Documenting History

CELORON – The Chautauqua County Historical Society would like to invite the public to its next upcoming speaker program. Historical Society Trustee and author Kathleen Crocker will join co-author Jane Currie in discussing their latest book, “Legendary Locals: The Chautauqua Lake Region” on Tuesday, June 25 at 6 p.m. under the pavilion of Celoron’s Lucille Ball Memorial Park. In addition to the speakers, the society’s annual summer picnic will also take place.

Crocker is a retired secondary English teacher who currently resides in Jamestown, while Currie is a photographer who also operates Cadwell’s Cheese House in Dewittville. Together, the two have worked on a total of five different books, with “Legendary Locals” the most recent, having been released earlier this year.

According to Crocker, the book was two years in the making.

“Our previous books, which were written about local places, were completed in a matter of months,” Crocker says. “However, we immediately discovered that it’s far easier to write about places than people.”

One of the challenges for the authors in writing the book was selecting which locals to focus on.

“We wanted to select people from each community around Chautauqua Lake and we wanted it to be a cross-section of individuals to represent each of the sites, both historic and contemporary,” Crocker explains, adding, “Since our goal is to always provide the reader fresh images and information, we included obvious individuals who made an impact but, also, needed some ordinary residents, whose contributions may have been small but of significance to their neighbors.”

In addition to the time it took to compile and finalize a list of individuals to focus on, Crocker says it also took an extraordinary amount of time to collect information for the book. Much of the research depended on appointments with various local sources, including numerous foundations, organizations, history centers, libraries and countless individual and their families.

The time and effort put into writing the book has certainly paid off. “Legendary Locals” contains 128 pages and more than 200 vintage and contemporary images. The book focuses on nearly 200 individuals and families who have left their mark on the Chautauqua Lake region and provides information and photos that can’t be found anywhere else.

So far, sales of the book have been good, but Crocker says that’s not the reason why she and Currie decided to put out another book after a five-year hiatus.

“We had successful sales with our past books, and that showed there was a desire on the part of the public to learn about Chautauqua County’s rich history,” says Crocker, who adds that she and Currie split a royalty payment of one dollar for each book sold. “The motivation certainly isn’t great monetary gains, but rather a desire to tackle local history from the perspective of people rather than simply the locale.”

Both Croker and Currie will be at Lucille Ball Memorial Park for the June 25 picnic to share their story of working on the book and even some details that were left out of the final version. There is no cost to attend, but everyone who is on hand is encouraged to provide a dish to pass.

Reservations are appreciated by Friday, June 21. To make a reservation or for more information, call the Historical Society at 326-2977 or email

For more information on “Legendary Locals: The Chautauqua Lake Region,” visit or search for “Books by Kathleen Crocker and Jane Currie” on Facebook.