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Some Reminiscences of the Porter Road

One bright June morning, in 1912, a party bent on sightseeing drove along the Porter road near Troy, Pa. Among the party was Lyman Porter, a well preserved gentleman of 65 years.He recalled many Decedents of by gone days when his father, John Porter and his uncle, Uell Porter owned two adjoining farms.

Coming up from Troy a double row of maples show where the road originally led along the brow of the hill and joined Elmira street opposite the Stanton stock farm. In the distance a grove of hickory trees still stand. In this grove Mr Porter and his brother, George, caught grey squirrels by bending over the little saplings when they ran up in the top. The boys wore thick mittens and would catch them in their hands. They got fifty cents a piece for them.Two Troy boys, Lucian and Edward Ballard were in New York city going to school. They were sent to them and they sold them to stock Central Park.

On the old homestead is a barn built in or about 1832 in a good state of preservation.Below the row of maples there is a ledge of rocks where Rufus Baldwin quarried out grind stones to sell. Across the brook which used to be as full of trout that the boys sometimes caught them in their hands, is the Crystal Ice company's little dam of concrete. In this stream Brigham Young, of Utah fame was baptisted in the early days. In the Hunt school house which used to stand near the cemetery corner, Brigham preached. Mr Porter attended the meetings. The people in that vicinity made such a fuss he got frightened and moved very suddenly.

In those days wolves and panthers were thick. Mr Porter said he held a tallow candle to give light to sight the gun, to kill a wolf that had caught a calf.Young Lyman and his father were working in the corn field, and he told his father there was a black hog there - the father went for the gun, Lyman on guard. It proved to be a large black bear.

When they lived in the log house built in 1820, they had two doors opposite- one at each end ofthe house, and a fireplace half way across the side. They would take a horse and log chain anddraw the back log up to one door, unfasten the chain and take the horse and chain around to theother door and hook on the chain and draw the log on the fire place. The maple sugar soldfor three cents a pound.

This same young man took his best girl to a donation and he had no way to pay for their supper. He told his mother his troubles and she helped him out by sending a pound of old fashioned lick sausage. The donation was held at the home of Deacon Daniel Dobbins, at the corner of the Porter road.

The preceding is from an undated scrapbook clipping, photocopy of which is in possession of Joyce M. Tice.

