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Chautauqua County Celebrates Bicentennial

By Nancy Bargar

Westfield, NY – Chautauqua County, according to most historians, was born in 1802. That s when pioneers began trickling into the area. A number of Bicentennial festivities are planned this weekend.

The village of Westfield claims the distinction of being the place where James McMahan became the first permanent pioneer settler in the county 200 years ago. Friday through Sunday there are non-stop events, lectures and historical demonstrations.

"It s not just celebrating history," said June Miller Spann, chair of the Bicentennial Committee. "It s also projecting for future development of Chautauqua County and having people develop pride and personal ownership in living in this county."

While marking the first European settlement, organizers are mindful of the Native Americans who were there prior to McMahan.

"We actually invited some but we found out that this weekend is their pow-wow weekend so they will be very busy with their own traditions and festivities, and unfortunately will not be at our occasion," Spann explained.

Kathy Grant runs a bed and breakfast in Westfield and is a Bicentennial volunteer.

"History is about is stories," Grant said. "It s not necessarily dates and times and who settled when and where. It s the story that comes from our past and how we learn from that and how we are enjoying the stories.

To hear more about Chautauqua County s past life the welcome mat is out in Westfield this weekend.