Perrysburg's Past Preserved:
A Town Treasure!
Town of Perrysburg Historian Jody Shaw, pictured above, and a group of dedicated volunteers carefully tend to the Town's Historical Museum located inside the Town Hall.
A Trip Back in Time
The Perrysburg Historical Museum is truly a Town treasure to be enjoyed by people of all ages. The museum is packed with artifacts, photos, and documents that trace the Town's history from two centuries ago. Visitors can see a detailed table-top replica of the J.N. Adam Hospital, view photos of patients and staff, and read copies of the hospital's newspaper.
There are displays devoted to education, military service, the Town's link to the Underground Railroad, and much, much more. Visitors will get a real feel for how Town of Perrysburg residents lived long ago.
Whether you are a student doing research, a geneology enthusiast working on your family tree, or simply someone interested in history, you will find a visit to the Museum a worthwhile experience.
The Town's Historical Museum is open on the last Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 noon by appointment. Contact Jody Shaw
at 532-1558 or 485-8234.
Volunteers are always needed!
A Brief History
Perrysburg, located in the extreme northwest part of Cattaraugus County, was originally called Perry after Commodore Oliver H. Perry, hero of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The Town was organized April 13, 1814, and included the western half of the County, now sixteen towns in all. In 1818, the Legislature divided Perry and changed the name to Perrysburgh, which included Dayton, Perisa, Otto, and East Otto. The lower half divided off and was called Little Valley. Otto and East Otto were taken off in 1823 and called the Town of Otto. A third reduction in size came in 1835 when Persia and Dayton were taken off leaving the present Town of Perrysburg, an area of 18,238 acres and divided into 49 lots. A small portion of the Town includes the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.
In 1818 the Town of Perrysburg had 49 landowners. The first settler was John Clark, who came with his family in 1815 and settled Lot 28 (near Edwards Corners area). The population grew from 835 in 1820 to 2,220 in 1970. Current populations stands at 1627.
The first frame building was erected on Lot 5 by Stephen Whitcomb, now the Ray Dewey farm on Jolls Road. The original building was torn down long ago. The first school was taught by Olive Barton in 1819. Silas nash was the Town's first supervisor. The site of the Village of Perrysburg was originally owned by William Cooper and Elisha Ward. The Village of Perrysburg was the biggest and oldest in the township. In 1893, the Village had one church, a school built in 1880, a post office, telegraph, telephone, and express offices; two stores, a blacksmith and wagon shop; cheese factory, tin shop,grist and sawmills; milinery store, public hall, and cooper shop. It is said that Dr. H.T.B. Gray was the first physician to locate in the Town. He practiced from 1830 to 1874. His home and office was located on the site now occupied by the Perrysburg Fire Hall.
The first public house was a log building opened in 1821 by Mr. Ward. On the same site in 1828 he erected the upright part of the hotel (known as the Vail Apartments). The Post Office was established in 1830 with William Cooper as Postmaster. The first store operated by Cook and Pelton opened in 1827 in Dr. Gray's residence.
A Hamlet within the Town of Perrysburg is Versailles, located on the banks of Cattaraugus Creek. The creek makes a rapid descent at this location so many saw and gristmills were established in Versailles over the years. By 1893 Versailles had a post office (est. 1840), four stores, two chuches, a hotel, saw and gristmills. The population of Versailles in 1893 was 200.
In 1851, the railroad was completed and ran through the Village of Perrysburg and West Perrysburg. Ellen R. Hall was instrumental in getting an Erie Railroad station established in West Perrysburg and had charge of that station for some time. it was largely through her efforts that a Post Office was erected in 1891. Hall also served as postmistress until the Post Office there was discontinued.
The Village of Perrysburg railroad agent was William Ferris. Feris Avenue is named after him. He was followed by Henry B. Gray, son the Town's first doctor. Gray served as agent for 45 years and died at age 76 in 1918.
In 1910 Charles A. Hager was awarded the contract from the City of Buffalo to build the J.N. Adam Hospital for treatment of tuberculosis. The cost to build the facilty was $254,000. The hospital opened in 1913. In 1915, Hager built the children's pavilion.
The Beginning of J.N. Adam . . .
The "Grit - Grin" was the official newspaper of J.N. Adam Hospital often referred to as the "San", short for sanitorium. Many of the articles were written by patients and staff. There are many issues of Grit - Grin in the Museum. Below are excerpts from an article written by Ivory M. Lincoln in 1934:
"I am the only living person who can give you the intimate details of the origin of your sanitorium. You see, my sister, Bula E. Lincoln, was really the first patient.
In 1904, my sister Bula, then about 23 years old, contracted pulmonary tuberculosis . . . . after a year or so at Raybrook, her local physician thought she would be better off at home . . . . A Dr. Lake who had practiced in our vicinity for a long time, advised taking her to the hills of Perrysburg.. . . Accordingly, my father looking at the site and approving it, secured from the owner a ten-year lease on a tract of land situated on the brow of the hill west of the Dayton and Perrysburg Roads . . . . about the year 1909, considerable agitation was prevalent in Buffalo concerning the erection of a tuberculosis sanitorium for its residents. There was a great deal of controversy regarding the location."
SEE THIS ARTICLE IN ITS ENTIRETY AT THE PERRYSBURG HISTORICAL MUSEUM