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Photos lead to a new ‘History Mystery’

May 19, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

"Westfield Factory ca. 1915" was the subject line of a recent email to the Westfield Historian last Thursday, May 12, 2016. "Dear Ms Beigh, Please excuse this intrusion. I found some of your reports at the Westfield Village site, and, after seeing some of your historical research, hope you might suggest a way to proceed as I am at a loss. I've found some dusty photographs 1915 of a basket making enterprise - a mill and a manufactory - called The Westfield FactoryThe owners are pictured but only identified as W.A.B. and C.G.B."

WOW! Very interesting! But no photos were attached, so these were requested, and permission asked to contact other local historians who might be able to assist. Several hours later, a second email was received with a few scanned pages of a photo album, permission, and a bit more information describing other photos. It turns out that the mill, which was shown under construction, completed, and shown with each of the owners in several of the photos, was actually in Cassadaga.

Other photos are of Cassadaga Lake, of train tracks next to mill when it was put into operation in July 1915, and "A view from the Lily Dale bridge" showing a train in the distance. There are also three photos of "The Westfield Factory" which upon closer examination is a different building than the mill in Cassadaga, and show a wagon drawn by a team of horses, with two or three men and a load of what appears to be grape baskets. The writer of the emails also states that there are two photos, not sent, that are labeled "Loading Basket Stock."

Article Photos

Submitted photos
This is “The Westfield Factory.”

The email with the photos was forwarded to our local grape historian who did some quick research, thinking that they might be of the Brainard basket factory in Stockton, but the time frame is wrong, and the initials of the owners in the photos do not correspond with any of the Brainard family names. Suggestions have been made to check for business directories and tax property factory records at the county level, so this may provide some information. The digitized newspapers of Chautauqua County from the era of the photos have turned up nothing related.

So, we have a new History Mystery with upwards of 90 photos according to writer of the original email. Some photos will be posted with this BeeLines. And please, faithful readers, if you recognize any of these people or factories, contact the Westfield Historian via email, phone, snail mail, or in person. Thanks! Email: Phone 716-397-9254.



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