Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1897 Tioga County History
Chapter 11 - Public Buildings & Officials
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1897 Tioga County History Table of Contents
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Chapter XI

Public Building and Officials

First Meeting Place of the Commissioners--Temporary Quarters Secured--First Public Buildings Erected--An Odd Contract--High Price of Nails--Description of Buildings--The New Court House and Jail--The Present Jail-- The Only Criminal Execution--New Record Building

The first meeting, in their official capacity, of Nathan Niles, Caleb Boyer and Ira Kilburn, the first commissioners of Tioga county, was held October 20, 1808, "at the Meeting House, in Wellsboro, in said county." At this meeting it was agreed by the commissioners "that their further meetings, for the purpose of transacting the public business be held at this place." The meeting of June 23, 1809, was held at the house of David Lindsey, which appears to have been the place of meeting for several years. That the commissioners were desirous of purchasing it for that purpose, as well as for the safe-keeping of records, the following, under date of August 20, 1811, will show:

Resolved, That, as a house is necessary for securing the papers and books of the county of Tioga, after taking the matter into consideration, we look upon the house of David Lindsey to be suitable for that purpose, and have agreed to advance the said David Lindsey the sum of $60 towards the payment of said house, provided that at the next meeting of the board of commissioners we conclude to purchase it at the sum of $250, which the said David Lindsey agrees to take; and if at that time we conclude not to make the purchase the said David Lindsey agrees to refund the said $60, or leave the house in security until it be paid back.




There is nothing in the record to show whether or not this purchase was concluded, but the presumption is that it was, and that the house became the repository of the books and papers of the county, rather than the meeting place of the commissioners, as will appear hereafter.

This historic building, the first one devoted to the public business of the county, stood on the site now occupied by the Presbyterian church. It was a primitive log house, and was occupied, after the erection of the court house, by William Bache, Sr., who opened in it the first store in Wellsboro.

On December 18, 1812, the commissioners adopted the following:

Resolved, That the room below stairs at John Norris’ be the commissioners office until we build one, and that we agree with is proposal of giving him the annual rent of $25. It is understood that for that sum he supplies firewood and, when necessary, candles.


The first intimation given in the record of the intention of the commissioners to erect a court house is to be found, under date of November 5, 1812, in the "memorandum of probable expenses of the county of Tioga for the year 1813," the first item of which reads as follows: Boards and work for court room, $100." Another item reads, "Prothonotary and commissioners office to be built, $300," and still another, "Building jail, $400." These items show an intention on the part of the commissioners to erect a court room and jail, and a prothonotary and commissioners office, and to set aside $800 to meet, in part, at least the expense of their construction.

On January 14, 1813, Eddy Howland, Timothy Ives and Nathan Niles, Jr., the commissioners then in office, approved the plans presented by William Hill, "of offices for prothonotary and commissioners," ordered them "placed on file amongst our office papers," and also adopted the following:

Resolved, That three advertisements containing the substance of a paper of this date filed in our office, describing the manner in which a court house and jail are required to be built, be made out by the clerk and sent, one to Tioga, one to Cowanesque, and that one be posted up in some public place in the town of Wellsboro.

It will be seen from the foregoing that the commissioners had in view the erection of a court house and jail, which was to constitute one building, and that a second building was to contain the offices of the prothonotary and commissioners. Upon which building work was first begun it is impossible to say with certainty, but the inference from the record is that the court house and jail were given the preference, as we find that on April 20, 1813, "they viewed the work of Ebenezer Hill," and made the following peculiar contract with David Henry "to do the mason work of the under pinning of the jail."

  1. He (David Henry) is to have one dollar per day for his own work, his provisions are to be found him and he is to be furnished with half a pint of whiskey per day.
  2. He is to have half a dollar per day for the use of his oxen, for every day they are employed in hauling stone from the quarry for under pinning the jail, and the oxen whilst working are to be found by the commissioners their necessary feed.
  3. David Henry is to begin work this day two weeks and continue at it until he has finished it.
  4. In case of rain, David Henry’s provisions shall be found for him and hay for his oxen, although neither of them may be able to work, but his wages during that period shall cease.
David Henry appears to have not only carried out his part of the foregoing contract, but to have come to the rescue of Ebenezer Hill, the contractor for building the court house and jail, at a critical period, as shown by the following entry in the commissioner’s minute book, under date of October 4, 1813:

It being represented to the commissioners by John Norris and Ebenezer Hill that the work of the building of the jail and court house must have stopped directly after their last meeting had not John Norris and Ebenezer Hill borrowed a certain quantity of shingling nails of David Henry, and become bound to said Henry to return the said nails in five weeks from the time borrowed or pay him, the said Henry, half a dollar per lb. For them in cash; the commissioners, having taken the same into consideration, and believing that Norris and Hill had no other view in procuring the nails but to forward the work of said jail and court house, do hereby resolve to relieve Norris and Hill from the penalty of their agreement, and subject the county to any and every expense or loss that Norris and Hill may suffer on the above account.

At this time the War of 1812 was in progress and nails were not only very dear but very scarce, it being well nigh impossible to procure them.

