Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1885 Seven Counties History
- Bradford County PA
Postcard of Towanda
contributed by Creig Crippen
“HISTORY OF SEVEN COUNTIES presented by the Elmira Weekly
Gazette". It is an “Outline History of Tioga and Bradford Counties in Pennsylvania,
Chemung, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Schuyler in New York by TOWNSHIPS,
VILLAGES, BORO’S AND CITIES.” Written expressly for the Gazette Company,
Elmira, N. Y. Copyright 1885.From AN OUTLINE HISTORY
of Tioga and Bradford
Counties in Pennsylvania, Chemung,
Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Schuyler in New York by TOWNSHIPS, VILLAGES,
BORO'S AND CITIES"
TOWANDA TOWNSHIPS AND TOWANDA BOROUGHS
Towanda was one of the original townships.
Towanda village was laid out in the year 1812. North Towanda township
was organized in the year 1857.
Towanda borough was incorporated in the year
1828, and additions have since been made to it. It is the county
seat of Bradford county, and one of the most flourishing and populous boroughs
in Northern Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Valley railroad, the Towanda
and Barclay railroad and the Sullivan and State Line railroads have stations
in the borough. There are several large manufacturing establishments,
giving employment to a large number of men. The borough is finely
located upon the west bank of the Susquehanna, and contains a population
of about four thousand inhabitants. Towanda is connected with Wysox
township and village, which lie upon the east side of the river, by a free
bridge. It is thus situated in the center of a rich and productive
agricultural country with good railroad facilities. It is destined
to become a large and populous borough or city. The history of Towanda
borough, Towanda township and North Towanda township is so inseparably
connected that they will be treated under one head.
Early settlers were: Ezra Rutty, Rudolph
Fox, Elisha Forsythe, Jacob Bowman, John Singer, Casper Singer, Jacob Grantier,
Silas Scoville, Orr Scoville, John Smith, Joshua Wyeth, Daniel Gilbert,
Reuben Hale, Henry Head, Samuel Strickland, William Goff, William Wyeth,
Ezra Heacock, Usual Carter, George Alger, Job Irish, Henry Salsbury, John
Brown, Horatio Ladd, Ephraim Ladd, William Myers, William Means, Adam Conley,
Ebenezer B. Gregory, Harry Spalding, Gurdon Hewett, Nathaniel Betts, Burr
Ridgeway, Lemuel Streator, Edward Benjamin, Andrew Irvine, Andrew Trout,
David S. Barstow, Dr. John N. Weston, Hon. George Scott, Dr. Charles Whitehead,
Henry Mercur, Jesse Woodruff, Ethan Baldwin, Hiram Mix, Dr. Caleb W. Miles,
Miller Fox, Hon Joseph C. Powell, Capt. Nicholas R. Hentz, David F. Barstow,
William H. Foster, Jonas Smith, Nathan Smith, Daniel Guthrie, Isaac Foster,
Rufus Foster, Abiel Foster, Osias Bingham, Frank Watts, Nehemiah Mills,
Nathan Coon, Martin Stratton, Samuel F. Means, Edward Overton.
--Towanda is 741 feet above tide.
--Great fire in Towanda, March 12, 1847.
--Near Towanda was located an Indian burial
--John Singer built a mill, in Towanda, in
the year 1800.
--Ezra Rutty was the first permanent settler
in North Towanda.
--Towanda has been known as Overton, Meansville
--The Naiad Engine Company, No. 2, was organized,
April 24, 1855.
--Andrew Irvine built the first brick house
in Towanda village, in 1828.
--Henry Mercur father of Hon Ulysses Mercur,
came to Towanda, in 1810.
--The Franklin Steam Engine Fire Company,
was organized, April 8, 1854.
--Mantua Hook and Ladder Company, No. 4, was
organized in March 1871.
--Jacob Bowman, settled in Towanda, previous
to the revolutionary war.
--The first school house in North Towanda,
was erected in the year 1813.
--Christopher L. Ward, became a resident of
Towanda borough in 1838.
--The new court or second house at Towanda,
was built, in the year 1850.
--Towanda Lodge, Knights of St. Crispin, No.
370, was instituted in 1871.
--Dr. Charles Whitehead was the first resident
physician in Towanda, in the year 1824.
--Rev. Miner York, was the first Presbyterian
minister, who settled in Towanda township.
--Towanda Postoffice was established in the
year 1810. Reuben Hale was the first postmaster.
--Burr Ridgeway established a newspaper in
Towanda, in the year 1813 Democratic in politics.
--William Means was the first settler within
the present limits of Towanda borough in the year 1784.
--James Catlin, an early resident of Towanda,
became a distinguished landscape and portrait painter.
--Towanda Gas and Water company, was incorporated
in 1859. Gas was first furnished in Towanda, in 1870.
--Linta Steam Engine Fire Company, No. 3,
was organized, Sept. 28, 1857, was incorporated in May, 1871.
--Washington Camp, Towanda, No. 190, Patriotic
Order of Sons of America, was established in the year 1873.
--Capt. Nicholas R. Hentz, came to Towanda,
in the year 1830. Was captain in the French army, under Napoleon,
from 1806 to 1815.
