Cassadaga historian unearths the past

OBSERVER Photo by Amanda Dedie Cassadaga Village Historian John Sipos presents an unearthed certificate — never used — for 50 shares of the former Cassadaga Lake Ice Company.

When John Sipos, Cassadaga village historian, was traveling on Pick Up Hill Road in Cherry Creek not long ago, he saw a sight one might find strange — a couple of Amish men in their buggies, hauling a flatbed trailer carrying blocks of ice.

Now, it gets pretty cold here in Chautauqua County, but it’s pretty difficult for one to come across igloo-worthy blocks of ice — not because they don’t just show up in their cubed forms, but because, well, the art of forming and selling blocked ice has been outdated for quite a while.

The setting before him, however, set off a ping in Sipos’ mental historical archive, and we went on a fact hunt.

“In Cassadaga, mainly toward Lily Dale Lake, in that area, they used to cut up blocks of ice. There were at least three different ice companies in Cassadaga at one time, in that area. They had an ice house that was probably 300 feet long,” Sipos shared.

What made him look into this was a stock share certificate from before 1910 that Sipos had purchased on eBay from someone in Warwick for $5 in November.

The certificate entitled the owner to 50 shares of the Cassadaga Lake Ice Company of Buffalo, and it’s never been used. (Why anyone wouldn’t want fifty shares for a company that makes blocks of ice may not have been apparent then, but it certainly is now.)

It just goes to show that while no longer useful, everything Sipos finds in his quest for knowledge and artifacts is an important part of the formation and history of the village of Cassadaga — and sometimes just happens to coincide with an unusual sighting in his travels.