Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 88 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 88 of 192)
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treatment was so cordial, and the citv was so
handsomely decorated in honor of their pres-
ence, that every person in the party formed

the most pleasant impression of Erie and its
citizens. On returning home the editors took
special pains to sound the praise of Erie
through the columns of their respective jour-
nals, and the city became known far and wide
as one of the most handsome, prosperous and
hospitable in the country.


The prevalence of low water in Lake Erie
for several seasons has led to innumerable sug-
gestions and arguments as to its cause. Some
persons think the lakes are gradualh- drying
up, while others contend that the low stage of
water is due to the small amount of rainfall
over the section of countrj' tributary to these
bodies. It will be well to remember, in dis-
cussing the question, that stages of low water
were noted a hundred years ago, and that they
have occurred at various periods during the
century. When the pioneers came into Erie
county, there was a wide beach along the en-
tire front of the lake from Buffalo to Elk
creek, which was used as a road, in the ab-
sence of any thoroughfare through the woods.
This would indicate a lower stage of water
than has been known for a long time, as the
beach could not have existed had the lake been
at its average height in recent years. Whether
the amount of water that falls and flows into
Lake Erie is less than it formerly was, or not,
it is beyond question that there have been
various periods, within the last hundred years,
when the level of the lake was as low as it is
now or has been recently.

In a symposium of opinions relating to the
level of the lakes, in the Chicago Tiines-Hcrald
of September — , 1895, Capt. Robert Hunter,
of this citv, is quoted as saying that the water
in 1880 was at a high stage.' This year (1895)
i( has averaged three feet below the gauge of
that year, while in 1886 it v^^as two to three
feet above zero. Capt. John Fleehartj' stated
that a pier mark he established eight or nine
years ago shows a fall of about four feet since
that time. He had observed that the periods
of high and low water extended all the way
from seven to tv^'elve years. The United States
assistant engineer, in charge of the govern-
ment works at this port, reported that " the
highest average stage of water is in June. In
June, 1893, Lake Erie was nine inches above
the mean level of that month ; in- June, 1894,
it was a few inches below the mean level. He



has found the periods of rise and fall to be
irregular, although there are such periods,
varying from seven to twelve years, with no
apparent system or regularity."

The water in Presque Isle bay on Tuesday
night, November 19, 1895, was one foot lower
than the zero mark, being the lowest within
the recollection of Capt. Hunter.


It has already been explained that Perry's
famous vessel, the Niagara, was sunk in Mis-
ery bay, where a portion of her hulk still re-
mains. The exact location of the venerable
relic is in the northeast corner of the bay " on
a line south by east of the little house at the
head of the latter, and not much more than a
hundred yards distant from said building."
The fragments of the vessel lie north and
south, in ten feet of water. During the week
of the Centennial celebration in 1895, the site
was marked with a spar, so that those who are
curious to visit the hulk can easily find the


The following information, furnished by
a writer in Harper s Weekly, is of local inter-
est : " The tonnage passing last year (1894)
through the Sault Ste. Marie was twice that
passing vSuez, while that of St. Mar}''s Flats
Canal (Detroit river) was five times that of
Suez. The round figures are : Suez, 7,000,-
000 tons; Sault Ste. Marie, 12,000,000; De-
troit river, 35,000,000 tons."


The postoffice was kept in 1837-40 in the
frame building adjoining Allen & Rosen-
zweig's office on South Park Row, in the rear
of the present postoffice.

It was also held for a long time in the old
brick structure at the northwest corner of
French and Third streets.


Among the doctors and dentists during the
early sixties, who have died or moved out of
the city, were the following :

Doctor.s — Geo. C. Bennett, Peter, Robert

and William Faulkner, E. J. Frazer, J. S.
Whillden, E. VV. Germer, C. Sevin, H. A.
Spencer, J. L. Stewart, W. M. Wallace,
Thos. H. Stuart, Chas. Aichner.

Dentists— M. Chapin, O. L. Elliott, C. D.
Price, Thompson & Rathburn, T. J. Elliot.

citizens' association.
The Citizens' Association was organized
on April 29, 1895, with the following officers :
President, R. S. VanCleve ; Vice-Presidents,
H. P. Sullivan, George D. Selden ; Secretary,
E. M. Foye; Treasurer, W. D. Fellows. Its
"object is to bring together all good citizens,
on a non-partisan, non-sectarian basis, who
want to see our affairs, of every name and
nature, administered in an enlightened spirit,
in the interest of public morals and municipal
economy and against vice and lawlessness in
all of their forms. The means employed are
education and organization, the latter aiming
to combine and direct the best forces of the
city for the betterment of municipal life."
The Association has commenced a series of
lectures by leading advocates of Municipal
Reform, and gives promise of doing a good
work in its line.


