More information on Racetrack Soon!
About 1870 local racing men and others using teams of horses and manpower, built the two horse tracks in the town of Leon. The first was on Towne Hill Road and was known as the "Pennyroyal Racetrack". The other was built a half-mile west of Leon Centre on the north side of the road from Leon to Cherry Creek.
Many of these horse raisers and trainers were well known throughout Western New York. Among them were the Greeley boys; DeForest, George and John. They owned "Wild Fire", a stud: "Stephen A. Douglas." and "Tim Weaver", also a stud and a beautiful race horse. D.F. Greeley raised a noted racer, "Leon Boy".
Hiram Damon lived on what is known as the flatiron Lot 49, and had three sons: Edmond, Harris and Milton. Hiram had a horse name "Lotm" after the Ladies of the Maccabees Lodge in Leon. Edmond had one named "Elva", which he sold for a good price to a man in Pennsylvania. Ed lived on the Treat Farm north of the center of Leon.
Clinton D. Kelley, who lived in what is known as Peace Vale, owned among others, "Johnny Logan" a Fierce racer. It is claimed this horse never lost a race or never broke or lost his feet in a race. He sold for more than $1000.00.
Ira Casten, who lived about two miles east of Leon Centre in partnership with Port Snyder, owned "Goldsmith Frank". Just north of Leon Centre, Charles Alonzo Hunt Franklin owed a farm. Among others horses, he raised "Nellie Bly". John J. Fox, better known as "Red Johnnie" because his red hair distinguished him from the many other Foxes in town, owned "Red Pacer." His farm was on Kysor Hill. Germain Mosher, son of Francis A. Mosher, had a farm about a mlle east of Leon Centre on which several horses were raised. Stakes for local races, put on just for fun or practice, consisted of horse blankets, racing sulkies, barrels of beer or small sums of money. stakes at tracks out of town were generally for $400.00 or more divided 1st-$200;2nd $125;3rd-$50; 4th $25.
In the year 1942, The Leon Fire district was formed with 25 chartered Members. They soon purchased a farm on Town Hill Road, Lot 34 which was the "Pennyroyal Racetrack." It was comprised of a half mile race rack, a pond and a dance hall.
In the 1940's , the track held races every Sunday, Spectators came from far and wide to watch the old stock cars race on the dirt track. Most , if not all, the race cars were built by their drivers.
some Sunday's the attendance would be as many as 1500-2000 people. Many of the older drivers from Leon were Elliott Ellis Sr. Mike Day, Ted Stankeys, and Floyd Roland. Other participants included Floyd Moore, the Morrison Brothers, Fiebelkorns, Ott and many more.
Floyd Moore and Bill Rexford got their start on the Pennyroyal Race (dirt track) and went on to race in the NASCAR circuit at Daytona Beach, Florida
In the 1950's, many ox roast and dances were held on the grounds at the race track by the Leon Fire Department.
The Leon Historical Society has a very nice display of pictures of the old stock cars, newspaper articles and some of the racers equipment used in their cars.
Written by Lindalee Allen, Leon Historical Society Member
We have two "Pennyroyal Racetrack" books on sale.
$15.00 each You can stop at museum on Saturdays 11-2 or up at the church 10-4
any question email
or call 716-296-5709
In August 1942, 2nd LT. Mary Meyers was transported by English ship to Iceland where she met PFC Franklin Ellsworth Riley, whose unit had been there six months. Since the government rules stated no enlistee and officer fraternization was allowed, we had to very discreet with our growing friendship.
In 1943 our hospital unit was transferred to England near a small town called Blockley. The Hospital unit was a big estate. Where there, we became engaged.
In April 1945, our unit was transferred to
France separated on detached service, Mary to 108th General Hospital in Cliché, a suburb of Paris, and Frankie, near the German border.
Due to increased number of GI and officer relationships, the government finally approved of even marriage. Frankie applied for permission and on August 10, 1945, we were married first by the local authorities of E tamp and than by our minister in our our chapel. Each of us had a two 3-day passes for a honeymoon in Paris.
In October 1954 our hospital was reassembled and we came home to New York harbor on the same boat, Frankie in the ships hold, happy as a lark, and me very sea sick above decks. I went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Frankie to Indian-town Gap, PA; for discharges. I went home to South Dayton and Frankie to Toledo, Ohio. After three days he came to New York and we went to Toledo where we lived for eight years before moving to Chicken road and then Rte 62.
We were happily married almost 33 years until his sudden death on July 23, 1978. We had four children, Michael, Kevin, who died at birth in 1950, Patricia, and Danny.
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I have been Historian since 2009.
I going to start to share the birth of Leon. The Town was formed from the Town of
Conewango , April 24, 1832. James Waterhouse named it for the ancient kingdom of Leon in Spain. The area is 23,023 acres. the surface is moderately hilly with rich land in valleys between hills. The soil is loam,sand,gravel
clay,and in the western section along Conewango Valley, it is level and very productive where drained.. The conewango flats were covered by white pine, black and white ash, soft maple and the highlands had maple , hemlock. beech, cherry, cucumber and basswood.
