Eighty-three Hear Half Century of Service Lauded
Troy Gazette-Register, March 23, 1939
Last Monday evening’s dinner in the Troy Hotel, honoring H. K. Mitchell’s 1889-1939 Borough Secretaryship filled the dining room and proved a very enjoyable party in every way. Sponsored by the Troy Business Men’s Club, President Cal Norris called for the invocation by Rev. P. W. Furst and as the evening progressed, led the group singing. Dr. George Boyer, Mayor, acted as toastmaster and did a fine job of it. He referred in very complimentary terms to Mr. Mitchell as he has been associated with him in the affairs of the borough. The tables were decorated with 50 American Beauty roses, the gift of Mrs. Mitchell. There were many present from out of town.
At the speakers table were Dr. Boyer, toastmaster, Mr. Mitchell, Mrs. Mitchell, Past Councilwoman Mrs. Julia GrosJean, Mr. GrosJean, Past Councilmen F. L. Ballard, H. J. Pierce, J. H. McClelland, W. T. Gustin, V. A. Vineski, B. B. Mitchell and George McKean, Councilmen P. S. King, C. J. Bloom, L. W. Wagner, Tracy Metzger, A. K. Sambrook, J. L. Batterson and A. Henry Case. Others at this table included H. C. Carpenter, former Burgess, Dr. M. B. Ballard, H. K. Mitchell, Jr., D. F. Pomeroy, W. W. Beaman, L. R. Van Deusen, C. A. Norris, County Commissioner George Roberts, D. F. Rolison, Horace Robinson, Harry T. B. Gustin and R. H. Van Keuren. All of the living Past Councilman were present with the exception of William Weigester, now in California, Merritt W. Smith and E. A. Rockwell.
Presented to Mr. Mitchell was a resolution passed by the Boro Council and signed by them and all present. The title page read:
"On March 20, 1939, a dinner for H. Kent Mitchell, Secretary, Troy Borough Council, March 15, 1889 – March 15, 1939 et sequitur" and the resolution was as follows:
WHEREAS, the Borough Council of the Borough of Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, on the fifteenth day of March, A. D. 1889, elected H. Kent Mitchell as Secretary to the Borough Council, and
WHEREAS, the said H. Kent Mitchell has served in that capacity continuously ever since, and
WHEREAS, the Borough Council of Troy seeks, in some small measure, to pay tribute to the said H. Kent Mitchell, a man known throughout the community as one of many kindnesses and much honor, great integrity, ability and largeness of sound vision, for his meritorious service to the Borough.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Borough Council of Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, hereby tenders to H. Kent Mitchell, Secretary to the said Borough Council, upon the fiftieth anniversary of his continuous service as Secretary to the Council, the whole-hearted thanks and appreciation of the Borough for his service to the Borough and Council during the years from 1889 to 1939, a service marked throughout its entirety by his unceasless devotion to the public interest in the betterment of the community, and one in which the community takes great pride in looking to the future.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Council has caused these presents to be signed on the twentieth day of March A. D. 1939 by the Burgess of the Borough of Troy and by the individual members of the Troy Borough Council and delivered to H. Kent Mitchell at a dinner in his honor at the Troy Hotel in the Borough of Troy, Pennsylvania, on said date.
Many letters and telegrams were received and some read at the dinner by Dr. Boyer and Mr. Carpenter. A verse from his son, Harold C. Mitchell, read:
In eighteen hundred eighty-nine, the Boro Council met,
And said, "Well boys, a secretary’s what we’ve got to get,
Let’s choose a lad who’s not too old, and has a legal bent
I’ll tell you what, let’s give the job to Parson Mitchell’s Kent."