On October 7, 1813, the board resolved "that Ebenezer Hill be employed to do the inside work of the court house." In the estimate of expense for the year 1814, made October 27, 1813, the following items appear: "Finishing of the court house and jail, more than the agreement made with Ebenezer Hill, $500." "Two offices, one for commissioners and one for recorder, etc., $500."

After numerous delays, the buildings were completed some time during the year 1815, between which year and 1824, the minute books of the commissioners are missing from the commissioners’ office. William Bache, whose memory concerning the earlier years of the county’s history is clear, says the court house and jail stood about on the site of the present court house. It was a two-story building, the lower story being of logs and the upper story a frame. The lower story was used for a dwelling by the jailer, David Lindsey, the court room being upstairs. The jail formed the wing of the building on the northeast side. It was built of logs, which were filled with spikes to keep the prisoners from cutting their way out. The building erected for the commissioners and the prothonotary stood about on the site of the new office building. It was a two-story frame, the offices being in the lower, and jury room in the second story. When the present court house was erected, this building was sold to Josiah Emery for $100, and was removed to a lot on Central avenue, opposite Willow Hall. It was used as a residence by him for thirty-five years. It is now the property of Jefferson Harrison and is still used for residence purposes, though so much changed by additions and improvements as to be scarcely recognizable.

The furniture of the old court room was very plain and primitive. It consisted of a rude bench for the judge; a dock, with its square box flanked by a railing on each side; a big oval table, between the bench and the dock, with a great deep scallop in its end, next to the dock, from which the counsel addressed the court and jury, and two long, narrow boxes on each side for the jury when their presence was required. In cold weather the room was heated by a fire-place and a ten-plate stove which stood in the southeast corner.

It was in this room that the early lawyers of the county, a number of whom afterward sat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the State or filled other honorable official positions, were pitted against each other in the trial of civil and criminal causes. Every session of the court saw a gathering of attorneys, litigants, witnesses, jurymen and spectators from all parts of the county. In addition to the business calling them together, neighborhood news and gossip were retailed, and national, state and county politics discussed, with the usual amount of wire-pulling and log-rolling, the fate and fortunes of men ambitious of political preferment oftentimes being decided during a confidential chat beneath the shade of a nearby pine or hemlock tree.


As the years passed, bringing increase of population, wealth and business, it became apparent that the public buildings of the county were inadequate and that more substantial and commodious ones were demanded. This demand was emphasized by the recent theft of valuable public records, making it necessary to provide for their better and safer keeping. Steps were accordingly taken to secure the erection of new public buildings.

On February 2, 1835, an act of Assembly was approved authorizing the commissioners to borrow money, not exceeding $8,000, for the purpose of erecting the proposed new public buildings, and to pledge the credit of the county for the payment of the same. No time was lost. The old court house was torn down and the ground prepared. The new building was very solidly constructed of native sandstone, and if not imposing in architectural appearance, it has served its purpose well. During its construction the court found temporary refuge in the house of Mr. Bache, which was fitted up for its accommodation. The tooth of time has had very little effect upon this sandstone building. In appearance it is rugged and strong and likely to withstand the action of the elements for many years to come. Within it is comfortably fitted up. The judge’s chambers, which are capacious and well furnished, are on the first floor to the right as you enter from the east; and just across the corridor are other rooms which are used for offices. Ascending by a broad flight the court room is found on the second floor. It is capacious, airy, and plainly but comfortably furnished. Within the bar the bench is sufficiently elevated to give the court a good view of the room and audience, while the bar, officers of the court, and jurors, have comfortable accommodations and pleasant surroundings. On the walls are suspended portraits of the president judges who have occupied the bench. Some of these men attained great distinction and adorned the Supreme Court bench of the State.

In the basement of this building was the county jail, in which offenders against the "peace and dignity" of the commonwealth were incarcerated. It answered the requirements of the county until 1860, when the present sheriff’s residence and jail was erected at a cost of about $10,000. The edifice is a two-story brick, substantially built, fronting the public square and Central avenue. The portion fronting the public square is occupied by the sheriff and his family, the jail being at the back, fronting Central avenue. In 1893 the old cut-stone cells were torn out and a modern steel equipment substituted, at a cost of about $9,000, thus giving the county a thoroughly safe and secure jail. The old jail, under the court house, is used by the borough for the safe keeping of its prisoners.


Thus far in her history Tioga county has only had one conviction and execution for murder, although there have been several trials on that charge. George Travis was tried and convicted of the murder of Martha Sylvia, July 14, 1883. The murder occurred on the night of April 3, 1883, in Charleston township. Following were the jurors: Charles Margraff, John W. Warren, Evan Price, William Hyde, George Ransom, Lloyd Squiers, Roswell Ripley, Thomas B. Mitchell, William J. Bowen, David Louden, Edward R. Copp and Otis H. Davis.

On his conviction a motion for a new trial was made, but it was overruled, and the prisoner was sentenced to be hanged August 18, 1883, on which day a writ of error was filed and the case carried to the Supreme Court, but that body affirmed the lower court, October 28, 1884. Travis was executed in the jail yard by Sheriff Harry Baxter, January 15, 1885.


