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

As you explore Letchworth's History it is important to go right to the "source", the primary and secondary resources which document the Park's past. We have included some which should be both helpful and interesting!

You can either browse through the titles or use the topical index below!
Don't forget the search engine on the table of contents page!

Click on the following links to find "Pieces of the Past relating to these topics. You will also find more information on these topics in the Glimpses of the Past. You will also find information relating to many of these topics on our "In the News" page. Click here to return to the table of contents!

Accidents & Disasters

American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society Reports

Artifacts and Souvenirs

Cemeteries

Civil War Era

Civilian Conservation Corps

Descriptions of Glen Iris & Letchworth Park

Development of Letchworth State Park

Genesee Valley Canal

Historical Markers, Sites, & Memorial Trees

Jemison, Mary

Letchworth, William P

Maps of the Park and Vicinity

Native History of the Valley

Photography and Photographers

Pioneer Era

Poetry

Portage Bridge & Station (including Cascade House)

Portageville Dam Project

Railroads (Pennsylvania)

Smokey Hollow

Special Events and Dedications

Tourism & Glen Iris/Letchworth Park

Van Campen, Moses


William Pryor Letchworth
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The Letchworth Genealogy A look at the family tree of the Park's benefactor, William Pryor Letchworth. The tree was made and sent to us by a family member, Hayden Letchworth.

Works of William Pryor Letchworth Larned provided an list of the writings of Mr. Letchworth in the appendix of his biography. The list, with a few additions, is shown. It provides an important look at the man who gave us Letchworth Park.

A Description of the Pratt & Letchworth Firm, 1872 Excerpts from an 1872 New York Times articles provides an interesting look at the Mr. Letchworth's business.

Advertising Envelope for Pratt and Letchworth Images of a late 19th century advertising envelope sent by the Company.

Mr. Letchworth's Rules of Conduct Mr. Letchworth's long and memorable life was based upon his "Rules of Conduct" which he set down to paper as a young man. The set of rules listed here comes from 1842.

Mr Letchworth's Grave Those who seek the resting place of William Pryor Letchworth will be taken to his gravesite - not in Letchworth Park, but in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo NY. Photos and the story of his unusual marker is found here.

Mr Letchworth's Obituary Here is the full text of the obituary for Mr. Letchworth which appeared in the New York Times on Dec 3, 1910.

The Letchworth Sundial This gift from Mr. Letchworth and his brother Josiah still can be found in nearby Wyoming, NY.

Mary Jemison
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Mary Jemison Time Line Part I Identifies the main events in the early life of Mary Jemison from 1740's to 1779.

Mary Jemison Time Line Part II Identifies the main events in the early life of Mary Jemison from 1780 to 1833.

"Mary Jemison's Children" Basic information on each of Mary Jemison's children as found in the footnotes of Seaver's work.

"Contemporary Accounts of Mary Jemison" Memories of Mary Jemison by the people who knew her.

"The Jemison Cabin" A brief account of the Nancy Jemison Cabin on the Council Ground including a interior photograph and a 1907 description.

"The Reburial of Mary Jemison" This is an account of the re-interment of Mary Jemison written by Mr. Letchworth and included in his 1877 edition of the Seaver book.

Ellicott's Description of the Gardeau Reservation A description of "Gardo" written by Joseph Ellicott around 1800.

Survey Map of the Gardeau Reservation After the Big Tree Treaty was signed surveyors made maps of the reservation lands. Here is the 1798 survey map done by Augustus Porter.

Minard's Map of Eastern Half of the Gardeau Reservation In 1897 John Minard drew a map of the eastern half of the old reservation lands at the request of M. W Brooks.

"The Jemison Epitaphs" Copies of the inscriptions found both on the original tombstone of Mary Jemison and the granite marker erected by Mr. Letchworth.

A Description of the Mary Jemison Statue A detailed discussion of the famous Mary Jemison Statue on the Council Grounds.

The Other Mary Jemison Statue Photos and a brief history of the Jemison Statue found near her home in Pennsylvania

Ceremonies commemorating the 250th anniversary of her capture Photos and information on the special ceremonies held in the Buchanan Valley near Gettysburg on April 5, 2008.

Letchworth Letters: The Mary Jemison Statue This 1910 letter was written by Mr. Letchworth concerning his efforts in honoring the memory of Mary Jemison with a statue at her gravesite on the Council Grounds. 

Jemison Family Tragedy, Second Night as Captive Remembered A look at a little known historical marker remembering a tragic episode in the life of Mary Jemison.

