Old Red Brick School
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"The School Board met on Wednesday evening. We understand they did not think it advisable to let the young men have the wooden building for the purpose of starting a gymnasium."
The Cantonian 1892
"The Canton and Troy teams met in a very one sided game of football at Troy last Saturday. The game was played at Alparon Park and resulted in a score of 12 to 0 in favor of Canton. From the moment that the Cantonians stepped from their hack on to Troy’s pavements, there wasn’t a doubt as to which side would gain the victory. The Troy team has had a ball much longer than has the Canton, but they claim has had little or no practice, all the playing done being after the rough and tumble fashion. The Canton boys were highly elated with the result and nearly every house on the road, returning, was saluted with "Who got beat? Troy, Troy, Troy."
The first school in the township was probably started by Loren Kingsbury (1801-02), although other records give Samuel Griffin as the founder of the first school, perhaps about 1803. Miss Emma Segar was the first teacher, followed by Isaac Chaapel. (It was thought that men were needed to keep order.) The pupils came from Alba, Grover and Canton. School was usually in session for two months in summer and three months in winter and this schedule continued for many years. Later on came the "Parsons" School House which was held in the loft of the old log building on upper Troy Street. The younger children sat on the outside and the older children in the center of the room.
The Red School House was located on Main Street on the site of the present day Canton Telephone Company equipment building. This was said to be a well built school, with Miss Anna Griffin as its first teacher.
Also at this time, and for several years following, there were private schools, "select" schools as they were called, usually catering to the young ladies.
The Academy was located on the site of the present day Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, upper Troy Street.
About 1853-54, the old church which had stood in front of the Main Street Cemetery was moved to the site of the present day playground on the corner of Minnequa Avenue and Union Street. (This building was moved, once again, several years later to Center Street where it became a home for several families over the years. It is presently owned by Gilberts.) This particular building was equipped with homemade desks and benches and two large woodburning stoves, one upstairs and one down. This was a township school until Canton was incorporated as a borough in 1864.
The first meeting of the school directions was held soon after the incorporation. Judson Dann was elected president and H. N. Williams, secretary. The new board members soon found themselves with a building badly in need of repairs and paint. The town was growing and the school became crowded and the need for more room was felt. The board considered enlarging the building and giving it needed repairs, but it was found that it would cost $2500 to do so, and it was finally determined that a new four room brick school would be built. This was constructed in 1869 and was first occupied in 1870. There was much opposition to this "huge" expansion for it was felt that the $9000 cost of the brick school would drive taxes so high that Canton would lose a considerable portion of its citizens. They would move away to escape the high taxes. School board members serving when this building was constructed were Oren Brown, James Davison, B. S. Dartt, John A. Hooper, E. L. Manley and H. N. Williams.
After this school was opened the teachers were paid larger salaries and the school term lengthened to eight or nine months. Summer school was discontinued. In the days prior to this the teacher had received a salary of $10.50 per month for summer school and $31.00 per month for winter school. We could not help but note that the male teacher, John Hazelton, received the $31 and the female, Agusta Wilcox only $16, supposedly the difference being due to the fact that Mr. Hazelton had to "board himself", while Miss Wilcox boarded among the parents of the school children, a common practice for many years.
Discipline was strict, the ruler was liberally applied to the extended palm and the male teachers carried a hickory rod which they made use of frequently. Children were also punished by being made to sit with a member of the opposite sex – the boys and girls being separated in the classroom. (Some of our readers may recall that a favorite punishment of the late Nelle Black Westgate was to enjoin the obstreperous boys of her fifth grade classes to come sit on her lap. If they were going to act as babies, she was fond of saying, they would be treated as such.)
The "Brick School" graduated its first class in 1873 under Principal Harry C. Moyer. They included James Parsons, Julia Spalding and Mary Spalding.
After undergoing numerous changes over the years, the building became obsolete and was torn down in 1959. Gone were the pleasant smells of chalk dust and oiled floors – gone the old pump organ and the "black-strap" and a blacktop playground is all that is left.
It was only 1876 when it became apparent that the school was, again, overcrowded. There was some agitation to double the size of the building, but this was not done and a two-story wooden building was erected across the street and several classes attended school there. In 1892 the brick building was finally remodeled. (It is interesting to learn that at this time when a child entered school he was placed in A Primary or B Primary, depending on his background or experience. They remained in these rooms until the teachers felt they were ready for Grade 1. They could be promoted anytime during the school year. This old method bears a resemblance to an ungraded school system)
It was in 1916 that the two story wooden building housing additional students was razed and the new high school arose in its place. Yellow brick and containing many modern innovations such as hot air heating systems, auditorium, telephones and an aquarium, it "surpassed all expectations", according to Principal Everett A. Quackenbush. The first class graduated in 1916. An additional wing was added in 1924, graduating its first class in 1925. What was, in 1925, a most modern and progressive building, is now the Canton Area Intermediate School, housing 5th and 6th grades, and is scheduled for abandonment on orders of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
The Canton World 1893
"There will be a decided change in school affairs at the opening of the fall term. A bill providing for free textbooks has passed both houses of the Legislature and lacks only the Governor’s signature to become a law."
The Canton Sentinel 1880
"School opened on Monday of this week. There are some 56 in the high school and 65 in the primary department. Twenty-five non-resident pupils are in attendance. All the departments are crowded, the two above mentioned particularly and the teachers are taxed to their utmost. The only way to reduce each school to such a number that the teachers may work to advantage is to use the school room in the second story of the new building which would necessitate the hiring of another teacher."
Increased enrollment resulted in consolidation of the school system and on July 1, 1950 the Tri-County joint School District was organized. In August of 1954 a new high school building was erected on land near the old athletic field, and the first class graduated in 1955. In 1958-59, several classrooms and an auditorium, named in memory of Nelle Black Westgate, were constructed and the new building and addition was capable of accommodating 800 pupils.
It was in 1971 that a newly constructed elementary school, housing grades K-4 was opened. Built at a cost of $2,143,500, it is known as the "round school." An addition is now planned for this building in order to accommodate the fifth and sixth grades and construction should begin in 1976.
Roger Keagle, former Canton resident, has written us that there were no formal graduation exercises between 1873 and 1878. The pupils did the required work and received their certificates, without any ceremony. In 1879 the graduation exercises were held and have continued to be held each year, with the exception of 1894. In that year the course was lengthened to four years in high school and thus the class of 1894 graduated in 1895, and consisted of two boys.
Says Mr. Keagle, "If we assume the Class of 1891 was the 14th class to have commencement exercises and do not count 1894 when no commencement was held, the Class of 1939 should be the 61st and not the 65th, as it states on their programs." This would make the Class of ’76 the 98th graduating class, not the 102nd.
It would be impossible, when writing of Canton, to ignore the contribution made to the area by the entertainment business. Though a rather isolated, country town the population of less than 2,000 was given the best the theater had to offer and, in turn, often supplied its own best entertainment.
The oldest records frequently mention the singing school. These were usually held at the home of some interested participant and in some cases singing schools were conducted by qualified teachers. Hollis Dann, considered to be the father of public school music, and a Canton lad, at one time held singing schools in this locality.
