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Westfield — Est. 1802

February 5, 2010
Observer Today
Westfield was first settled in 1802 and is considered the first permanent settlement in Chautauqua County. The McMahan family established the settlement.

The Village of Westfield was incorporated in 1833.

As of the 2000 census, there were 5,232 people, 2,075 households and 1,419 families residing in the town. The median income for a household in the town was $32,534 and the median income for a family was $43,156. The per capita income for the town was $15,738.

The first industry to rise up in Westfield was timber processing. The main products were pot and pearl ashes and black salts produced by burning the trees. John McMahan’s grist mill, built in 1804 at the mouth of the Chautauqua Creek, was dismantled during the War of 1812 to prevent it from falling to the British. The millstones can be seen at the entrance to Patterson Library. The most important agricultural product in Westfield’s history arrived in 1859: the Concord grape. Dr. Charles Welch popularized the consumption of pasteurized grape juice by introducing it at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1897, Welch built the world’s first large grape juice plant in Westfield.

It is also here in Westfield in 1861 that Abraham Lincoln met with a little girl named Grace Bedell, who had urged him in a letter to grow his beard out fully as an attempt to improve his chances at being elected. Having a chance to stop in Westfield as he traveled through New York by train, he met with a group of townspeople, including eleven-year old Grace Bedell, who received a hug the future President Lincoln. Today there is a small park in Westfield, on the site of the previous Grand Theatre movie house, commemorating this event.



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