After a lapse of forty-five years the business of the county had so increased that more room was required for the offices and records, and in 1880 it was decided to erect a building especially for this purpose. It was commenced in 1881 and completed in 1882. It is located a few feet south of the court house, is two stories high, with a tower, and is about fifty-seven feet square. The material used in its construction is red pressed brick, trimmed with native sand-stone, and it is divided into two rooms down stairs and two in the second story. Those on the first floor are occupied by the prothonotary and the register and recorder; on the second floor by the sheriff, treasurer and the county commissioners. Each office is fitted with modern equipments for the classification and easy handling of the books and papers, and throughout the building is as nearly fire proof as it is possible to make it. That the officials of Tioga county have commodious and convenient quarters in which to transact the public business, is the verdict of all who have examined them. The construction of the building was commenced under the supervision of Commissioners N. A. Elliott, O. A. Smith, and J. E. Peters, and finished by the board composed of J. E. Peters, J. J. Reese, and Charles M. Rumsey, in July, 1882. The cost of this building, including the boiler-house and steam-heating plant, added in 1894, was about $30,000. A beautiful and well-kept law surrounds the building and adds to its attractiveness.


Previous to 1866 the indigent poor were cared for by the several townships, each township bearing the expense of maintaining its own poor. On March 12 of that year an act of the legislature was approved, appointing William Bache, James H. Gulick, J. L. Baldwin, Joel Parkhurst and John Maynard, commissioners, to purchase real estate for a county farm and, with the assent of the court of quarter sessions, to execute bonds and mortgages, to secure payment therefore. The act also made the county commissioners overseers of the poor, and authorized them to erect suitable buildings and assess a county poor tax, sufficient to maintain the inmates and also pay for the buildings within five years. They were also authorized to appoint a steward, a matron and a physician, and were required to visit the institution monthly.

Under the authority of this act the commissioners named purchased twenty-five acres of the old Caleb Austin farm just east of Wellsboro, on the south side of the State road, in Charleston township. Subsequent purchases, from time to time, have enlarged the original farm to 315 acres. On the land first purchased a two-story brick building was erected and was ready for occupancy in 1869. It answered the purpose of the county until 1888, when it was torn down and the present commodious and well-furnished building erected at a cost of over $20,000. There is also a frame residence for the superintendent, with a barn and other outbuildings. The farm is cultivated for the benefit of the inmates, those able to do so assisting in the work. A number of insane poor are cared for in a building specially set apart for them. The institution is a well-ordered one and is of great value to the county in properly caring for the indigent and the insane poor. The farm and improvements are valued at about $50,000.

ROSTER OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS. (See Also table Version of this data)

The names and dates of service of Tioga county citizens who have filled offices in the Nation, State and county are given in the following roster:

United States Senator.—Hon. John I. Mitchell, elected in 1881 and served a full term of six years.

Representatives in Congress.—James Ford, of Lawrenceville, the first member of Congress from Tioga county, was elected in 1828, and re-elected in 1830, serving two consecutive terms. He had previously served two years in the legislature, and his life was honorably interwoven with the history of the State. He died at Lawrenceville in August, 1859, aged seventy-six years. Samuel Wells Morris, a son of the founder of Wellsboro, was elected in 1836 and served until 1841. Stephen F. Wilson was elected in 1864, and re-elected in 1866. Henry Sherwood was elected in 1870, over Hon. William H. Armstrong, of Williamsport, by a majority of twenty-seven votes. The district being strongly Republican, he served only one term. John I. Mitchell was elected in 1876, and served two terms. Mortimer F. Elliott was elected congressman-at-large in 1882, serving one term. Horace B. Packer, the present representative from this district, was elected in November, 1896.

Auditor General of Pennsylvania.—Jerome B. Niles was elected in 1883 and served three years, commencing May 2, 1884.

Attorney Generals of Pennsylvania.—Ellis Lewis, commissioned January 29, 1833; John C. Knox, commissioned January 19, 1858.

Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.—Ellis Lewis, commissioned December 4, 1854.

Associate Justices.—Ellis Lewis, commissioned October 14, 1851; John C. Knox, May 23, 1853; Henry W. Williams, appointed to succeed Ulysses Mercur, and commissioned August 19, 1887; elected and commissioned for a term of twenty-one years, December 22, 1887.

Speakers of the Senate of Pennsylvania.—Daniel L. Sherwood, 1846; Butler B. Strang, 1874.

Speaker of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania.—Butler B. Strang, 1870.

State Senators.—John Ryon, Jr., was the first member of the lower house sent from Tioga county, was elected in 1824. His successors, who were citizens of this county when elected, have been as follows: Daniel L. Sherwood, speaker, 1846; John W. Guernsey, 1850-52; Stephen F. Wilson, 1863-65; Butler B. Strang, 1873-76, and speaker in 1874; Charles H. Seymour, 1877-80; Horace B. Packer, 1889-92, and Walter T. Merrick, elected November 3, 1896.

