Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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mans and Lawrence, of Corning, New York.

All things being in readiness, work was commenced in the spring of 1886 and
it was prosecuted with vigor during the summer and fall of that year, and although
the contractors met many discouraging obstacles in the form of rock-cuts and quick-
sand, they completed their work, with the exception of laying about 1,200 feet of
iron pipe on West avenue, which was done the following spring.

After the completion of the main part of the contract, the Wellsboro Water
Company enlarged its plans and determined to extend the line several miles so as to
take in Eock run, Williams' springs, Mickel run and Morgan springs. This measure
was not necessary to a sufficient supply of water, but the extension was made to
secure an inexhaustible and never failing supply of the purest, coldest spring water
to be found in all this section of the country. This part of the work was conducted
by W. C. Kress, the company's superintendent, and was not completed before late in
the fall. The work of running the trenches for the pipe was very arduous. Grades
had to be maintained around ravines, over hills and around mountains, and for long
distances it necessitated blasting out of the solid rock. It was a great undertaking
and involved an expenditure of many thousands of dollars, but absolutely pure spring
water was the goal, to attain which the enormous outlay of time, labor and money
was not thought to be too much.

The reservoir, which covers three and a half acres and has a capacity of 17,000,-
000 gallons, is located in a natural basin on the top of Bacon Hill, south of the
borough. It is 172^ feet above the level of Main street in front of the court house,
and gives a pressure at that point of 82^ pounds to the square inch. The excavation
is made in a bed of solid clay, impervious to water, it being impossible for it to
percolate through the bottom or sides. The embankments are ninety-two feet broad
at the base and twelve feet broad at the top, and are fourteen feet high. Through
the center, from bottom to top, is a tight plank partition with puddled clay on either
side, which raises an eiiective barrier to the operation of amphibious animals and to
the cutting away of the banks by water. In the center of the reservoir is a well
seven feet deep, and the water for the borough is drawn from a point six feet below
the bottom of the reservoir. And in case of necessity caused by accident, or for
the purpose of cleaning or repairs, there is an arrangement by which all the water
can be let out of the reservoir at will.

To reach the source of supply, 64,680 feet of vitrified pipe had to be laid in
trenches having a mean depth of five feet. This is exactly twelve and one-fourth
miles. From the reservoir to the gate house, on Charleston creek, 37,500 feet
(over seven miles) of twelve-inch pipe was laid. A twelve-inch grade was main-
tained all the way, and it required a high order of engineering skill to preserve the



334 HISTOET OF TIOGA COTTNTT.

grade in the wild, rough country through which the line runs, without entailing
an ezpense that would have been a practical inhibition of the enterprise.

The natural springs from which the supply is drawn rise from the conglom-
erate formation and are inexhaustible and unfailing. During ordinary dry spells
the waters are not appreciably lower in them. Mickel run and Eock run never get
lower in the dryest season. The water runs over solid rock beds and is" cold and pure.

Provision was made against the possible contingency of roily water, by placing
a gate above the reservoir by which the water can be let off into a ravine, if
necessary.

In the borough five miles of iron water mains have been laid, running through
all the principal streets, and to these are attached forty-two way hydrants, so
located as to give protection to every section of the borough in case of fire.

The water runs by grade for twelve and one-fourth miles from Morgan
springs to the reservoir, and will run for a century without any attention or addi-
tional expense worth speaking of. The pipes are practically indestructible and
are laid deep and well and will do service for ages.

These things considered, the Wellsboro Water "Works are not surpassed
anywhere. That they are invaluable to the borough has already been proved by
the saving of property from destruction by fire, and their convenience and sanitary
advantages are becoming more generally recognized every day.

THE VTELLSBOHOtTGH ELECTEIO COMPANY.