The Grand Army of the Republic num-
bers about 475 active members in Erie city,
1,450 in the entire county, and 48,000 in the
State of Pennsylvania. Below is a list of the
posts in Erie county :

No. 67, Strong Vincent Post, Erie.

No. 70, J. T- Andrews Post, Corry.

No. 102, J. \V. McLane Post, Union City.

No. 235, Gen. H. L. Brown Post, Watts-

No. 240, Col. J. W.. Lytle Post, Lundy's

No. 309, Maj. W. W. Miles Post, Girard.

No. 345, John F. Rice Post, Waterford.

No. 359, Lieut. H. F. Lewis Post, Fair-

No. 416, Proudfit Post, Edinboro.

No. 464, R. W. Scott Post, Erie.

No, 479, Capt. John M. Sell Post, Wes-

No. 488, Jofin Braden Post, North East.

No. 583, Capt. Deveraux Post, East Spring-



Origin and Growth — General Description — Schools, Churches and Factories,
Newspapers, Societies, Etc.

CORRY owes its origin and growth to
the circumstance of its being adopted
as the point of junction of the Phila-
delphia and Erie and the Atlantic and
Great Western R. R's. The Philadel-
phia and Erie R. R. (then the Sunbury and
Erie) was opened from Erie to this point in
1858, and to Warren in 1859. In June, 1861,
the Atlantic and Great Western (now the New
York, Pennsylvania and Ohio) was completed
from Jamestown to the junction, and the next
year it was continued through to Ohio. The
Oil Creek R. R., with a broad gauge track to
correspond with the Atlantic and Great West-
ern reached Corry from Titusville in 1862
and the Cross-Cut road was built to Brocton
in 1867. These roads were consolidated and
are now a part of the Western New York and
Pennsylvania R. R. system.

For awhile, the little huddle of shanties
that sprung up at the intersection of the Phila-
delphia and Erie and Atlantic and Great
Western R. R.'s was known as " Atlantic and
Erie Junction." In October, 1861, a piece of
land was purchased by the Atlantic and Great
Western R. R. Company, from Hiram Corry,
who owned the tract at the junction, and, in
consideration of his liberal dealing, Mr. Hill,
General Superintendent of the road, named
the station in his- honor.

The first building was a small, wedge-
shaped ticket office and eating house, directly
in the angle between the Philadelphia and
Erie and Atlantic and Great Western R. R.'s,
on the east side. Beginning at this point, the
settlement spread out during 1861 along Main
street, and to some extent along Cross street.
There was little or no improved land in the
immediate vicinity, and a good part of the

tract since covered by the eastern part of the
city was a swamp, grown up with pine and
hemlock trees. A less promising location for
a town than Corry was at that time could not
be conceived by the most lively imagination.

FROM nothing TO 7,000 IN A FEW YEARS.

Samuel Downer, a wealthy Boston oil re-
finer, conceived the notion that by erecting a
refinerv at some point, adjacent to the oil
fields, and convenient for shipping, he would
possess an immense advantage over his rivals,
who had to carry the crude oil over hundreds
of miles of railroad. With this end in view,
W. H. L. Smith was sent from Boston in the
summer of 1861, to prospect for -a favorable
site. His choice fell upon the junction, and
he purchased fifty acres from Mr. Corry, for
what would now seem a " mere so-g." This
tract he laid out in town lots, and it was
cleared under the superintendence of Eugene
Wright, of Boston.

By fall, a frame building had been put up,
as the office of the Downer Oil Company, a
post office had been established, with C. S.
Harris as Postmaster, and a small refinery,
known as the "Frenchman's," had been set
in operation, in the rear of the present Radia-
tor works. By this time it had dawned upon
the minds of a good many people that Corry
was destined to become a place of more than
ordinary importance. The summer of 1862
witnessed the erection of the Downer & Kent
Oil Works, several other factories, the Boston
Hotel and Gilson House, and a number of
store buildings and residences. People from
every section flocked in, many of them men of
uncommon dash and fertility of resource.
Money was plenty and real estate sold readily.