State Representatives.—John Ryon, Jr., was the first member of the lower house sent from Tioga county. He was elected in 1820, 1821 and 1822, and served three years. Those who succeeded him are as follows: James Ford, 1824-25; Dr. Curtis Parkhurst, 1828-29; John Beecher, 1831-32; Samuel Wells Morris, 1833-36; William Garretson, 1837-38; Lewis B. Cole, 1839-40; John Waklee, 1841; Daniel L. Sherwood, 1842-43; George Knox, 1844-45; John C. Knox, 1846-47; Nathaniel A. Elliott, 1848-49; Jeremiah Black, 1850 and 1852; A. J. Monroe, 1851; James Lowrey, 1853-54; Thomas L. Baldwin, 1855-56; L. P. Williston, 1857-60; Butler B. Strang, 1861-62 and 1868-71, speaker in 1870; S. B. Elliott, 1861-62; C. O. Bowman, 1863; John W. Guernsey, 1864-65; W. T. Humphrey, 1866-67 and 1875-76; Jerome B. Niles, 1869-70; John I. Mitchell, 1872-76. After the adoption of the Constitution of 1873, Tioga county became entitled to two representatives, and since that time the following named persons have served: C. V. Elliott and Hugh Young, 1877-78. Mr. Young resigned in May, 1877, to accept the appointment of bank examiner, and Benjamin Dorrance was elected to fill his unexpired term. C. V. Elliott and Benjamin Dorrance, 1879-80; Charles Tubbs and Jerome B. Niles, 1881-84; Horace B. Packer and Henry M. Foote, 1885-88; Isaac Squires and George T. Losey, 1889-92; Walter T. Merrick and Jerome B. Niles, 1893-96, and F. B. Smith and Robert K. Young, elected in November, 1896.

Members of Constitutional Convention.—Hon. Robert G. White sat in the Convention of 1837-38 and was appointed on the committee having Article I under consideration. He opposed the clause which confined the right of suffrage to white citizens. Hon. Mortimer f. Elliott and Hon. Jerome B. Niles, both of Wellsboro, were both members of the Convention of 1873.

President Judges.—John Bannister Gibson, 1812-15; Thomas Burnside, 1815-18; Edward Herrick, 1818-39; John Nesbit Conyngham, 1839-49, and Horace Williston, 1849-51. The office became elective in 1850, and Robert G. White, of Wellsboro, was elected for ten years, being the first citizen of the county to fill the office. He was re-elected in 1861. Henry W. Williams was elected in 1871, and re-elected in 1881, serving until August 19, 1887, when he was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of the State to fill a vacancy, and was succeeded by Stephen F. Wilson, who served until January, 1889. He was succeeded by John I. Mitchell, elected in November, 1888—the present incumbent.

Additional Law Judges.—Hon. Henry W. Williams, appointed in March, 1865, and served until 1871, when he was elected president judge. Hon. Stephen F. Wilson, appointed in 1871 to fill the vacancy caused by Judge Williams’ election as president judge; elected as his own successor in 1872 for a term of ten years.

Associate Judges.—Samuel W. Morris and Ira Kilburn were appointed the first associate judges of Tioga county, July 13, 1812, to serve during life or good behavior. The former was elected to the legislature in the fall of 1832, and was succeeded as associate judge by John Ryon, Jr., who was appointed January 29, 1833. Judge Kilburn served until 1840, when he was succeeded by Jonah Brewster, appointed April 1 of that year, the term of office being limited to five years by the Constitution of 1838. Judge Ryon was re-appointed March 5, 1842, and Judge Brewster February 27, 1845. The former was succeeded by Dr. Curtis Parkhurst, appointed March 15, 1847, and the latter by Levi I. Nichols, March 7, 1850. In 1850 the office became elective and was filled as follows: Calvin Dyer and Dr. Simeon Power, commissioned November 10, 1851; J. C. Whittaker and Abel Humphrey, November 12, 1856; Thomas L. Baldwin, appointed January 17, 1861, to fill vacancy caused by resignation of Judge Humphrey; E. T. Bentley, appointed September 2, 1861, to fill vacancy caused by resignation of Judge Baldwin; Victor Case and Royal Wheeler, commissioned November 23, 1861; Charles F. Veil and E. T. Bentley, November 9, 1866; Daniel McNaughton and Lewis B. Smith, November 17, 1871; M. K. Retan and John F. Donaldson, December 8, 1876; Peter V. Van Ness, February 17, 1880; George H. Baxter, December 2, 1880; Harvey Lamkin, December 8, 1881. When the county became a separate judicial district as apportioned under the act of 1883, the office of associate judge ceased to exist.

