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Elkland and Osceola - As We See It
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Elkland and Osceola "As We See It"

by Ray and Sandy Crawford

Highlights of Elkland, Pennsylvania on its 200th Birthday

Dedicated to the founders of Elkland, Pennsylvania



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Business in Elkland in the Past

The Elkland Furniture Association (Limited) was incorporated March 25, 1882, by C. L. Pattison, William L. Simmons and Abram Coon, with a capital stock of $6,287.34. Its object was the manufacturing and vending of furniture of every description. The plant was installed in ample buildings north of the railroad, between Pattison Avenue and the present site of the Condensary. A large business was soon built up. In 1890 100 hands were employed. The factory was destroyed by fire January 7th, 1893. A movement to rebuild was immediately set on foot, but was not successful. On large building remained for a number of years until it was purchased by the Sheldon Manufacturing Company.

The Favorite Folding Chair Company, with a capital of $26,000.00 was incorporated May 5, 1883, for the purpose of manufacturing chairs of every description. The incorporators were: B. H. Parkhurst, John Parkhurst, L. K> Parkhurst, Richard K. Skinner, J. C. Edwards, C. L. Pattison of Elkland; E. B. Campbell of Nelson and H. F. Evans of New York City. This company continued in operation several years. It was located between railroad tracks and later was purchased by the Elkland Manufacturing Company and the Sheldon Manufacturing company.

[Illustration: Sheldon Manufacturing Company, Elkland, Pa. built in 1890, burned on January 7, 1893 and was still standing in 1923. –Norma Surnio]

The Elkland Planing Mill was established in 1890 by E. B. Campbell and J. C. Edwards. In August 1895 it was purchased by L. H. Fields, who employs eight hands. In addition to his planing mill business, Mr. Fields engages in the manufacturing of hardwood bedsteads. The planing mill was located between Davenport’s Garage and the present tannery site. The business which manufactured bedsteads was located on Coates Street back of the High School. Part of the Edwards Planing Mill was destroyed by fire in 1899.

The Elkland Foundry was established in 1891 by C. B. Bailey and was destroyed by fire on January 7, 1893. It was rebuilt in the following spring. In the year 1897 it was operated by William Wilhelm as a foundry and machine shop. It was later purchased by Andrew Bedell who operated it nearly half a century. Reginal Johnson owned it for a short time and it has since been used by the town as the Legion Community Building Clubhouse.

The New Elkland Roller Mill is now completed and in operation and it is without doubt the largest and best equipped establishment of its kind in this section of the state. It is the successor – and a worthy one, too – of the old Davenport Mill, which for may years ground the grist of the early settlers in this section. The old mill was badly damaged by the floods of 1889, and at the suggestion of the Journal a public meeting was called and a committee appointed to communicate with the owner Hon. John W. Ryon with a view of securing its removal up town. A contract was finally entered into whereby Mr. Ryon agreed to build a new and larger mill up town, using such portions of the old mill as were suitable and on completed of the same the business men of Elkland were to raise the sum of $1,200 as an offset to the abandonment of the old dam across the river and the expense of moving. A desirable site was secured between the Fall Brook and A & P railways at the head of Parkhurst Street and work was commenced on the foundation of the new mill last April. The new mill is a substantial wooden structure, 40 x 80 feet, containing three rooms and the basement, and is equipped with the latest and most improved machinery for the manufacture of flour by the rolls process. In fact it is a complete roller mill, no stones being used. There is a separate set of rollers for each kind of grain, ten for wheat, two for buckwheat and three for feed and meal. It is useless to say that with these facilities, the flour manufactured at this mill is equal to any I the market, and "Our Best" and "Excelsior" will soon become favorite brands with all good housekeepers. The capacity of the mill is 150 barrels a day. The basement, which is cemented, contains a live shaft, set on stone piers, and the conveyors, which will unload a car of grain and transfer it to its proper place in the mill at the rate of 200 bushels per hour. There are also twenty-seven stands of elevators extending from the basement of the third floor.