--Hon. James T. Hale, who was born in Towanda
township, October 14, 1810, became a distinguished lawyer, jurist and member
--The first Post of the Grand Army of the
Republic, in Bradford county, was established at Towanda, June 17, 1867,
with H. A. Frink, commander.
--Towanda Lodge, No. 290, K. Of P., was chartered
April 6, 1871. H. S. Clark, V. P.; H. J. Madill, C. C.; G.
H. Horton, V. C., A. D. Harding, K. of R. S.
--Rudolph Fox was the first permanent settler
in Towanda township, and it is believed in Bradford county, having made
a settlement before the revolutionary war, in May, 1770.
--Bradford Lodge, No. 167, I. O. O. F., was
instituted July 1st, 1846, William Elwell, N. G.; Stephen Pierce,
V. G.; Charles Reed, Sec.; O. R. Taylor, Treas.
--Hon. Joseph Powell, of Towanda, was elected
member of Congress in the year 1874, as a democrat. The first
democratic member in the district for many years previous.
--The Indian name Towanda, signifies: “Where
we bury the dead.” Conrad Webster, the Indian interpreter however,
claimed that it meant, “fretful or tedious” and was an Iroquois word.
--The Towanda Union Lodge, No. 108, A. Y.
Masons, was chartered April 3, 1807. Horatio Grant, W. M.; Amos Mix,
S. W.; Ebenezer Smith, J. W.; Josiah Grant, Treasurer; George Scott,
--Bradford Encampment, No. 41, I. O. O. F.,
was instituted at Towanda, August 27, 1846. William Strickland, C.
P.; D. C. Salsbury, H. P.; E. W. Morgan, S. W.; G. F. Mason, J. W.;
S. H. Stevens, Scribe.
--Elizabeth Fox, the daughter of Rudolph Fox,
afterwards wife of William Means, when a girl of thirteen years of age,
remained alone in a bark cabin in Towanda township, six weeks, with no
nearer neighbors than Wilkes Barre, nearly eighty miles distant.
--Hon. Christopher L. Ward, of Towanda, had
the finest private library in the State. It consisted of over sixteen
thousand volumes, upon every conceivable topic. After his death,
his daughter Mrs. Ellen Ward Miller, purchased it of the estate and presented
it to Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. A noble and generous
--Hon. Joseph C. Powell was an early settler
in Bradford county; was county commissioner in 1818-19-20, sheriff in 1821-22-23,
Prothonotary in 1836-37-38-39, and member of the state house of representatives
in the year 1849. He died in the year 1854, aged 68 years.
--The Susquehanna Collegiate Institute, of
Towanda, was incorporated, May 13, 1850. The first faculty
was: Rev. Samuel F. Colt, A. M. Principal; Rev. James McWilliam,
A. M., Ancient Languages; Charles R. Coburn, Mathematics and Normal
School; Miss Margaret Kennedy, Preceptress; Miss Fanny Biles, Assistant
and Teacher of Music.
--Hon. Christopher L. Ward, late of Towanda,
was one of the most prominent public men in Northern Pennsylvania, an eminent
lawyer, a gentleman of rare literacy acquirements, a large Owner
of coal lands, and a prominent democrat. He died in 1870. The
township of Ward, in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, is named in his honor.
--Hon. William T. Davies, was born in Wales,
in the year 1831, came to Bradford county, in the year 1833, taught school
in the years 1856-60, admitted to the bar in 1861 and was commissioned
captain that year, and served two years in the Union army, returned, was
elected district attorney of Bradford county, in 1863, and is now serving
his second term as State senator.
--Miller Fox, who died recently, at an advanced
age, at Towanda, was a son of Deacon John Fox, an early pioneer, was a
civil engineer, and laid out the Corning and Blossburg railroad.
He was much ridiculed when he asserted that the time would come when one
hundred thousand tons of Blossburg coal would annually pass over the railroad.
He lived to witness his prediction Verified ten-fold. A million tons
now annually is mined and shipped over the route.
--General William Patton became a resident
of Towanda, in the year 1823. He was a justice of the peace, district
attorney, clerk of the State and United States Senate. The latter
position he held for twenty-five years. He was captain and major-general
of militia, president of the Bradford county historical society, and a
conspicuous and influential democrat. He died in Towanda, in the
year 1878, aged 79 years.
--Hon John LaPorte, son of Bartholomew LaPorte,
one of the French Refugees, was county auditor, member of the State Legislature
and speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, served
two terms in Congress, judge of the county and surveyor-general of the
State of Pennsylvania from 1845 to 1851. He was one of the old vanguards
of democracy. LaPorte, the county seat of Sullivan county, is named
in his honor.
--Hon. David Wilmot, late of Towanda, was
born in the year 1814, studied law and came to Towanda about the
year 1838. In 1844 was elected to Congress, serving three terms,
president judge of Bradford district nine years, United States senator
two years, was chairman of the national convention that nominated
Abraham Lincoln, and was appointed United States judge of the court of
claims in the year 1863. He was the author of the “Wilmot Proviso.”
He died, March 16, 1868, aged 54 years. Upon his tombstone
are these words: “Neither slavery nor Involuntary servitude shall
ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof The
party shall first be duly convicted.
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