The Reverend Mr. David Craft
HISTORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS
This Township received
its name from a Connecticut township of that name which included a part
of what is now called Canton A few of the early settlers came in under
the Connecticut title, which was purchased of Col. John Spalding, of Sheshequin,
who was agent for the proprietors. The Pennsylvania owners were the Asylum
company, and the warrants were granted in the names of Miers Fisher and
Canton is the southwest corner township of the county, and is bounded on the south by Sullivan and Lycoming counties, on the west by Tioga county and Armeia township, on the north by Troy, and on the east by Granville and Le Roy. In the southwest corner of the township is Beaver meadow, which contains the common source of both the Towanda and Lycoming creeks. The valleys through which the streams flow that unite in the eastern part of the township to form the Towanda, are broad and fertile. The remaining part of the township is rolling, and embraces a soil well adapted to grazing, while the whole township is one of the best grain growing townships of the county.
The first settler in the
township was a man by the name of Gere, who came from Rhode Island and
settled, in 1796, a farm that is now occupied by Daniel Innes. His family
consisted of a wife and three children. He cleared a few acres, built a
log house, and commenced to build either a saw or grist mill, and in 1800
he sold to Orr Scoville.
Ezra Spalding came to Canton in 1796, also. He was born in Connecticut in 1754, and lived there until he was forty years of age. He had received a good common school education, and had also studied navigation and surveying until he became well versed in these subjects, but never had much practice in either. He was brought up a farmer, and became one of the best in the county where he resided. He enlisted in the army during the Revolutionary War in 1776, and served three months, was discharged and came home. In a short time his country again called for his services, and again he responded and served nine months in the militia, receiving his discharge in the fall of 1777. When he returned to his father's farm and worked it about three years, when on account of continued sickness in his family he found it necessary to sell his farm and leave that part of the country. He then moved to Sheshequin, in the fall of 1795. He left his family there during the following winter, and, with his son Horace, came to Canton, and located a farm under the Connecticut title, where Horace, now an old man past his fourscore and ten, still resides. He built a log cabin between where the road now runs and the Towanda creek, and opposite the house now occupied by Horace Spalding. Having chopped a fallow of about four acres and built his cabin, he returned to Sheshequin for his family, and in the month of February moved them to his new home. His goods were loaded on an ox sled, and Col. John Spalding took the family in a sleigh with horses. They made the trip in about four days, picking their way through the woods and frequently being compelled to stop to clear out a way for the teams.
The family consisted of two sons and three daughters, viz: Horace and William, Lucy, Betsey, and Delight. Besides these there were two negro slaves, who came from Connecticut, Beulah and her son Caeser. Beulah lived with her master part of the time, and died there. Caesar ran away; returned to his master, but proved to be worthless and left. Mr. Spalding suffered all the inconveniences of living in a new country, and endured many privations. He could raise nor more grain than was needed for the sustenance of the family, while maple sugar was the only product with which to buy groceries, and clothing, glass, nails, etc. and Tioga Point or Williamsport the nearest point at which they could so their trading.
About 1799 a store was opened near Towanda, which made the distance to market much shorter and a better road, and was among the very first of the increased advantages the settlers enjoyed.
Jonas Gere, who came into Canton the same year as Ezra Spalding, moved away in 1800. The same spring (1796), Jonathan Prowser, a German, settled on the farm that a few years ago was owned by C. S. Sellard. He was the first settler within the limits of the borough of Canton. His house stood near and below the bridge that crosses the Towanda creek. The same spring a man by the name of Cook settled the farm that is now owned by C. S. Sellard. Gere, Prosser, and Cook were the only settlers prior to 1796. That same year, however, Gershom Gillett made a possession on the farm now owned by L. D. Landon. He came from the state of New York. His Son Wilkes settled the farm that James Metler lives on. Mr. Sellard married a granddaughter of the elder Mr. Gillett. The Gilletts, except one daughter, who married Augustus Loomis, have all moved away from Canton. Zephaniah Rogers settled on what is now known as the Hubbell Manley farm, and his son Zephaniah Jr., settled the farm now occupied by Joseph and Solomon Lindley. The Rogers' came probably from Vermont. The old gentleman built a little tub mill, as it was called, a very rude affair, the stone being the common conglomerate found in coal measures, and ruddy dressed, having a capacity for cracking from a bushel and a half to three bushels of corn in 24 hours, if kept steadily at work. Mr. Spalding built a similar mill, and his son Horace says of it, it would crush a bushel and a half of corn in a day, while squirrels and chipmunks took the toll, but it was preferable to pounding in a hollow stump. Mr. Rogers also set off to his son Roswell the farm that is now owned by his son William. The old people died on the place, which has been held in the family name until a short time ago.
In the year 1797 there was quite an addition to the number of settlers. The farm that L. N. Rutty now owns was settled by John Newell. He was uncle to H. S. Newell, now living in Canton, on the farm that his father, Oliver Newell, left him at his death. This farm was first settled by Orr Scoville. His house was probably the first framed building put up in Canton township. The old house is now used as a barn, is in a good state of preservation, and is owned by Esquire Bassett.
In 1797, Dr. Moses Emerson settled the farm afterwards owned by Icahbod Sellard, and in the spring following Daniel Bailey settled, and built a house on the firm that Enoch Sellard now owns. The lot, contaning fifty acres, was given him.
The lot that is now owned by James Watts, C. P. Spalding, and. 0. B. Granteer, was first settled by Laban Landon. Benjamin Landon, the father, came from Connecticut to Canton not far from 1800. He sold to Major Withey, and it is yet known as the Withey farm, and is next above Mr. Spalding. He had sons-Benjamin, Ezra, Levi, Stephen, Laban, Joshua, and Eldah the latter is now living in the borough of Canton. Nearly all of these sons settled in the township and have had families, so those bearing the name are numerous and the family became influential.
