The Old Quaker Meeting House-- St. Paul’s Protestant Church--Rev. Charles Breck, The Pioneer Pastor-- The Work He Accomplished-- The Presbyterian Church--Rev. J. F. Calkins’ Long Pastorate--His Semi-Centennial Address-- First Methodist Episcopal Church--Rev. Caleb Boyer-- The First Class-- Church Organized--First Baptist Church--Its organization and Later History-- St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church-- The Free Will Baptist Church-- Cemeteries-- Societies--Wellsborough’s Military Band.
When Benjamin Wistar Morris laid out Wellsboro, in the beginning of this century, there was no church or organized religious denomination in this part of the country. Mr. Morris and his wife---Mary Wells, after whom he named the town--were members of the Society of Friends, generally known as Quakers, as were also, all the leading members of the land company. Realizing the importance of having a religious organization in his new settlement, Mr. Morris determined to build a church. There were few people to attend it, and his wife was the first and only female resident of the new town at that time; but if they had a church, he argued, it would bring the surrounding settlers together occasionally, and be instrumental in promoting their welfare.
The church was constructed of logs, which were hewed on one side and dovetailed together at the corners, and stood facing the square at the rear of the lot now occupied by the law offices of Sherwood & Owlett. The first buildings erected by the early settlers were generally made of round logs, and were known as cabins. The hewed log building belonged to what might be denominated the secondary or advanced stage of architecture, and was regarded as a great improvement over the cabin style, just as the modern cottage house of to-day is considered an improvement over the square frame, or box house of forty years ago, without porches or projecting windows, halls, or any internal conveniences whatever.
The Quaker Meeting House, therefore, was the finest building in the settlement and attracted attention from far and near. Its exact size is not given in any of the early records, but tradition says it was sixteen by twelve feet.
When completed there were no ministers to hold stated meetings, but Mr. Morris, according to the custom of the Society of Friends, officiated himself occasionally, or when the spirit prompted him to act. His wife was very active as a member and did much toward keeping the church together. There was a large settlement of Quakers at what is now known as Pennsdale, in Lycoming county. There a log Quaker church had been built as early as 1791 or 1792, and was the first of the kind in this part of the State. As the Morris and Ellis families had become related by marriage, there was frequent communication between them, and the Quakers of Muncy valley aided the church at Wellsboro. And through the sympathy and moral support of the latter, ministers of high standing occasionally made the toilsome journey over the State road from Newberry to hold meetings at the little church in the wilderness.
“Twas only just a little church ‘way out there in the pine,
Where you hear the thrushes singin’ an’ the blooms are on the vines;
Where the wildwood roses clustered with daisies white as snow,
An’ the brown bees bent the blossoms in the days of long ago.
“Twas only just a little church, without these steeples high,
That seemed to touch the windows of the blue and bendin’ sky;
No style at all about it, an’ all the week so still--
With only just the bird songs an’ the rattle o’ the rill.
The Quaker Meeting House was often used for other than religious purposes, for we are informed that the first meeting of the commissioners was held there October 8,1808, for the purpose of organizing.
After the death of the founder and his wife the Quaker church went into decline, and as the membership decreased it soon ceased to exist. The descendants of Mr. Morris drifted into the Episcopal church, and other denominations soon sprung up. The old building stood as a landmark for many years and was pointed to with pride by the early settlers. It was still standing after 1830, but in such a crumbling condition that it was soon afterwards torn down to make room for more modern improvements.
This is the oldest existing religious organization in Wellsboro. According to the records, the first Episcopal service was held in the court house, Wednesday, August 22,1838, by Rev. Charles Breck, then in deacon’s orders, who had arrived in Wellsboro the day before. At that time there was no church building in the borough, the old Quaker Meeting House having either been dismantled or so far fallen into decay that it could not be used.
It is said that the lack of religious interest at the time led a number of the leading citizens to call a public meeting to consider what was best to be done. The Quaker church had so few followers that it had no longer an organization, and as the population of the borough and the surrounding country was gradually increasing, it was evident that something must be done to foster a greater religious interest. The question was to whom they should apply for a minister. The choice was between the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians; and as there was a sentiment in favor of the latter on the part of the prominent citizens present, the meeting decided to try and secure a minister of that denomination. A committee consisting of James Lowrey and Joshua Sweet was appointed and instructed to proceed and carry out the wishes of the meeting. Not understanding diocesian boundaries, the committee addressed their application to the Rev. Richard Smith, rector of the church in Elmira. He Informed them that as their territory belonged to the diocese of Pennsylvania, they should apply to Bishop Onderdonk, of Philadelphia, for instruction. A letter was accordingly forwarded to the bishop, who transmitted it to Mr. Breck, then a student in the General Theological Seminary, New York, who was so impressed with the application that he hastened to their assistance.
On visiting the principal families of the village, after his arrival, Mr. Breck failed to find a single communicant and he was discouraged. In the whole town there were less than half a dozen professed Christians, notwithstanding one of the best academies in northern Pennsylvania had flourished there for many years. This seems almost incredible, and it can be accounted for on the ground of the isolation of the place and its primitive condition.
Mr. Breck saw an excellent field before him for missionary labor and he addressed himself to the work. The second Sunday after his arrival he was met at the door of the court house by the deputy sheriff, who informed him that the authorities had decided not to permit the building to be further used for religious meetings. This was a surprise, but it did not discourage the young minister. He withdrew to the school house near by and held religious services, and in that building he officiated for some time afterwards, until the upper part of the Academy was prepared with a vestry room, desks, seats and a small organ, kindly loaned for the use of the congregation by Levi I. Nichols, who also served as organist for many years. The infant church, of course, labored under great disadvantages from the fact that the people were nearly all ignorant of the Episcopal liturgy and offices; and it is probable, too, that there were some prejudices that had to be overcome.
But the seed had been sown. On October 30,1838, about two months after Mr. Breck’s arrival, a meeting was held at the office of James Lowrey and a parish was organized, by the adoption of the form of charter recommended by the convention of the diocese; and at the same time and place wardens and vestrymen were elected as follows: Benjamin B. Smith, Levi I. Nichols, Dr. Otis L. Gibson, Joshua Sweet( afterward a clergyman of the church), James Lowrey, and John L. Robinson. On application to the legislature the parish was duly incorporated under the name of the rector, wardens and vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church, Wellsboro.
A thorough organization having been effected, the next step was to erect a church building. The work was undertaken and such good process was made that on April 15,1839, the corner stone was laid, and on the first of the following December the building was occupied for the first time as a place of worship. It was consecrated September 12,1841, Bishop Onderdonk officiating. It was a modest building, costing only $3,000, but it answered the purpose. The organ, blinds and chairs cost about $400. Galleries were afterward erected at an expense of $667.Including the cost of the bell, the sum total for completing the church edifice, furnishing, etc., was about $4,065.
This was a great triumph for the young rector, who had commenced his labors under discouraging conditions. Mr. Breck continued as rector for ten years, resigning in 1848. When he terminated his labors with the parish the names of the vestrymen were: James Lowrey, Samuel Dickenson, William Bache, and James P. Magill; and the wardens: Dr. Otis L Gibson and John L. Robinson. During the rector ship of Mr. Breck, Judge Samuel W. Morris generously donated the parish the site of the present rectory. At the time of Mr. Breck’s resignation the of communicants was ninety. Of these twelve were originally Episcopalians, eight came from the Methodists, fifteen from the Quakers, Thirty-one from the Presbyterians, ten from the Congregationalists, eight from the Baptist, and six from the Unitarians. Mr. Breck took charge of the Sunday-Schools himself, and when he retired there were three, numbering numbering 150 scholars.
After the retirement of Mr. Breck in 1848 he was succeeded by the Rev. A. A. Marple, who was called by the vestry and took charge of the parish October 1st, of that year. The rectory was built in 1850 and occupied in July of that year. It cost $ 1,300 and afforded a comfortable residence for the rector and his family.