We are indebted to Miss Charlotte E. Paine and to David Paine, New York, who arranged the material, for the following tales of the Troy of the fifties. The late Dr. Robert Kendall loved to tell these stories of his young manhood here and, although many changes have taken place in Troy since the stories were told and since his death, we print them just as told to the Paines that summer evening in 1917.
Here follows an account of some of the early days in Troy and the vicinity as related by Dr. R. C. Kendall, who came to Troy with his parents from Athens at the age of thirteen in 1849.
These tales were told by Dr. Kendall, sitting in grandmother Herrick’s chair on the porch at Briar Cottage, Mountain Lake, one July night in 1917.
About the year 1856 there were a number of young fellows in Troy who seemed to have been drawn together by their uncontrollable propensities for mischief. By day they worked as clerks in Ballard’s, Hayden’s and Long’s stores. By night their agile minds were turned towards plots against the sleep of the Village. What little sleep they seemed to need they got in their rooms over the various stores in which they worked. Besides Bob Kendall there were Dave Ayres, later the husband of Emma Redington, Con Holiday, Oscar Adams and his brother, Mort, George Davison, Asa Landon, Clem Paine, who later moved to Williamsport, Gid Jones and several others and what those fellows used to do to keep town awake, as Dr. Kendall says “beats my time”. Its easy to suppose he was their leader, but he declines the honor and says it was Gid Jones.
In those days Troy’s livery stable was owned and run by a man named Asa B. Moore. It was located on Centre Street, where the Troy House barn now stands. Asa was much more than a livery man for he kept a pack of hounds and had a tame fox which he had caught somewhere in the Troy hills. Tom Dove also kept a pack of hounds.
One muggy summer’s night in 1856 when the little village was peacefully asleep and no one stirring on the streets, this band of young Trojans came forth from their lodgings over the various stores and made their way to Asa Moore’s livery stable. They found an unfastened window and Gid Jones was hoisted through it. He dropped inside and quickly found the fox and led him out on his chain, by which he was fastened. Then he and his gang carried the fox to the corner of Main Street and there put him on the ground, and led him up the street to the old Ballard Exchange building, long since destroyed. This building occupied the space from Exchange Street to where the Troy House stands and at that time Hayden’s store was there, and also Dewey and Winston, who dealt in wool and hides and upstairs living apartments and law offices, Squire Kendall, the Doctor’s father, a Justice of the Peace, had his office there. On the third floor was a large ball room. There was an entrance to the building from both Main Street and Exchange Street.
Into this building and up the dark stairs and along the narrow halls, with stealthy tread, the young hopefuls led this fox. It was a damp night and the fox left a strong trail. He was taken all the way around the ball room to the top floor and then down the stairs and out the Main Street entrance. Across the street stood the old Pomeroy Block. Some one had left the door open and the little fox was soon following the tireless Gid up through its stairways to the top and down and out again. Then across Canton Street to a store building where McClelland’s store now is (1917). This building also had a ball room on its top floor and to this the fox was taken past doors on the other side of which many a tired workman slept peacefully, to Dr. Kendall’s office building. The marauders stole through here, the fox trotting sleepily behind on his chain. From there they journeyed the length of Elmira Street to the Porter Creek bridge, and back again on the other side of the street. As soon as the center of town was reached, the fox was lifted from the ground and soon he found himself back in his stable and, wondering what it was all about, went to sleep.
The boys having brought back Asa’s fox now borrowed his hounds and they were dragged out, blinking and protesting, and soon were joined by Tom Dove’s pack, which had been silently acquired by others of the party. As soon as the trail near Exchange Building was reached, the dogs were let loose. They sniffed about a bit and then their leader crossed the first scent of the fox and sent up a deep-toned bay and away he went, followed by a dozen yowling dogs.
Being somewhat weary Gid and his friends now went their several ways to bed.
Then began the greatest fox hunt of Western Bradford. Straight to the Exchange building ran the howling pack and up the stairs they rushed, filling the building with their glad cries, around the ball room, down the stairs and past the doors of all the sleeping tenants they fought each other, each eager to get the fox which must be just ahead. They dashed across the street to the Pomeroy building and were through it to the roof and out again in record time. They rushed across Canton Street and to the building opposite and yelping, howling and barking scramble up its dark stairways to the Ball Room. They circled around this on the slippery floor, falling over one another in their haste. Then down again to the street and through the narrow alley behind the stores. Their voices faded in the distance as they ran down Elmira Street. They circled at the bridge, and came flying back in full cry, hot on the scent and to the spot where the trail suddenly ended and there they stopped and, panting, wagged their tails and greeted Asa Moore and Tome Dove and half the people of the town who had tumbled out, may still in their night caps, to learn what bedlam had been let loose in their midst. Among them were Clem Paine, Bob Kendall and the other young innocents, yawning sleepily, nor more surprised than they at that night’s racket.
In those days there was a portico extending from the Ballard Exchange Building across the sidewalk and resting on posts set near the curb. O. P. Ballard, when he built it, little guessed the uses to which it would be put. This merry crew discovered that by putting a dry goods box against one of these posts and sawing across it with a resined plank a series of shrieks could be produced which would have no man, woman or child abed after the first note. This was known as the Horse Fiddle and no Stradivarius had a better sounding board that O. P. Ballard’s portico furnished. As Dr. Kendall says “The Horse Fiddle was generally laid to Dave Ayres.”
For some years before the Civil War the Methodist Church stood where the Grange Bank now stands. In recent years before the Bank was built it was used as an Opera House and in it the Troy Term of C. P. Court was held twice a year.
The Methodist clergyman for many years was Mr. Knapp. He turned to commercial affairs later in his career and bought out the old Stephens store.
On the north side of Canton Street stood an office building in which the Post Office was housed. A narrow stairway led from floor to floor and through a hatchway out to a steep roof.
One Sunday morning as the Methodist and Presbyterian and Episcopal flock went through the streets to their places of worship they were astounded to see a great lumber wagon, newly painted and taking that wagon, piece by piece, to the roof and there erecting it, none stared with more open eyed wonder than young Clem Paine, Gid Jones and Bob Kendall.
Just north of Glenwood Cemetery and down the high bank of Sugar Creek we can still se the traces of the old road to Towanda. There was no road around Long’s Pond at that time but the mill stood near the southern end of the present pond. In 1900 the present dam went out in a freshet and the timbers of the old dam just above the point which juts into the Pond could be seen.
Long’s Tavern, owned by Mayor Long, was on the high ground south of the present mill and near the present road leading to Azor Rockwells. In the upper part of this tavern were the lodge rooms of the Troy Masons. The old Masonic Tavern sign is preserved in the Masonic rooms over the new First National Bank. On the turn in the East Troy road just below the present mill stands (1917) a peculiarly shaped little building, the sides of which composed of boards laid edgewise. This house formerly stood about opposite the mill and just below the tavern. It was used by Mayor Long to house some of his men. It was never used as a Lodge Room by the Masons as some suppose.
The Eagle Tavern stood near the center of Troy and where the Pomeroy Block and the Post Office now are. There was a triangular sign on top of the old pump near the present watering trough. In the early forties the Troy boys were wont to get a town character, Squire Shattuck, on the platform atop this sign and have a speech from him. They’d take away the ladder by which he climbed up and leave him to get down as best he could.
Grandfather Clement Paine of Athens and his brother David were well known to Robert Kendall when he was a boy. Clement Paine had a fine apple orchard and around it a high fence with spikes atop it. The Athens boys, when Mr. Paine was away, would steal around and unfasten the gate to the orchard and get at the apples that way. An old man named Parry worked for Mr. Paine and he would often frighten away the marauders by donning Mr. Paine’s beaver hat, caped coat and rushing into the orchard, flourishing Mr. Paine’s historic cane.
When the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad was built in the fifties a good deal of trouble was caused by the quick sand at the cut just south of the Tin Bridge. A passenger train going through there one day was caught in a landslide and buried in the sand and mud up to the car bodies. Sasky Post was the conductor on that train and he jumped off the side of the train to find out what the trouble was. The ground looked solid, and dry but Lasky was in up to his waist in no time. It took seven or eight Irishman to put him out.
The first freight which went through from Elmira met disaster at the same point. Said Irishmen were taking a truck load of railroad ties down the grade above the station. They were accustomed to put a rail down through a hole in the floor to brake the truck but this time they forgot to leave any space for the brake. This was not discovered till they were well under way down the grade. Then they all jumped off and left the truck to go on its way unchecked. It met the freight at the cut and made a sorry sight of the handsomely decorated pilot of the engine.
FLORA – A FAITHFUL HORSE (1884 – 1915)