In 1797, a man by the name of Stratton, from the lower part of the Sugar Creek valley, built a house on the flat now owned by G. W. Griffin, but Stratton never occupied it. He went back to his home on the creek, and Ebenezer Bixby, coming into the place the same spring found the house unoccupied, moved his family into it, and used it for three years.
Samuel Griffin, Sr., a Revolutionary soldier, and who was in the battle of Yorktown, came from Middlefield, Conn., to Canton in 1799. His path up the creek at this time was shown by marked trees. He came with his son-in-law, Nathan Roberts, who was from the same place. They settled on the property now owned by George Goff. Samuel Griffin, Jr., came the next year (1800), and settled near his father. Samuel Griffin the elder died soon after coming here, and is said to have been the first grown person who died in the township. He never came under the Connecticut title, but bought his land of the Asylum Company. Mrs. Griffin was accustomed to relate to her family that when they first came up the creek, the Holcombs were keeping bachelors' hall in Le Roy, and that there was no house above them until their place was reached. Mr. Griffin once, at least, was compelled to carry a bag of grain on his back to Ulster to mill to get it ground, but they cornmonly used their samp-mortar. Samuel Griffin was married and had two children when he moved to Pennsylvania, one of whom died in Texas and the other in California. The brothers of Samuel Griffin, Jr., were Reuben Griffin, of Sheshequin - John Griffin, of Athens. Samuel Griffin, Jr., also had a son, Samuel, who lived in Canton. The family were of Welsh descent, the father of Samuel Griffin, Sr., being the first emigrant.
About 1800, Joel Bullock built a house on the Tabor farm, on the ground where Cyrus Tabor's house now stands. He sold to Abraham, father of Nathan B. Tabor. In this year Jacob Granteer moved up the creek, bought out Jonathan Prosser, and built his first house. which was of hewed logs, on or near the ground where Ezekiel Newman's house now stands. Mr. Granteer came from Scoharie, on the Mohawk, to Bradford County. The Granteers were Dutch people. By deed bearing date July, 1799, Jacob Granteer sells to George Welles and Reuben Hale a lot on Towanda, in Asylum township. It will be remembered that it was at the house of Mr. Granteer, or, as the old people usually called the name, "Granidier" that Elder Thomas Smiley was tarred and feathered by the wild Yankees, of which an account has been given in another place. There were sons Jacob, Jr., John, and David. The two former are dead; David is living in Canton. There were also three or four daughters, who married and settled about Canton. One who married Samuel Rockwell is still living. Mr. Granteer owned 400 acres, which included all or the vintage of Canton.
In 1797, Isaiah Grover settled what has since been known as the Griffin farm, and is now owned by George Goff. Grover after a short time sold out to Samuel Griffin, and moved away.
In 1800, Benjamin Babcock settled the farm that is now owned by Reuben Loomis. In the same spring Nathaniel Babcock settled the farm known as the Vandyke, now owned by Jacob Beardsley, and at this date there were no settlers until we get down as far as the Walters farm, on what is now the Le Roy turnpike.
Samuel Rockwell came from Vermont, near Lake Champlain, so near that the daughter, Hannah, who married afterwards Eli Parsons, became a good swimmer, and was the means of saying the lives of some who were upset from a boat on the lake. He settled about two miles above Canton, on the road to Alba. One of his grandsons, Jacob Rockwell, lives on a part of the place. He had a large family, consisting of nine Sons and one daughter. The sons were Elias, Samuel, Luther, Calvin, James, Laban, Byron, Rufus, and another who went west when a young man. Rufus and Luther settled in Troy; Byron is a Baptist preacher, and is Now in Sullivan, Tioga County; Calvin settled in Granville; Elias, Samuel, and James remained in Canton. Among the descendants of the Troy family is the Hon. Delos, late State senator from this district. So large a family of boys, together with their thrift and enterprise, gave the family great prominence in the township. Mr. Rockwell moved into the township about the time of the Granteers (1800).
David Pratt, who married Hannah, sister of the elder Samuel Rockwell, came from the same place, at the same time with the Rockwells, settled about one mile north of Canton, and raised quite a family. Catlin lives near where the old house stood. Mr. Pratt had sons Ebenezer, Jonathan, David, Asa, Julius, and Chester. They all settled at first in Canton, but afterwards moved to Chatauqua county. Jesse Griffin married a daughter. The Rockwells, Pratts, and Wilsons, of Alba, came from the same neighborhood.
Stephen Sellard came from New London, Connecticut. He first went to a place called the Block-house, in Tioga county, then came over into the southwestern part of Canton, and bought the farm of a previous settler named Crandall, who moved down on the Lycoming creek. Mr. Crandall also came from Connecticut. Mr. Sellard raised quite a family of boys, five of whom grew to man's estate. The youngest of these, Ichabod, is dead, and James is in Missouri; the rest are living in the township.
About 1774, a man from New EngIand, named Elisha Wilcox, settled on Thorn bottom, about twenty miles from the Pittston settlement, who, in June, 1778, was captured by a band of Indians, detained prisoner, and compelled to be in the Wyoming battle, and who died soon after. By this marriage there were Stephen Wilcox, and Nancy, who married Stephen Strickland. Mrs. Wilcox afterward married Henry Pladner (written Pladnore and Platner). Mr. Pladner died, and she became the wife of Noadiah Cranmer. Mr. Pladner probably died in Athens, when his widow moved to Monroe, and then to Franklin, where her name is mentioned again. Mr. Strickland moved to Wysox, where he purchased a part of the farm formerly occupied by Roswell Franklin. Here Mr.Strickland soon died. Owing to some trouble about the title, Mrs. Strickland and her two sons, Amos and Stephen, moved on to the farm where Thomas Manly now lives. Mrs. Strickland was reputed rich, and had a large landed estate. She went west with her daughter, who married Snow Runnels, and died there. The family afterwards recovered possession of the Wysox farm, which is now occupied by Mr. Stephen Strickland. Mrs. Strickland is described as a thorough-going, skillful, business woman, who managed her affairs with great success. Rhoda, one of the daughters of Mrs. Strickland, married Dr. Sylvester Streater, who was the only practicing physician about the Canton neighborhood for many years. He lived on a part of Samuel Griffin, Jr.'s, farm.