After a ministry of more than fourteen years, Mr. Marple resigned and removed from Wellsboro in 1863. Between the years 1863 and 1872 the parish was in charge of Revs. George H. Jenks, Henry J. Van Allen, J. B. Calhoun, John A. Bowman, and S. K. Karcher. Then, at the earnest solicitation of the parish, Rev. Charles Breck, D. D., returned and took charge in December, 1872. He had been gone Twenty- four years, almost a quarter of a century! His return to the church ha had founded nearly thirty- five years before was the cause of a happy reunion-a reunion in which rector and communicants joined in the most refreshing and loving manner.
During the year 1873 the old rectory , built in 1850, was sold and removed and a new one erected at a cost of $7,000. It was much more comfortable than the old one, as well as a credit to the parish. Sheds were put up at the rear of the church and a new bell purchased. Dr, Breck remained as rector until 1884, when again resigned and made a trip to Europe, having in the meantime lost his wife by death. After his return from abroad he officiated for a short time at Scranton and then at Wilmington, Delaware, when he retired from active work. His death occurred at Barrytown, on the Hudson, June 12, 1891. His second wife, Mary, daughter of Judge Williston, survived him and resides in Wellsboro.
When Dr. Breck resigned in 1848 he took charge of a church at Rockdale, Delaware, where he remained several years. He was then called to the rector ship of Trinity Church, Wilmington, which he held for twelve years, and then went to Cleveland, where he remained three years, returning to Wellsboro in 1872.
The ancestors of Dr. Breck belonged in New England and were identified with the Revolution. His parents having settled in or near Philadelphia our subject was born there. He received a good education, entered the ministry, as already stated, and commenced his career at Wellsboro by founding the Episcopal Church in 1838. His exact age is unknown, but is supposed to have been between seventy-five and seventy-seven years. He had four children by his first marriage, but they are all deceased.
Rev. W. G. Ware succeeded Dr. Breck, taking charge of the parish September 1,1884. He remained as rector until April 30,1889, when he resigned to accept a call elsewhere. He was succeeded by the Rev A. W. Snyder August 1, 1890, who remained until February 15,1894. The present rector, Rev. William Heakes, came June 15, 1894.
St. Paul’s is steadily gaining in strength. The communicants number about 200; the Sunday-school comprises 125 scholars. The rector serves as superintendent. There are about 500 volumes in the library.
As the old church had become too small, the
vestry, in December, 1895, purchased part of the Bingham lot, on the corner
of Pearl and Charles streets, near the present church edifice. The price
paid was $3,000. In January, 1897, from eight bids submitted for erecting
the new church edifice, the vestry accepted that of the Wellsboro Building
and Manufacturing Company. The new church will stand on the corner of Pearl
and Charles streets, facing the public square, and is to be constructed
of Antrim stone. The main building will consist of a nave and transepts
with two vestibules in front and a broad choir and chancel at the rear.
The west corner will be marked by a large battlemented tower 69 feet high,
and a chapel or assembly room. The style of the edifice will be what is
known as Romanesque, all the arches being semi-circular, and the walls
are to be laid in random courses, there being few horizontal lines. It
is expected that the building will be completed before the close of 1897.
The cost will be about $20,000. The Bingham office, which occupies the
lot for many years, has been removed immediately north of its old site.
Besides affording the congregation a comfortable and commodious house of
worship, the new edifice will be a notable addition to the architecture
of the borough.
|The Presbyterian Church of Wellsboro
This church was organized February 11,1843. There was no church edifice at that time and meetings were held in the court house. Rev. Thomas Foster supplied the pulpit a year and gathered a membership in Wellsboro and at Pine Creek, now Ansonia, of about thirty persons. Mr. Foster was a son of General Foster, of Harrisburg, and was received into the church September 4, 1834. He was a graduate of Dickinson College, Carlisle.
After Mr. Foster’s retirement in 1844, the members of the Wellsboro church requested Rev. S. J. McCullough, of Lawrenceville, to write to the faculty of Auburn Theological Seminary to send them one of their young men of the class that was to graduate that year to fill their pulpit. In accordance with that request Rev. J. F. Calkins came to Wellsboro in May, 1844. He had graduated from Union College in 1841 and then had become a student at Auburn Theological Seminary. During the summer vacation he preached in Wellsboro, and so well pleased were the members of the church with him, that after his graduation in August, they extended a call to him and he was duly installed pastor in September, having charge of the church in Wellsboro and at what is now Ansonia.
Mr. Calkins was a zealous and hard working minister. For nine years he held services in the court house and steadily increased the membership. As the congregation was small, sufficient means could not be secured for several years to build a church. The pastor, however , labored zealously to raise funds to erect a building. A lot was secured at the corner of Main and Norris streets and preparations made to build. Lumber and other materials were collected, but disaster overtook them. The lumber was destroyed by fire, the outlook became discouraging, and for a time all work was suspended. But that great philanthropist, William E. Dodge, of New York, learning of the misfortune, promptly telegraphed the officials of the church. ”Buy 10,000 feet of seasoned lumber and send me the bill.” They at once took courage, lumber was procured , the work went on and the building was completed and dedicated in 1854. It cost $4,600 and was regarded as a great improvement for the time. Mr. Dodge donated the bell and it is still doing service. His lumbering interest were great in Tioga county in early times, but he was the friend and patron of church organizations and aided more than any other person in this section of the State.
The first elders of the church --- those who shared in the trials and tribulations of Mr. Calkins ---- were S. P. Scoville, Chauncey Austin and W.W. Mc Dougall. They were devout men and their memories are fondly cherished. On February 18,1847, the Presbyterian church and congregation of Wellsboro was incorporated by act pf the legislature.
Under the fostering care of Mr. Calkins the church steadily grew in strength, and in 1872 the congregation felt able to enlarge and otherwise improve the building. This was done at the expense of about $2,500. With these improvements the congregation were content for many years. Mr. Calkins resigned in 1879, after having been in continuous service as pastor for the long period of over thirty-five years.
The church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary February 11,1893. The occasion was unusually interesting and the ceremonies were deeply impressive; made more so, perhaps, by the presence of Mr. Calkins, and the historical address which he read while seated in a chair. As that address gives a full history of how the church was founded, and relates his trials and tribulations during his long pastorate, the material portions are given herewith:
The Society of Friends, or Quakers, we believe, have the honor of holding the first public religious service in this village at the advent of the Morris, Bache and Norris families. About this same time that missionary hero Elder Sheardown, made excursions here and down Babb’s creek and up and down Pine creek, and left his disciples behind him. The Methodists gathered a little band, inspired by the mother of the Coolidge’s, and were the first organize and claim the regular services of a minister. The Protestant Episcopalians, in 1838, came next with their zealous rector, Rev. Charles Breck, who came to stay ten years.
The church buildings at Ansonia erected by Phelps, Dodge & Company, and at Wellsboro, by the Episcopal and Methodist churches, were all built within the same five years, preceding 1841, I think.
The history of the Presbyterian church may, for the convenience of this narrative, be divided into periods of ten years each---five in all. With these decades I am connected with only about three and a half.
The Ansonia house of worship was for three or four years literally a church without a bishop. Dr Breck preached there occasionally. So did a Mr. Pinkham, whom I never saw. Meanwhile Mr. Dodge, of New York City, and Rev. S. J. McCullough, of Lawrenceville, has been looking for a minister.
How come this church to organize fifty years ago? Some one on the ground and not far away must move in the matter. Who gathered the nucleus here? It was a woman, of course, and that woman was Mrs. Dr. Curtis Parkhurst, of Lawrenceville. He resided here temporarily as the sheriff of the county. She gathered the names of those preferring our type of worship in this town and in Ansonia, and sent for her minister in Lawrenceville to weld them into a church. The next thing was a minister, and how did they get him?
