County Historical Society Annual Meeting to Feature Local History Author


Article Contributed by
The Chautauqua County Historical Society

The Chautauqua County Historical Society (CCHS) will hold its 2019 annual meeting on Saturday, April 27 at the Lakeshore Assembly of God (252 E Main St, Westfield NY).

The annual meeting gives CCHS members an opportunity to learn more about some of the organization’s highlights over the past year. In addition, the event will also feature a lunch and a lecture. This year’s featured speaker will be author and Chautauqua County native Jacob Ludes, III, who will discuss his recent book, “A Thread in the Fabric: The Chautauqua-Erie Region to 1865” (published in 2017).

Ludes’s book reveals the fabric of American history by tracing a single thread in the fabric – the history of the Chautauqua-Erie Region of Western New York, which Ludes presents as a microhistory of the whole of the American past. The volume tells the American story through a focus on the Chautauqua-Erie Region from the arrival of the first people 13,000 years ago. It then proceeds through the period of colonial and American settlement and examines the conflict of French, British, and colonial interests in the region, The war for independence, Western New York as part of the “first frontier” of the United States, the War of 1812, the impact of the Erie Canal,the period of growth that took place from the 1820s up to the Civil War.

For his presentation on April 27 Ludes will highlight portions of his book that specifically relate to Chautauqua County history. In addition, he’ll spend some offering details on the research he undertook in order to complete the book.

“What I will focus on, after briefly describing my research, is ‘The Fox Sisters and the Rise of American Spiritualism. Maggie and Kate Fox have a deep and abiding connection to Chautauqua County via Lily Dale,” Ludes explains.

Ludes was born in Dunkirk and educated in its public schools. He received his A.B. and M.A. degrees from SUNY Fredonia in history. He was also a Kettering Foundation Fellow at the University of New Hampshire and received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree honoris causa from Endicott College.

Upon graduation, he began his teaching career at Westfield Academy. In 1973 he was one of four recipients of New York State’s Outstanding Young Educator Award. While in Chautauqua County he also taught at Jamestown Community College and at SUNY Fredonia. Ludes became the principal at Connecticut’s largest high school in 1978 and continued working in education in Connecticut throughout the 80s and 90s. From 1999 to 2011, Ludes was the President/CEO of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

A Thread in the Fabric is Ludes’s first book. He is currently working on a one volume collection of short biographies of western New Yorkers who had an impact on our national history. The working title is Larger Lives.

Ludes and his wife Elaine have two adult children and four grandchildren. They reside north of Boston.

As noted, there will also be a business meeting along with a luncheon prior to the presentation. The business portion of the historical society’s annual meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. when CCHS President Cristie Herbst provides the organization’s annual report. In addition, Museum Curator John Paul Wolfe will provide an update on CCHS’s exhibits and collections. Several other trustees will also be on hand to offer updates as well.

Following the business portion of the meeting, a luncheon will be provided for anyone who made prior reservations. The meal will begin shortly after noon and will feature a chicken meal from Parkview Café catering in Westfield, along with beverages and desert. The cost is $15 per person with reservations due by Friday, April 19. Payment can be made the day of the event.

No reservations are required for those only attending the meeting and/or lecture and who do not wish to eat lunch. Reservation for the luncheon can be made by calling (716) 326-2977, or by emailing