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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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the lot and buildings owned and lately occupied by them as and for an Academy shall
be released and quit-claimed by the said Wellsboro Academy to the said school district
of Wellsboro; and tliat said deed be further attested by its execution by such of the
trustees as are still resident in the county.

Resolved, That the secretary be authorized and directed to deliver the books and
papers in his hands to the school directors of said borough for safe keeping whenever
the deed shall be delivered and the property of said Academy transferred to the said
school district.

Adjourned to meet on call of the chair.

H. ^. Williams,

It will be remembered that in 1817 the Wellsboro Academy secured from the
State an appropriation of $3,000, which was to "be placed in some productive fund
or funds, and the increase thereof applied in aid of other resources, to compensate a
teacher or teachers of said Academy." The Academy fund was also increased by some
$500, a donation from the Sons of Temperance, making in all at least $2,500. This
sum was loaned out to different parties, in larger or smaller sums, from $600 down


as low as $10. It was frequently changing hands, being paid in and re-loaned; and
yet from 1817, when the $3,000 were received from the State, to May 19, 1873, when
the Academy funds were paid over to the Wellsboro school district, not one cent was
ever lost or squandered. "All loans," Mr. Bache, the treasurer, afterwards said, "were
fully paid; nothing was lost, from the beginning down," a period of fifty-six years.
This speaks well for the administration of the fund committed to the trustees for
the benefit of the school. But this is not all. The fund, including the Sons of
Temperance fund, was increased to $3,252, and, adding the avails of the sale of the
Academy building and lot, to $3,853, which have been received from the Academy
by the school district. The transfer was a judicious act on the part of the trustees
and was generally approved by the people.

The old Academy accomplished great good in its time and did much in mould-
ing the character, both moral and intellectual, of its pupils. It exercised a strong
influence over those who passed through its portals, and was not only beneficial to
the people in whose midst it was located, but to those of the surrounding country.
The healthy influence which it wielded is plainly seen to this day in the cultured
and vigorous men and women who are now the old and the middle-aged; and all
will recur with pride to the memories of the old Academy on the hill.

In 1881 the Academy and lot were purchased by Kev. John C. McDermott and
the building was remodeled and turned into a Catholic church. It is still used by
that denomination.


The common school law of Pennsylvania, approved April 1, 1834, among other
things, provided for the election, on the third Friday in September, 1834, of school
directors in the various townships of the different counties, and that the directors
should meet in their respective townships and boroughs within ten days after their
election, and organize in the manner set forth in the provisions of the act. It was
also provided that on the first Tuesday in JSTovember, a convention composed of the
county commissioners and one delegate from each township and borough school
board should meet at the court house in each county, to decide whether or not a tax
should be levied for the maintenance and support of public schools in the several
townships and the amount of money to be thus raised, etc.

In compliance with the provisions of this law, an election was held in the
several townships and boroughs of Tioga county and school directors elected, and
their names reported to the court of quarter sessions. In Wellsboro the following
named directors were elected: Ellis M. Bodine, John P. Donaldson, Jonah Brewster,
David Caldwell, Levi I. Nichols and Josiah Emery. In casting lots for the length
of their respective terms, Messrs. Mchols and Emery drew the short term, lasting
until the next February, when they were both elected for a full term of three years.
At a meeting held in March, 1835, Mr. Bodine was elected president, and
Mr. ISTichols secretary of the board.

On Tuesday, November 5, 1834, the county convention, provided for in the
law, met in the court house in Wellsboro, and was composed of Amariah Hammond,
Chauncey Alford and George Knox, county commissioners, and the following dele-
gates from the various township school boards: Brookfield, Jonathan Bonney;


Chatham, Henry Eaton; Charleston, Cyrus Dartt; Covington township, Avery
Gille'tt; Covington borough, John Gray; Deerfield, James Knox; Farmington,
Jonathan Sorber; Jackson, Norman Wells; Lawrence, Buel Baldwin; Liberty,
John Levegood; Mansfield, William B. Mann; Middlebury, Israel P. Kinney;
Morris, Charles DufEy; Eutland, Peter Backer; Shippen, George Huyler; Sullivan,
David Hazzard; Tioga, Joseph W. Guernsey; Union, Charles 0. Spencer; Westfield,
Samuel Baker; Wellsboro, Josiah Emery. Delmar and Elkland were not repre-
sented. The former, however, was so closely identified with the interests of Wells-
boro that it might be called an integral part thereof.