The founders of the town realized a small for-
tune from the sale of lots, and several parties
who owned land adjoining the plot were also
made wealthy. From that period on to the
panic of 1873, Corry continued to grow at a
rate that encouraged its citizens to think that
it would some day be a formidable competitor
with Erie for the leading position in North-
western Pennsylvania.


Looking down upon Corry from the hills
which surround the city, three valleys are
seen extending in as many separate directions,
the one to the west being that of the South
branch of French creek, the one to the north
that of Hare creek, and the one to the east,
which is the widest and most important, that
of the Brokenstraw. The central portion of
Corry is built on the low summit land between
these streams, but the residence and manufac-
turing sections have spread out east, north
and west, until they reach into each of the
valleys. The South branch of French creek
almost touches the southwestern edge of the
city, while the Brokenstraw is two or three
miles beyond its eastern boundary. Bear creek
— so named from the number of those animals
that gathered in the swamp on the north-
western verge of the city — flows through it
from west to east, rising in Wayne township,
and emptying into Hare creek. The latter
stream, which cuts across the northeastern
corner of the city, was ramed from Michael
Hare, who was one of the pioneers of Wayne
township, and died at Waterford, at the most
advanced age attained bj' any citizen of the
county. It rises in French Creek township,
Chautauqua count)'. New York, crosses
Wayne township, and joins the Brokenstraw
in Columbus township, Warren county, about
three miles east of the city. Hare creek was
once navigable for rafts as far up as Corry. A
smaller stream than any of the above rises on
the high land, in the south part of the city,
and enters Hare creek on or near the north-
eastern boundary.

The town as laid out by Mr. Smith did
not cover more than a third of its present
dimensions. Since then, additions have been
made which render the city lines about two
and a half miles in width from east to west,
and nearly three miles in length from north
to south. The original owners of the land.

besides Mr. Corry, were Amos Heath. H. D.
Francis, Mr. Crandall, Anson Johnson, Hollis
King, Lorenzo Dow and Mr. Dunham. In
laying out the place, a portion was taken from
both Wayne and Concord townships, the
straight portion of Smith street marking the
old boundary between them.


A charter for a borough was secured in
1863, and the iirst election held in August of
that year. In 1866 the borough was created
a city with two wards, the dividing line be-
ing the track of the Atlantic and Great West-
ern R. R. The first city election was held in
the spring of 1866. The city was divided into
four wards twenty years later.

The Mayors of the city have been as fol-
lows : W. H. L. Smith, 1866-67; S. A. Ben-
nett, 1867-68; R. A. Palmer, 1868-69; F. S.
Barney, 1869-70 ; M. Crosby, 1870-72 ; F. A.
Phillips, 1872-73; A. F. Kent, 1878-74;

B. Ellsworth, 1874-75; T. A. Allen, 1875-
79; F. Stanford, 1879-81; J. D. Bentley,
1881-82; T. A. Allen, 1882-83; Isaac
Colegrove, 1884-85; J. L. Hatch, 1886; W.

C. Shields, 1887; W. E. Marsh, 1888; A.
F. Bole, 1889; Eli Barlow, 1890; J. M.
Lambing, 1891-92; A. B. Osborne, 1893-94;
R. N. Seavor, 1895.


The population, by the United States

census reports, has been as follows at the
periods named :


First ward 3,559 2,758 957

Second ward 3,250 2,519 1,357

Third waid 1,737

Fourth ward 1,626

Total 6,809 5,277 5,677


As a railroad center and shipping point,
Corry has few equals and no superiors among
the inland cities of Pennsylvania. With three
railroads passing through, giving direct con-
nection with the oil regions, the anthracite
and bituminous coal fields and the markets
east, west, north and south, the city possesses
rare advantages as a manufacturing center.
Among the leading industries of Corry are the
following :



Howard tannery, erected in 1867 — one of
the best equipped plants in the country.

Weisser's tannery, erected by Mr. Auer in
1862, and purchased bj' the present owner in

The Corry Radiator Works, started in
1892, which supplies power to three other
concerns. These establishments occupy the
site of the old Downer Works, which were
discontinued as a manufactory of oil in 1882,
but run two or three years later on a process
for distilling tar.

The Corry Chair Co , with a capital of
$40,000. This concern bought the works of
the Wooden Ware manufactory in 1889. The
latter was started in 1865—6.