Dr. Van Sick was a German, and received in his native country a good education. He first lived just where Dr. Streater died, and then moved down the creek into Le Roy. He married a Wilcox, who was a relative of Nathan and Daniel, in that township. All of the Wilcox's in Le Roy and Franklin townships were originally from Orange county, N. Y.
Another daughter of Mrs. Pladner married an Ogden, who for a time lived in Canton and then moved away.
The names of most of the persons who have been mentioned in this enumeration will be recognized as familiar names in the township to this day, and many of them are occupying the farms, which their ancestors settled and reclaimed from the wilderness.
Samuel Griffin built the first schoolhouse in the township, and Miss Emma Segar taught the first school in it in 1803. The pupils came from nearly every part of the township, from Alba, from Canton borough, and from near Grover. This school-house stood near Lathan Andrus' farm. There are now, besides the borough, thirteen school districts, with their schools and schoolhouses.
Mr. Spalding, when he purchased his Connecticut right, supposed he had a good title to his farm, but when the question of title began to be raised Mr. Spalding was, at the suggestion of a neighbor and who had been an inmate of his house, sued for a small debt, the summons being returnable to Williamsport, before Esquire Martin. While there he was arrested under the intrusion law, but gave bail for his appearance to answer the summons. After several delays the cause was brought on. Mr. Spalding was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $200 and costs of court, and be imprisoned for a time in the county jail. He gave security for the payment of his fine, and served out his period of imprisonment and returned to his family. During the period he was detained in jail a gentleman visited his family, and, on hearing the history of the case, said that he would aid Mr. Spalding in obtaining the Pennsylvania title from the Asylum Company. The Pennamite party, who had instituted the prosecution, engaged at Mr. Spalding's return to his old home, and his persistency in holding to his Connecticut title, determined to drive him from the country. The payment of his fine was demanded, and in default the sheriff of Lycoming county levied on all his property, which he sold, and then set fire to his house and burned it to the ground, and his family, in the beginning of winter, were left homeless and shelterless. A friend bought in his property and left it at his disposal, and as the season was too late to build, he accepted the offer of a small log house that stood on the flat now owned by G. W. Griffin, and at that time owned by Eleazer Allis. After about a year, he built a larger house, which was a place of entertainment for many years, and standing on the public road from Williamsport to Elmira. Both the house and its owner became well known to the traveling public. In 1801, Mr. Spalding obtained a lease of the Asylum Company for his farm, which was resurveyed in 1804, and conveyed to him in legal form. Ezra Spalding died in December 1828. Horace, son of Ezra, is at this writing (1878) now living, in his ninety-fifth year, and retains his faculties to a remarkable degree. His first vote was cast in 1804, for Colonel John Franklin, and he has voted at every general election since.
This place was formerly called "Canton Corners," and was a rival to East Canton, a village three miles to the east, which contains Presbyterian and Methodist houses of worship, stores, and a number of dwellings , received a marked impulse from the building of the Northern Central Railroad, and since that period has been rapidly increasing in population and improvements. The place was incorporated a borough in 1863, and since that period has enjoyed the municipal advantages which the law confers upon such organizations. The leading denominations are represented by church edifices and organizations, which are well sustained. The graded school of the borough affords excellent advantages for education. The schools are held in a commodious brick building of two stories, which is furnished with the appliances of modern schools. There are three hotels, well-furnished stores, and several shops where various mechanical pursuits are followed. The facilities for shipment make it a good market for butter, grain, and farm produce. A weekly newspaper, the Canton Sentinel, is established.
WILLIAM S. JAYNE
The "Jayne family" is among
the oldest in this country, and in its numerous branches contains many
honored names. The subject of this sketch is the eldest of the children
of Abraham Jayne and Julia Maybery; was born in Bethel, Northampton County,
Pa., Jan. 3, 1803. His father removed to New Jersey about 1805, where
he resided a short time. On the death of his father he removed to
Middle Smithfield, Pa., whence, after remaining about three years, he went
to Tunkhannock. The subject of our sketch attained his majority at
this latter place. In his boyhood the opportunities for obtaining
an education were very limited, but Mr. Jayne improved what there were
to the best advantage, often spending his winter evening over his books,
with no other light than that afforded by a pine torch. In September,
1825, he married Miss Sarah McMillan of Exeter, Pa. She was the daughter
of Dr. John McMillan, of one of the Scotch-Irish families from the north
of Ireland, from which place he emigrated to the United States, took some
part in the Revolutionary struggle, then going on, accompanied the Sullivan
expedition up the Susquehanna as one of the surgeons and after the war
settled in the Wyoming valley, where losing everything in the great ice
flood of 1784, he removed to the Juniata river, and engaged in teaching.