The convention organized by electing those old pioneer teachers ajid friends of
education, Chauncey Alford, president, and Josiah Emery, secretary. It was a
memorable meeting, because its action was to mark the beginning of a new epoch in
the educational affairs of Tioga county. The question of levying a tax for the
support of the common schools of the county was decided in the affirmative by the
unanimous vote of the twenty township delegates and the three county commis-
sioners. Out of this number sixteen voted for raising $3,000 and seven for various
other sums. The vote, therefore, authorized $3,000 to be levied and collected.
This was the first apportionment of money made by Tioga county for the beginning
of the common schools. By comparing this sum with the amount of school tax laid
for 1895 — $88,657.30 — we are enabled to judge of the progress made in education
in sixty years.

The amount of tax laid in those days was small. One of the first levies for
school purposes was fixed at one-third of one per cent. The highest tax levied was
against Samuel Wells Morris, $6.54. He owned more real estate than any other
resident of the town. William Bache's tax then was $1.98. His brothers, John N.
and Laugher Bache, then single men, paid seventeen cents each. Several others
paid the same. Forty years afterward William Bache paid $335, and his brothers
were required to pay dollars where cents had once sufficed.

Chauncey Alford, who presided over the convention, was early identified with
the cause of education. It is a matter for regret that so little of his personal history
has been preserved. It is probable that he was a New Englander by birth and came
to Wellsboro early in the century, for it is shown that he was one of the early teachers
in the Quaker Meeting House, and in 1833 he was one of the trustees of the Academy.
That he was a man of some standing is shown by the fact that he was appointed a
justice of the peace in 1827; and during the great slave chase in the winter of 1839
he was deputy sheriff, made the arrest of the slaves and took them before Judge
Kilbum, at Lawreneeville. In 1833 he was elected county commissioner and served
a term of three y§ars. He lived for a long period in Wellsboro, and later on the
Locke farm for some time. Tradition says that he was a "clever, social, upright,
honest man."

Miss Lydia Lock was the first teacher employed under the new system in
Wellsboro, and Mary E. Nichols was the second. This was before a school house
was built. The wages these early teachers received was small compared with the
salaries of to-day. As a curiosity the following minute relating to the employment
of Miss Nichols is copied from an old school record:

WELiiSBOEO (continued). 293

Minute of agreement made with Mary E. Nichols, December 5, 1836. Said Mary E.
Nichols is to commence school December 5, 1836, and to teach twelve or sixteen weeks,
find her own room, firewood and board, for which said Mary E. N., is to receive $3.00
per week. Directors to be at the expense of stove and fitting room with benches, etc.

No elegant brick school houses existed then, fitted up in first-class style, and
equipped with all the appliances to facilitate the work of instruction. The female
teachers of to-day, surrounded with all the comforts and conveniences, have but to
carry their imagination back to that time and contemplate Mary B. Nichols in her
humble school room, laboring for $3.00 a week and "find her own room, firewood and
board," to convince themselves of the progress that has been made in threc'-score
years, and that they are peculiarly blessed that they did not live in her day and


On March 11, 1835, David Caldwell, Josiah Emery and James Kimball were
chosen a building committee, it having been agreed that the directors raise a sum of
money by subscription for building a school house. The subscription paper read
as follows, and sounds strangely when contrasted with the method of building public
school houses to-day;

We, the undersigned, promise to pay to Jonah Brewster, David Caldwell, E. M. Bo-
dine, J. E. Donaldson, L. I. Nichols and Josiah Emery, the several sums affixed to our
namies, for the purpose of erecting a school house in the borough of Wellsboro; said
house to belong to the subscribers, in the proportion of the sums subscribed, but to
be under the control of the school directors for the year to come, and to be let for the
purpose of a school, at a reasonable rate. And we hereby agree to sell to the said
borough the house after its completion, at the first cost, should the directors pass a
vote at a legal school meeting to purchase the same. The house is to be placed as near
the center of the town as circumstances will admit, to be finished as soon as convenient,
and the said sums of money payable on demand.