There were letters from Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Elmira, Humphrey M. Beaman, East Islip, L. I., his aunt, Miss Jeanette Adams, Coxsackie, N. Y., who wrote "I hope that you will retire with a handsome pension," Paul M. Paine, Syracuse, N. Y., who wrote "Let me congratulate you, my dear friend, on the good work you have done during these fifty years," Francis D. "Pat" Ballard, New York City, who wrote "The first 50 years on a town council must be the hardest," his daughter, Miss Janice Mitchell, Chambersburg, Pa., wrote "It is a source of great joy to know that his work is appreciated by the citizens of Troy." Telegrams came from Mrs. Theodore C. Hovey, Pelham Manor, N. Y., Henry B. Van Dyne, in Florida, David Paine, Montclair, N. J., his brother Frank A. Mitchell, La Grange, Ill., suggesting to Harold C. Carpenter that he borrow a Bible and read to the company Mathew thirteen, verse fifty-seven (you might look up this reference)
H. C. Carpenter, Mr. Mitchell’s friend of many years, talked feelingly of their association. He said:
When it was suggested that I say a few words at this dinner honoring Kent, it seemed as though the back of a full roll of wall paper would be inadequate to write it out on.
Kent is the sort of guy who wants to do nice things for others, but expects nothing for himself. Don’t think for a minute that he does not appreciate this dinner and is pleased to have all these friends around him.
Kent and I first met in1883 at the Baptist Sunday School, then held in the double house opposite the present Presbyterian church. This building before it was made over was the old Presbyterian church. It had the little pews with doors bearing the names of the occupants. The Baptist church building had been burned by some miscreant. Plenty of people claimed they knew who set the fire. No one ever told. The present Baptist church soon erected and Sunday School was then held there.
Nelson Maynard taught the boys’ class and when he was elected Superintendent, Deacon Azor Rockwell took it over. Of those in the class, Herm Pierce, Kent, Doc Davies and Charlie Batterson still live here. The teachers were all well-to-do intelligent men-sincere Christians, whose influence was all for things good. I think Kent, Herm, Doc and Charlie all profited by their teachings. Sunday School picnics held every summer were eagerly anticipated and were red-letter days. Some of the places where these picnics were held, were Mountain Lake, Minnequa, Pisgah, Eldridge Lake, The Fair Grounds, Maynard’s Grove, and Williams Grove.
Our first meeting began a close friendship, which has never been interrupted and has brought me much happiness. Kent was a much brighter student than I and was one year ahead of me in school. We were almost constantly together. School days found many joys and being(?) friends for us skating on Long’s and Pomeroy’s Ponds, chestnutting, hickorynutting, visits to Bear’s Den, and Oak Hill were places of enchantment. We both studied botany. A lot of nice girls were in the class, and dear old Prof. Fleisher turned us loose occasionally to get specimens of wild flowers so abundant, then as now, around Troy.
Soon we formed a little crowd of our own composed of Kent, Herm, Doc Davies, Frank Ballard, and later Tom Parsons. We were growing up and shyly thinking considerably about girls. All of us sooner or later married girls, who were in some way connected with our crowd.
All the teaching at school and home in those days included thrift. The copybooks were filled with mottoes such as: "Haste makes Waste"…."A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned"…"Waste Not, Want Not"…."Honesty is the Best Policy." So all of us tried to get summer jobs to earn a little money. One summer, Kent and I took a job of cutting wood for Kent’s grandfather at 75¢ a cord on the next place above the Redington farm, owned by a relative of Kent’s and now occupied by Willis Baker. Kent saved about all his money and bought himself a suit of clothes. I couldn’t resist going to Elmira to see Barnum’s Circus and spent half my money there. You can see who had the best school suit that fall.
Another summer, I worked on a farm a few miles out of Troy and Kent stayed in Troy. The night before the Fourth, all the buildings on the plot now occupied by the Davison Apartment House were burned. There were two stores, a dwelling house, blacksmith shop and numerous small buildings something like the little red schoolhouse, but not nearly so big. When I came down to look things over the morning of the Fourth, Kent and I were together. He was a few steps ahead of me. Ashes covered the ground. Suddenly he stuck one foot a little too far and the result was terrible. His experience in the trenches ought to exempt him from all further wars. His experience, however was not half as bad as Perce King’s encounter with a skunk.
