In August 2011, the Dibble's Dabbles of Aug. 9, 1984, "Westfield mail was once carried in handkerchief," was republished. Recently, the Westfield Historian office received a phone message request from Robert Breads regarding the location of one of the early post offices mentioned in the article as being in Volusia. Breads explained his family had owned Volusia property back into the 1860s, for which he still has deeds, and he had been told the post office had been in one of the older homes of his family in the Volusia area. His request was for confirmation regarding this family story, particularly just which house on which lot.
Breads is a World War II veteran, and, when asked, confirmed he was descended from the Breads twins who came to Westfield in spring of 1862 and whose stories of early Westfield - bridges, hotels and other businesses - have been published and republished in the Westfield Republican over the years. Breads brought his old deeds, an old photo and a map survey of the Robert D. Breads property as of 1989 for discussion and photocopying. During the discussion, he pointed to several of the buildings on the map and described how the map differs from now, as well as how it had changed since his memories of Volusia when he received his deed in 1948.
A review of the names on the deeds and a comparison to the Chautauqua County 1867 Atlas map of the Town of Westfield located the ME Church, the Volusia Post Office and a rural school house, as well as the names of at least two of the postmasters during that time.
The Breads’ house in Volusia as it looked in 1948. This is one of the houses said to have housed the Volusia post office, during the 1800s. It was located on Pigeon Road near Sherman Road, formerly called Plank Road.
Another valuable document in identifying post office names and locations, dates of establishment and discontinuance of post offices and names and dates of appointment of each of the postmasters or postmistresses for the post offices is "The Early Post Offices of Chautauqua County, New York" by C. Malcolm Nichols, 1960, located in the local history reference room of the Patterson Library. Nichols used the official records of the U.S. Post Office Department to compile the basic information, and then supplemented it with Chautauqua County's local historic newspaper notices and articles, as well as interviews with local historians and with descendants of some of the former postmasters or property owners where post offices had been located.
"Another rural settlement office, called Volusia, was established on December 20, 1832, on the Plank Road from Westfield south thru Nettle Hill, and in the vicinity of the intersection of lots 39-40-47 and 48." These are the same lots as are noted on the Breads survey map. "The first postmaster was Hiram A. Haight ... Volusia was named after the postmaster's daughter, Volusia Ann Haight ... Just where the office was kept, at this early date, cannot be stated with certainty but probably was his home." Although the office, "was discontinued, while Haight was still postmaster, September 21, 1836," it "was re-established June 17, 1837, with John Howard as the postmaster ... John Howard lived on the northwest corner of the Plank Road where it met the cross road on lot 48. In later years, while Harmon D. Bisbee was postmaster, it was about two miles nearer Sherman."
The list of Volusia Postmasters includes Marietta F. Bisbee, appointed March 1861, and Harmon D. Bisbee, appointed December 1874 and again in October 1882. The 1867 map shows the Volusia Post Office and Bisbee's home located further south from the lots comprising Volusia corners where the post office, church and school house were designated.
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 email@example.com or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
According to Nichols, "Mrs. Breads, of Volusia, stated that at one time before Bisbee had it, the post office was at her house, and also in the Lancaster house across the road from her house ... discontinued on July 14, 1891, and re-established October 21st of that year. Joseph Nonomaque was appointed postmaster at that time." Nonomaque's name appears on the 1867 map, as well as on deeds provided by Robert Breads.
"Volusia post office finally closed for good on October 15, 1900, and the mail was ordered sent to the Westfield post office."