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Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1897 Tioga County History
Chapter 22- Wellsboro - Banks, Crime, Business
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1897 Tioga County History Table of Contents
Submitted by Joyce M. Tice
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Norma SMITH Mattison
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Chapter XXII

Wellsboro (cont)

THE First National Bank--The Old and New Bank Buildings--The Wellsborough National Bank--The Great Bank Robbery--The Property Taken-- Two Of The Robbers Captured--Tried, Convicted and Sent To Prison-- Cosgrove Reforms--His Visit to Judge Williams--Manufacturing and other Enterprises--The Wellsboro of Today.

The First National Bank of Wellsboro was organized February 27,1864, chartered March 21,1864, and commenced business May 17,1864. William Bache was chosen president in order to enable John L. Robinson, the founder, to act as cashier and get the bank well under way. After a service of about two years, Mr. Bache retired and Mr. Robinson was elected president. He was succeeded as cashier by his son, Eugene H., who retained the position until his death in September, 1876, when his brother, Jesse M. Robinson, became cashier, and filled that position until the death of his father, John L. Robinson, January 11, 1893, when he was elected to succeed him as president. L. L. Bailey was chosen cashier and served until October, 1894, when he resigned, and was succeeded by Henry C. Cox, the present cashier. Jesse M. Robinson died August 6, 1896, and the vacancy in the office of president thus occasioned was filled by the election of Leonard Harrison, the present head of the bank.

The building first occupied by the bank was the old two-story frame erected as a store by Samuel Dickinson, and purchased by John L. Robinson in 1834. It stood immediately north of the family residence now occupied by Mrs. N. Azubah Smith. It was used until 1876, and afterwards removed to the northeast corner of Crafton and Pearl streets, and is now doing duty as a carpenter shop. It is one of the landmarks of Wellsboro, where it has stood more than sixty years.

The new bank building, a substantial and sightly two-story brick, is on the southwest corner of Main and Crafton streets. From time to time improvements have been made in the interior arrangements until the equipment now seems to be complete. The funds are protected by a steel lined vault which is burglar proof, and in the vault is a Corliss spherical safe which is absolutely burglar proof and secured with time locks. More than $10,000 have been expended in furnishing the bank with the very best arrangements for the security of the funds and to facilitate the transaction of business.

The capital stock of the bank, at the time of its organization was $50,000, which was soon increased to $100,000. It has now a surplus fund equaling the capital, making it one of the soundest financial institutions in northern Pennsylvania. The following are the names of the present officers and directors: Leonard Harrison, president; Waldo W. Miller, vice-president; Henry C. Cox, cashier, and Arthur M. Roy, Anton Hardt, George H. Derby, Leonard Harrison, Waldo W. Miller, Max Bernkopf, H.W. Williams, George M. Spaulding and William Bache, directors.

The Wellsborough National Bank was organized with a capital stock of $50,000---which has all been paid in-- and was opened for business November 13,1888. Hon. Hugh Young, its founder, served as president until January 10,1893, when he resigned and was succeeded by the late Henry J. Landrus, who acted until December 13,1895, when William D. Van Horn, the present president , was elected. Mr. Van Horn, who had filled the position of cashier from the organization, was succeeded by E. W. Gleckler, promoted from teller. The latest statement of this bank shows it to be in a strong and healthful condition. Under able, safe and conservative management it has drawn to itself a large and constantly increasing business, and ranks among the sound financial institutions of the county.

The present officers and directors of the bank are as follows: W.D. Van Horn, president; L.L. Bailey, vice-president; E.W. Gleckler, cashier; J.B. Truman, book-keeper, and Jerome B. Niles, N.F. Marvin, Jesse Locke, F.W. Graves, William O’Conner, L.L. Bailey and W.D. Van Horn, directors.

The Great Bank Robbery.

On the night of September 16,1874, occurred the robbery of the First National Bank by a band of skilled burglars. It was one of the most boldly-planned and successfully-executed robberies in the history of the State, and certainly the most startling and sensational criminal occurrence in the history of Wellsboro. A full and well-written report of it appeared in the Agitator, from whose columns the following condensed account is taken:

The bank was located in an old-fashioned frame store building with wooden shutters and doors, which could be entered easily by any expert burglar. It stood on what is now the beautiful grassy lawn lying between the old John L. Robinson homestead and the county record office. When inside, however, the robber found his task hardly begun, for the vault was a very strong one, and it contained one of the strongest and most complete safes then manufactured. The doors of the vault and of the safe were fitted with the best combination locks. No person had slept in the bank for many months past. The safe contained about $30,000 in currency and convertible securities. This was a tempting bait for the gentlemen of the dark lantern and jimmy, and how they were to secure it and get away without too much risk was a problem which they were probably not long in solving.

There is but little doubt that for some time persons connected with the gang had been in the borough taking observations and laying plans for their operations; and it is still believed that the job of robbing the bank was set down for the first week of the month, and that the parties were all in Wellsboro at that time, some of them coming directly with teams, and part of them by public conveyance, from Ralston, in Lycoming county. But the time then chosen was the first week of court; the town was full of people, and the robbers probably thought it was best to defer operations until the first week after the adjournment of court, when there would be no unusual number of strangers in town. It is certain that they could not have chosen a better time.

