Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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since passed away to the better land. Her children are fathers and mothers, grand-
fathers and grandmothers, of whom those who know them must judge.

"Mrs. Bliss, who was a sister of Eoswell Bailey, was not, when I first knew her,
a religious woman — at least not a member of any church — ^though she afterwards
became a Methodist. In bringing up her family she labored under many untoward
circumstances. Her husband was an easy, unenergetic man, but well meaning and
honest, and was anxious that his children should come up right. On Mrs. Bliss,



WELLSBOEO. 269



however, devolved the main burden of their home education. They were brought
up right under very pleasant home influences and were a united family. The eldest
daughter became the wife of Eanldn Lewis and she possessed the same kindness of
heart that characterized her excellent mother.

''Mrs. Samuel Wells Morris was the daughter of William Ellis, a Quaker, who
lived and died near Muncy. She was the mother of a large family of boys and girls,
and was originally, with the rest of the family, of the Quaker faith, but when the
Episcopal church was established in Wellsboro the family became active supporters
of that church. Mrs. Morris was more than an ordinary woman; was well edacated,
and was in all her ways and by her natural or inherited instincts a lady. She was
called somewhat aristocratic in her general carriage and associations; but that arose
more from the consciousness that her duties were at home, and that she ought not
to permit her social instincts to interfere with the higher duties she owed to her
family. And yet she was a woman who could command respect in any society
she might grace by her presence, and was, when in the society for which she was
fitted, a very social and pleasant woman. In one position she eminently excelled,
and that position was that of a domestic educator of children.

"While Judge Morris was a valuable member of society, and did much for Wells-
boro, to his wife he owed much of his leisure for outside operations, in the relief she
afEorded him from the drudgery of looking after domestic afEairs. She was said to
be a very benevolent woman, ready at all times to relieve distress. I do not place her
above most others I have named; but she had the means, and with the disposition to
act, she probably did more in the line of charitable work than many whose disposition
to relieve distress was equal to hers.

"Of Mrs. Erastus Fellows I must confess I knew comparatively little; and yet
I cannot give any reason for this lack of knowledge. We lived upwards of forty-three
years in the same village, and I met her in her home often, and yet I never fully com-
prehended her. She was the widow of Moses Johnson when she married Mr. Fellows,
and was then the mother of a son and a daughter. She was married to Mr. Fellows
previous to 1838, and had always lived in Wellsboro, most of the time as landlady of
the Fellows tavern, which was always a temperance house. I knew her principally as
the mother of two famihes of children. In her method of bringing them up she
compared favorably with any in my list. She was a woman of good sound sense, with
a mind predisposed to inquiry, and a good member of society. Her children were no
disparagement to her character as a mother and as a domestic educator.

"Mrs. Mordecai M. Jackson was a Quaker and had all the characteristics of a
Quaker lady. She was the only person in Wellsboro that I recollect was clothed in
the Quaker garb. With her it was not a boastful display of her Quakerism, but a
mere conformation to Quaker custom. To her it was as much a habit to wear drab
as it was to be good — to be clothed in Quaker dress as to be clothed in righteousness.
She was a very exemplary woman. She was not, however, of that impracticable class
who, when she saw that circumstances made a change in church relations an advan-
tage to her children, would refuse to yield to the pressure for change. I cannot say
that she became a member of the Episcopal church, but think she did. Her family
and herself at all events were attendants and active supporters of that church. I have



270 HISTOET OF TIOGA COUNTY.

no doubt, however, that had the Quaker element not died out in Wellsboro, she would
have been a Quaker until the day of her death.

"She was very much devoted to her children, and believed that the office of
mother was the highest one a woman could hold, and that it was her duty to educate
her children, in addition to their secular education, in the principles of strict Chris-
tian moraUty. In this she was seconded by her very excellent husband. They had
two sons and two daughters.

