History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
If You Have Photos of People Mentioned on the Page, Send Them In For Inclusion
By Albert M. Loop.
Elkland township formerly embraced all the territory now included in the townships of Osceola, Farmington and Nelson. In 1849 an act of the Legislature incorporating the borough of Elkland was passed, and later the township was divided, the western part being organized under the name of Osceola, while the eastern part took the name of Nelson, and the old township of Elkland lost its identify, becoming the borough of Elkland.
It is almost impossible to ascertain the precise date of its earliest settlement, as several abortive attempts were made previous to 1800. The first dry goods store was opened in 1824, by the late John Ryon and Robert Tubbs. In 1828 Joel Parkhurst came into the township and joined them, and after a short time he bought them out and became sole proprietor.
At this time there were living in Elkland George Dorrence, David Hammond, Lemuel Davenport, Robert Tubbs, Samuel Tubbs, Benjamin Tubbs, M. W. Stull, John Hammond, Linsford Coates, Philip Taylor, David Taylor, Nathaniel Seeley, Amasa Calvin, James Daily and Thomas Rathbun, who purchased the fine farms which now present to attractive an appearance to the eye of the traveler journeying up the valley.
The principal business of the early inhabitants was lumbering, as the hills which skirt the valley were covered by a heavy growth of pine, the manufacture of which into timber and boards occupied all the time of the hardy settlers. Saw-mills run by water power were constructed at different points on the rivers, where large quantities of pine logs were sawed into boards, which at the time of the annual spring freshet were rafted in the river and floated down to Liverpool, Columbia, Marietta and Port Deposit on the Susquehanna, where a market was usually found. It was not until 1850 that the people began to turn their attention to agricultural pursuits. Since that time a steady and progressive development has been going on, until at this time the valley of the Cowanesque is one of the most fertile and beautiful in the Keystone State.
There are now in Elkland borough two hotels. The Case House, of which T. D. Case is proprietor, is located on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Main streets, and is a large and commodious structure well suited to the convenience of the traveling public, having all the modern conveniences of our metropolitan hotels. Mr. Case, the genial proprietor, is assiduous in his efforts to render his guests comfortable and happy.
Leander Culver opened the first hotel, in 1836, upon the site now occupied by the Case House, purchasing it from a man by the name of Smith, who kept for a time previous a sort of inn. In 1841 D. B. and J. W. Sheff built the old hotel, subsequently burned down, on the site of the house which is now used as a tenement house; the experiment of using it for a hotel was not a success after the death of its projector, Mr. Culver.
The Exchange Hotel is a new house, situated on the north side of Main street, and has good accommodations.
There are two dry good stores, H. Miner and R. K. Kimm proprietors; the drug store of C. C. Ward & Son, a furniture store, two feed and flour stores, a hardware store, a tannery, a furniture factory, two wagon shops, a blacksmith shop, a banking house, a shoe shop, a ladies' furnishing goods store, a meat market, a flouring mill, a saddle and harness shop, and two livery shops. There is one practicing physician, Dr. W. W. Wright. There are two lawyers, Colonel R. T. Wood and John S. Ryon; one general insurance office, one notary public and pension agent, and one real estate and broker's office. There are two churches, Methodist and Presbyterian, and a large, elegant and commodious school building, under the exclusive control of a board of directors, employing three teachers, and having seats for 250 pupils.
Colonel L. Davenport built the first flouring mill, and was for many years one of the most active and energetic business men of the place. He died in 1879, and the extensive flouring mill is now owned by Hon. J. W. Ryon of Pottsville, formerly of this borough.