The Lever Engine Company, occupying
the buildings formerly owned by Harmon,
Gibbs & Co., and the Ajax Iron Works, erect-
ed in 1877. The latter works were damaged
by fire on the morning of December 1st, 1895,
to the extent of $15,000.

The Climax Machinery Company, formerly
known as the Gibbs & Sterrett Works, started
some twenty years ago.

The Corry Novelty Works, started in 1870.

The Corry Electrical Works, started in

Other important industries are as follows :
One specialty factory, six cigar factories, two
brush block factories, three planing mills,
three feed-mills, one flouring-mill, one broom
factory, one creamery, one garment factory,
one bed-spring works, one bedstead works,
three bottling works, two mineral water works,
one novelty works, F. Stanford's extensive
brickyard, one cigar-box factory, one brewery,
two pail and tub works and one copper tem-
pering works.

There is also an extensive killing and pack-
ing establishment, and a large supply depot,
the latter under the auspices of the Grange.

The hotels and stores of the city are gen-
erally creditable and one of the latter enjoys
the reputation of carrying the largest stock of
its class in the county.

Corry has been unfortunate in having two
serious bank failures — the First National hav-
ing suspended September 14, 1887, and the
Corry National November 7, 1891. M. Crosby
was appointed receiver of the former and J.
W. Sproul of the latter.

The present banking institutions are the
Citizens' National, organized December 18,

1890, with a capital of $100,000, and the Na-
tional Bank of Corry, organized December 12,
1892, capital $50,000.

The schools of the city are held in four
large buildings — one in each ward — known
respectively as the Hatch, Fairvievv, Wash-
ington street and Concord schools. The first-
named is used as a High school, as well as for
minor school purposes.

The first school under the control of the
Corry board was held in a building on Con-
cord street, which had been ceded by the
school directors of Concord township, in the
winter of 1863. In 1865, an acre of ground
was purchased at the corner of Washington
and Essex streets, and the building erected
thereon, designated the Union schoolhouse,was
completed in March, 1866. In 1865, the board
leased a building on East Main street, near the
Philadelphia and Erie crossing, where school
was held until 1870. In 1866, the old red
schoolhouse on the Columbus pike became city
property, was re-named Wayne school, num-
ber four, and used until the completion of the
Hatch school. In 1869, a building was leased
on Pleasant street. This burned down in
March, 1869 ; but a room was engaged on the
corner of Main street and Second avenue and
the school re-commenced in a few days. It was
continued until the completion of the Fair-
view schoolhouse. In 1869 a tax was levied
to erect a new brick schoolhouse on the cor-
ner of Second avenue and Fairview street, the
lot having been purchased two years previous.
The building was dedicated April 2, 1870. A
new frame- building was erected in 1869, on
Concord street, for the accommodation of pri-
mary pupils, and lots were purchased between
Congress and Bond streets, east of AV^right, for
the erection of a large brick edifice. A spe-
cial act of Legislature was obtained in 1870
authorizing an additional tax of seven mills.
The building was completed in 1S71, and, in-
cluding heating, seating and furnishing, cost
$80,000. It was named in honor of J. L.
Hatch, who had been a member of the board
since its first organization. The schoolhouse
on Washington street was destroyed by fire
December 12, 1871, and replaced in 1872.
The Concord street school building was
erected about 1885.

The Superintendents of Schools have been



A. B. Crandall, elected in 1872; V. G. Cur-
tis, elected in 1873; and A. D. Colegrove,
elected in 1883, who still holds the position.

In addition to the public schools, there is
a prosperous business college, established in
1889 by Charles A. Twining, and a well-at-
tended Conservatory of Music, started some
ten years ago. The business college was pur-
chased in June, 1895, by W. E. Tooke, who
proposes to make it one ot the best institu-
tions of the kind.


The earliest Methodist Episcopal class was
organized in Wayne township about fifty years
ago and erected a meeting house in 1860, about
a mile and a half north of Corry. The society
was reorganized in 1870, and the house of wor-
ship moved to Pike street in Corry, where the
body has since been known as the North Corry
Methodist Episcopal congregation.

The First Methodist Episcopal congregation
was organized in September, 1862. Its build-
ing was erected during the summer of 1865,
and dedicated October 27th of that j'ear.

