Explore Area History This Summer

By Mary Heyl

Discover Cattaraugus County’s rich history this summer by participating in one of the upcoming lectures and events taking place in Ellicottville and throughout the county. Whether you’d like to dig deeper into the history of Ellicottville, participate in a ghost tour, or consider the CIA’s involvement in the deaths of JFK and Malcolm X, you’re sure to walk away feeling enriched and eager to learn more!

Celebrate Juneteenth this weekend at Jamestown Community College’s Olean Campus at 260 North Union Street. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, TX with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were now free. Even though this was actually two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the arrival of Granger’s regiment, combined with General Lee’s surrender in April, overcame Confederate resistance in Texas. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and the African American Center for Cultural Development of Olean invites you to join in on Saturday, June 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There will be several activities at JCC’s Olean campus including music, a poetry reading and food. Pulled pork, corn bread, hot dogs and red beans with rice will be for sale throughout the event. This year’s guest artist is Ras Jomo Akono, who will combine story-telling and African drumming. The Twin Tiers Writers Club will present a poetry reading, and there will be a drumming circle with Faith Tanner-Thrush.

To learn more, visit www.africanamericancenterforculturaldevelopment.org.

On Friday, June 30, take part in a ghost hunt/tour of the Hinsdale Haunted House, featuring high priest psychic medium Kristen Lee. The nationally-known house, recognized as the most famous haunted house in the area, is located on McMahon Road and first gained notoriety when Clara Miller Dandy published her book “Echoes of a Haunting” in September 2000. Dandy, who lived in the house with her husband, Phil, and children in the early 1970s, experienced several strange sightings and encounters with spirits during her time there. The family often heard a strange choir singing behind the house; gas jets on the stove suddenly turned on, untouched bathroom faucets spewed water and various objects randomly went missing. Father Alphonsus, a priest from St. Bonaventure University, was at the house more than once to perform an exorcism, but as time passed, the Dandy family gave up and left the house for good.

A 2006 episode of “A Haunting” based on the Dandys and their experiences in the home aired on the Discovery Channel. Few families have lived in the home for very long since then, but visitors can now learn about the home’s strange history and use paranormal investigation equipment to explore the house. The tour, featuring Lee, is from 7 to 10 p.m. and tickets are available online now at http://www.hauntedhinsdlaehouse.com. Call (716)578-4586 or email dan@pitsociety.com for more information.

The Ellicottville Historical Society and Museum (EHSM) is hosting “Our Own History Show & Tell” on Wednesday, July 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Ellicottville Memorial Library. This interactive event invites guests to come to the presentation with their own bit of history to talk about! Whether it’s a photograph, an artifact, or an interesting story about the area, everyone is welcome to share their piece of the past. Guests can also come prepared with questions about Ellicottville’s history that they’d like to have answered. The public is invited to attend this free event at the library, which is located at 6499 Maples Road. For more details, contact the EHSM at (716)699-8415.

If you’ve always been fascinated by conspiracy theories regarding the assassinations of John F. Kennedy or Malcolm X, you’ll want to attend the EHSM’s August Lecture! On Wednesday, August 9 from 7 to 8 p.m., John Koerner will speak on “Why the CIA killed John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X.” The public is invited to attend this fascinating lecture at the Ellicottville Memorial Library. You won’t want to miss it!

To learn more about upcoming events at the EHSM, check out the Ellicottville Historical Society on Facebook. For a complete schedule of other historical events and lectures in Cattaraugus County, visit www.historicpath.com.