The school house was built of logs and served the purpose for which it was

designed, until it was forced to give way by the march of improvement. Erastus

P. Deane, who became prominent as a surveyor, was one of the first male teachers

employed. On November 30, 1835, he was engaged to teach for five months at a

salary of $16 per month. The subsequent year he was again employed. When the

new log school house was completed he was engaged, November 7, 1836, to teach

for five months at a salary of $38 per month, a great advance over the price previously

paid him; but it was stipulated in the contract that he was to board himself and

"be to the expense of firewood and chopping the same." "Good exercise," it will

be remarked by some; but to-day it would be a strange spectacle to see the male

teachers of Wellsboro engaged in chopping wood for the school house. In those

days it was the custom for the teacher and larger boys to chop the wood, which was

generally delivered in long pieces by order of the directors. As times advanced

the teacher usually "shirked" that duty by assigning the "larger boys" to perform

the chopping act. This was the practice for many years, but now it has almost

entirely disappeared, except in some of the remote rural districts, where coal cannot

be obtained, or the board of directors feel too poor to employ some one to "cut up"

and store the fuel.

While the Academy was in existence more attention was given to it than to the


village school under the comnioii school system; but when the managers of the insti-
tution "on the hill" decided to wind up the school and transfer their money and
property to the free schools, a new impetus was given the latter. The action which
led to this conclusion is set forth in the closing part of the history of the old


As early as March 7, 1860, the school district had purchased of Laugher Bache
a lot on the east corner of Pearl and JSTorris streets, and soon after erected thereon
the primary school building. During the years 1869 and 1870 proceedings were
had by which the Academy property was turned over to the school district, aad
in the fall of 1870 Prof. A. C. Winters was engaged to teach at a salary of $1,600
per year, and three assistants were also employed. This forms a striking contrast
with the salary of Mr. Deane only thirty-four years before. The schools steadily
increased. In 1871 eight teachers were employed and 477 pupils were on the rolls.
In 1873 there were 530 pupils in attendance, but the number of teachers remained
the same.

This rapid increase in the number of pupils made it apparent to the people
as well as the board of education that the time had come for enlarged facilities by
the erection of an additional building. Meetings were held in the court house to
discuss the question and speakers were emphatic in their utterances that action
should be taken. Public sentiment was speedily aroused and in accordance with
popular expression the school board purchased a lot and erected thereon a sub-
stantial building which cost, with the furnishing, $33,500. The dedication of this
btdlding, which took place August 20, 1875, was an event of no ordinary importance
for the town and called forth a large attendance. In honor of the event addresses
were made by Eev. JST. L. Edwards, James H. Bosard, Esq., Hon. Henry W. Williams,
Eev. J. P. Calkins, Hon. Stephen P. Wilson, Hon. Jerome B. Mies, Kev. Dr.
Charles Breck, and others. They all congratulated the citizens of Wellsboro on
the auspicious event, and the advancement in the cause of education.

In order to complete the historical record it must not be omitted to state that
the school board under whose administration the building was erected was con-
stituted as follows: President, John W. Bailey; treasurer, William Bache; secre-
tary, James H. Bosard; Jerome B. Potter, Hugh Young, Chester Eobinson and
Jerome B. Mies.

In 1894, in order to meet the demand for additional room, a new primary
school building, costing $13,000, was erected on the lot adjoining the High School
building on the southeast. This was a large, two-story "brick veneer" edifice,
ventilated by the Smead system, and furnished with the latest improved desks and
school apparatus. On the night of August 28, 1896, this building was destroyed
by fire. The school board immediately resolved to rebuild in accordance with the
old plans, and the new building was ready for occupancy January 1, 1897.