Lecturers were often secured by various civic organizations or churches and these visits by fairly well educated and well traveled individuals were generally well attended. We have found notices of coming events which included lectures pertaining to foreign countries, concerts by blind musicians, vocal soloists, and many others. The charge was usually ten of fifteen cents for the evening and Cantonians were always a good audience.
Canton at one time even boasted a circus of its own. Mr. Robert Elliott tells us that Charles Lee first appeared in Canton with his circus at the close of the season of 1888. Mr. Lee was a native of Hughesville and was a Civil War veteran, having served as a drummer boy in a Pennsylvania volunteer regiment. He was married to a Sullivan County girl named Elnora Rogers. She was also fond of a big boa constrictor on which she showered her care and affection. In the winter months she kept the boa wrapped in woolen blankets in a box at the back of the kitchen stove. She saw that it was properly fed and in the spring when the days were warm, she would take it outdoors in the sun and bathe and oil the skin so that when it was displayed the skin shown.
Mr. Lee and a Mr. Scribner formed a partnership and went on the road with a wagon show known as "Lee and Scribner Circus." At the end of the 1888 season they decided to dissolve this partnership and Mr. Lee started from Horseheads to Hughesville, by way of Canton, with his portion of the circus. He stopped in Canton and was so impressed with the hospitality of the citizens that, upon viewing the town he bought a brick house at 53 Lycoming Street. This was complete with a large barn in the rear, and was formerly owned by Dr. James Bullock. The barn was used for storage and as a repair shop, with the animals being housed at other locations. Mr. Lee was a very meticulous man in his appearance wand was also very meticulous with his equipment and animals.
Mr. Elliot continued his narrative by telling us that during the first winter Mr. Lee formed a troupe and named it "Signor Locardo American Premier Magicians." Following a winter tour he arrived back in Canton in early spring in time to assemble "Charles Lee Great London Shows." This was considered one of the better "mud shows" of its day.
His advance man, along with some Canton boys, went ahead in an elaborately decorated conveyance that not only housed the posters and paste, but also served as the living quarters for the men.
The Charles Lee Great London Show gave its first exhibition in Canton in April of 1889. He employed many men and boys from Canton for teamsters, roustabouts, musicians, cooks, advance me, etc.
Following that year’s tour he arrived in Canton with approximately 130 head of horses, a diversified collection of animals, many wagons and cages and was in need of more land and buildings. He purchased the property just east of town which is now owned by Mr. And Mrs. Martin Shaffer. Mr. Lee remodeled the house and built several other buildings, including a large ring barn where he trained horses and other animals. He also installed overhead rigging for training performers. The ring barn was a casualty of the P.B. & E. Railroad, it was on their right of way and was torn down. The house and some of the barns are still in existence today.
Charles Siegrist was the adopted son of Charles Lee. Born in Oregon he had met Mr. Lee in New York State and had so impressed him with his agility that he had hired him and began training him as a circus performer. He attended school in Canton and was eventually adopted by the Lees. Billed as "The Boy Wonder Bareback Rider". Mr. Siegrist continued his career in the circus almost until the day he died in 1953. During that period he performed as a top flight rider, trick tumbler, flyer and all round performer. In January of 1966 he was inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame at Sarasota, Florida.
Mr. Lee suffered a stroke in the late 1800’s and this ended the circus in Canton. Mr. And Mrs. Lee and Charlie Siegrist are all buried in Canton and for many years, whenever the circus stopped in Canton, a Memorial Service was held by the performers at their gravesite.
The seeds which they planted in Canton, however, took root for some time afterward. Jesse Bullock, justice of the peace in Canton, was for many years an announcer and calliope player for Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show. It was Mr. Bullock who recommended that Francis E. "Butch" Brann join Charlie Siegrist in his troupe. Mr. Brann continued in this field of entertainment for many, many years afterward.
Several other Cantonians also became interested in the circus and made this their career, Charles Craven became one of the greatest drummers in circus history.
It was also through Charles Siegrist that Casper and "Mab" Weis began their long association with Canton. Mr. Siegrist was married to Mrs. Weis’s sister and the "little people" eventually purchased a home in Canton, "Hillside" (former home of Kate Davenport) on Upper Center Street.
The Canton World April 28, 1894
"Every small boy in town has just $3,000,000 worth of Circus in his brain. All his worldly possessions will soon be converted into legal tender with which to gorge himself with red lemonade, ginger bread and peanuts, and see the big elephant, Rajah, combined with all of the other sights at Chas. Lee’s Great London Shows, Sat., April 28. Rajah, Chas. Lee’s big elephant, and two camels, arrived this morning. There was a large crowd at the Depot to see him unloaded."
The Chautauqua also added much to the entertainment of Cantonians. For several years in the 1900’s the lecturers, musicians, magicians, choral societies and operatic companies would arrive by train and tents would be set up, usually on the Second Street lot which now houses the swimming pool, and for days at a time the citizens could avail themselves of the opportunity of partaking of the culture which was brought practically to their doorstep.
We are indebted to Miss Harriet Doll of Canton for her recollections concerning the Lew Opera House.
"The Lewis Opera House opened its doors to the public on May 10, 1899, and was established through the generosity of Emma Lemon Lewis, as a memorial to her family.
Mrs. Lewis was a native of Washington, D. C. and had received a well-rounded education in the fine arts. Drama and music were her most absorbing interests. After her marriage to a Cantonian, Mr. Perry Lewis, she moved to the small town of Canton. It was a scene and life far remote from what she had previously known, and possibly the lack of an outlet for her interest, a theatre, only whetted her appetite to provide one. Another factor that undoubtedly influenced Mrs. Lewis’s philanthropic gesture was her friendship with two illustrious theatrical families, the Davenports and Mayos. The news that Canton was to have its own Opera House first appeared in a local newspaper during the early part of 1898. It was reported that Mrs. Emma Lemon Lewis would erect a large brick block at the east end of the square, the building to contain a theatre dedicated to the people of Canton. When completed it housed the post office, the First National Bank, two large stores on the first floor, five office suites, a banquet hall and the theatre on the second floor and a ballroom on the third.
The seating capacity of the theatre was five hundred and fifty, with a balcony, two boxes on the lower floor, two loges on the balcony floor, and the stage was large measuring 24 X 45 feet – 40 feet from the floor to the ceiling. It was completely outfitted with a gridiron network for the scenery, traps and other paraphernalia, and exits to the dressing rooms below. The scenery was adaptable for a large variety of plays. The orchestra pit was furnished with racks and lights and contained a grand piano which had once been owned by the Spanish Ambassador to the United States.
The house was lavishly decorated with fresco work. Clusters of flowers painted in pastel shades adorned the walls and ceilings. The woodwork was cream colored, the carpeting crimson axminister, and the seats were of cherry veneer. The chandeliers were brass and there were three hundred house lights. There was even a ventilating system to purify the air. The theater also boasted an electrical switchboard which controlled all house lights required. The electric light plant for the town was constructed about the same time as the building and to the bedazzled crowd who viewed all this splendor on opening night, it must have seemed a fairyland indeed.
On opening night, guests were present from Troy, Towanda, Wysox, Philadelphia and Elmira. Souvenir programs matching the décor were distributed to the seat holders. The play was a comedy drama in four acts entitled "The Burglar", and was presented by the A. Q. Scammon Co. with an all New York cast.