Again removing into the Wyoming valley, he settled in Exeter, where he
died at an advanced age. In this latter place Mrs. Jayne was born, and
here she remained until her marriage. It may be mentioned here that
Mrs. Jayne's mother was in the Forty fort at the time of the battle and
massacre, in which two of her brothers were slain. Mrs. Jayne was
for many years an honored member of the Baptist church, respected by her
neighbors, and greatly beloved by her children, over whom she possessed
great influence, and whom she was ever ready to aid with her counsel and
Mr. Jayne engaged in agriculture, having purchased a farm of 100 acres, which be cleared and brought into a high state of cultivation. In the fall of 1852 he sold his Tunkhannock property, with it view of removing to Illinois, but becoming engaged in work on the North Branch canal, deferred his removal for a time. On the 5th of July of this year Mrs. Jayne died, after suffering twenty-four years confinement to her chair with rheumatism. This changed Mr. Jayne's former plans of removing westward. He married, Oct. 7, 1855, Mrs. Sophia Pickard, of Canton, to which place he then removed, and where he still continues to reside. He again suffered the misfortune of losing his companion, who deceased suddenly. This was a great bereavement, as Mrs. Jayne was one of the best and most affectionate of companions, always cheerful and indulgent to her family, and kind to all who approached her. From early life she was a devoted and exemplary member of the Presbyterian church, to which she was ardently attached, ready at all times to render service in building it up, so far as in her power, leaving an untarnished Christian character, which will ever remain above reproach. Though dead, she will ever live in the affections of' her husband and friends.
Our subject acquired the knowledge of the theory and practice of surveying and conveyancing, which he practiced until recently, being compelled by age to abandon it. Mr. Jayne was commissioned justice of the peace in 1831, and twice elected under the new constitution. He was commissioned one of the associate judges on the formation of Wyoming County, and elected for a second term, but resigned before the expiration of the term. He was the first treasurer elected under the Dew constitution in Luzerne County, which office be resigned, and returned to Wyoming County, where he remained until a short time since.
The fruits of Mr. Jayne's first marriage were six children, four of whom are still living, Viz., Cynthia Ann, William Judson, Harriet, and Francis, two in Illinois, one in southern Kansas, and the youngest son in Towanda, where be settled, and married Helen, daughter of Joseph Kingsbury. Mr. Jayne has suffered keenly from the severe domestic afflictions through which he has passed, and now, in his declining years, receives the kindliest sympathies of his numerous friends.
COLONEL IRAD WILSON
The subject of this sketch was born in Addison township, Addison Co., Vt., Jan. 20, 1798. His father, Noah Wilson, emigrated to Alba, Bradford Co., PA., in 1803. Irad's school advantages were limited to a common district school taught by his sister. At the age of thirteen he was employed as a clerk in Gen. Samuel McKean's store in Burlington. Preferring the open, active life of farming to the confinement and drudgery of a store, he left Gen. McKean's employ at the end of three years, and commenced work on his father's farm. Ile began the study of medicine under his uncle, Dr. Reuben Rawley, at the age of sixteen. He enlisted in the American army in 1815 in the war of 1812, but peace being soon declared, his company was not called into service. He was married, June 7, 1818, to Miss Sally Maria Elliott, an estimable lady of excellent family connections. Instead of beginning the practice of his profession at once, he cleared up 275 acres of splendid land, upon which is located the present borough of Alba. Col. Wilson was the first postmaster appointed at Alba. He discharged the duties of this office acceptably for fifteen years. His popularity, fine physical frame, etc., won for him the captaincy of the 21st Pennsylvania militia company. He was afterward chosen colonel, in which capacity he served seven years, acquitting himself with honor. Col. Wilson's ability and integrity soon became known throughout Bradford County. In the fall of 1839 he was elected one of the commissioners for Bradford County. In 1843 he represented his county in the State legislature. He gave such excellent satisfaction to his constituency that he was re-elected by an enthusiastic majority the following year. At the expiration of his term of office he turned his attention to farming and the practice of medicine, which he has followed with success for thirty years. His wife died July, 1848, leaving him with a family of twelve children. He married for his second wife Miss Ann Crandall, of Lycoming County. Col. Wilson has reason to feel gratified over his successful life. It is the earnest wish of his many friends that be may live long to enjoy those comforts and blessings which he has so deservedly earned by an upright life.
Alba borough is situated in the northern part of Canton township, its eastern line being about midway between the east and west lines of the township. It has an area of about four hundred and forty acres, its north line being also that of the township. It contained a population of 222 souls in 1870, and has two general stores, one grocery and provision store, two carriage manufactories, one hotel, the "Union," one physician, Dr. Irad Wilson, one post-office, a railroad depot and telegraph office, and two or more mechanics' shops. A branch of Towanda creek courses through the borough alongside of the railroad, the Williamsport and Elmira railroad.
The first permanent settlement
was made at Alba "Late on the afternoon of May 29, 1803," so Dr. Irad Wilson
says, in his "Early Recollections of Alba," from which the following data
has been gathered: Noah Wilson, the father of Dr. Wilson, left Addison
township, in Addison Co., Vt., the birthplace of Dr. Wilson, some sixteen
years after the close of the Revolutionary war, with a company of sixteen
men, to settle on the north bank of the St. Lawrence river in Canada, but
finding, the same government there they had but just emerged from, they
unanimously resolved to return to the south side of the river, where the
cross of St. George could find no congenial breeze to kiss its crimson
folds. The journey of two hundred miles was performed in sixteen
days, on foot. Mr. Wilson was not willing, to relinquish his desire
to settle in a new country, and hearing of the Connecticut grant in northern
Pennsylvania and Ohio, examined the title of the Connecticut company, and
believing it good, resolved to view the land. Accordingly, in the
month of April, 1802, he saddled up a good horse and rode "out into the
west," and one day, as the " sun went low," came to the place now bearing
the name of Alba. The stream flowing by carried pure and clear water,
and Mr. Wilson then and there named the spot which afterwards and for many
years became his home, after the pellucid fluid, Alba, white, an emblem
Mr. Wilson spent his first summer in the wilderness in Alba, and raised the first crop of corn which was growing in the settlement by setting fire to a windrow at the base of Armenia Mountain, * burning it over, and planting corn among the logs with the peen-end of a shoe-hammer, that being the only hoe he could find in the country. He raised about forty bushels of good sound corn, which he stored for use in a crib until his family should come. This crop was raised on the farm now owned by Watson Freeman. He also cleared four acres, and sowed it to wheat, the same also being the first of that cereal raised in the limits of the present borough. His home during that first summer was a little cabin about the size of an ordinary bedstead, opened at one end, and covered with bark. His bed consisted of hemlock boughs covered with a horse-blanket. His bill of fare contained bread made by a Mr. Lindsay, then living on the farm now owned by Allen Taylor, the flour being brought from Athens on horseback ; venison graced his board whenever he chose to kill a deer, and brook trout could be had for the catching, no hard job in those days. Bruin furnished the fat in which to prepare the "fry."
