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Town of Independence to celebrate 200 years in Whitesville August 10-14

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See the full schedule of events

By Sandy Rigas

            The t-shirt and poster design say it all: 200 Years of Community.

            It’s a BIG birthday with a five-day party planned to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Town of Independence! Whitesville is the place to be next week as the celebration begins Wednesday, August 10 and continues through Sunday, August 14.

            Several years of planning by the Whitesville Bicentennial Committee and the Town of Independence Historical Society have resulted in a fun filled calendar of events for all ages and interests. Stay tuned to The Wellsville Sun as we will have daily schedules of events and more!

            One of the earliest towns formed in Allegany County (April 7, 1806) was the Town of Independence (March 16, 1821) which at that time included three settlements: Green’s Corner, Whitesville, and Spring Mills; Green’s Corner later became known as Independence.

The Town forms the southeast corner of Allegany County, bordering the Towns of Willing, Wellsville, and Andover, with Steuben County to the east and Pennsylvania to the south.

            According to Allegany County population data, the Town of Independence’s most populous decades were 1840-1910, and 21st century figures show population totals of between 1,000 and 1,100 residents. Much of the population increase and decline can be attributed to Whitesville’s mid 19th century location as a stop on the New York & Pennsylvania Railway, and thriving exports of timber, dairy products, and later, oil. The railroad service was discontinued in 1936 due to increasing truck transport of goods, which contributed to the economic and population decline in the area.

            Yet, the Town of Independence, with Whitesville still as its largest community, continues to thrive and grow, sustaining a variety of locally owned businesses and supporting its own school district, Whitesville Central School. The town’s bicentennial birthday has given the community the opportunity to come together to celebrate its roots, history, what has been preserved and what they have today.

            Scores of residents have been involved in planning this celebration, under the leadership of the Whitesville Bicentennial Committee, initiated several years ago by Kim Thompson and led by Bonnie Billings, Vickie Scott, and Karen Smith, along with the Town of Independence Historical Society. “The Bicentennial celebration is an exciting event and one we hope will be well attended,” said Shallee Lauzee, President.

            Located at 540 Main Street in Whitesville, the Independence Historical Society will be open special hours during the celebration:

 Thursday, August 11 & Friday, August 12:  5-7 p.m. 

Saturday, August 13: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

            On sale in the museum will be commemorative bicentennial t-shirts, posters, and two recently published books. People of Independence by Elton Harris, and the Independence Historical Society Cookbook are both on sale. (More on the Historical Society, and both books later!)

            The party begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 10 with an Ice Cream Social, a Fashion Show (period costumes of any decade) and the Crowning of the Prince & Princess, King & Queen.

Thursday, August 11, starting at 6 p.m. includes a Pie Baking Contest, Beard Judging Contest, and a presentation by Allegany County historian Craig Braack.

Friday, August 12, events begin at 4 p.m. with “Captain Dave’s Magic Show.” The evening continues with Family Games at 6 p.m. and live music from 7 – 10 p.m.

Saturday, August 13, festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a Car & Tractor Show, a Chicken BBQ at Noon, and at 1 p.m. there’s pony rides, a bounce house, dunk tank, Corn Hole Tournament, a shooting contest, and a 50/50 raffle. At 2 p.m. Self-Guided Town Walking Tours begin, and a Scavenger Hunt. There will be craft and food vendors. The parade line-up is at 5:15 p.m. with a 6 p.m. start for the Grand Parade, with “many crowd pleasers,” said Vickie Scott, parade organizer. The evening will continue with an Awards Ceremony following the parade, live music from 7 – 10 p.m. and conclude with a 10 p.m. Fireworks show.

Sunday, August 14, at 11 a.m. there will be a Community Church Service, which will be followed by a Community Pot-Luck Picnic. (Bring a dish to share, your own table service, and chairs.)

To be announced on the daily schedules will be the featured “Sesquicentennial Jail.”    

The refurbished, original 19th century jail will be on display at the Library lawn. What a fun photo opportunity!

Check the Wellsville Sun daily for the Schedule of Events for each day of the five-day celebration and our continuing coverage. You won’t want to miss this party!

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