A Song for Mary Jemison Castile's George Washburn wrote and published this interesting piece of music in 1914.

American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society Reports
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Gleanings from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society Report 1907 This organization ran the Park from 1907 to 1930. Information from this early report provides interesting information about the early park.

Excerpts from the Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1914 Photographs of the new Park along with other information from the report create an interesting picture of the Park in 1913-14.

Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society for 1919, Part I This official report provides an interesting look at Letchworth Park less than a decade after Mr. Letchworth's death.

Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society for 1919, Part II A continuation of the report above, this part includes the financial information for Letchworth Park along with names of employees.

 

Native History of the Valley
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Gardeau Grant of 1797 This is the complete text of the grant of land given by the Senecas to Mary Jemison at the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797. 

Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1826 This is the complete text of the 1826 treaty document from the Buffalo Creek Council which sold the remaining Genesee Valley reservations.

Cemeteries & Pioneer Era
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Painting of Hornby Lodge and Middle Falls by Cole A copy of the famous Thomas Cole painting of Portage Falls which captures the landscape near the end of the Pioneer period.

Pioneer Cemetery A list of the names and dates found in the old Pioneer Cemetery in Letchworth Park.

St Helena Cemetery The story of the "Ghost Town's" burial ground that was moved to Castile in the 1950's.

Hunt Letter 4 Apr 1851 This interesting document describes an early plan to develop the Portage Falls area into a tourist attraction.

An Account of Portage, 1842 Description taken from the work of Barber and Howe includes illustrations and descriptions of the Portage Gorge, the Middle Falls, The Tunnel Section of the Genesee Valley Canal, and Hornby Lodge.

A Newspaper Account of a visit to Portage, 1852 An interesting account of the Portage Wooden Bridge and the area around the three Portage Falls which once appeared in the New York Times Daily.

A Brief History of the Town of Portage A short but detailed account of the early formation of the Town of Portage, taken from the 1872 Atlas of Livingston County.

How did St. Helena Get Its Name? Area historian Calvin DeGolyer offers a possible source of the name of one of the Park's early villages.

Maps of the Park and Vicinity

Cottringer Map 1807. This page provides a short history of this important map from pioneer times and provides a detailed image of the Falls are that would become the Glen Iris Estate.

Webster's 1861 Map of the Glen Iris Estate. This map was part of an article written in 1861 by landscape architect William Webster who designed the grounds for William P Letchworth's new estate.

1866 Map of St. Helena This general view of the St. Helena area along with a more detailed map of Letchworth Park's Ghost Town was taken from an 1866 Atlas of Wyoming and Genesee Counties.

1866 Map of Portageville This map of this important community just south of the present day Park was taken from an 1866 Atlas of Wyoming and Genesee Counties.

Map of Gibsonville A close up of the 1872 map of Gibsonville, one of Letchworth's "Vanished Villages.

1872 Map of the Town of Portage, Livingston County

An image of the 1872 map of Portage which show the land east of the Genesee River which would later become part of Letchworth Park.

Map of Falls Area in Town of Portage, 1872 A close up of the portion of the Town of Portage that included the three falls now in Letchworth Park.

Map of the Big Bend Area of the Town of Portage, 1872 A close up of the part of the Town of Portage still known as "Big Bend"

Map of Squawkie Hill Reservation, 1872 Map showing the boundaries of one of the Seneca Reservations once found with the present Park borders.

Glen Iris Estate Map by John Minard, 1890 Detailed Map showing the boundaries of the Glen Iris Estate around 1890.

1902 Map of the Glen Iris This important map shows Mr. Letchworth's Glen Iris Estate shortly before it was given to New York State. It is taken from the 1902 atlas of Wyoming County. Be patient, it make take a little longer to download!

1902 Railroad Map of the Portage Bridge Station Area This map, made by engineers for the Erie Railroad Company, shows in detail the area at the east end of the Bridge.

1902 Map of Portageville Taken from a Wyoming County atlas, this map shows the hamlet of Portageville, south of the Park.

1908 Map of Letchworth Park As appears in the 1908 annual report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society.

1929 Map of the Letchworth Park Arboretum This series of maps, annotated by Tom Breslin, show the location and give details of the famous arboretum of Letchworth Park.

Map of Letchworth Park, 1935 This map was published as part of a Park brochure during the CCC era. We have added a description of some of the changes that have taken place from the time the map was made to the modern Park era

Map of Letchworth Park, 1956 This map shows the growth and development of the Park during the first half of the 20th Century.

