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History & Geography of Bradford County by Heverly
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History & Geography of Bradford County

By Clement F. Heverly

1923
History & Geography - Table of Contents
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HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY OF BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CHAPTER XXXV

Canton Township [pp.396-405]

By Clement F. Heverly

[Typed by Pat NEWELL Smith]

Canton derives its name from the Connecticut township of that name, which included a part of what is now called Canton.

Geographical - Canton, "the southwest corner township," comprising 1/31 of the area of Bradford county, is bounded north by Armenia and Troy, east by Granville and LeRoy, south by the counties of Lycoming and Sullivan and west by Tioga county. Except the high ridges along the northwest and southeast, the surface of the township is rolling and slopes from all sides into the broad valley of the Towanda creek. At the southwest, where the counties of Bradford, Lycoming and Tioga corner, is the divide [elevation 1225 feet], the common source of Lycoming creek and Towanda creek. The latter stream flows nearly north halfway across the township, then bends to the right taking an easterly course; with its tributaries, Mill creek, Mill brook, Graper creek, Barnes creek and others, it drains the entire area.

The noted Beaver meadows are at the head of Towanda creek, Lake Nepahwin southwest of the center of the township and Minnequa mineral springs along the railroad half way between Canton and Alba. Canton was covered originally with a dense forest of hemlock, pine, ash, beech, birch, maple, cedar, chestnut, cherry, elm, hickory, oak, ironwood, cucumber, basswood, buttonwood, butternut, black walnut and other species. The wilderness was infested with panthers, bears, wolves and wildcats; deer roamed in herds and beavers had their dams at the head of streams; the creek swarmed with brook trout. The township has an area of 38 square miles and was formed from Burlington and Wyalusing in 1804; population 1302 in 1920.

History: Indian Domain - Centuries ago Canton was the land of the red man. His trail or path from the West to the North branch of the Susquehanna traversed the township. Here while on his journeys he stopped to fish and hunt and had his encampments. In 1737 Conrad Weiser, while on a mission to the Six Nations, came over the old Indian trail and was undoubtedly the first white man to have ever visited southwestern Bradford. In September, 1778, Col. Thomas Hartley on his daring exploit into the Indian country came up the same route and at what is now Cedar Ledge had an encounter with the Indians in which an important chief was slain.

The Pioneers - The first improvements within Canton township were made at Grover by Jonas Gere who came with his family from Rhode Island in 1795. He built a log house, cleared a few acres and remained until 1799 when he sold to Orr Scovell and moved away. Jonathan Prosser, a German, established himself at Canton Corners, making the first improvement within Canton borough. In 1801 he sold to Jacob Grantier and departed.

Ezra Spalding, a native of Connecticut, who had served in the Revolutionary War, was the first permanent settler. He removed from Otsego county, NY, to Sheshequin in 1795. Here, he left his family, came to Canton, chopped a fallow and erected a log cabin. In February, 1796, with an ox-team and span of horses he moved to his new home on sleds. It required nearly four days to make the trip from Sheshequin. Mr. Spalding suffered all the inconveniences of life in a new country and endured many hardships. He held a Connecticut title to his land but through the instigation of Pennamites was arrested under the "intrusion law," thrown into jail and had his house reduced to ashes. Subsequently he purchased of the Asylum Land company and secured a good title. He built another and larger house which he opened as a store and place of entertainment to the traveling public. This hero and useful citizen died in 1828 in his 74th year. He had married Hannah Eaton, their children being Lucy [Mrs. David Bailey], Horace, Betsey [Mrs. John Griffin], William P. and Delight [Mrs. Wm. B. Spalding].

Zepheniah Rogers, a native of Massachusetts, who had served in the Revolutionary War, settles on what is known as the Hubbel Manley farm in 1796. He occupied a floorless log cabin 14x18 feet. Nearby he built a little tub-mill, having a capacity of cracking from a bushel and a half to three bushels of corn in twenty-four hours. His wife was Elizabeth Rood and their children: Zepheniah, Rachel [Mrs. Nathaniel Babcock], Roswell R., Rosemanty, Reuben and Irvine. In 1822 Mr. & Mrs. Rogers went to Franklin county, Ohio, where both died.

Gersham Gillet and son, Wilkes, came from New York State in 1796. The former left before 1806 and the son a number of years later.

1797 - The new comers were Moses Emerson, physician and farmer, Benjamin Babcock, Nathaniel Babcock, John Crandle and Ebenezer Bixby. None of these remained permanently except Emerson who died before 1813.