"Mrs. John Beeeher, who lived to be nearly ninety-five years old, was in many
respects a remarkable woman. She was a resident of Wellsboro when I came there
in 1838, but removed to Williamsport in 1838. She was not a religious woman while
she lived in Tioga county, but some years after settling in Williamsport she joined
the Methodist church. She was a representative woman, as a woman accounted in a
new county. On Beecher's island [in the Cowanesque], when a farmer's wife, in
Wellsboro, when the wife of a tavern keeper, when the wife of a merchant or an office-
holder, a railroad contractor or a member of the legislature — ^f or Mr. Beeeher was very
versatile in his pursuits — she was eminently 'a helpmeet' for her husband. Always
active, managing, energetic and economical, she was ever ready to second him
without question, in whatever line of business he engaged. Matters went on all right
whether he was at home or abroad. As a landlady she was a bountiful caterer for
her guests, and as a manager of the internal affairs of the house few excelled her.
In her younger days she was fond of amusement, in middle age her taste that way
had not decreased, and in her very old age her eyes brightened up whenever she
talked of 'the good old times.' She was the mother of three sons and two
daughters."

POSTOFFICE AND POSTMASTERS.

The Wellsboro postoffice was established January 1, 1808, and Samuel Wells
Morris was the first postmaster. The mail at that time was carried weekly, on horse-
back, over the State road from Williamsport. A pair of saddlebags were sufficient to
contain all the matter, with room to spare. Newspapers were few in those days, the
Lycoming Gazette being the only paper printed within a radius of a hundred miles;
and as postage was high, few letters were written. No envelopes were in use then;
letters were written on foolscap and made as long as possible, covering all the avail-
able space, leaving only room enough for the address, when the sheet was folded and
sealed with red wax or a wafer. A stamp or signet of some kind was used to press
the paper into the wax or wafer, which left an impression and gave the enclosure an
official appearance. The amount of postage was written, usually, on the upper
right hand corner of the letter, and the price was governed by the distance carried.
And it was collected at the end of the route from the party to whom it was ad-
dressed. The name of the first mail carrier has not come down to us, but in those
days the duty was generally performed by a bright, active, venturesome boy. The
route from Williamsport laid through a gloomy wilderness nearly all the way. The
log cabins of settlers were few. Panthers and wolves roamed the forest and their
howls frequently caused the mail boy to spur up his horse and dash swiftly through
the gloom.

One of the early mail carriers was John ShefEer, Jr., bom in Williamsport,
February 8, 1803. When thirteen years of age he carried the mail from Williamsport



WBLLSBOEO. 271



to Painted Post on horseback, a distance of seventy-nine miles, by the way of the
State and Williamson roads. The former started at ISTewberry and passed through
Wellsboro. It required nerve in those days to make this journey, and when the
youth of the rider is considered it is still more remarkable.

The parents of this plucky mail boy were early settlers at Liberty, or the Block
House, as it was then known, locating there in February, 1814. It is probable
that he either went by this route on going out, or on returning, as he could make
a complete circuit by doing so. The Williamson road passed through Block
House, Blossburg, Covington and Tioga. The first post office in the county was
established at the last mentioned place January 1, 1805. At Wellsboro he could
leave the State road and proceed to Covington by the East and West pike, as it was
calledj or vice versa. It is highly probable, therefore, that he made the round trip in
this way. It is fortunate that something of the history of this early mail boy has
been preserved. A sketch of his life will be found in another chapter.

Postmaster Morris did not require much of an outfit to transact the business
of his office. A small desk was sufficient, and often he could carry all the matter
he received by a single mail in his hat. During the year 1808 the statistical re-
ports show that the gross receipts were $27.06, and his compensation was $8.33.
But he served the government faithfully for four years, retiring December 31, 1813.
Since that time the succession has been as follows: Benjamin Wistar Morris,
appointed January 1, 1813; William Bache, April 10, 1833; James P. Magill, July
34, 1845; Josiah Emery, September 6, 1845; George Dwight Smith, May 18, 1849;
Alexander S. Brewster, April 36, 1853; Ira D. Eichards, December 18, 1855; Alex-
ander S. Brewster, July 20, 1860; Hugh Young, March 8, 1861; Morgan Hart,
August 39, 1866; Joseph L. Williams, January 18, 1869; George W. Merrick,
January 37, 1869; Susan E. Hart, June 14, 1882; Louis Doumaux, August 10,
1886; James L. White, February 1, 1891; Frederick K. Wright, February 1, 1895,
present incumbent.

'Squire Brewster is the only postmaster thus fax to hold the office twice; and
Mr. Bache held it for the longest period — twenty-three years, three months and
fourteen days. The term of Joseph L. Williams was the shortest — nine days.
That was during the exciting period when President Johnson was in conflict with
Congress, and postmasters were appointed by his excellency and quickly refused
confirmation by the Senate.

