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Remembering Volusia and its church

April 28, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

"Volusia? Where is that?"

Those questions are heard more and more often as the years go by. And that causes me to realize that well-known places and people, from when I was growing up in Westfield in the 1940s and 1950s, are becoming dim memories relegated to historical articles and archives. Volusia was a small, rural, four-corners community in the middle of the Town of Westfield, around the intersections of the Westfield-Sherman Road and Pigeon and Ogden Roads, located within a mile south of where Cross Roads Farmers and Crafts Market is now. Contemporaries of your Westfield Historian may recall the Grange Hall, where Grangers and 4-Hers square-danced, and the old Methodist Episcopal Church nearby.

Sadly, neither of those buildings remains, and even efforts to locate pictures of them has produced only one or two fuzzy black and photo images, from older long-time residents such as my friend, Bob Breads. Breads and I have been laboring to document his recollections and family history for several years. In the process, several hand-written documents have been located in the archives of the Patterson Library, written about 1912, according to a Westfield Republican article from April 17, 1912, page two.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This is a photo of Volusia Methodist Episcopal Church from the first half of the 1900s. This is a photocopy from Bob Breads’ photo album.

"History of Volusia - Lombard Grange Hears Paper on Early Life in That Community," were the headlines describing "an interesting and instructive meeting on April 6th, when the history of 'Volusia' was given by different members." Lizzie Breads was the lead-off lecturer, describing the early "organization of the old county of Genesee, of the county of Chautauqua, and the town of WestfieldVolusia has meant, in the past, that portion of the town of Westfield extending three and on-half miles north and south, in about the middle of the town, being as wide as the town itself in that section."

Papers were prepared by Grace Eddy Tucker & Lizzie Eddy Breads on pioneer settlers; Bro. Joseph Breads on old saw mills, farms, & schools; Mary Fox Axman on history of the church; Pollie Fox Breads on history of Porter Cemetery; Burt Holcomb on the history of the Volusia Post Office; and Calvin Scott on the history of the Plank Road (from Westfield south to the Pennsylvania line following the Sherman Road through the town of Westfield) and taverns along the road.

According to Mary Fox Axman's paper, which was beautifully hand-written by Lizzie Eddy Breads, Young's History of Chautauqua County "states that the first Methodist class was formed in 1838 or '39 in a log school house in the Porter District by the Rev. Darius Smith." (The Porter school house was located further south of the Volusia four-corners, near Jones Road and the Porter Cemetery, and near where Lyons saw mill was located in the 1900s). For several years, the church meetings "changed about" between the Porter school house, the Howard's Corners school house (Volusia), and in Perry Jones' barn which was near the Porter school house. In 1851, the "present" (1912) Church edifice was built on land donated by Garrett Van Vleit. The saw mill in Breads Gulf (about where Taylor Road dead ends near Chautauqua Creek gorge) provided the lumber, and local church members did the carpentry, lathing and plastering.

The first church organ was purchased in 1875, although prior to that, Drucilla Harmon's organ was moved back and forth between her home and the church, and she was the organist. The "present" (1912) organ was purchased in 1903. Axman lists the names of most of the ministers, builders, organists, Sunday school teachers, Ladies Aid Society presidents, and even good choir singers over the years.

The church was remodeled a few times, including carpeting; and a library purchased in the 1890s, later replaced by a library from the Westfield M.E. church, while the old library was donated to the Summerdale Sunday School. An Epworth League was organized in 1894, and it was assumed that the Ladies Aid Society was first organized when the interior of the church was first remodeled, but later revised about 1900 and called the Dorcas Society.

As always, if any faithful readers have photos of the Volusia Grange building, school buildings, church, post office, or other Volusia structures or people, please contact the Westfield Historian by email - - or phone 716-397-9254 - or private message on the Westfield Historian Facebook website. Thanks.



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