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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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gentleman, most dignified and courteous in appearance and manners.

In the northeast corner of the Wellsboro Cemetery the tombstone of these two
remarkable colored people may be seen. It bears these inscriptions: "Eben Murry,
died May 6, 1864, aged 96. Hetty, his wife, died July 4, 1868, aged 99. Colored
people sixty-four years residents of Delmar and Wellsboro, and highly respected
by all."

"Uncle Eben and Aunt Hetty" had six children, two sons and four daughters.
The eldest, a daughter, was born May 4, 1804, probably in Delmar, soon after their
parents came from Delaware. Of the six only one now survives — "Betty Murry," as
she is familiarly called. She was bom in Delmar township, in March, 1816, and
from her appearance bids fair to live as long as her parents. She was trained as a
house servant and cook by Mrs. James Lowrey, and became very proficient. She
excels as a caterer and manager at weddings and social parties, and her services
are in constant demand by the best classes. Betty was present at the wedding of
Dr. Joseph P. Morris to Sarah E., daughter of Judge Samuel W. Morris, in 1836,
and ofiiciated in the same capacity at the we'dding of their daughter, Catherine,'
many years afterwards. She is intelligent and ladylike in her manners, and is
greatly respected. She cared for her aged parents thirteen years, and when they
died she had a marble tablet erected to preserve their names and memories. Al-
though eighty-one years old she does not show her age, and is, apparently, as active
and able to pursue her calling as she was forty years ago.

James Lock, who was bom in ISTew Hampshire, May 18, 1790, came to "Wells-
boro in 1815, attracted there no doubt by the inducements held out to settlers.
At that time there were but five frame buildings in the place, the balance being
log structures of the most primitive character. Mr. Lock was a silversmith, but he
did not long pursue his trade, for there was no demand for his skill in that line.
He was a natural mechanic, however, and soon found other business. During the
building of the second court house, in 1835, he made the doors and kept the tools
of the stone cutters in order. He subsequently established a gun shop, the first of
the kind in the village, and manufactured a very excellent rifle. He was a successful
hunter and angler. On his eighty-third anniversary, and the sixtieth of his mar-
riage, the citizens of Wellsboro made him a formal call and presented him and his
estimable wife with a handsome Bible as a token of respect. Mr. Lock died March
14, 1874, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.

Benjamin" B. Smith was one of the pioneers of Wellsboro, Tioga county. He
came here from New England in 1819, and taught in the Old Academy several
years. We find him appointed a Justice of the peace in Jtme, 1833, which oifiee he
filled for a long period. In 1837 he founded the Phoenix, the second newspaper
established in Wellsboro, the history of which is given in a previous chapter. He


continued his connection with the Phoenix until 1834, when he sold his interest ia
the plant. From 1833 to 1836 he filled the office of register and recorder, was
a prominent and enterprising man, and always took an active interest in pubhc
afEairs. Pinally engaging in the mercantile business, he became one of the leading
merchants of Wellsboro. The firm of B. B. Smith & Son, which existed up to the
beginning of the war, is weE remembered by the people of the county. Mr. Smith
was married in Wellsboro to Margaret Christenot, a native of Switzerland. They
reared a family of eight children, named as follows: Ellen, deceased; George
Dwight, who was killed in the battle of South Mountain; Frances A., wife of
Edward Maynard, of Kansas; Samuel E., who died at Paola, Kansas, June 9, 1896;
Henry B., a merchant of Osawatomie, Kansas; Lydia A., wife of Jeremiah Wood,
of Tacoma, Washington; Charles B., a resident of Kansas, and Azubah K., deceased
vidfe of Bliss Chapin, of Osawatomie. Mr. Smith spent the remaining years of his
life in Wellsboro, dying October 21, 1868, in his seventy-eighth year. His widow
removed to Osawatomie, Kansas, where she died some years later. Both are kindly
remembered by a large circle of friends.