Kysor Hill, 1885 feet in the eastern part of town is the highest point, and lowest , 1,280 is in the west of Conewang flats. The northwest part is level and swampy.
Population over the years;
1835-1,139 1920- 729
1840- 1,326 1950- 738
1860- 1,399 1980-1,047
1900- 1,184 There are 350 housing units.
This is a start with history and below is memorize from our member!
If anyone would like to share growing up in Leon or Family history please email me at
[email protected] or sent by mail to Leon Historical Society , 12195 Leon/New Albion Rd.Box 3
Conewango Valley, N.Y. 14726
Transcription of Lindalee Greeley Allen 27Jan2020
In the early years there were turkey Raffles down at the Rod and Gun Club near the little bridge on the East Road and upstairs over the Leon Hotel. They had live turkeys at that time.
They had dances held upstairs over the Leon Hotel, which was said to have a spring floor. Then in 1953 the hotel caught fire and most of the large hotel burnt. Again I was staying with a girlfriend. The sirens were right outside her bedroom with the fire-trucks. We woke up, but her sister who was sleeping with us and her brothers in the next room never woke up. As we came downstairs her folks had been in a car accident. Her Mom got a broken leg.
My friend and I went up and sat on the porch with the Bromley’s and watched the fire. The one section that didn’t burn was where they kept the liquior and the firemen from Gowanda had a good time.
Another fire was next to Day’s Store , was a old Hardware Store. It burned in the 1940’s. My Grandmother and I watched it burn from across the road. It was also a Post Office at the time.
Then as some of us got to be teenagers we would walk up to Raymond Ray’s Pond on Eldridge Road. A 3 mile hike to go swimming, then have to walk back 3 miles home and get hot all over again. Then my brother got a car and would take us.
In 1950 my mother Autumn Greeley organized a Drum and Bugle Corp under the leadership of Enfield Strickland from Salamanca, N.Y., with 30 members or more. We became an independent marching band and played and marched for the South Dayton Firemen with Dick Stefanik as our Drum Major. We had taken many prizes. In later years, Dick became the Major for the Shriner’s Drum and Bugle Corp. Which they took many prizes. I was one of the members that played with the Independent Band and played the bells.
There was also another Drum and Bugle Corp in Leon that was under the Leon Firemen as Glen Cullen as their Drum Major. They also won many prizes.
1904 – Mrs. Helen Cunningham was elected sec. for the Town Picnics. A grove on the Flat Iron Road of Frank Cooper’s was a favorite site. Bands from near by towns furnished the music. Ball games between local teams and other entertainment were provided. Delmar Cooper’s grove on the south side of the road at the top of Cherry Creek Hill was used and later Franklin” Grove across the road on the north side proved a very nice location.
In 1929 the stock market and the depression caused the committee to abandon the picnics.
In the 2000’s town picnics were reformed by Pat and Jodi Bromley and held at the Leon Fire Hall
In 1936 Methodist church was built
In 1855 Addition was added with a belfry and a new bell.
In 1847 Parsonage was purchased and used until 1873 when it was removed and a new house of ten rooms replaced it. It was used till about 1938. After this date was rented to tenants.
My Memories of the mid 1940’s and early 1950’s of Leon
By Lindalee Greeley Allen
As a kid I never stayed home. I was always down town with my friends. There were several accidents that happened. 1. Across from my girlfriend’s at the Smith Farm they were cutting wood when Mr Kelly fell on a buzz saw and just missed his jugular vein. He was left with a huge scar on his face and neck.
A group of us kids were sliding down hill on the Cherry Creek Hill when Tom Kelly went down the hill, there was a small wooden bridge we would cross and go up the bank on to the road and then slide down to the four corners. Well Tom came up the bank and hit some cinders on the side of the road and the sled stopped and Tom went over the top of his sled and cut the top of his leg real bad.
Another was a large flag-pole near the Barlow Store, which the boys would try to climb up. Well one day my friend Leo climbed up the pole but on his way down his hand got caught on the hook that the rope that held the flag on and there he hung, which left a large hole in his hand that was the end of anyone climbing the pole again.
Again I was down to my other girlfriends. We were playing ‘Annie Annie Over’. Throwing a ball over the shed to see who would catch it. Well, my friend’s brother was on the other side and his sister and I was on the other side when he threw a rock and it hit her right in the middle of the forehead. Till this day she still has a scar. Well after these accidents that was the end of our fun days.
There were some other things we did.
Mr. Curtis had a barn that back in those days it kept loose hay. Almost at the top of the barn was a large beam which as kids we would climb up the ladder and jump and also somersaults into the hay. The barn is still there today.
In the hot days we would all get together an meet behind my folks at the creek. There was a pretty good swimming hole. I think most of us learned how to swim there. Some would climb up the hill and jump into the water.
There was another deeper hole down off from Rt 62 near the Marsh Road. The older ones would go swimming there. I went there once but it was too deep.
Almost every night after supper we would get together and play softball. There were two or three places we would play till dark.