It was Tuesday evening when two teams-- one drawing a covered buggy and one hitched to a spring wagon-- left the livery stable of Orvis Danka, in Elmira, and proceeded towards Wellsboro. They reached Tioga between 1 and 2 o’clock Wednesday morning, and stopped at Farr’s Hotel until about 11 o’clock in the forenoon. At that time no persons were along but the two drivers. They proceeded at a very leisurely pace on their journey and reached Potter’s Hotel about 1 o’clock. P.m., in ample time for dinner. They stayed there until about 6 o’clock in the evening, when hitched up and proceeded on their way in the direction of Wellsboro; but they must have traveled slowly, for it is quite certain that they did not reach the borough until after the arrival of the evening train south, on which train some of the party of robbers are believed to have come. When the teams reached Wellsboro they were driven to the open sheds in the rear of the Episcopal church where they were fed, and the men were posted to watch Mr. Robinson’s house and its surroundings. About 11 o’clock, a colored man, who was walking up Main street past Mr. Robinson’s residence, saw a man standing by a large elm tree in front and just west of his premises. As the colored man approached, this man walked around the tree in the opposite direction, as if to avoid notice. From the point where he stood the windows of John L. Robinson’s bed-room, Judge Williams’ bed-room, and Eugene H. Robinson’s bed-room, could be seen.

After Mr. Robinson’s family had all retired and everything was dark and still within the house, a little after 12 o’clock, midnight, seven men clad in rough overalls and blouses, and with cloth masks over their faces, and dark lanterns and revolvers in their hands, entered the kitchen window on the east-side of the house. Their feet were muffled in heavy socks, and they passed without noise into the dining room. Three of them entered the lower bed-room on the west side of the house, while two went into the hall and up the front stairs. The first member of family who awakened was Mrs. Smith. She heard the stairs creak and thought her mother was coming up the stairs to call her, as she frequently did in the night when ill. Mrs. Smith raised up in bed, facing the door which stood open at the head of the stairs, and called, “Mother!” There was no answer; but the stairs creaked again, although there was no sound of a footfall. Supposing then that her mother was very ill , and that it was her father who was coming--- although she wondered at his coming in the dark-- Mrs. Smith, called, “ Father!” There was no reply; but in an instant there was a sound like the scratching of a match at the head of the stairs, and the light of a dark lantern flashed into her eyes. Instantly the burglar, with a revolver in one hand and lantern in the other, stepped toward her bed, uttering and repeating the command, “Don’t speak! At the same time she saw the other man passing along the upper hall toward her brother’s room.

Coming close to her bedside, the burglar expressed surprise at the presence of Mrs. Smith, saying that he supposed she was in Corning. At the same time he noticed the flash of her diamond rings and ordered her to take them off her fingers, and stepping back he pulled the door nearly shut, explaining the action by saying that if “No.2” saw the rings he would take them. Mrs. Smith says that the thought flashed through her mind that if she had a pistol she could shoot him then as he turned to close the door; and there is no doubt she would have tried to do so, for after the first shock of surprise was over she seems to have exhibited perfect self possession tact, and even a spirit of defiance toward robbers. But she was unarmed and helpless and knew that resistance was hopeless, and she drew off her rings and gave them to the robber who said he would save them under the bed, and hastily turned back and pushed the door open. The robber assured Mrs. Smith that they didn’t intent to hurt her nor any of the family, if they would do as directed; but that they were masters and intended to take their money. It was in reply to a speech of this kind that she told him that they indeed had the upper hand then, but they would not have it long for all honest people were not dead, and God was not dead. All this had passed without awaking the servant girl in the bed on the other side of the room; but she feigned sleep and remained quiet. In the meantime “No.2” who seemed to be the leader of the party, had gone into the cashier’s room, secured his revolver which was on the bureau, waked the sleeping man with the light of the bull’s eye of his dark lantern, obliged him to get up and took him to his sister’s room after handcuffing him.

While this was taking place above stairs the three burglars below were not idle, and a very exciting scene was being enacted in the family bed-room. The first person to wake up in this room was Mrs. Robinson. Upon opening her eyes she was dazzled by the flash of a bull’s slowly moving before her

.Instantly she screamed, when there was a harsh command to stop or she would get a bullet through her head. This frightened Mrs. Robinson all the more, and believing that her husband would be murdered, she cried out to that effect, when the villain told her that they would not be hurt; that it was not murder but robbery they were engaged in, and that they only intended to have their money. Notwithstanding this assurance, Mrs. Robinson continued to bewail her fate, and made so much noise that the third burglar in the room , who stood at the foot of the bed searching Mr. Robinson’s clothes , ordered her guard to take her away. She was then made to get up and, still undressed was taken through the sitting room and hall and up the front stairs to the room already occupied by Mrs. Smith, the servant girl, and Eugene H. Robinson, with their faithful attendants. As she left her own bed-room the struggle with her husband still continued; but it was not a long one. Mr. Robinson had raised up in bed, but a blow on the head knocked him back on the pillow, the handcuffs were quickly adjusted on his wrists and a gag was forced into his mouth, thus effectively quieting his shouts for help. His pantaloons were then drawn on, and he, too, was marched up the front stairs to his daughter’s room. He was blindfolded, however, before going up stairs, so that he did not know to what room he was taken.