Geoegb Dwight Smith was born in Wellsboro, Tioga county, July 36, 1825,
a son of Benjamin B. and Margaret Smith. He obtained a good education, and
later joined his father as a member of the firm of B. B. Smith & Son. When the
war broke out he became active in support of the government and assisted in raising
Company I, Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. He went to the front as first lieu-
tenant of that company, but soon after was appointed assistant adjutant general of
the Second Brigade, First Division^ Ninth Army Corps. Lieutenant Smith was
killed at the battle of South Mountain September 14, 1862, and thus ended the
promising career of a gallant soldier and patriot. On February 7, 1855, he married
Miss ISr. Azubah Eobinson, daughter of the late John L. Kobinson. Mr. Smith was a
member of the Presbyterian church of Wellsboro, was an active worker in that body,
and was superintendent of the Sunday-school when he went to the front in defense
of the flag. He was an upright, progressive and enterprising citizen, and always did
his full share towards the social and material development of his native county.
His widow is also a member of the Presbyterian church and one of the most liberal
contributors towards the erection of the new church building in Wellsboro. She
is an ardent supporter of all military society movements that have for their object
the welfare of the old soldiers or their families.

The ITiCHOLS Family. — ^Archibald Nichols came to Wellsboro in 1829, from
Chenango county, New York, whither his son, Levi I., had preceded him the year
previous. Enos, another son, followed them in 1838. The father was a stout, heavy
man, while Levi was the reverse. Enos resembled his father very much in general
appearance. The mother, Mrs. Betsey Nichols, was a fine looking, well built
woman, domestic and home-loving in her tastes and disposition and much respected
by her acquaintances. There was one daughter in the family, Mary Elizabeth, who
was the youngest. She was bom in March, 1816, married William Baehe, Jr., and
died January 23, 1845. She was the second female school teacher under the com-
mon school system. Mr. Nichols and his son Levi bought timber lands on Pine
creek when they first came to Wellsboro, and soon after property in the village.
They also bought a stock of goods and opened a general store on the east comer
of Main and Grafton streets. The building in which their store was kept was burned,


and among other things destroyed was the old Eamage press on which the Phoenix
newspaper was printed. In those early times it cost something "to get goods into
Wellsboro. . Mr. Nichols used to haul all his goods from Utica by wagon, to which
place they had been brought from JSTew York City by steamboat and canal. Of
course the percentage above the selling price along the line of the Erie canal was
considerable and the people of Wellsboro had to pay a high price for their store
goods, although Mr. Nichols' prices were a great improTement on those of his pre-
decessors. Before the building of the Erie canal all mercantile goods were brought
in wagons from Philadelphia to Williamsport and then hauled over the moun-
tains to Wellsboro and sold at enormous prices. When the Academy was built, as
high as twenty-five cents a pound was paid for nails, and other things in proportion,
except lumber.

When Archibald Nichols came to Wellsboro he was only forty-three years old
and his son Levi twenty. The father and son were much alike in one respect. They
both loved amusement; but in the character of their amusement they differed very
materially. The son loved music and was a natural musician, while the father
loved the same only as it helped one to keep step in the dance. The son loved the
quiet, still hunt in the forest and the gentle tread along the trout streams near
Wellsboro. The father had little taste in that direction. In a word, Archibald
Nichols was a very genial man, a pleasant companion, and a good member of society.
He lived in Wellsboro only about nine years, dying in November, 1838, aged nearly
fifty-three. His wife died April 31, 1854, in her sixtieth year.

Ends Nichols, the youngest son, was bom May 18, 1814, and died August 12,
1844. He was a very genial, whole-souled young man, full of mirth and frolic, and
had he lived until he was fifty-three, as his father did, he would have been his very
counterpart. When he died he had a host of friends to mourn his early taking off.

Levi I. Nichols, who was the last of the original stock in the march to the
grave, was best known of the family, and was in all respects a most worthy member
of society. He was for many years one of the trustees of the Wellsboro Academy,
and generally while on the board its secretary. He was also for some time its
treasurer. He was on the common school board nearly all the time from its organiza-
tion, September 17, 1834, until about 1850, acting either as secretary or treasurer
most of this period. Mr. Nichols was appointed justice of the peace June 9, 1836.
In March, 1850, he was appointed an associate judge and served until November,

