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Peacock’s Maple Grove & the “Old Oak Big Tree” at Barcelona Beach

November 2, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Town & Village Historian , Westfield Republican

It is taking a bit longer to research some of the outlying beaches along the Lake Erie shores of the Town of Westfield than anticipated. So, when a couple older picture postcards were found for different aspects of the more familiar Peacock's Grove and Barcelona Beach, it seemed like a good alternative topic about which to write.

Peacock's Grove was one of the most popular beach having probably the greatest number of years of being available to the public. The Westfield Republican ran "personal and society" notes about it from the almost first issues of the newspaper's publication, at least as early as May 1856. The grove was the location of choice for the many annual picnics of the churches, Sunday schools, family reunions, and club reunions. More than one article commented on one group or another deciding for Peacock Grove over the many beaches and groves along Chautauqua Lake, Cassadaga Lake, Findley's Lake, or Bear Lake, or even the outlying beaches of Westfield.

In a July 1, 1857, Westfield Republican the editor chastised the lack of patriotism in the proper celebration of Independence Day by local citizens, but then relented by saying, "But we are glad that some among us have determined to make some improvement of the day, and that a generous Pic-Nic is to be had on the 4th at the Maple Grove, on the Lake Shore." This, by the way, was only one of several such scathing editorials during the early years of the newspaper. Another one cited both children and adult focus on strawberry ice-cream socials, setting off fireworks, and sending up paper balloons, amongst other less-than-patriotic pastimes on the Fourth. The recommendation was that, although it was fine to have those fun social things, the most important was to teach our children what our liberties cost during the American Revolution.

Article Photos

Submitted photos
At top, circa 1910, is the view of the “Big Tree” or “Old Oak” that is mentioned as being a special location for picnics at Barcelona Beach. At bottom is also circa 1910, showing the Maple Grove that was also called Peacock’s Grove, now called Peacock’s Point. This is the area of beach and woods from the mouth of Chautauqua Creek at Lake Erie, Eastward to (and probably including) Moose Beach, as far as where Barcelona Beach ends where Main Street comes down to Lake Erie in Barcelona.

Peacock's Beach that contained the Maple Grove extended along the lake from the edge Barcelona's beaches about where Main Street comes down to the lake, westward past the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, and connected to what eventually became Forest Park's Beach as described in a recent BeeLines. The grove was full of large maple and oak trees, some of which were remnants of the huge forest trees that the earliest settlers encountered in 1802. One great grandad of an oak tree was known as the "Big Tree" or the "Old Oak Tree" at Barcelona NY on the Lake Erie Shore. For instance, the Republican of August 10, 1887, has the notice: "Dr. and Mrs. Hall gave a most delightful picnic at "the big tree," Barcelona, last week Tuesday. Dinner was served from the Minton House.

The editor of the Republican was always quick to "toot the horn" about our excellent beaches, calling them "resorts" and playing them up against places like Chautauqua Lake's or Erie's beaches and groves. The same issue that had the above note about "the big tree" had this to say, first quoting the "Erie Dispatch" - "Mayville people and other residents about Chautauqua go to Lake Erie at Westfield for picnics. If they should try Erie Bay they would want to build a railroad here at once." The WR editor then continued, "Not at all. Barcelona offers attractions unexcelled on the shores of Lake Erie, not excepting the much-boomed Erie bay."

Please enjoy the old postcards showing "The Maple Grove at Barcelona NY (on Lake Erie)" and "The Old Oak Tree at Barcelona NY, Lake Erie Shore."



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