The first floor contains the rolls, a large set of Buffalo platform scales and the office. On the second and third floors are the separators, scalpers, bolting chests, purifiers, etc. The power is furnished by a sixty-horse power engine. At the east end of the main building is a store house, 20 x 40 feet, two stories high. Special attention is given to custom work, and comfortable sheds have been erected for the use of patrons. The mill is under the personal supervision of W. M. Martindell, a miller of many years’ experience in some of the largest mills in Philadelphia, who is aided by four able assistants, including the fireman. The book keeper and business manager is Mr. John W. Ryon, Jr. who possess all requisite qualifications for such a responsible position, and is a popular, young man withal. The proprietor, Hon. John W. Ryon, has spared neither labor nor expense in order to furnish the people of this section with a first class roller mill, and his efforts merit a liberal patronage. Success to the "Elkland Roller Mills".

A disastrous fire broke out in the Elkland Furniture Factory, Saturday evening, January 7th, 1893, entirely destroying the building and that of the Bailey Foundry and Machine Shop. Hardly had the six o’clock whistle finished blowing Saturday evening when the cry of fire was heard in the direction of the factories, followed soon by the blowing of whistles from the Machine Shop and an A & P freight train.

Workmen going to their homes, and in fact, the whole population of this borough, were soon at the scene, which was but the smallest sign of what proved to be a great conflagration. The night watchman of the furniture works had just begun working his rounds for the night, and extinguishing lamps, preparatory to closing, until another day should dawn, the doors of a prosperous and enterprising industry. At this time a small light was to be seen in the east end of the main building in what was known as the glue room. The spark grew with lightening rapidity and in an extremely short time the whole east end was a mass of livid flames. Two streams of water from the engine were directed toward the burning room, and from thence to the entire western part of the structure. Upon realizing the serious condition of things. Word was sent to Corning, Addison and Knoxville for assistance and they doubt very much their ability to do any very effective work had they reached here even as soon as sent for. At Addison, Supt. Baker placed a train at the disposal of the firemen, and the Welles Hose Co., with hose cart were brought here in all possible haste. Their assistance, however, was not needed and they returned at 9:30 o’clock. Supt. Wm. H. Northrup, of the Fall Brook Co., kindly placed a train in readiness to start and the Pritchard Hose Company cart and the hook and ladder company were put on the train at Lawrenceville who kindly volunteered aid but the fire was under control and none but the Addison Company made a start. At 8 o’clock the wooden building occupied by Messrs. C. B. and R. W. Bailey as a foundry and machine shop, located just a few rods east of the Furniture factory, was ignited from the intense heat and was soon a mass of flames. Our local firemen and citizens generally all turned their attention toward the carriage factory and the innumerable piles of lumber in the immediate vicinity of the Furniture factory. By persistent efforts the building was kept free from sparks and heat and was thus saved. There was no wind at the outbreak of the fire, but the intense heat created a heavy breeze from the west which materially affected the work of saving any part of the Furniture factory proper. At only a short distance from the foundry was located a large building used as a cold storage room and owned by b. H. Parkhurst, which, by careful wetting was saved. Every available pail and bucket was brought into play and the limit of the fire’s furious march was finally reached. At the outbreak the main office and also the stock room of the Furniture works was besieged by willing hands and the contents of the office was saved together with about one hundred suites of furniture and as many large plate glasses. Messrs. Bailey hardly had time to gain an entrance to their building so intense was the heat. Only a small number of tools, were rescued from the building.

The Elkland Basket Works was established in 1893 by C. B. Bailey and F. G. Bemis for the manufacture of fruit and farm baskets. About seventy-five hands were employed, the output amounting to about $60,000.00 annually. The plant was removed to Coudersport, Pa., March 1, 1896.