The sheriff had to report quite often to the capital of the State, and so he reported there the want of a minister for the Presbyterian church of Wellsboro. The result was the coming of a young man, son of an elder of the Market Square church, of Harrisburg, a Rev. Mr. Foster. He stayed less than a year and left before I came. I never saw him.*** How come they by their second minister? I was at the time a senior in Auburn Theological Seminary. The spring vacation of 1844 was soon to commence. Dr. Dickinson, one of the professors, came to my room one day with a letter asking him to send a minister to Wellsboro. I hailed from Corning, the nearest town to Wellsboro of any of the undergraduates---hence his application to me. He directed me to call on Rev. Mr. McCullough, of Lawrenceville, for an introduction to Wellsboro. I did so, and he brought me up, twenty-five miles, to Wellsboro. We arrived after dark on a Friday night and found lodgings in a little old house and a little seven by nine bedroom, abandoned by Dr. Gibson and rented by Israel Richards, on the corner where Hon. Jerome B. Niles now lives.
On awakening the next morning I reviewed the landscape o’er and wondered how we got into this tunnel at the foot of these hills. After breakfast I told him to take me out as quick as he could. He would not do it, but introduced me to a few families and then went back to tend his own sheep. I was taken over to Ansonia Saturday night and preached there Sabbath morning and in the court house here in the afternoon, and so continued for four weeks, going back to Auburn $50 richer than when I came.***So when a call reached me in the course of my last term in the Seminary, engineered by Rev. Mr. McCullough, I accepted it. Began services September 8,1844; was soon ordained and installed, and on the 8th of October was married and brought my wife from Geneva here the same week, not losing a Sabbath for such business as that.
Then Wellsboro had a population of 400. There was a mail twice a week via stage from Covington, and once a week via horseback from Coudersport.*** When we came it was a difficult question where we could live. We boarded a few weeks in two different places. Commenced keeping house in the front part of what is now the Ensworth house. The parlor was our kitchen and dining room; the hall our pantry and cellar way; the front chamber was our bedroom, study and reception room; the little bedroom over the hall was our guest chamber. We, after the first year, rented a little house on Main street not far from the present Converse block. That was owned by Mary Gorrie, a milliner, before she married Peter Green. Then we moved to a little house on the corner of the lot where Mr. Converse now lives, then owned by Mr. Norris; and we shall never forget the formidable documents drawn up as a lease in a most beautiful handwriting with all the provisions and guards against injuring the rickety shanty.
Here we began to agitate the question of a parsonage. From the four points of the compass I pressed the subscriptions, scarcely $50 in cash, but in work, digging, hauling lumber, boards, plank, carpenter and mason work. The lime was hauled from near Williamsport. Mr. Bache gave the lot, and all the subscriptions of different kinds were estimated at $600. But the parsonage I would have, and I built it. When, six years after this, we began to agitate the question of a church, I bought the society’s half of the parsonage and secured the lot upon which the church stands, paying $700 for it.
The services during the whole of the first decade were held in the court house. The order was, in the morning at Ansonia; 2 o’clock p.m., preaching in the court house; 3 p.m., Sunday-school; evening some school house in the country. The amount of secular and missionary work I undertook this first decade seems to me this period of life the height of imprudence. *** My parish extended west to Coudersport, east to Covington, north to Cowanesque, south to Williamsport; and when I got there I challenged Drs. Sterling, of Williamsport, and Stevens, of Jersey Shore, to meet me half way, for there were souls perishing all along the line.
It was, I think, the last year of this decade that I rode over to Pine creek through a deep snow one Sabbath morning to preach. There were not a half a dozen at church. Once before there were but two. My horse was blanketed and tied to the fence. I prayed and preached and shut the Bible. I knew there were probably within two miles of me Two hundred persons in houses and lumber camps. I told the few that were before me, I could not stand it. I then said, “I will preach in this house every night this week.” There were three times as many there Monday evening as there were on the Sabbath. Soon the house was full. The next Sabbath I gave the same notice. And so it continued for six weeks. I always drove home every night, sometimes not reaching it until 12 o’clock, and it was one of the coldest winters I ever knew. Some of the incidents of that series of meetings I shall never forget. The church there took on a new life that lasted for years.
Mr. Ensworth had frequently suggested the practicability of building a church. But one thing is sure; if I had not had a friend at court in New York City, the attempt would have been an utter failure. I dreaded again making myself a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, as I had done in the building of the parsonage. I began with pushing subscriptions for the purpose. In the church there was but one man that could subscribe $100. In applying to Mr. Clymer, he said: “If you can get five men to subscribe $100 each I will be the sixth.” Peter Green and Robert Campbell were the last two men to make up the five; and so I had the six hundred to storm the Malakhoff. The other subscriptions were in smaller amounts and for materials and work.
There were then no such plans available for churches as are now so abundant. I visited far and near to find such a church as I thought we wanted.
I turned myself into an architect, and have often since said if the Lord would forgive me for planning this church I would never do so again. But the sin of it, like the sin of the older fathers, must be laid at the doors of the age in which we lived as well as on the head of the builder. Nevertheless, I built as well, if not better, than I knew. Every dollar that went into it, every foot of lumber, every contract for work, the burning of the kiln of our best lumber just as our carpenters had the frame enclosed-- if I do not know how much brain and brawn it cost, who does?
The next morning after our lumber was burned, I do not know whether Tatnai and Shethar-bozanai, the Apharsachites, rejoiced, but I do know our feeble folk were sad. I preached on the following Sabbath on the text,” Through I fall sometimes, I shall rise again,” and Monday morning I wrote Mr. Dodge of the sermon and the occasion for it. The answer came,” Purchase 10,000 feet of seasoned lumber anywhere you can find it, and send the bill to me.” It was done and our faces were glad.*** Mr. Dodge gave us the bell. Who rang it? ***
In the previous decade, unknown to myself, I had been chosen by the board of school directors of Tioga county, at a meeting held at the court house, to inaugurate the county superintendency of schools for three years. I was afterwards appointed by the governor of the State to supplement the term of a superintendent whose health had failed-- making five years of service in this direction. This sent me galloping all over the county to every school house, and landing in Wellsboro on Saturday to occupy the pulpit on the Sabbath. Do you wonder at the patience of this people with their pastor? Yet this patience was to be more severely tried.
In the winter of 1863 there was an epidemic of diphtheria throughout this region. In two months I had attended the funeral of more than thirty persons. I waked up one morning with the disease fastened on myself. I had two funeral engagements that day, and I sent a boy on my horse to notify the afflicted families.
I arose from that sickness weak and worthless. I had held from Governor Curtin for several months a commission as chaplain of the One Hundred and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers. As soon as I was able to preach I occupied the pulpit, resigned the pastorate, told them that I should start that week for the Army of the Potomac. The church protested, said I would die if I went. I was more afraid I would die if I stayed. I went in May and stayed till the end of the war.
A Rev. Mr. Boggs, who was engaged to supply the pulpit, had left home before my return. My resignation was not excepted. By solicitation of the officers of the church I resumed the service with increased love of pastor and people for each other and the name of Christ. * * * The outside work of the pastor in the care and labor for other churches had grown very much for years past. This must be attributed mainly to the unusual continuance of the pastorate. Calls to funerals and to settle difficulties in churches; and more agreeable but not less laborious ones---weddings, and to assist pastors in and outside the Presbytery on occasions of more than usual religious interest.
Only seven years of this period [ 1873-83] did I remain in Wellsboro. It had become the custom in this place, and quite generally throughout our country, to manifest the irenic disposition of Christian churches, to unite in union services every night for the first week in January. If the occasion warranted it, these services were continued in very happy Christian fellowship for a longer time. The Evangelical Alliance, international, had first suggested this good way. ***It was the union services of this year that issued in the largest in gathering at any one time in the history of the church --eight persons joined.
In November, 1877, our home was again sadly shadowed by the death of the pastor’s wife. It was after a most painful sickness of over two years, under the care of many physicians. She was taken to the seashore and returned as far as Brooklyn, whence I received a telegram to come to her. There, alone with her husband in the dark watches of the night, her sufferings ceased, we trust, forever. *** But the shock to the pastor’s nervous system, the insomnia that preceded and followed this dark day, doubtless tinged his ministry and judgment more than he knew. And to the parish this was probably more apparent than to himself; and they with all the memories of his ministry before them were better judges than himself. It was only two years after this the clock struck and the pastorate ended in its thirty-sixth year.
