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Busti — Est. 1823

February 5, 2010
Observer Today
The town of Busti was organized from Ellicott and Harmony, April 16, 1823, and named for Paul Busti, general agent of the Holland Land Company.

Busti was general agent and sole director from 1799 to 1824 of all the operations of the Holland Land Co., which possessed more than 3 million acres of land in New York state and 1¢ million acres in Pennsylvania.

The company was composed of Hollanders who loaned several millions of dollars to the United States and, after the establishment of the government, purchased a wilderness to restore it to civilization. Paul Busti died in July 1824 in Philadelphia, Pa.

The first saw mill at Busti Corners was built by Heman Bush. A clock factory was built in 1830, by Samuel Chappel and James Sartwell, and continued several years. After its discontinuance, a grist mill was built on the same site by Heman Bush and another afterwards by Francis Soule.

George Stoneman came to Busti in 1810, married Katherine Cheney, and had eight children. His oldest son George became one of the great cavalry leaders of the Civil War. In 1871, he moved to California and became governor of the state years later. Kate Stoneman, another one of George’s children, was the first woman to pass the New York state bar exams and to be admitted to law practice in New York state.

The Underground Railroad had one of its most active routes through this region, and Busti was an important stop on the route. It crossed the state line at or near Sugar Grove, passed through Busti and Jamestown and then across Lake Erie to Buffalo and on to the railroad’s terminal in Canada. There was also a station where Sunset Hill Cemetery is now located.

The first school, a one-room log cabin, was built in 1813 and was located at Fairmount and Winch Roads. The log school consisted of one room. Light entered through small windows placed in notches cut in the logs. In the side of the building was a door made of boards and hung with wood hinges. The building was warmed by a huge fireplace while students studied spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The present Southwestern Central School was built and ready for use in 1954.

Busti also had some firsts in the agricultural field. The first official test on cows in Chautauqua County, and one of the first in New York state, was made on the farm of Herbert Ayres. He also raised the first field of alfalfa in the county.



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