During the years that followed, Canton was booked on the Philadelphia – Buffalo circuit and was a stepping stone between the larger jumps. Show people stated that the theater itself was unequaled outside the metropolitan areas.
Legitimate plays predominated the offerings, including comedy, tragedy, and good old-fashioned melodramas. There were also operettas and musical comedies, minstrels, variety shows, concerts, special attractions such as lecturers, magicians, circus and vaudeville acts, and countless home talent shows.
Appearances were made by the Boston Grand Opera Company, John Philip Sousa and his band, the Llanelly Royal Prize choir of South Wales, and Platon Brounoff, noted Russian pianist, to name but a few.
A performance of "Faust" by Goethe was given shortly after the Lewis Opera House opened in 1899. It brought an intensely dramatic, literate play to Canton, discussed for weeks afterwards.
Melodramas were very popular at the turn of the century and the audiences were very articulate, hisses for the villain of the piece, tears over the sad fate of the heroine. A prime favorite all over the country, "East Lynn" was known in the language of the trade as a five handkerchief offering. One of the performances in Canton was nearly disrupted by a practical joker during the final touching scene where Lady Isabella was about to reach her untimely end. Assuming the role of chief mourner, the joker stood in the balcony and sobbed aloud in a voice that penetrated the theater. Pandemonium reigned as part of the audience tittered, part expressed indignation and shouted at the joker. Lady Isabelle, miraculously recovering, jumped from her death-bed. With great aplomb and with a fine burst of temperament, she came to the footlights and informed the audience that the show would go on when they had quieted down.
Several performances of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" were given in Canton over the years. The Stetson Company carried its own ascension apparatus for Little Eva’s departure from her earthly life, plus a treadmill to carry the floating cakes of ice across which Eliza had to escape. During Eliza’s big scene disaster threatened. The treadmill stuck and Eliza was stuck with it. The stage hand became excited and dumped the "snow" all at once. The curtain rang down to allow Eliza to recover. Mrs. Lewis was generous with the theater and almost every organization in town used it at one time or another for benefits. A number of high school commencements were held there, as well as conventions and meetings of fraternal organizations.
As the state of Pennsylvania passed more and stricter fire laws for public gatherings, the Lewis Opera House was forced to close. Because of its location on the second floor, with only one outside fire escape and a hazardous entrance staircase to the auditorium and balcony floors, it could not pass the inspection laws.
The last professional show was a musical comedy called "Very Good Eddie" with music by Jerome Kern. It was given on January 22, 1917. One month later the V.I.A. presented a musical comedy, FiFi of the Troy Shop", using local talent, and then the doors were closed for the last time.
The Opera House had been the focal point of the Cantonians social life for eighteen years. It had brought them to laughter and to tears, it had shown the life of the outside world to one small Main Street; it had inspired them to develop intellectually and musically."
Will Dean Brown, Canton, recalls attending elegant balls at the Lewis Opera House. The men wore tuxedos and the ladies long ballgowns, with trains draped over their arms.
Edwin L. Davenport was, for many years a well known figure on the stage in both the United States and Europe. He was best known for his characterization of Brutus in Julius Caesar, a role which he made famous.
In 1872 he purchased the Elliott property on Troy Street and renamed it Davenport Villa. Through his wife, Phyllis Rankin, he acquired two famous brothers-in-law, Sidney Drew and Lionel Barrymore. Their children were all theater people and famous in their own right.
His son, Harry, was a success on the legitimate stage and made many Hollywood movies, having had roles in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "The Magic Bullet", "Granny Get Your Gun", All This and Heaven Too", and others too numerous to mention. As far as Cantonians are concerned, his most famous role was his brilliant portrayal of Dr. Meade in "Gone With The Wind".
The Davenports were civic minded citizens while in Canton and assisted with many local acting ventures and fund raisings, often starring in home talent plays.
In 1915, Harry Davenport directed a movie "A Son of the Hills", a part of which was shot in Canton. (Parts of other movies were also completed here at this same time) Starring Antonio Moreno, Robert Gaylord, Belle Bruce, and featuring among others the Davenport’s own Kate, a number of homes and cabins in and near Canton were used as background. The high school masqueraded as a college building. The library was supposedly used as a hospital and a fire which was necessary to the plot was included by burning an old house near Lake Nepahwin. The opening scene was shot from the house of B. J. Davison on Pond Hill (Lake Road). Rockwell’s Mill was included in the scenes, as was the railroad station, locations on Mill Creek and Lover’s Lane (East South Avenue). The Davenport’s also used their own home for background shots.
Several Cantonians recall the company being in town and we have it on good authority that at least one young lady of that day was quite piqued when her boyfriend developed a crush on Belle Bruce, the leading lady. "Speed" Wilcox remembers that the cameraman spent a lot of time playing ball with the town team and that the movie company made use of the Innes’s horses and the Rinebold’s dog, renting them for use in various scenes.
The home of John LaMont on Lycoming Street was used as a dressing room by the actors and Mr. LaMont and his family had to be out of the house every morning at nine o’clock and could not return until evening.
Cantonians have, perhaps, romanticized and the "Davenport Era" as the years have passed and it is certainly true that they made great contributions to the community partly by just being here but also because they were always ready to lend their talents to a good cause. There was also a side, at least to one of the Davenports, which the general public has never heard too much about. The articles we have read never mention what we think is a rather humorous episode concerning Fanny Davenport and we are indebted to Harriet Doll for bringing this to our attention.
In a newspaper item from the Los Angeles Times (date unknown, but probably before 1900) appears an interview by the drama critic of that paper with Fanny Davenport. (Miss Davenport was regarded by some critics as the greatest tragedienne of her day.) Commenting about her Canton home and neighbors she said, "One finds such places as Canton Only in the heart of an agricultural region. The people are quaint, crude and untravelled, but not uninteresting to a student of the species."
Fanny may have thought she had disposed of Canton and Cantonians with that short, unflattering description, but though they may have been untravelled, some of them apparently could read. In some way unknown to us now, at least one person in Canton became aware of what we would call today, Fanny’s "putdown", and wrote the following poem as a rebuttal.
At evening, oft a pilgrim throng,
After the hard days lowly toil
The ragged hillside climbs along
Towards the castle’s hallowed soil.
And as they near the stately pile
It’s lofty gables all aglow
With the glittering glass and polished tile,
The moat and drawbridge far below;
With baited breath and throbbing breast and
Upturned faces rapt with awe,
The string throng, in homespun drest,
Gaze goggle eyed with pendant jaw;
While from the battlement above
Or the cool loggia in the tower,
The m’stress, pure as spotless dove,
Stands in the holy twilight hour;
And ponders o’er the gulf, between
The common herd that swarm the lea
And her chaste self, the stately queen,
That all the rustics love to see.
And liveried vassals tread the halls,
All tapestried so rich and rare,
While helm and casque adorn the walls,
And statues niche the oaken stair.
There in the gloamin at her ease
The virtuous Fanny waits,
To gratify the Cantonese, who linger at her gates."