District Attorneys.—Up to 1850 the prosecuting officer for the Commonwealth was styled deputy attorney general, and he received his appointment from the attorney general of the State, or the court. At the opening of the first court in January, 1813, Henry Wilson appeared by appointment to as deputy attorney general. At the April term Alphonso Stewart was appointed by the court, and Edward Herrick appeared at the November term, after which the appointment ran as follows: Alphonso Stewart, Thomas Overton and Charles Catlin, 1814; Thomas Overton and Simon Kinney, 1815; Simon Kinney and Ethan Baldwin, 1816; George Dennison, 1817; Ethan Baldwin, 1818; Edward Overton and William Patton, 1819; Edward Overton, 1820; Joseph B. Anthony, 1821; Thomas Elder, 1822-23; Ellis Lewis, 1824-25; Clarendon Rathbone, 1826-28; William Garretson, 1829; R. G. White, 1830-31, assisted by Horace Williston the latter year; Josiah Emery, 1832; Clarendon Rathbone, 1834; A. S. Brewster, 1835-37; Josiah Emery, 1838; John C. Knox, 1840-42; Pardon Damon, 1843-47; John N. Bache, 1848; A. J. Monroe, 1849.

In 1850 the office became elective, and the title was changed from deputy attorney general to district attorney. It has since been held by the following named persons: John W. Ryon, elected in 1850; re-elected in 1853; Butler B. Strang, 1856; Henry Allen, 1859; Jerome B. Niles, 1862; re-elected in 1865; John I. Mitchell, 1868; J. C. Strang, 1871; William A. Stone, 1874; resigned at the close of 1876, and Horace B. Packer was appointed to fill the unexpired term; Horace B. Packer, elected in 1877; Harvey B. Leach, 1889; Edward H. Owlett, 1892, and A. B. Dunsmore, elected in 1895, the present incumbent.

Sheriffs—The office of sheriff is filled by election and the incumbent serves three years. From the organization of the county up to the adoption of the Constitution of 1873, the election was held on the second Tuesday of October; since that time it has been held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The following have served as sheriffs of Tioga county since it was organized for judicial purposes: Alpheus Cheney, commissioned December 3, 1812. As he was the first sheriff, and as a matter of history, it may be stated that under date of November 5, 1812, he gave bond in $5,000, with himself and the following named persons as sureties Caleb Austin, Nathan Niles, Jr., Oliver Willard and Daniel Kelsey. His successors were elected as follows: Dr. Simeon Power, 1815; John Knox, 1818; Elijah Stiles, 1821; John Beecher, 1824; Robert Tubbs, 1827; Seth Daggett, 1830; Francis Wetherbee, elected to fill vacancy caused by resignation of Seth Daggett, 1831; Benjamin Gitchell, 1834; John Waklee, 1837; Dr. Curtis Parkhurst, 1840; Joseph W. Guernsey, 1843; H. H. Potter, 1846; John Mathers, 1849; H. A. Guernsey, 1852; John Mathers, 1855; Simeon I. Power, 1858; Hezekiah Stowell, Jr., 1861; Leroy Tabor, 1864; Jerome B. Potter, 1867; Edward A. Fish, 1870; Stephen Bowen, 1873; Delos H. Walker, 1876; H. J. Landrus, 1879; Harry Baxter, 1882; Joseph H. Ferris, 1885; Francis M. Sheffer, 1888; John Irvin, 1891, and William E. Champaign, the present incumbent, elected in November, 1894, and took office in January, 1895.

Prothonotaries.—In Tioga county one person is elected, every three years, to the office of prothonotary of the court of common pleas, clerk of the court of quarter sessions and clerk of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery. Previous to the adoption of the Constitution of 1838, when the office became elective, the incumbent was appointed by the governor. It has been held by the following named persons: John Norris, 1812-18; Uriah Spencer, 1818-21; John Patton, 1821-24; Uriah Spencer, 1824-31; Jonah Brewster, 1831-36; John F. Donaldson, 1836-38; A. S. Brewster, 1839; John F. Donaldson, elected in 1839, and served thirty-three consecutive years, being re-elected to each succeeding term; Gen. Robert C. Cox, elected in October and commissioned November 12, 1872, served continuously until January 1, 1894, he was succeeded by Francis M. Sheffer, who was re-elected in November, 1896.

Register and Recorder.—This office has been filled by the following named persons: John Norris, 1812-18; Uriah Spencer, 1818-21; John Norris, 1821-24; Uriah Spencer, 1824-30; Jonah Brewster, 1831-33; Benjamin B. Smith, 1833-36; Luman Wilson, 1836-39; George Knox, 1839-42; Luman Wilson, 1842-48; John N. Bache, 1848-51; James P. Magil, 1851-54; W. D. Bailey, 1854-60; H. S. Archer, 1860-66; Darius L. Deane, 1866-75; George C. Bowen, 1876-87; Homer J. Ripley, 1888-96, and C. L. Babcock, the present incumbent who was elected November 3, 1896, and took charge of the office in January, 1897.