The Elkland Pure Oil and Gas Company was organized in February 1896, for the purpose of making a thorough test for oil and gas on lands leased for that purpose. The officers were F. W. Crandall, president; M. G. Fitzpatrick, secretary; A. W. Campbell, treasurer; George C. Signor, R. P. McCann, F. T. Smith, J. W. Ryon, Jr., Jay Beard, J. C. Dulso, G. S. Walker, Charles Cornelius, W. G. Humphrey, C. B. Bailey, and C. E. Bailey, directors. A well was sunk about half a mile southwest of the village, and gas and oil both struck, but not in paying quantities.

The Elkland Bicycle club was organized July, 1894, as a stock company with B. H. Parkhurst, president; Dr. W. H. Humphrey, vice-president; George C. Signor, corresponding secretary; Fred w. Crandall, treasurer, and Fred T. Smith, secretary. This club owned twelve acres of enclosed ground northwest of the business part of the borough, containing a half-mile track, grandstand, judges’ stand, etc. Race meetings were held here each season, and state records had been made on this track. This land lays near the present clubhouse to the creek and Pattison Avenue.

The Elkland Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of toys and novelties, was established in Elkland in January 1887. F. W. Crandall, the superintendent, was the son of Asa Crandall, know as the maker of Crandall’s building blocks. Mr. Crandall was in the same business in Montrose, Pa. where his large factory burned August 27, 1886, involving a loss of $46,000. His present plant was located I the old Chair Factory building. From sixty to seventy-five men were constantly employed, the annual output amounting to about $40,000. Toys and novelties were shipped to all parts of the world.

This factory partly burned in 1905 but was rebuilt soon after. Mr. Crandall failed in business and the factory was idle many years. During World War I Gale Stalker, representing the H. Sheldon Manufacturing Company of Canton, Pa. came to Elkland to buy the idle building. Sheldon had a large order for tent stakes for the army when their Canton plant burned. Stalker came to Elkland in the night and by the light of a lantern, inspected the building and immediately bought it. They resumed making tent stakes as soon as machinery could be installed. About 1925 the entire plant burned, including a large building moved from the old Furniture Factory site west of Pattison Avenue.

The Elkland Carriage Works was established in the old rink building in 1889, by B. H. Parkhurst, and operated until his suspension in 1893. Over sixty hands were employed, the annual output exceeding $100,000. This property was later owned by the National Advertising Company, who purposed engaging in manufacturing of snow shovels and other articles of utility. This company was located on the east side of Pattison Avenue between the two railroads, and burned in the year 1895. It was never rebuilt.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Thurman Pattison – Elkland Condensery, Elkland, Pa., built in 1912.]

The Highland Milk Company was started in 1911 and completed in 1912. During the construction of that part which was to be the boiler room, the outside walls were completely bricked up. When the boiler arrived on a flat car, part of the wall had to be torn down to allow the workmen to get the boiler in, as the architects had forgotten to leave an opening large enough for the boiler. In 1915 a can shop was added. At that time 125 people were employed and at its peak during the first World War, 375,000 pounds of milk per day were processed, partly for overseas use. Milk came from approximately 1,000 farmers. About 1920 it was purchased by the Helvetia Milk Company.

In 1922 the Pet Corporation bought the plant. In 1927 it was bought by the Borden Company. The plant was closed in 1940 and most of the machinery moved to other plants. Since that time it has been used for receiving and storing milk. It has a storage capacity of 200 carloads. Six people are employed there at present. They receive 100,000 pounds of milk per days. Now it houses Marzo’s Beer Distributor, Morgan & Mainus Furniture, and Morgan-Mangraff Lumber.

