Quakers in South Valley
In 1798 three young members of the Society of Friends arrived in Cattaraugus County, in the present town of South Valley. They were Quaker missionaries and they came intending to teach the Indians agriculture and "civilized ways". They set up a school in 1803 on 609 acres they had purchased near their first settlement. They convinced the Indians to start a saw mill in 1812 however its operation caused friction among the native people. Chief Cornplanter, who lived in Pennsylvania but had jurisdiction as Sachem of the Seneca Nation, ordered the saw mill destroyed, saying that "It is better to have peace in our homes than lumber in our houses." Chief Cornplanter and Governor Blacksnake opposed the efforts of the Quakers to Christianize the Reservation Indians.
In 1838 the Ogden Land company tried a land grab, getting the signatures of a minority of chiefs by using bribes, firewater, and other devious means. The Quakers came to the aid of the Indians and the fight was carried to Congress and into the courts before the Indians got clear titles to the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservations again. Unfortunately, they lost much of the Tonawanda Reservation through the Ogden Land Deal.
Historical details garnered from "The Southern-Tier" by Arch Merrill