Map of Letchworth Park, 1963 This Park map highlights an important time in the 20th century development of the Park.

Civil War Era
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The Story of Camp Portage (Williams) by M.Frost This account by a local historian describes the origins and brief history of the Civil War Training Camp in Letchworth Park

"Photo Souvenir of the Dragoon Monument" This turn of the century photographic souvenir shows the Dragoon monument in its original location and includes the labeling from the original mount.

Parade Ground Monument to the 1st New York Dragoons A photograph of the tablet found on the memorial boulder on the Parade Grounds provides the complete text of the marker honoring the Civil War Soldiers that trained at that place.

Parade Ground Monument 136th NY Infantry A photograph of the tablet found on the memorial boulder on the Parade Grounds provides the complete text of the marker honoring the Civil War Regiment that trained at that place.

Story of the Dragoon Monument An account of the creation of this monument and its 1917 move from the east end of the Portage Bridge to its present location at the top of Eagle Hill.

Tourism in Glen Iris and Letchworth State Park
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Pic Nic Excursions to Portage Falls 1866A short newspaper article talks about the popularity of the Glen Iris area and the nearby Cascade House.

"Pennsylvania Railroad Broadside for Labor Day Excursion Train to Portage Falls, September 3, 1900"An image and the text of an original broadside posted in Rochester NY illustrates the turn of the century tourism to the Glen Iris Estate

A Day at Portage Falls and the Glen Iris, circa 1910.Sometime in the early 20th century, a young woman and some companions visited the Portage Falls and Glen Iris area. This short photo essay examines five photographs taken on that day.

Spring Day at Letchworth for Geneseo State Normal School Students, 1928A look at a "Nottingham Fair" held in Letchworth Park in 1928 by local college students.

Visits to Letchworth State Park This page has collections of photographs taken by tourists on visit to the Park in the 20th Century.

"Posing on the Porch" circa 1938 Some unidentified photographs provide a glimpse of tourists on the porch of the Glen Iris in the 1930's.
 

Historical Markers and Sites
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The Letchworth Plaque at the Glen Iris Placed in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Park, this special plaque was designed by Park employee Fred Short in 1967.

New York State Historical Markers Photographs of some of the State Historical Markers found in or near Letchworth Park.

Letchworth State Park Rocks A brief photo essay of the 20th century rocks of Letchworth Park.

Glen Iris Memorial Trees A brief photo essay of special trees on the Glen Iris grounds.

Parade Ground Monument to the 1st New York Dragoons A photograph of the tablet found on the memorial boulder on the Parade Grounds provides the complete text of the marker honoring the Civil War Soldiers that trained at that place.

Parade Ground Monument 136th NY Infantry A photograph of the tablet found on the memorial boulder on the Parade Grounds provides the complete text of the marker honoring the Civil War Regiment that trained at that place.

Whaley's Tavern Historical Marker A photograph of the historical marker near Castile which tells the history of this historical building where the famous interview of Mary Jemison took place.

Descriptions of Glen Iris and Letchworth State Park
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Early Description of the Portage Falls, 1835. A newspaper account of a visit to each of the three falls written more than 20 years before Mr. Letchworth arrive.

Hall's Sketches of the Portage Falls, 1843 Some significant changes are documented in what may be the earliest drawings of the falls in Letchworth Park.

A Description of the Portage Bridge and Falls Area 1852. This description and accompanying sketches come from Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion of September 11, 1852.

1860 Federal Census for the Glen Iris Area Data collected for the Federal Census in the summer of 1860 on the Glen Iris and neighboring households.

An Ornamental Farm An 1861 description of the Glen Iris Estate as designed and described by Letchworth's landscape architect, William Webster.

A Study of Daily Life at the Glen Iris: The Crozer Diary Selections from the diary of Mr. Letchworth's oldest sister provide a look at life at the Glen Iris in the 1870's

Further Notes on Daily Life at the Glen Iris: The Crozer Diary II. The second part of our look at the diary kept by Mary Anne Crozer at the Glen Iris.

"Valley of the Genesee" This is the text from the 1874 work Picturesque America which includes a description of the present day area of Letchworth Park.

"Drawings from the 'Valley of the Genesee'" These pages include the sketches which accompanied the Picturesque America article.

Visit to Portage and the Glen Iris, 1876 A letter to the editor of a local newspaper provides and interesting account of a visit to the Portage area and the grounds of the Glen Iris.

Gleanings from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society Report 1907 This organization ran the Park from 1907 to 1930. Information from this early report provides interesting information about the early park.