One year Kent sold an Atlas and I sold a book entitled: "The Wonders of the Heavens, Earth, and Ocean," containing 832 pages, printed on super-calendared paper made especially for this work, and containing over 250 illustrations. I gave Kent a copy of that for Christmas. I wonder if he ever read it.
On the ground now occupied by the residence of Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Jaquish, lived at that time a widow, Mrs. Thomas Sheardown, whose husband had been a Baptist minister in and around Troy for many years. She had little income. I happen to know that Kent, who was still a youngster with not too much money, sent her a wonderful Christmas basket of fruit, vegetables and all the good things that go with Christmas. He never mentioned this to anyone which is characteristic of him.
Kent succeeded Harry Davison and Bob Crawford in taking care of Uncle Merrick Pomeroy’s horse and cow - $5.00 per month in summer and $6.00 in winter. I succeeded Kent in that job and Herm followed me. Uncle Merrick, who was Uncle to none of us, but well liked by all of us, built and lived in the present T. W. Parsons home and took great interest and gave much useful advice to the youngsters. Five dollars was a lot of money in those days.
Kent also succeeded Harry Davison as clerk in the Pomeroy Brothers Bank. It was the only one for many years short of Elmira and Towanda. It was first started in the back part of the building now occupied by our drug store. The Pomeroys were merchants before they were bankers. I believe there were four brothers, all fine citizens, good business men, pioneer builders of Troy. Kent’s salary was $25.00 per month and was considered very good wages at that time.
We had often talked of what we should do when school days were done and Kent only talked of law. Soon as possible, he began studying law with the Hon. Delos Rockwell – a splendid lawyer and fine citizen. Kent was elected Boro Secretary before he was of age and, in all the passing years, his advice has been sought by the many men and one woman who have made up the boro council.
One Sunday afternoon in the late 90’s Kent asked my wife and me and Martha Redington to take a ride over to Canton. On the return trip, he and Martha told us of their happiness, and showed us the house like the one they were going to build. In the house they did build, now occupied by Guy Rockwell, they lived their early married life and raised their little family, having also with them to the end of their days, Kent’s father and mother. It was an open house for their friends and the friends of his father and mother. I remember one night when another minister and his wife from a nearby town called and were invited to stay to supper. The visiting minister told of a recent funeral he had had in which he said to Kent’s father. "Elder, I had ‘em crying in 15 minutes." Of course, we young people all smothered a smile and I couldn’t help but notice the quiet humor on the faces of Kent’s father and mother.
Several years after the death of the first Mrs. Mitchell, Kent married Miss Ethel Hovey who so graciously presides over the ever hospitable Mitchell home.
I think I must say a little to you about Kent’s ability as a speaker. You can’t coax him to make a set speech, but when the Business Men’s Club, or the Rotary goes out to the surrounding towns, Kent is always called on and always makes the best talk. Especially fine was the little speech at Big Pond a year or two ago. As he had lived in Springfield Township on a farm there in summer, what he said was of very real interest. Among things he mentioned driving a hog down a dusty road several miles to a neighbor’s. He said he didn’t know what for. However, the men and women whom we were entertaining were convulsed with laughter. I have never known to this day what it all meant, but recall another old motto, which did not quite make the copy-books, but was repeated often. When any person who had never any good fortune, finally got a break, it was said "A blind sow gets an acorn once in a while." I have just decided that Kent was driving that old sow after acorns.
Kent is a real farmer. Vegetables and flowers do wonders under his magic hand. He and Ralph Burr vie with each other in the growing of flowers, Kent raising delphiniums and Ralph, gladiolas. Both delight in sharing their flowers with others.
You all know Kent, as Vice-President is a tower of strength in our bank. This bank was brought to it’s present high standing by A. B. McKean, John A. Parsons, Liston Bliss and Lyman Oliver, and is carried on splendidly by Will Beaman, Kent Mitchell, Frederick Pomeroy, Sr. and Rex Soper as directors, with Will Beaman, Ralph Burr, Frederick Pomeroy, Jr. and Walter DeWitt and their associates, no one need fear for the future of the First National Bank of Troy.