While this exciting scene was taking place below stairs, the two burglars in the second story were busy with the work of getting the two women up, dressed and bound. This was not so easy a job as it might seem. The servant girl obeyed orders civilly enough; but Mrs. Smith was not so compliant. In the first place, she refused to get out of bed; and it was only after considerable threatening and coaxing that she was induced to do so. Then she refused to dress herself, and her puzzled captor was obliged to turn himself for the time being into a lady’s maid. Taking the skirts of a dress from a hook he threw it over her head and buttoned it around her waist. He was not without his reward, however, for he discovered her purse in the pocket of her dress and helped himself to all the money it contained-- a considerable but not definitely known sum.

The family being thus assembled in the little, low studded chamber, the burglars proceeded with the work of binding the several members of it. The elder Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Smith and the girl were securely fastened to chairs by cords, their hands being manacled behind their backs. They were all blind folded; but the women were not gagged, although one of the robbers assured Mrs. Smith that he thought she deserved to be for saucy speeches. The chairs occupied by Mrs. Smith and the servant girl were placed back to back, and the two women were thoroughly tied together. It was then proposed to tie Mrs. Robinson likewise, but Mrs. Smith strongly protested against this, asserting that it would kill her, as she has heart disease and must be allowed to lie down. It was indeed true that Mrs. Robinson was suffering from a paroxysm of that complaint at the time, and her appearance indicated the near approach of death. The robbers became convinced of the serious nature of her attack, for they permitted her to lie down upon the bed and from that time showed her great care and consideration. One of them asked her daughter for brandy for her mother, and on being told there was none in the house, expressed the opinion that she lied. He was told, however, that there was camphor, and on being directed where to find it, one of the party was sent down stairs and brought up the camphor bottle, the ice pitcher and a couple of goblets; and a kittle diluted camphor was then given to Mrs. Robinson by the hand of her faithful guardian.

Matters being thus arranged within the house, the robbers proposed to Eugene H. Robinson that he should go to the bank and open the vault. To this the cashier decidedly demurred; but after considerable talk and many threats of death to himself and other members of the family, two of the robbers took him downstairs and led him blindfolded and barefoot, behind the fence before mentioned to the side door of the bank. The key to the front door had been taken from his pocket, and one of the robbers had entered the bank that way and then opened the side door to let the party in. Arrived in the bank the bandage was removed from Mr. Robinson‘s eyes and, with his hands still manacled, he was ordered to open the vault. Alone, unarmed in bonds, at the small hours of the night, with no help or hope of assistance, and with three unknown felons, armed to the teeth, in the desperate pursuit of plunder, threatening death and certain to inflict torture if their demands were not complied with, it was evident that resistance was useless and delay even, dangerous. Frederick the Great said that the man who did not know what fear was never snuffed a candle with his fingers. If he had lived in the says of masked robbers, he might have found an illustration quite as pat in a bank officer standing before a locked safe in the middle of the night with a trio of loaded revolvers within a few inches of his head. Certain it is that not one man in a million could go through that experience and truthfully say he knew no fear.

Mr. Robinson opened the vault door and then the door of the inner safe. In doing so he failed several times to work the combination properly, hoping against hope that delay might bring relief from the cruel task. Then he was obliged to stand by helpless while the robbers removed the bundles of bank bills, bond and other valuables. During the operation he remonstrated with the burglars when they appeared about to take some notes which could be of no use to them and would only inconvenience the bank, but he was silenced by the threat to again gag and blindfold him.

The plunder being removed from the safe and packed in a tobacco tub which stood in the bank, the proposition was made that Cashier Robinson should be secured by locking him in the vault. He asked his tormentors not to do that, but to shoot him if they meant to kill him. They ask him if he supposed he could not live in the vault, and he said he could not live in there half an hour. They then concluded to return him to the house, and allowing him to lock the vault they took him back to the chamber where three of the party had been left to guard the rest of the family.

While the robbery of the bank was in progress the three burglars who were left to look after the captives in the house seem to have had their hands full of business. Mr. Robinson was bound, gagged, blindfolded and tied to his chair, and of course he was silent and helpless and caused them no trouble. But Mrs. Robinson was apparently dying, and one of the robbers was busily engaged in administering to her wants and quieting her fears. He said that he had a mother , and he felt very sorry for her ( Mrs. Robinson ). He even wished she was in South America or anywhere else than there, and he assured her that if her son, Eugene H., had only slept in the bank, they would never have troubled anybody in the house. He covered her carefully and tenderly with the bed- clothes and did everything in his power to make her comfortable. This same villain, who seems to have been the Chesterfield of the party, noticed that the servant girl was shivering, when he brought a blanket from the bed and tenderly wrapped her up. He offered to perform the same kind office for Mrs. Smith, but she cut his gallant attention short by a decided snub. The family probably owed it to the soft- heartendess and good humor of this polite member of the gang that they were not shut up in their prison much longer than they were.