Judge Nichols was married on January 4, 1832, to Sarah J. Brown, daughter
of Thomas Brown, of Oxford, Chenango county. New York. She was bom at
Northumberland, Pennsylvania, May 1, 1814, while her parents were temporarily
residing at that place, her father being associated with Theodore Burr, the famous
bridge builder of early days, in the erection of bridges in New York and Penn-
sylvania. At the time of their marriage there was but one carriage in the Wells-
boro region, and that was owned by William Eberenz, of Delmar, who kindly loaned
it to Mr. Nichols to fetch his bride to Wellsboro. The distance was about 150 miles
and it took the young couple several days to make the journey. In 1833 they com-
menced housekeeping in a modest home erected by Mr. Nichols on the lot now occu-
pied by the residence of Judge Williams. Of thirteen children bom to them, seven
are living, viz: Mrs. Mary E. Lamb, Mrs. Henry W. Williams, Mrs. B. P. Clayton,

666 HiSTOBT or tiog4. county.

Mrs. Walter Sherwood, Enos G., Chester and Henry. Judge Nichols died in Wells-
boro, November 15, 1868, in his fifty-ninth year. His wife survived until May 7,
189G, dying at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Walter Sherwood, with whom she had
lived for the past ten years. Both were adherents of the Protestant Episcopal church.
Mrs. Nichols was a kind, charitable and benevolent woman, one of that noble band of
pioneers to whose patience, courage and industry Tioga county largely owes its
present prosperity.

Jonah Bkewstee, a son of Nathan Brewster, was bom in Connecticut, and
located in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, in the year 1813, where he became
quite prominent in political affairs. He was collector of taxes at Bridgewater, and
subsequently clerk and commissioner of Susquehanna county, and served four years
in the House and four years in the Senate. In 1839 he came to Tioga county and
embarked in merchandising at Tioga, which he continued until 1831, when he was
appointed prothonotary and register and recorder of the county. Eemoving to
Wellsboro he filled those offices for six years, and was in April, 1840, appointed
associate judge, which office he filled two terms. He also served twice as a Demo-
cratic presidential elector. In 1838 he purchased a farm in Delmar township,
upon which he died in 1858. Judge Brewster was married five times and reared a
family of eleven children, only three of whom survive, viz: George A., of Charleston
township; Alexander S., of Wellsboro, and Jonas S., a resident of New Orleans.

Chestee Kobinson was for over half a century one of the most successful and
best known merchants, lumbermen and bankers of northern Pennsylvania. Born
in Hartwick, Otsego county, New York, August 14, 1807, a son of Jesse and Abiah
Eobinson, his youth was passed in his native place, where he assisted his father in
operating a tannery. On the 6th of January, 1830, he married Lodoiska Bowen, and
in the spring of 1835 came to Wellsboro, Tioga county, Pennsylvania, and entered
into partnership with his brother, John L. Eobinson, who had purchased the store
of Samuel Dickinson the preceding year. With the passing, years the firm of C. &
J. L. Eobinson developed and enlarged the business, and carried on the most ex-
tensive mercantile trade in Tioga county up to 1863, when they gave up merchan-
dising to embark in banking. Soon after their settlement in Wellsboro they pur-
chased timber lands on Pine creek and engaged in lumbering. This branch of the
business was under the personal supervision of Chester, to whose keen foresight,
conservative management and unremitting industry was due much of the success
attained. They continued the lumber business until 1862, and the following year
abandoned merchandising and began the preliminary steps which resulted in the
founding of the First National Bank of Wellsboro in 1864, to the upbuilding of
which institution they afterwards devoted their entire attention. The larger part
of the stock was taken by the Eobinson brothers, who continued to control the bank's
policy as long as they lived. They were its guiding spirits, to whose sound judg-
ment, strict financial integrity and watchful care was principally due its success.
They were not only life-long business associates, but were also noted for their
brotherly affection and loyalty toward each other. This sympathetic relation, of
a quality above that usually implied by the fraternal tie, was marked by the
strongest proofs of mutual confidence, and continued unbroken throughout the
years of close companionship until finally severed by death. About 1880 Chester
retired from active participation in business affairs, and devoted the remaining


years of his life to the enjoyment of his home and ample fortune, though he was a
daily visitor at the bank until failing health confined him to the house. Sur-
roimded by every comfort that wealth could give, and solaced by the tender care and
affection of his children, he passed the autumn of his life in quiet peace and
happiness, dying on the 31st of December, 1890, at the ripe age of over eighty-three