Kent has recently been ill, probably caused by high living, such as eating pie for breakfast, and has spent some time at Packer hospital. Clothes lines were put up in his room to hold the greeting cards sent him and flowers were everywhere. They ground his valves, relined his brakes, filled him up with oil and water and gas, and, when the sun shines on both sides of the fence in a few weeks, Kent will be like Ringling’s Circus – bigger and better than ever before. Kent, for unselfishness, your usefulness, for your kindness, and your willingness to help, and your real ability, and the fact that you are a grand pal, I nominate you as benefactor of Troy and first citizen of Bradford County.
Mr. Mitchell responded with enjoyable and exceedingly interesting reminiscences of Troy in the late eighties and early nineties. The Mitchell family came here from Fountain, Colorado, in 1880. He started in school under the principalship of the late J. T. McCollum. At that time there were five rooms, eleven grades and five teachers. He graduated in 1886. In the class were: C. Berthe Sucese (Mrs. George B. Strait), Adah Long (Mrs. George Lamkin), Katherine Ballard (Mrs. W. D. Morse), Louise Willour (Mrs. vonLang), Anna M. McGoughran (Mrs. F. J. MacRae), Minnie Jorelamon (Mrs. Van F. Harper), Andrew B. Buchanan, George H. Reen, Frank Whitmer and H. K. Mitchell.
Mr. Mitchell said: "Following graduation, I studied law in the office of Delos Rockwell, taught three terms in Springfield township for the magnificent sum of $25 a month and served a year as clerk in Pomeroy Brothers Bank, replacing Henry P. Davison, who had left for Bridgeport. I remember that Horace Pomeroy did his best to retain Mr. Davison in Troy, stating that there was a better opportunity for him here. The Pomeroys, Longs, Ballards, and Olivers were the substantial men of Troy and many of the present buildings remain as lasting monuments to them. Edwin C. Oliver, father of the late Lyman Oliver, was the first Mayor of Troy. At that time, the Austin-Mitchell foundry was located on the present site of the E. C. Ely Co. building. To the west, where the apartment house now stands, were the Pierce Hardware and the Newberry & Peck store. In the rear was the Warren Case blacksmith shop and the residence of Giles Grist, probably Troy’s first fish merchant. He had a favorite saying, ‘8 times 8 are 88, take it along for 75.’ Across the street, where the Civic Building now stands, was the famous old Adams House. At that time, two buses met all the trains, one from the Troy House and one from the Adams House. Competition was keen in the hotel business. The mails were carried by my grandfather, James Adams, on his back.
Again moving west, the R. C. Kendall dental office was across the alley, Pomeroy Brothers’ Bank was in the building now occupied by W. F. Palmer. It was considered a very strong bank at that time with assets of $400,000. Next came the B. B. Mitchell Drug Store and Bliss, Willour & Company. The ‘Company’ was Edward ‘Buckwheat’ Bailey, so-named because he accumulated a large amount of money dealing in that particular kind of grain. He left Troy, went to New York, fell in with thieves and died practically penniless.