In the course of their talk -- and there was considerable-- the man who first entered Mrs. Smith’s room claimed that he had told her the truth, but she expressed something more than a doubt of his veracity. She said he had promised to return her rings, which he had taken from her and thrown under the bed. He then said they were in a slop jar near her ; but she replied that she did not believe him. Then he changed his story and said they were in a cup on the table. She said that now she knew he was lying. He finally said he would give them to her; and he laid them on her lap. Thinking that if they were left there in sight some of the other men would carry them off, she told him to put them on her fingers; and he did as she directed, getting down on the floor and putting the rings in their accustomed places on her fingers. She then told him to bring her watch. After inquiring which it was, he took it to her, put the chain around her neck and left it there; and it was not taken afterwards. Her father’s watch was also returned the same way. But Eugene’s watch-- a very valuable one--was carried off.

The booty for which the expedition was organized having been secured, it only remained for the robbers to make their escape, after having imprisoned their victims in such a manner that no alarm could be given for several hours. And this they proceeded to do. Eugene, the cashier, was bound to a chair, and he and his father were tied back to back, as the two women had been. Before this was done, however, one of the robbers asked where the hammer and nails were kept. Mrs. Smith tols him she didn’t know, when the robber swore an oath ot two and told her she lied. One of the party then went down stairs to find the needed articles and in a little time came back with a few ten penny nails, which it was afterwards discovered he pulled from the pantry walls. With these nails they proceeded to fasten the door leading to the back staircase. This door swung into the room occupied by the family, and the robbers drove four nails into the door casing at its edge, so as to fasten it very firmly. They stripped the bed which the girl occupied and placed it against the little window near the floor so as to prevent a ray of light from shining through. They proceeded to remove every lamp the room; but at the earnest solicitation of Mrs. Robinson and in view of what they believed to be her dangerous condition, the heart of her particular attendant relented and it was finally agreed that one of their dark lanterns should be left burning on the stand at the head of the bed. The same kind soul also placed her camphor and water supply ready to her hand, and insisted that she should not have her hands manacled. Handcuffs were placed on her ankles, however, and she was tied to the bed with strips torn from one of the sheets.

All this being arranged, one of the party made a little speech to the captives, telling them that the house would be watched until morning, and that if anybody went out of it he would be killed. He also hinted that if they moved, tipped over a chair, or anything of that sort, some train might be fired and something very dreadful might happen. The burglars then left the room. They locked the door leading to the front stairs, and secured it further by driving a couple of ten penny nails into the casing on the outside. In driving all these nails they used a hammer which they found down stairs. Afterwards a heavy sledge hammer, which they had taken from P.G. Lyon’s blacksmith shop, was found at the head of the stairs.

The robbers then passed down the stairs and out the front door, which they slammed behind them and locked on the outside, throwing away the key. They at once loaded themselves and their booty into their vehicles, which they had left in the shed of the Episcopal church, and drove rapidly out of town in the direction of Elmira.

The villains had indeed gone; but the bound, imprisoned and terrified family were helpless until the coming day should bring suspicion, inquiry and relief from the neighbors. For about an hour they remained silent and irresolute, imagining and dreading some further calamity if they attempted to help themselves. At last, however, the women began to talk in whispers, and it was agreed that Mrs. Robinson should make an effort to get up and cut the cords which bound the others. She succeeded without much trouble in loosening the cords which bound her to the bed. In the meantime Mr. Robinson and Eugene had hitched their chairs toward the bed. Mrs. Robinson got up, and hobbling as well as she could with her shackled feet, reached her husband, took his knife from his pocket, cut the cords which held the gags in the men’s mouths, and then proceeded to sever the roped which bound them to their chairs. This was not a very rapid job, but it was finally accomplished , and the father and son were free, except that their hands were still manacled behind their backs. And now the work went on more rapidly. Eugene took the knife and sitting on the floor he soon succeeded in cutting the cords which bound his sister and the girl. The captives were now all free to see and to talk, although the four stronger ones still had their hands bound behind, and Mrs. Robinson was shackled by stout steel handcuffs.

But how were they to get out of their prison and arouse the neighbors? Looking around the room, they happily found a new screw driver which the burglars had left behind. With this the two men went to work to bend back the nails which fastened the door leading to the back staircase. Hampered as they were they took turns at this work, standing on a chair to reach the upper nails; and after much tiresome labor they were rewarded-- the door came open and they were free to pass out. Then they looked at their watches and it was 2:45 o’clock.