There is a tinge of pathos in the closing sentences of this grand old minister’s story of his long pastorate in Wellsboro, which brings to mind many pleasant memories of his long and useful career. After bidding farewell to the scenes of his years of labor he was not forgotten. To use his own language: “ The same kind of providence, through a classmate in Auburn Theological Seminary, sent the old minister to a church and people and a country so beautiful and restful that he could sleep all his worries away.” This was at the beautiful village of Avon, Livingston county, New York, where he labored nearly ten years longer, and “there by the blessing of God, his ministry still bore fruit in his old age.” He then retired to Geneva, where fifty years before he commenced his studies for the ministry, and resided there with his two daughters---Mrs. Clara Meigs and Mrs.
Stella Torrence -- until his death, November 7,1893. As he was born March 27,1816, he passed away in the seventy-eighth year of his age. His remains were brought to Wellsboro and laid by the side of his wife, who died in November, 1877. Visitors to the Wellsboro Cemetery will find in the eastern part a rough, undressed sandstone rock, standing on end, with the name, “Calkins,” carved upon it, which marks his resting place. This rough stone was selected by himself in life, and is typical of his rugged Christian character. In the same lot is a finely polished granite tablet which not only bears his name and the dates and places of his ministry, but the names of his wife and child. The dates of their birth and death are also inscribed thereon.
A New Epoch
In 1880 the congregation united in a call to the Rev. A. C. Shaw, D. D., to succeed Mr. Calkins. Dr. Shaw was born in the city of Rochester. His collegiate education was attained at the Rochester University, and his theological at Auburn Theological Seminary. He entered the ministry in 1864. He was, therefore ,at the time of his coming to this church in the prime of life. He was possessed of an easy and attractive matter, socially, and of more than ordinarily gifts as a preacher. He at once endeared himself to his people and to the community, and has continued to serve them down to the present day with general acceptability and usefulness. The church has grown in membership and activity. Its organization, religious and charitable, has been perfected, and its interest in the general work of the denomination has been increased, until it has become one of the most efficient churches in this region.
The observance of the semi-centennial anniversary marked the beginning of a new epoch in the history of the church. On this occasion the project of erecting a new building took form. The old structure had become to small. Generous offers of assistance made by two or three members of the society aroused others to make responsive efforts, and in a very short time the voluntary contributions warranted the undertaking of the enterprise. The last service was held in the old church on Sunday evening, April 15,1894. That house of worship was endeared to the people by the struggles and sacrifices involved in its erection and they were loth to see it demolished. But it had served its day, and it was torn down and on Wednesday, April 25,1894, the ground was broken for the new stone church. On Friday, June 8th, the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The plan for the new building was furnished by Culver & Hudson, architects, of Williamsport. The work went on steadily without interruption until it was completed and the beautiful structure was furnished in modern style throughout. Competent judges pronounce it probably the finest church of its size in northern Pennsylvania.
A description of this neat and attractive edifice is of historical importance. It is a well-proportioned structure of Gothic style throughout. Its extreme length is 116 feet on Norris street and it is sixty-nine feet in width on Main street. The main vestibule is entered is entered either from Main or Norris street. There is another front entrance on the uptown side and the side steps on Norris street lead to a vestibule connected with the auditorium, library and Sunday school rooms. The bell tower is seventy-two feet in height, and the smaller tower on the south corner forty-seven feet high.
The walls of the church are constructed of Ohio sandstone, rock-faced and laid in Portland cement in what is termed random range courses. The joints are tucked with gray mortar. The trimmings are of cut stone. The roof is covered with slate, and all the gutters and flashings are made of copper instead of tin.
The auditorium is sixty feet square, the arches forming alcoves on all four sides. The room is twenty-eight feet in height. The four steel trusses which support the roof are incased in antique oak and break the ceiling, which is laid out in panels with oak mouldings. The four ornamental arches are also in oak, as is the rest of the interior finish, and in the center of the ceiling there is an elaborate piece of grille work. The walls are tinted with different shades of terra-cotta, and the beautiful velvet carpet that covers the floor is in harmony with them. Besides the electric light brackets upon the side walls, there is large prismatic reflector in the center which distributes the light from thirty-four electric bulbs.
There are 415 opera chairs arranged in amphitheater style on the sloping floor. The chairs have iron frames, dark antique oak woodwork and automatic seats. The pulpit stall is elaborately made in massive oak in gothic style, and the desk is a brass rail with an adjustable book rest.
All the important windows of the church are of stained glass, and they are very handsome. The two large windows in the auditorium are memorials. That in the front is inscribed to the “memory of Rev. and Mrs. James F. Calkins,” and its inscription in the central panel reads, “ And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” This window was placed in the church by friends of Rev. and Mrs. Calkins, assisted by their daughters.
The other window was furnished by Mrs. G. D. Smith in memory of her late husband. It is inscribed, “ In loving memory of George Dwight Smith,” and in the center, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me though he were dead yet shall he live.”
The dedication ceremonies of this beautiful temple of worship took place February 12,1895, and were very impressive. Rev. Dr. Taylor delivered a logical and eloquent dedicatory sermon from the text found in the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus and the eighth verse,” And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” The building of the tabernacle in the wilderness was the rock upon which idolatry was broken. God commanded them to build a sanctuary that he might come to dwell among them. Every Christian church, from the little wayside chapel to the great cathedral, tells us that God is with us and for us.
In closing, Dr. Taylor made a tender and touching allusion to the late Rev. Dr. James B. Shaw, father of the pastor. In a sense he was standing in his place, for, had his father been alive, he would have preached the dedicatory sermon.
A statement was read from the trustees showing that the contract price of the church was $20,225. Extra work had been done and changes made in the specifications costing $1,644-- making the total amount paid Andrew Webster, the contractor, $21,869. The furnishing of the church cost $5,609.45, which included the heating, lighting, seating, repairs to organ and $968.35 in fees and expenses to the architect. With a few estimated items, for which bills had not been rendered, the cost of the church to the trustees amounted to $27,846.45. In addition to this, however, there had been furnished without expense to the trustees, two beautiful memorial windows, the carpet, the copper on the roof and the Portland cement in the walls, amounting in all to $2,309. This made the total cost of the church and its furnishings $30,155.45.
The trustees of the church, who carried on the work of building, are Messrs. George W. Williams, president; William D. VanHorn, secretary and treasurer; George W. Merrick, R. L. VanHorn, E. B. Young and Leonard Harrison. Mr. Harrison, as president of the building committee, had direct supervision of the work, and he faithfully devoted his time and taste to it for many months.
At the present time the membership is about
400. The Sunday-school is under the superintendency of Arthur M. Roy, assisted
by L. H. Johnson; secretary, H. E. Reasly; treasurer, Mrs. E. B. Young;
librarian, Miss Luella Deane. The primary department, numbering about seventy-five,
is under the management of Mrs. Shaw, wife of the pastor, who has quite
an aptitude for the work. The school numbers about 375 scholars, and the
library contains 1,000 volumes.
|First Methodist Episcopal Church.
There were Methodists in what is now known as Delmar township in the very beginning of the century, and several years before Wellsboro was founded. The first church erected in the village was the Quaker Meeting House; the Methodists, however, had regular preaching in and about the neighborhood before this. From the meagre records that have been preserved, it appears that Rev. Caleb Boyer and family came from Delaware, together with several other families, and settled near where Wellsboro now stands about 1802. They belonged to the Delaware contingent attracted by the Pine Creek Land Company, of which Benjamin Wistar Morris was the active agent. But as Morris and other settlers at that time were Quakers, that denomination preceded all others.
History informs us that Rev. Boyer was one of the fifteen ordained ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church then in North America. He did the first preaching in Wellsboro and vicinity. Meetings were first held at private houses, but it was dome years before an organization was affected. Mr. Boyer, however, may be regarded as the pioneer Methodist preacher in what afterwards became Tioga county.