Herrick, Hovey & Mitchell had occupied the building now used by the Carpenter & Pierce Co. They were in the dry goods and general merchandise business. Clinton Herrick died, Captain B. B. Mitchell’s health failed, leaving F. W. Hovey to continue the business so it was sold out to Edward Loomis, who failed, and the store was vacant when I came here. Where the present 5¢ to $1.00 Store is located, E. J. Lee conducted a grocery. He was the father of Charles Lee, Emma Lee Thayer and the rest of the family. Next came Howard ‘Snip’ Wolfe’s saloon. The McLanes and the Wilsons came to Troy one time ‘a fightin’ bent. ‘Snip’ called in the aid of Bill Maher, one Filkins, a cooper, and my uncle Otis Adams – all big men. A regular riot followed. George N. Newberry was Mayor at the time and warrants were sworn out for those participating. ‘Snip’ and my uncle, Otis left hurriedly for Texas and ‘Snip’ never returned to Troy again. The King and Rolison Hardware Store, at that time, was conducted by Beardlsey & Spalding. In the present Gazette-Register building was the grocery firm of Hovey & Mitchell. It was composed of F. W. Hovey and Adelbert Mitchell, who later moved to Ithaca. Moving south came in succession H. F. Long, feed store, Hobart & Porter, with their ‘jour’ harness makers, Davison & McCabe, produce, a vacant lot, Eugene Spalding’s bakery in the place just vacated by George Hickok. Henry Fretz conducted a meat market in the store now occupied by S. M. Canedy & Company and then came the law office of W. E. Chilson, who had a favorite saying that a man owed no more after death than when alive. He referred to the fact that a dead man’s bills are padded. The Delos Rockwell law office was in the Troy Bakery building and the second story housed the A. S. Hooker printing office. Mrs. Frances Smith’s home was on the site of the Penney Store and George Weigester had a marble store where Tracy Metzger how is. In the Troy Engine and Machine office building Dobbins & Johnson conducted a hardware.
Speaking of the Troy Engine and Machine Co., it was then known as the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of stoves and churn powers. The powers were built in several sizes and were invented by ‘Uncle Nick’ Potter. In the early days, The Enterprise Manufacturing Company needed money and $12,000 was raised locally. Although he was not obligated to do so, the late John A. Parsons repaid everyone in full.
Across the street, where the Gallaghers now live, Charles Muth did cobbling (Kent tells us that Hal, even then a dealer, bought some Indian clubs from said Muth for $1.50 and resold them to him for $2.00). In the old opera house was located the post office, with Charles Sayles as postmaster. Half shire court was held there twice a year. Other occupants included James Alexander, a colored barber, and Frank Greene, a restaurant man. Thence north on Canton Street were Dewey & Winston, dealer in hides, Charles N. Grohs’ grocery store. Gus Bradley’s notions emporium, DeWitt & Ballard, John H. Grant, jeweler, B. A. Long, insurance, Jesse and Andrew Stuart, druggists, with Jewell & Lamkin on the corner. Ezra Jewell was a pillar of the Presbyterian church. Across the street in the Wilson Farm Equipment building was the Redington & Leonard Company, employing 12 clerks. They were very large dealers in butter, handling the product, not only of Bradford County but also of Tioga County. Troy butter brought the best price. When I came to Troy, there was a vacant lot on the present site of the First National Bank. They were excavating for what is now the bank building and the Oliver block.
The history of Troy water is interesting. The first supply in Troy Borough came from the Edgewater Water Company in 1893 and by 1896 had extended the system extensively but it was not until 1903 that the litigation which secured the Troy Water Company was ended.
The first hard top road came to Troy in 1907 – water-bound macadam on Canton and Elmira Streets.
Following the typhoid epidemic of 1912, a sewer system was installed in 1914.
Our new school building was built in 1923 under financing called ‘The Troy Plan’. I had much to do with the formulation of this plan and its has been used in several other towns."
During Mr. Mitchell’s years as borough secretary Troy has been the recipient of many fine gifts – The Henry P. Davison endowment of Glenwood Cemetery, gift of the apartment houses, principal’s home, Davison Green, removal of poles, the John A. Parsons band stand, the Daniel E. Pomeroy Memorial reservoir, the S. H. Haywood clock, the Van Dyne Civic Building, The Van Dyne Memorial carillon, the Henrietta Pomeroy McKnight nurse and other benefactions.
Following Mr. Mitchell’s talk Dr. M. B. Ballard in a few witty and well chosen remarks presented him with a fine wrist watch, the gift of all present. There was the singing of Auld Lang Syne by the company and a memorable evening in Troy came to a close.