Mr. Eobinson's first wife, Lodoiska, died March 16, 1843, leaving two children,
George Chester, and Juliet, the recently deceafied widow of the late M. M.
Converse, of Wellsboro. The son, George Chester, was born in Hartwiek, New
York, August 9, 1833, and died at his father^s home in "Wellsboro, September 31,
1863, while entering on a life of very bright promise. He graduated from Yale
College in 1856, where he had given proof of marked ability in composition and
oratory. On leaving Yale he studied in the 'New York Theological Seminary
until the spring of 1857", when he became pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal
Church of Brooklyn. In August, 1858, he married Miss Mary Stevens, daughter
of Dr. Abel Stevens, a prominent Methodist divine, and the following spring became
pastor of Union Chapel, Cincinnati, Ohio. A year later his health, frail from
boyhood, failed, and he went to Europe, where he spent two years in travel and
judicious study. Eeturning to Cincinnati in June, 1863, with apparently restored
health, he resumed his pastoral relations, but was soon again prostrated by his old
malady, consumption, from which he never recovered. Mr'. Eobinson was en-
dowed with a mental organization of unusual power and delicacy, and was a fine
classical scholar and thoroughly conversant with the best literature of Europe and

On the 20th of June, 1848, Chester Eobinson married Miss Mary E. Barber,
a daughter of Eobert Barber, of Columbia, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. She
was bom in Columbia, March 5, 1816, and died in "Wellsboro May 14, 1878, leaving
one daughter, Mary Barber Eobinson, who still occupies the old family home. Mrs.
Eobinson was noted for her nobility of heart and true Christian character. In
early life she united with the Methodist Episcopal church, and was ever after a
faithful and helpful member and a liberal supporter of religious and charitable en-
terprises. A friend to the poor, no one applied to her in vain, and none left her
without substantial assistance and encouragement. As a wife and mother she
was a noble example of those womanly virtues which won her the love and respect
of the community in which her entire married life was passed.

Mr. Eobinson was an exceedingly modest man, and never sought or cared for
public office, but he always took great interest in the growth and prosperity of
"Wellsboro. A Eepublican from the organization of that party, he ever manifested
a deep interest in its principles and success, and was quite active in local politics.
He possessed a kindly heart, a genial, companionable temperament, and many other
estimable qualities as a citizen and neighbor. His venerable head, whitened by
the snows of eighty-three winters, was laid low on the last day of the old year. So
closed a long and prosperous career, marked by the strictest integrity and highest
business honor.

John L. Eobinson, for nearly sixty years one of the prominent and enterpris-
ing citizens of Tioga county, was born at Hartwick, Otsego county, ISTew York,
January 6, 1813, a son of Jesse and Abiah Eobinson, pioneers of that place. He


obtained a good conmion school education and early developed those habits of
imtiring industry upon -which his subsequent successful business career was built
up to its full fruition. At the age of fourteen he began clerking in one of the
leading stores in Otego, Xew York, which vocation he continued for a few years
and then opened a store at NinevaJi, New York, where he carried on business up
to his majority. Having in the meantime accumulated a small capital, he came
to Wellsboro, Tioga county, Pennsylvania, in 1834, purchased the store of Samuel
Dickinson, and embarked in general merchandising. At that time the village con-
tained only about 500 inhabitants, while the surroimding country was very sparsely
settled and just emerging from its primitive conditions. In the spring of 1835
his brother, Chester, joined him, and the firm of C. & J. L. Eobinson came into
existence. They soon began to realize the importance of the lumber interest, and
securing timber lands engaged in lumbering. John L. attended to the financial
part of the business, while Chester gave his personal supervision to the outside oper-
ations. With characteristic energy they continued developing this great industry,
in connection with the mercantile business, until they became widely known as one
of the most substantial and reliable firms in northern Pennsylvania.