In order to meet the demand for a better system of lighting private residences
and business houses than by oil lamps, as well as to bring the borough into a closer
touch with the progressive spirit of the day, the Wellsborough Electric Company
was incorporated April 11, 1894, with a capital stock of $7,000, since increased to
$30,000. The incorporators were Hugh Young, Leonard Harrison, Jesse M. Eob-
inson, Eobert K. Young, and H. C. Young. The organization was completed by
the election of the following oificers: Leonard Harrison, president; Eobert K.
Young, secretary; J. M. Eobinson, treasurer, and H. C. Young, superintendent.
Soon after the organization a power house was established, wires strung and electric
lights introduced into dwellings, offices and business places. In October, 1895, the
borough authorities entered into a contract with the company to light the streets
of the town. The company put additional machinery in its power house, erected
poles, etc., and January 15, 1896, the light was turned on. The streets are now
Hghted by thirty arc lights, so distributed as to diffuse the light to the best advan-
tage. The cost of each light is $80 per annum. The borough also pays for two
incandescent lamps at the rate of $30 each per annum, making a total of $2,440 a
year. About 2,000 incandescent lights are in use for lighting residences, offices
and business places. A number of business houses also use arc lights. The equip-
ment of the company is first-class and the service rendered highly satisfactory.



CHAPTEE XXII.

WELLSBOKO (CONTINUED).

The First National Bank— The Old and New Bank Buildings— The Wells-
borough National Bank— The Great Bank Robbery— The Property Taken
—Two OF the Robbers Captured— Tried, Convicted and Sent to Prison—
CosGROVE Reforms— His Visit to Judge Williams— Manufacturing and
other Enterprises— The Wellsboro op To-day.



THE First National Bank of Wellsboro was organized February 2t, 1864, char-
tered March 31, 1864, and comnienced business May 17, 1864. WilUam
Bache was chosen president in order to enable John L. Eobinson, the founder, to
act as cashier and get the bank well under way. After a service of about two years,
Mr. Bache retired and Mr. Eobinson was elected president. He was succeeded as
cashier by his son, Eugene H., who retained the position until his death in Septem-
ber, 1876, when his brother, Jesse M. Eobinson, became cashier, and filled that
position until the death of his father, John L. Eobinson, January 11, 1893, when he
was elected to succeed him as president. L. L. Bailey was chosen cashier and
served until October, 1894, when he resigned, and was succeeded by Henry C. Cox,
the present cashier. Jesse M. Eobinson died August 6, 1896, and the vacancy in the
office of president thus occasioned was filled by the election of Leonard Harrison,
the present head of the bank.

The building first occupied by the bank was the old two-story frame erected
as a store by Samuel Dickinson, and purchased by John L. Eobinson in 1834. It
stood immediately north of the family residence now occupied by Mrs. N. Azubah
Smith. It was used until 1876, and afterwards removed to the northeast corner
of Crafton and Pearl streets, and is now doing duty as a carpenter shop. It is one
of the landmarks of Wellsboro, where it has stood more than sixty years.

The new bank buildihg, a substantial and sightly two-story brick, is on the
southwest corner of Main and Crafton streets. From time to time improvements
have been made in the interior arrangements until the equipment now seems to
be complete. The funds are protected by a steel lined vault which is burglar proof,
and in the vault is a Corliss spherical safe which is absolutely burglar proof and
secured with time locks. More than $10,000 have been expended in furnishing the
bank with the very best arrangements for the security of the funds and to facilitate
the transaction of business.

The capital stock of the bank, at the time of its organization, was $50,000,
which was soon increased to $100,000. It has now a surplus fund equaling the
capital, making it one of the soundest financial institutions in northern Pennsyl-
vania. The following are the names of the present officers and directors: Leonard
Harrison, president; Waldo W. Miller, vice-president; Henry C. Cox, cashier, and
Arthur M. Eoy, Anton Hardt, George H. Derby, Leonard Harrison, Waldo W.



336 HISTOBT or TIOGA COUIfTY.

Miller, Mas Bemkopf, H. W. Williams, George M. Spalding and William Bache,
directors.

The Wellsborough National Bank was organized with a capital stock of $50,-
000 — which has all been paid in — and was opened for business November 13, 1888.
Hon. Hugh Young, its founder, served as president until January 10, 1893, when he
resigned and was succeeded by the late Henry J. Landrus, who acted until December
13, 1895, when William D. Van Horn, the present president, was elected. Mr.
Van Horn, who had filled the position of cashier from the organization, was suc-
ceeded by E. W. Gleckler, promoted from teller. The latest statement of this
bank shows it to be in a strong and healthful condition. Under able, safe and con-
servative management it has drawn to itself a large and constantly increasing busi-
ness, and ranks among the sound financial institutions of the county.