The vote for borough officers at the last election was as follows:
Burgess--R. McCann, 58; J. S. Ryon, 57; Councilmen--H. Miner, 50; G. G. Dorrance, 61; W. H. Redfield, 58; O. P. Babcock, 109; T. D. Case, 58; J. S. Ryon, 47; C. D. Wakely, 6; A. J. Fillman, 53; L. B. Brown, 51; G. T. Harrower, 54; David Stull, 59; T. Coats, 55. School directors--L. K. Parkhurst, 55; R. T. Wood, 57; W. W. Wright, 59. Justice of the peace--F. G. Loveland, 98; John Newbury, 2. Constable--L. W. Fenton, 64; Linsford Coats, 50. Assessor--W. Gleason, 53; G. G. Dorrance, 57; J. W. Page, 2. Assistant assessors--J. C. Dulso, 56; G. G. Dorrance, 37; J. W. Page, 54; W. Gleason, 49. Judge of election--C. P. Evans, 51; William Potter, 63. Inspectors of election--L. C. Wood, 44; J. W. Beard, 27; William Preston, 60; D. W. Stull, 2. Auditor--R. K. Skinner, 57; T. C. Campbell, 54.
Among the very successful business men of the Cowanesque Valley, and as one who stamped upon its business interests the impress of his own irreproachable character, George Dorrance occupied a prominent position. He was born in the town of Columbia, Tolland county, Conn., on the 10th of October 1802, and was a grandson of Colonel George Dorrance, one of the heroic defenders of the Wyoming settlers at the massacre in July 1778, where he was cruelly tortured to death by the Indians and tories under the command of Butler. In the spring of 1829 our subject emigrated to Elkland, then an almost unbroken wilderness, and purchased about 60 acres of land with a small clearing, where he erected a small frame house and commenced the business of farming in true pioneer style. In August 1832 he married Susan Hammond, daughter of David Hammond, one of the earliest settlers of the place. He soon after commenced lumbering in addition to his farming business, and as the country grew older he gradually extended his operations until he became one of the most extensive lumbermen in the Cowanesque Valley. The timber was cut upon the hills in the winter season and drawn to the river, where it was manufactured into boards, and in the early spring time was rafted in the swollen stream and floated down to the Susquehanna. Mr. Dorrance continued to reside on the old homestead, and as the years rolled away a family grew up around him. He made additions to his farm until the old 60 acres had expanded into an area of 320, and in place of the old house he erected one of the palatial dimensions, which will compare favorably with any in the Cowanesque Valley. He was the father of seven children, four sons and three daughters, all of whom except one son (who died at the age of two years), with their aged mother, survived him. The second son, however, died within two weeks after the father's death.
Mr. Dorrance was well known throughout Tioga county, and in the community where he lived he was honored and respected by all. His hand as ever open to every good work, and the numerous benefactions he bestowed upon the indigent will be placed to his credit on that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made known. In 1873 he joined the Presbyterian church, but previous to that, throughout his whole life, he had been a generous contributor to the support of all charities having for their object the relief of human suffering and the spread of evangelical principles. He did no man intentional wrong, and his integrity and honesty were never questioned in the community where he spent his life.
Politically Mr. Dorrance was a Democrat of the old Jeffersonian school, and during the dark and stormy period of the Rebellion his influence was on the side of the Union. He contributed freely to the payment of bounties to volunteers and to the support of their families while they were absent in the field.
He was a good practical farmer, of liberal and advanced ideas, and the farmers of the Cowanesque will miss his example in the various improvements which have made this valley the garden of the State.
He died at his home in Elkland, on the 13th of June 1881, and his remains were deposited in the new cemetery on the hillside which his own hands had helped to beautify and adorn.
HON. BENJAMIN DORRANCE.
The subject of this sketch was the second son of George and Susan Dorrance, and was born in Elkland township, May 3rd 1836. His younger days were spent on the farm with his father, and in attending the district school and the academy taught by Samuel Price at Academy Corners in this county. At the age of 18 he entered the junior class of Alfred University, Allegany county, N.Y., where he graduated at the age of 20 years, having during the meantime taught two or three terms of public school.
At the time (1856) the Republican party had assumed such proportions as to place a presidential candidate in the field, and John C. Fremont was chosen as its standard bearer, while the Democrats had nominated James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. The campaign was a heated and spirited one, resulting in the defeat of the Republicans and the success of the Democracy. During the entire campaign Mr. Dorrance, although still in his minority, took an active part in behalf of the new party. Wherever there was a mass meeting or torch-light procession there he was always to be found, and his purse was ever open to help defray the expenses; and until the day of his death he remained true to his early convictions, although all the other members of his family were of the opposite political faith. He was afterward properly recognized for his fealty.