County Treasurers.—Under the constitution of 1790 it was the custom of the county commissioners to appoint a treasurer, who usually served for the term of one year. This practice continued until the adoption of the Constitution of 1838, when the office became elective. The following persons have served as custodians of the funds: Samuel W. Morris, 1808; William Willard, 1809; Alpheus Cheney, 1810-11; Bethlehem Thompson, 1812-13; Benjamin W. Morris, 1814-15; Robert Tubbs, 1816; Daniel Lamb, 1817; Robert Tubbs, 1818-19; John Beecher, 1820; Thomas Putnam, 1821-23; William Willard, Jr., 1824-26; Levi Vail, 1827; Elihu Hill, 1828-30; Thomas Dyer, 1831-33; John Barnes, 1834-35; Archibald Knox, 1836; Thomas Dyer, 1837-39; Robert G. White, 1840-42; John L. Robinson, 1843-45; A. H. Bacon, 1846-47; George Levegood, 1848-49; S. L. Hibbard, 1850-51; George Knox, 1852-53; Henry Rathbone, 1854-55; Oliver H. Blanchard, 1856-57; O. F. Taylor, 1858-59; James S. Watrous, 1860-61; H. B. Card, 1862-63; A. M. Spencer, 1864-65; C. F. Miller, 1866-67; H. C. Bailey, 1868-69. The last election under the old Constitution occurred in October, 1869, when Gen. Robert C. Cox was chosen. Under the Constitution of 1873 the term of office was extended to three years and the time for holding elections fixed for November. General Cox held the office until the close of 1872. Since the New Constitution went into operation the succession has been as follows: Henry Rowland, 1873-74; Thomas Allen, 1875-77; Thomas B. Bryden, 1878. In March, 1878, Mr. Bryden died from the effects of an accident, and Charles F. Veil was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was succeeded in 1881 by John R. Bowen, since which time the line has been as follows: Alonzo B. Horton, 1884-86; Orlando F. Taylor, 1887-89; Otis G. Gerould, 1890-92; Jonathan V. Morgan, 1893-95, and Ross A. Mitchell, the present incumbent, who assumed the duties of the office January 1, 1896.

County Commissioners.—These officers, who charge of the county business and the care and superintendence of the public buildings, were elected annually for the term of three years until the adoption of the Constitution of 1873, which provided for the triennial election of the entire board of three members. The Constitution requires each elector to vote for no more than two persons, and the three persons having the highest number of votes shall be elected. This enables the minority party to always have a representative on the board. Previous to the adoption of this Constitution of 1873 the dominant party generally had all the commissioners. The commissioners of Tioga county have been elected as follows: Nathan Niles, Sr., Caleb Boyer and Ira Kilburn, 1808; George Hart and Uriah Spencer, 1809; Eddy Howland, 1810; Samuel W. Morris, 1811; Timothy Ives, 1812; Nathan Niles, Jr., appointed to fill vacancy caused by resignation of Samuel W. Morris, 1813; Hopestill Beecher and Ambrose Millard, 1813; Justus Dartt, 1814; Robert B. Elliott, 1815; John Knox, 1816; Asa Mann, 1817; Elijah DePui, 1818; John Ryon, Jr., 1819; Oliver Willard, 1820; Seth Daggett, 1821; Hiram Beebe, 1822; William Knox, 1823; Elijah Welch, 1823; Elijah Stiles, 1824; James Goodrich, 1825; Hiram Beebe, 1826; Lorentus Jackson, 1827; Aaron Alba, 1828; John Cochran, 1829; E. B. Gerould, 1830; Job Geer, 1831; A. Hammond, 1832; Chauncey Alford, 1833; George Knox, 1834; M. W. Stull, 1834; Samuel Miller, 1835; C. N. Sykes, 1836; Philemon Doud, 1837; George Levegood, 1838; Buel Baldwin, 1839; Levi Elliott, 1840; M. W. Stull, 1841; C. O. Spencer, 1842; H. H. Potter, 1843; Eddy Howland, 1844; H. P. Van Ness, 1845; William Rose, Sr., 1846; John Fox, 1846; Israel Merrick, Jr., 1847; David Ellis, 1848; Leander Culver, 1849; David Caldwell, 1850; Ansel Purple, 1851; Benjamin Van Dusen, 1852; Austin Lathrop, 1853; O. B. Wells, 1854; C. F. Culver, 1855; D. D. Stevens, 1856; John James, 1857; L. D. Seely, 1858; Amos Bixby, 1859; Ambrose Barker, 1860; Job Rexford, 1861; C. F. Miller, 1862; Myron Rockwell, 1863; E. S. Seely, 1864; E. Hart, 1865; P. V. Van Ness, 1866; Job Rexford, 1867; M. W. Wetherbee, 1868; P. V. Van Ness, re-elected, 1869; Job Rexford, re-elected 1870; T. O. Hollis, 1871; E. Hart, 1872; L. B. Sheive, 1873; Edwin Klock, 1874. Up to 1875 one commissioner had been elected each year, the term being for three years. The New Constitution, however, required all three to be elected at one time. The office has since been filled as follows: L. L. Smith, Elisha J. Purple and N. A. Elliott, elected in 1875; O. A. Smith, James E. Peters and N. A. Elliott, 1878; James E. Peters, John J. Reese and Charles M. Rumsey, 1881; John Karr, William Kimball and William H. Baxter, 1884; Seth Tremain, H. D. Wheeler and G. D. Dennison, 1887; M. H. Stebbins, C. H. DeWitt and T. H. Bailey, 1890; T. H. Bailey, John F. Pitts and W. H. Garrison, 1893, and Henry B. Colegrove, Thomas M. Reese and Louis Doumaux, 1896, the present incumbents.