The present ofQcers and directors of the bank are as follows: W. D. Van Horn,
president; L. L. Bailey, vice-president; E. W. Gleckler, cashier; J. B. Truman,
book-keeper, and Jerome B. Niles, N. P. Maxvin, Jesse Locke, E. W. Graves,
William O'Connor, L. L. Bailey and W. D. Van Horn, directors.

THE GEBAT BANK EOBBEKT.

On the night of September 16, 1874, occurred the robbery of the First National
Bank by a band of skilled burglars. It was one of the most boldly-planned and
successfully-executed robberies in the history of the State, and certainly the most
startling and sensational criminal occurrence in the history of Wellsboro. A full
and well-written report of it appeared in the Agitator, from whose columns the fol-
lowing condensed account is taken:

The bank was located in an old-fashioned frame store building with wooden
shutters and doors, which could be entered easily by any expert burglar. It stood on
what is now the beautiful grassy lawn Ij^ing between the old John L. Eobinson home-
stead and the county record office. When inside, however, the robber found his task
hardly begun, for the vault was a very strong one, and it contained one of the
strongest and most complete safes then manufactured. The doors of the vault
and of the safe were fitted with the best combination locks. No person had slept
in the bank for many months past. The safe contained about $30,000 in currency
and convertible securities. This was a tempting bait for the gentlemen of the dark
lantern and jimmy, and how they were to secure it and get away without too much
risk was a problem which they were probably not long in solving.

There is but little doubt that for some time persons connected with the gang
had been in the borough taking observations and laying plans for their operations;
and it is still believed that the job of robbing the bank was set down for the first
week of the month, and that the parties were all in Wellsboro at that time, some of
them coming directly with teams, and part of them by public conveyance, from
Ealston, in Lycoming county. But the time then chosen was the first week of court;
the town was full of people, and the robbers probably thotight it was best to defer
operations until the first week after the adjournment of court, when there would
be no unusual number of strangers in town. It is certain that they could not have
chosen a better time.

It was Tuesday evening when two teams — one drawing a covered buggy and







^^




WELLSBOEO (CONTINUED). 337



one hitched to a platform spring wagon — ^left the livery stable of Orvis Dankd, in
Elmira, and proceeded towards Wellsboro. They reached Tioga between 1 and
3 o'clock Wednesday morning, and stopped at Parr's Hotel until about 11 o'clock
in the forenoon. At that time no persons were along but the two drivers. They
proceeded at a very leisurely pace on their journey, and reached Potter's Hotel
about 1 o'clock p. m., in ample time for dinner. They stayed there until about 6
o'clock in the evening, when they hitched up and proceeded on their way in the
direction of Wellsboro; but they must have travelled slowly, for it is quite certain
that they did not reach the borough until after the arrival of the evening train
south, on which train some of the party of robbers are believed to have come. When
the teams reached Wellsboro they were driven to the open sheds in the rear of the
Episcopal church where they were fed, and the men were posted to watch Mr.
Eobinson's house and its surroundings. About 11 o'clock, a colored man, who was
walking up Main street past Mr. Eobinson's residence, saw a man standing by a
large elm tree in front and just west of his premises. As the colored man ap-
proached, this man walked around the tree in the opposite direction, as if to avoid
notice. Prom the point where he stood the windows of John L. Eobinson's bed-room.
Judge Williams' bed-room and Eugene H. Eobinson's bed-room, could be seen.

After Mr. Eobinson's family had all retired and everything was dark and still
within the house, a little after 12 o'clock, midnight, seven men, clad in rough overalls
and blouses, and with cloth masks over their faces, and dark lanterns and revolvers
ia' their hands, entered the kitchen window on the east side of the house. Their
feet were muffled in heavy socks, and they passed without noise into the dining room.
Three of them entered the lower bed-room on the west side of the house, while two
went into the hall and up the front stairs. The first member of the family who
awakened was Mrs. Smith. She heard the stairs creak and thought her mother was
coming up stairs to call her, as she frequently did in the night when ill. Mrs. Smith
raised up in bed, facing the door which stood open at the head of the stairs, and
called, "Mother !" There was no answer; but the stairs creaked again, although
there was no sound of a footfall. Supposing then that her mother was very ill, and
that it was her father who was coming— although she wondered at his coming in the
dark— Mrs. Smith called, "Father !" There was no reply; but in an instant there
was a sound like the scratching of a match at the head of the stairs, and the light
of a dark lantern flashed into her eyes. Instantly the burglar, with a revolver in
one hand and lantern in the other, stepped toward her bed, uttering and repeating
the command, "Don't speak ! At the same time she saw the other man passing
along the upper hall toward her brother's room.