In those early times little headway seems to have been made by the Methodists, as well as by other denominations. From the best information it appears that in 1820 Wellsboro was in the old Tioga circuit, which embraced all the territory within the limits of Troy district, and probably more. That year Rev. Hiram G. Warner formed the first class in Wellsboro. Accounts state that the first year he was assisted by the Rev. Mr. Moore, and the second year by Rev. Caleb Kendall. The meetings were held in the original log court house, which stood nearly on the site of the present building.
Among the members of the first class organized in 1820 were William Bache, Sr., Mrs. Pamelia Coolidge, Capt. Israel Greenleaf, the Revolutionary soldier who lies in the abandoned cemetery on Academy Hill; Israel Kelsey, Mr. and Mrs. Kilburn, and Hannah Cole. All of these have long since passed away.
Little or nothing of the history of the organization during its earlier years has been preserved; but it is safe to say that its struggles were severe and that it had many trials. In 1839-40 Rev. Robert T. Hancock raised $2,000 toward building a church. His successor, Rev. Philo Tower, who carried forward the building to completion, and the new edifice was dedicated by Rev. William R. Babcock, presiding elder of the district, May 21,1842.This was the second church erected in Wellsboro. It cost about $3,000, and was regarded as a fine church for that time.
Now that the society had a building of its own in which to worship, the membership increased more rapidly. A parsonage was soon afterward erected, Rev. D. B. Lawson, the pastor, doing work on it with his own hands to the amount of nearly $100. Like his esteemed, contemporary, the Rev. J. F. Calkins, of the Presbyterian church, he was not above setting an example for others. He was followed by Revs. Samuel Nichols, William Manning, James Landreth, “A. W. Staples and others.
The church gradually gathered strength. In 1850 many conversions and additions to the membership occurred under the pastorate of Rev. C. Nash. He was succeeded by Rev. W. C. Mattison, and the interest in church affairs was kept up. In 1867 Rev. O. L. Gibson was appointed to the charge. Debts in the meantime had accumulated against the church during the war, when a subscription paper was circulated by Isaac Sears, and so liberally signrd that the debt of $1,000 was provided for and $200 left to repair the church. The first Sunday the church was used after these improvements was November 17,1867; and while the services were in progress the building was discovered to be on fire, and despite the efforts of the congregation and others, it burned to the ground. This was a hard blow, but the members were not wholly discouraged. Mr. Gibson, who had been assisting in holding revival meetings for two or three weeks and was presented with $25, generously refused its acceptance, but insisted that it should be placed with the insurance to assisted in making up a fund of $2,500. This was done, and that amount secured to the church, served as a nucleus around which to gather funds for a new building. through the persistent labors of the pastor and members, aided by a generous outside support, a substantial brick building, costing $25,000, was erected, and November 17.1869--two years to a day from the time of the burning--was dedicated by Rev. K. P. Jervis. This was a great triumph for the congregation after their misfortune.
The records show that the pastors since the present building was dedicated, when Rev. O. L. Gibson was in charge, have been as follows: Revs. D. D. Buck, from October, 1870, to October, 1873; W. M. Henry, 1873-4; Thomas Stacy, 1874- 76; D. D. Buck, 1876-78; K. P. Jervis, 1878-79; E. H. Lattimer, 1879-82; James Moss, 1882-85; S. W. Lloyd, 1885-88; O. S. Chamberlayn, 1888-92; Dr. C. W. Cushing, 1892-97.
The church has a membership of about 263. In the Sunday-school there
is an average of about 180 pupils. The church belongs to the Genesee Conference.
|First Baptist Church
The few Baptist residing in Wellsboro had frequently talked about making an effort to organize a society, but it was not accomplished until July 22,1866, when Rev. D. R. McDermond, of Tioga, preached in the court house, and on Monday evening following a prayer meeting was started, which was maintained until March 19,1868, when N. L. Reynolds, then pastor at Blossburg, preached in Bunnell Hall, and at the close of the sermon steps were taken towards the formation of a church. A vote was take, and the large audience present, composed of representatives of the different churches, unanimously voted in favor of the movement. Twenty-six persons then present expressed a desire to unite in the organization and resolved to establish the First Baptist Church of Wellsboro.
The following charter members appear in the record: Victor H. Elliot,
Josephine Elliot, Julia Wheeler, P. C. Van Gelder, Mrs. S. L. Van Gelder,
Mary E. Kelsey, Mrs. S. H. Shearer, Charles Williams, Sarah Williams, F.
Irene Eastman, Robert Trull, Rachel Trull, Mrs. Sarah H. Bowen, John B.
Shakespeare, William Bowen, H. C. Bailey, Mrs. M. L. Bailey, Uriah Danks,
Amy Danks, Mrs. Maria Bowen, Mrs. Samantha Hastings, Mrs. Sarah Jackson,
Abigail Beecher, Calvin B. Kelly, Isabella Kelley, Ida Stoddard. Many of
the foregoing are now deceased, and others have moved away.
May 2,1868, the usual declaration of faith, covenant and rules of order were adopted by the new church as the basis of its organization. An agreement having been entered into between the Wellsboro church and the Delmar church, whereby they were jointly to enjoy the labors and give support to a pastor, they united in a call to Rev. W. A. Smith, of New Jersey, the agreement being that each church was to pay $500 and a donation per year, the pastor to preach to the Wellsboro church in the morning, and to the Delmar church in the afternoon. This call was accepted June 1,1868. A Sunday school was organized on the 26th of July following, with H. C. Bailey as superintendent. After being formally organized , July 29,1868, the church was received into the Tioga Association in a meeting of that body at Tioga August 26 and 27,1868. On the 1st of September of this year the church purchased the building then known as Bunnell Hall for use as a place of worship, agreeing to pay $1,100 for the property, and continued to occupy it until the erection of the present building in 1884.
At a meeting held April 5,1869, the resignation of the pastor was received and accepted. On May 21st Rev. S. M. Broakman was made pastor pro tem., and on April 1,1870, Rev. C. A. Stone began his labors as pastor, and served the church as such about nine months. In that year the records show a membership of forty-nine.
At a special meeting held March 19,1871, the unanimous call of the church was extended to Rev. N. L. Reynolds, of Blossburg, to become its pastor. The call was excepted; $200 of the salary of $1,000, being an appropriation from the General association of the State. Mr. Reynolds commenced his pastorate May 20,1871. The church grew rapidly in strength. In August, 1873, there was a membership of ninety-four, and the following year it had reached 113.
Under date of June 6,1873, the First Baptist Church was incorporated by decree of court, the following persons appearing as charter members: N. L. Reynolds, Robert Trull, A. C. Winters, N. T. Chandler, A. B. Eastman, Henry Freeze, Mrs. M. B. Shearer, Mrs. Maria Bowen, Julia Wheeler, Calvin B. Kelley.
At a special meeting held November 8,1875, E. B. Campbell, of Williamsport, was present, and made for himself and John R. Bowen, of Wellsboro, a formal presentation of the lot on which the present church building stands. The offer was graciously accepted and a committee appointed to prepare plans and revise ways and means for the erection of a church. But as the time had not come for carrying out the plan it was deferred to a more convenient season. In the meantime the accessions to the membership increased, and in August, 1878, they had reached 154. Sunday, December 7,1879, the pastor offered his resignation with the request that he be released on January 1,1880. The resignation was very reluctantly accepted. He had served the church with great acceptance and profit for nine years. He found it with a membership of forty-nine and left it with 169.
On January 12,1880, Rev. Isaac E. Howd, of Waterville, New York, was called to the pastorate, which he resigned after a service of seven and one-half months. The pulpit was supplied for the balance of the associational year by Revs. E. L. Mills and D. T. Van Dorn. The record shows that on October 27th of this year, Rev. Abner Morrill, of Painted Post, was engaged to serve the church as pastor. His relation continued for fourteen months. Sunday, April 8,1883, Rev. S. F. Mathews began his work as pastor, the interval between the closing of the last and the beginning of the new pastorate being filled by Rev. V. P. Mather, then pastor of the Charleston church--preaching in the evening.
