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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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Company. A company store was started in June, 1887. This store, in which the
postoifice is also located, is now carried on for the W. W. Bradbury Company, by
Frank L. Beauge. The saw-mill is in charge of George Watson, outside foreman,
and the railroad station in charge of D. F. Wilcox. The public school is in charge of
James Muir, and religious services are held regularly in the school building by Eev.
E. J. Eeese, pastor of the Puritan Congregational church of Amot. The village has
a population of about three hundred.

The Bear Eun Coal Mines were opened, a short distance above the village, by
the Blossburg Coal Company, in 1888. The machinery of these mines is driven by
electricity, the ears from the drifts to the chutes being hauled by thirty-horse
power motors. The minet^ are in charge of Joseph Maxwell, mining foreman. When
operated by a full force, they have a production of 635 tons a day.



The WiLiiiAMSON Road— Peter's Camp— Borough Site and Surroundings-
Pioneer Settlers— Early Industries and Enterprises- Discovery of
Coal— Judge Knapp's Enterprises— The Arbon Coal Company— A Real
Estate Boom— The Corning and Blossburg Railroad— The Seymour House
—Sir Charles Lyell's Visit— Window Glass Manufactory— The Morris
Run Railroad— The Arnot Branch— Borough Organization and Officials
—Fire Department— The Fire of 1873— Physicians and Lawyers— Schools
—Churches and Cemeteries— Societies— Later Business Corporations-
Tee Cottage State Hospital.

IN 1792, when the party of immigrants engaged in cutting the Williamson road
from Loyalsock, in Lycoming county, to Painted Post, New York, under the
guidance of Eobert and Benjamin Patterson, reached the Tioga river, after coming
down the Bellman run valley, they established upon its bank a supply camp. Here
the women and children were left and cared for until another section of the road
had been cut and another camp established. The camp established at the point
where the road crosses the Tioga river, was named Peter's Camp, Peter being the
Christian name of the man who had charge of the bake oven. It is related that
Peter was not an over-neat individual, and that in order to reform him in this regard,
the members of the party, upon one occasion, treated him to a compulsory bath in
the Tioga river.

The site of this camp is now within the limits of Blossburg borough, the sur-
veyed area of which is nearly two miles from east to west, by two and a half from
north to south. Owing to the restricted character of the valley — the average
width at the bottom being scarcely more than a quarter of a mile — and the almost
precipitous mountain incline on either side — the actual, built-upon area — save a
somewhat less restricted space up Bellman run valley, in the southern paxt of the
borough — ^is confined to a narrow strip, nearly three miles long, which follows the
windings of the Tioga river from below the mouth of Morris run to the mouth of
East creek. Midway of this narrow strip is the business center of the borough,
the main street of which is the old Williamson road.

Within the borough limits the Tioga river receives the waters of Coal run.
Bear run and East creek from the east, and Bellman run from the west. A small
run having its source in Bloss township, flows down a ravine, back of the Horton
place, and unites with Bellman run a short distance above its mouth. The moun-
tains which line the river valley, rise to a height of over 1,800 feet above the level
of the sea. The altitude of the borough — railroad level — is 1,348 feet above tide-


Blossburg is the second largest borough in the county. In 1880 it had 2,140
inhabitants, and in 1890, 3,568.


In the year 1801 Aaron Bless, born at Killingby, Connecticut, May 29, 1775,
came to Tioga county, from Chenango county, 'New York, and settled near Coving-
ton. In 1803 — the year given by his living descendants — ^he removed to Peter's
Camp. Here, across the road from the east end of the bridge over the Tioga river,
in the southern part of the present borough, he erected a house, the site of which
is now occupied by a private residence. In this house he kept hotel until 1820, when
he built a larger one, in which he continued in the hotel business until 1835, when
he moved back to Covington, where he died March 3-1, 1843. To him, therefore,
belongs the honor of being the first settler in Blossburg. It may be said, in passing,
that this pioneer — a thorough woodsman and a noted hunter — was a man of strong,
rugged build, with the courage to dare, the patience to endure, and the shrewd
common sense to plan and execute, so frequently found in the men who formed
the advance guard of civilization a century ago.

