Edward McHenry – Bicentennial Biography No. 3

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.

Map provided by www.co.chautauqua.ny.us

In the spring of 1802, Edward McHenry settled near the area where colonel James McMahan also settled, west of the village of Westfield. McHenry had purchased land from the Holland Land Company shortly after the McMahan brothers had made their purchases.In the summer of 1802, Edward’s wife gave birth to John McHenry, making him the first known white child born in the county.  That same year McHenry had also opened a small tavern along the Erie-Buffalo Road, making it the first such establishment in Chautauqua County.

The following year, a tragic incident took place.  In August 1803, Edward McHenry and two men named Culverson and Degeer started from the mouth of Chautauqua Creek near present-day Barcelona. The three had taken a boat to travel west to Erie, Pennsylvania for provisions.  However, a storm is reported to have moved through the area, causing the boat to upset and McHenry was drowned. His body was never found.  Culverson and Degeer clung to the bottom of the boat and were saved.  McHenry left a widow and 8 children. It is said she later married a Mr. Perry.

Ref: Brown’s History, 1843

-J. Sample

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