The Canton World December 8, 1894
"The Mozart Symphony concert next Wednesday evening will be the event of the season, the same as was the Boston Ideal concert last winter. No one should miss this concert as the company is far superior to any that has visited Canton heretofore and they not only have a national reputation but have been equally as well honored on the other side of the Atlantic."
August 25, 1894
"There were at least six hundred persons witnessed the play "As You Like It" given at Minnequa on Saturday. The day was all that could have been asked for. The performers were all first class and it would be impossible to get as much out of it in the finest theatre…..The woods made a stage and scenery beyond an artists power to copy."
Crockett Lodge was sold for taxes on May 22, 1936. A that time it was owned by Lorimer Mayo of Hollywood, known to the moviegoer as "Frank Mayo". He had received the property from his aunt Mrs. James Elverson of Philadelphia, former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her death had taken place several years before and since that time the taxes had been unpaid, leaving the borough no choice but to sell the mansion, cottages and stables of the estate. For many years the estate had been the pride of the theatrical profession and one of the show places of Northern Pennsylvania. The twelve acres were located on upper Troy Street and contained the palatial home of Frank Mayo the elder, creator of the stage role "Davy Crockett". A Swiss cottage on the estate was brought from that country and constructed without the use of nails or screws. The original Crockett Lodge had been built by the Elliotts. There was a large summer house for guests and extensive stables and other buildings.
Frank Mayo gained fame and fortune as Davy Crockett, his son as "Puddin Head Wilson" (Mark Twain). Mrs. Elverson, the former Eleanor Mayo, had also been a famous performer.
Little remains of the estate today, only a portion of the wall, which is slowly crumbling away.
Canton Sentinel March 12, 1880
"Olympic Theater, New York
to the Canton Bucket Company
Upon the representation of Peter Wert, I feel Mrs. Mayo and myself indebted to your exertions for saving much of the adjacent property at the time of the destruction of our barn by fire in December last. I desire in her behalf and on my own part to tender you all my sincere thanks and to assure you that it shall be my privilege at any time to reciprocate in any way that may advance the welfare of the "Bucket Company". Very Sincerely, Your friend and fellow townsmen, Frank Mayo."
August 27, 1880
"The entertainment given by Frank Mayo last Tuesday evening for the benefit of the bucket company who, it will be remembered, were so promptly on hand when his stables were burned last winter, was a complete success in every respect."
The Cantonian 1892
"The Canton Fair this year will be one of unusual interest. The exhibits will be of the usual high order and endless variety, and some of the finest trotting stock in the county has been entered for the races. One of the special attractions will be the first annual meet of the Mercury Cycle Club, an organization recently formed at this place composed of some of the finest wheelmen in the northern part of the state. There will be eleven exciting bicycle races, two of which will be for the championship of the county and the Mercury Club, respectively.
The Canton Fair Ground is well known as one of the pleasantest places for a picnic in this vicinity, and every year hundreds of families come to the fair and enjoy a picnic dinner ‘neath the grateful shade of the venerable apple trees at the eastern end of the roomy grounds."
September 17, 1892
"Although so much has been done of late years toward improving the Fair Grounds of this place, there still remain a few particulars in which much might be added to their convenience and attractiveness. For instance, a walk around the cattle sheds is greatly needed. Under existing circumstances it is almost impossible for a lady to view the cattle exhibits without soiling her clothing to such an extent as to render a second visit very undesirable. And then there are a dozen or more of mud holes which are entirely unnecessary, but have probably been overlooked in making improvements of more seeming importance. We hope the Association will see fit to make the suggested changes before next September and believe they would prove most satisfactory."
In the late 1800’s Canton boasted a great fair. There were bicycle and trotting races, displays of the latest in items stocked by Canton’s stores, itinerant peddlers, exhibits of handiwork, preserves and canned goods and farm products and animals. There were ball games, art exhibits, a carousel powered by steam and many of the other attractions necessary for a successful fair.
Many Cantonians still speak of the area immediately surrounding the Robert Grantier home on Route 414, just east of town, as the "Old Fairgrounds."
Canton has had several movie theaters, one of which was operated by Tom Miles and his sons Fred and Ben. It was located near the site of the present Ben Franklin store and admittance price was a nickel. Later, Charles Donovan opened a movie house in a part of the building which in recent years housed the Acme Market on Main Street. Harry Wheeler and Howard Bullock managed a movie theater known as the Hippodrome, on Troy Street. Hugh Crawford built what was known as the Crawford Theater (this is the present day Rialto) which was later operated by the Barnes sisters. For many years, this was the domain of Lou Smithgall Anderson and several generations of small Cantonians had their first "window on the world", along with lessons in the art of behaving in public, at the Rialto on Saturday afternoon.
At one time Canton had two opera houses. In addition to the Lewis Opera House, the Vroman Opera House also presented all kinds of entertainment, and was located near the present day Athel Benson home on Lycoming Street.
Citizen’s Hall, on the third floor of the Trippe Building (present day Ben Franklin) also served as an entertainment center when required to do so.
It has become apparent, if one has paid attention throughout this book, that Canton suffered greatly over the years from the recurrent fires which seemed to hit with alarming frequency. In 1976 we have a volunteer fire department which we probably take somewhat for granted, but in the early days of Canton there was little or no fire protection and it was every man for himself.
The first fire company was organized in 1882. Prior to that time the neighbors or passersby simply filled available buckets from the handiest pump and hoped for the best. The men had two dozen rubber buckets which were carried on poles. These were stored in Hehl’s Barbershop. When Frank Mayo’s barn burned on upper Troy Street, the firemen managed to save only the picket fence surrounding it and the money raised from the benefit given by Mr. Mayo was used to purchase the first hook and ladder, a hand drawn affair. This first fire company was known as the Independent. They had no permanent home and the equipment was kept on Troy Street in a part of the building which is now Wheeler’s Grocery. The town was opposed to the building of a fire house, but the borough council did insure the equipment. Early in 1886 this organization went to pieces due to the lack of public support by both council and the townspeople. The men had supported the company themselves.
On the morning of January 22, 1888 the church bells rang long and loud as fire broke out on the south side of Main Street. It was nearly 20 degrees below zero but the men were so quick to arrive at the scene that for a time it seemed that only the post office would be lost. However, the blaze was soon out of control and before it was over not only the post office, but a butcher shop, bakery, dry goods store, furniture and undertaking establishment, barber shop and dental and doctor’s office were destroyed. Kerosene stored at the Bacon and Ronan Store spread the conflagration beyond control. The firefighters were served coffee by the Packard House, but the hot coffee and water had to be poured over the men’s hands to melt the ice before they could take the cups.
Their clothes froze and their faces and beards were encrusted with ice.
There was no real fire department then and no one to give orders and this added to the confusion.
When the insurance adjusters arrived to inspect the burned out section the borough council was told that if there would be another such fire they would withdraw their coverage. This ultimatum was what it took to get the council moving. A special meeting was held in February of that year and a ruling was passed which outlawed the building of a wooden structure in the fire zone, as defined by them, and plans were begun for the formation of a new fire company. It was a year before the Canton Fire Company was reorganized (1889) and a new hose cart purchased. They chose a new name – Innes Hose Company No. 1. Council had purchased the old wooden school and the apparatus was kept here. Eventually they had three companies, Innes Hose No. 1, No. 2 and the Independent Hook and Ladder.