The next thing to be done was to get the colored man Joe up and send him for the neighbors. They could not take the dark lantern to light them through to Joe’s room, for they feared the house might still be watched from the outside, and the movement of the light be seen. So Mrs. Smith and Eugene started in the dark to awaken Joe. Mrs. Smith stated that she was afraid at each step that she might feel the touch of a burglar, and one can easily imagine how a frail woman at such an hour and under such circumstances might feel. Nevertheless the heroic woman and her brother went through the back hall and into the dark room beyond. Here Eugene went to the low window to see if there was any suspicious movement outside , while Mrs. Smith, carefully feeling her way with her foot at each step, slowly went toward Joe’s door. At last it was reached , and summoning all her resolution, she opened it, went into the room and placed her hand on the fortunate colored man who had not been molested by the burglars. She told him that the bank and house had been robbed, and that he must get up and dress himself at once. Joe did so; and he soon made his appearance clad and in his right mind but very badly frightened. Mr. Robinson requested him to go down stairs , get out of the window of his bedroom, climb over the fence and call up Judge Williams. Joseph demurred; he couldn’t so that for love or money; he would surely be gobbled up by some of those awful robbers, and there would be no more Joe! It was finally arranged that Eugene should make the proposed trip and that Joe should go along to act as hands for him. And so the two departed on their errand, and succeeded in reaching Judge Williams’ house without mishap*.

(* It was afterwards learned that one of the parties was stationed at the door of Judge Williams’ home, armed with a heavy club, to strike him down in case he heard any noise and came forth to investigate.)

The Judge was quickly aroused and soon made his appearance. By this time Mr. Robinson’s family had got down stairs; but no lamps belonging to the house could be found nor any matches, and the Judge was obliged to go home to get a lantern. It was afterwards found that the burglars had gathered up every lamp in the house, except the chandeliers, and placed them in the woodshed.

The alarm having been given, the news spread rapidly through that part of the town, and before daylight many citizens had congregated at the scene of the crime. Blacksmiths were sent for and the gyves were cut from the limbs of the members of the family. It was found that nobody had been hurt except the father, John L. Robinson, whose face had been cut in the struggle with his captors.

The news of this high-handed crime spread rapidly and caused a profound sensation. Everybody was excited. At first the family of the banker was looked after and their wants provided for. This caused a delay of fully two hours before pursuit was thought of. Attention was then turned to this important matter and an organization was effected, but it was after 6 o’clock before any one left the borough to pursue the robbers. It was quickly learned that they had fed their horses at the Episcopal church shed, and that one horse they drove wore a circular shoe. This was an important clue. Information soon came that the party of six men had passed down the road toward Tioga, and it was also learned that the robbers drove into Elmira between 8 and 9 o’clock in the morning, having covered forty-two miles in about six and a half hours.

In their flight they seemed to have been daring, if not reckless. They threw out [arts of their disguise, which were afterwards found, at various points along the road; and they drove for miles by the side of the only telegraph line which connected Wellsboro and Elmira at that time and never attempted to cut the wire. But it seems that good luck, or something else, favored them in their flight , for the message from Wellsboro advising the Elmira authorities of what had occurred was delayed at Corning for several hours, and did not reach Elmira until two hours after the robbers had arrived there!

The Property Taken

The money and negotiable securities taken from the bank amounted to between $30,000 and $35,000. About $30,000 in negotiable bonds, left as special deposits, were also taken. In addition to these valuables, which could be made available in the hands of third parties, $10,000 of registered bonds and nearly $20,000 of non-negotiable securities were also taken . A number of the bonds were carried to England and negotiated, and when the Geneva award was paid they came back to this government.

Prompt steps were taken to ascertain the condition of the bank. A reward of $5,000 was offered for the return of the property, or $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of each of the robbers. The officers and directors of the bank promptly issued a card assuring the public that the loss sustained would not affect the solvency of the institution and that all checks would “be paid as usual at the counter of the bank.”

Two Of The Robbers Captured

As the whole country was alarmed, and everybody was on the alert, the chief robber was soon traced to Waverly and arrested with much of the stolen plunder in his possession, including the fine gold watch taken from Cashier Robinson. He proved to be one Cosgrove, with many aliases, and was known to the police as an expert cracksman and burglar. A young man named Orson Cook, who drove the wagon, was also captured, and was brought to Wellsboro with Cosgrove, and both were securely locked up in the county jail. The other members of the band escaped and some of them made their way across the ocean, bearing with them several thousand dollars’ worth of negotiable bonds.

At the November sessions, 1874, Cosgrove and Cook were tried and convicted. Judge Wilson, assisted by Associates Smith and McNaughton, presided. The prisoners were defended by Messrs. Williston, Mitchell and Cameron, while the prosecution was conducted by W. A. Stone, district attorney, assisted by Hon. Mortimer F. Elliott.

Isaac Marsh, alias Ike Morris, alias Howard, alias Cosgrove, was sentenced by Judge Wilson as follows: First count, pay a fine of $1,000, costs, and be imprisoned nine years and nine months in the Eastern Penitentiary; second count, restore the stolen goods, pay a fine of $500, and be imprisoned three years; third count, pay a fine of $500, and be imprisoned four years, making a total fine of $2,000 and sixteen years and nine months in solitary confinement.

Orson Cook was also convicted on three counts. His term of service was one year less on each count than was imposed on Cosgrove, making his total time thirteen years and nine months. He was very much cast down on receiving sentence, but Cosgrove was bold, and defiant, declaring that it was simply bad luck on his part, and if he were at liberty he would do the same thing again.