Coming close to her bedside, the burglar expressed his surprise at the presence
of Mrs. Smith, saying that he supposed she was in Corning. At the same time he
noticed the flash of her diamond rings and ordered her to take them off her fingers,
and stepping back he pulled the door nearly shut, explaining the action by saying
that if "No. 3" saw the rings he would take them. Mrs. Smith says that the thought
flashed through her mind that if she had a pistol she could shoot him then as he
turned to close the door; and there is no doubt she would have tried to do so, for
after the first shock of surprise was over she seems to have exhibited perfect self-
possession, tact, and even a spirit of defiance toward the robbers. But she was un-

22



338 HISTOKY OF TIOGA COUNTY.

armed and helpless and knew that resistance was hopeless, and she drew off her rings
and gave them to the robber who said he would save them for her, threw them under
the bed, and hastily turned back and pushed the door open. The robber assured
Mrs. Smith that they didn't intend to hurt her nor any of the family, if they would
do as directed; but that they were masters and intended to take their money. It
was in reply to a speech of this kind that she told him that they indeed had the
upper hand then, but they would not have it long for all honest people were not
dead, and God was not dead. All this had passed without awakening the servant
girl in the bed on the other side of the room; but she feigned sleep and remained
quiet.

In the meantime "No. 3," who seemed to be the leader of the party, had gone
into the cashier's room, secured his revolver which was on the bureau, waked the
sleeping man with the light of the bull's eye of his dark lantern, obliged him to get
up, and took him to his sister's room after handcuffing him.

While this was taking place above stairs the three burglars below were not idle,
and a very exciting scene was being enacted in the family bed-room. The first
person to wake up in this room was Mrs. Kobinson. Upon opening her eyes she
was dazzled by the flash of a bull's eye slowly moving before her face. Instantly
sJHe screamed, when there was a harsh command to stop or she would get a bullet
through her head. This frightened Mrs. Robinson all the more, and believing that
her husband would be murdered, she cried out to that effect, when the villain told
her that they would not be hurt; that it was not murder but robbery they were
engaged in, and that they only intended to have their money. Notwithstanding this
assurance, Mrs. Eobinson continued to bewail her fate, and made so much noise
that the third burglar in the room, who stood at the foot of the bed searching Mr.
Eobinson's clothes, ordered her guard to take her away. She was then made to get
up and, still undressed, was taken through the sitting room and hall and up the
front stairs to the room already occupied by Mrs. Smith, the servant girl, and Eugene
H. Eobinson, with their faithful attendants. As she left her own bed-room the
struggle with her husband still continued; but it was not a long one. Mr. Robinson
had raised up in bed, but a blow on the head knocked him back on the piUow, the
handcuffs were quickly adjusted on his wrists and a gag was forced into his mouth,
thus effectually quieting his shouts for help. His pantaloons were then drawn on,
and he, too, was marched up the front stairs to his daughter's room. He was blind-
folded, however, before going up stairs, so that he did not know to what room he
was taken.

While this exciting scene was taking place below stairs, the two burglars in
the second story were busy with the work of getting the two woinen up, dressed and
bound. This was not so easy a Job as it might seem. The servant girl obeyed orders
civilly enough; but Mrs. Smith was not so compliant. In the first place, she refused
to get out of bed; and it was only after considerable threatening and coaxing that
she was induced to do so. Then she refused to dress herself, and her puzzled captor
was obliged to turn himself for the time being into a lady's maid. Taking the skirts
of a dress from a hook he threw it over her head and buttoned it around her waist.
He was not without his reward, however, for he discovered her purse in the pocket of



WELLSBOEO (CONTINUED). 339



her dress and helped himself to all the money it contained — a considerable but not
definitely known sum.