The borough schools are in excellent condition. They comprise two school
buildings, with twelve school rooms and twelve teachers — two males and ten
females — the average pay per month of the former being $96.78, and of the latter
$43.30. The graded schools were organized and the first principal appointed in 1870.
This position has been filled as follows: A. C. Winters, A. M., 1870-73; P. M. Edick,


1873-77; E. Francis, 1877-79; Henry E. Eaesly, A. M., 1879-90; James B. Hastings,
A. M., 1890-92; A. Frank StaufEer, A. M., 1893-96, and Daniel Fleisher, A. M.,
Ph. D., the present incumbent, who took charge in September, 1896.

The number of pupils registered in June, 1896, were as follows: Males, 353;
females, 337. Total, 689.


In 1891, during the rectorship of Eev. A. W. Snyder, an affort was made by a
few of the leading members of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church and other
citizens to establish a school for girls, with the purpose, if sufEcient support were
given the enterprise, of making it a permanent boarding school. With this end in
view, William Bache and John L. Eobinson purchased the building on Central
avenue, since known as Willow Hall, and deeded it to St. Paul's church. A school was
opened with Miss Mary H. Burrows as preceptress and was continued for two years.
The number of those who felt able to send their children, and pay tuition in addition
to their public school taxes, was too limited to make the school self-sustaining. The
burden of the financial support, therefore, fell on a few, whose liberality had already
been heavily taxed, and they declared that they could not become personally respon-
sible for a constantly recurring deficit. The school was accordingly closed, and the
building, which is still church property, is used for meetings of the guild, the sewing
society and for sociables, etc. At the present time a kindergarten school is carried
on in it by Miss May Bennett.



The Old Quaker Meeting House-St. Paul's Peotbstant Episcopal Church-
Rev. Charles Breck, the Pioneer Pastor-The Work He Accomplished-
The Presbyterian Church-Rev. J. P. Calkins' Long Pastorate-His
Semi-Centbnnial Address— First Methodist Episcopal Church — Rev
Caleb Boyer-The First Class — Church Organized — Fhist Baptist
Church— Its Organization and Later History— St. Peter's Roman Cath-
olic Church — The Free Will Baptist Church — Cemeteries— Socie-


WHEN Benjamin Wistar Morris laid out Wellsboro, in the very beginning of this
century, there was no church or organized religious denomination in this part
of the country. Mr. Morris and his wife— Mary Wells, after whom he named the
town— were members of the Society of Friends, generally known as Quakers, as were,
also, all the leading members of the land company. Eealizing the importance of
having a religious organization in his new settlement, Mr. Morris determined to
build a church. There were few people to attend it, and his wife was the first and
only female resident of the new town at that time; but if they had a church, he


argued, it would bring the surrounding settlers together occasionally, and be instru-
mental in promoting their welfare.

The church was constructed of logs, which were hewed on one side and dove-
tailed together at the corners, and stood facing the square on the rear of the lot
now occupied by the law of&ces of Sherwood & Owlett. The first buildings erected
by the early settlers were generally made of round logs, and were known as cabias.
The hewed log building belonged to what might be denominated the secondary or
advanced stage of architecture, and was regarded as a great improvement over the
cabin style, just as the modern cottage house of to-day is considered an improve-
ment over the square frame, or box house, of forty years ago, without porches or
projecting windows, halls, or any internal conveniences whatever.

The Quaker Meeting House, therefore, was the finest building in the settlement
and attracted attention from fax and near. Its exact size is not given in any of the
early records, but tradition says it was sixteen by twelve feet.

When completed there were no ministers to hold stated meetings, but Mr.
Morris, according to the custom of the Society of Friends, officiated himself occa-
sionally, or when the spirit prompted him to act. His wife was very active as a
member and did much towards keeping the church together. There was a large
settlement of Quakers at what is now known as Pennsdale, in Lycoming county.
There a log Quaker church had been built as early as 1791 or 1792, and was the
first of the kind in this part of the State. As the Morris and Ellis families had
become related by marriage, there was frequent communication between them, and
the Quakers of Mimcy valley aided the church at Wellsboro. And through the
sympathy and moral support of the latter, ministers of high standing occasionally
made the toilsome journey over the State road from Ifewberry to hold meetings at
the little log church in the wilderness.

