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The Village of Belfast

from History of Allegany Co., New York, pub. 1879, edited by F. W. Beers, pp 212-213

Situated pleasantly on the west bank of the Genesee river near the north boundary of the town, is the village of Belfast.  The first buildings there were David Sanford's sawmill and grist-mill and a log hut owned by the pioneer Baptist preacher, Elder Sanford.  These were on the river bank a little below the present village.  The first house on the hill, where Belfast village now is, was a log structure erected by Alexander V. P. Chamberlain, in 1816.  Benjamin Chamberlain and a partner named Hughes or Hues opened the first store about 1840.  Henry D. Lyman opened the first public house about two years later.  The first framed house in the village was built by David Sanford, but at what date it is now impossible to ascertain.

The Genesee Valley Canal was completed to Belfast in 1853.  When it was opened Belfast, in common with other villages along the line, became a point of considerable commercial importance, and in 1855 it had a population of 801.  As the evidences of business prosperity began to manifest themselves, and a promise for a prosperous future became evident, measures were taken for the advancement of the cause of education in the village and surrounding county.  The Genesee Valley Seminary was charted in 1856, and opened December 2nd, 1857, under the care of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  For a number of years it was a very prosperous institution, with a capacity for the accommodation and instruction of three hundred students.

The present population of the village is about five hundred.  It contains three churches, one hotel, a grist-mill, two saw-mills, a cheese factory, a sash, door and blind factory, several stores and a number of shops of different kinds.  Belfast contains several fine business buildings and residences.


Among the leading professional men of Belfast representing the medical profession may be mentioned Drs. J. H. and C. W. Saunders.  The resident attorneys are Hon. Samuel C. Wilson, William Windsor and A. N. Raunswell.


The lodge was instituted in 1849. The Successive masters have been as follows:

1849-52John Hammond
1853James McCray
1854, 1855D. A. Knapp
1856, 1862, 1863Jonathan Wafford
1857, 1858C. M. Crandall
1859E. A. Wilson
1860, 1861, 1871R. G. Young
1864-69R. M. Willis
1870, 1873-75D. D. Nye
1872E. A. Webster
1876, 1877G. D. Miller
1878W. W. Byrnes
1879V. I. Cook
The present secretaryWatson W. Willis


Genesee River Chapter was chartered Feburary 8th, 1855.  The first officers were as follows:

D. A. KnappHigh Priest
C. M. CrandallKing
Jonathan WaffordScribe

The successive high priests are named below:

1855, 1856D. A. Knapp
1857, 1858, 1866, 1867, 1875, 1876, 1879Jonathan Wafford
1860, 1861C. M. Crandall
1862, 1863, 1871-74W. W. Byrnes
1864, 1865J. Hendrick
1868-70R. M. Willis
1878H. H. Lyman

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Last updated on July 20, 2006
© copyright 1999, Vivian Karen Bush
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