Description of a visit to the Glen Iris & Letchworth Park, 1910 A newspaper article from a local newspaper describes a visit to Mr. Letchworth at the Glen Iris and a walk around the new Park a few months before Mr. Letchworth's death.

Excerpts from the Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1914 Photographs of the new Park along with other information from the report create an interesting picture of the Park in 1913-14.

Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society for 1919, Part I This official report provides an interesting look at Letchworth Park less than a decade after Mr. Letchworth's death.

Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society for 1919, Part II A continuation of the report above, this part includes the financial information for Letchworth Park along with names of employees.

Greetings from the Highbanks A collection of period postcards of the Mt. Morris Highbanks in the northern part of Letchworth Park

1930's Brochure for the Glen Iris Inn and Letchworth Park This early Park brochure provides an interesting look at the Glen Iris Inn and Letchworth Park.

Federal Census for Letchworth State Park, 1930 Names and other information taken from the 1930 Census for people living in the Park.

"Big Bend was Thriving Center" A 1930s article from a local newspaper describes the area still known as Big Bend in the Park.

A Description of Letchworth State Park in 1933. This Nunda News article from August 1933 provides and interesting look at the Park during the early years of the Great Depression.

"History of Big Bend" This Nunda News article from the Nunda News of November 1934 adds some interesting information on life in this small but important settlement in the Park.

We are Number One! Our take on Letchworth Park being named the #1 State Park in the Nation.

Development of Letchworth Park
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The Building of the Glen Iris Estate . This two part article describes how Mr. Letchworth acquired the lands that would become his Glen Iris Estate .

Announcement of the Gift of the Glen Iris to the State. This article from the New York Times in 1907 documents the Mr. Letchworth's gift of the Glen Iris to New York.

Best Automobile Routes to the Glen Iris circa 1915 An advertising postcard for the Park and the Glen Iris has a map and an unusual image of the Glen Iris.

Documents Related to the Evolution of Letchworth Park as Presently Governed These three documents from the New York Public library from 1929 and 1930 provide information about the change from the American Scenic and Historical Preservation Society and the Genesee State Park Commission.

Proposed Campgrounds at Lower Falls, 1937 Engineering plans for an ambitious CCC era project on the site of the present Group Camping near Lower Falls.

Proposed Campgrounds at Lower Falls, 1937 Engineering plans for an ambitious CCC era project on the site of the present Group Camping near Lower Falls.

Development Plans for the Park, 1947 Newspaper article outlining the post WWII development plans for the Park.

Map of Letchworth Park, 1956 Map showing the development of Letchworth Park up to the 1950's.

Development of the North End, 1963 This program from a 1963 State Council of Parks meeting held at Letchworth documents the developments underway at that time at the North end of the Park.

"Rangers Patrol Letchworth State Park" A 1963 Democrat and Chronicle article describing Letchworth's Park Police.

"Memories of the Mounted Patrol" A photo essay of the special horses of Letchworth Park

Poetry
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Voices of the Glen This collection of Glen Iris poetry was first published by Mr. Letchworth in 1876. A new edition was published in 1911.

The Poetry of Josiah Letchworth Two poems written by the youngest brother of William P Letchworth.

Songs of the Genesee A small collection of poetry related to the Park written by Mary Clclland.

Special Events and Dedications
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" The Dedication of Mr. Letchworth's Rock" Images and description from the 1917 dedication of the Letchworth Memorial Boulder near Inspiration Point.

Mary Jemison Pageant 1929 A story and a program from the first of several pageants honoring Mary Jemison that were held in the Park.

Letchworth Park Annual Dinner 1963 The program and photographs from the Park Annual dinner held at the Lower Falls highlights some of the important people in the 20th century development of the Park.

Civilian Conservation Corp
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A List of CCC camps in Letchworth Park. There were four Civilian Conservation Camps in the Park during the Great Depression. They are listed here along with the dates of their opening and closing.

CCC Work Projects in Letchworth State Park The accomplishments of the CCC in the Park is summarized in the lists of completed work projects for each of the camps.

A Tribute to the "Boys" of the CCC A photograph of the statue recently dedicated to the men of the CCC who helped to build the Park.

Memories of Camp 49 These nine photographs taken by a enrollee in the Civilian Conservation Corps around 1939 provide a look at the CCC camp that once stood at Lower Falls.

 

Artifacts and Souvenirs
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Historical Momentoes - The Old Indian Council House John Minard published as series of historical items in the late 1800's. This one shows the Council House at Caneadea and tells the story of how it came to be in Letchworth Park.

