A Developing Community
The first settlement was made in the center of the township and this hamlet was called Boston Centre for many years. Here Talcutt Patchin operated his tannery for about ten years, and then he decided to try a fresh start in life. He took his wife and three children to Olean, where he built a flatboat and floated to New Orleans, going from there to that part of Mexico which later became Texas. In 1850 the citizens of Boston Centre petitioned for a post office but were told to select another name to avoid confusion with Boston and North Boston. They selected Patchin as the name of their post office in honor of their former neighbor who was gone but not forgotten.
A Universalist Church Society was formed here in 1835, and before 1850 they had built the building now the Town Hall. This building stood practically unused for over fifty years but was kept up by the Universalist Women’s Sewing Society until taken over by the Community Church.
John Anthony bought a farm here some time in the 1830’s where, with his wife and ten children, he carried on a successful farming operation. He was supervisor two years, justice of the peace sixteen years, and town clerk eight years. He and others set out extensive apple orchards in the valley. It is revealing to read an account book kept by him, between 1835 and 1845, of wages and prices of those days. For one day’s work in the shop together with
Other farmers were raising sheep, and a woolen mill was busy just north of the Edgar Rockwood farm, 1.1 miles south of Patchin. Several saw mills and grist mills operated at various times along Eighteen Mile Creek but it is difficult to find any trace of them now.
- Drawing a log for a trough – $.75
- For two days’ chopping – $1.25
- For one and a half days’ harrowing – $.94
- 4 quarts milk – $.06
- 1 lb. 10 oz. butter at .15 per lb. – $.25
- ½ bu. Oats – $.18
- 4 doz. Eggs at .09 per doz. – $.36
Civil War Times
In the years before the Civil War, many Germans were coming to this country and several families came to Boston. Martin Keller had a tavern, a store, a blacksmith shop and a tailor shop in a little community of Germans on the Feddick Road near the Keller Road, but no trace of this community remains.
There are no records of the men who went from Boston to serve in the Civil War, but there are at least twenty veterans buried in the cemeteries. How many fell in battle or died in prisons or hospitals we do not know, but the men of Boston answered the call to arms.
The Bell Factory
There used to be a bell factory in Boston Village, operated by the Yaw family. It was the largest bell factory in the United States, making five hundred cow and sheep bells a day beside staples and hasps. We do not know when it started nor when it closed, but an atlas of 1866 shows the factory just below the Catholic Cemetery across the creek from Boston. Another atlas of 1880 shows that it had been moved east of the main road a little north of Boston Cross Road. There are a few of the old bells in the valley but the business died when the farmers finished clearing and fencing their pastures.
Ambrose Yaw had a daughter, Ellen Beach Yaw, born in 1868, in the house east of Naber’s store on the Boston Cross Road, who was to become perhaps the widest known Bostonian. She developed a splendid voice and, after study in Europe. She traveled all over the United States and Europe doing concert singing. She sang soprano and could hit a higher note than any other singer atthe time. She died in California where she had lived for several years.
In the mid nineteenth century the brothers, Orrin and Jesse Lockroad were prominent citizens. They lived in the house earlier occupied by Talcutt Patchin, now the Simmeth place, near Omphalius Road on Route 219. Orrin was supervisor several years and later sheriff of the county. Jesse was a magistrate and justice of the sessions. Two other brothers were prominent in the county. Dr. T. T. Lockwood was an eminent physician and at one time mayor of Buffalo. The Hon. Daniel H. Lockwood served as district attorney and member of congress.
Van Rensselaer Cary, grandson of Deacon Richard Cary, was a successful farmer, civic minded citizen, and early president of the Erie County Agricultural Society.
As hemlock trees were plentiful here and the bark was used to tan hides into leather, tanneries were built all over the country. There was a tannery, previous to 1870, on the creek bank in Boston Village and there were two others in Boston Centre. After the hemlock trees were cut off and chemical tanning developed, all these tanneries went out of business.