Cosgrove Reforms

The remarkable career of Cosgrove as a criminal had a singular, if not romantic, termination. There is a humanitarian society in Philadelphia whose duty it is to look after long term and hardened criminals, and make an effort to reclaim them. The attention of the society was attracted to Cosgrove, and when he emerged from prison after serving his long sentence, he was kindly taken in charge by this society, a boarding house was secured for him, he was kept away from evil associations, and an effort made to reclaim him by good influences. The effort was not without reward. Kindness, moral suasion, and pious teaching had its effect on the hardened criminal. He saw the evil of his ways and declared that he had resolved to live a new life.

In the meantime Hon. Henry W. Williams, who was president judge of the court in which Cosgrove had been convicted in 1874, had been promoted to the bench of the Supreme Court of the State, and was living in Philadelphia when he emerged from prison. Much to his surprise, one evening in the winter of 1891, he received a letter from Cosgrove telling him what had been done for him by the society, and saying that with his permission he would be glad to pay him a personal visit and tell him of his conversion through the kindly offices of the humanitarian society. Permission was granted, Cosgrove came and the meeting was a very pleasant one; he related the story of his life, told what had been done for him and his change of purpose. Judge Williams encouraged him to be firm in his purpose and good would follow his resolve.

Within six or eight weeks Judge Williams received and invitation to be present on a certain evening at Trinity Episcopal church, Philadelphia, to witness the baptism and confirmation of Cosgrove. “ I attended,” remarked Judge Williams at the close of relating this strange story, “ and witnessed the solemn ceremony, congratulated him on his changed life and upon the favoring influences by which he was surrounded at the beginning of his work as a Christian man.”

“Did he remain firm in the faith?” the Judge was asked. “ I kept track of him for one or two years,” he replied, “ and he was still living a consistent and useful life, and was engaged when I last heard from him, as a sort of general overseer and purchasing agent for a large private hospital under the care of the society which had reclaimed him.”

Manufacturing and Other Enterprises.

The tannery established between 1812 and 1816 by Joseph Fish was operated by him until 1828, when he sold it to Ellis M. Bodine, who had removed to Wellsboro from Jersey Shore. In 1846 his growing business made it necessary for him to erect a larger building. This was destroyed by fire in 1848 and was not rebuilt, Mr. Bodine retiring from the and devoting himself to farming.

The Wellsboro Tannery is the outgrowth of a small tanning enterprise established about 1825 by William Taylor, who carried it on until his death about 1846 His widow married Joseph Riberolle, who conducted the business there until 1857, when he erected a new tannery building across the street on the site of the present tannery. Here he carried on business for many years. Since 1881 the plant has been owned and operated by John Gisin. In 1886 the old building was destroyed by fire, and was replaced by the present building. Mr. Gisin manufactures upper leather, which is shipped to Boston in the red and finished state.

The Spencer Planing and Shingle Mill is the successor of one of the oldest manufacturing enterprises in Wellsboro. About 1830 David Caldwell located in the borough and started a cabinet shop, having as an apprentice Benjamin T. Van Horn, who remained with him five years and then opened a shop of his own on the site now occupied by J.C. & S.A. Spencer. Here for fifteen all his work was done by hand. In 1850 the shop was equipped with machinery . Mr. Van Horn continued in business until 1872, when he sold the shop and plant to his son, Rankin L. Van Horn, and his son-in-law, N.T. Chandler. This firm carried on cabinet making and general wood working and operated the plant until the fall of 1894, when they sold it to J.C. & S.A. Spencer, the present proprietors. It is situated on the northeast corner of Pearl and Waln streets, and is devoted to planing , matching, molding, scroll sawing and shingle making.

The first wagon shop in Wellsboro was established about 1836 by Sylvester Kelly, on Main street, just above Dr. Shearer’s residence. He ran it about ten years. Another shop was established about 1844 by Seneca B. Kendall. About 1845 Hiram W. Dartt entered this shop as an apprentice and within a year purchased an interest in it. In 1850 the firm became Dartt & Gray and so continued for about two years, when Mr. Dartt bought out Gray’s interest and carried on the business for himself until 1884, when his son, Albert P., succeeded him. In 1890 he consolidated the plant with that of the Wellsboro Carriage Company, which has since been owned and operated by himself and his brother , Edgar S. Dartt. The front part of the old shop on Main street , near Hiram W. Dartt’s residence, is used for a broom factory. In the rear part Mr. Dartt, though advanced in years, although not regularly engaged in manufacturing, still works at his trade.

About 1850 Andrew Crowl established a wagon shop on Water street, near the site of Watkins’ livery stable, where he manufactured wagons, carriages, sleighs, etc., for twenty years.

The Wellsboro Carriage Works were founded about 1870, by R.L. Mack, who was succeeded in 1888 by the Wellsboro Carriage Company, composed of W.E. Wisehart, E.S. Dartt and E.W. Keifer. The shop was destroyed by fire in 1889. It was rebuilt; the plant of A.P. Dartt, consolidated with that of the old proprietors, and the works have since been carried on by A.P. and E.S. Dartt, who compose the present Wellsboro Carriage Company. About fifteen men are employed the year round. The plant is located on East avenue, opposite the Bache Auditorium.