Commissioners’ Clerks.—From the organization of the county to the present time the following named gentlemen have served as clerks to the commissioners, being appointed annually by the board: October 20, 1808, John Norris was appointed and served until January 3, 1814, when he was succeeded by David Lindsey. The latter served until December 2, 1826, when he was succeeded by James Lowrey. On August 5, 1828, Lowrey resigned, when Israel Merrick, Jr., took his place by appointment of the board and was continued in office until November 4, 1847, a period of nineteen years. After Merrick came A. J. Scofield, who served until January 7, 1862, when J. A. Knapp succeeded him. The latter only remained in office two years, when A. L. Ensworth was appointed January 9, 1864. He was succeeded January 6, 1865, by Thomas Allen, who remained until January 5, 1874, when J. W. Donaldson was appointed. He resigned May 15, 1875, and Charles F. Veil was appointed his successor. Mr. Veil continued until April 5, 1878, when he was appointed county treasurer to fill a vacancy caused by the death of T. B. Bryden. Leonard Harrison was appointed clerk for the unexpired part of 1878, and continued to discharge the duties of the office until 1884, when Eugene Beauge succeeded him and remained until March 1, 1888, when he resigned and was succeeded by Frank Watkins, who had been an assistant in the office for several years. Mr. Watkins is still chief clerk. The work of the office has wonderfully increased since John Norris opened the first record of the proceedings of the board in the autumn of 1808. His first year’s entries covered less than a page of foolscap; now several portly volumes are required to contain the records for a similar period.

County Auditors.—In pursuance of the act of March 16, 1809, three auditors were elected to settle the accounts of the commissioners for the previous year. They were Daniel Lamb, James Gray and Benjamin Bentley. Since that time the following citizens have been elected to the office: W. D. Bacon, Isaac Baker and Arnold Hunter, 1810; Israel Bulkley, Timothy Ives and Ira Kilburn, 1811; Ira Kilburn and Timothy Ives, 1812; Samuel W. Morris and Timothy Ives, 1813; Cyprian Wright, Daniel Kelsey and Elijah DePui, 1814; from 1815 to 1820 records missing; James Ford, Justus Dartt and James Gray, 1820-23; William Willard, Elijah DePui and Curtis Parkhurst, 1823-24; Daniel Kelsey, John Cochran and James Weeks, 1825-27; Amariah Hammond, James Gray and William Garretson, 1828-31; H. H. Potter, N. H. Purple and Aaron Alba, 1832-35; William Garretson, 1838; Samuel B. Knox, 1841; George Knox, elected in 1846; Morgan Seely, 1847; Austin Lathrop, 1848; H. S. Cook, 1849; B. C. Wickham, 1850; John C. Robb, 1851; Charles Ryon, 1852; Apollos Pitts, 1853; Alanson E. Niles, 1854; James S. Watrous, 1855; Charles F. Veil, 1856; William A. Douglass, 1857; James I. Jackson, 1858; Charles F. Veil, 1859; D. T. Gardner, 1860; Charles Goldsmith and M. Bullard, 1861; Charles F. Veil, 1862; Justus Dearman and James I. Jackson, 1863; J. G. Argetsinger, 1864; Charles F. Veil and D. L. Aiken, 1865; Israel Stone, 1866; David Cameron, 1867; H. B. Seeley, 1868; Israel Stone, S. D. Phillips and D. K. Marsh, 1869; D. P. Hurley, 1870; A. F. Packard, 1871; Israel Stone, 1872; Charles F. Veil, 1873; Albert M. Bennett, 1874; O. A. Smith, John Youmans and Andrew K. Bosard, 1875; Vine Crandall, J. P. Wickham and L. A. Sears, 1878; Eugene Beauge, L. K. King and E. A. Bryden, 1881; Charles N. Moore, E. C. Stilwell and W. W. Tate, 1884; Lucius Truman, Charles N. Moore and Otis H. Davis, 1887; Eugene Beauge, R. G. Close and Otis H. Davis, 1890; Eugene Beauge, R. G. Close and J. H. Hubers, 1893; Eugene Beauge, Otis L. Coolidge and Joseph Emberger, 1896.

Coroners.—Although this office is one of more importance than it generally received credit for in earlier years, its value is now fully appreciated. In case of accident, death, or any calamity which may befall the sheriff, the coroner takes charge of the office and conducts the business thereof until the next regular election. And, like the sheriff, he is chosen for a period of three years. Thus far no coroner of Tioga county has succeeded to the shrievalty. Owing to carelessness on the part of those whose duty is was to keep the earlier records, some difficulty has been experienced in compiling a complete less. And in many instances a justice of the peace in districts remote from the residence of the coroner held inquests when necessity required it, and the meager references to the matter on the records has caused confusion, and it has been found difficult to determine who the real officer was. Then, again, during a period of fully ten years, no nomination for this office was made, consequently a blank appears. The following is believed to be as complete a list of the coroners as it is possible to compile:

The first coroner of the county was Lyman Adams, appointed by Governor Snyder, May 6, 1814. His successors were: Nathaniel Seely, 1817; John Beecher, 1820; John Gray, 1825; Henry W. Stoddard, 1831; Peter Backer, 1834; Joel Culver, 1837; Edwin Dyer, acting, 1841; Jefferson Shuman, 1841; Josiah N. Wright, 1842; John S. Warner, 1847-52; John C. Bennett, 1852-53; Joel Rose, 1853 to 1864; D. S. Peters, 1864; E. J. Bosworth, 1867; H. H. Borden, 1869; Dr. A. J. Heggie, 1870; Giles Roberts, 1874; Dr. A. J. Heggie, 1878-83; W. R. Francis, 1884-89; Augustus Niles, 1890-95, and Charles W. Hazlett, the present incumbent, elected in 1895.