1798 - Isaiah Grover, a Revolutionary soldier, who had removed from the East and made the first improvements in Smithfield township, came to Grover [so named for him] in 1798. About 1821 he removed to Ohio where he died.

1799 - This year there was a large influx to the settlement - Eleazer Allis, Daniel Bailey, Daniel Ingraham, Samuel Griffin, Laban Landon, Nathan Roberts, Samuel Rutty, Orr Scovell, Dr. Joseph Van Sick, Hen Van Valkenburg and Oliver Woodworth. Only a few of these remained permanently.

Samuel Griffin, a fifer in the Revolutionary War, was from Connecticut. He did not live long after his arrival and hid death is said to have been that of the first adult in Canton township. Three of his sons, Samuel, Reuben and John, settled in the county and were prominent citizens. Nathan Roberts was his son-in-law.

Laban Landon, who had served as a life guard of General Washington through the Revolutionary War, was a native of New Jersey. He came in from Trout run with pack horses, following a bridle path up Lycoming creek, which he crossed thirty-two times, the journey consuming two days; Mrs. Landon rode one of the horses, holding her baby, Hannah, with her daughter, Betsey, seated behind her; Mr. Landon and the four boys walked. Mr. Landon was both a physician and farmer. His wife was Elizabeth Gillis and their children: Laban X., Mahala, Benjamin, Ezra, Levi D., Elizabeth [Mrs. Jacob Grantier], Sarah, Mercy, Hannah [Mrs. Irvine Rogers], Joshua G., David S., Catharine [Mrs. Wm. Wilsey], Nancy [Mrs. Alpheus Peters] and Eldaah.

Jacob Grantier, a native of Loraine, Prussia, came to America before the Revolutionary War and located in Schoharie county, NY. Here he joined Morgan’s famous riflemen and served until the treaty of peace. Having sold his property, in 1784-85 he floated down the Susquehanna to Towanda where he remained until 1801, when he purchased Prosser’s claim at Canton. He built a log house, where the Baptist church now stands and constructed a sawmill on Mill creek. About 1806 he fell through his mill and was killed. He married a Miss Taber, their children being John, David, Jacob, Betsey [Mrs. Samuel Rockwell], Mary [Mrs. Elias Rockwell], Lena [Mrs. Blackwell] and Hannah [Mrs. Iram Wilson].

Samuel Rutty, a native of Dutchess county, NY, came with his father, Ezra Rutty, to North Towanda in 1785, being the first settlers there. He married Polly Newell of Sheshequin and removed to Canton. Their children were Willard, Ezra, Wright, Simon, Nelson, Harrison, Jackson, Polly, Lucy, Rachel, Clara and Roxy.

1802 - Abraham Taber, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, emigrated from Massachusetts locating at Grover. Here he died about 1812. He had married Puella Bunker, their children being Reuben M., Nathan B., Lydia and Philip.

1803 - Noah Wilson, a zealous patriot of Vermont, who had served six years in the American Revolution and participated in the battles of Bennington, Stillwater and Saratoga, and witnessed the execution of Major Andre’, in the spring of 1802, saddled his horse and started out to find his Connecticut claim in Pennsylvania. After several days he reached what is now Alba village and there decided to make his future home. He built a log cabin, planted corn and pumpkins among the logs in a windfall, cleared four acres and sowed to wheat. In the fall after harvesting his crops he returned to Vermont. Early in May, 1803, he left the East with his family and after a journey of fifteen days arrived at their home in the wilderness. The first night the family encamped and the next day a bark covered cabin, large enough for the accommodation of all, was constructed. Such was the beginning of Alba, a name given by Mr. Wilson because of its stream of pure water. Here the old hero died in 1844, aged eighty-four years. His wife was Mary Rowley and their children: Martha [Mrs. Robert McKean], Noah, Hosea, Almira [Mrs. Silas Gray], Melinda [Mrs. Reuben M. Taber], Irad, Iram and Samantha [Mrs. Buell Smith].

Elisha Luther and family came from Vermont with Noah Wilson. About 1812 he removed to Ohio and afterwards to Indiana. During the residence of the family at Alba, Patty Luther, aged two years, and her mother, Cynthia Luther, in 1804, died; these were the first graves in the Alba cemetery.