Eighty-eight years have passed since the first office was opened. And during
that time the most wonderful advances have been made both in postal facilities and
the amount of mail matter received and forwarded. In the beginning a weekly
mail sufficed; now it comes several times a day. The following tabular statement,
showing the gross receipts, and the compensation of the postmaster, by decades
since 1810, will afford food for reflection:

Year. Gross Beceipts. Compensation.

1808, $ 27.06, $ 8.23



1810,
1820,
1830,
1840,



31.62, 10.11

81.52, 26.76

188.55, .... 60.52

525.75, 190.86



272 HISTORY OP TIOGA COUNTY.

Year. Gross Receipts. ' Compensation.

1850, 848.42, 354.59

1860, 1,017.59, 506.67

1870 2,014.14, 945.00

1880 3,938.11, 1,450.00

1890, 5,368.08, 1,700.00

At the close of the tenth decade the receipts will probably exceed $7,000, and
the salary of the postmaster will be nearly $1,900. In 1805 there was but one post
office in the county, and in 1808 there were two. Now there are eighty-eight. What
an increase in ninety years !

OLD TIME TAVERNS AND LANDLORDS.

It is probable tliat X. Miller, an old soldier who served under Napoleon at Mos-
cow, was the first tavern keeper in and about Wellsboro. At first his house stood
outside of the original limits of the town, but the extension a few years ago took it
in. When he commenced, or how long he was engaged in the business, is not now
remembered. The second tavern keeper is supposed to have been Israel Green-
leaf, the old Eevolutionary soldier. But the location of his tavern cannot, with
certainty, be pointed out at this day. It very likely stood in the vicinity of the
public buildings.

Alpheus Cheney, the first sheriff and third county treasurer, doubtless came
next with a better house. It stood on the site of the old Robinson store and bank.
At the August term of court, 1813, Greenleaf and Cheney were both granted
licenses, for which they paid a fee of $1.15 each. Cheney sold out aiter the expi-
ration of his term as sheriff, in 1815, and soon removed from the county. Israel
Greenleaf died June 1, 1847, aged eighty-two years, consequently he must have
been about fifty years of age when he opened his tavern.

Eecords in the prothonotary's office show that Alanson Thompson was granted-
a license for Wellsboro at May term, 1816, and that he was granted a license annually
up to 1823. Joseph Fish was granted license at September term, 1816, and again
in 1818, when his name disappears.

John Beecher received license September 15, 1817, and it was renewed each
year up to 1821. His house was known as the "Cheney Tavern." Beecher was
born in Massachusetts in 1784, came to Tioga county with his parents and settled
at Beecher's Island, now Nelson borough, where he lived until he came to Wells-
boro. He became a prominent man in the community; was county treasurer in
1820, sheriff in 1824, and a member of the legislature in 1829-30. His vote in
that body was the only one cast against the resolution expressing confidence in the
United States Bank. Mr. Beecher afterwards kept a tavern in what was known as
the McClintock property, which stood on the site of the Cone House.

James Kimball, who became famous as a landlord of the olden time, was first
granted a license at May term, 1819, and was continuously in the business until
1856, or perhaps later. He commenced business in a house which stood on the site
of the Wilcox House. He sold out to Charles Seeley. This tavern was owned in
the early fifties by B. S. Sayre. Then C. L. Wilcox became the owner. In 1859
the property was purchased by William Robinson, D. H. Smith and B. B. Hoffiday,
and was kept as a hotel for ten years. In 1859 it was leased to Sol. Bunnell, who




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WELLSBOEO. 273



kept it till the spring of 1873. Then Mr. HoUiday took possession and refurnished
the house throughout, but in the fall of 1873 it was destroyed by fire.

When James Kimball sold his house to Charles Seeley, he moved across the
street to what is now known as the Sherwood corner and built a new tavern, which
he named the Pennsylvania House. There he had, as a writer puts it, "the best
well of water in town and the best liquor!" It was a popular place with the public
for many years. After the retirement of Kimball it was kept by different parties,
among whom may be mentioned L. D. Taylor. Early in 1873 B. B. HoUiday pur-
chased the property, and on the 22d of February, of that year, it was destroyed by
fire. It was never rebuilt. The site was cut up into lots, sold at assignee's sale,
and the present row of law of&ees was built on it.

Capt. Lyman Adams, who had served as the first coroner of the county, came
to "Wellsboro in 1833 and kept a tavern until 1837, when he returned to Tioga and
there died.

