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The Ghost of Nathaniel Dike


I’ve been enjoying Hazel M. Shear’s book trilogy,” The Wellsville Story, The Willing Story, The Alma Story,” published by her daughter Barbara Koschara. After starting with, “The Alma Story,” which is fascinating and full of history, I started “The Wellsville Story” and only got to page twelve.

It wasn’t for a lack of interesting content, or the typical sleepiness that reading tends to bring me. Page twelve starts Hazel’s summary of Nathaniel Dike, the fellow who is recognized as the first permanent settler in Allegany County. He settled in Elm Valley, the valley in between Wellsville and Andover, which by the way is where the Wellsville Sun is headquartered, more or less. That settlement began less than two decades after the birth of our nation and Nathaniel lived until 1813.

During his eighteen years in Elm Valley, Dike and his family created the family tree which now has many thousand descendants all over the United States. If your family roots run deep in Western New York, there is a good chance Nathaniel Dike is your “grandfather.”

Several legends surround Dike’s life. He was reported to have graduated from Yale University in his native Connecticut. During his service in the Revolutionary War, he was told to have been a Captain and served on the staff of General George Washington. One accounting of why Nathaniel decided to settle in Elm Valley was that he was taken prisoner by Native Americans. Another tale suggests that he married a Native American women and his in-laws were partners in the Elm Valley settlement. In Hazel Shear’s chapter on Dike, the legends are not debunked nor are they confirmed. In historical documents written by William A. Green in 2016, nearly all these legends are called into serious question.

Regardless of the fact or fiction, considering Dike’s life from my perspective give a spooky feeling. How many times have I crossed his path or literally stood where he lived, worked, explored, and even died? Is my country road the result of his logging operations? Did his family clear cut my land in the early 1800’s, creating the forest I enjoy today?

The mind can wander on and on about what life was like in the Dike Settlement two hundred and twenty years ago. Did they keep the oxen for logging in the same spot as I keep my farm animals? Did he spare the massive hemlocks that remain near my home? What else about my life could have been or was directly impacted by Nathaniel Dyke ?

Thank you Hazel and Barbara for the reading and introducing me to this ghost!!

Find out more!! Read the work of William Greene or better yet visit the Nathaniel Dike Museum at 118 E. Dyke St. Wellsville, operated by the Wellsville NY Historical Society. Connect with them on Facebook for museum hours and access to additional information!!

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