How long Aaron Bloss remained without neighbors cannot be definitely
ascertained. The first to join him appears to have been Absaldm Kingsbury. He
came to Tioga county about 1813, made a clearing on Elk run, in Covington town-
ship, and afterwards, not earlier, probably, than 1818 or 1830, removed to Peter's
Camp. The first attempt to found a town was made in the latter year, when Aaron
Bloss changed the name of Peter's Camp to Blossburg. During the next five years
the place grew slowly. Eoyal, Isaac and Asahel Walker, nephews of Aaron Bloss,
and sons of Isaac Walker, a pioneer of Covington, were among the earliest settlers.
They were followed by Eli Dartt, Judge John H. Knapp, Gearhart Boehm, Evan
Harris, a man named Eoberts and another named Dowers, some of whom made
only a temporary stay. D. P. Freeman came in 1837; Dr. Lewis Saynisch, the first
physician, in 1831; John L. Evans, in 1837; Francis Welch, in 1839; Col. Joseph
Yonkin, Alexander H. Gaylord, James H. Gulick, Charles Finney, John James and
George Eichter in 1840.

Washington Landrus, father of the late Henry J. Landrus, of Wellsboro, and
the oldest resident of Blossburg, came in 1839. He gives the names of twelve other
persons who were here in that year. They were William Cleese, Clarendon Eath-
bone, Eli Dartt, Everett Winter Bloss, a son of Aaron Bloss, David Chatfield,
Thomas Farr, Evan Harris, Gearhart Boehm, Dr. Lewis Saynisch, Dr. Joseph P.
Morris, John L. Evans and Isaac Thomas. Joseph Hughes, also, came about this
time and settled in the northern part of the borough. Bernard Murray, a native of
Ireland, came about 1841. William Butler came in 1841, and remained until 1875,
when he removed to Sunbury, Northumberland county. Patrick Bannon, a native
of Ireland, and father of Senator Bannon, came in 1841. Benjamin E. Hall
came from Lycoming county in 1842. Thomas Morgan and Eeese W.
Thomas came about the same time. Martin Stratton, born December
23, 1807, the oldest person in the borough, also came in 1842; John Cook and
Simon Golden in 1848, and Jacob Jones in 1850. All these early settlers have passed


away, except Washington Landras, Majtin Stratton, George Richter, John Cook,
Simon Golden and Jacob Jones.


In 1793, during the construction of the Williamson road, coal was discovSred
within the present limits of Blossburg, by Robert and Benjamin Patterson. The
first effort to mine and market it, however, was made by David Clemons, a pioneer,
who settled in Covington township in 1806. He opened a mine on Bear run, not
much earUer, probably, than 1812 or 1815, and hauled an occasional load over-
land to Painted Post, New York. Aaron Bloss also opened up a mine on Bear run —
a lower vein than that opened by Clemons, and now known as the Bloss vein — ^but
only to supply local demands. These first efljorts, owing to the lack of shipping
faciUties, were on a very small and very limited scale. They led Aaron Bloss and
others, however, to ask the legislature, in 1817, for an appropriation of $10,000 —
which was refused — ^to improve the Williamson road over the mountain between
Blossburg and Williamsport, and to attempts, on the part of individual enterprise,
to widen and deepen the channel of the Tioga river, and finally to the organization
of the Tioga River ISTavigation Company.

In the meantime, Blossburg coal had not only found its way to Painted Post,
Corning and Elmira, but to Albany, where it played an important part in railroad,
canal and navigation legislation, and, also, to Philadelphia, where men of capital
and enterprise soon became interested in its development. The first man of means,
however, to become interested in Blossburg was Judge John H. Knapp, of Elmira,
New York. He came about 1835, in which year Curtis P. Stratton and Peter Kelts
built a saw-mill for him, on the river, in the southern part of the borough, near the
Eall Brook railroad bridge. In this mill — ^the first one here — Dr. Lewis Sayniseh
was afterwards interested. In 1836 Judge Knapp started the first store in the place.
He also erected iron works for the smelting of iron ore and its manufacture into
foundry and blacksmith's iron. He opened ore beds on "Barney" hill, and a coal
mine on Coal run, where both coal and iron ore were mined. Failing to secure
financial assistance promised by men of capital, and being in feeble health, he
turned over his Blossburg enterprises to Samuel Weeks, and removed to Port Madi-
son, Iowa. During the next thirty years the iron works had many owners — ^most
of whom lost money. Among the more prominent were John G. Boyd, P. P.
Cleaver, James H. Gulick and A. J. Gaylord, who devoted himself to the manu-
facture of fire brick. In December, 1864, the plant was purchased by T. J. Mooers,
who then established the foundry and machine shop still carried on by him.