The Moses Van Campen Portrait The painting, as well as the description found in the 1906 Guide book to the Genesee Valley Museum gives insight into the story of this remarkable man.

The Pike Mastodon The story of one of the Museum's most popular exhibits.

The Glen Iris Lithophanes A brief description of this unique works of art still found today in the Glen Iris Inn.

An Old Souvenir from the Council Grounds An image of one of the earliest souvenirs sold in what is now Letchworth Park.

A Souvenir Booklet of Snap Shots of the Park Images from a little book called "Snap Shots of Letchworth Park" from about 1920

Reminders of a Special Place Examples of some popular souvenirs from the Mr. Letchworth's time to today.

Artifacts from the Lower Falls POW Camp Some interesting memories from a little known era in Park History.

Genesee Valley Canal
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Landmarks of the Genesee Valley Canal in Letchworth Park This information comes from the notebooks of Mr and Mrs J. Hayward Madden, experts on the Genesee Valley Canal.

"Fall of the Pinnacle or Monument at Portage Falls" 1851 This newspaper account document the spectacular blasting of part of the cliff near the Middle Falls during the construction of the Genesee Valley Canal.

Drawings of the Portage Tunnel Drawings by P Emslie of the Portage Tunnel area of the Genesee Valley Canal including the location of Hornby Lodge.

Portage Bridge & Station
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"The New Iron Bridge" as drawn in 1875 A hand colored sketch of the Portage Bridge and the Genesee Valley Canal which appeared in Gleason's Home Companion in 1875.

"High Bridge" Portage New York 1853 This is a interesting article published in a British engineering journal only a few months after the completion of the Bridge.

The Burning of the Portage Bridge This is Mr. Letchworth's eyewitness account of the 1875 fire which destroyed the famous Portage Wooden High Bridge.

An Eventful Time 1875 Three diary entries from a local farmer document the destruction and rebuilding of the Portage Bridge.

Recollections of James O'Donnell This oral history, preserved by the O'Donnell family, provides important information on the area found on the east end of the Bridge.

A Walker Stereoview Label circa 1875 A look at the back of a stereocard which provides a interesting description of the Iron Bridge and a list of Walker Stereoviews of the Bridge.

Work on the Portage Iron Bridge, 1903 An engineering drawing shows the repair work done on the Erie Railroad Bridge just after the turn of the century.

Memories of the old Cascade House The famous hotel near Portage Station is remembered in photographs and memories from 1960.

Accidents and Disasters
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Fatality on the Portage Bridge, 1865 This is a short newspaper account of a workman's tragic accident on the Wooden Bridge.

An Account of the Centennial Tornado at Portageville This account, taken from the Nunda News in 1876, documents a terrible storm which struck near the Glen Iris on the Fourth of July.

Train Wreck on the Pennsy RR 1904 A contemporary newspaper account of a head on collision near the Portage Bridge.

First Automobile Fatality at Letchworth Park 1917 This is the newspaper account of what we believe to be the first major car accident in the Park which resulted in the deaths of two young women.

The Cascade House Fire 1969 Two newspaper clippings document the destruction of this famous hotel at the Portage Bridge

The Flood of '72 A photo essay on the effects of Hurricane Agnes on Letchworth Park in June of 1972

Portageville Dam Project
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Drawings of the Portageville Dam Project Drawings of the proposed dam that was to be built just south of the Portage High Bridge.

Maps of the Portageville Dam Projects Maps of the proposed dam that was to be built just south of the Portage High Bridge.

 

Photography and Photographers
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Back label of stereoview of L E Walker, 1875 A list of some Portage area stereoviews by LE Walker of Warsaw.

Back label of stereoview of George L Washburn A list of some Portage area stereoviews by George L Washburn of Warsaw.

Smokey (Smoky) Hollow
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Smokey Hollow Memories Some photographs of the Cowie farm at Smokey Hollow.

An Old Timers Remembers Smoky Hollow A description of the Smoky Hollow area around 1900 by local resident Dorr L. Tinkham

 

Moses Van Campen
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The Moses Van Campen Portrait The painting, as well as the description found in the 1906 Guide book to the Genesee Valley Museum gives insight into the story of this remarkable man.

The Moses Van Campen Commissions Images of these two Revolutionary War documents help document the life of this remarkable frontiersman.

Railroads, Pennsylvania
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"Along the Pennsy" A collection of historical images and maps takes you along the route of the old Pennsylvania RR from the Deep Cut to Portageville.

 

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All rights reserved by Tom Cook & Tom Breslin
2011