'Twas only just a little churcli 'way out there in the pines,
Where you hear the thrushes singin' an' the blooms are on the vines;
Where the wildwood roses clustered with daisies white as snow,
An' the brown bees bent the blossoms in the days of long ago.

'Twas only just a little church, without these steeples high,
That seemed to touch the windows of the blue and bendin' sky;
No style at all about it, an' all the week so still —
With only just the bird songs an' the rattle o' the rill.

The Quaker Meeting House was often used for other than religious purposes,
for we are informed that the first meeting of the commissioners was held there
October 8, 1808, for the purpose of organizing.

After the death of the founder and his wife the Quaker church went iato
decline, and as the membership decreased it soon ceased to exist. The descendants
of Mr. Morris drifted into the Episcopal church, and other denominations soon
sprung up. The old building stood as a landmark for many years and was pointed
to with pride by the early settlers. It was still standing after 1830, but in such a
crumbling condition that it was soon afterwards torn down to make room for more
modem improvements.


ST. Paul's peotestant episcopal chukch.
This is the oldest existing religious organization in Wellsboro. According to
the records, the first Episcopal service was held in the court house, Wednesday,
August 23, 1838, by Eev. Charles Breck, then in deacon's orders, who had arrived in
Wellsboro the day before. At that time there was no church building in the borough,
the old Quaker Meeting House having either been dismantled or so far fallen into
decay that it could not be used.

It is said that the lack of religious interest at this time led a number of the
leading citizens to call a piiblic meeting to consider what was best to be done. The
Quaker church had so few followers that it had no longer an organization, and as
the population of the borough and the surrounding country was gradually increasing,
it was evident that something must be done to foster a greater religious interest. The
question was to whom they should apply for a minister. The choice was between the
Presbyterians and the Episcopalians; and as there was a sentiment in favor of the
latter on the part of the prominent citizens present, the meeting decided to try and
secure a minister of that denomination. A committee consisting of James Lowrey
and Joshua Sweet was appointed and instructed to proceed and carry out the wishes
of the meeting. Not understanding diocesian boundaries, the committee addressed
their first application to the Eev. Eichard Smith, rector of the church in Elmira.
He informed them that as their territory belonged to the diocese of Pennsylvania,
they should apply to Bishop Onderdonk, of Philadelphia, for instruction. A letter
was accordingly forwarded to the bishop, who transmitted it to Mr. Breck, then a
student in the General Theological Seminary, New York, who was so impressed
with the application that he hastened to their assistance.

On visiting the principal families of the village, after his arrival, Mr. Breck failed
to find a single communicant and he was almost discouraged. In the whole town
there were less than half a dozen professed Christians, notwithstanding one of the
best academies in northern Pennsylvania had flourished there for many years. This
seems almost incredible, and it can only be accounted for on the ground of the isola-
tion of the place and its primitive condition.

Mr. Breck saw an excellent field before him for missionary labor and he addressed
himself to the work. The second Sunday after his arrival he was met at the door of
the coTirt house by the deputy sheriff, who informed him that the authorities had
decided not to permit the building to be further used for religious meetings. This was
a surprise, but it did not discourage the young minister. He withdrew to the school
house near by and held religious services, and in that building he ofBeiated for some
time afterward, until the upper part of the Academy was prepared with a vestry room,
desks, seats and a small organ, kindly loaned for the use of the congregation by Levi
I. Nichols, who also served as organist for many years. The infant church, of course,
labored under great disadvantages from the fact that the people were nearly all
ignorant of the Episcopal liturgy and oflices; and it is probable, too, that there were
some prejudices that had to be overcome.

But the seed had been sown. On October 30, 1838, about two months after
Mr. Breck's arrival, a meeting was held at the office of James Lowrey and a parish
was organized, by the adoption of the form of charter recommended by the con-
vention of the diocese; and at the same time and place wardens and vestrymen

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 38 of 163)