Elkland Roller Mills. As early as 1815 Col. Samuel Tubbs and his sons excavated a mill race around the south side of what afterward became known as Davenport Island (the present home of Jake Outman), and erected a sawmill and a gristmill. Col. Lemuel Davenport, who came about 1820, acquired this property and operated the mills. In 1870 they were purchased by Hon. John W. Ryon, of Pottsville, Pa. In 1885 the gristmill was changed to a rollermill. In 1890 the machinery, etc., was moved to the side north of the Fall Brook Railroad, at the head of Parkhurst Street and the present mill erected. In 1894 a grain elevator with a capacity of 14,000 bushels of grain was built. During the latter part of 1895 the mill was completely remodeled and the latest improved machinery added. In 1897 it was a 500 barrel mill and was one of the best equipped in the State. John W. Ryon, Jr. was in charge. William Martindell was the superintendent and head miller. Mr. Ryon ran the business until 1924.

The buildings were empty for ten years and in December 1934 the Elkland Lumber and Supply Company was incorporated with M. R. Murray, C. W. Prindle, W. C. Croft, W. J. Ordway and C. B. Phillips as stockholders. In 1941, February 8th, F. W. Simpson purchased the buildings and business.

The Jamestown Electric Company took over the building for two years. Since then the Elkland Lumber and Supply Company have occupied them.

About 1840 D. B. Schoff erected a waterpower sawmill on the river in the southern part of the village, and operated it for a number of years. It was torn down in 1869 by George Dorrance. This sawmill was located near the Elkland pump station on the river bank.

Decker & Metcalf’s Sash, Door and Blind Factory was established about 1857. They ran it nearly twenty years. The property had various owners afterwards, finally falling into the hands of C. L. Pattison, who removed the plant north of the railroads and incorporated it with the furniture factory. The site of this factory was just north of the Methodist Church building, at the end of what is now Second Street.

The Cowanesque Valley Oil Company was incorporated in July 1877, the incorporators being Garrett W. Benson, John Parkhurst, C. L. Pattison, Benjamin Dorrance and J. C. Edwards. An oil well was sunk on the Hammond farm southwest of the borough. Oil and gas were both found, but in limited quantities.

The Tioga Telephone Company was incorporated November 28, 1881, the capital stock was $2,500.00 Before this date a telephone was installed between Elkland Roller Mills and the Fall Brook (New York Central) depot. In shipping flour and grain, the mill had to consult the freight agent many times a day. Two men from Wellsboro called on John Ryon and told him he would install a telephone between the mill and depot for $12.00 from each party. Both parties agreed and one pole was erected between the two buildings and two wires were pulled tight and fastened securely to each building. The two wires were led inside. On the ends of these wires were placed a diaphragm or cup shaped dish, about eight inches in diameter. When a person would talk into this disc at the mill, the voice would be plainly heard from the disc at the depot or the depot could call to the mill. When no one answered at the other end, a small wooden hammer was used to drum on the outside of the disc. This racket would soon get a response. No batteries or electricity were used in any way to convey the human voice.

One of the first telephone offices was in Kenyon’s store and later moved to the Upham Block (home of George Davenport, Jr.) and home of Mrs. War Trim. Also on Parkhurst Street (now the home of Leon Linza). In the year 1925 our present Bell Telephone system office was moved to the Thurston home on Buffalo Street and remained there until 1949 when the dial system was put into use. Now in 1976 it is called Continental Telephone Co.

Early in January 1893, our vicinity received a setback I the conflagration that took away two of our well known industries. Since that time our people have been interested in getting something here that would make good the loss sustained by us, in the way of manufacturing enterprises. The question as to whether we would succeed were many and of a most difficult character to answer and so the matter hung fire until about three months, since when it became known that Mr. Joseph Cornelius was considering the plan of building a large tannery here. It finally became certain that the tannery would be constructed at an early date and the fact relieved our business men from such serious thoughts as they had allowed to pass through their minds.