The family being thus assembled in the little, low studded chamber, the
burglars proceeded with the work of binding the several members of it. The elder
Mr. Eobinson, Mrs. Smith and the girl were securely fastened to chairs by cords,
their hands being manacled behind their backs. They were all blindfolded; but
the women were not gagged, although one of the robbers assured Mrs. Smith that
he thought she deserved to be for her saucy speeches. The chairs occupied by Mrs.
Smith and the servant girl were placed back to back, and the two women were
thoroughly tied together. It was then proposed to tie Mrs. Eobinson likewise, but
Mrs. Smith strongly protested against this, asserting that it would kill her, as she
had heart disease and must be allowed to lie down. It was indeed true that Mrs.
Eobinson was suffering from a paroxysm of that complaint at the time, and her
appearance indicated the near approach of death. The robbers became convinced
of the serious nature of her attack, for they permitted her to lie down upon the bed
and from that time showed her great care and consideration. One of them asked
her daughter for brandy for her mother, and on being told there was none in the
house, expressed the opinion that she lied. He was told, however, that there was
camphor, and on being directed where to find it, one of the party was sent down
stairs and brought up the camphor bottle, the ice pitcher and a couple of goblets;
and a little diluted camphor was then given to Mrs. Eobinson by the hand of her
faithful guardian.

Matters being thus arranged within the house, the robbers proposed to Eugene
H. Eobinson that he should go to the bank and open the vault. , To this the cashier
decidedly demurred; but after considerable talk and many threats of death to him-
self and other members of the family, two of the robbers took him downstairs and
led him, blindfolded and barefoot, behind the fence before mentioned to the side
door of the bank. The key to the front door had been taken from his pocket, and
one of the robbers had entered the bank that way and then opened the side door to
let the party in. Arrived in the bank, the bandage was removed from Mr. Eobin-
son's eyes and, with his hands still manacled, he was ordered to open the vault.
Alone, unarmed, in bonds, at the small hours of the night, with no help or hope of
assistance, and with three unknoTvn felons, armed to the teeth, in the desperate
pursuit of plunder, threatening death and certain to inflict torture if their demands
were not complied with, it was evident that resistance was useless and delay, even,
dangerous. Frederick the Great said that the man who did not know what fear was
never snuffed a candle with his fingers. If he had lived in the days of masked
robbers, he might have found an illustration quite as pat in a bank officer standing
before a locked safe in the middle of the night with a trio of loaded revolvers within
a few inches of his head. Certain it is that not one man in a million could go
through that experience and truthfully say he knew no fear.

Mr. Eobinson opened the vault door and then the door of the inner safe. In
doing so he failed several times to work the combination properly, hoping against
hope that delay might bring relief from the cruel task. Then he was obliged to
stand by helpless while the robbers removed the bundles of bank billSj bonds and
other valuables. During the operation he remonstrated with the burglars when



340 HISTORY OF TIOGA COUNTY.

they appeaxed about to take some notes which could be of no use to them and
■would only inconvenience the bank, but he was silenced by the threat to again gag
and blindfold him.

The plunder being removed from the safe and packed in a tobacco tub which
stood in the bank, the proposition was made that Cashier Eobinson should be secured
by locking him in the vault. He asked his tormentors not to do that, but to shoot
him if they meant to kill him. They asked him if he supposed he could not live in
the vault, and he said he could not live in there half an hour. They then con-
eluded to return him to the house, and allowing him to lock the vault they took him
back to the chamber where three of the party had been left to guard the rest of the
family.

While the robbery of the bank was in progress the three burglars who were left
to look after the captives in the house seem to have had their hands full of business.
Mr. Eobinson was bound, gagged, blindfolded and tied to his chair, and of course
he was silent and helpless and caused them no trouble. But Mrs. Robinson was ap-
parently dying, and one of the robbers was busily engaged in administering to her
wants and quieting her fears. He said that he had a mother, and he felt very sorry
for her (Mrs. Robinson). He even wished she was in South America or anywhere
else than there, and he assured her that if her son, Eugene H., had only slept in



Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 44 of 163)