In the fall of 1802, after harvesting his corn and dryin what pumpkins he needed, he returned to Vermont for his family, with whom, on the 5th of May, 1803, he began his pilgrimage again for the west. His family consisted of his wife, three sons, and three daughters, and with them and his goods be loaded two wagons, the same being drawn by five horses.
Mr. Wilson had bought 3000 acres of the Connecticut Company, and had surveyed the same. The newcomers found at Troy, Elihu Smead in a little log house with about an acre of the woods cut away, to prevent the trees from falling down and crushing the cabin, and John Barber had about the same extent cleared near the place of the site of Velie's steam mill. These settlers, together with Caleb Williams, Reuben, Samuel, and Aaron Case, and Dr. Reuben Rowley, accompanied Mr. Wilson from Troy to Alba, and with their axes cut and cleared a road for the wagons to pass.
Late in the afternoon of May 29, the cabin of Mr. Wilson was reached and occupied by a portion of the family, Dr. Irad, then a boy of five years, sleeping under the wagon, while a sister slept in it, and the accompanying men slept by the log-fires they kindled. The next day was occupied in making a better and more comfortable house, which was completed the same day, the roof of bark even being put on. Dr. Wilson says, "We all lodged the second night in comfortable quarters. The bedsteads consisted of crotched sticks driven into the ground, with little poles reaching from the cracks between the logs, and elm-bark served as bed-cords. As we had more leisure, basswood planks (puncheons) were split for flooring, and other preparations for comfort made. Being in a new country, the next thing was to cut down the forest, clear up a farm, and make a permanent home. All our energies were exerted in this direction."
Elisha Luther came to Alba in company with Mr. Wilson, the latter having sold him a farm. Kilburn Morley also came the next fall to a farm also bought of Mr. Wilson. On this tract of 3000 acres bought by Mr. Wilson of the Connecticut Company, Alba borough and many of the surrounding firms are situated. Luther and Morley made one payment on their lands before it was ascertained that the Connecticut title was worthless. Mr. Wilson refunded the same, but himself, lost the whole amount he had paid the Connecticut Company, which was twenty-five cents per acre.
In the spring of 1804, Jeremiah Smith arid Samuel Rockwell came to Alba in sleighs. Smith located on the farm now owned by Horace Welsh, and Jacob G. Rockwell, a grandson of the first settler, now occupies the homestead of the pioneer.
In the autumn of 1804, David Pratt came and settled on the farm now owned by Nelson Reynolds, and Levi Morse on the one owned now by Perry Elliott.
The settlement progressed slowly for some years, owing to the uncertainty of the title to the lands, which was contested in the common pleas of Bradford for several years. Col. Gordon F. Mason, in 1838, claimed to have bought all the lands of the Asylum company in the neighborhood of Alba, and not being satisfied with that claim, about sixty of the settlers sent Dr. Irad Wilson to Philadelphia to examine the title, which was found to be good in Col. Mason, and a compromise effected with that gentleman whereby the settlers obtained their lands for two dollars per acre, with six annual payments. From this time the settlement began to improve, and has steadily risen to its present advanced condition.
In the winter of 1806 the
first school was taught by Martha Wilson, a sister of Dr. Wilson.
She also taught the following summer. She was compelled to close
her school a portion of one day, in consequence of the, total eclipse of'
the sun in 1806, the darkness being as deep as that of any starlight night.
For the school year ending June 1, 1877, there were seven months of school taught, by one female teacher, who received a salary of $19.14 per month. 24 male and 39 female pupils attended the school. The total receipts for the year amounted to $176.62, of which $134 were paid for the teacher's salary.
The first religious meetings-at
least, where preaching was had were held in 1808, by the Rev. Simeon
Powers, of Vermont, a local preacher of the Baptist denomination.
He settled near Alba, and preached Sunday--, and worked on his firm the
balance of the time. During one of his meetings, at the house of Jeremiah
Smith, a large buck was discovered near the house. The preacher stopped
on his "fifthly", and Mr. Smith took down his rifle, stepped to the door,
shot the deer, and then cutting his throat, returned to the house and the
discourse was continued and completed without the curtailment of a single
paragraph, or the loss of a word of it's application. When the services
were over, the worshipers dressed the venison and divided it among the
The first permanent church was organized in 1818, by a council called from the churches of the Baptist denomination. It was called the "Church of Christ," and R. R. Rodgers and Samuel Rockwell were chosen elders. The same congregation worship at present in the same house built for them.
The first child born in
the place was Dr. Wilson's youngest sister, the wife of Chester Williams,
of Alba. She saw the light of day first, July 17, 1804. During the
same year, Patty Luther, a child about two years old, died, and her mother
also, Cynthia Luther. Three deaths established the Alba cemetery,
which has now become a city of the dead numbering near 300 sleepers, but
filled mostly by the surrounding country.
The first marriages occurred in 1807, and were as follows: Robert McKean and Martha Wilson, and David Soper and Polly Luther, the interesting ceremony being performed by Nathaniel Allen, Esq., a justice of the peace of Lycoming County, now East Troy, Bradford County. The brides were of Alba, Luzerne county, and the grooms of Burlington, Lycoming County, now both in Bradford County. Esquire Allen could not, as he supposed, perform the marriage service out of his own county, therefore the wedding party got into sleighs and drove across the line between Alba and Troy, and there, standing up in the sleigh, under the canopy of the leafless branches of the trees, amid the snow of winter, the two pairs of young pioneers were joined together, for better or worse, through life.