In 1837 a large hotel building, known as the Knapp House, was erected west
of the river, almost opposite the hotel of Aaron Bloss, by D. P. Preeman. Although
erected under the patronage of Judge Knapp, and auspiciously opened January 1,
1838, with house-warming festivities, to which friends from far and near had been
invited, this hotel does not appear to have prospered. After being occupied as a
tenement for a number of years, it was destroyed by fire.

The first systematic attempt to determine the character and extent of the Bloss-
burg coal and iron ore beds was made in 1833, and will be found set forth in detail


in the chapter devoted to the mineral resources of the county, which deals par-
ticularly with the early mines and mining.

In 1835 Aaron Bloss moved back to Covington, Absolom Kingsbury succeeding
him as landlord of the hotel, which was afterwards kept by John L. Evans — also
an early merchant — Francis Welch, John Cochran and others. It was destroyed
by fire about 1853.

It was in 1835, also, that James E. Wilson — who became its first president —
Dr. Joseph P. Morris and others, of Philadelphia, with Dr. Lewis Saynisch, of
Blossburg, organized the Arbon Coal Company, and appointed James H. Gulick, of
'New Jersey, selling agent. Land was purchased of Aaron Bloss, including the
Bear Eun mines, and preparations made to mine coal and iron on an extensive scale,
as soon as the railroad, then projected, could be completed. John James, a native
of Pontypool, Wales — prominent iu later years in the development of the Fall
Brook coal beds — was placed in charge of the mines, and held the position under
the various owners for sixteen years.

In 1837, in anticipation of the building of the railroad from Corning to Bloss-
burg, Hon. Horatio Seymour, Hon. Amos P. Granger and Hon. Thomas Davis, of
Few York, and Hon. James Ford and C. Parkhurst, of Lawrenceville, became in-
terested in the development of Blossburg. They purchased 340 acres of land, em-
bracing the present business center of the borough, and divided it into building
lots. They also became identified with various enterprises, calculated to make the
place an important manufacturing center. Clarendon Eathbone, the first lawyer
in the village, became interested in coal and timber lands here about this time.

About 1838 a postoffice was established, the first postmaster. Dr. Joseph P.
Morris, holding the of&ce until 1842, when he removed to Mansfield. Among the
more prominent of his successors were James P. Taylor, who held the ofiice from
1860 until his death in 1874. Frank H. Stratton, the present incumbent, has held
the ofSee since March 39, 1894.

In 1840 Charles Finney started a store in a little building — thought to have
been the old Knapp store building— just north of Washington Landrus' dwelling.
He sold out to Captain Moss, who in turn sold out to John Cochran, who after-
wards sold to A. H. Gaylord and Washington Gray. In this year, also. Col. Joseph
Yonkin, who previously had a contract with the Tioga Eiver Navigation Com-
pany, built the old Washington Hotel. Some years later Colonel Yonkin built
the well-known Yonkin House, in which he kept hotel during the remainder of
his life. This house is now kept by John Boothe. About this time James Jenkinson
kept hotel in the northern part of the borough, on the site of the Hughes residence.
James Husted also kept hotel in this house for a time.

July 4, 1840, was marked by the completion of the Coming and Blossburg
railroad to Covington. Early in the following September it was completed
to Blossburg. A real estate and business boom followed. The Arbon Coal
Company began shipping coal by rail. It estabUshed a store with Dr. Joseph P.
Morris in charge, in the building now occupied by Mrs. Kelly's grocery store. It
also built a saw-mill near the mouth of East creek, in the northern part of the
borough, and made an excavation with the intention of building a large hotel, and
drawing the business of the town in that direction. The hotel was never built.'


In 1841 John G. Boyd, cashier of the bank at Towanda, and a member of the
lumber firm of Boyd & Cleaver, of Covington, built the Seymour House, in con-
nection with Samuel Cleaver. It was named in honor of Hon. Horatio Seymour,
of New York. The first landlord was Philemon Doud, who was succeeded by P. P.
Cleaver. During the more than fifty years of its existence it has had rdany landlords,
being vacant, at times, for years. The present landlord, M. S. Murray, took charge i.i
the fall of 1894. The building is owned by the "Erie" Railroad Company, and a
portion of the first story is occupied by its local ticket agent and the office of the
division supervisor.

John Gr. Boyd also became interested in the iron works and other enterprises.
His various speculations, however, seriously entangled him, and on the morning of
February 17, 1843, he committed suicide, in Philadelphia, by firing a loaded pistol
into his mouth. His death had a serious effect upon various enterprises, and upon
individuals, in Blossburg and in Covington.