After the close of school years he settled at home, and for a term took charge of his father's extensive lumbering interests, making frequent trips down the river on rafts, disposing of them at the various markets and returning to assist in the farm duties during the summer. In the year 1860 or 1862 he entered into copartnership with J. G. Parkhurst and David Dunbar in the mercantile business, in the brick block on the corner of Main and Buffalo streets in the borough of Elkland, where he remained until 1872, when the firm was dissolved, and he opened a drug store in the room adjoining. He continued in this business about five years, when he sold his stock in trade to O. P. Babcock and Dr. W. W. Wright.
In the summer of 1877 he entered the political field as a candidate for the State Legislature to fill out the unexpired term of Hon. Hugh Young, who had received the appointment of U. S. bank examiner. The great contest was over the nomination, and the canvass was hot and spirited; but he was successful, and his nomination was ratified at the November election by a rousing majority. In the summer of 1878 he was a candidate for re-election for a full term of two years. On account of the favorable impression he had made as a legislator, his party conceded him the nomination by acclamation, and in November he was elected by an increased majority.
The following session of the Legislature was a lengthy and exhausting one, extending into the summer months; and just before its close he was obliged to abandon his post on account of failing health. His physicians recommended the dry and bracing climate of Colorado, as his disease was of a pulmonary character; and on the 10th of June 1879, after a week's visit at home, he bade adieu to his friends and started on a pilgrimage in search of health and a renewal of his wasting energies. For a year he wandered from place to place, sometimes on the mountain summit where the snow glistened in the summer sunshine, sometimes in the valleys where meandered the purling rivulet, and again traveling through the everglades of the sunny south, searching, still searching, for that he never found. Alone and in strange lands, among strangers and far from home, he dragged the weary hours away, vainly endeavoring to drive off the insidious disease that was gnawing at this heart strings. He spent the winter and spring of 1880 in the south, and in the early summer made his way toward home by slow and easy stages, arriving in June after a year's absence. He was greeted by his friends with the warmest affection, and those most anxious thought his health somewhat improved; but to the close observer the pallid countenance and hollow voice still indicated the quiet and stealthy workings of the canker that was so soon to snap the cords of life asunder. He spent the summer at his home, receiving the kindest of care from his brothers and sisters and his many friends; but when the leaves began to fall he again started in his search of life's elixir, this time going to Elmira and seeking treatment of those who granted an enviable fame in their profession. This also proved abortive. Science and skill were unable to cope with his disease, and on the 26th of June 1881, at his rooms in Elmira, in the early summer time, with the warm sun shining in at the open window, the Angel of Death entered, and the mortal part of Benjamin Dorrance was left but moldering clay.
In writing this brief biographical sketch of a lifelong friend we feel how futile are words to do him justice, and how vain are all our panegyrics to him who sleeps the sleep that knows no waking. We know he has not lived in vain, and his noble examples and deeds will live in memory as long as time shall last.
By strict honesty and close attention to business he had accumulated a competency at this world's goods, and in his last will he made a judicious disposition of them. He died in the prime of manhood, with honors just being bestowed upon him and a future big with promise; and yet let us believe that he had lived to a purpose, and his mission was already fulfilled according to the measure of his years.
was born in Cheshire county, N. H., on the 8th day of April 1800. His ancestors were among the early settlers of the old Granite State. After receiving his education he left home, at the early age of 17 years, coming to Loyalsock, Lycoming, Pa., where he taught at term of school in the winter season, and the next winter at Long Reach, a few miles above Williamsport. After closing his engagement with the inhabitants of that vicinity he proceeded to Painted Post, N. Y., and in the winter of 1822 he was employed at Antrim in the occupation of teaching, devoting all of his spare time to the study of medicine, which profession he consented to adopt, at the earnest solicitation of his friends. It was evident, however, that Mr. Parkhurst was not very favorably impressed with the profession which had been chosen for him, although his father and several brothers were eminent practitioners of the healing art; for in 1822, in the early springtime, he was employed by the government to go to Michigan as a surveyor. He accordingly proceeded to Buffalo, where he took passage on the second steamboat that ever navigated like Erie. A storm springing up the boat became disabled and put into Cleveland for repairs. Here he would have been compelled to remain several weeks; but the monotony of the situation was too much for his young and ardent nature, and he accordingly shouldered his baggage and walked to Steubenville, where he bought a horse and saddle for $45 and started for his home in New Hampshire, proceeding leisurely along until he reached Pittsburgh, Pa. There he stopped for a short time to inspect the coal mines and vast iron manufactories in operation at place. After recuperating a short time he renewed his journey, after many days of fatiguing equestrian exercise he reached his home in Richmond, N. H.; engaged to a merchant of that place, in the capacity of clerk, for a salary of $150 per annum, and there remained two years.
