Ischua, New York: Ischua (pronounced ISH-way) is a town in Cattaraugus County, New York. Nestled in the heart of the Enchanted Mountains, the Town of Ischua is situated minutes north of Olean. It is bounded north by the towns of Franklinville and Lyndon, west by the town of Humphrey, south by the town of Hinsdale, New York, and on the east by the Town of Cuba, Allegany County.
The town was first settled around 1808 by the current community of Ischua. The Town of Ischua was founded in 1846 from a division of the Town of Hinsdale. There was previously another "Town of Ischua" in the county, which has now been succeeded by the Town of Franklinville. When first formed, the present Ischua was known as the "Town of Rice." The town had its own post office (zip code 14746) until the early 1990s, when it was merged with Hinsdale's (zip code 14743).
At one time there were numerous farms. Today, the community consists of mostly single-family residence homes and numerous seasonal residences and camps. It is hard to imagine that this was once a bustling, rural community. The 2020 census indicated the population was 734.
NYS Route 16 is a main travel corridor bisecting the town in a north-south direction and connecting the City of Buffalo and the Northtowns with the City of Olean and Pennsylvania . The Ischua Creek parallels Route 16 through much of its length and empties into the Olean Creek. Well known for its fly fishing, the Ischua Creek provides plenty of recreational opportunities. In recent years, canoes and kayaks have become a regular sight as individuals look for more ways to enjoy the natural beauty of our area. Bald eagles, ducks, deer, along with a wide variety of birds and other wild life inhabit the creek and surrounding area.
Part of the Oil Springs Seneca reservation is in the northeast part of the town. It was originally surveyed to comprise an acre around the Oil Spring which is located south of the Cuba Lake Spillway. According to the United States Census Bureau approximately 0.37 acre of the reservation is situated in the Town of Ischua, while 0.57 acre is situated in the adjoining Town of Cuba, Allegany County. The single resident on the reservation is Native American and lives on the Allegany County portion.
The Seneca learned to use the petroleum-tainted water of the Oil Spring for medicinal purposes. The Senecas own two tax-free gas stations on the reservation. A bingo and gaming hall have been in operation since 2014.
Sally Squire Pettengill, wrote a very informative book entitled "History of Ischua". The book takes you through a "sentimental journey into the past" as the former historian for the Town of Ischua paints a picture of what life was like for the town's earliest settlers. It is a collection of names, dates, photos and stories as recalled by the author. If you're lucky enough to find a copy it's definitely worth the read.
Do you have some local history, or old photographs of the area, that you would like to share on our history page? Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.