By: Chester P. Bailey
Typed for Tri-County Website by Pat SMITH Raymond
Andrew Sherwood in writing the history of Richmond Township and Mansfield published in 1883 said, "Asa Mann the subject of this sketch will rank among the most important personages we will be called upon to treat. As an historical figure, Asa Mann stands out conspicuously. We find no other name so intimately blended with all the early traditions of the town."
Charles Redfield in an article in the Mansfield Advertiser, December 28, 1927 said, "He was a greater man in his time than many today who have monuments erected in their honor."
Asa Mann was born in Rhode Island in the year 1782, and came to Richmond Township in 1804, locating about a mile north of the present borough line. He built a large log cabin and kept a hotel and a small stock of merchandise being the first regular hotel and store in the territory. His building was on the East Side of Williamson Road.
Asa was not the first of his family to come to this area. In 1803 Samuel Reynolds came to Sullivan Township with his wife Anna. Anna was the sister of Asa Mann and had married Reynolds in Rhode Island. They were among the first settlers to come to the section on Old State Road. The Reynolds raised 10 children.
The first assessment of Tioga County made under the authority of Lycoming County, to which Tioga County was attached, for 1811:
Asa Mann – 225 acres – 2 cows – 2 horses – valuation - $306.00 – tax .80 cents
He owned 100 acres – valued at $102.00 – tax .51 cents in Delmar Township.
At a later date he owned property in Sullivan Township.
An Academy was established in Wellsboro in 1817. Among the gentlemen named from different parts of the County as Trustees was Asa Mann who was named on March 15, 1817, representing Richmond Township.
In 1817 Asa Mann owned property in Sullivan Township. He was among the landowners to petition the Court to make Sullivan a Township, taking it from the area, which included Ward, Union and Rutland. However, action was not taken until 1819.
In 1818 Asa Mann built a fine house, which until 1973 was still standing. In its time, as late as 1830, his house was considered the finest in Tioga Valley. It was last owned by Norris Cruttenden and was removed to make room for the U.S. 15 by-pass of Mansfield.
The first graveyard was located in front of the house, across the road but nearer the river. Mrs. Jones, Mr. Mann’s mother-in-law, who was nearly 100 years old at the time of her death, was buried there. Also a Mr. Burley, Philena Clark, and Mrs. Clarissa Lamb, wife of Daniel Lamb, and doubtless others. Every trace of this cemetery disappeared years ago.
The same year, 1818 he was elected County Commissioner. He was sufficiently well known in the County and had made use of the Court on several occasions.
A libel matter was filed by Asa and Phebe his wife versus Ebenezer Burley and Eunice his wife for slander against Mrs. Mann. The trial Judge was John Bannister, who afterwards for nearly 25 years was Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. The Jury decided it was slander. The case was tried in 1814. In 1821 there was a case filed between Asa Mann vs. Peter Kelts. Judgement of $117.11 was received by Mann.
In 1824 Asa Mann purchased 200 acres from John and Peter Kelts. This acreage included all the territory now occupied by the business section of Mansfield. Within the year he cleared thirty acres. This field, which had no house, was soon known as Mann’s Field and became a gathering place for the settlers from far and wide.
The second son of Anna Reynolds, Thomas came to Mansfield to help his uncle, Asa Mann to clear the lot of great pine trees. He was then 18 years old. There were great pine trees where the first bank building was built at the southeast corner of Main and Wellsboro streets. Mr. Mann laid out the land into town lots.
Daniel Holden came to the area in 1819 and purchased land from Asa Mann. In 1824 he built the fine house on south Main Street that is now the oldest house still in use in Mansfield. (Presently owned by Martha Donahue).
Being a landowner in Sullivan became an embarrassing situation for Asa Mann when on January 12, 1830, a special election was held to elect a State Senator. A former Commissioner Uriah Spencer was one of the candidates; Asa Mann was one of his conferees. Asa convinced the clerk in Sullivan Township that as property owner he had the right to vote. He then, later in the day voted in Richmond. His candidate lost.
A Constable bond was signed by Asa Mann, February 25, 1836, for $1000 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In 1831 Asa Mann built a sawmill a little north of his house, on the other side of the river. Much valuable lumber was manufactured at this mill. He owned much timberland, and was extensively engaged in the manufacturing and transportation of timber, lumber and shingles.
