in 1818, comprising the current
towns of Great Valley, Allegany, Humphrey, Carrollton and part of the Allegany
Indian Reservation. The Towns of Allegany and Humphrey were removed under the
name of Burton in 1831. The Town of Carrollton and part of the Indian Reservation
were removed in 1842 and 1847 respectively.
The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh railroad followed Great Valley Creek with a
station at Great Valley and Peth. The New York, Lake Erie and Western ran
through the southeastern portion of the Town with a station at Kill Buck. One of
the first public highways in Great Valley was a stage which ran from Buffalo to
Olean by way of Great Valley Creek to a post office at Peth, then continued on
along Wright's Creek to Chappellsburg and on to Olean. The state constructed a
road on the northern bank of the Allegany River in the 1840's. The Township is
drained by Great Valley Creek which empties into the Allegany River.
Findings of large (giant) human bones discovered in the 1850's were evidence that
an ancient race once existed within the bounds of Great Valley.
The first permanent settlement in Great Valley was at Kill Buck in 1812 which saw
the establishing of a sawmill the same year and a tavern in 1813, followed by a
grist mill in 1816. The first school house was built at Peth in 1820. The first
store in the Town was established in 1815. The first woolen mill was established
at Great Valley Center in 1828.
Once densely covered with forest land, Great Valley was naturally a lumbering
town. Saw mills (i . e. 1844 - Staunton; 1852 - Ellis ; 1872 - Babbit & Mason ;
1880 - Gilman) appeared every two miles along the waterways of Great Valley. With
the exhaustion of the forest, the population turned to agricultural activities,
dairying, crop production and stock raising. By the 1870's, 3 cheese factories
had been built (the first being 1858).
In the 1890's, the hamlet of Great Valley (a post office village since 1870, and
station on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh railroad) consisted of a church, 2
general stores, a hotel, a livery, a flour mill , 2 saw mills, 2 blacksmith shops,
a school, 2 shingle mills, a meat market, and a cheese factory. It was here that
the Plank Road and Half-way House was located before the arrival of the railroad.
Kill Buck, originally an Indian village, whose chief's name was Daniel Kill Buck,
is the oldest settlement in the Town of Great Valley. This hamlet (in the
1890's), consisted of 2 churches, a post office (1836), 2 stores (one built in
1856 by Senear & Green which was located on the former site of Chief Kill Buck's
wigwam), a brewery (1875 - Torge), a chair factory (1869 - Shorter & Bros.), a
hotel, a sawmill (1812) , a saw/planing mill, a bottling works, a tavern, a
blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a cooper shop, a meat market, a doctor's office
and a school (both white and Indian).
Peth, a hamlet and station of the Buffalo, Rochester & pittsburg railroad, was
the site of the first post office (1830) in the Town of Great Valley. The first
store opened here in 1815 and by the 1870's, Peth had established a tavern,
school, blacksmith shop, a shingle mill, and a handle factory.
The hamlet of Great Valley Station, currently the Ellicott Street area, in the
1870's saw the existence of a store, a tavern, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, a
sawmill, a grocery, a saloon, and was the depot/station for the Erie Railroad.
The hamlet of Sugartown in the 1890's consisted of a post and a church.
A natural curiosity of Great Valley is the "breathing well". In 1841, Nicholas
Flint attempted to drill a water well. After 40 feet, and striking no water, the
well was filled with stone. Mr. Flint noticing that a strong current of air
continually entered or escaped the well, inserted a hollow log, and enclosed the
well, leaving the log uncovered. It is said that a whistle placed at the end of
the log could be heard a half a mile away. Some believe the "breathing well"
serves as a barometer: blowing out indicating settled weather, and breathing in
indicating a storm approaching. Scientists have no accountable reason for the
"breathing well", which can still be seen at its location off of Bear Hollow
Source: Cattaraugus County Book 1808-1995/96