1804 - The new comers this year were William Cole, Augustus Loomis, David Pratt, Samuel Rockwell, Jeremiah Smith and Levi Morse, all except the first two from Vermont, and settled near Alba……………. Cole died, 1814, leaving a wife, Elizabeth………….. Loomis, a native of Connecticut, came from the Genesee Valley and settled at Grover. His wife was Liberty, daughter of Gersham Gillett, and their children: Ezekiel, John, Seth, Almira, George, Rosina, Minerva and Elizabeth…………… Pratt, a Revolutionary soldier, married Hannah Rockwell, their children being Ebenezer, David, Asa, Jonathan, Betsy [Mrs. Wm. Roberts], Rachel [Mrs. Jesse Griffin], Julius and Chester…………….. Rockwell was a brother of Mrs. Pratt. His wife was Hannah LaSelle and their children: Hannah [Mrs. Eli Parsons], Elias, Samuel, James, John Calvin, Luther, Laban, Rufus, Myron and Hiram………….. Smith, a successful farmer, was the father of Buell and Nathan Smith…………. Morse was a tailor.

1806 - Thomas B. Miles, Isaac Rundell and Mrs. Nancy Strickland and family……….. Rundell died in 1818, leaving a wife, Margaret……….. Mrs. Strickland, whose maiden name was Nancy Wilcox, was the widow of Stephen Strickland, an early settler of Wysox. Miles was her son-in-law, having married her daughter, Nancy.

1807 - Rev. Simeon Powers, a preacher of the Baptist denomination from Vermont, settled near Alba. He preached on Sundays and worked on his farm the balance of the week. The first religious meetings [1808] in the neighborhood were conducted by him. The following is related: "During one of his meetings at the house of Jeremiah Smith, a large buck was discovered near the house. The preacher stopped in his ‘fifth’ and Mr. Smith took down his rifle, stepped to the door, shot the deer and then, cutting its throat, returned to the house and the discourse was continued and completed without the curtailment of a paragraph or the loss of a word of its application. When the services were over, the worshipers dressed the venison and divided it among the families."

1812 - Stephen D. Sellard and father, James Sellard, a Revolutionary soldier from Connecticut, John Haxton, a native of New York, David Lindley from Vermont and John Watts from Towanda.

1813 - Jareb Palmer, a Vermonter, settles near Alba.

1815 - Solomon Brown from Vermont, Elisha Bloom, Eason Bagley, Dr. Sylvester Streator, Elias Wright and Jerome Wright.

1818 - William Bates from Vermont.

1819 - Thomas Williams from Massachusetts.

1820 - Thomas Manley from Connecticut and John Vandyke from Towanda. Eliphalet Ward and Silas Packard were also early comers.

The Beginning - The first settlers found their way into Canton by following the Indian trails up Towanda creek and Lycoming creek. The first public road up Towanda creek was built from Towanda flats to Franklindale in 1796 and extended to Canton in 1798. The public road up the Lycoming was opened in 1807. The Williamsport and Elmira railroad, passing through Canton, was completed and opened in 1854.

The first school in Canton township was taught in the winter of 1801-02, Loren Kingsbury teacher. In 1803 a school house was built in the central part of the township by Samuel Griffin and the first school therein taught by Miss Emma Segar. The next teacher in this building was Isaac Chaapel in 1804. The first school in Alba was taught in the winter of 1805-06 by Miss Martha Wilson. She also taught the summer of 1806. On the 6th of June she was compelled to close her school in consequence of the total eclipse of the sun, causing darkness as deep as night.

The first white child born in Canton township was Joshua G., son of Laban Landon, February 27, 1800. The first child born in alba, was Samantha, youngest daughter of Noah Wilson, July 17, 1804. The first wedding, a double one, was in the winter of 1807, the contracting parties being Robert McKean of Burlington and Martha, daughter of Noah Wilson, and David Soper of Burlington and Polly, daughter of Elisha Luther. The ceremony was performed by Esquire Nathaniel Allen of East Troy. -- Habits and customs, see Chapter XI.

All the pioneers lived in log houses until 1811, when the first framed dwelling was built and occupied by Laban Landon. The furniture of these primitive homes was scanty and manufactured by the settlers themselves. The stone fireplace was used for cooking, heating and lighting purposes, and there was no deviation until Stephen Sellard brought in the first cook stove. William Spalding had the first iron plow; John Watts owned the first two-horse wagon and Thomas S. Manley the first spring wagon; William Owen had the first mowing machine.

The nearest stores and markets accessible to the first settlers were at Tioga Point and Towanda. Ezra Spalding brought with him a few articles of merchandise, including a large number of cowbells, which he bartered with his backwoods neighbors. His distillery, built in 1797, was the first enterprise in the town and was generally and widely patronized. Mr. Spalding also built and operated a corn mill, kept a public house and formed. Spalding’s was the first center of activities in Canton.

