|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
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
Spring: It's Just Around the Corner ... Bedford Corners, That Is!
A lot of planning goes into our renovations, not to mention all the time and money contributed to the
cause. Take the Bedford Corners School House, for example.
It was back in 2001 when PHPS acquired the school from Col. Charles Eshelman. It needed a
complete over haul since it was showing the wear and tear from its 150 plus years of usefulness.
Thanks to our tireless volunteers and the generosity of Col. Eshelman's bequest and Senator Cathy
Young's NYS grant money, the building is almost ready to re-open as a museum/learning center.
School House Sign
Our community has really stepped up to support PHPS and our latest achievement was presented on
2/24/14 by local artist, Mark Weitzel. He created a wonderful sign for our school that will be visible
from all directions. Mark's granddaughter, Ava Andrews, is showing a great deal of promise as an
artist herself. She helps Mark with many of his projects (see photo below). We can't thank Mark
enough for donating his time and all the materials for this wonderful sign.
This page was last updated on 03/18/2014
Chestnut Hill at Find-A-Grave
Many people know Mark Weitzel because of his artistic talents, but many do not know that he is an
avid history buff as well. One of his passions is the Civil War era, but he has spent countless hours
researching his family history too.
Here at the historical society, we consider Mark a kind of "unsung hero". He prefers to keep a low
profile, but a friend with Portville roots, Denny Griffith, requested that we point the spotlight in his
direction. The reason? Mark took on a huge challenge several years ago of posting all the burials at
the Chestnut Hill Cemetery to the website FIND-A-GRAVE (click here to go to Chestnut Hill to search).
If you have ever tried to look up a grave site on the Internet, you have probably come across this
wonderful resource. All information is posted on a volunteer basis. Mark came into the project doing
a few "favors" for people outside the area and it turned into a true passion. He has mostly finished his
project, which was a dauntless task, with over 5500 graves to photograph and catalog. We must also
mention Cherie Officer, who contributed many of the obituaries and personal details on the interred for
Mark's postings. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Mark Weitzel and grand daughter, Ava Andrews
Portville Alumni Association Happenings
The Portville Alumni Committee has started the preparations for this year's Alumni Banquet. The
venue has been selected as the B. P. O. Elks Club #491 on West State Street in Olean. They held the
banquet there last year and it was a very pleasant affair.
If you have not been attending your 5 and 10 year reunions, you are in for a surprise. The banquet
has been well-attended for over a hundred years! In fact, this year is the 114th annual gathering.
Alumni from Portville have been meeting every year since 1898 and missed only one year due to the
flood caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. That is some record!
Not only is the food good, but there has been live DJ music for the past three years. The DJ, D. R.
Miles of Serenity Sound, is a graduate from 1986. A "School Memories" slide show is projected on a
large screen, displaying class photos as far back as the early 1900's. Tributes to class mates who
pass away each year are included. Last year, DVDs were available for $10. There are also raffles,
class photos, and remembrances from some of the honor year classes. A special senior is presented
with a $300 scholarship sponsored by the Alumni Association. The Master of Ceremonies this year
will be Honest Bob Fairbanks.
The Portville Hall of Fame, presented by Gary Swetland (Class of 1979), honors several deserving
contributors to our community every year. For awards presented in past years, visit our Hall of Fame
page on this website.
ALL CLASSES ARE INVITED! The honor classes for this year are:
1934, 1939, 1944, 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009,
and this year's graduating class, 2014.
Check out our EVENTS page for how to contact the committee for more information.
Scouts Learn About Local History
A little over a year ago, we had a visit from the Cub Scouts Troop # 631 to our office on Maple
Avenue. They were interested in learning more about Portville and its origins so we did a slide
presentation about some of the early businesses and families of Portville.
This year, this group of inquisitive youth would like to learn more about the Civil War, which just
happens to be one of our favorite subjects. In fact, we are always learning something new about
the people that served in the Civil War from this area. There were approximately 160 men who
were from Portville who served during the four years between 1861 and 1865, many of them giving
their lives in battle, and many giving in to sickness and disease. Fortunately, many also returned
home to their families and are the ancestors of many of us who still live here today.
It has been 150 years since the North and South fought the Civil War so it is not a subject that we
can just ask our parents or grandparents about. Much has been written about this particular war
because it was such a fascinating time in our history. The stories of the battles and the losses
become very personal when we discover our own ancestors were involved.
We applaud the leaders of troops of Scouts that keep this curiosity alive in our young people. These
subjects are called "Old School" nowadays, but the issues that led to the conflict are as current as
today's headlines: power and control, money and property, rights and oppression. We may keep
repeating history over and over, but at least these 160 brave Civil War Veterans from Portville have
not been forgotten by PHPS or Troop #631.