Another pastime about 8 of us built a log cabin up in the woods behind my folks, across the creek, it was a two story. We thought it was pretty good when we finished. Well some of us had taken some tables and chairs up to it. But our mothers made us bring them back.
In the winter there is a large pond on the Harold Ackley’s farm. My mother would take us kids there and have a fire and skate. On day myself and two other friends went up to the pond after school. One of my friends fell threw the ice. My other friend and I grabbed her coat, but we were so scared that she was going to go under the ice. We hurried down to Mrs. Pritchards and she got her some dried clothes and warmed her up.
Our school in Leon was grades 1-6 and in the winter there was a large cinder pile in the back of the school and during recess it was to see who could be king of the mountain. Course the boys were always king.
In the schoolhouse there was a large coal stove and our teachers would make a large kettle of hot chocolate for us.
On Sunday mornings some of us would go to the Methodist Church for Sunday School and in the afternoon we would go to the church where Mrs. Pritchard was the Preacher. She told Bible stories and used felt bible figures and she would have us at her house to make plaster plaques and we would paint them with bible verses.
In the summer the Methodist Church would have picnics with Elna Beckman and Gertrude and Bessie Franklin in charge of the picnics. We would have some at the Grange building and sometimes we went over to Spink’s Grove by New Albion, and up in the woods off from Cherry Creek Hill.
Memorial Day we would meet at the Women’s Relief Corp Hall and were given flowers to put on the soldier’s graves at the cemetery. It was always a great parade. After the parade we would go back to the church and have a flag drill under the direction of Elna Beckman. I wish I could remember how it went.
There were a couple of baseball teams in Leon. One of the ball fields was next door of our home next to Bill Fuller’s home on the East Road. My dad played on one of the teams. My great-grandfather Joe Dorsey was one of the managers for one of the teams.
These teams played against other town teams and also played at the Little Valley Fair.
Another memory was at Easter time. There were three of us girls sitting on the steps of the old building in town. When a car stopped and they had a lot of Chocolate Easter Rabbits and they gave each of us one. When I took it home my mother didn’t think I should eat it, but I did and lived to tell about it. It came out in the Randolph Register that they had been in East Randolph giving chocolate bunnies to the kids. They were from a company out of Buffalo, N.Y.
Eber Franklin in 1825 built the first frame building on the LeRoy Rideout farm on Riga Road owned by Cecil Snyder remodeled and was lived in by Lawrence Trembley. The house is still on Riga Road and used by the Amish.
Asa Franklin settled on Lot 46 in 1820 and a few years later had the first tavern. It was across from the grist mill.
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September 15th----- Starting of history in Leon. More to come next week.
Pioneer’s blazing the trail of the “Old Chautauqua Rd. by John M Ackley’s mother
In February 1832 my mother came into Cattaraugus County with her parents at the age of thirteen years and they located about two miles south and west of Axville. The McElwains, Bigelows and Browns; the Bartons and the Seagers and about the oldest of them all was General Wood who came from Vermont. Here is something that might interest those of this day and age, written by my mother when nearing her ninetieth year and describes her journey from Jefferson County, I quote as to that part which refers to Cattaraugus County only. The fifth night out from Fields Settlement we stopped over night at Fish Hill Tavern, about two miles west of Ellicottville having driven, from a place just west of Geneseo, the name of which I do not remember. In the early morning we left Fish Tavern and headed in a westerly direction having been admonished that we would probably encounter bad roads and deep snow in as much as a heavy fall had occurred during the night and cautioned to follow the path made by the courier two days previous, which appeared to be an impossibility as it would be obliterated by the heavy fall of snow. We drove down a steep hill into a valley, and a narrow one at that, and at once began to rise again on a long hill, the road entering a dense forest of virgin growth, immense in size and wonderful to behold, and it became al most impossible to follow the outlines of the road, which besides the snow was filled with stumps and logs left in the cutting of the way through the forest. Several times it became necessary to use one of the teams to haul away logs that made the road so narrow that our loads could not gat through. It was certainly a horse back route. During the day one of our loads overturned and it required a long time to get it placed again in a condition to warrant safe progress.
We were all day getting through the forest and at early evening we descended a very steep hill •and reached a somewhat level and a comfortable home where we were entertained during the night. As I remember we had covered about ten miles, maybe a little more, while during all our previous travel we had negotiated thirty to forty miles a day. We resumed our journey the following morning quite early hoping that we night be able to finish our journey and reach Axville that day. We had a level start for some distance but soon began to ascend a hill of some quite grade and on the other side came to a very swampy spot of perhaps a mile or more which had been made passable with care by placing small saplings across the road forming what was termed a corduroy or sort of bridging. In many places our horses would break through and get in an al most dangerous position but we were favored, with the fact that the ground was quite well frozen, but altogether we could make but little progress and with any degree of speed. This condition existed for fully two miles and without doubt it was at the rate of a mile an hour. We then encountered another hill quite long and steep, on the summit of which we met the postman on his return trip from Mayville, who advised us not to attempt going farther than Guys Corners on account of the deep snow. It was about three miles to Guys and we arrived there in the early afternoon and arranged for accommodations for the night,