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Canton Industries

Any community, large or small, must have a means of employment for its citizens.  Even a small community in an agricultural area the need for industries is apparent, and Canton is no exception.  Canton has had several factories in the past but one by one they have been unsuccessful in their ventures, or factories have had a fire so severe that building anew was out of the question.  Today, of the dozen or more industries that have started operations in Canton, very few remain.

Some of the older factories no long in existence are the Independent Furniture Company on Clinton street and which manufactured furniture and phonographs.  The H. Sheldon Manufacturing Company was located near the end of Elm street and manufactured flag poles, tent stakes, and other wooden goods.  It burned to the ground on October 12, 1914.

It is not surprising that one of the oldest industries in Canton is one of the few still functioning.  One of the first needs of a newly settled community is a mill to process their trees, and one to process their grain.  The following account tells of the history of H. Rockwell & Son which started operations in 1852.

Elias Rockwell Builds First Mill in Canton in 1852
Canton Independent-Sentinel Anniversary Edition1950

A mill was among the earliest institutions of the community.  One of the farmers in the neighborhood traded his farm for two millstones.  According to legend this is the way the grinding of grist began.

The story of Rockwell's Mill dates from 1852 when Elias Rockwell erected the large frame building still in use.  The mill was powered by water in the beginning.  The railroad came the next year and a steam engine was installed to supplement the water power.

No much is recorded of the business during the early years.  However, following the Civil War it fell into financial difficulties and changed hands more than one.

In 1878, Martin L. Rockwell, grandfather of the present member of the firm by that name, came from West Burlington to take over for a short time until a satisfactory sale could be made.  Instead, he continued to operate the mill and was joined by his son, Homer, in 1884.

Until 1892 all of the grinding was done with stones.  In that year rolls and other machinery were installed for making wheat and buckwheat flour.  At that time much more buckwheat was grown and many more buckwheat cakes were consumed than is grown or eaten today.

Martin L. Rockwell, the present manager, joined the firm in 1911.  The next expansion came in 1917 when a new elevator for receiving feeds and grain was built next to the railroad.  In the early twenties grinding, corn cracking, and mixing equipment was installed in this building.  A small addition was necessary to accommodate some of this machinery.

Before 1930 Rockwells were manufacturing a complete line of dairy and poultry feeds for farmers of this section.  During this period the firm pioneered in the mixing of molasses feed and put in a large tank, pump, and mixer for handling cold molasses.

To meet the need for more storage, a large addition to the warehouse was completed in 1936.  Another generation was represented when M. V. Rockwell entered the firm in 1942.

Soon after the second World War a modernization of the mill was begun with the construction of a new group of bins and the installation of pneumatic car unloading machinery.

Next a large addition was made to the sack storage capacity of the main warehouse.  New mixing equipment for faster, more accurate work was installed.

For convenience of farmers desiring custom grinding and mixing a new hammer mill has been in use for some time.

Nearly one hundred years have elapsed since the original mill was built.  The firm retained its vigor by changing with the times.  Now the scientific feeding of cattle, poultry and other farm animals is the chief business.  In former times the feeding of horses was a major concern.  The present members of the staff attend nutrition schools and conferences often to keep abreast of the latest information of the subject.

Looking forward, the firm plans to devote its efforts to promoting good feeding and the prosperity of agriculture in this community.

Photo - page 149

Lumber Industry Grows with Town

Crawford Brothers Mill Started 65 Years Ago

Canton and lumber have gone hand in hand for many years, for many thousands of logs have been taken from the hills surrounding this community.  There have been many other Pennsylvania lumbering communities, but probably one with more individual operations.

The virgin timber, mostly hemlock in this vicinity, was removed many years ago.  Saw mills have flourished all over this territory including Rock Run, Cold Springs Run, Gray's Run and others.

The two largest lumber operations were conducted by Giles M. Coons and Hugh Crawford.  Both of these pioneers i the lumber industry have been dead for several years.  Mr. Crawford's sons, Charles and Byron T., have continued to work in the mill built by their father 65 years ago.

Even then, in the year 1885, general opinion was that lumbering was over in this section, as the virgin timber was about gone - as they though.  Yet, due to several factors, this was not the case.

Byron Crawford points out that lumbermen in those early days picked out the larger trees.  Thus many of the smaller hemlock trees left standing in a few years were large enough to cut.

Later on, hard woods were used more and more.  This created a demand for maple, beech, cherry, ash and birch lumber.  This opened up many large tracts of hard woods, some where previously the hemlock had been removed.

"When father built the present mill in 1885," Byron Crawford relates, "people thought it very foolish as the hemlock lumber was about gone."

"Nevertheless the mill was completed and has been running winter and summer ever since without missing a single season."