On settling with his employer he received his salary in merchandise of the value of $300. He purchased a horse and wagon on credit, and loading his effects he bade adieu to the home of his childhood and journeyed to Mansfield, Pa., where he remained for a while. In 1826 he went to Lawrenceville and formed a partnership with his brother. In 1828 the partnership was dissolved and he went up the Cowanesque River to Elkland, where he entered into copartnership with John Ryon and Robert Tubbs. This continued only a short time, when Mr. Parkhurst bought out the interests of his two partners, and, becoming sole proprietor, conducted the business alone. Here for the first time in his somewhat eventful life Mr. P. began to exhibit all those sterling qualities which, added to his great business capacity, contributed to his future success. From this time on to the breaking out of the civil war he was the leading business man of the Cowanesque Valley. During the revulsions and panics of 1836 and 1838 he moved steadily onward, and his great financial ability and active and industrious habits enabled him to successfully ride out the storm; while his philanthropic nature exhibited itself in the numerous cases of embarrassment occurring among his business friends and acquaintances, where his hand was ever ready to extend the needed aid. His business as a merchant extended over the whole county and into the border towns of Steuben county. He gave credit to all who applied where there was even a probability of their being able to render the quid pro quo. His losses from poor debts must necessarily have been numerous and heavy; but he never staggered under the load, and he continued enlarging and extending his business until the Rebellion began, when he was able in the great time of his country's need to take the county bonds issued by the commissioners of Tioga county, and furnish means for the payment of bounties to our volunteers, thus enabling us to fill our quota without trouble or delay.
In 1835 he married Miss Emeline Allen, of Cortland county, N. Y., by whom he had seven children, only one of who survives him, viz. his daughter Anna, who was married to C. L. Patterson, of Tioga county, a young man of rare business qualifications and strict integrity, who now has the entire control and management of Mr. Parkhurst's immense business.
In 1853 Mr. Parkhurst lost his wife, and subsequently he experienced a series of afflictions which would have appalled an ordinary man. In 1855 he married Martha H. Steele, daughter of the late Benjamin Harrower, of Lindley, and by her he had two children.
In 1876 he conceived the plan of erecting at his own expense a handsome and commodious school building in the borough of Elkland, at a cost of $6,000, which is devoted exclusively to the use of the district under the supervision of the board of directors. Here the children and youth of the borough enjoy all the advantages accruing from such institutions in larger towns.
Mr. Parkhurst has all his life been a member of the Presbyterian church, and has always been identified with its interests, contributing liberally to the spread of the gospel in the erection of new churches, and to the advancement of every measure having for its object the encouragement of religious culture and the improvement of mankind.
Politically Mr. Parkhurst has always been an ardent protectionist, a warm and devoted adherent of the doctrines of Henry Clay; and he may very justly be said to be the father of Republicanism in Tioga county. He was never an office seeker, however, and has persistently refused to yield to the solicitations of his party friends to become a candidate for official favor; but he has always been an earnest advocate of the principles of the party.
In the various relations of life he has shown himself to be the kind
husband and father, the obliging and courteous neighbor, the true friend
and honest man. During his long and eventful career he has never been engaged
in litigation with his neighbors, and was never known to have a suit at
law in the courts of Tioga county. Honored and respected by all his is
now enjoying a ripe old age, quietly awaiting the summons to enter into
the joy of his Lord.