Alexander McIntyre – Bicentennial Biography No. 5

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 or contact your local historical society.

A historical marker notes the spot on South Erie St., Mayville where Alexander McIntyre built his stockade. (Source: New York State Museum Website)

Chautauqua County has had its fair share of eccentric and colorful characters throughout its 200-year history.  The first of these notable individuals was Dr. Alexander McIntyre, who became Mayville’s first settler in the spring of 1804 when he moved here from Meadville, Pennsylvania. He built a log cabin on what is today South Erie St. and around it erected a stockade. It is said he named the place “Fort Debbie” and built it to protect his so-called wife from her husband in the Meadville area. McIntyre claimed that he had been captured by and resided with Indians many years, acquiring their habits, and said he learned the healing art from them.

McIntyre is credited with causing some grief to surveyor William Peacock, who left a supply of food with McIntyre during the summer of 1804, and McIntyre’s family had eaten all but a few bushels of potatoes. McIntyre also claimed that he had discovered a salt spring near Fort Debbie. He sold it for $5,000.00, but following the sale an investigation found a barrel of salt had actually been placed in the ground near the spring, giving the water its “salty” taste.

McIntyre spent his final years in Westfield where he moved to in 1814. Here, he erected several cabins and bathhouses for people to take advantage of the healing powers of the local water.

Ref: Devon A. Taylor, History of the Town of Chautauqua and A Brief History of Mayville; Jack Ericson, Chautauqua County Historical Society

– J. Sample

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