Chautauqua-Allegany Region Facts

Each Friday a new fact about a region of New York State is posted to the Exploring Upstate Facebook Page. In case you haven’t been following along there, here’s what you missed!

– 11 year old Grace Bedell of Westfield wrote a letter to then-presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he may have better chances at winning the election were he to grow facial hair. Lincoln visited Westfield on February 16, 1861 donning a full beard to meet Grace. [source]

– Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball had a long lasting friendship that began in the 60’s. On Burnett’s 56th birthday, she awoke and discovered the news that her longtime friend and mentor had died. Later that day, the flowers that Lucille Ball sent to Burnett every year for her birthday arrived with the card ‘Happy Birthday, Kid. Love, Lucy’. [source]

– The longest, continuously running book club in the United States is located in Chautauqua. [source]

– 19th century politician Samuel Mitchill of Hempstead, NY first proposed changing the name of the United States in 1803 to something more representative of our freedoms. While his proposed ‘Fredon’ didn’t catch on, many towns and cities across the U.S. did adopt his intended ‘poetic’ use and became ‘Fredonia’. [source]

– There is only one other Chautauqua County in the U.S., located in southeast Kansas. Established in 1875, it was named after the New York county when Western New York born politician Edward Jaquins relocated  and helped establish Kansas’ Chautauqua County. [source]

– While the name is used in different states, the spelling a-l-l-e-g-a-n-y is only used in New York. In Pennsylvania and Ohio you’ll find a-l-l-e-g-h-e-n-y and then a-l-l-e-g-h-a-n-y in Virginia and North Carolina.  [source]

The origin of the county name “Cattaraugus” is a Seneca tribe’s word meaning “badly smelling banks”. The tribe used it to describe the region because of the odor from natural decomposition seeping through cracks in the rock formations. [source]

– Because of the high population of old-order Amish combined with the few remaining traditional Senecas, Cattagaugus County has one of the highest rates of homes in the northeast United States without indoor plumbing. [source]

– Believed by some to be the oldest man to have ever lived, Governor Blacksnake was a Seneca leader. It is known that he died in 1859, but his birth year has been listed as both 1760 and also 1737. If the latter (which is on his gravestone) is correct, he would haveve been 121 years old at the time of his death.

– The lyrics for the theme song to the television show “Mr. Ed” was written by Ray Evans, who was born in Salamanca, New York (Cattaraugus County).