After the borough building was completed in the late 1800’s the first floor was used for storage of equipment, as it still is today.
Now known as the Innes Hose Company, the volunteer firemen have modern, up to date equipment, including radio equipment and an alarm system which works somewhat more efficiently than the old church bells.
Canton’s churches have played a major role in the community almost since the first settlers arrived. Early meetings were held in the homes of the residents and as early as 1800, Bradford County was included in the Tioga circuit of the Genesee District of the Methodist Discipline. The circuit rider was able to visit about once every six weeks.
In 1851, the Ref. J. W. Hewitt organized the first class with five members. In June of 1867, during the pastorate of Rev. Joshua Thompson, the cornerstone of the present Methodist Church was laid. While remodeling the church in 1881 it was discovered that the cornerstone was improperly sealed. Due to moisture the contents, which included the Northern Christian Advocate, The Christian Advocate, a hymn book and Discipline, were found to be ruined, and the only thing which escaped damage was the Holy Bible. New books were placed in the cornerstone and it was resealed.
The Methodist Church was completed and dedicated on January 9, 1868. Although it has been remodeled and additions have been made, this church still stands on its original site at the corner of Union and Center Streets. The membership is now under the care of the Rev. Raymond C. Fravel.
The first permanent church in Canton Corners was organized in 1818 by a council called from the churches of the Baptist denomination. It was called "The Church of Christ". On November 1, 1854 the Canton Baptist Church was founded and in 1855 built their first church. This was destroyed by fire in 1861 and the church was rebuilt. Dedication services for the new church took place in 1895. The cost had been $8,000. It was in 1909 that the charter of the church was revised and the name changed to "The Baptist Church of Canton". Again, in November of 1929, the church was damaged by fire. Reconstruction was started in 1930 and this new dedication took place on September 28, 1930.
In 1954 several members requested that their names be dropped from the Baptist Church roll and these people established a Conservative Baptist Church which moved from the borough.
On May 26, 1974 the First Baptist Church voted to join the Bradford Baptist Association and the American Baptist Churches of the USA.
The Rev. S. Wade Stewart is now the pastor.
During the year 1850, Elder Theobald Miller, then pastor of the Church of Covington came to Canton Corners once a month and held religious services in the old red schoolhouse which stood at the corner of Center and Main Streets. In August of that year, Elder Miller asked that all people who wished to unite and organize a church "make it manifest". A meeting was held on September 28, 1850 and twenty-two members attended. A year later this body of worshippers was incorporated as "The church of Christ" in Canton.
These members built a church on the corner of Troy St. and West Union where the Swayze warehouse is now located. This was dedicated in 1851-52.
In April of 1922 the cornerstone was laid for the Church of Christ edifice at the corner of Minnequa Avenue and E. Union Street and the church remains there to this day.
The history of this church is interwoven with the Disciple Churches of Alba and North Union.
A new pastor, the Rev. Richard Ryder, will assume his duties in June.
On August 1, 1929 a small group of people met at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Frank Miller on W. Union Street. This group formed the nucleus of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Canton. Rev. Hugh Young, pastor of the Alliance Church in Elmira brought the first message and thus began a series of mid-week services. Every Thursday evening Rev. Young or Rev. Benjamin Kaselian came to Canton and led the meetings, which were held in members homes.
The group grew to such an extent that a building was required and the small school house on Troy Street was purchased in December of 1931. The members worked long and hard to prepare this building for use, and the church was dedicated on the first Sunday of May, 1932. George Hall arrived on May 28, 1933 as the first full time pastor. A Sunday School was started and also an evening service.
Since 1950 the church has undergone several renovations and expansions and the first homecoming and mortgage burning was held on September 21, 1975.
The present pastor also serves the Troy Church. He is the Rev. James L. Snyder.
In days gone by, when Minnequa Springs was at its height, Canton enjoyed a reputation as a summer resort. Many of these visitors were Episcopalians and it was to satisfy their needs that Saint James Church was organized. The first record of any church service is dated November 1898. A mission service was held in the Lewis Building presently the site of the First National Bank of Canton. It was conducted by the Rev. Charles McKnight, then rector at St. Paul’s in Troy.
The first communion for St. James Church was administered in the Lewis Building, and the first record of a Bishop’s visit was January 20, 1902.
The erection of a permanent chapel was begun in December 1903 and the next year the church was dedicated.
Due to the changes in the community, the rolls of the church were so depleted as to cause disbanding and the final service was held Nov. 3, 1972. The former church building on Tioga Street is now used by the Canton Community Council and the Senior Citizens groups, and daily meals are served here to the elderly.
The First Presbyterian Church came into existence on the night of December 5, 1832 when a meeting was held at the home of Jerome Wright in East Canton. The first Sunday School was begun in 1844.
In 1860, Mr. Morley, Jr., a resident of Canton Corners, suggested a need for a Presbyterian Church in Canton and gave the land on which to erect a building. On November 6, 1861 the church was dedicated.
For a number of years, the main congregation was at East Canton but interest continued to increase in Canton until it became the center of the congregation. In 1922 the services in the "Mother Church" in East Canton were discontinued and the members of that congregation united with the "Daughter Church" at Canton.
These united congregations decided to build a new church home. Just prior to its completion it was nearly ruined by a devastating fire (Feb. 5, 1922). Through the steadfast loyalty of its people and the friends in the other churches of Canton, the task of building again was undertaken and the present beautiful stone church was dedicated that spring. The stones used in the church came from the Davison farm on Lake Hill.
For the past few years the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches of Canton have formed an Ecumenical Parish under the leadership of the Rev. Raymond C. Fravel.
Before the cornerstone for a wooden church was laid on November 10, 1872, the Catholic population of Canton was served by circuit riding priests from the surrounding parishes. This practice had been in existence since the early 1800’s.
The first church of 1872 was built facing East Union Street and was used for twenty-six years before it was decided to erect a new one. While the new church was being built, Mass was celebrated in what was known as the John Vroman skating rink on Lycoming Street.
The cornerstone for the present church was laid on July 4, 1889 and it was completed by late fall. The first midnight mass was celebrated on January 1, 1900, thus ushering in the twentieth century. The dedication itself took place on February 23 and a description of the church as recorded in 1900 describes it as an "ornament to Canton". The church was erected at a cost of $14,000.
Father Paul Baier presently serves both St. Michael’s Church in Canton and St. John Nepomucene Church in Troy.
The Seventh-Day Adventist church in Canton was organized June 27, 1936, at a district meeting held in the Roaring Branch church. Pastor Robbins officiated at this meeting with seventeen charter members. The first pastor was Dallas Youngs.
Raymond Spencer was the owner of the land and original building at the corner of Elm and E. Union Streets in Canton and on May 9, 1942 he deeded this property to the church. The first services were held at this location on December 19, 1942.
Several additions have been made to the original building and it was completely remodeled in 1972-73. The present pastor of this lovely stone edifice is Donald Baer of Sayre, Pa.
Canton Sentinel March 10, 1897
Letter to the Editor from Charles Bullock, attorney and school board member.