The first colored people to live in Canton were two Negro slaves, Beulah and her son, Caesar, brought from Connecticut by Ezra Spalding. In 1813 the richest person in Canton was Zepheniah Rogers, Sr., whose valuation was $608, Ezra Spalding was next, valuation $574; Mr. Rogers and David Pratt were each assessed with a grist mill, and Ezra Spalding and Mr. Pratt each with a distillery. Dairying was most extensively conducted by Ezra Spalding, six cows; David Pratt, four cows; and Nancy Strickland, four cows. Noah Wilson was Justice of the peace and Benjamin Landon, constable.

Patriotism - Canton has always been intensely patriotic. She was represented in all the wars and many of her citizens won imperishable glory battling for American freedom and the preservation of the union. Revolutionary War - John Alvord, Jacob Grantier, Samuel Griffin, Isaiah Grover, Laban Landon, David Pratt, Zepheniah Rogers, Ezra Spalding, Abraham Taber, Noah Wilson and Benjamin Runnells; War of 1812 - Benjamin Landon, Harry Ingraham, Samuel Rockwell, Irvine Rogers, Samuel Griffin, Stephen D. Sellard, Horace Spalding, Amos Strickland, Wm. Andress, Abijah Ayres, Joseph Boyd, Thomas Manley, Amasa Mix, Jared Hunt, Jewett Spencer, Jeduthan Withey, Eliphalet Ward and Joel Wright; Mexican War - Josiah T. Newell; Civil War - the Cantons furnished two hundred and ninety-two soldiers, of whom fourteen gave up their lives on battlefields, seventeen died of disease, while twenty-five more were maimed for life; Spanish-American War - Ten volunteers; World War - The Cantons had one hundred and forty-three boys in the service, of whom five were killed in battle and six died of disease.

Public Officials - Congress, Louis T. McFadden, six terms; Representatives, Irad Wilson, Charles Stockwell, Benjamin S. Dartt, James H. Shaw, Leonard Lewis, Lawrence T. Manley, Giles M. Coons, Judson W. Stone, Curtis M. Harding; Associate Judge, J. Wilson Vandyke; Sheriff, Chester Thomas, Homer B. Drake; Prothonotary, Mial E. Lilley; Register and Recorder, Cephas E. Andrus; county Treasurers, Charles Stockwell, H. Eugene Landon; County Commissioners, Elias Rockwell, Irad Wilson, Sheldon H. Lindley, Charles L. Crandall; County Auditors, Asa Pratt, Thomas S. Green, Otis Williams; Coroner, John Vandyke; Jury Commissioner, Volney M. Wilson. Sevellon F. Channell, late Judge of Tioga county, was a native of Canton.

Centenarians - Mrs. Elizabeth [Wilber] Dunning, died February 3, 1884, aged 104 years and 18 days; William Andress died November 18, 1885, aged 100 years and 8 months; James Cooney died August 6, 1895, reputed 106 years old; Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas celebrated her 100th anniversary at Grover, June 15, 1909; Walter Scott Newman died March 9, 1917, aged 100 years, 9 months and 8 days; Orrin Brown died November 12, 1911, aged 99 years, 8 months and one day; Edwin Newman, brother of Walter S., died March 24, 1922, aged 99 years, 6 months and 20 days; Mrs. Elizabeth W. [Davies] Elliot died August 30, 1923, aged 99 years, 5 months and 18 days.

Canton Borough - The place of the junction of roads, where Jacob Grantier settles, early became the center of interests and was long known as "Canton Corners." A village formed, and grew rapidly from the opening of the Northern Central railroad. In May, 1864, it was incorporated as Canton borough. Its population increased from 710 in 1870 to 2154 in 1920. The pioneers of the Canton region were required to go to Towanda for their mail. In 1816 a private post-route was established up Towanda creek as far as Seelye Crofut’s in LeRoy. Letter and papers were brought by a boy on horse-back, once a week, from Towanda. Those above Crofut’s called there for their mail where it was left. In 1825 the Canton post office was established with Asa Pratt postmaster.

Alba Borough - Noah Wilson’s settlement, in the northern part of the township on the Northern Central railroad, grew into a thriving village, and in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s contained important enterprises, manufacturing carriages, coaches and sleighs. In February, 1864, it was incorporated as Alba borough. The Alba post office was established in 1827 with Irad Wilson postmaster.

East Canton in the eastern part of the township, three miles from Canton, is a pleasant village in the midst of a thrifty farming community.