During the summer of 1883 the question of building a suitable house of worship was agitated, and resulted in the adoption of a resolution that soon as the means could be provided, including the sale of the property then owned and occupied by the church, to aid in defraying the expense, the enterprise should be undertaken; and on the 27th of September the building committee was authorized to obtain plans and specifications for a building, the cost of which was not to exceed $4,500. December 6th following the contract was let and the work was carried on through the winter of 1883 and the summer of 1884, and the church was completed in September of that year. The new building was dedicated September 11,1884, Rev. George Cooper, D. D., of Williamsport, preaching the dedication sermon, and to the encouragement of all it was dedicated free of debt, and there was $103.66 left in the treasury. William Bache subscribed $1,000, and Mrs. Bache $500, toward the fund for the new building.
On April 1,1889, Mr. Mathews tendered his resignation to take effect July 1st. He had served the church for over six years and he was esteemed a faithful and zealous minister. The pulpit remained vacant until October following, when Rev. E. B. Cornell accepted a call which had made on him August 26,1889. Mr. Cornell took charge November 3, 1889, and remained until March 24,1892. He was succeeded by Rev. J. L. Williams in September, 1892, who served the congregation till October 26,1895, when he retired. A call was then made on Rev. N. L. Reynolds, the present pastor, at Pueblo, Colorado, to return to his old charge. He accepted, returned to Wellsboro, and Sunday, December 8,1895, preached his first sermon after having been absent for sixteen years.
The church now has a membership of 273. The Sunday school numbers 225 scholars, under the superintendency of N. T. Chandler, who has served in that capacity for twenty-five years. The library consists of 572 volumes.
|St. Peter’s Catholic Church
This church is the successor of St. John’s Catholic Society, organized in August, 1873, by Bishop O’Hara, of Scranton. Within a year it numbered seventy-five members. Monthly services were held in Converse Hall, the officiating priests being Rev. John A. Wynne and Rev. John C. McDermott, of Blossburg. In 1879 it was made a parish church, there having been a large increase of membership. It was then named St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, and Rev. John C. McDermott placed in charge as pastor. In 1881 the old Academy building and grounds in the southern part of the borough, were purchased, and the building remodeled, at a cost of $1,200, so as to meet the needs of the congregation. A parsonage was also purchased at a cost of $1,000, and put in proper repair. Through the energy and business ability of Father McDermott, the money to meet these large expenditures was raised and the church and the parsonage freed from debt. He also had charge of the mission churches at Tioga and Antrim, and at the latter place erected a church in 1877, costing $3,000.
In November, 1882, Father McDermott was succeeded as pastor of
St. Peter’s church by Rev. M. E. Lynott, during whose pastorate the new
Catholic Cemetery, embracing eight acres of ground, in the southern part
of the borough, was established, and a church building costing $6,000 erected
at Hoytville. This church and grounds were damaged by the flood of June,
1889, necessitating a further expenditure of $600 for repairs. The erection
of the present parish residence, opposite the church in Wellsboro,
was also begun by Father Lynott, who was succeeded November 12,1890, by
Rev. M. J. Manly, the present pastor. In 1891 he completed the parish residence,
which is a handsome two-story frame edifice, commodious, comfortable and
well furnished. It cost $4,500. Since Father Manly took charge the church
has been remodeled, a bell purchased, as well as statuary and paintings
for the interior decoration. The grounds have also been graded and carriage
sheds built. The outlay for these various improvements has been between
$4,000 and $5,000. The church at Antrim has been frescoed and a bell purchased,
and the church at Tioga, which was damaged by the June flood of 1889, repaired.
In addition to his duties as pastor of the church in Wellsboro, Father Manly has under his charge the mission churches at Tioga, Antrim, and Hoytville, and also the missions without churches at Elkland, Osceola, Knoxville, Westfield, Potter Brook, Gaines, Gurnee, Leetonia, Blackwell, Tiadaghton, Hammond, East Charleston, Lamb’s Creek, Nauvoo and Stephensville, all within the confines of Tioga county.
In the discharge of his duties Father Manly has endeared himself to the members of the Catholic faith throughout the county. He is able, ardent, enthusiastic and tireless in his efforts to forward the interest of his parish, and has many warm friends outside of his own faith. During his pastorate St. Peter’s church has prospered. It maintains a Sunday-school with an average attendance of over 100, of which William B. Sullivan is superintendent and Miss Bessie Meehan assistant.
The Free Will Baptist Church
This society was incorporated August 28,1882, by Rev. O. C. Hills, Wellsboro; Albert Saxbury and James Crampton, Chatham Valley; James A. Warriner, Stony Fork; J.C. Warren, Mansfield and C. D. Clark. A lot was purchased and a church building erected, about 1886, on the northeast corner of East Avenue and Cone streets. Rev. O. C. Hills, the first pastor, served about five years. His successor, Rev. Mr. Cook, served about a year and a half. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Cloud, who served until 1893, since which time the church has had no pastor, though occasional services are held.
The early settlers in and around Wellsboro buried their dead
in the “half acre” adjoining the old Academy on the hill, set apart for
that purpose by Benjamin Wistar Morris. The site was elevated and the view
to be obtained from it charmingly picturesque. It was then “in the country,”
but in time the borough grew to, around and beyond it, until now it is
near the centre of the corporate limits.
When it was first selected as a place of interment it was doubtless thought large enough to answer as a graveyard for many years. In time, however, its limited area began to be overcrowded. Its proximity to the Academy was objectionable, and the students complained that it affected their health. Except in a few instances, its graves were uncared for, and were overgrown with weeds and brambles. Being unfenced, it was a common, open to the incursions of domestic animals and of such wild ones as still lurked around the village. Its neglected condition was at last brought to the attention of the borough council, and in 1837 that body appropriated $35 for the purpose of inclosing it with a fence.
The necessity for a new burial place was admitted as early as 1840. but did not manifest itself in any practical way until several years later. Many were reluctant to abandon the old graveyard, while others were opposed to the removal therefrom of the remains of their relatives. To them the place was, and would ever remain, a sacred spot, hallowed by the tenderest memories.
There is no record to inform us whose remains were the first to be buried here, but burials doubtless began soon after the laying out of the village. Many of the graves are now unmarked, the gravestones erected by loving hands having fallen into ruin years ago. Native stone was used to mark the earlier graves, and it was more susceptible to the to the action of the elements than marble; but it is possible that vandalism had something to do with the overturning and breaking of not a few headstones, owing to the unfenced and unprotected character of the place.
A number of the undisturbed graves are marked by marble slabs. From a few of these the inscriptions have been copied, as follows:
Col. Isaac Field, died August 9,1828, in the forty-seventh year of his age.
David Henry, Jr., died July 6,1850, aged sixty-seven years, eleven months and twenty-two days.
James Henry, died September30,1849, aged sixty years and two days.
Rufus Butler, died December 6,1847, aged seventy-four years and eleven months. Isabel, his wife, died March 5,1842, aged sixty-four years, five months and seven days.
Joseph Thompson, a Revolutionary patriot, died November 23,1842, aged eighty-five years, ten months and eighteen days.
Dertus Morsman, died August 30,1847,aged forty-four years, seven months and fourteen days.
Daniel Ritter, died June 15,1843, aged forty-two years, eight months and two days.
David Hurley, died September14,1854, aged fifty-eight years, one month and sixteen days.
Amos Coolidge, died May 16,1851, aged sixty years, seven months and twelve days.
Jonathan Webster, Botanic Physician, died August 15,1843, aged forty-three years, eight months and eleven days. Milly, his wife, died April 8,1848, aged forty-eight years, seven months and nine days.
Israel Greenleaf, a Revolutionary soldier, died June !,1847, aged eighty-two years. Sarah, his wife, died March 8,1840, aged seventy years.