Eetiring from the lumber business in 1862, they continued merchandising for
a period, but also turned their attention to the establishment and up-building of
other enterprises. In May, 1864, John L. became the moving spirit in the organi-
zation of the First l^Tational Bank of Wellsboro, and his financial solidity and
prominence were subsequently recognized by his election as the second president of
that institution, a position he filled continuously for twenty-eight years. After
the bank was founded he took full charge and acted as cashier for a period, until the
business was in proper running order. Under his energetic, careful and judicious
guidance the First National grew in strength and popularity and won a high place
among the solid financial institutions of the State. Mr. Eobinson was a man of
commendable public spirit and gave his support to every movement which he
believed would advance the general welfare of the community. His conscientious
devotion to duty, his sterling integrity, his high standing in business circles and his
generous support of the church, won for him the confidence and respect of all

In religion, Mr. Eobinson was a member of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal
church from its organization up to the time of his death. He was one of the
founders and organizers of that congregation, and for more than half a century
a vestryman and senior warden. Josiah Emery, in his "EecoUections of Early
Life in Wellsboro," written in 1879, says: "John L. Eobinson was the most efiadent
citizen in procuring the erection of the first church ever built in Wellsboro, St.
Paul's church, now standing. In the building of the church and the building
and re-building of the rectory, no man has, I think, paid on the whole as much as
Mr. Eobinson." In early manhood he was a Democrat, later became a Whig, and
on the formation of the Eepublican party he united with that organization and
continued one of its most loyal supporters to the close of his life. He served as
treasurer of Tioga county in 1844-45, but he cared little for public office, pre-
ferring to devote his energies and talents to the development of his adopted home
and thus assist in the social and material prosperity of the county.

Mr. Eobinson was married in 1832, to Miss Azubai. Bowen, a daughter of


Hezekiah Bowen, of Hajtwick, ISTew York, to which union were born seven children,
four of whom grew to maturity, as follows: J. Fred, who' died April 28, 1885,
aged fifty-one years; N. Azubah, widow of Lieut. George Dwight Smith, killed at
the battle of South Mountain; Eugene H., who served as cashier of the First
National Bank for several years and died September 35, 1876, and Jesse M., president
of that institution from January, 1893, up to his death, August 6, 1896. Mrs.
Robinson was a zealous Episcopalian from the organization of St. Paul's church, with
which she united at that time, and died June 20, 1888. Five years later, on January
11, 1893, her husband died, and was borne to the grave in Wellsboro Cemetery,
where a substantial granite monument marks their last resting place.

Jesse Moese Eobinson, late president of the First National Bank of Wells-
boro, Tioga county, Pennsylvania, was born in that borough May 17, 1853, and died
August 6, 1896, having spent his entire life in his native town. He was the youngest
son of John L. Eobinson, inherited many of the strongest traits in his father's
character, and early developed an aptitude for business affairs not often found in
so young a man. Educated in the Wellsboro High School, the Wesleyan Seminary
and the Bryant and Stratton Business College, of New York City, he began clerking
at the age of fifteen in the general store of C. & J. L. Robinson, and later entered
a bookstore controlled by the same firm. In 1872 he became book-keeper in the
First National Bank of Wellsboro, and after the death of his brother, Eugene H.,
in September, 1876, he was promoted to the position of cashier. This office
he held until the death of his father in January, 1893, when he was elected
president of that institution. During the latter years of his father's life much of
the responsibility in the general management of the bank devolved upon him, and
upon his accession to the office of president he found very few duties with which
he was not already familiar. In general business affairs he kept pace with the
times, and conducted the business under his charge with more than ordinary
breadth and liberality. While recognized as a careful and conservative investor,
he never hesitated to follow his own Judgment when once formed, and his timely
assistajQce was appreciated by many a business man of Tioga county weighed down
by financial troubles. Under the most trying circumstances he was cool and
firm and it was seldom that he failed to untangle the most difficult financial matters.

Mr. Robinson was married October 15, 1873, to Ella Crowl, of Wellsboro, who
died February 2, 1884, leaving two sons, Eugene H., and Frank C. On April 25,
1887, he was again united in marriage, with Hattie M. Willis, eldest daughter of
Mrs. Caroline D. Willis, of Wellsboro, to which union were born two children,
Dorothy and Jesse Morse. The widow and four children reside in Wellsboro.
Mr. Robinson was a generous man and gave liberally of his means to charitable ob-
jects and business enterprises, besides giving his time and services as a director
in many business undertakings. Upon the death of his father he came into the
possession of a large estate, but this did not change his character. He was still the

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 88 of 163)