"I am asked to write about a library in Canton. In the sixties when Canton Village was just emerging from Canton Corners, it numbered among its limited population some active and originating spirits who, animated perhaps by the ferment of activity of all things of the mind, which war is said to create, or with appetites for reading provoked by meagerness of intellectual fare spread before them of newspapers of the day, organized by subscription of a library association and a library of books was purchased which for years circulated from and reposed in, the office of Squire Stockwell at the corner of Crooked Alley and Center Street. But a library without an occasional addition of new books, like a preacher without an occasional fresh idea or a church choir without an occasional new tune, ceases to attract. This library fell into disuse and its remnant of books, the uncut leaves of some of which attest that even the most venturesome readers have found them of little interest, form a portion of our graded school."
He goes on to say that the thriving and prosperous Canton of 1897 had far greater need for a public library. "I am confident", he writes, "that a library will be in time established in Canton, one which will fill requirements of local pride. Whether this time is to be near or remote depends in a great measure upon the men and the women today walking the streets of Canton, all of whom are charged with leaving the world a little better than they found it."
The Canton Public Library, which opened January 1, 1900 was established by the School Directors under an act of 1895. This gave school boards the authority to begin and maintain public libraries and committed their management to nine trustees, three of whom were the president, secretary and treasurer of the local school board. Later laws dictated that the number of trustees could be reduced to seven and made the secretary of the board serve in this same capacity for the library. Our local library was successfully conducted in this manner for fourteen years, steadily increasing its usefulness to the community.
Prior to this time small lending libraries had been kept in the homes of interested citizens but these were, of course, not able to supply all of the books which a good library requires.
On March 11, 1911 Charles Green, a well to do lumberman of Roaring Branch, left a legacy of $40,000 to the school board. This was to be kept in trust for the establishment and maintenance of a public library for the borough of Canton. This was to be handled through the forming of a corporation and since this is not a function of the school board, two officers of the board were chosen as agents to execute Mr. Green’s wishes as set forth in his will.
The school at that time had title to a public library of some 7,000 volumes and about $2400 in its library fund. That there should be two rival libraries in Canton was never seriously suggested or considered and the two libraries were merged into one, The Green Free Library.
The library building, with its new equipment, furniture and fixtures was built at a cost of $13,500 by Hoggson Brothers of New York, in consultation with the local building committee, Mr. Taylor, Mr. McFadden and Dr. Davison. It opened on November 20, 1913 with Miss Sadie Parsons as librarian. She held this post until 1920.
By 1928 it was found that the income from the Green Estate would no longer be sufficient to cover expenses and, again, the school board came to the rescue by electing a teacher-librarian who had one class in English, and who then spent the major part of her time in the library. The library contributed $250 towards her salary.
The Children’s Room was opened in the early 30’s and its artistic wall panels were presented by Mr. And Mrs. Norman Thurston. In 1941 the Friends of the Library were organized. This group provided services in the Children’s Room, purchased books and assisted in many other ways.
It was in the early 1960’s that the state of Pennsylvania began giving aid to libraries. Without this help, the Green Free Library would have gone out of existence. Even with this aid, the library had gone into a decline and in the early 1970’s it became apparent that the collections would have to be improved. The library was in dire need of repair and renovation, to say nothing of the need for new and up to date books.
Under the direction of Mrs. Matthew "Hap" Hurley, president of the Library Board and a local English teacher, and with the help of the Friends of the Library, a project was begun to raise $10,000. It was during this period that it became necessary, in order to finance renovations, to consider the selling of the"library lot" on the corner of Center and Main Streets. After long consideration, this was done. Public response to the library’s request for help was excellent. With a grant of $22,000 for the children’s room and $10,000 for the adult collection, the library was redecorated and the collection updated. Library circulation, which had dropped steadily over the years, increased considerably following the changes even though the school district now maintains their own libraries in each building.
Keeping the library in service, as a viable part of the community, requires a constant supply of money. Expenses have risen dramatically over the last three years and the trust fund does not begin to pay the expenses. In order to gain support for the Green Free Library, it was decided that the Friends would publish a written history of Canton as their birthday present to the community on the occasion of the country’s Bicentennial Celebration. Proceeds of the sale of the book will be turned over to the library.
The community has had, over the years, many clubs and organizations which have made their own unique contribution to its history. It is impossible to list all of them here – the music clubs, the service organizations, the scouting groups which have assisted the youth of the village, the fraternal bodies and the myriad of others such as the Senior Citizens, Community Council, Garden Club, and a particularly outstanding group, the Canton Ambulance Association which operates with volunteer attendants and is available at any time to area residents.
But there is at least one, the Canton Community Nursing Service, which stands alone and is Canton’s own.
It was during the great flu epidemic of 1918 that the basement of the Methodist Church was converted to use as an emergency hospital for victims of this terrible illness. When the worst had passed, the citizens asked that the services provided by these volunteers be continued. Under the direction of Mrs. Lewis M. Marble the Community Nursing Service was founded. Since that time Canton has never been without the services of the nurse. Under the direction of its officers and directors, volunteers who have served without any thought of payment, and with dedicated nurses who have made thousands of calls over the years, the work has gone on without charge to any patient. The service is provided by the citizens, through the raising of money during the annual fund drive, and no state or federal money has ever been requested or used. The Canton Community Nursing Service, perhaps more than any other organization in the history of Canton, personifies the spirit and the cooperation of its citizens. For fifty-eight years they have remained on call and have never been found wanting.
They were singing "Goodby Broadway, Hello France". The First National Bank printed an ad which said "United we Stand – Divided we Fall. Don’t be the weak link in the chain. Stand back of our boys who are fighting our battle, ‘Over there’, Buy Liberty Bonds". The first contingent of soon to be veterans left Towanda on September 21, 1917. In April of that year a war exhibit train arrived in Canton. There was on board a battle scarred Whippet tank and armored car and on a seventy-four foot baggage car were other trophies of all kinds, machine guns, helmets, gas masks and aerial torpedo’s. Flat cars contained 77 millimetre guns. The Red Cross was very active and Jane Delano, one of the founders of the organization and a director of the National Red Cross Nursing Service, as much in the news. Miss Delano had resided at Minnequa and was well known in Canton, having written "Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick" (the basis of instruction for Red Cross classes) while living here. It was also in 1917 that the Red Cross soup kitchen was active, the Cantonians furnishing vegetables and other ingredients, the soup being made under the direction of Mrs. Harry Davenport at the Belmar Mfg. Company. Over 10,000 quarts were eventually supplied, packed in tin cans which were carefully sealed by machine and labeled "A Canton Product." Miss Delano saw that it was shipped to those hospitals which needed it most.
The Canton Sentinel October 17, 1918
"Nearly two tons of clothing was collected by the Canton Branch of the Red Cross for the Belgian refugees. Preston Brothers gave 29 ladies coats, light weight, and 20 heavy coats." Burk and Company sent 10 women’s under vests, leather boots, six hats, two caps, eleven pair of overshoes and thirty-six other pieces. Mr. Hendelmen gave five winter coats and large packing boxes and W. W. Gleckner supplied blankets and shipping cartons.
"Don’t forget the melting pot in Lee Greenleaf’s store. Now is the time to give all of your old jewelry and silverware to the Red Cross."
