William Bemus – First Settler
The first settler of Bemus Point was William Bemus. Born in Saratoga County, New York, he traveled as far as Tennessee before deciding to settle in the Chautauqua area.
In 1805, William Bemus paid the Land Company $1.50 for several hundred acres on both sides of the Lake, along with other articles for a large amount of additional land.
In November 1805, he had a large and substantial log house built about 30 or 40 rods Northeast of the Ferry site, between Springbrook and Lakeview Avenues (present site of the boat launch parking lot). Due to a famine, the family stayed in Westfield for the winter.
On March 9, 1806, he moved his family and belongings by sled down the Lake, arriving at sundown, becoming the first settlers of Bemus Point.
In 1811 Thomas Bemus, who lived on the west side of the Lake, built a raft and poled it across the Narrows. The ferry has operated ever since (when Lake conditions permit). It is now run by the Chautauqua Lake Historic Vessels Co.
Bemus Point grew during the late 1800’s with tourism, and people from the Chautauqua area gathered to hear the entertainment, especially during World War I. Big Bands played at the Casino, and Steamboats ran from Jamestown and Mayville.
In 1926, land was purchased for a Village Park, containing dock with swimming facilities, benches, tennis court, and shuffleboard courts. In 1998, a newly expanded and improved Village beach was dedicated with a beach, park area and new dock.