"At one time," adds Mr. Crawford, "we had three portable mills besides the mill here.  One was in Masten, one on the Tioga River and on e on South Mountain.  Horses used to draw out logs to the mill.  One winter we had 31 teams hauling.  Now the logs are all hauled by motor trucks from points as far as 35 miles away."

The lumber for Canton is shipped to many parts of the country to b used in making hundreds of articles.  Ash is used to make wooden slats for snow sleds and in construction of airplanes.  Maple is used in shipbuilding; cherry for inside trim for houses and beech, cherry and maple in construction of furniture.  Much hardwood is used locally in the Belmar plant which makes pant and coat hangers.

--Canton Independent-Sentinel Anniversary Issue in 1950

Swayze Folding Box Company Has Made Rapid Strides Since Its Beginning

In 1896, in Columbia Cross Roads, Pennsylvania, Alden Swayze II, began in a room of his home, the business which since has become known as The Swayze Folding Box Company.

Originally, the business was not that of making cartons, but rather of printing advertising signs for an outdoor advertising company.  With an old and slow process, on a small hand press, Mr. Swayze made the signs of card board, but was soon confronted with the fact that they should be weather proofed to avoid smearing of the ink.  To take care of this, he conceived the idea of dipping the printed articles in paraffin, and running them through an ordinary clothes wringer.  In a short time many large corporations came to use his signs on barns, fences, telephone poles, or wherever they would attract attention.  The Sherwin Williams Pain Company, an the Colgate Company were among the first customers, and today, the Colgate Company is still a customer, making fifty-four years of uninterrupted business transaction between the two concerns.

In the beginning there were many discouraging times, many days of adversity, and some "lean" years, in the new business venture.  But always at Mr. Swayze's side, to encourage him, to confer with him and to help him in the actual production of the signs, was his wife, Jennie Fellows Swayze.  They worked together, and finally the business improved and began to take on form, and they felt they had really made a start.  Mrs. Swayze's interest, help and knowledge, has been evidenced in the Company throughout all the years that have followed.  She was Director until her death in 1948.

By 1900, the orders and output had grown to such an extent that it was necessary to seek more space in which to carry on the work.  Consequently, a large barn at the junction of Carson Street and Minnequa Avenue, in Canton, was rented.  It was converted into a factory by installing a gasoline engine and a new press, and the business moved to the new location.  Advertising fans, calendars, and printed novelties were added to the output.

In 1901 a stock company was formed with Mr. Swayze as President and General Manager, and his associates were L. T. McFadden, Fred W. Taylor, and W. H. Collins.  It was then that the name was changed from A. Swayze, Jr. to the Swayze Advertising Company, and was incorporated as such in 1903.

Difficulties arose in the laws of nearby states which made further developments of the sign business impractical.  So, in 1909, Mr. Swayze decided to make the change from signs to folding boxes, and installed machines for that purpose.  At that time, not many articles were packaged and the industry in general was new.  Mr. Swayze's vision, farsightedness, and integrity in all matters, were most helpful in advancing the business.  Almost from the beginning of the carton manufacturing, he numbered among his customers such corporations as the Twenty Mule Team Borax Company, International Salt Company, Pennsylvania Sugar Company and the Colgate Company.

The Original Swayze Factory Swayze Factory with Addition

In 1906 the first building of the present factory was erected, on the Southwest corner of Troy and Tioga Streets.  In 1919, the Corporation name was changed to "The Swayze Folding Box Company."

Mr. Swayze remained President and General Manager until his death in 1925.  At that time his son, Leon A., took over the management and control.  His death occurred in 1946, and his son, Alden Swayze III, became President.

Like his father, Leon Swayze was keenly interested in the development of the business.  Working closely with him, in all interests of the corporation, was Edward W. Hallett.  He had been associated with Alden Swayze for many years and, because of his long experience, close contact, and deep interest, he took a special concern in advancing the welfare of the Swayze Company.  He is still with the Company, and now is President.

Due to the large increase in the use of paper cartons throughout the world, the next twenty-five years saw great change in he growth of paper box manufacturing, and consequently, in the growth of this particular concern.  Methods were changed and improved, quality became an important factor, and the revolution in the improvement of machinery was astounding.  Today the presses are fully automatic, which eliminates hand feeding, and print two or three colors in one operation.  Equal improvement has been made in the cutters and creasers, and folding machines which follow the work of the printing presses in the process of manufacturing boxes.

In 1927 another large three story building was erected on the present site, and in 1938 still another.  In the last building new offices were opened.  The same year a fleet of trailer-trucks was added and the company began to take care of its own shipping by trucks.  Until this time, except for a small amount, shipments had been made over the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1935 ink manufacturing equipment was installed thus producing ink from basic raw materials.

In 1937-1938 five diesel engines were installed, and now supply power.  To keep abreast of the ever changing times and methods, new machines and equipment have be periodically purchased and set working.