In 1918 one could read that the Swayze Advertising Company had been engaged in supplying cartons for the Waukesha Pure Food Company. The company had immense orders for gelatin packages which were sent to "our boys" in France. Said the newspaper article – "It would be queer, wouldn’t it, if some Canton boy in France got hold of a package of gelatin put up in his old home town."
The fourth Liberty Loan had been overscribed in Canton. The amount to be raised by the Farmers Bank was $65,350 and they counted $84,000. The First National Bank’s allotment was $202,000 and considerably more than that was subscribed. As the newspaper put it, "of course, Canton went over the top."
November 28, 1918 (letter reprinted in Canton Sentinel)
Somewhere in France … from Cameron Campbell
"My dear mother; I am writing this in a dugout about 50’ under the ground. A month ago it was behind the German lines and two weeks ago it was a battle field where some hard fighting was done because it is on the railroad that runs to Berlin, but our U.S. boys are too much for the Germans so they had to go back and are still going …." "I think the war will soon be over…..I hope I can be home for my Christmas dinner."
"German has been excluded from the curriculum of the public schools of Canton by a resolution of the School Board." (News item from the Canton Sentinel.)
Several references to Spanish influenza were made in the newspapers of this year. The epidemic eventually killed 22,000,000 people world-wide.
On May 29, 1919 reference was made to the planting of trees on Memorial Day, in memory of the fallen soldiers of the German War. This took place at the park (near present day Memorial Pool) and these trees remained in place for many years, eventually being replaced when they had to be destroyed. The replacement took place only a few years ago and was carried out under the direction of several veterans of another world conflagration which was never to have taken place after "the war to end all wars."
In Philadelphia, Public Ledger, in 1918, described in detail the "good bombers" from Canton who were then at Camp Meade. Apparently these were some form of hand grenade as Patrick Morrisey and a soldier named Tebo told the reporter that they had developed their proficiency in hurling by using the "shot" at Canton High School.
All was not romantic and all Cantonians were not totally patriotic, since the papers contained accounts of hoarding, but by and large the local citizens sacrificed and worked long and hard in support of the war effort.
On July 28, 1919 nearly 30,000 county people united in a welcome home holiday at Towanda, holding a huge parade, and the paper was filled with the accounts of local boys who were returning home.
Canton Sentinel July 3, 1919
"The funeral of old John Barleycorn was conducted in Canton in a not disorderly manner and we have not heard of any unusual scenes. Indeed, it was said that Monday night was no worse than a usual Saturday night. Just that expression is, perhaps, justification for the ending of the traffic in liquors. When a common street remark implies that Saturday night had been the time for a weekly carouse it certainly cannot be a hurt to the country to end it."
In 1923 the big event of the year was the opening of a new hard road between Canton and LeRoy. It was opened on September 3 with a huge celebration at LeRoy. At least three hundred cars were said to have gone from Canton and the cars were parked in rows outside of the town, with perhaps 3,000 visitors entertained. The Canon delegation was accompanied by the band, with another band on hand from Towanda.
Another newspaper account was elated with the accomplishment of building the road saying, "we are not indebted to the state for it. Bradford County paid every penny that it cost." There were frankfurters, ice cream, coffee, soft drinks and fireworks and everything was free. An orchestra played while the visitors waltzed and whirled around on the smooth concrete road.
Congressman L. T. McFadden was on hand as was C. M. Harding, a former member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature. J. W. Stone, who was a former resident of LeRoy had introduced the bill which made the road possible and he was also in attendance.
Everyone attending expressed the hope that the road would soon be extended to Towanda.
For the next several years very little of historical interest seems to have taken place in Canton. The depression which was to have world wide consequences hit our little community too. Money was scarce and work even less so but the fact that the village was not totally dependent on manufacturing for its sustenance helped to carry it through. Somehow, as always, Cantonians managed to weather this storm. They lived, died, worked, voted, helped each other, and before it seemed possible a war was happening again. Men who, only a few short years before, made their way to Europe to fight, were now sending their sons and as they had done time and time again, Cantonians rose to the challenge. The accounts of World War II read much the same as those of World War I. Instead of Liberty Bonds, there were War Bonds and Victory Bonds, and the people put the drives over the top. They saved clothing, scrap, tin cans, newspapers and even gave their priceless cannon, which had rested at Morse Park for many years, to help the war effort. The young boys left, and some did not return. There was gas rationing, coupons for shoes, sugar and canned goods. Many people simply put their cars away and walked "for the duration". School activities were curtained since there was no gasoline available for trips, etc., and there are a number of women of that generation who remember walking to the Junior Proms, long dresses and all, a performance hardly likely to be repeated by their granddaughters.
Many Cantonians left their home town to work, going to Elmira or Williamsport, where the higher wages paid by the manufacturers of defense items, proved an attraction stronger than home town ties. Some of them never again resided in Canton.
In the 50’s television made its first appearance in Canton. At first only a few homes could afford this new wonder and these lucky people soon found their friends and relatives descending upon them night after night to watch the flickering screen. For the first time we saw perhaps, more of the world than we wished. It was not long before war was brought directly to the living room, as well as the first hand look at prejudice, intolerance, hate and assorted forms of murder and mayhem which Canton had never known. It is possible that if it did nothing else, it made us appreciate our isolation.
The other happenings of these years have been covered in more detail throughout the preceding pages – the new factories, the new schools, the community projects which include McCallum Manor and its sister project for low income families which was erected on Second Street in 1974-75. Canton once again has a fair, not like that of the old days, but a week long celebration which is sponsored by the volunteer firemen. In the last several years, the downtown area has been enjoying a small modernization program and perhaps, before too long, others will see the wisdom of this beautification and the store fronts and buildings will once again show a uniformity of design such as has not been visible here in three decades. An effort is being made at this time to establish a community health center which will supply the town with much needed medical care. There is a possibility that sometime in the future the community will be bypassed by a new highway, bringing crisis and challenge to the townspeople once again. Canton will have a choice – to do as so many small towns and cities have done when similarly stricken – fold up and die, or meet the challenge by making the community so attractive that visitors and residents will want to stay and participate.
We have little doubt that we will find a way to solve any problems which arise and will face any challenge as Cantonians have for over 180 years.
March 1976 Interview with Charles Krise, Mayor; Dean Morgan, Boro Council President; Paul Burr, Boro Secretary
J.S. We have read in the course of work on this book that on several occasions attempts were made to
extend the boro lines. Do you think there is any chance that will ever come about?
D.M. The boro would like to think so, but I am sure the township people do not.
C.K. The boro would like to have more territory from a tax standpoint, but you have got to get people
To vote to do it and I doubt they ever will.
D. M. They might be enticed if we ever work out fire and police protection, sewer, etc. for the township.
Another big thing before was the tax. Years ago they were more but the school tax now is the same
and the only difference is in the millage between the boro and the township. It has leveled off
somewhat so that argument is not so great.
J. S. What do you feel is Canton’s greatest problem area in this Bicentennial year?
D. M. The sewer system. We are beginning now to take care of this and areas of our town where the
system is a problem eventually will be taken care of and this will be a step forward for the
betterment of the town."