The Wellsboro Foundry and Machine Shop was established about 1854 by A.P. Cone and was operated by him for a number of years, since which time it has had various owners, among them being Young &Williams, Williams & Sears, Keen & Company, William C. Kress and R. H. Edwards, who ran it up to the close of 1895. The plant then lay idle until December , 1896, when White Brothers took charge of it and are now operating it as a foundry and machine shop.

R.H. Edwards’ Foundry and Machine Shop is a new enterprise on State street. It was started as a machine shop in December, 1895, and a foundry added in December, 1896. Five men are employed.

Sheffer’s Brewery was established about 1868, on Kelsey creek, back of the Coles House, by Charles Sheffer. He died in 1876 and his widow carried on the brewery until 1878, after which the building was converted into a family dwelling.

Och’s Brewery was established about 1875 by John Och, on Charleston creek, near the present railroad station. It was washed away by the June flood of 1889, and was not rebuilt.

The Wellsboro Manufacturing and Building Company (Limited ) is the successor of a sash factory established about 1870, on the same site at the foot of Main street, by Benjamin Austin. He died in 1873 and the plant was carried on by his heirs for a time then by Truman & Bowen until it was destroyed by fire in 1878. In 1879 the present buildings were erected and plant established by Harmen, Borden & Trull. In 1880 Mr. Trull retired and the firm became Harman, Borden& Company, which was succeeded in July, 1892, by the Wellsboro Manufacturing and Building Company (Limited). The capital stock of this corporation is $15,000. It manufactures much of the lumber used by the company for building and other purposes; operates a large planing mill; gives employment to fifteen hands, and does a general wood working, contracting and building business. Its officers are as follows : R.J. Borden, superintendent; R.J. Borden, J.H. Harman, J.W. Mather, L.A. Gardner and F.W. Graves, Managers.

The Wellsboro Cigar Factory, on Queen street, is the successor of a factory previously occupied by C.A. Yale. The pioneer factory was established about 1872 by Mr. Yale. On Main street, near the Wellsborough National Bank, and was afterwards operated by him at various locations in the borough. In 1881 the C.A. Yale Cigar Company was incorporated. In 1885 the name was changed to the Grand Master Cigar Company and for about two years the company did a large business employing nearly 100 hands. The business was continued by C.A. Yale. In 1894 M.H. Stebbins, of Sabinsville, purchased a half interest in the factory , of Mrs. C.A. Yale. Three men were then employed. The business was continued until April, 1895, under the firm name of C.A. Yale & Company, since which time Mr. Stebbins has been the sole proprietor. Eleven hands are employed and 400,000 cigars manufactured annually.

The C.A. Yale Cigar Factory was established in the spring of 1896. It is the successor of a small factory established in March, 1894, by A.H. Ballinger. The factory is located on East avenue, near Pearl street.

The Wellsboro Roller Mill, situated on East avenue, east of Main street, was erected in 1890 by S.L. Herrington and F.R. Field, on the site of a mill built several years before by Andrew Klock and S.L. Herrington, but which was destroyed by fire in 1890. The present mill is a four- story structure, equipped with eleven sets of rollers, and has a capacity of thirty barrels of flour, ten tons of feed and 400 bushels of buckwheat per day. Steam power is used. Herrington & Field ran the mill until 1893, when it became the property of A.I. Nichols and William Bache, Jr., who operate it under the name of Nichols & Bache. It is devoted to custom work of manufacture of flour for general trade.

The Keystone Mills, located on the north side of Charleston street near the railroad, were erected in 1886 by Alanson Spencer and the Dickinson estate, the machinery of the old Dickinson mill below the borough being used as part of the interior equipment, which consists of four run of buhrs, driven by steam. It is still operated by Mr. Spencer, and is devoted to the grinding of wheat, buckwheat, corn, feed, etc.

The Wellsboro Glass Company ( Limited ) was formed in 1886, with a capital of $50,000. The main projector of the enterprise was John W. Bailey, who took a deep interest in founding the plant. The company organized by electing the following officers: President, John W. Bailey; secretary, Walter Sherwood; treasurer , J.M. Robinson. The works were fitted up in good style for the manufacture of glass, and were in successful operation, when, on November 8, 1888, the plant was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of $28,000, on which there was an insurance of only $12,400. In addition to the buildings, $6,000 worth of glass and $2,000 worth of pots were destroyed , and nearly sixty men were thrown out of employment.

The works was rebuilt the following February and opened at once under the direction of the Glass Trust, but disaster again overtook them in 1892, when they were totally destroyed by fire, and never rebuilt.

The Wellsboro Veneer Works, located on the site of the old glass factory, was founded December 1, 1895, by T.B. Fields & Son. The plant is devoted to the manufacture of wood veneers, baskets, handles and wood novelties, the annual output amounting to about $25,000. The working force consists of from twenty to fifty hands, according to the demands of business.

