Henry Cerell "Harry" Holcomb
December 23, 1861 - February 23, 1951
Mr. Holcomb has lived in this community for over fifty years and during all that time has held the
esteem of his neighbors and townsmen to an extent seldom equalled. He has served as a public
official, has been a leader in church life, and has taken an active interest in fraternal affairs. He has
been engaged in business here and now serves the community as Post Master.
Harry Cerell Holcomb was born in Ceres township, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1861, and was
the oldest of fourteen children. For many years, he was engaged in the lumber industry in one
capacity of another and in 1880 came to Portville where he has since lived. In the early 90's, he
was elected to public office for the first time, taking the office of Justice of the Peace. Later, he
served the town as Supervisor and in 1903 he was appointed Post Master and held that position for
twelve years. He was again appointed in 1924 and has held the office continuously since that time.
He is a member and an elder in the Presbyterian church. For years, he has taught one of the
classes in the Sunday School of the church. He is vice president of the Chestnut Hill Cemetery
Association and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Portville Free Library.
Early in life, he united with the Masonic fraternity and, although never advancing beyond the Blue
Lodge, has been prominent in that order. He has held every office that is possible for a member of
his rank to hold, including that of District Deputy Grand Master. Shortly after becoming a Mason,
he united with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is also affiliated with the Knights of the
Macabees and the Order of the Eastern Star. For nearly half a century, he has been a Mason and
an Odd Fellow, being active in both fraternities.
On July 7, 1892, occurred the marriage of Mr. Holcomb to Miss Mattie McDowell of Eldred, Pa.,
at Rochester, N. Y.
(The above article appeared in the Portville Review, about the time that his book was published.
He would live for another twenty years to the grand old age of eighty-nine. His home was on
Brooklyn Street next to Guenther's Funeral Home, now a parking lot. Click here for the photo.
His obituary follows. Records in Chestnut Hill list him as Henry C. Holcomb but "Harry" was how
everyone knew him.)
H. C. Holcomb, Former Postmaster, Dies
Harry C. Holcomb, a lifetime resident of Portville, passed away Friday afternoon (February 23,
1951) after a long illness. he was born in the Township of Ceres, Pa., December 23, 1861.
He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Marion Holcomb Brundage of Westons Mills, four
grandchildren, one sister, Mrs. Ella Wood of Port Allegany, and several nieces and nephews.
Mr. Holcomb moved to Portville in 1879, when he came here to work for H. C. Crandall. He was
in the undertaking business for seven and one-half years, and postmaster for twenty-four years,
serving six appointments of four years each without any opposition. He was supervisor of the
town for six years and Police Justice for two years.
Mr. Holcomb served as elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Portville for the past thirty-nine
years. He was superintendent of the Sunday School for a good number of years and was teacher
of the Holcomb Class for more than twenty-five years.
Mr. Holcomb has been a member of the Portville Lodge No. 579 F. & A. M. for sixty-four years, a
member of Tyler Chapter No. 97, Order of the Eastern Star, for fifty-five years. He served two
terms as District Deputy Grand master of the Masonic Order and for two terms as Assistant Grand
Lecturer of Cattaraugus District of the Eastern Star.
He was patron of Tyler Chapter for nine years, and Master of Portville Masonic Lodge for four
years, in 1894, 1895, 1905 and 1917. He was presented with the sixty year palm on February 14,
He was a member of Portville Odd Fellow Lodge No. 779 for fifty years and was very active in
their Lodge work.
The body has been taken to the Marble Funeral Home where friends may call. It will be removed
to the First Presbyterian Church of Portville Monday at one o'clock (February 26, 1951), and will
lie in state at the church until two-thirty o'clock, at which time funeral services will be conducted.
The Rev. John M. Deason, pastor of the church, will officiate. Burial will be in the Chestnut Hill
|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
In every community, however small or large, there are always to be
found men and women who stand out from their efforts in
community welfare, church activities or fraternal life. Portville has
many such, but one in particular, who we all love and respect, and
who seems to fill the requirements of an all around citizen better,
prhaps than most others, Harry C. Holcomb.