County Surveyors.—At first the title of occupant of this office was deputy surveyor, and he was appointed by the surveyor general until 1850, when, by act of the legislature, the office was made elective. The following have served both as deputy and county surveyors:

John Norris, February 9, 1814; re-appointed, June 4, 1824; Samuel McDougall, 1827-36; E. P. Deane, 1836; Samuel McDougall, 1839-50; David Heise, 1850-56; H. S. Archer, 1856-59; E. P. Deane, 1859-62; William Garretson, 1862-65; David Heise, was elected in 1865 and appears to have served until 1872, when he was succeeded by H. S. Archer, who held the office until his death in 1889. In November, 1893, John T. Purvis was elected. The office is at present practically vacant.

County Superintendents.—The act of May 8, 1854, authorized the election of a superintendent of common schools in each county of the Commonwealth. It was carefully framed by H. L. Dieffenbach, then the chief clerk in the office of the state superintendent, with the view of bettering the condition of the schools. In some counties it met with strong opposition, it being regarded as a useless appendage to the educational machinery of the State, but time has vindicated the wisdom of its framers, as the law has proved advantageous in promoting the efficiency of the schools. The county superintendent serves for a term of three years, and is elected by the directors meeting in convention the first Monday in may at the county seat. They also fix the salary at the same time. The incumbents of this office have been elected as follows:

Rev. J. F. Calkins, 1854; Newell L. Reynolds, 1857; Hiram C. Johns, 1860; Victor A. Elliott, 1863; Newell L. Reynolds, appointed September 30, 1864, to fill vacancy caused by resignation of victor A. Elliott; S. B. Price, elected 1866, and resigned September 2, 1866, Rev. J. F. Calkins, appointed 1867; Elias J. Horton, Jr., elected 1869; re-elected 1872; Miss Sarah I. Lewis, 1875; re-elected 1878; M. F. Cass, 1881; re-elected 1884 and 1887; Henry E. Raesly, 1890; re-elected 1893 and 1896.

Mercantile Appraisers.—This office was created by act of 1850. Prior to that time the duties of the office were performed by a board composed of the county commissioners and associate judges. The officer is required to visit all merchants in the county and appraise their business for the purpose of imposing a state tax. Since 1850 the office has been filled by appointment of the commissioners, and it is generally among their last acts at the close of the year. The records show the following appointments: Josiah Emery, 1851; Thomas Allen, 1852-53; Henry W. Williams, 1854-55; Josiah Emery, 1856; Thomas J. Wood, 1857-58; William Butler, 1859; David F. Gardner, 1860-61; Jerome B. Niles, 1862; Alpheus E. Dann, 1863; E. J. Purple, 1864-67; B. W. Skinner, 1868; Selah Frost, 1869; Job Symonds, 1870; George H. Baxter, 1871; Otis L. Atherton, 1872; M. W. Wetherbee, 1873; B. Short, 1874; J. E. Sheive, 1875; Sidney Beach, 1876; John Brown Wakeley, 1877; H. J. Elliott, 1878; J. S. Morgan, 1879; Silas S. Rockwell, 1880; Andrew J. Doane, 1881; J. Porter Wilcox, 1882; Sumner P. White, 1883; Timothy B. Culver, 1884-85; C. E. Thomas, 1886; Jonathan V. Morgan, 1887-88; W. D. Knox, 1889; Deruyter Avery, 1890; A. M. Pitts, 1891; N. Losey, 1892; John C. White, 1893; Sheridan E. Coles, 1894; Frank Marvin, 1895, and Chas. Washburn, 1896.

Jury Commissioners.—This office was created by an act of assembly, approved April 10, 1867. It authorizes the election of two commissioners every three years, one of whom shall belong to the minority party. The incumbents of this office have been elected as follows: Leroy Tabor and John W. Bailey, 1867; S. S. Love and John W. Bailey, 1870; Edward A. Fish and Hiram S. Hastings, 1873; G. H. Baxter and Daniel Watson, 1876; E. C. Stilwell and H. J. Elliott, 1879; Samuel D. Evans and Otis H. Davis, 1882; Jonathan V. Morgan and D. S. Horton, 1885; Charles C. Mathers and James C. Goodspeed, 1888; Thomas M. Reese and Frank M. Davis, 1891, and Andrew Brimegin and Floyd F. Hogaboom, 1894.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 11 MAY 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
Email Joyce M. Tice


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