The editor of this paper visited the site of the new tannery and there learned the facts pertaining to the construction of this plant. As promised some little time ago we give a brief description of the tannery as it will be erected and a correction of some of the statements made in our Exchanges. In May last, the new firm in which Messr’s. J. Cornelius and sons, of Elkland and Proctor, Hunt and Co. of Boston are equal shareholders, purchased eleven acres of ground just east of the Arlington Hotel, of G. S. Dorrence, and in the latter part of the same month broke ground preparatory to the erection of their buildings. The ground is nicely located and very suitable to the erections of their buildings. The ground is nicely located and very suitable for the purpose wanted. The shipping and railway facilities afforded are excellent; switches, sidewalks, etc., having been put in by the Fall Brook and A & P Railways. On entering the premises from the West entrance, the first building visited was the beam home and yard which covers a space of 63 x 300 feet. The beam house is connected with the hide house by the track. The yard will be amply provided with vats, leaches, and all the modern conveniences known to the tanning fraternity. A short distance north of the beam house will be found the rolling room and dry loft occupying 40 x 400 feet of ground. The leach house and bark sheds occupy the northern portion of the plant and used by the railway switches. The extreme northern corner will be filled by another large shed. On the west end of the plant situated within easy reach of the other buildings will be located in the boiler room. The power in propelling the machinery will be supplied by three engines, aggregating 250 horse power. The boilers will be 5 x 14 feet and furnished by McEvan Bros. of Wellsville, N.Y. There are now forty workmen engaged on the buildings and about the yards. All the buildings are built on strong stone abutments, suitable for building of this character, and constructed of the best timber. All the buildings are under process of erection and will be about completed by October 1st when the company will put in the first hides, and the number will be gradually increased up to 600 hides per day. We were here informed that the tannery operated by Messrs. Cornelius on the south side of the river would be run until work can be commenced in the new buildings that the business operated by Mr. F. M. Cornelius in the manufacturing of lumber will eventually be transferred to the new company. The new company starts out with very bright prospects, plenty of bark having been secured and any obstacle that would seem to prevent the successful operation of their large tannery in Elkland have been overcome. They are not in any manner connected with the leather trust but enjoy perfectly agreeable feelings toward it. The facts connected with the above sketch have been given by one of the company very reluctantly and it is with some persuasion that we are enabled to get them at all Several minor points not now at hand will be given later.

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Early History of Elkland Tannery

The earliest date we can establish for the beginning of a tannery is in the year 1851, when a tannery was built on the south bank of the Cowanesque river (near where the Paul Bailey house now stands) by James Hancock. Mr. Hancock was soon succeeded by S. G. Tabor and Son. In the year 1853, Joel Parkhurst acquired the property and continued to own and operate until the year 1873, when he sold the tannery to Joseph Cornelius.

(In 1852 Hoyt Tubbs in the company with Truman Crandall and others erected another tannery near the location of the C. C. & A. R. R. and Mr. Tubbs held his interest in the venture until it was destroyed by fire in March 1866.)

Joseph Cornelius in connection with his sons owned and operated his tannery until 1893, when it passed into the hands of Proctor Hunt & Company of Boston, Mass. Mr. Cornelius, however, still retained an interest in the business. In the year 1893, after Proctor Hunt and Company had acquired possession, the tannery was destroyed by fire. At the time of the fire there were about 30 men employed in the plant. After the fire a new tannery was built on the present site of the Elkland Leather Company, on land which was then a part of the old Dorrance farm. Frank Cornelius, son of Joseph Cornelius, was superintendent for many years. The Cornelius family lived for a number of years in the house which still stands to the right of the street as you leave the river bridge at the foot of Tannery Hill.

[Illustration: Elkland Tannery – 1973.]

The late Harry VanDusen recalled taking a load of tan bark to the Tannery on February 13, 1893, which was the last year the tannery operated on the south side of town.

During the Spring of 1894, ground was broken for the tannery which was operated for a number of years under the name of Proctor and Ellison Company. The whistle blew for the first time on August 11, 1894, and twenty-five men reported for work. The new tannery had a capacity of 150 hides per day and was one of the largest in the country at that time. The new company also owned and operated a company store.