It will be observed that two of these graves contain the remains of Revolutionary soldiers. Although each grave is marked by a modest marble slab, it is, nevertheless, neglected and overgrown with brambles, a condition that ought to appeal to the patriotism that exists, and has always existed in Wellsboro, and that, even at this late day, should rescue these graves from the ruin and neglect of this old-time burying ground. These heroes of the struggle that achieved our independence and made our present greatness as a republic possible, deserve at least a modest monument to rescue their names from oblivion. The erection of such a monument and its dedication of Independence Day would be a fitting tribute to their memory and would serve to keep alive the spirit of patriotism, that rightly fostered , will not neglect a little duty, any more than it will shrink from a great sacrifice.
The Wellsboro Cemetery was incorporated under authority of an
act of assembly, approved April 7,1849, the original members being Benjamin
B. Smith, R. G. White, George McLeod, John W. Guernsey, John L Robinson,
Josiah Emery, William Bache, James Lowrey and Levi I. Nichols. The incorporation
was “authorized to purchase a lot of land, not exceeding ten acres, and
lay out and ornament the same.”
It appears that for several years after the incorporation of this company nothing was done toward securing a new cemetery site. In the meantime some of the incorporators died and were buried in the old graveyard. On April 26,1855, a supplementary act was approved, substituting Chester Robinson, William Bache, George McLeod, Steven F. Wilson, S. E. Ensworth, James I. Jackson, Joseph Riberolle, Levi I. Nichols and Peter Green for the original incorporators.
The new company acted promptly. About nine and one-half acres of land, north of the borough limits, as they then existed, were purchased from Steven F. Wilson and Mrs. Timothy Coats. The location, which embraces a grove of pines, is very beautiful, and had it not been set apart for a cemetery would have been a model one for a park. This land was purchased in 1855, and the same year B. F. Hathaway, of Flushing, Long Island, an experienced landscape gardner, was employed to survey and lay it out. This work he performed in a satisfactory manner, laying off 439 burial lots, besides walks and drives. Later 109 lots were added from ground remaining undivided. Over $12,000 were expended by the company in the work of purchasing and preparing this beautiful cemetery for its silent tenants. Two acres more were afterwards added, to be ready for future use. Mr. Hathaway made an accurate map of the grounds, which was copied carefully and correctly by James S. Bryden, who selected a lot for himself on a knoll or hillock. Soon after finishing the copy of the map he was suddenly taken ill, and died March 16,1856, aged thirty-five years. He was buried in the lot he had selected and was the first person to be interred in the new cemetery. His connection with the work of preparing the map, and his sudden illness and death, as well perhaps as a desire to witness the first burial in the new grounds, resulted in his funeral being very largely attended, and the facts in connection with his death being made a topic of talk throughout the borough.
The natural beauty of this cemetery has been enhanced by the artistic taste displayed in laying out its driveways and walks, as well as by the many sightly monuments and tablets of marble and granite that mark the graves of the sleeping dead, a number of whom were removed hither from the old graveyard on the hill.
There is one tomb within this cemetery that is at once noticeable and unique. It was erected several years ago by Hon. Stephen F. Wilson, for the reception of his remains after death. It is built of gray stone, in the form of a log cabin, and is a faithful reproduction in its exterior appearance of the primitive home of the rugged pioneers of the early day. In striking contrast with it is the uncut shaft of native sandstone that, in its suggestiveness, typifies the character of that courageous minister of the gospel, Rev. J. F. Calkins. The bronze likeness of “Nessmuk” set in the granite block that marks his grave, attracts the notice of the visitor and leads him to ask whom memory it is intended to keep alive in the minds of the living. In the northeast corner of the cemetery will be found the plain marble headstones that mark the graves of Benjamin Wistar Morris and his wife, as well as those of Judge Samuel Wells Morris, his wife and a daughter. Their remains were among those removed from the old graveyard adjoining the Academy. The monuments and tablets erected during recent years are mostly granite, and are noticeable for their massive and enduring character, as well as for an adherence to artistic and appropriate designs.
A competent man has charge of this cemetery and the graves are all well taken care of the year round. During the summer months, when the trees are in full foliage and the flowers are in bloom, it is a really beautiful place, and is daily visited by those whose loved one lie sleeping in its graves, as well as by strangers, who wander among its many monuments and glean from their inscriptions the brief history which they give of the “silent city’s” tenants.
Calvary Cemetery is situated in the southern part of the borough limits, and is the burial ground for St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It contains eight acres, purchased in April, 1883, from Nelson Dunham, for $500, and deeded to Right Reverend Bishop O’Hara. It is neatly laid out in burial lots, drives and walks, and contains a number of handsome marble and granite gravestones and monuments. The location is elevated and overlooks the borough. This cemetery is well taken care of, and will in time be a really beautiful burial place.
Tyoga Lodge, No.230, I. O. O. F., was organized February 15,1847, with the following officers: Robert C. Simpson, N. G.; William Garretson, V. G,; James P. Magill, S.; James S. Bryden, A. S., and James D. Booth, T. The lodge maintained its existence for about ten years and then went down. In the spring of 1871 a sufficient number of the old members petitioned the grand lodge for a return of the charter. It was returned April 12, 1871, and the lodge reorganized, with the following officers: Andrew Foley, N. G.; H. W. Dartt, V. G.; N. T. Chandler, S., and Joseph Riberolle. T. The lodge now numbers 190 members.
Wellsboro Encampment, No.78, I.O.O.F., was instituted April 10,1848,
with the following officers: John S. Williston, C. P.; James S. Bryden,
John F. Donaldson, S. W.; Edward W. Ross, J. W.; Simon H. Landis, S.; Joseph Weaver, T.; L. B. Reynolds, G. The encampment surrendered its charter about 1856 or 1857, and was re-instituted under the same charter march 27,1873, the grand encampment officers of the State being present. The officers installed were: A. Foley, C. P.; Robert C. Simpson, H. P.; E. J. Brown, S. W.; N. T. Chandler , J. W.; Hiram W. Dartt, S.; Joseph Riberolle, T.; George O. Derby, G. The present membership is sixty- seven.
Canton Keystone, No. 5, Patriarchs Militant, I.O.O.F., mustered March 13,1886. The first officers were as follows: E. C. Deans, C.; Frank A. Deans, L.; Charles A. Sweet, E.; B. F. Milliken, C.; A. C. Rowland, A. There are now about forty members. This and the two preceding societies meet in the Odd Fellows’ hall in the Jacobson block.
Ossea Lodge, No. 317, F. & A. M., was constituted January 11, 1858, with the following officers: Ebenezer Pratt, W. M.; William A. Roe, S. W.; William Roberts, J. W.; James Kimball, T.; Thomas B. Bryden, S.; Robert Roy, S. D.; Angus Griffin, J. D., and Hubbard Carpenter, T. The lodge now numbers 115 members. For a numbers of years previous to May , 1894, the lodge met in the Masonic hall in the Williams block. With the beginning of 1894, the lodge secured a lease of Annandale hall, previously used as an opera house, in the Simpson block. This was remodeled for the use of the lodge, the charter and the commandery, the main auditorium being set apart as a hall, with ante rooms and club rooms at the rear. The gallery was enclosed and transformed into a dining- room. The lodge hall is two stories from floor to ceiling, the latter being studded with forty-eight thirty-two candle power electric lights. A rich velvet carpet covers the floor. The furniture is antique oak of massive Gothic design, the officers’ chairs and the settees occupied by the members being upholstered in leather. This hall, now known as the Masonic Temple, is regarded as one of the largest and most finely furnished in the State, and those who enjoy the privilege of meeting in it are justly proud of its reputation as a model Masonic hall.
Tyoga Chapter, No. 194, R. A. M., was constituted August 15,1859.The following were the first officers: Robert C. Simpson, H. P.; William Butler, K.; A. W. Howland, S.; William Roberts, T.; Thomas B. Bryden, S., and Hubbard Carpenter, T. The chapter now numbers fifty-five members.
Tyagaghton Commandery, No. 28, K. T., was constituted June 12,1867, with the following officers: Robert C. Simpson, E. C.; William Roberts, G.; Andrew Foley, C. G.; M. H. Cobb, P.; Robert Roy, T., and Thomas B. Bryden, S. The present membership is sixty-five.
