ALLEGANY — Local history buffs who want information on why the Franciscans came to Allegany, what the Hotel Bon Air in Rock City looked like back in the day or where the one-room school houses and churches were located, the reprinting of “Our Allegany Heritage” book fits the bill.
Francie Potter, president of the Allegany Area Historical Association, said the $10 book is available at The Citizen Printing business at 99 W. Main St., with proceeds to benefit the organization. A second book on local experiences during World War II is also on sale.
“The money we raise from the sale of our books helps us collect and preserve Allegany’s history,” Potter explained. “We’re a non-profit so it’s very important for us to raise funds to support ourselves. We do not receive public assistance from the town, village or state.”
As for the heritage book, she said it is in the third printing and was a result of Allegany’s sesquicentennial in 1981. The book covers everything from the general history of the town and village to the founding families of the community. The book opens with a look at the novelty of the different spellings of Allegany in the region, with spellings that include Allegheny and Alleghany. The book also delves into where the name originated, with one tradition holding that it stems from an old tribe of Indians called Talegi, Talligeiwi or Allegewi.
No matter how the name came about, the book provides information on numerous topics that may intrigue local residents or historians. A picture gallery and maps are also included.
“I didn’t have anything to do with (writing) the book,” Potter added. “I was involved with putting on events to celebrate the sesquicentennial. The book was under the direction of Nicky Bergreen and (the late) Dr. Tom Schaeper from St. Bonaventure.”
She said Bergreen, who now lives out of town and Schaeper spent approximately six months compiling the book.
On a related note, Potter said the historical association’s second book, titled “Tales of War and Confinement from WW II,” is also available at Citizens Printing for $6.
She explained how the second book came about from the community’s former newspaper.
“We received a grant from the Allegany American Legion Post 892 for the publication,” Potter stated. “The Allegany Citizen was a weekly newspaper, published from 1896 to 1976. During WW II, all the local men and women in service received a free copy.
“Many wrote letters to the editor, thanking him for the paper, but two of them, Richard “Richie” Boser and Clemens “Clem” Martiny wrote long and informative letters about where they were and what was happening to them — as much as the censors would allow.
“In the course of other research, I kept noticing these letters and often thought we should find a way to get them published,” Potter recalled. “In 2001, a local scout, Amit Patel, was looking for an Eagle Scout project, and I immediately thought of the letters.”
She said after the project was approved, Patel combed through “six years of the newspaper, issue by issue, excerpting the letters, typing them and organizing them in a binder.
“He also put them on a CD,” Potter noted. “The letters appear exactly as they were printed in the Citizen.”
Potter said the historical association also obtained a letter written by N.V.V.F. “Van” Munson about his experiences as a prisoner of war of the Germans, and that letter is included in the publication.
“These three Allegany residents all survived the war and returned home to pick up their lives as ordinary citizens,” she commented. In addition, she said Patel became an Eagle Scout, and was the Salutatorian of the class of 2002 at Allegany-Limestone High School.