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Friendship Bicentennial

"200 Years of Friendship"

Trivia Question of the month (July): In 1965 we held our Sesquicentennial (150 years). Now, in 2015, we're holding our Bicentennial (200 years). What anniversary will Friendship celebrate in 2065, for 250 years? Click here for more trivia questions!

Press Release

The Town of Friendship Bicentennial Committee
Announces BBQ Chicken Dinner

There will be a community dinner open to all attendees at the Town of Friendship Bicentennial Event. The dinner is sponsored by Friendship Central School and will take place at the school cafeteria on Saturday, July 25th from at 6:30 - 8:00 PM. Dinner will provide 1/2 BBQ Chicken, sides, dessert and a beverage. The dinner is also available as a take-out. The coordinator of the event is Jim Greenaker, FCS Student Council Advisor.

Pre-sale reservation tickets can be purchased by mail by sending a check to: FCS Bicentennial Dinner, PO Box 215, Friendship, NY 14739. The price for the dinner is $10.00 per ticket and checks should be made payable to Friendship Central School. Pre-sale dinner ticket orders must be received by July 20th. Tickets can also be purchased as available at the door. Proceeds from the event will support future activities of the FCS Student Council.


Situated in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian mountains, the town of Friendship, New York, was first settled about 1804. Its early popu-lation was mainly of English and Dutch origins, but as the years went by and the town prospered, many more groups arrived. These included Germans, newly-arrived immigrants from Ireland and Italy, a unique African Ameri-can community dating from the 1820s, and a small but steady presence of Jewish merchants.

The town was incorporated in 1815, after which it experienced nearly a century of growth and prosperity. From the very earliest days, the townspeople placed a high premium on education, establishing both the Friendship Academy and the Baxter University of Music. From these insti-tutions came highly talented entertainers, inventors, doctors, lawyers, clergy, manufacturers, people of business, government officials and educators. Many of Friendship's musicians and performers reached the top of their professions in the latter part of the 19th century: the Gorton Minstrels, Middaugh and Vreeland's Minstrels, traveling "Uncle Tom's Cabin" companies, and many more.

In the pre-Civil War years, Friendship was a veritable hotbed of anti-slavery activity and progressivism, drawing such important figures as Frederick Douglass. An 1854 gathering of men who soon called themselves Republicans inspired Friendship's claim to the birthplace of that party. Many of the town's women, having been part of the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, continued their activism as Suffragists from the 1850s until women won the right to vote in 1920. After benefitting greatly from the brief oil boom of the 1880s, Friendship became for a time the most bustling, prosperous, forward-looking town in Allegany County - and with its neatly-kept houses, clean streets and colonnades of large shade trees, the most beautiful as well.

Some Notable Friendship People

1. African-American oil producers (1880s) - Part of Friendship's unique African-descended community that began in the 1820s, seven black land owners became oil producers instead of leasing their properties to drilling companies. These arguably are the first people of color in the modern world to have produced their own oil. Some of these men profited substantially from their work; among them were three veterans of the Civil War.

2. James Baxter (1819-1897) - Self-taught musical genius; instrumentalist, composer, teacher, author and publisher; founder of Baxter University of Music in Friendship.

3. Lena A. Benjamin, M.D. (1875-1958) - Physician and missionary (1902-1941); awarded the gold Kaisar-i-Hind medal for service to India, by order of King George V.

4. Eliza Boss Fries - (1848-1921) - Suffragist, community leader and activist, longtime president of the Friendship Free Library board.

5. Gorton Minstrels - Widely-known musical performing troupe (1867-1908); traveled extensively in North America. Friendship was famously known as a "show town" because of numerous show people, traveling troupes and even a circus that made its home here. Many had received their training at the Baxter University of Music.

6. Floyd Myron Kroh (1886-1944) - Major League pitcher, Chicago Cubs; awarded World Series pin in 1908.

7. Edward Wingate Hatch (1852-1924) - Self-made man and New York State State Supreme Court judge; great benefactor of Friendship and its citizens.

8. Ethan Lanphear (1818-1903) - Underground Railroad agent, passionate anti-slavery activist, prolific editorialist; autobiography published in 1900.

9. Emmit Latta (1849-1925) - Pioneer bicycle manufacturer; patented bicycle and typewriter improvements.

10. Ella Buscher Middaugh (1879-1953) - Stage name "Miss Ella Shields"; singer, performer, recording artist, star of British stage and screen.

11. "Miss Daisy" - Friendship's famous, fully-operational, award-winning 1881 Silsby steam fire engine.

12. Byron R. Newton (1882-1938) - Noted journalist, aviation expert and occasional poet; covered the Wright Brothers' first flight for the NY Herald Tribune in 1903, and many other major news stories of the day.

13. William H. Pitt, A.M, M.D., Ph.D (1831-1909) - Academic, educator, physician, pioneer petroleum geologist. Our town library is named in honor of William and his wife Mary, who donated the Library to the people of Friendship in 1910.

14. William H. "Bill" Rollo (1927-2014) - Developer of hugely successful "Mite-E-Lite" portable generator; he and his wife Mary were generous benefactors of the Town of Friendship.

15. Sidney Rigdon (1797-1876) - Prominent early figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons); buried in Friendship, where he spent the latter part of his life.

16. Charles B. Rumsey (1857-1950) - Pioneer developer and patentee of gasoline-powered stationery engines; owner of the Rumsey Manufacturing Company in Friendship for about fourteen years (@1900-1914).

17. Joseph Crocker Sibley (1850-1926) - Friendship-born oil producer, Congressman from the State of Pennsylvania; served five terms, two as a Democrat and three as a Republican.

18. Col. Abijah J. Wellman (1836-1889) - banker, businessman, investor, soldier, NY State Senator, philanthropist.

19. Guy Wellman (1876-1941) - lawyer, head counsel for Standard Oil Co.; instrumental in establishment of the Iraq Oil Company. Guy and Agnes Daniels Wellman were much-beloved benefactors of the Friendship community.


Every month in 2015, a new slide will appear corresponding to the month of the calendar that will be sold during the celebrations. These slides will have pictures and information on the history of Friendship.














  1. January: The Friendship Cheese Factory, now known as Saputo Dairy Foods USA, was established in the 1920s. What was its original name?

  2. February: The Friendship Church of God in Christ, 77 West Main Street, was originally formed in 1907 under a well-known denomination that was very popular among African-Americans for many years. What was this denomination?

  3. March: The place where Depot and West Water Streets cross Main Street has another name that goes back to Friendship's earliest days. What is it?

  4. April: Born and raised in Friendship, this left-handed pitcher won a World Series pin with the Chicago Cubs in 1908. Who was he?

  5. May: This street was known in the past as both Church Street and Music Street. What is it called today?

  6. June: A large poultry farm was in operation for over fifty years in Friendship. What was its name?

  • January: The Gilt Edge Cheese Company
  • February: African Methodist-Episcopal
  • March: Four Corners
  • April: Floyd Myron Kroh (1886 - 1944)
  • May: Baxter Place, in honor of Friendship musical genius, James Baxter (1819-1897)
  • June: Sunnyside Poultry Farm, owned by Charles and Tania Dyring. (Charles was Danish and Tania was Norwegian).