Noah Wilson was one of the first justices of the peace of Bradford County, being appointed, by Governor Simon Snyder, for life or during, good behavior. He continued to act until the amended constitution of 1838 made the office elective.
The earliest habits and customs of the pioneers conformed as nearly to the principle of a commonalty as was practicable. If the meal-time or night found one neighbor at the house of another, he was made welcome to the best the house afforded, be it little or much, and no bill was to pay on his departure. The men cut down the forest and cleared and tilled the land, and the women did the spinning and weaving for the clothing of the household. The boys caught trout and hunted cows, and the girls helped their mothers and taught the schools of the day. The fashions were plain: men wore buckskin pantaloons, and the ladies sometimes wore buckskin skirts and jackets. Dr. Wilson says, "It was a common practice for men, women, and children to go to church barefooted, and the boys bareheaded. As the settlement increased, the fashions changed, the ladies beginning to wear shoes to church. But they would carry them in their hands until near the house of worship generally a private one, and then stop, clothe the feet with woolen stockings and cowhide shoes, and adjust the other apparel, which was composed of tow-linen cloth dresses of their own manufacturing."
A BEAR HUNT
Dr. Wilson tells a story of a bear hunt himself and an older brother had. They found Bruin when they least expected him, and had no "deadly" weapon with them to dispatch him but, nevertheless, they supplemented the want of such a weapon by a furious charge, with a tremendous yelling arid a shower of stones. The bear sought safety in climbing a tree; but here he was not safe from the shower of stones that saluted him from the eager boys (one eight years and the other twelve years old), and be began to descend, the end which went up last coming down first. As he descended to the ground he was met by a severe attack of clubs in the bands of the boys, who, being two to one, were able to reinforce one another, and Bruin commenced to retreat, but he was so pressed for about forty rods, a flank movement, executed in good time by the older of the two young woodsmen, compelled him to take to another tree. Then a council of war was held, and the entrenchments ordered to be carried by assault as soon as the proper ordnance could be brought up. The younger general of the council assumed the part of the well trained dog and barked up the tree to distract the attention of the foe, while the senior general reported to headquarters, the house, for a supply of heavy guns and ammunition. On his way he met a young Vermonter, just arrived out, who received the orders of the commander-in-chief of the expedition, and brought up the rifle, and, upon seeing the game, at once proposed negotiations whereby he, the reinforcement, might be allowed to carry off the honors of the campaign by shooting the enemy, offering the sum of fifty cents as an equivalent. To this base proposition the now nearly triumphant forces refused stoutly to yield, being determined to take that beast themselves. The older of the boys was deployed in charge of the ordnance, and by a skillful shot laid Bruin hors du combat.
For many years it had been known that a spring in the low ground, on the line of the Northern Central railroad, and about two miles above Canton Village, possessed peculiar medicinal virtues, and there are traditions that the spring was known and resorted to by the natives of the forest, who often resorted to it for the benefit received from its healing waters. Peter Herdic, Esq., of Williamsport, whose health had been restored by the water, conceived the idea of establishing a watering place on the spot, which should be a place of rest and quiet retreat for persons wearied with pressure and labor of business, and who at the same time might be benefited by the medicinal qualities of the water. Accordingly, suitable buildings were erected, which were opened for the reception of guests. The place has rapidly increased in popularity as a watering place, so that although the accommodations have every year been enlarged and improved, yet every season they have been filled to their utmost capacity, and every summer may be found there names familiar in the circles of business, of literature, and the professions.
is a village in the southwest part of the township, on the Northern Central railroad, which has grown up around the tannery of Mr. Innis, whose biograpby is given in another place.
CAPTAIN C. S. SELLARD.
The subject of this sketch
was born in the town of Lyme, New London Co., Conn., Feb. 28, 1803.
His parents, Stephen and Polly Sellard, emigrated to Luzerne Co., Pa.,
when be was but ten months old. Reared under the plain, invigorating
influence of frontier life, coupled with the pious teachings of his parents,
he grew up a model young man, blessed with a strong mind united to a powerful
body. His school advantages were quite limited, owing to the newness
of the country. He, however, made excellent use of the educational
opportunities afforded him. He lived with his parents until he was
twenty years of age. He then, with characteristic energy and perseverance,
began to earn the means of his own support. At the age of twenty-five,
by means of his industry and economy, he had amassed a sum sufficient to
purchase a farm upon which the present village of Canton is built.
He was married, Jan. 10, 1828, to Miss Rosina, a daughter of Augustus Loomis, who emigrated from Harrington, Conn., to this county, and located upon the farm now owned and occupied by Captain Sellard. Mrs. Sellard was the sixth of eight children, all of whom except the two oldest, Eleazer and John, are still living. Mrs. Sellard is now in her sixty-ninth year. They have had born to them twelve children, only four of whom, viz., Lewis, Emeline, Augusta, and James, are now living. Lewis was born Oct. 22, 1840; was married to Elizabeth Kilburn, of Italy, Yates Co., N. Y. He enlisted in the United States Army July 25, 1862, and was discharged May 24, 1863. Augusta was married to Henry Palmer, who served with credit during the late Rebellion, and died Nov. 10, 1871. Emeline was married to Walter Leavitt, June 15, 1853. James is unmarried, and is living at home with his parents. Captain Sellard is at present owner of a splendid farm of two hundred and fifty acres, most of which is under a good state of cultivation. A double-page illustration of his farm, residence, etc., can be seen by referring to another page of this work. He was appointed in 1830 captain of a Pennsylvania militia company. For this position he was particularly fitted, possessing a finer physique and bearing, than is often seen. He has filled numerous town offices with ability and credit. He is a member of the Republican party, and has remained, ever since his joining the party, true to its principles. He is, at his advanced age, in robust health and will doubtless live long to enjoy the handsome property he has accumulated.