The Boston Centre Library Association was formed in Patchin in 1889. This library was housed in the home of Thomas Cole, back of a blacksmith shop, on the northwest corner of Patchin Road and Route 219. Later it was in the home of Dr. Blanchard. After seven years the library was closed and the books were divided among the members.
The Road to Springville
The road from Hamburg to Springville probably follows the old Indian trail as far as that extended, and beyond that point the early settlers blazed a trail following the route of least resistance. By 1812, a road was open to Springville, but from the bridge south of Boston Village, it followed the route of Trevett Road. It was not until 1840 or 1841 that the present route of the State Road was opened. As the road was the only means of contact with the larger settlements, it was a community project to maintain and improve it. Road taxes were worked out instead of being paid in cash. It was a narrow dirt road until about 1850, when a private company took it over and built a plank road for the use of which toll was collected. A toll house stood just north of Howard Cary’s house, south of Liebler Road. Sawed timbers, three of four inches thick, were laid across the road forming a paved surface which, when new, seemed a great improvement over the mud and dust of the old highway. But the planks soon warped and curled up and broke in weak spots so that the road deteriorated rapidly. In ten or twelve years the company gave up trying to keep the road in repair and its upkeep reverted to the town. Probably much of it was buried under gravel. A few years ago the remains of this road was uncovered, in a ditch, several feet below the present highway. For many years the road was dusty in summer, muddy in spring and fall, and snow covered in winter. In sufficed for the horse drawn vehicles as residents of the town seldom traveled farther away than Buffalo. Finally in 1909, the State took over this road and a paved road was built. This and the advent of the automobile began to change the whole picture of the countryside.
Growth of a village
Before the days of paved roads and automobiles, the people of the town depended upon local stores and shops to supply their needs. Stores, taverns, and post offices had to be within easy driving distance of the farm, and this accounts for the three hamlets Boston, Patchin, and North Boston, each with its post office.
About 1890, there were in the village of Boston, the following places of business; one general store, a grocery store with the post office, four shoe shops, four blacksmith shops, two hotels, a wagon shop, a hardware and tin shop, a saw mill, a grist mill, a jewelry store, a harness shop, a meat market and a telegraph office. There was a doctor, a lawyer, carpenters and masons, all dependent on the patronage of those living in and around the village. A horse drawn stage ran from Hamburg to Springville daily. Several cheese factories operated outside the village within easy hauling distance of the farms, where milk was proving to be the best paying product.
Oil and Gas
The 1880, a pipeline had been laid from Pennsylvania to Buffalo to bring crude oil to the refinery.This line passes through Boston and is still in use, with a daily capacity of 5,000 barrels. Several wells were drilled n the town in the hope of striking oil but none were successful. It was several years later that gas producing wells were drilled, although there were several springs in Boston which gave off gas.
The Horse Thief
About 1890, there was excitement caused by the stealing of several horses. A vigilantes committee was formed, officers elected, and the members were sworn in as deputy sheriffs. When, in the fall, a valuable bay mare was stolen from Charles Churchill, who lived on Route 219, 1.3 miles south of Patchin, the vigilantes when into action. They determined who the thief was, but it was some time in mid winter before he was apprehended as he drove through Colden. As it was late in the day, the officer took his clothes away from him and locked him in a second story room at the hotel, intending to take him to jail in Buffalo in the morning. Some time in the night, the thief threw the bedclothes from the window, dropped into a snow bank, hitched up the horse and escaped.
He was traced through Holland to South Wales, where the trail was lost. The next day his home was located, near East Aurora, and the stolen bedclothes were found under the barn. After watching the house two nights he was almost caught when he drove in with groceries for his family. He escaped by running away, but a thaw had set in and he lost his boots in a muddy field. The next morning the searchers found a farm where he had told the farmer that he had lost his boots while hunting a lost cow, and had been given an old pair of boots. A day later, he was located but again ran away before he could be caught. Although a reward of $50 was offered he was not apprehended.