 Here is a story about Flora as told by F. Marshall Case of Troy, PA:

 Flora was bred on Armenia Mountain by the Morgan Family and purchased by Franklin Pierce Case (F.P.) for F.P. Case and Sons. When he was young, George F. Case, F.P.’s son and Marshall’s father, would hitch Flora to a wagon to deliver coal in and around Troy. On one winter day, George was on a delivery, shoveling coal down the chute to the customer’s cellar coal bin. The chute got clogged so George went into the cellar to move the coal from the chute. The noon whistle at the Troy Engine Machine Company blew. Flora knew it was lunchtime and took off with the wagon back to the lumber yard. George had to walk home.

Submitted by Sally Anne Case, Millheim, PA Submitted January 2005
Tombstone in Case Cemetery

Some More Tales of Troy - Clipping Not Titled or Dated:

Many residents of Troy will remember Richard Smith, a rotund and somewhat bibulous colored barber, who held forth in the spot now occupied by the Troy Lunch.  He owned a talkative parrot.  A local legend has it that while said Smith was more or less in his cups one gloomy day, the parrot launched at him a string of profane invective so virulent that Dick shut it off via choking until poor Polly was no more.  During the dark hours of the night, local wags draped the front of his shop with black cheese cloth and the lugubrious announcement:  “Poor Polly is Dead.”  When Dick arrived for work the next morning, he was greeted with a mourning barber shop.  It is said that his language was such that women fainted and strong men turned pale.  Jim Smith, a brother, operated for many years a barber shop in the Smiley location.  In addition to tonsorial accomplishment, he was versed in the ways of catering and serving.  It is said that he once floated a rose in the fingerbowl at a local affair – thinking to thus add the last word in daintiness.  The waiter mistook his thought and, in a grave and dignified manner, offered to each feminine nose the aroma of the beautiful blossom.  These brothers raised fine families here.

We have from our good friend, Hiram R. Bennett, this letter:  “I kindly remember Professor Tubbs, and also Billie Litey, both of whom, although they were over looked when brains were dealt out, and although they were the butts of the town’s humorists, yet nevertheless, were loved, I think, by all of us.
“There was never anything vicious about either of them, and I well-remember the Professor’s lectures.
“A friend of mine said to the Professor one time: ‘I note that you were caught making love to another man’s wife, and the husband chased you two miles.’ ‘Oh, no,’ said the professor, ‘it was only a half mile.’
“Someone gave him a stovepipe hat which he wore with proper dignity whenever he came down from his mysterious rendezvous in Armenia.”