Tile subject of this sketch
was born in Canton, Bradford Co., March 24, 1821. He was the youngest
son of Stephen and Polly Sellard. He received a liberal education,
and would have probably made an able professional man if his tastes had
been in that direction ; but no inducements could change him from his purpose
to make farming his occupation. He purchased a farm of seventy acres,
near Canton. He then married Miss Harriet A. King, in 1845, the youngest
daughter of John and Sophia King of Tioga Co., Pa. Her parents were early
settlers in Sullivan township of that county. Her grandfather, Simon
King was actively engaged in the Revolutiorlary War. Her father was
a prominent man in Sullivan. Mr. Sellard, after his marriage, by
subsequent purchases, increased his farm till it consisted of over three
hundred acres. Although actively engaged in business transactions,
he never had a lawsuit, which is significant of manly Christian qualities,
which few have the happiness to possess. He was among the foremost
in inducing the railway company to place the switch and depot platform
at Grover, giving the land for the sake of having it there. He was
an active businessman, highly esteemed by all with whom he had any dealing.
He died suddenly, of heart disease, Oct. 21, 1877, aged fifty-six years.
Mrs. Sellard resides upon the old homestead with her two youngest daughters. Her son and eldest daughter occupy other portions of the farm. A fine illustration of her place can be seen by reforms, to another place of this work.
The subject of this sketch
was born in South Creek township, Bradford Co., Pa., July 18, 1816.
His parents, Samuel and Rachel (Purdy) Strait, emigrated from Vermont to
Troy (which was then Columbia) in 1812. They had a family of five
children, of whom Samuel was the only son. He received as good an education
as the district schools of those days afforded, and lived with his parents,
working on the farm till he was twenty-two years of age, when he purchased
ninety-six acres of' land in the town of Troy, for which be paid $500,
his father assisting him in paying for it. He has made many subsequent
additions to this purchase. In 1864 he removed from Troy to Canton,
and purchased the Minnequa farm, and removed to Canton village in the autumn
of 1871. He established the first bank in that village in May of
the same year and sold out his interest in June, 1876, to Doan & Son.
He then engaged in the coal and milling business, and erected a fine gristmill
about twenty rods south of the Northern Central depot.
He was united in marriage, at the age of twenty seven, to Miss Laura M. Clark, a daughter of Josephus Clark, of Rutland township, Tioga Co., Pa. The results of this union were the birth of three children, viz., Dida C., Samuel J., and Julia H., two of whom, Dida C. and Samuel J., are still living. Samuel J. is engaged in the milling business with his father. Mr. Strait is one of the best and most esteemed business men in Canton, and is a Republican in politics. Although not a member of any church, yet he is very liberal in his contributions to school and church interests.
S. A. TAYLOR.
The subject of' this sketch was born in Troy, Bradford Co., Nov. 7, 1821. He is a son of Allen and Olive H. Taylor. He married, Nov. 5, 1846, Miss Samantha E. Rockwell. By his industry and perseverance he has become owner of a beautiful farm of four hundred and eighty-five acres, nearly all of which is under a good state of cultivation. His farm is particularly noticeable for its fine buildings, fences, ornamental trees, etc., a cut of which can be seen on another page of this work. He has four children: A., Olive E., Sophia R., and Edith. F., who are still living. In his domestic relations he is a kind and loving father and affectionate husband. Although he is not a member of any church, yet he has always liberally contributed of his means to secular interests. He is connected with one of the oldest and best families in the county. His father is still living, at the advanced age of eighty years.
was born in Augusta township,
Northumberland Co., Pa., May 28, 1805, and is the third child and second
son of a family of six children. His parents, John and Mary (Morrison)
Lawrence, were respectively of English and Scotch descent. He was
married March 1, 1824, to Eliza, daughter of Horatio Ladd, one of the earliest
settlers of Albany, Bradford County, and in December, 1825, built a log
house in Cherry, Sullivan county, on land belonging to Gen. Cadwallader,
of Philadelphia. At the end of five years he received a deed for
forty eight acres of land, which be increased by subsequent additions to
one hundred and twenty acres. He was one of the first school directors
of Cherry under the present common-school law, and held the office of school
treasurer six years after his term of school director expired. In
the spring of 1847 his wife died, leaving, four children, two of whom,
viz., John H., ex-sheriff of Sullivan county, and Celinda A. Wilcox, of
Albany, Bradford County, are living. Mr. Lawrence, in 1847, was elected
on the Democratic ticket one of the county commissioners for Sullivan County.
He married for his second wife Mrs. Ann Gage, of Canton, Bradford County,
daughter of Thomas and Betsey Manley. The fruit of this marriage
was two children. He removed to Canton in 1854, and soon after bought his
father-in-law's firm, where he now resides.
Since his residence in Canton he has held the office of road commissioner for two terms giving general satisfaction. He united with the Presbyterian Church at East Canton in 1858, of which he has been an active and prominent member to the present time, having been a ruling elder for thirteen years. Formerly a Democrat, he became a member of the Republican party at its formation, and has been an active and earnest supporter of its principles. His life has been marked with a strict observance and practice of temperate and industrious habits, which have been instrumental in making him enjoy good health at the ripe old age of seventy-three years. His son, William T., is living with him, and has charge of the farm. He was born in February 1854, and was married in 1874, to Miss Julia A. Spaulding, daughter of A. D. Spaulding, of Canton.
