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The Early History of Alfred Station

"Alfred" is the name of a present-day village not far from Alfred Station. It is also the name of the whole Town, or subdivision of the county, which includes Alfred, Alfred Station, Elm Valley and the surrounding area. In 1807 the Town was much larger, for until 1821 it also included Almond, Andover and Independence; those where then separated to form new Towns. For Alfred Station the year 1807 is significant because Clark Crandall, Nathan Green and Ed Green arrived in May to begin the first settlement of the present-day Town of Alfred. Thaddeus and Alpheus Baker came along in June with their families, heading for their future settlement in what we now call Andover. In order to move themselves and their belongings across the Canakadea Creek, they cut down small trees or branches and, from them, fashioned a "rude pole bridge" spanning the creek. Without having planned to do so, they had provided Alfred Station with the source of its first name -- Baker's Bridge.

Two years later the Bakers cut a road between their Bakertown and our Baker's Bridge. It was to become part of a heavily traveled highway system, if one may so describe a stump-filled path meandering through a primeval forest. Range meetings were held in Almond, and there was an early grist mill there; the "highway" attracted many travelers from the southern settlements. Perhaps Baker's Bridge owes much of its early vitality to a fortunate location; nonetheless, by 1820 it was a comparatively diversified business community. By 1809 (it is said) Clark Crandall had already put a pail factory into operation; some years later, there was a tannery, a sawmill, a carding mill, and one or two asheries. The pail factory was fated to burn to the ground, but coming soon were a grist mill, a distillery, and two inns, or taverns, as they were called. There was a log school house which was later replaced by a frame building closer to the heart of town. The first church building was not erected until around 1835, for everyone had been attending the one near Alfred (called Alfred Centre in those days), which had been erected by 1826 for the purpose of accommodating the whole community.

The whole community was Seventh Day Baptist, closely knit by religious convictions and family ties. Early differences of opinion with Roger Williams and Baptist doctrines had led dissenting Rhode Island Baptists to retreat at first to remote parts of that state, and eventually to such frontier areas as Berlin, Petersburgh, and Brookfield in New York State. With the approach of the nineteenth century, land offices were opened by speculators who had purchased vast tracts of land in western New York, made available to them after the Revolution. Their agents began preliminary development of the territories in hopes of attracting settlers to move in and purchase land. The Seventh Day Baptists took that opportunity to follow one another to the Alfred area, no doubt expecting that the demands of pioneer life would eventually prove to have been worth the risk. They must have sent encouraging news home, for Baker's Bridge supplies generous evidence of strong and far-reaching bonds of kinship, both religious and genetic!

At first, Baker's Bridge was larger and busier than Alfred Centre, perhaps because the latter was quite distant from that "highway." In 1822, Baker's Bridge became the first post office in the Town of Alfred; as such it was designated by the postal service as "Alfred Post Office." When the railroad began running in 1851, its depot here was named "Baker's Bridge;" however, the influence of the post office name was gradually, persistently, being felt. The two names came to be used interchangeably. By 1895 Baker's Bridge WAS Alfred. Imagine, then the distress when the postal service, having established another post office in Alfred Centre in 1848, decided in 1894 to drop the "Centre" from that name! The Village of Alfred Centre decided by vote that it would go along with that change; in 1895, its new name was officially "Alfred." Obviously by then, Baker's Bridge-Alfred had been losing in the race with Alfred; there was little to do but find a new name. Reluctantly, and to the accompaniment of hotly expressed indignation from residents and sympathetic outsiders, a new name was selected -- ALFRED STATION.

Taken from the "Alfred Station Bicentennial Weekend Guidebook" (1976)