Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 1, 1900


A Prosperous and Progressive Place With an Historic Past




The Old Court House of Allegany Still a Landmark - A Storied

Structure Where the Republican Party Had its Birth.


Written for the Democrat and Chronicle.


Angelica, the historic village of Central Allegany county, was the scene of two

important events in local annals, October 16th and 17th. At 4 o'clock on the

afternoon of the former day, the first shovelful of earth was turned in the

construction of the "Shawmut Line" of railway, and October 17th, at 3 o'clock, the

corner stone of a library building was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The town

had an air of more than usual activity on both occasions, from the fact that the

teachers' institute for the for the first commissioner district of Allegany was in

session, under the conductorship of Henry R. Sanford, A.M., and

commissionership of G.W. D'Antremont. But from its advantageous location and

increased railway facilities now assured, Angelica seems destined to become the

center of enterprise projected by its founders in 1802.

The Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern railway extends, as surveyed, from the

coal fields of Western Pennsylvania to Macedon, Wayne county, but as

constructed and in operation, the southern terminus is Angelica and the northern

termination, Wayland, Steuben county. The line winds through picturesque vales

for some forty miles, following for a distance the Canisteo river in its course,

skirting the southern the southern highlands of the Dansville valley, and crossing

the famed Stony Brook Glen, ere it traverses the marl beds at Wayland.

This route is one of great interest from geological and geographical points of

view, as its extension is through the divides water-wrought at the subsidence of

the glacial ice-sheet, and in its comparatively short length it passes over two

summits of the "height of land," dividing the St. Lawrence basin from that of the

Chemung. The present train service, however, is so arranged, that few

others than those compelled by business have views the scenic beauties of this

midland thoroughfare.

The Library Association of Angelica has long been an established institution,

but it remained for a public-spirited citizen to provide a suitable library building.

The structure is located at the corner of Main and Center streets, and is thirty-six

by seventy-two feet in extent of ground plan. The lower story will be devoted to

library purposes, and the upper one used as a lyceum. Its cost will be some

$20,000. It is the gift of Mrs. Frank Sullivan Smith, in memory of her mother, Mrs.

Lucia Cornelia Hapgood Higgins. The corner stone was laid by Master Harry

Higgins, son of Senator Higgins, of Chautauqua. It included a box of coins of the

present century, copies of local papers and daily newspapers of neighboring

cities, the constitution of the Angelica Library Association, and a memorial paper

by the donor, Mr. Clara A. Higgins Smith. The attendants at the institute,

including teachers and instructors, were spectators of the memorable event.

Angelica is built about a public square, the center of which is marked by a

stone, that is the geographical center of the township of Angelica, and from which

all property surveys within its limits have original landmark. The main street of the

village is six rods in width from curb to curb, and extends nearly east and west for

upwards of a half mile, from narrows to narrows of the stream valley.

The place was laid out by Philip Church, who settled upon its site in 1802, and

whose remains rest in the village cemetery, near those of Moses Van Campen,

of Indian and pioneer-day fame. He was the son of John B. Church, and

grandson of General Schuyler. He built the first saw and grist-mill, and kept the

first store of Angelica, which was named in honor of his mother.

Many books, once in his possession, have recently been donated to the

Angelica Library Association, by Walter O. Church, of Geneva. Hyde deNeuville

resided in Angelica in 1807-1808. He was an exile during the government of the

empire, and minister to the United States from 1816 to 1822, upon the restoration

of the French monarchy.

The first school was taught by Widow S. Smith in 1804-05, and the first

church, the Presbyterian, was formed by Rev. Robert Hubbard in 1811. Other

denominations of the village at present are Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and


Allegany county was formed from Genesee, April 7, 1806, and courts were

directed to be held at Angelica on the 2d of June, 1807. By an act of March 11,

1808, the county seat was permanently located in the place, but in pursuance of

an enactment of April 2, 1858, providing for the removal of the county seat to the

line of the New York & Erie railroad, the village of Belmont now has that honor,

while the old court house, which was erected in 1819, remains a relic of departed


The court house is crumbling to decay, but, if traditions be true, public

sentiment should united for its preservation, for within its walls during the

administration of President Pierce, at an assemblage of citizens of Allegany

county, the Republican party had its birth. There was held the initial meting,

where "free soil, free men, free speech" were promulgated as paramount

principles of political action.


Submitted by Dick Palmer

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