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Did you know Barcelona once had a Post Office?

Buzzings from BeeLines

January 18, 2012
By Marybelle Beigh, Current Westfield Historian
When a previous historian contacted the U.S. Government to obtain the records for the early local post offices and postmasters in the Town of Westfield, one of those requested was for Barcelona, since histories written by early historians stated there was a post office in Barcelona in the 1800s. Imagine her surprise to receive a reply that no records were found for a Barcelona Post Office or Postmasters at the date given, 1827. After due consideration of this dilemma, it was determined the date of establishment of the Barcelona Post Office was before “Barcelona” and “Barcelona Harbor” had been officially named. In fact, that date was also before the Town of Westfield was formed — 1829 — or the Village of Westfield had been incorporated — 1833. According to Early Post Offices of Chautauqua County by C. Malcolm Nichols — Jamestown 1960 — the first post office in Chautauqua County was established as “Chataughque” on May 21, 1806, at Gale and West Main Streets at Cross Roads, Westfield’s first name, and John McMahon was the first Postmaster. Chautauqua County was not officially a county until 1811, when it had grown to 500 male citizens over the age of 18. Chautauqua and the rest of the counties now comprising Western New York State were all part of one county called Genesee County, with the County Seat at Batavia as of 1802. Allegany County was the first to separate from Genesee in 1806, and Niagara County followed in 1808, with Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties attached to Niagara. After Chautauqua became a separate county in 1811, it was in 1817 that Cattaraugus was organized. The Chataughque Post Office was discontinued March 17, 1818, and this post office was renamed Westfield Post Office in June 1818 and moved to the east side of Chautauqua Creek near where Main and Portage Streets now intersect. This is the first official use of the name of “Westfield” that has been located. However, in 1818 there was no Town — township — of Westfield, or incorporated Village of Westfield. Cross Roads, by that date, was located in the Town of Ripley, which was formed in 1817 with Chautauqua Creek as the town line. What was becoming known as the Village of Westfield was located in the Town of Portland, which was formed in 1813. Prior to the completions of the Erie Canal in 1825, what we now know as Barcelona Harbor in 2012 was then, in 1825, called Portland Harbor and was one of the major ports along Lake Erie providing access for exports from Chautauqua County to the best markets of Montreal in Canada and Pittsburg, Pa. The early businessmen and shippers had built a rough wharf off the point where the outer breakwater is now located in 2012. Ships rode at anchor in deep water, and cargoes were unloaded to rafts or sailboats and taken to the small wharf. By 1827, with increasing cargo and passengers coming through, Portland Harbor was designated a Government Port of Entry, and in September 1827, Eliphalet Tinker opened a dry goods, groceries and wheat store on his property at Water Lot No. 1 near the end of the old wharf. Tinker became Postmaster, opening the Portland Post Office on Oct. 24, 1827, at his place of business. After Portland Harbor was designated a Government Port of Entry, the lighthouse was built in 1829, and by 1831 there were three substantial docks with four large warehouses. Portland Harbor village was one of only three villages in the county laid out in detail by the Holland Land Company. Research has located deeds, land records and maps showing the great expectations of major merchants and land speculators for the development and expansion of Portland Harbor. By 1835, a group of investors started buying up land and properties in and around Portland Harbor, and in 1836 officially formed an association named the Portland Harbor Land Co. to develop, improve and sell these properties. An article in their incorporation made provision that, in the event the Portland Harbor Post Office or Village officially made a name change to “Barcelona,” the land company would change their name to “The Barcelona Land Co.” The name change to Barcelona was made Sept. 9, 1836, and Tinker was again named Postmaster of Barcelona Post Office. Isaac Shaw became Barcelona Post Master Nov. 30, 1841. On May 7, 1847, Amos Whittier was appointed Barcelona Post Master, but on Sept. 15, 1849, Shaw was reappointed to the position, which he held until the Barcelona Post Office was discontinued on Dec. 4, 1862. The 1854 Chautauqua County map of Westfield which includes Barcelona shows the location of the Barcelona Post Office on the east side of North Portage Street, near where Seventh Street tees into North Portage. This location is shown as owned by I. Shaw on the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas Map of Barcelona, but, by then, the Barcelona Post Office had been discontinued for the previous five years.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
A sketch of a map showing thee old wharf prior to 1830 and Water Lot No. 1 where Eliphalet Tinker had his store and the Portland Post Office in 1827.

Fact Box

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at westfieldhistorian@ or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).



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