200 Years: Town of Busti

This month I am going to depart from concentrating on a particular item in our collection to call attention to my home town of Busti which is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The original grants to the Duke of York which created the colony of New York didn’t reach west of the Delaware River. The colony gradually forged a relationship with the Iroquois Confederacy which by the Revolutionary War allowed New York governors to wish and claim land as far west as Detroit and even the Mississippi River. Chautauqua County and lands farther west were not the ancient home of the Iroquois. They had gained control by conquest. New York, under the Articles of Confederation, relinquished all claims of land west of the current arbitrary boundary to the federal government.
At first as long as no white taxpayers and voters occupied New York’s western lands, their attribution to specific counties and towns was not carefully orchestrated. But after the Revolution, specifically March 7, 1788, the State passed a law systematically organizing the entire state in local units. The whole state west of Utica was defined as within Montgomery County, Town of Whitestown. As the frontier progressed westward, counties and towns were divided and redivided. On March 30, 1802, Genesee County was set up with the Town of Chautauque (so spelled) taking in the entire present county except for what later became Carroll, Poland, Ellington, Cherry Creek, Villenova, and Hanover. Then in 1808 Chautauque County was set up with its present boundaries and divided into two towns, Chautauqua and Pomfret, from which all the other towns have subsequently been erected.

The 19th century history books give the dates for the erection of each town. Those dates are the dates the law was passed creating and naming the respective towns. But those laws specified a later take-effect date, usually the first Tuesday of the following year. It was on that date that the first town meeting was held, the first officers installed, and the first records created. Genealogists take note. Nevertheless, local anniversary commemorations, centennials, sesqui-centennials, and now bicentennials, invariably adhere to the law passage date for their observance. It is no different with Busti. The law was passed, carving Busti out of parts of Ellicott and Harmony, April 16, 1823, but it took effect March 2, 1824.

Following are some additional dates and events I have collected that occurred in the month of March pertaining to Busti, including the Village of Lakewood:

March 1, 1909 The Chadakoin Boat Club moved its headquarters from Greenhurst to Lakewood
March 1, 1999 Lakewood Perkins became Denny’s.
March 3, 1832 Busti school district #16 formed. This ultimately became the Celoron district. Busti’s original boundaries encompassed what later became Celoron.
March 3, 1876 Outgoing Busti supervisor, Alonzo Pickard, and incoming supervisor, Jerome Babcock got in a pushing and shoving match leaving the town’s only piece of office furniture, a secretary, in splinters.
March 4, 1929 Dance sponsored by the Busti Dancing Club.
March 4, 2002 First train through Lakewood in 11 years.
March 6, 1945 The Busti Volunteer Fire Department took over management of the Busti Triangle from the Busti Village Improvement Society (a women’s organization).
March 11, 1920 The American flag was raised in the Busti triangle for the first time.
March 12, 1909 First meeting of the Busti South Side Sunshine Birthday Club at the home of Mrs. Frank Cleland.
March 12, 1968 Organizational meeting of the Busti-Lakewood Golden Agers. (Inactive until May, 1970).
March 14, 1909 Rev. Dewey Martin resigned as pastor of the Busti Baptist Church.
March 15, 1825 Busti school district #13 organized in what later became Boomertown.
March 16, 1909 Voters in Lakewood, Celoron, and Falconer rejected annexation to Jamestown.
March 16, 1926 Busti school district #8 Mothers’ Club formed.
March 18, 1964 First woman elected to the Lakewood village board, Caryl Vandermolen.
March 19, 1915 Lakewood Improvement Society organized.
March 25, 1945 Busti Bethany Lutheran Church disbanded and merged with Jamestown Bethel Lutheran.
March 27, 1905 The Busti Creamery, reconditioned and repainted, reopened.
March 27, 1956 Walter Sweeney’s barn, near the state line, burned.
March 28, 1905 Bell Telephone installed an exchange at the home of Jasper Ball, grandfather of Lucille. 100 customers.
March 28, 1976 Busti Historical Society Maple Festival.
March 29, 1901 Rearick Tent, Knights of the Maccabees, organized.
March 30, 1998 Lakewood post office moved from Summit Avenue to Fairmount.

And on April 1, 1797. Paul Busti arrived in the United States at Philadelphia. He never actually visited the town of Busti and he died less than six months after it organized.

The earliest photograph of Busti. Mill Street North, where the Fire Hall and parking lots are today.

Many other interesting area events have occurred in the Month of March. Bemus Point was settled in 1806. Jamestown was incorporated as a village in 1827. A bicycle was seen on Jamestown streets for the first time in 1869. The rider had to push it directly with his feet on the ground. Rev. George Bennard, the composer of “The Old Rugged Cross” spoke in Falconer in 1931. The first telegraph station in the county opened in Fredonia in 1848. George M. Cohan appeared at Shea’s Theater in 1935. On March 11, 1894 Chautauqua Lake set a record for the earliest ice breakup. In 1909 Jamestown held its first automobile show. The tragic Gokey fire took place in 1910. The last local coal delivery was made in 1991. Commercial air service started at Jamestown Airport in 1946. In 1865 Jamestown had possibly its worst flood ever, at least until hurricane Agnes in 1972. The long remembered St. Patrick’s Day snow occurred in 1936. In 1848 and again in 1903 Niagara Falls went dry. In 1919 the Fenton mansion was deeded from the Fenton family to the city. In 1963 the first meeting leading to the formation of the Fenton Historical Society took place. And In 1968 the first exhibit room at the Fenton Historical Society opened to the public.

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