Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 1, 1900
A Prosperous and Progressive Place With an Historic Past
NEW LIBRARY BUILDING
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
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