When five members of the Button family came by ox-cart from Vermont to Chautauqua County in 1836 and began buying land near Panama, they couldn't have guessed that much of the original 500 acres would still be in the family in 1951.
The land was purchased from the Holland Land Company, and extends about a mile along the Panama-Watts Flats Road through what came to be called Button Valley.
Mrs. E.J. Button says the land was a wooded plot, divided by a swamp which has cince been drained. Her people had to keep bonfires going to keep the wolves away while they built a small shack.
Two of them, Osman and a sister, Almira moved west. Almira married Ben Lindsey, and moved on to Ohio. The other three brothers remained to settle the valley.
The tract closest to Panama was settled by Alvin Button, who built a house which still stands today. The adjacent plot to the south was settled by Lucius Button, and the farm farthest south was taken by Fay Button.
Frank Button, one of Alvin's sons, built a farm next to his father's on the north side and Francis, another son settled just north of the Fay Button place.
One of Alvin's sons-in-law, James Rice, succeeded him in operations of the farm. Shortly after tha, about 1890, another son-in-law, Wesley Bennett, returned from Canada and took it over.
Hi sons, James Bennett, then operated the farm until about 1900, when Leon Button, I, Frank's son, later supervisor of the Town of Harmony, bought it. Leon's son, Horace, who now lives in Panama, took it over about 1910.
Meanwhile the adjacent Frank Button farm passed to his three children, Horace, Earl and Hattie on his death in 1905. Horace bought the shares of his brother and sister, then a short time later sold the farm back to Earl Button.
After Earl's death in 1920 his son, Henry, and wife Mary, continued to operate it until 1928 when the house burned in a spectacular fire. The farm was then sold to Leon Button, Horace's son, present supervisor of Harmony. Horace and Leon, 2d, operated the Alvin and Frank Button farms as one until 1946, when the property was sold to John Eleman, and two years later to Allen Ramsey Riddell, present owners.
The present house on the Lucius Button farm was built in 1886, with the rear section part of the original house. Lucius' daughter, Mercy, married John Shirley Eddy, who was deeded half of the 112-acre farm and purchase the rest. Lucius Button died in 1899, and John Eddy operated the farm until 1919 when he sold it to his son, Martin Eddy, who lives there now. John Eddy died in 1921.
Of the original plot, Mr. Eddy now owns only four acres. The remainder was sold to Otto Opalecky, present owner, who built a house adjacent to the farm house.
The Francis Button farm, to the south, was rented about 1885 to a man named Peck. He filled the cellar with eggs, on which he had plenty of insurance, and after the house burned he was convicted of arson.
Francis died in 1885, and the farm went to the late Ernest J. Button, who bought the shares of his four brothers. The present house was built soon after the original one burned.
Ernest Button died July 25, 1950, three years after a fall from a tree and his son Gerald, has been farming the plot since last September. They have a mixed herd of 25 cattle on the 100-acre farm.
The 120-acre Fay Button farm farthest to the south passed to his son, S.M. Hunt who operated it until about 1920. After passing through the hands of three or four different owners, it came back to the Button family in 1945 when Eugene Button, a great-grandson of Francis Button, purchased it.
Eugene Button also bought the adjacent Frank Glidden farm, making a total of nearly 300 acres. He now has a herd of 83 Holsteins, and operates a large sugarbush from which he expects to take 1,000 gallons of syrup this year.
Horace Button says that the rear section of the house is part of the original house, and is constructed of timbers covered with plaster inside and clapboards outside. The walls are a foot thick, he says.
Another 115-acre plot between the Lucius and Francis Button farms, was originally a sawmill. It later was purchased by James Bennett, grandson of Alvin Bennett, and is now the Clifford Reardor farm.