Dr. John B. Murphey was granted tavern license May 19, 1838, and kept a
public house, which stood on the site of the present Coles House. How long he kept
the house is unknown, but it could not have been very long, as he died a few years
afterwards.

Erastus Fellows, born in Canaan, Connecticut, in 1800, came to Wellsboro in
1837 and purchased 160 acres of land in the northern part of the town. About
1831 he opened the Fellows House, which was principally kept by him until his re-
tirement in 1870. It was a popular place in his day. The house is still kept and
is known as the Farmers' Hotel. Mr. Fellows died ISTovember 31, 1883. His
widow, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Cole, born in Otsego county, ISTew York,
August 35, 1795, died June 7, 1889, in the ninety-fifth year of her age.

The old-time tavern was a place of good cheer and social enjoyment. Whiskey
in those days cost three cents a drink, or five for a shilling; twelve for twenty-five
cents, and a long credit for three cents net, when marked down. The method of
charging was a straight mark for a drink, and a tally mark for five, with the cred-
itor's name at the top of a page. This method was adopted as a necessity, as it
would sometimes have required two or three clerks to make the charges in the reg-
ular way.

MODEEN HOTELS.

About thirty-five years ago David Hart erected a two-story frame hotel build-
ing on the north corner of Main and Queen streets. He kept it as a temperance
house, his sign of a crystal fountain being a familiar land-mark for many years.
This house burned in 1866, having had several landlords. The Dr. Otis L. Gibson
dwelling house was then moved on the site and transformed into a hotel, with
Minor Watkins as the landlord. His successor was William B. YanHorn, who in
turn was succeeded by Sol. Bunnell. The latter remodeled the building and
raised it three stories. In 1876 James S. Coles became proprietor. A year later
his brother, W. K. Coles, joined him as partner, continuing until 1883. In February,
1885, the house was destroyed by fire and was not rebuilt.

Prior to his death in 1853, Hobart Graves kept the United States House,
which occupied the site of the present Coles House. After Mr. Graves' death A.

18



274 HISTORY OP TIOGiL COUNTY.

P. Cone purchased the property. During his ownership the landlords were P. P.
Cleaver, Eeuben Farr, Nelson Austin and D. G. Bitter. The house was burned in
1866 or 1867, and the lot remained vacant until 1869, when Mr. Cone began the
erection of the largest and most substantial hotel building in Tioga county. It
was opened in 1870 as the Cone House, the first landlord being A. B. Graves. About
1873 B. B. HoUiday purchased the property, which within a year or two passed into
the possession of Joel Parkhurst, and the name of the hotel changed to the Park-
hurst House. •» From 1875 to 1883 Thomas Vesey was the landlord. He was fol-
lowed by Charles Hussey and by C. C. McClellan, each remaiuing about a year.
In February, 1885, the Bunnell House was destroyed by fire, J. S. Coles being the
landlord at the time. He immediately leased the Parkhurst House, changed its
name to the Coles House, and ran it until November, 1893, when his brother, W. E.
Coles, succeeded him as landlord and lessee of the property, which he purchased in
July, 1896. The house has since been greatly improved and thoroughly renovated.
It is well equipped and has a large patronage.

Charles Sandbach is proprietor of the house bearing his name. He was bom
in Prussia, emigrated to this country in 1850, and after living in various places
finally settled at Germania, Potter county, and opened a public house, which he con-
ducted for a short time. He removed to Wellsboro in May, 1881, and purchased
the Baldwin House, formerly the O'Connor. After thoroughly refitting and refur-
nishing it he gave it his own name, and has conducted it up to the present time.

The Wellsboro House, near the railroad station, is owned by Hon. Stephen F.
Wilson. It was built in 1872 by Joseph EiberoUe, and was first known as the
Eiberolle House.

The Wilcox House was erected about 1875 by J. C. Wheeler and C. L. Willcox
as a business block, and was occupied by a store for a few years. It was then re-
modeled and changed to a hotel, and has since had a number of landlords. The
property is now owned by C. L. Willcox. The present landlord, Frank S. Dunkle,
has conducted the hotel since November 1, 1892, and has enjoyed a prosperous
business.



CHAPTEE XYIII.

WELLSBOEO (CONTINUED).

