Sherman area residents and especially the Sherman Day Committee members will be out and about very early Saturday morning getting ready for the start of Sherman Day 2012. It will be a day of celebration for more than 1,000 folks from near and far away, some being former residents having grown up in the area and graduated from Sherman School.
Sherman is a small town nestled in the southwest corner of Chautauqua County. Unfortunately some of the early records of the village were destroyed by fire. Nevertheless, there is much information in the "Centennial History of Chautauqua County" books, published in 1909 and available in many local libraries. It is well known that tracing the early history of a time when few authentic records were kept can be difficult. Nevertheless, historical information was often handed down from father to son.
Sherman was established from Mina, April 7, 1832. It comprised the second township and 14th range as described by the Holland Land Company's survey and contained 36 square miles. Dearing Dorman, his wife Huldah (Perkins) Dorman and little son Amosa were its first settlers. It is believed that they arrived prior to 1823, having traveled 118 miles from Batavia via an ox team driven by a Mr. Fargo. Mr. Dorman built a log house 12 by 16 feet in extent, with a single roof of elm bark and a floor of split logs, on what is now the town line road. The first child born in that house was Archibald Dorman.
A recent Sherman Day parade is shown. Sherman Day 2012 will be held Saturday, and the parade will begin at 10 a.m.
Photo by Elaine G. Cole
In the early years of the settlement there was not an open highway, an acre of turf or a sawmill within many miles, and of course no gristmill. The early settlers were emigrants or descendants from New England. At that time, someone said that when the fields were cleared they were rough and covered with stumps. One finds it hard to imagine living there in those days. Nevertheless, the settlers were a sturdy lot with sound characters, good intelligence and were well schooled in patriotic principles. They weren't afraid of hard work or going without all the pleasantries found in their native lands.
In the early years few settlers arrived in the area, but they began coming rapidly in 1827. There were only 12 families in 1839, but by the centennial celebration held August 1923 there were almost 1,000 people in the village and township.
In 1832, Elijah Miller, Benjamin H. Kip and Otis Miller purchased the land where the village is located. It is said that they were the founders of the new village which was first called "Millerville" then "Kipville" and later "Sherman." It was not incorporated until Sept. 5, 1890.
The early settlers contended with great hardships. Their food consisted of a little grain, a few potatoes and milk if they were fortunate to have a cow. Some people living at Lake Erie shore said the area was unfit and never intended by the great maker for human occupation because of all the wild animals.
However, despite the work and hardships the settlers faced, they were determined to provide an education for their children and a place of worship for their families. It's believed that the first school was held in the home of Otis Skinner, and the first school building was erected in 1826 or 1827. It was built of logs and bark in the area that is now on the corner of Route 76 and Bailey Hill Road south of the village. Currently it, or one that replaced it, after some adjustments, became an Amish barn for horses. Presently it is still used as such, though the family living there is no longer Amish. It is located very near the home of Bill and Elaine Cole.
The first church service was held in the log home of Jonathan R. Reynolds in 1826. A Baptist pastor, Rev. Orange Spencer, brought the message. Thus the first church work was said to be started by Baptists. As time went on, churches were built. All of them became active, not only preaching God's word, but caring for those in need and encouraging the residents in the village and surrounding area.
As time went on many new buildings were erected in the village and the population began to grow, but it wasn't without more hardships and difficulties. The small pox epidemic took place in 1853-54. It was a difficult time in the area. There were several floods that destroyed bridges and damaged buildings, and at least four devastating fires on Main Street and more. Nevertheless, the residents always worked together to repair, rebuild and care for the needs.
The fire departments played an important part over the years, always being there to care for the folk physically, help clean up and rebuild and encourage the residents. In yesteryear at one time, there were several fire departments. Before they had all the resources available today, the firemen worked diligently with whatever they had, especially man power. For instance, when there was a fire, a bucket parade was formed with men carrying water from the pond.
Sherman has long been remembered for its brick blocks that replaced the wooden ones in 1865 after one of the destructive fires on Main Street. Many folk also recall that the village had covered streets and hitching posts. Presently the latter has been removed, but one often sees an Amish horse and buggy parked somewhere in the village while the family shops.
Many other happenings have taken place in the Sherman village and township since its first settlers arrived in 1823. At one time there were more than 40 businesses in the village. That was in the days when there were no supermarkets and few large cities that folk could go to for their needs. Even if there were, the only transportation available was by horse and buggy or by foot.
Currently the Sherman township and village have 30 businesses. One can purchase most things that are needed to maintain their home and many things that are necessary for businesses. Although the theater and opera house are long gone, and there are few places of entertainment in Sherman, one doesn't have to go far to find a source of entertainment, and traveling nowadays is much easier and quicker than in yesteryear.
Sherman has always been known as a farming area, and for the most part, it is a rather quiet and friendly place. Most of the activities and events take place through the churches, school and special celebrations in the village often planned and carried out by the Chamber of Commerce or a committee such as the Sherman Day Committee. The latter is always a great day for Sherman area folk, former Shermanites and anyone who enjoys such affairs.
The 2012 Sherman Day Celebration is Saturday. There will be fun, games for children, venders, food galore, the Grand Parade and many other activities. All are welcome to visit the village on that special day.
The Sherman Day Committee spent many hours planning and preparing for this year's Sherman Day. Everyone on the committee worked diligently together to get the job done.
SHERMAN DAY SCHEDULE
5k Run: 8:30 a.m.
Parade: 10 a.m.
Time Capsule presented to Mayor John Paterson, following the parade, at the Yorker Museum.
Stanley Hose Co. Fireman's BBQ: noon
Lawn Tractor Poker Run: 1 p.m. Pre-registration starts at 12:30 p.m. at the old Midtown Motors.
Kids Games: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Behind the fire station on Miller Street.
A petting zoo with live animals will be featured during the day.
A cruise-in will follow the parade.
Cooler Cafe live music starts at 2 p.m.
A live DJ will be featured at Murdock's, beginning at 9 p.m.