The Wellsboro Exchange of the New York and Pennsylvania Telephone and Telegraph Company is one of the latest up-to-date enterprise of the borough. This company is identical with the Bell Telephone Company, and the exchange recently established connects the borough with all the cities and towns throughout the country embraced in the long-distance telephone system of the company. The exchange id located in the store of R.L. Van Horn & Son, the local managers, and is for the use of the public. There are in addition twenty-three subscribers, who pay an annual rental for instruments placed in their offices or residences. The system in the country also includes the principal towns of the Tioga and Cowanesque valleys.

The Wellsboro of To-Day

It is ninety years since Benjamin Wistar Morris laid out the “ country town” of Tioga county, and named it Wellsboro, in honor of his wife, Mary Wells Morris. At that a forest stood on the site, and a wide-spreading wilderness environed it. The forest has disappeared and the wilderness has given place to the well tilled fields of thrifty and prosperous husbandmen. The log cabin of the pioneer is a thing of the past, and on its site there now stands the modern home-- a model of up-to-date architecture -- with its interior conveniences and exterior attractiveness. So many of these handsome residences are to be seen in all parts of Wellsboro that one feels that the claim put forth for it as a place of beautiful homes is amply sustained. The rude log, and scarcely less rude frame, structures in which the early storekeepers, innkeepers, doctors and lawyers transacted business, have been replaced by sightly and substantial brick and stone business blocks and office buildings of modern design and architecture. The log school house and the old Academy find worthy successors in the present public school buildings, thronged daily by hundreds of light-hearted pupils, the beneficiaries of the free school system of the State. The old “Quaker Meeting House” is but a memory, and the Quakers themselves have all passed away, but religion and morality remain. Instead of one modest meeting house, there are now six church buildings, that bear witness in their architecture, furnishing and decoration, to a spirit of free-giving on the part of the many adherents of the different Christian denominations which they represent. On every hand are to be seen evidences of intelligence, culture, taste, refinement, public spirit and private enterprise. And yet, it must be confessed that previous to 1870 Wellsboro grew very slowly. This was due to its isolation--its distance from either navigable stream or railroad. In 1840 it had but 368 inhabitants, and in 1870, 1,465. In 1872 came the railroad and gave it an impetus, resulting , not in a boom, but in a period of substantial growth, the census of 1880 showing 2,228 inhabitants , and that of 1890 2,961. The present population is slightly in excess of 3,000.

The Wellsboro of to-day is a well-built town. Its streets are wide, and though unpaved, are graded and kept in good condition. In anticipation of early paving, nearly 4,000 feet of sewers have been constructed, and the work will be carried forward as rapidly as the finances of the borough will permit. Good flagstone sidewalks have been put down in all parts of the borough. These, in combination with well-kept grounds, stately shade trees and the absence of fences, add much to the attractiveness of the residence portion, and show a commendable pride in appearances on the part of the citizens,

The Park or “Green,” though  occupying but a single square, east of the court house, is one of the most popular places of public resort in the borough. It is county property, and was included in that portion of the original village site deeded to the county in 1806 by Benjamin Wistar Morris. The center is occupied by a handsome band pagoda, from which concerts are given every Friday evening, during the summer season, by the Wellsboro Band, one of the best in the State. West of the pagoda, facing Main street, stands the Soldiers’ Monument , a description of which will be found in one of the military chapters. In the northern part of the park is a fine monument erected in honor of John Magee, the founder of the Fall Brook Coal Company, and one of the leading spirits in the development of the great coal deposits of Tioga county. The money for this monument was contributed by the employes  of the company, and it was unveiled December 1,1886. It is fourteen feet in height. The bases, shaft and capstones are of Quincy granite, and the bust of bronze. On the four sides of the polished shaft are bronze tablets containing inscription  and illustrations commemorative of the character, progressiveness and energy of the man. Surmounting the whole work is a bust of John  Magee, in bronze. It is four feet eight inches in height and weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The likeness is good and the expression of the face natural.

The Bache Auditorium  is one of the notable buildings of the Wellsboro of to-day. It is located on the southeast corner of East avenue and Pearl street, and owes its  existence to the liberality and public spirit of  William Bache, assisted by a few other citizens. Its was erected in 1894 at a cost of  $16,000, and was planned and supervised by William C. Kress. It is a frame building sheathed on the outside with sheet steel, made to imitate brick. The seating capacity is 1,100, and it is 40 x 70 feet, is unusually large, and there is a full equipment of stage scenery and accessories. The building is heated by steam and lighted by electricity. It was opened to the public in November, 1894, under the management of William C. Kress. During the past year it has been managed by A.P. and O.H. Dartt. 
The business interest of the borough are in the hands of men of enterprise and public spirit. The stores are well-stocked and the goods tastefully and attractively displayed . Five hotels cater to the wants of the traveling public, each being managed by an experienced and popular landlord. The bar is represented by lawyers of ability and reputation, and the medical profession by educated  and skillful physicians. Three ably-conducted and neatly -printed weekly papers deal with matters of public and local interest and receive the liberal support of the people of the borough and the county. Each year witnesses the erection of a number of handsome private residences, and as increase of trade demands it, of new business blocks. Wealth is evenly distributed and the number of needy poor less than in most places of equal population.
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 06 APR 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
Email Joyce M. Tice


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