During this discussion it was brought out that much more could be accomplished for the entire area if the boro and the township could work together on certain projects such as waste disposal, sewage, police protection, etc.
D. M. The garbage collection now is going out to the township, and they have fire protection from Canton
And something might be worked out to get the boro and the township together.
J. S. There have been projects which were killed, in the past, (including the sewer system which could
Have been completed years ago) due to the fact that someone thought it would cost too much. The
Amazing thing to us has been that nothing has really changed. The problems have all come up
C..K. This is a Connecticut conservative town.
D. M. Many other towns have the same problems we do. We are not alone in our problems. The root of
All of this is money.
J. S. Quite frequently we read about other towns that are getting some sort of federal money for
Community projects—to build something or add something to the community. Has Canton ever
Tried to obtain some of these funds?
C.K. Paul can tell you how many times we have tried to get money in the last two years alone.
J. S. What does it take?
C. K. An Act of God and to know the right politician is the answer.
P. B. Part of it is that we are never going to get the money in this part of the country until the politics
Change. They have it all figured out that they have got this vote and don’t need to do anything.
C.J. It is frustrating. Other so called poorer states get much more. The government won’t help us.
P. B. I think this recently proposed fish hatchery is a prime example. I know there is somewhere in
Bradford County that has the same qualifications but it is a political game. Another part of it is
That quite often these grants require matching funds, where you have to come up with 20 to 50
Percent or more, and that we have not got.
J. S. Assuming that we would ever get any of this money, what would it be used for? You must have
Given this a lot of thought.
C. K. A community building! Including the fire department, police department, boro secretary, manager, a
meeting room that can be used by anyone. We could have it all in one building. I would dearly love
to see that. The building is one of my prime things. I would like to see twenty-four hour police
protection, with six people. I would like to see a dispatch center. Zoning is on my list. I would like
to see home rule explored. I don’t know whether we want a change or not, but it ought to be looked
into. It is a big chore, but we should take a look. On the medical side, we have fine doctors but they
are ready to retire. I would like to see something done here.
D.M. I would like a municipal building. I agree with Charlie on this. Everything has to go on a priority
basis now. In our minds there are things that have a high priority rating and they have to be
evaluated this way. Council can’t take the credit for this, but in the last six years, due to revenue
sharing, Canton has made remarkable strides, with what we have to work with. We were in the
red at one time, but we have gotten straightened around. We have updated our trucks, one dump
truck, a pick-up, backhoe and loader and two police cars. Bids are out for a new street sweeper. I
think this is something that is very badly needed. We just couldn’t afford these things without
revenue sharing. We feel we have made giant strides. Unfortunately, Canton has lost its railroad
and this is probably the biggest setback we have had here, but it was through an Act of God that it
happened. I would like to keep an economically sound town. Without the railroad it has taken the
first step down and we have to overcome this. Our schools have been updated. We have got a
swimming pool. McCallum Manor and the low income housing. I think that considering the fact
that we are just over a supposed war the economy is as good as I have ever seen here. I think we
have a nice little town in which to live.
C.K. Canton is not a "Boom or Bust" town.
J.S. In case we are bypassed by the proposed new highway, what happens?
D. M. When you put in a bypass you immediately are making a breeding ground for shopping centers, new
businesses at each end of the boro and what will happen is that it will kill the people in the boro who
have kept things going for all these years. I can visualize this beginning at Cedar Ledge and coming
out up by the Body shop and up there someplace in those big fields there will be a shopping plaza and
this—well, the traffic is annoying but when you are traveling I am sure you don’t come off a bypass
into a town to do any shopping or anything.
C.K. I have seen it in towns in the west—beautiful little towns that have just died, empty buildings, etc.
D.M. When you eliminate through traffic you are going to eliminate some businesses.
J. S. Could you not look on this as a challenge?
C. K. It all goes right back to money again.
D.M. I think we have a nice boro. The people from downstate and other places love it here. They come
Here to their cabins and to retire and they think we have some God given thing that they don’t have.
C.K. You can still walk down the street at night and go where you want to. You can walk into stores with
Your handbag and set it down and walk away. The people in the city can’t do this.
The consensus seems to be that although Canton has problem areas, they
are nothing that can’t be solved with adequate funding.
HISTORICAL POINTS OF INTEREST—CANTON, PA.
of Pond Hill, South Ave.
Public phone and first phone exchange near present Troy Bank.
Cedar Ledge was first known as "Wooding Up" because of the fact that the wood burning engines of the railroad stopped here to take on fuel. It was named Cedar Ledge by C. P. Spalding and John Brown.
Ezra Spalding’s first cabin was located near the creek behind present day Landon’s Cedar Ledge Station.
Many Civil War troop trains passed through Canton and the soldiers took advantage of the stop at Wooding Up to visit the nearby cider mill.
Circa 1925-28 – Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were seen sitting in the alcove at the Packard House while making an overnight stop in Canton.
In 1904 the Liberty Bell passed through town on a railroad car, on its way to Buffalo, N.Y.
Sam McIntosh was known as the "one man band", using little wooden dolls which he worked with his foot.
The railroad underpass was constructed in 1904.
Elaine Manley Preston initiated May Day at the Canton schools and Eileen Buinter was the first May Queen, in 1938.
Solomon Brown donated the land for the East Canton Cemetery.
Samuel Strait opened the first bank in 1871.
Robert Northrup was the first Cantonian to leave for World War I. Ernest Bailey was the first Cantonian to be drafted for World War II.
Canton once had a "gold mine" on Mill Creek, run by B. Davison and worked by "Banty" Brown. The mine was known as the "Banty-Sam".
The Mormans once had cabins on what is now the Davison property on Lake Hill and although it is not documented Joseph Smith, founder of the Morman Church, is supposed to have stopped there.
The hill which lies in back of lower Troy Street was known as Pickett Hill and a liberty pole was once in evidence there.
Mrs. Nelle Black Westgate often recalled that the site of the present day home of Rodney Kelley was once the Canton Jail (Minnequa Ave).
At one time a creek ran in the area of Minnequa and Washington Streets and continued down near Montague and Fassett Streets.
There was once a roller skating rink in Canton.
Stephen Sellard had the first iron plow. John Watts owned the first two horse wagon and Tom Manley or Mr. Streeter had the first spring wagon.
The Lewis Opera House was constructed by the firm of Taylor and Northrup.
In the spring of 1938 a throng of people journeyed to Lake Hill to celebrate the departure of Canton’s first air mail. Dean Ivan Lamb, former resident of Armenia Mt., was one of the first to have flown Air Mail in 1918.
Canton boys, leaving for the Civil War, became concerned about the beautiful old elm on the Leavitt property (corner of Main and Minnequa) and climbed the tree to attach a chain to the large branches so the tree would not split. Many years later, when the street was cut down, the chains were still there.
The first frame house in the boro was built by Orr Scoville. Laban Landon or David Pratt, depending on which history you are reading.
In 1813 Zepheniah Rogers Sr., was the richest man in the township. His valuation was $608. Ezra Spalding was second with $574. He also had six cows which was considered a large dairy in those days.
Noah Wilson was justice of the peace and Benjamin Landon, constable.
Ben Westgate owned the first car in Bradford County.