George Cook Post, No. 315, G. A. R., was first organized February
6,1872, as Cook Post, No. 224, with the following officers and members:
Alason E. Niles, C.; E. Jeffers, S. V. C.; George O. Derby, J. V. C.; Daniel
Bacon, S.; Rev. D. D. Buck, C.; George W. Merrick, O. D.; E. J. Henry,
O. G.; H. D. Deming, A.; Lucius Truman,Q. M.; George W. Sears, Q.
M. S.; R. C. Bailey, S. M., and William S. Hoagland, Robert C. Cox, Benjamin
Seeley, J. A. Hill, James M. Wilkinson, W. W. Webb and E. Whitney. Lack
of sufficient numbers caused the post to lapse for a time. In March, 1883,
it was re-organized as Cook Post, No. 315, with the following officers:
John A. Fletcher, C.; Jonathan V. Morgan, S. V. C.; Edwin B. Carvey,
J. V. C.; David H. Belcher, Q. M.; Daniel Bacon, S,; J. W. Brewster, C.;
A. E. Niles, O. D., Joseph O. English, O. G.; John H. Buckley, A.; Sylvester
Q. M. S., and Samuel D. Evans, S. M. The post now numbers about 125 members. In 1884 the post purchased the old Baptist church building and a lot on the east side of Main street, north of the public square. The building was fitted for the use of the post, the whole investment being about $1,500. It is also the meeting place of the Union Veteran Legion, and the Woman’s Relief Corps. Sometime after the re-organization, by amendment to the charter, the name was changed to George Cook Post.
George Cook Corps, No.88, W. R. G., was organized July 14.1887, with seventeen members. The first officers were as follows: Mrs. Antoinette Horton, P.; Mrs. Catherine Denmark, S. V. P.; Mrs. Albina Houghton, J. V. P.; Mrs. Belle M. Allen, S.; Mrs. Mary M. Miller, T., and Mrs. Isabella R. Boyce, C. There are now fifty-eight members. The corps meets in George Cook Post hall.
Tioga County Association of Ex-Union Prisoners of War was organized February 26, 1886, with the following officers and members: Jonathan V. Morgan, P.; James O. English, V. P.; D. H. Belcher, S.; L. Truman, T., and Peter D. Walbridge, Henry H. Smith, A. B. Horton, John J. Johnson, S.D. Moore and J. D. Strait. There are now thirty-one members. Owing to its members being scattered over the county no stated meetings are held, the members coming together, upon the call of the president, Jonathan V. Morgan, who has held that office since the organization.
Encampment No.105, Union Veteran Legion, was organized May 2,1892, with the following officers and members: George A. Ludlow, Col.; Thomas J. Davies, Lt. Col.; J. H. Buckley, Chap.; J. J. Rogers, Maj.; J. V. Morgan, O. D.; W. W. English, Q. M., and E. R. Allen, E. T. Kelley, J. S. Kriner, Alexander Leslie, D. H. Hotchkiss, J. H. Robbins, H. T. Graves, Bernhartt Metzgar, D. E. Bowen, David Hart, Ephraim Jeffers, John Fletcher, and Vihemus Culver. The following have served as colonels of the encampment: George A. Ludlow, 1892-93; Ephraim Jeffers, 1894; Noah Wheeler, 1895; J. C. Herrington, 1896, and Jonathan V. Morgan, 1897. There are now sixty-eight members. The encampment meets in George Cook Post hall.
Wellsboro Lodge, No. 949, K. of H,. was organized March 17,1879, with twenty members. It meets in the Converse & Williams block and now has twenty-five Members.
Wellsboro Lodge, No. 72, O. G. T., was organized April 9,1887, with twenty members. The first officers were as follows: H. D. Gifford, W.C.T.; Mrs. F. A. Johnson, W. V. T.; C. W. Sears, W. C.; Frank Watkins, W. S.; Mrs. C. H. Strait, W. A. S.; William G. Shaw, W. F. S.; F. A. Johnson, W. T.; James Vandusen, W. M.; Mrs. H. G. Ireland, W. I. G.; G. W. Merrick, P. W. C. T. This Lodge now numbers about sixty-eight members in good standing.
Wellsboro Tent, No. 152, K. O. T. M., held its first review February 24,1893, when twenty-one persons became charter members. A charter was secured April 15,1893. The first officers were: A. A. Schand, P. C.; D. W. Navle, C.; George A. Weller, L. C.; S. L. Blair, R. K.; Charles E. Grinnell, F. K.; N. W. Mastin, Phy.; James Cummings, S.; Walter Brooks, M. at A.; S. L. Baker, M. F. of G.; D. C. Hughes, S. M. of G.; W. D. Furman, S.; D J. Jackson, P. The tent is in a flourishing condition at the present time, and the membership exceeds sixty.
Wellsboro Hive, No. 45, L. O. T. M., was organized March 29, 1894, with twenty-eight charter members. The first officers elected were as follows: Mrs. A. B. Eastman, L. P. C.; Mrs. A. A. Schand, P. C.; Mrs. O. L. Butts, L. C.; Mrs. Belle M. Allen, R. C.; Miss Minnie E. Burgin, F. C.; Mrs. Frank Baldwin, C.; Mrs. C. C. Kirkland, S.; Miss Anna Abernathy, L. M. at A.; Mrs. Robert Loyd, S.; Mrs. G. A. Weller, P. The hive now numbers thirty-three members.
Division No. 5, A, O. H., was organized April 22,1894, with fifteen members. Its first officers were as follows: M. F. Moran, P.; W. B. Sullivan, V. P.; H. L. Kerwin, S.; M. J. McMahon, F. S., and E. J. Rogers, T. Its meetings are held in the K. of H. hall. The county organization of this order numbers about 300 members.
Wellsborough’s Military Band.
The first “Brass Band” in the county was the “ Charleston Band,” organized about 1850. Its leader was the late Col. Alanson E. Niles, the other members being as follow: Nathan and Nelson Austin, Sylvester Kelley, Lewis, Job and Almon Wetmore, Henry Dockstadter and Henry Dartt, all residents of Charleston township. This band maintained its organization for four or five years and frequently made its appearance in Wellsboro, being called upon to furnish music for public celebrations and festal occasions. Then came the Wetmore Band, composed of Louis, Almon and Philip Wetmore. This was, however, a string band, organized mainly for the purpose of furnishing music for dances and other social merry-makings. When the Civil War came Job and Almon, enlisted in Company H, Sixth Reserves, and were soon assigned to the First Brigade Band, Pennsylvania Reserves. Philip, who enlisted soon afterwards, did duty as a member of the Forty-fifth Regimental Band, and later as a bugler in the One Hundred and Eighty- seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers. After the close of the war this band was reorganized and continued in existence until 1880.
In 1870 a small brass band was organized in Wellsboro. Among its members were Arthur M. Roy, Frank A. Deans, and Job, Lewis and Almon Wetmore. It lasted two years. During the intervening years it has had a number of successors, the most notable being the Fire Department Band, organized in 1881; the Apollo Band, organized in 1883, and incorporated; the Academic Literary Society Band, and the Wellsboro Band, organized in 1896, and recently re-named Wellsborough’s Military Band. From 1878 to 1880 Prof. Fred Hagar, of Elmira, New York, was employed as instructor of the band then existing and brought it up to a high standard of excellence. In the meantime the Fischler brothers, all excellent musicians, had organized an orchestra. From these various bands have gone forth a number of noted players on wind and string instruments, prominent among whom is John D. VanOsten, the celebrated trombone player.
The band as now organized consists of thirty pieces. The instruments are the finest obtainable, and the individual members are all excellent musicians. Frank A. Deans, the leader, has been identified, as member and leader, with the various Wellsboro bands, since 1870. He has all the qualifications for successful leadership and has brought the band up to a high standard of excellence, until it ranks among the best bands in the State. The people of Wellsboro take a just pride in it and accord it a generous support.