In 1841 Sir Charles Lyell, the eminent English geologist, visited Blossburg
and made a very thorough examination of the coal deposits, especially of the Bear
Eun mine, then being operated by the Arbon Coal Company, of which Dr. Lewis
Saynisch was the president. After returning to England, the distinguished
scientist published a full description of the Blossburg coal deposits, noting the
similarity between them and the coal measures of South Wales.

In 1843 Benjamin R. Hall came to Blossburg, from "Block House," and for
over twenty years kept the United States Hotel, on the corner north of the present
opera house. In 1844 the Arbon Coal Company was succeeded by William M.
Mallory & Company, who operated the mines until 1857, mining and shipping
4'05,116 tons of coal. In the latter year Duncan S. Magee, as the representative
of his father, John Magee, leased the mines, and operated them until 1859, when •
the mines at Pall Brook were opened. Since then coal has been mined within the
Blossburg borough limits for local supply only, shipment by rail ceasing with the
opening of the Fall Brook mines. In 1866 the Bear Run mines, now known as
the Jones mines, were purchased from James H. Gulick, by J. M. Evans, J. M. Evans,
Jr., John Bouncer and Jacob Jones, and operated by them under the name of Evans &
Jones. They are now owned by Mr. Jones, and operated by his son, Benjamin P.
Jones. The Coal Run mines are operated by A. P. Gaylord. The Golden Brothers
and Loyd & Crooks, have opened up mines west of the river, in the southern part
of the borough. Hutchinson Brothers operate a mine west of the river, in the
northern part of the borough.

A window glass manufactory was established in 1847, in the northern part of
the borough, by William Dezang, of Geneva, New York, and glass manufactured
from sand rock. Several years later Mr. Dezang was succeeded by Webb,
Pellows & Co., who operated the factory until 18G0, when they were succeeded by
0. P. Taylor and James H. Gulick. In 1867 a co-operative company, known as
Hirsch, Ely & Co., leased the factory, operated it, and carried on a store in con-
nection therewith, until 1888, when it passed into the hands of the United Glass
Company, otherwise known as the "Glass Trust," who soon afterwards shut it

In October, 1853, the raUroad from Blossburg to Morris Run was completed,


and in 1859 the railroad from Blossburg to Pall Brook built. In 1863 the repair
shops of the Tioga Eailroad Company were removed from Corning to Blossburg,
and a new impetus given to the growth and business activity of the place. In 1866
the railroad to Amot was built and the mines opened up there. In 1868 Drake
& Taylor erected a saw-mill west of the river, near the site of the old Knapp Hotel.
This mill was destroyed by fire March 3, 1876, and was rebuilt by the Blossburg CoaJ
Company^ and run until the summer of 1895, when it was dismantled. In 1869 A.
Eumsey & Company, of Philadelphia, built a tannery, with an annual capacity of
75,000 to 100,000 sides of sole leather, on the west side of the river, in the
southern part of the borough. In 1875 they sold it to Hoyt Brothers, of New York,
who carried it on until May, 1893, when it passed into the control of the Union
Tanning Company, a member of the United States Leather Company. It gives
employment to seventy-five men, and is in charge of A. E. Botehford, superin-


Blossburg was incorporated as a borough August 39, 1871, and the first election
held September 13, 1871, resulting in the choice of the following ofacers: L. H.
Shattuck, burgess; E. S. Scofleld, A. H. Gaylord, D. H. Stratton, William 'M.
Butler, 0. F. Taylor and William MeCarron, councilmen; Erancis Welch and H.
P. Erwin, justices of the peace; Thomas Morgan, overseer of the poor; J. H.
Putnam, judge of election; William Wallace and B. A. Murray, inspectors of
election; Gr. C. Puller, E. D. Horton and J. L. Belden, auditors, and John Weaver,
Michael Ely, Henry Hollands, Jacob Jones, A. T. James and J. Phillips, school
directors. The first meeting of the council was held September 8, 1871, when
0. J. C. Horton was elected borough clerk. The names of the burgesses since elected
are as follows: A. H. Gaylord, 1873; H. Hollands, 1874; C. H. Goldsmith,
1875-76; 0. P. Taylor, 1877-78; J. Yonkin, 1879; S. Bowen, 1880-81; H. J.
Shattuck, 1883; G. W. Morgan, 1883-84-85; A. P. Gaylord, 1886; J. Aylesworth,
1887-88; W. H. McCarty, 1889; C. T. Knight, 1890; Prank D. Andrews, 1891-
93-93; A. Eichter, 1894-96, and Prank D. Andrews, elected in 1897.