WILLIAM H. BATES
The subject of this sketch was born in the town of Ira, Rutland Co., Vt., Jan. 18, 1821, and is the eldest son of John and Phoebe (Davis) Bates, who emigrated to Catherine, N. Y. near the head of Seneca Lake, when Mr. Bates was one year old, and eight years after moved to Canton, Bradford Co., Pa., and located on a small farm near the eastern limits of the township. His father, who was a millwright by trade, died at the age of seventy four years; his mother at the age of seventy-two years. Mr. Bates, at the age of twenty, Nov. 18, 1868, was married to Miss Vesta Bailey, a daughter of Julius Bailey, of Granville. He purchased immediately a small farm of thirty acres of John H. Ayres, whose confidence in him was so great that he trusted him to the entire amount. He took a contract for chopping, ten acres of fallow of Nelson Reynolds, the proceeds of which he paid to Mr. Ayres. He sold his thirty-acre farm, and bought fifty acres where be now resides. He has, by subsequent purchases, increased it to one hundred and thirty acres. Mr. and Mrs. Bates have had seven children, of whom John P., Luman A., Hymen W., and Emmet W. Bates are still living. Mr. Bates is a Republican of the liberal school. He believes in putting the best men in office, whether belonging to the Democratic or Republican party. He is strictly temperate in all his habits, and upright in all of his dealings with men. He has been a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canton for twenty years, striving in every way to improve the moral tone of the community in which he resides.
The subject of this sketch was
born in the town of Washington, Feb. 15, 1809. He is a son of Thomas
and Rebecca Williams. In the year 1819 his parents emigrated to this
county. They were subject to all the privations of frontier life,
but by remarkable energy they soon had a beautiful little home. "And, lo!
the desert smiled." Of course the limited educational advantages of those
days debarred young Thomas from obtaining such an education as he wished,
but be nevertheless succeeded, by self-improvement, in obtaining a good
common school education. His character grew up and developed under
the genial influences of pious teachings, and the strong, chaste bond of
frontier life. He lived with his parents till twenty-two years of
age, working partly for his father and partly for neighbors. Oct.
21, 1830, he married Amy Bagley. By her he had one son, who lived
to the age of twenty-nine. His first purchase of land was in 1829,
consisting of fifty five acres, nine acres of which he had cleared and
paid for with his own hands at the time of his marriage.
This purchase was situated about one mile south of his present residence, on what was then known as the American Bank land, for which he paid three dollars per acre. Mr. Williams has from time to time added to this purchase. He has cleared more land than any other man in Bradford County. He married for his second wife Miss Susan Andrus, Jan. 8, 1835. The fruit of this happy union was the birth of four children, viz., Amy, George, Lydia, and Horace, only two of whom George and Horace are now living. He has been a life long, consistent Democrat, is an earnest friend of education, and has closely identified himself with the spirit of modern progress. Mr. Williams has been a first-class hunter; his early life is filled with incidents of hairbreadth escapes from wild animals which infested the forests. He is at present a hale, hearty man of sixty-nine years of age, and will probably live for many years to come to enjoy the blessings of a well-spent life.
GEORGE W. GRIFFIN
was born in Canton, Pa., Oct.
3, 1820. His father, Samuel Griffin, was a native of the State of
Connecticut, but of Welsh descent. He came to this county and located
on a piece of land on Sugar creek, near West Burlington, in 1798.
The following year he returned to Connecticut, and removed his family to
Canton, taking up a tract of land containing two hundred and fifty acres,
situated about one mile east of the present village of Canton. It
embraces the farm now owned by George Goff, together with lands lying east
and south of it. Mr. Griffin was a prominent man among the first
settlers in this locality. In 1803 he received from Gov. Thomas M'Kean
a commission appointing him lieutenant of militia, and in 1805 a second
commission from the same source conferred upon him the rank of captain.
He served his country with credit to himself in the War of 1812. He was
the father of eleven children (six boys and five girls), ten of whom lived
to be over fifty years of age.
George W. Griffin, the subject of this sketch, was the youngest of this family. His boyhood days, up to the age of nineteen, were spent on the homestead farm, where be had plenty of hard work, and but little opportunity to obtain an education. But possessing much natural strength and vigor of mind, as well as physical strength, be was not slow to avail himself of the means within his reach to obtain a practical knowledge of men and things which should fit him for the after-duties of life. When about nineteen years of age, he left the farm to learn the trade of a blacksmith at the village shop near by. Soon after the close of his apprenticeship he engaged as partner with an older brother in the shop where he learned his trade, and for years after worked very hard and gave close attention to business.
July 11, 1844, he married Miss Mary Owen, daughter of Thomas Owen, a lady highly esteemed, and who has proved a worthy companion. Early in life Mr. Griffin united with the "Church of Christ" in Canton, and has ever since continued a faithful and honored member. He assisted in organizing the first Union Sunday school in Canton, and has been for thirty years an active laborer in the work, most of the time officiating as superintendent. The temperance cause has ever had in Mr. Griffin one of its most faithful supporters and uncompromising advocates, he having been connected with all the temperance organizations, which have existed in Canton since 1840. He has always manifested a deep interest in the public schools, which is shown by the fact that in the township and borough of Canton he has served as school director for nearly thirty years. In 1849 he was elected justice of the peace, and discharged the duties of that office during the term for which he was elected in such a manner as to merit and secure to him the approbation of the public. He was offered, but declined, a re-election.
A few years since, his
health having become somewhat impaired by reason of the hard work incident
to his trade, he removed with his family to the fine farm which he had
purchased, on the southern border of Canton Borough, and has ever since
devoted his attention mainly to farming. Modest, and often manifesting
extreme diffidence when called out before a public audience, Mr.
Griffin may be said to lack some of those qualifications which would be
necessary in order to make him a successful public speaker, yet among those
who have been intimately connected with the material, moral, and religious
interests of Canton, few persons have made a record which entitles them
to a more honorable position or to a greater degree of public confidence