OF BANK OF CATTARAUGUS
Bank of Cattaraugus, located in
Village, was founded in 1882. At that
time, the growing village needed a larger bank to succeed the two private
banks that were in operation since 1849. A
group of twenty prominent citizens from Cattaraugus and neighboring villages
formed a partnership to establish a new bank on
July 13, 1882
. Among its founders were
Cattaraugus residents Herbert C. Rich, hardware store owner and prominent
lumberman; general store owners Jerome Higbee, Nathaniel Christie;
S.L. and E.L. Johnson, who owned flour and saw mills; Christopher
Moench, owner of the tannery; blacksmith Asa Ross and A.B. Rush, owner of
the cheese factory.
influential men met at the office of A.B. Rush in Cattaraugus, chose the
name of the partnership to be “Bank of Cattaraugus”, and elected
officers with Oscar F. Beach, a pioneer settler from East Otto, as
President. Plans were
immediately made for the construction of a building, which was occupied in
1883. This building, now used
by the Cattaraugus Area Historical Society, was the home of the bank for 30
Solon S. Laing, a hardware store owner and State Assemblyman from East Otto,
became president. In 1894,
Herbert C. Rich became the bank’s third president.
In 1913, the bank built its current building on the corner across the
street. Fred E. Johnson was
elected the bank’s first “full time” President in 1930.
Beginning in 1940, J.J. McCarthy served as President for 17 years. L. Edgar Cullen joined the bank in 1940 and served as president from
1957 until 1982.
In 1957, the bank was remodeled eliminating bars on teller
windows. In 1971 the Bank
was again renovated, doubling its former size.
Patrick J. Cullen joined the bank in 1971 and was elected President
in 1982, a position he holds today. In
1992 a Directors Community Room was constructed at 9 ½ Main Street
, utilizing the talents of area workmen, in order to create a quality place
for local meetings.
Determined to place the needs of the local community first and foremost,
this bank has remained with local ownership and today is one of the oldest
. In the cooperative spirit of
it founders, Bank of Cattaraugus focuses its investment activity in the
local community. Over the years
it helped finance the establishment and growth of hundreds of homes and
numerous industries and business such as Cattaraugus Cutlery, Case Brothers
Cutlery, TenEyck Edge Tool Company, Setter Brothers, Oakes & Burger,
Borden Foods, Harvey & Carey Drug Store Chain, Rich Dairy and many, many
Bank of Cattaraugus continues to operate with the same belief that the needs
of the local community and its residents are its business.
Local deposits must remain available for local loans to sustain a
vibrant community. The
stockholders, directors, officers, and staff extend a “thank you” to all
whom have supported this American Ideal during the past three centuries.
Brief History of
After the American Revolution, many soldiers were granted tracts of
land in the Westfield,
area. This Chautauqua area was
of strategic importance in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.
Travelers of the
could portage to
and then easily on to the
Allegheny River, the
, the Mississippi
When General Sullivan campaigned against the Iroquois in the
Valley, many Seneca Indians fled to the
area between Springville and
. They also retired to the area
that is now occupied by the Kinzua Reservoir.
This is the same area once well lived by Seneca Chief Cornplanter in
It wasn’t until after the War of 1812
that adventuresome pioneers ventured into the area that was known by the
Senecas as Cattaraugus, just east of
. The earliest recorded death in the
area was in 1810 when Captain Rosecrantz, an Indian trader, was found dead
of mysterious causes. Then
William Dutton another merchant from neighboring
(now Gowanda) was found dead. He
had traded too much alcohol to the Indians.
Local merchants were incensed and bought him out paying him in gold.
As he left
traveling though the northern Cattaraugus wilderness, he was never again
seen alive. His body was found
the next spring, without his gold or his fancy watch.
In 1828, brothers Calvin and Arad Rich courageously relocated their
families to the valley and surrounding hills around what is now
. The area became well known as Rich
Valley, not just for the prolific Richs but also because of the fertile soil and
the year round stream of water that coursed through the valley.
The stream dropped well over 100 feet in elevation within the village
providing ideal conditions for numerous water powered mills.
With the impending completion of the
, President Andrew Jackson championed the effort to develop the interior
with legislation that he supported. This
effort led directly to the planning of a railroad to connect the
, coursing through the southern-tier of
. When this
and Lake Erie Railway was completed in 1851, it wasn’t merely a new
railroad. It was the longest
rail line in the entire world! It
. This railroad came through Rich
. The new depot was named
Cattaraugus, in honor of the name of the County and the fact the upstart
village was already a center of commerce and needed its own depot to serve
the most burgeoning economy in the county at that time.
The first telegraph came through in 1849 to provide communication
facilities between construction crews.
When 1851 rolled around and the railroad was completed, over 1500
persons lived in the area. Cattaraugus
that year had its first post office, train depot and telegraph office.
truly was a boomtown on the way west. When
the first train came through carrying President Filmore, his entire cabinet,
and the Chief of the Seneca Nation, there were few communities in this
country more proud than Cattaraugus. Future
economic growth intensified due to our train depot and railroad siding.
Stage lines sprang up connecting Cattaraugus with New Albion and Leon
and another went to Otto and East Otto.
Another influence on our local economy is due to the fact that the
railroad completion made the
obsolete. Local goods could be
available for sale on the streets of
New York City
450 miles away within 24 hours.
Numerous cheese factories
up. Lumber, apples, potash,
lath, leather, whiskey (not necessarily in this order) were just a few of
several dozen industries. Hotels,
livery stables, and schools opened their doors.
We had a hospital, doctors, veterinarians and architects and even a
medical college. Many of the
laborers who helped build the railroad decided to settle in Cattaraugus.
Large crews of men were needed to construct culverts and excavate
hillsides in the area around Cattaraugus.
This involved intense manual labor and skilled stone masons, many of
whom apprenticed on the
By 1860 the town boasted 305 dwellings, 8 school districts with 649
children in school, 1557 oxen and 383 horses. Several
fires swept through the village over the years.
The most damaging was in September 1888.
It took away nearly the entire business district.
Almost all of the buildings in the Village were wood frame prior to
1888. After the fire, the
buildings were reconstructed out of brick to reduce the possibility of a
recurrence. Thus, while
dates prior to 1818; the current business district was largely constructed
after that fire of 1888.
Today, visitors can attest to the unique feeling that they experience
when discovering Cattaraugus
Village. The Village does not have a
crossroads. It has a “T”.
At the head of that “T” is the old brick Hotel.
Once the center of activity in the Village and the destination of
thousands of salesmen and merchants, this hotel awaits a developer as if in
suspended animation… still with the original light fixtures, tin ceilings
It is well documented that Abraham Lincoln visited Cattaraugus twice
in 1860. Teddy Roosevelt
campaigned for President here in 1898.
Daniel Webster was a visitor and Franklin D. Roosevelt was here on
several occasions. With very
little imagination you can see them rocking on the Hotel porches.