Village Schools— The Old Academy— Its Ingorpoeation— Its Eaely and
Later History— The Building Now Used as a Church— Common School
System Adopted— First Public School Building— Later Buildings and
Teachers— Willow Hall School.



AMONG the pioneer settlers of Wellsboro were a number of men who had received
the benefits of what was then termed a "liberal education," and, as might be
expected, they took an active interest in the early establishment of good schools, in
order to insure to their children, as far as conditions and environment made it possi-
ble, advantages similar to those they themselves had enjoyed in their youth.

Soon after Benjamin Wistar Morris built the Quaker Meeting House, classes were,
taught there, it being the only building in the village suitable for that purpose. In
this rude and unpretentious structure the splendid educational system of Wellsboro
had its beginning. A few years later came the movement which led to the establish-
ment of the Academy and the employment as teachers of graduates of the best
classical colleges in the land. This spirit, which manifested itself so early in the
history of Wellsboro, has known neither waning nor relaxation, but, on the contrary,
has grown broader and stronger with the passing years. It is true that the Academy
has passed out of existence, being superceded by the common schools of the borough,
after having nobly fulfilled its mission; but the pleasant memories which cling
round its history are enduring as the rock-ribbed hills and are handed down by
ancestor to descendant as priceless legacies.

Among the early teachers in the Quaker Meeting House were Lydia Cole,
Chauncey Alford and Benjamin B. Smith. The school was supported by subscrip-
tion and the compensation of the teachers exceedingly moderate. The county, in
compliance with a law then in force, paid for the instruction of poor children, the
names of whom were required to be returned by the assessors.

THE OLD ACADEMY.

One of the early institutions of Wellsboro, around which still cling pleasant
memories, was the old Academy, which was chartered by the legislature March 35,
1817. The act provided for a grant of $2,000 "to be paid, by warrant drawn by the
governor on the state treasurer, to the trustees of the Wellsboro Academy, or a
majority of them," and that this amount "shall be placed in some productive fund or
funds, the increase whereof shall be applied in aid of the resources to compensate a
teacher or teachers in said Academy, but the money hereby granted shall not be paid
until the trustees certify to the governor that the sum of $1,000 shall have been



276 HISTORY OF TIOGA COUNTY.



secured to be paid by private subscription for erecting a suitable building and for the
benefit of the said institution." It was also provided that, "there shall be admitted
into said Academy any number of poor children, not exceeding five, who may at
any time offer, to be taught gratis, but none of said children shall continue to be
taught longer than two years."

The trustees named in the act were: Samuel W.. Morris, Alpheus Cheney, John
Norris and William Bache, of Wellsboro; Justus Dartt and Nathan Mies, Jr., of
Charleston; William D. Bacon, Eobert Tubbs, Eddy Howland, Joseph McCormick
and John Knox, on the Cowanesque; Uriah Spencer, Asa Mann, Daniel Lamb and
Ambrose Millard, on the Tioga; James Gray and Nathan Eowley, of Sullivan, and
Isaac Baker.

The first meeting of the trustees was held at the prothonotary's office in Wells-
boro, Monday, May 5, 1817. Daniel Lamb was elected temporary chairman and John
Norris secretary, and rules adopted for the government of the board. A permanent
organization was effected by the election of Samuel W. Morris, president; John
Norris, secretary, and Benjamin W. Morris, treasurer, each to hold his office for one
year. The meetings were first fixed for Monday evening of each court week, but were
afterwards changed to Tuesday.

At the meeting held July 3 and 4, 1817, the site of the Academy was fixed, and a
committee appointed to contract with Mr. Morris for the lot. It was decided to
erect a brick building, and a commitee was appointed to contract for the brick and
lumber — ^the cost of the former not to exceed $5.00 per 1,000. A committee consist-
ing of William Bache, Sr., Uriah Spencer and Samuel W. Morris was also appointed to
prepare a plan for the building and make an estimate of its probable cost. A building
committee, consisting of Justus Dartt, William Bache and John Norris, was also
appointed.

At a meeting held Tuesday, September 16, 1817, the sum of $300 was appro-
priated for the purchase of brick and lumber, and a resolution adopted that a certifi-
cate be prepared to be presented to the governor for the purpose of obtaining the
state appropriation, the requisite amount having been subscribed. The following
resolutions were also adopted:

1. That the money when obtained shall be divided into four parts and loaned for
five years upon unexceptional landed security, clear of every encumbrance; $500 in



Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 35 of 163)