The first canal boat was built in 1833-34 by Asa Mann upon his farm. The boat was launched, floated down the Tioga River to Corning, and sold. The person who constructed the boat for Mr. Mann was a carpenter named Stone, who seemed to be an expert in this kind of architecture.
The building of canal boats for use on New York canals and arks and rafts for the transportation of lumber and shingles, etc., down the Tioga and so on to tidewater by way of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers became an important industry in Mansfield. A boat yard was established on the bank of the river north of the river bridge. Boat building was carried on by others for several years.
Asa Mann had a distillery on Elmira Street between Academy and Extension Streets in 1822-1825.
Asa built a sawmill near the lower corner of "the Island" (Smythe Park) west of the present High School, in company with a Mr. Holland in 1835. The Baptists were using the house, which was the school building at that time for church services. It was near the entrance to the Island on Wellsboro Street. Some one remarked that Asa Mann was not sawing on Sunday but somebody was sharpening saws.
Asa Mann was Mansfield’s first Postmaster when the post office was moved from Canoe Camp to Mann’s Field. He served over ten years from March 6, 1828, to January 27, 1839.
Mr. Mann built a large building on the southwest corner of Main and Wellsboro Streets. It was used as a hotel. He sold it to Col. Sam Hunt. It burned in 1849 when Arron Ingalls was landlord. (It is the present site of Coles Drug store.)
In 1832 Asa Mann and his son William B. Mann, built a store on the corner of N. Main and Center Streets. This building burned in 1882 when fire took out the wooden buildings from Center Street south for some distance on the west side of Main Street. The Mann’s operated the store until 1839.
In 1835 Asa left his farm and moved into the village in a house erected by Oliver Whittaker, which stood where the Allen Block now stands. On the north east corner of N. Main and Wellsboro Streets.
Asa deeded a strip of right-of-way 100 feet wide to the new railroad enterprise. This became the location for the station, freight house, stock yard and switch tracks. Prior to this a serious attempt was made to use the Tioga River as a canal. At least 4 barges were built in Mansfield, loaded with coal delivered from Blossburg and floated to Corning.
Asa Mann sold his house north of the village and land to James R. Wilson, who later became the President of the Corning-Blossburg Railroad. In 1840 the new R.R. followed the Williamson Road and passed in front of his house.
Miss Phebe Jones of Rutland, Vermont and Asa Mann were married in 1800. They raised eleven children: William B., Juliette, Jasper, Laura Maria, Roxanna, Mary Ann, Phebe, Christiana, Phebe-Adaline, and two who died in infancy.
Mrs. Asa Mann died in Mansfield May 31, 1838, age 64 years. Jasper Mann died four months later, August 2, 1838, age 23 years; Phebe-Adaline died at Peru, Ill. 1849, age 25 years; Roxanna died at Peru, Ill. In 1878 age 64 years, and Juliete in 1879 age 71. Mrs. Mary Ann Hoffman, (born July, 1815) wife of John Hoffman, died later at Mendota, Ill.
A year after his wife and two sons died Asa Mann moved with the rest of his family to Peru, Illinois, where he died on July 8, 1843, age 61 years.
Dr. Joseph P. Morris purchased 1100 acres of land from James R. Wilson in 1842, formerly the Asa Mann property for $12,000. It was mostly east of the river. He laid it out into town lots.
TIOGA EAGLE, Wellsboro, Pa.
Wednesday, February 21, 1844
The subjoined Obituary Notice was sent to us for insertion, which we cheerfully comply.
From the Illinois Free Trader
Died—On Monday, July 10, 1843, at the residence of Mr. John Hoffman, Peru, Ill’s. ASA MANN, ESQ., in the 62d year of his age, of the painful disease of cancer in the stomach, under which he languished, in severe suffering, nearly one year, but which he bore with a patience and spirit consonant with the character which he had long sustained for fortitude and firmness to resist the misfortunes and ills of life.
Previous to his emigration into the state of Illinois, in the year 1838, Mr. Mann resided in Tioga county, Pa., for more than thirty years, during which time he was a highly respectable and enterprising citizen; distinguished as an efficient merchant, farmer and lumberman; eminent as a uniform, consistent, and influential politician of the Jeffersonian school. At two different periods he was elected by the people of Pennsylvania as Elector of President and Vice President of the U. S., in each of which instances the candidate voted for by him was sustained and approved by the nation. In private life the whole tenor of his conduct has been such as to draw to him the warm affection of his relatives and intimate friends, and the confidence and respect of all whom knew him.