|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
The Wagon Train and Stage Coach Run in Portville
We hope you experienced the excitement of the Stagecoach and Wagon train when it came to
Portville!. The route of the wagon train included beautiful vistas as they traversed up and over
Lillibridge and down into the village of Portville. They arrived right on schedule, about 5pm, as we
welcomed them into Pioneer Park on the final leg of the day’s journey.
The Portville Historical and Preservation Society tents were set up in the park to welcome visitors
and provide information about Portville’s rich heritage. Many families dressed up in pioneer style
clothing and experience their ancestors’ rustic lifestyle. The Village will be having a contest for the
children who are dressed in costume, with prizes for all. Children will enjoy organized games with
prizes and there will be country music for everyone’s listening entertainment. You and your family
will be able to walk through and mingle in the encampment, listen to fiddlers, and learn about the
wagons, horses, and people of our heritage.
Come have your picture taken by Mark C. Richards of Friendship (weather permitting), who
specializes in tintype photography, popular in the 1800’s. Besides the wagon train encampment and
horses, the park’s backdrop includes an authentic 1850’s covered wagon provided by Ruth Bixby
Bray. The wagon has been in the Bixby family since Gilbert Bixby, just out of the Civil War, drove it
into Portville in 1864 and settled his family on a 100-acre farm on Wolf Creek Road. Another Bixby
wagon that will be in the park is a child’s wagon, given to the father of Ruth’s late husband, Lou
Arnold Bixby, when he was just three years old. This wagon was made by A. T. Warden (1806-
1891) for his son John, dating it back to the 1850's. The Warden's home and shop was located on
Temple Street, where the parking lot is today by the Post Office.
PHPS will have a great pictorial display set up for visitors to see in the park. Vintage photos from
our collection, as well as stories about Portville will interest just about everyone. Below is a brush
up on the early history of our town.
Portville owed much of its early prosperity to the Allegheny River and its main tributaries, the
Oswayo, Haskell, and Dodge Creeks. Two hundred years ago, when the forests were thick and
wagon trails had not yet been established, Portville’s earliest settlers accessed the area by the river.
They set up the early saw mills along the creeks and a small settlement, then a part of Olean, began
to grow. Development was slow for decades until Wheeler, Dusenbury, and Company established
their mill in 1834 and provided abundant employment opportunity. A few years later, legislation was
enacted that reduced the territory in Olean and in 1837, the Town of Portville was established.
The lumber industry continued to prosper for most of the rest of the century with Mersereau Mills
and Weston Bros. in 1857, then Gordon’s Mills in 1867. After the Genesee Valley Canal was
completed to Olean in 1856, it was finally extended to Mill Grove, giving Portville a huge advantage
in the carrying trade. By 1874, the iron horse (railroad) had all but replaced the canal for
transportation and it was abandoned in 1878. Until this time, “Old Charley” Rounds, veteran one-
armed stage driver, drove the stage between Olean and Ceres from 1851 to 1885 and befriended
everyone along his route.
By early 1900, most of the forests had been thinned or cleared out and mill work was replaced with
farming. Other local industries like leather tanning and a grape basket factory continued into the
The Historical Society, begun in 1986 from a renewed interest in Portville’s past, has amassed a
large collection of old photographs that tell the story of the town and village of Portville. Many of
these pictures will be on display on the 18th, but they can also be viewed at their office at 17 Maple
Avenue in Portville, 10-4 pm on Thursdays through September.
Amos Humiston Civil War Display
At the park, we will also have our Civil War display set up. If you missed us at Heritage Day, be
sure to spend some time on this display of photographs, maps, and written information. It tells the
heart-wrenching story of the Humiston Family of Portville, a story that captivated the nation during
and after the Civil War. Amos Humiston, a Union soldier in the New York Volunteer 154th regiment,
was killed on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg. His last moments were spent clutching a
cherished photograph of his three children. Unable to identify his body, a campaign was launched to
determine who these children belonged to and Amos' story became a huge sensation. Come see our
exhibit of photographs, video tapes of commemorative Humiston events, and hear the music of Civil
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Welcome to PHPS
This page was last updated on 09-23-08
and lots of fun. This is the last week of our season, so after Thursday, September 25, 2008, our
Hello! It has been awhile since we updated the webpage but here it is! It was a busy year for us
click here or the contact us button below and send us a message.
If you were in Portville this summer, you know that we had a lot of events to attend. It started
with Memorial Day and continued right through to the County's BIG WAGON TRAIN EVENT
that came through Portville on Monday and Tuesday, August 18th and 19th. It seemed to go by
quickly, now that it's back to school for all the kids and teachers.
To remember all the fun we have had this summer, we put together a photo gallery of the
summer's truly memorable events! We hope you will enjoy seeing these photos of Portville
people and places, and we will post them in the Photo Album section for further viewing.
summer and this year was no exception.
We already posted pictures from the parade
and local gatherings, but here they are
again, in case you missed them the first
Click here to go to the Memorial Day 2008
pages: Parade Photos LTC Trietley Speech
Memorial Day 2008
Laura Hooper Book Reading
On July 10th, author Laura Hooper was in town, promoting her new novel, The Rosebud Stalker. A
good sized crowd gathered at the Portville Free Library to hear a few excerpts and Laura signed
copies of her book. She had lots of support from her family, which includes her mother, Juanita
Harrier Griffith, a popular Portville gal who graduated PCS in 1958.
Click here to go to the pages with the pictures of this event: Hooper Book Reading
Heritage Day in Pioneer Park
On July 12th, the Village of Portville sponsored the annual Heritage Day festivities in Pioneer Park.
PHPS had a special display in front of the Maple Avenue office that chronicled the story of Amos
Whitmore, a seasoned Gettysburg reenacter, all dressed in period costume and served hard tack and
lemonade. Kate and Shellie's sons played the part of "Sharpshooters."
It was a very hot day but we had a lot of nice visits with members and friends at our tents. Click
here for the snapshots of the day's activities: Heritage Day 2008