Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History

An Eventful Time


Pages from a farmer's diary

The late spring and early summer of 1875 was truely an eventful time for the people who lived near Mr Letchworth's Glen Iris Estate and the famous wooden Portage Bridge. The Bridge was completely destroyed by fire in May, triggering an 86 day construction project that resulted in the Iron Bridge still seen by Park visitors today.

A few miles east of the Bridge, in the town of Portage, a young farmer by the name of Willis Merithew worked his family's farm not far from the hamlet of Nunda Station (present day Dalton NY). Born in 1855, Willis had started to keep a daily journal in when he was sixteen. He would continue writing for over 70 years.

His entries are usually short and document the important aspects of his rural life. Most have to do with farming, some with family and his church. Occasionally he would note an important event in the area such as local fires and floods or the death of a neighbor.

In 1875 three short, but significant, diaries entries appear. Shown below, these diary pages document the reaction of a local farmer to the destruction and rebuilding of the great Erie Railroad Bridge at Portage. The three entries are shown below. We have also added some images to illustrate the entries.

(If you click on the image in the diary, you will go to the page in our historic photo album to see a larger version and description of the image. We also invite you to learn more about the Portage Bridge in our Glimpse section as well as the Pieces of the Past.)

We thank the Nunda Historical Society for sharing these diaries with us.




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