The early settlement of “Worksburg,” Falconer’s original name was closely tied with “Kennedy Mills,” later known as Kennedy. Our western New York area had been purchased for $225,000 in 1791 and sold bit by bit to the Holland Land Company. In 1800, the Holland Land Company hired Joseph Ellicott (the Town of Ellicott is named in honor of him) to survey the area. Dr. Thomas Kennedy, from Meadville, Pennsylvania, married Joseph Ellicott’s niece. Through this family connection, he learned about the beauty of our area. By letter, he purchased 3,000 acres of land in the Kennedy area. In 1805 he built a sawmill in the settlement that came to be known as “Kennedy Mills,” later “Kennedyville” and finally “Kennedy.” Dr. Kennedy never actually lived in our area.
Dr. Kennedy had a friend, Edward Work, who was a lawyer and Postmaster in Meadville. In 1807, Edward Work and Dr. Kennedy purchased an additional 1,260 acres in the greater Falconer area and Work built a log home in what is now Falconer. The settlement became known as “Worksburg.”
Edward Work built a sawmill in 1808. He was actually the first to use the power from Chautauqua Lake. The first milled lumber was used for flat boats for trips to Philadelphia and New Orleans. Twelve boats were built and were launched from the site of the Levant boat launch. Lumber and salts were sent to Pittsburgh, where lumber sold for $7 for 1,000 feet. At this same time, Kennedy and Work opened a road between Worksburg and Kennedyville.
It wasn’t until 1810 that “The Rapids,” or Jamestown was started by James Prendergast. An account states that 1,000 acres were purchased by Prendergast at $2 per acre!
Lumber was the main product of our area in the early 1800s. The area was dense with trees. There is an account of a woman and her one-month old baby who got lost walking the ½ mile to her neighbors for thread. She was found several days later.
The lumber in the area was so excellent that “Poland Quality” was a standard in lumber for many years. There are records of a tree 9 feet in diameter, and a tree that was 268 feet tall.
The only other source of cash in the early days was “salts,” another lumber product. The early settlers bought land on credit, then burned the hardwood trees for ashes. These were then taken to asheries (Ashville is named for this) where the would be sold and then processed into salts or potash for soap, glass, and medicine. With this case, the early inhabitants then could pay for their land.
With the clearing of the land, agriculture as a way of life began to be profitable and was the chief occupation until about the 1870s. In the 1840s, Robert Falconer, from Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, and his sons Patrick and William purchased most of the Work properties and land. Work maintained his home where the Marine Midland Bank is now. It was later moved to Mosher Street. By 1844, Patrick had bought out his father, and was considered the owner of Worksburg. His home is the present-day Baptist parsonage.
During the 1870s, the Dunkirk Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad (DAV & P) started a line through the area. Worksburg was 50 feet less above sea level than Jamestown, which was a definite advantage to the railroad. Patrick Falconer also was willing to donate a generous amount of land to ensure its passage through Worksburg. The railroad did decide to have the depot here. Patrick then stipulated, so the story goes, that the name of the depot be “Falconer,” and so the Village became known.
The W.T. Falconer Manufacturing Company was started by W.T. Falconer and P.E. Merrill in 1888. It was the area’s first industry. It became the American Manufacturing and is today known as Fancher Chair.
The Village of Falconer was incorporated in 1891 – hence our 1991 Centennial celebration.