Clymer Seniors Hear Hanover Historian

Vince Martonis is pictured with items he used as part of a presentation recently to the Clymer Area Senior Citizens. Submitted photo

CLYMER — Vince Martonis, Hanover town historian, was the guest speaker at a recent monthly meeting of the Clymer Area Senior Citizens at the Dutch Kitchen in Clymer.

His program on “Chautauqua County Curiosities” captivated the attendees from Ashville, Busti, Findley Lake, Harbor Creek, North East and the Clymer area.

All were associated with New York state historical markers being placed this year. Two of the markers are scheduled for Hanover and one for Ellery. Martonis planned and completed the work needed for the Hanover markers. The Ellery marker is a project initiated by Martonis with the assistance of Cherrie Clark, Ellery town historian, and later approved and paid for by the Bemus Point Historical Society.

The first marker-curiosity discussed involved Joseph “Black Joe” Hodge who operated a tavern at Cattaraugus Creek around 1790. Marrying a local Seneca woman, he was the probable father of Chloe Sottle, wife of Amos Sottle, the first settler of Chautauqua County. Artifacts from the tavern were discovered by amateur archaeologists in the 1960’s. Martonis has been trying to relocate the tavern site, since the men who found it made no maps and wrote no specific directions. An extensive search last year yielded just 2 artifacts in the general area. Additional searching is planned for this year. This marker will be placed at the Hanover Boat Launch later this year.

The second marker-curiosity presented detailed the history of Dr. Eleanor E. Burnside and the Purifico medicine she made and sold. Martonis displayed 7 different Purifico bottles, some with labels, from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The bottles were embossed from Buffalo, Forestville, Jamestown, Ashville, and Bridgeburg, Ontario. Dr. Burnside started making and selling Purifico in Buffalo but later set up in Forestville where she was involved with the Forestville Sanitarium until her death in 1921. The bottles with other place names were made to help sell the medicine in those areas. This marker will soon be placed at the corner of Academy and Prospects streets in Forestville, where the building which once was the Forestville Sanitarium still stands today.

The final marker-curiosity covered the history of William Barrows of Ellery and the Red Bird Tavern. Barrows settled at the intersection of what is today Route 380 and Pickard Road heading west from there and Sinclair Drive coming from the east. Around 1812 Barrows built a tavern on the northwest corner. The east-west road at that time was known as the “Chautauque (so spelled) Road,” constructed from Bath, New York, straight west to Mayville. It quickly became the main settlement route for early settlers heading west through the southern tier. Barrows no doubt assisted many of them with a place to stay and a hot meal, as well as livery for their horses or oxen.

Martonis has in his collection an original 1812 letter written by Barrows. He has been reading the letter at his Chautauqua Curiosities programs over the years. Last year he decided that a New York State historical marker ought to be placed to commemorate Barrows and his historic Red Bird Tavern. So he introduced the idea at a program he gave to the Ellery seniors earlier this year. This led to the Bemus Point Historical Society becoming involved.

Martonis pitched his idea for the marker at a June meeting and the society approved and funded it. Placement of this marker will probably occur in September.