Joel Parkhurst built a tannery on the south bank of the Cowanesque River in 1867. He operated it for a few years and in 1874 sold to Joseph Cornelius who operated the tannery successfully for twenty years. This tannery ran about 100 hides a day and employed one roller, two beam hands. It was located just west of the house now at the south of the bridge. At that time the road ran directly over the hill. Joseph Cornelius lived in the large house just across the bridge.

In 1894 Joseph Cornelius bought the site of the present tannery from the Dorrance farm and began construction. Before the tannery was built, however, Mr. Cornelius sold to Proctor Ellison Co. who completed the plant. Operations began in August 11, 1894 and 25 men came to work. Frank, the son of Joseph Cornelius was the first superintendent. Six rollers were employed in the fall of 1896.

[Illustration: Cornelius Tannery on River Street, Elkland, Pa.]

Odds and Ends of Historical Interest

The first Sheriff of Tioga County was Alpheus Cheney of Elkland. He was elected in 1812.

Elkland Township was organized in 1814 and comprised the present Borough of Elkland, Nelson and Osceola, all of Farmington Township and part of Lawrence, Deerfield and Middlebury Townships.

The population of Elkland Borough in 1870 was 322 inhabitants.

There was a total school enrollment in Elkland in 1874 of eighty pupils. There were two teachers at a salary of $38.00 per month each.

The total school budget for the year 1874 was $417.55

Dr. W. T. Humphrey of Elkland served in the State Legislature at Harrisburg in 1865 to 1867, and again in 1874 to 1876.

In the 1840’s two sportsmen and gamblers came to Elkland with a fast race horse. They traveled from town to town racing their horse against local horses and betting with the residents on the outcome. Their horse usually won and they made a lot of money on the bets.

A man by the name of Taylor in Osceola had a very fast mare that had a colt shortly before these men came to Elkland. Taylor persuaded Col. Marinus Stull to ride his horse in the race, which was to be from Elkland Village to the foot of Barney Hill. Stull refused to ride I the race if it was to be from west to east, but said he would ride from east to west.

The gamblers, not knowing about the colt, agreed. The mare, thinking she was going to her colt, really did her best and won the race. The gamblers left Elkland wiser and much poorer.

In the early days the Cowanesque River was known as Log Creek. It was so called on many of the land deeds given to the early settlers. It derived its name from logs being floated down the river in early lumbering operations.

[Illustration: Cornelius Tannery on River Street before 1894.]

Lewis W. Fenton came to Elkland in 1858. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was taken prisoner by the Confederates but was later released. Mr. Fenton served o the Elkland Borough Council for three years and was constable for twenty-four years.

Charles L. Babcock was born in Elkland in 1864. He attended Lowell’s Business College in Binghamton, was employed in Skinner’s store in Elkland, engaged in business for himself in Nelson and was elected registrar and recorder for Tioga County in 1896.

Joel Parkhurst was appointed postmaster at Elkland four different times and served a total of twenty-eight years in that office. He was also elected burgess at four different times for a total of eleven years.

Buffalo Street in Elkland is said to have received this name because an early resident of the street was accused of stealing a buffalo robe.

The Borough Building was destroyed by fire on September 13, 1904.

The present Kenyon Funeral Parlors was erected by Joel Parkhurst as a residence and stood at one time on the site of the present Moose Lodge Building.

In May 1888 at a regular Council meeting, the streets were officially named as follows: Main, First, Second, Parkhurst and Elm. Buffalo Street, so called at the time, was not officially voted upon because the Council could not agree on a proper name.

C. M. Graves and Company, Buffalo Street have opened their ice cream parlor for the season and are now prepared to supply this delicacy to all who may wish. They have just installed a new soda fountain and besides all the popular flavors will dispense ice cream soda and milk stir. You can procure a first class lunch or baked goods. – (1903).

Roy Brown had the first gas office for a short time in his home where Van’s Esso now stands.
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