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There was a Rogersville Hamlet in the Town of Westfield

BeeLines

April 10, 2013
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian (westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net) , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

When this area was first being settled, taverns were the center of the fledgling communities, serving as town hall and assembly room, court house, post office, show-room, exchange, military training site, inn and tavern. The Holland Land Company granted large lots for inns to provide plenty of grazing land for settlers with cattle, sheep and hogs and drovers taking livestock to market. There were accommodations for travelers and their horses, and if the inn was also a stagecoach stop, extra coach horses were stabled there to provide fresh horses at regular intervals on the stagecoach runs.

The familiar historical stories of the first taverns and prominent inns in the Westfield area start with the McHenry Tavern at the Cross Roads - Gale and West Main - in 1802-03. When the Town of Chautauqua was first formed from a portion of Batavia, the first Chautauqua Town Meeting was held at the McHenry Tavern. The first tavern east of the creek was kept for several years by Thomas McClintock. It was a log cabin on the northeast corner of Main and Portage purchased by Jonathan Cass in 1811 and operated a few more years there.

Later came the Stone Tavern in 1820 and about the same time the Hawkins Tavern or White Inn. Both were on Main Street just east of the commons. The large Westfield House, erected in 1829 by James McClurg, became a well-known inn, stagecoach stop and public house at the northwest corner of Main and Portage. South of the village on Portage Road was Button's Inn, north of the village in Barcelona was Groat's Inn, and at the east end of the village was Drovers' Inn.

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of the Patterson Library
The former Rogersville School District No. 4 building, circa the 1960s, when it was occupied by Jehovah’s Witnesses and named “Kingdom Hall.”

What a delightful surprise it was to discover yet another tavern, while researching about the Forsythe bridges. About 3 miles west of Cross Roads, at the northeast corner where the road from Lake Erie meets the Buffalo-Erie Road on Lot 3 of the Holland Land Company, was Ezra Rogers' Tavern. The road has been named Rogersville Road for about 200 years. The site of Rogers' Tavern is now just an orchard, and all that remains as a reminder of the small hamlet of Rogersville is the brick Rogersville School building on the northwest corner.

At the cross roads where Ezra Rogers' Tavern stood, the hamlet was large enough that on Aug. 7, 1830, a post office was opened in the tavern, and Rogers served as postmaster until it was discontinued on Dec. 23, 1839. This is documented in "Early Post Offices of Chautauqua County New York," by C. Malcolm Nichols, and he includes a photocopy of a postmark from "ROGERSVILL.NY.MAR 27.1837"

A search of the 1854 Chautauqua County Wall Map depicts E. Rogers Inn on the northeast corner of Rogersville Road and Buffalo-Erie Road, and "SH" for school house on the northwest corner. S. Rogers' farm house is directly across from the inn, plus a smithy, or a blacksmith, to the east on the south side of the Buffalo-Erie Road and several other homes on both sides of the road. Not all are labeled, but include J.C. Hungerford and G. Newbrook. Also to the west on the north side of Buffalo-Erie Road are the farmhouses and barns of L. P. and H.C. Stephens - the old brick mansion described in a recent BeeLines article. East of Hungerford's house is Bell Creek with several mill ponds and C. Forsyth's Saw Mill upstream to the south.

Fact Box

The office of the Westfield Historian is located at 117 Union St., in the small green building on the north side of driveway. Office hours are by appointment; call or email a request. The Westfield Historian phone number is 326-2457 and email address is westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net.

However, the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas map of the Town of Westfield shows no evidence of Ezra Rogers or his tavern. By then, there is just SH No 4 on the northwest corner of Rogersville Road with the farmhouses of H.C. Stephens and L.P. Stephens to the west, the houses of J. McQuard, D. Smith, W. Ottaway and G Newbrook to the right on the north side of Buffalo-Erie Road, and three houses across from them - J.F.B., W.A. Bristol and H. Thomas. The Forsyth Saw Mill is still shown in 1867.

It was still a prosperous farming area in 1878 when the district built a good new brick schoolhouse. In 1940, Westfield consolidated the district schools into the Westfield Central School at the corner of Academy and East Main Street, so the doors of the Rogersville School, District No. 4, were closed. From 1957 to 1972, the last Rogersville School building was the meeting house of Jehovah's Witnesses who named the then 84-year old structure, "Kingdom Hall."

Former Westfield Historian, the late Billie Dibble, wrote in 1984, "Some of these [former one-room school buildings] have been converted into ... homes. One out on West Main Road is now the location of Chautauqua Energy Incorporated and with its recent additions bears little resemblance to District 4, Rogersville Schoolhouse."

It is now, in 2013, apparently still occupied by the group, which is named Chautauqua Energy Management according to the current Westfield phone directory.

As near as can be determined, the brick Rogersville School house building is the only remaining reminder of the small hamlet of Rogersville that existed for a large part of the 19th century in the area now called Forsythe.

 
 
 

 

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