The late R. F. Redington, owner of the old opera house, was particular about any possibility of a fire.  The frame structure would have burned like tinder.  After every show he instructed his assistants, at that time Dan Mason and Herm Pierce, to search carefully for lighted cigarette stubs or any other potential source of fire.  One of their jobs was to crawl though a tiny door into the space beneath the stage, there to see that all was well for the night.  There had been a production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the cast and the cash customers had departed.  Herm and Dan were going through the usual schedule and entered the blackness of the sub-stage storage.  They were quite a distance from their point of entry when, without warning, the silence was shattered by blood-curdling howls.  The bloodhounds had been quartered there for the night.  It is said that the scramble for that tiny door established a record for hasty exit.  At one time, the late Kelly Hager, great grandfather of Earl Hager, staged a patriotic spectacle in the opera house, with about half the town in the cast.  It was a cold night and some of the lighter dressed participants almost froze to death before the play ended.  The late Nora Haggerty took the part of “Liberty Lighting the World.”

It was during the days of the old opera house that “Perfesser” Tubbs, the famous lecturer from Armenia’s dizzy heights, used to emerge in Troy for speeches and his great “egg trick.”  He was short and slight.  He wore an ancient coat, green with the years and cut as the one that helped to make Charlie Chaplin famous.  Its lapel was adorned with his various “medals” – the small tin clips that used to come on plug tobacco.  In his hip pocket was a huge red bandanna handkerchief.  Different ones recall his appearances in the old opera house, on the Carpenter & Pierce company horse block and in front of the Troy Hotel, where once the late Fred Orcutt drove him up in state.  Just as Tubbs was about to begin his lecture on metaphysics, Fred slapped his horses sharply with the reins, they leaped and up the street went the “Perfesser.”  In the opera house, he was doing the egg trick at a “show” and just as the hen fruit reached the safety of his tall hat, jovial John French clamped the hat down on his head with very disastrous results.  About that time Mr. Redington appeared and stopped the show with such abruptness that Tubbs ran up West Main Street – even as a deer.  He was finally found perched in one of the trees near the present Martha Lloyd School.  While delivering a lecture on the Carpenter & Pierce horse block he called for a drink of water.  It is said that Perce Coles, at that time clerking there, passed him something of the same color but much stronger that water.  The lecture ended right then and there.  W. D. Morse, one-time attorney in Troy, once asked him what time it was when the clock struck thirteen.  Tubbs replied that it was time to fix the clock.  Not bad!  He was even a budding newspaper man.  He turned the hand press for the late A. S. Hooker, of Northern Tier Gazette fame.

During the days of Jim and Dick Smith, colored residents of Troy, they issued invitations for a ball in the Mitchell’s hall with the letters: A. A. F. O. on the corner.  Many of their white friends were included.  They were curious as to the meaning of the letters.  It transpired that they represented “Ask and Find Out.”  A colored employee of the Dick Smith barber shop was prone to use large words and one of his expressions has come down through the years:  “Your conversational capacity is too copious for my comprehension.”  Other gentlemen of color of that day included Ed Jones, a porter at the Troy Hotel.  He was possessed of a fine tenor voice and for years carried the mail on his shoulder between the postoffice and the station.  Many times he was accompanied to the “mid-night” by a group of the songfully inclined.  While waiting for the train they would do some very enjoyable harmonizing – sounds of which could be heard all along the upper reaches of Canton Street.
“Old Cato” was a colored man, employed for many years by the Alonzo Long family, at that time in the house now occupied by the Cromans.  There was a low addition and a side porch in the rear of the Long home and there “Old Cato” lived.  It is said that he was a slave in the days when slavery was legal in this state.  No mention of the colored Trojans of yesteryear would be complete without the name of Henry Harrison.  He was personal attendant and coachman for the late George O. Holcombe.  Henry was a bulky person of vast good-nature.  Speaking of Dick Smith, he had a habit of taking a drink all by himself at one end of the bar of the former Williams Hotel.  Thence came the local expression: “Taking a Dick Smith.”

Joyce - Mr. Decker was a "character around town" when I was growing up.  I think I recall him being written in for Mayor of Troy in the late '40's as a joke and he either won or nearly so.  Maybe someone can confirm my recollection.  Don Stanton
“No Fumigating Needed”

R. E. Decker of Troy, who says he’ll be “67 years young” on March 11, puffs away at the pipe “which hasn’t lost a day in five years”.  He is holding some swamp berries he was getting out for use at Christmas time.  Decker writes on the back of his picture, “52 years of good enjoyment with the old pipe and still can breathe as good as ever” ….”The boys and gals hate the smell of this old pipe.  No fumigating around where the old pipe is.”

Bradford County PA
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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 28 NOV 1997
By Joyce M. Tice
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The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933