The following named persons have been elected and commissioned justices of
the peace: H. P. Erwin, 1871; re-elected, 1879, 1884; Prancis Welch, 1871; E.
B. Freeman, 1876; re-elected, 1881, 1883; J. B. Denmaxk, 1876; Adam Schoop,
1888; John Cook, 1888; re-elected, 1893; D. E. Doud, 1891; Thomas H. WUliams,
1893; re-elected, 1893.


The Eagle Engine Company was organized in 1869. The officers were: A.
T. James, foreman; Joseph Maxwell, assistant foreman; Sumner P. White,
treasurer, and W. A. Shields, secretary. The Mist Hose Company was organized
at the same time, with the following officers: J. E. Belden, foreman; G. C. Miller,
assistant foreman, and J, C. Horton, secretary. This compauy was incorporated
January 31, 1887. In 1873 a reorganization of the department took place, the
Eagle Engine Company being succeeded by the Drake Engine Company. The
department, as now constituted, is composed of the Mist Hose Company and the
Andrews Hose Company, each having a good equipment of fire-fighting apparatus.




On the night of March 6, 1873, Blossburg was visited by a destructive fire,
which swept away nearly the entire business portion of the town, involving owner^
and occupants in a heavy financial loss. The district burned over extended from
Carpenter to Hannibal streets, on both sides of Main street. The buildings, being
of wood, burned quickly, and the flames spread rapidly. The loss was happily
confined to property. Though severely felt, it did not deter the owners of the
real estate from rebuilding. Substantial and sightly buildings of brick soon arose
to replace the wooden ones destroyed, greatly improving the appeaxance of the
business portion of the borough. From time to time, since then, additional brick
business buildings have been erected, each in keeping with the prevailing ideas in
architecture. The township records and many other valuable papers were either
entirely or partially destroyed in this fire, and much valuable information con-
cerning the earlier history of Blossburg obliterated, save, in so far as it has been
preserved, in the memories of the living.


Dr. Lewis Saynisch, a native of Germany, was the first physician to locate
permanently in Blossburg. He settled there in 1831, and soon after identified
himself with the development of the coal deposits, and with the early mercantile
and manufacturing interests of the place, serving for several years as president
of the Arbon Coal Company. He continued to practice his profession until his
death, in 1858. Dr. Henry Kilbourn, who located in Covington in 1828, included
Blossbxirg in the wide territory over which he practiced, residing at different times
in each place, during the more than half a century of his active professional career.
Among the later physicians were Drs. J'. P. Davison, M. L. Bacon, William Cald-
well, Nelson Ingham, Patrick Culnane, H. G. Smythe and I. N. Ingham. The
late Dr. L. W. Johnson began practice in the borough in 1883, having previously
practiced at Liberty. Dr. Charles Clarence Winsor practiced in the borough from
1885 to his death, December 3, 1889. Dr. Francis A. Birrolo came in 1895, but
subsequently removed to Trenton, ISTew Jersey, where he died January 21, 1897.
The present resident physicians are Dr. G. D. Crandall, who located in 1872, and
Dr. E. M. Haley, who came in 1890.

Clarendon Eathbone was the pioneer lawyer of Blossburg, where he located
in 1840, continuing in the active practice of his profession up to within a few
years of his death, which occurred August 26, 1882, at the age of eighty-seven
years. He was, at the time, the oldest member of the bax of Tioga county. Mr.
Eathbone appears to have had the 'field pretty much to himself for a long time.
Among the attorneys of more recent years were John C. Horton, who located in
Blossburg about 1870; Henry W. Eoland, who located in October, 1876, and
Harvey B. Leach, who came to Blossburg in September, 1886, and practiced here
until March, 1897, when he removed to Wellsboro. The bar is at present repre-
sented by Walter T. Merrick, who began practice in 1886; Charles L. Fellows,
who came from Canton, Bradford county, in ISTovember, 1896, and entered into
partnership with Mr. Merrick, and Frank Hughes, who was admitted to practice
in November, 1896, and became a partner of his preceptor, Mr. Leach.



A school building was erected about 1835, or possibly a few years later, near
the river bank, in the upper part of the borough. Among those who are said to
have taught here, were 'William AUsworth, John Jaquish, Margaret Young, Henrietta
Oray and Miss Hensler, who afterwaxds married C. Jaequemin, and who gave
private lessons in French. About the year 1839 a school building was erected
on the north side of Bear run, near the site of the inclined plane. Here David
Lewis, Margaret Young and Maria Eathbone taught. A third school building was
erected in 1843 in the northern part of the borough, near the present residence

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 81 of 163)