St. Thomas Catholic congregation (Irish)
was established by Rev. Father Lonergan in
1860. A frame church building was dedicated
in September, 1862. The cornerstone of the
present structure was laid in 1872, and the
building was ready for occupancy in 1884.
Connected with the church is a large parochial
school and St. Thomas' Academy, both being
in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The
parochial school has an average attendance of
300. Rev. Thomas Lonergan, the original
pastor, is the present rector, assisted by Rev.
Patrick McGovern.

St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church (German)
was organized in April, 1875. The congre-
gation completed their building in 1876, and
it was consecrated in September of the same
year. Rev. E. Franck is the present rector.
The parochial school has an average attend-
ance of fifty-five.

The first Baptist services were held No-
vember 28, 1862. A congregation was organ-
ized October 18, 1862. The church building
was dedicated April 26, 1865. This was torn
down in 1894 and the foundation has been
laid for a larger and better structure on the
old site.

The First Presbyterian congregation was
organized January 18, 1864, and erected a

frame structure in the winter of 1865-6. The
present building was put up in 1883-4, and the
old church sold to the Hebrew congregation.

Emanuel Episcopal congregation laid the
corner-stone of their building in September,
1865. Their first services were held in a pri-
vate hall July 10, 1864. The original struc-
ture was remodeled in 1894.

A United Brethren class was organized in
1864, and a building commenced in 1865. The
site was changed in 1866, and a church erected
on the turnpike. This burned down in 1872,
and the present building was put up immedi-

The First Congregational society was or-
ganized in 1864, and purchased the building of
the Christian denomination, in which they
had worshipped for some time, in 1878. It
was enlarged and repaired in 1882.

The German Lutheran Church was dedi-
cated June 8, 1877. The congregation was
organized several years previous.

The Hebrew congregation was started some
twenty years ago, and purchased the old Pres-
byterian church in the autumn of 1883, which
is still their place of worship.

The Universalist congregation are without
a building of their own. The society was or-
ganized March 7, 1877.

A Danish Lutheran church was established
in the fall of 1890, by Rev. A. L. Benze, of
Erie. It started with eighty members. The
congregation worship in the German Lutheran


The earliest newspaper venture was by
Stebbins & Larkins, who started the Corry
City News on the 22d of October, 1863. A
half interest in this paper was purchased by
Joseph A. Pain in November, 1865. The
Petroleum Telegraph, a daily, had been start-
ed by Baldwin & Day a short time before.
This was discontinued in 1867. Under Mr.
Pain's management the office became one of
the best equipped in the country. Th.^ Daily
Iteim'zer was started in 1868, and fell into the
hands of Mr. Pain January 1, 1869, who
changed its name to the Daily Blade. This
succumbed to the hard times in 1875. Mr.
Pain continued the publication of the weekly
Telegrapk, which has been in existence ever
since. The office was burned out on election
night, 1884, but was promptly renewed. The



following fall Mr. Pain started another daily,
under the name of the Cony Leader, which
has been continuously published from that date.

The Daily Flyer was started April 3, 1885,
by W. C. Plumij, who has always been its
editor and publisher. In 1887, the Flyer
ofhce absorbed the Herald, established in No-
vember, 1867, which is still kept up as the
weekly edition of the paper.

All of the above papers are Republican in

The Saturday Democrat, a weekly journal,
the name of which indicates its politics, was
established December 1, 1890. with the Trim-
ble Bros, as publishers, and D. M. Colegrove
as editor. The paper passed into the control
of C. T. Trimble in 1891, who remains editor
and proprietor.

Among journals that have died out, after a
lingering illness, as the obituary writers say,
were the daily and weekly Reviexv, Commer-
cial Advertiser , Democratic Press, Democrat,
Daily Whetstone, Tetnperance Vindicator,
Weekly Republican, Daily Republican and


Probably no city of the same size in the
United States exceeds Corry in the number of
its secret societies. Almost every secret or-
ganization in the Union is represented, as will
be seen by the following list :

Jonathan Lodge, I. O. O. F., was insti-
tuted January 19, 1870; Corry Encampment,
of the same order, July 26, 1873.

Corry Lodge, F. & A.M., March 19, 1866:
Columbus Chapter, R. A. M., instituted at
Columbus, Warren county, May 10, 1866;
removed to Corry January 13, 1870. Clar-
ence Commandery, K. T., January 22, 1874.

Corry Union, E. A. U., May 2, 1879.

J. J." Andrews Post, G. A.R., June, 1867.

Corry Grange, P. of H., December 23,

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 88 of 192)