Sketches of the history of Chautauque County, New York

The Compiler intends to use the privilege of writing a Preface, for the purpose of making personal explanations to his readers, (if he shall succeed in obtaining any,) of some matters relating to the following pages, which seem to require them.

The work was undertaken at the solicitation and risk of the Publisher, and the Compiler expects neither fame nor emolument from its publication. It has been prepared under many disadvantages, which have materially detracted from its completeness.

During the greater part of the time employed upon it, the Compiler was engaged in the duties of a laborious profession, and the subject was prosecuted only at intervals, as his other avocations would permit. Had he set about it with nothing else in hand, he flatters himself that it would have approached much nearer to what such a work should have been, than he has been able to make it.

The materials of which it is composed, have been derived from various sources; some from the written testimony of others; some from the personal relation of individuals; and some from the researches and investigations of the Compiler. It is not pretended that the statements embodied in it, are accurate in every particular; but the most he can hope on that subject is, that they are an approximation to the truth. It contains at least, the best evidences of the facts attempted to be given, which were within his reach. Neither is it pretended that it embraces all the incidents connected with the History of Chautauque County, deserving a place iii a work of this character. It does however contain all that have come under his observation, which he deemed of particular importance. Had he been able to devote more time to the subject, and made more frequent personal application to early settlers, for facts remaining only in the store-house of memory, he does not doubt that he might have enriched these pages, by many additional incidents of peculiar value.

The work however, imperfect as it is, may serve as the basis of a more elaborate performance, which more competent hands may hereafter execute.

The only attempt hitherto made, to embody in a. written form, any facts in relation to the early history of this County, was made by Samuel A. Brown, Esq., in a series of Lectures, delivered at the Jamestown Academy, in 1843, and which, on their publication in the newspapers of the County, excited public attention, and were extensively circulated and read. To these sketches by Mr. Brown, the Compiler is largely indebted for many valuable facts which they contain. He is also under particular obligations to Abner Hazeltine, Henry C. Frisbee, and Phineas Palmiter, Esqrs., for the essential service they have afforded in contributing facts, for the purpose of rendering these sketches more perfect than they otherwise could have been made.

From the desultory manner in which the labors of the Compiler have been performed, it will not be strange if repetitions have occurred, which a more methodical pursuit of the subject might have avoided. If any such shall be found, the courteous reader will attribute them to the proper cause.


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The origin of the name of this County is involved in some obscurity. One authority derives it from a corruption of the Indian word Ots-ha-ta-'kay which signifies 'foggy place,' and was applied to the country around the head of Chautauqne Lake, which was said to be noted for the prevalence of its fogs. Another derives it from the words, Chau-tau-qua, in the same dialect, which signify 'a pack tied in the middle,' from the resemblance which the Lake bears to that object.