And so it is easily seen, that the evolution of a business over a period of fifty years, brings many changes and improvements.  It is a "far cry" from the small press, operated by hand fifty years ago, to the modern, almost human machines running today, in the Swayze Folding Box Company.

Today boxes are being printed in foreign languages and shipped to many parts of the world.  The world is more conscious of "packaged products" than ever before in history.

In length of service in the Swayze Company, special mention is made of the following:

E. W. Hallett, 41 years; A. J. Porter, 37 years; Ada Naylor, 31 years; Pearl Burr, 30 years; A. M. Campbell, 24 years; D. R. Stone 24 years.

--Canton Independent-Sentinel Anniversary Edition in 1950.

Belmar Manufacturing Company Began in 1897

The Belmar Mfg. Co., for many years Canton's largest industry, was started in 1897, in a barn owned by Mrs. Tabor.  L. M. Marble, founder of the Belmar, and Mott Tabor, a skilled mechanic, began construction of special machines for the manufacturing of a combined coat and trouser holder which Mr. Marble had patented.

After working on the machines for some months, construction was started on the building on Washington Street which was the nucleus of the Belmar factory.  This was soon completed, and in 1898 Mr. Marble incorporated the Belmar Manufacturing Co. which was one of the earliest companies to be incorporated for the manufacture of coat hangers.

Following the installation of the special machines in the newly completed building, the Belmar started the manufacture of hangers with a small force of men.  George Doll was one of these and completed more than fifty years of faithful service to the firm with which he started as a young man.  Other employees whose terms of service almost equal Mr. Doll's are Elmer Rockwell, about 47 years; George Goff, nearly 45 years; Charles Renstrom, more than 40 years and Leon Smith about 38 years.

At first the Belmar made only the combination coat and trouser hanger, but in 1901-1902 they made both ladies' and Men's garment hangers.  Business continued to increase rapidly and the factory was enlarged by several additions and many more employees were added to the payroll.

On June 12, 1904, disaster struck the growing business in the form of a fire which destroyed a large part of the factory.  This was immediately rebuilt on a much larger scale, and since then has grown to its present size.  Soon after the rebuilding of the plant, the Belmar Hose Co. was formed, and later a drill team, of which latter organization Edward Carnegie acted as drill master for many years.

During World War I, the Belmar Co. maintained a dehydration plant where they made potato and other vegetable flours for the U.S. Government as the Company's contribution to the war effort.

During the same period the Belmar Co. ran a soup kitchen which was under the direction of Mrs. Harry Davenport.  This was a donation to the Red Cross Work.  Local farmers and gardeners donated the vegetables used in the soup, and most of the labor was also donated.  A carload of soup was shipped at one time to France.

In 1926, Mr. Marble added the Liberty Greeting Card Co. to his other activities, and this was operated in connection with the Belmar Mfg. Co. until 1934.  A large and substantial building was built to house the new enterprise, and many fine color presses installed.  Most of the cards printed were handled by the same chain stores to whom the Belmar hangers had been shipped for many years.

Starting with five employees in 1898, the Belmar at one time during the height of the Liberty Card business, employed 350, but the payroll has declined since that time, until now it numbers something over one hundred.

Mr. Marble continued active in the business until his death Nov. 27, 1944.  About six months later, in June, 1945, the business was sold to C. K. Ruland of Conneat, Ohio; C. B. Oas of Girard, Pa., and E. C. Johnson of Linesville, Pa., and has been continued under their capable management ever since.

--Mrs. Leon J. Keagle [Eleanor PARSONS Keagle]

--Canton Independent-Sentinel Anniversary Issue November 1950

Canford Manufacturing Corporation

Canford Manufacturing Corporation was dedicated on October 9, 1960.  Canford, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stanly Home Products, Inc., Westfield, Massachusetts, manufactures a wide variety of plastic products for both the parent company and for a number of individual industrial customers in the New York state and Pennsylvania areas.  Initially, Cranford started operation in a rented dairy barn on Center Street in Canton while a 25,000 square foot modern building was being built.  In May of 1959 Canford moved into their new quarters with a nucleus of fifteen employees.  Canford payroll now totals 112 employees and operates a three shift, round the clock operation.

In December of 1963 a 25,000 square foot addition was completed.  Equipment includes nineteen injection molding machines with a capacity of from four to eighty ounces, per piece.  In 1964 approximately 37 million pieces of plastic products were shipped from Canton to Stanley Home Products warehouses all over the country and to a number of other industrial accounts.

Canford also operates a pressure forming division for the manufacture of plastic lids for cottage cheese containers.  One of the unique features of this phase of the operations is the forming of lids which have been preprinted on rolls of plastic.  This makes possible the use of candy striped rims with a variety of printing and art work, for special accounts such as delicatessens, small dairy companies, and specialty packagers.

All but four of the work force at the Canford plant have been recruited from local communities.  Annual payroll is approximately $500,000.

Future growth and expansion will be directed towards increased custom molding business for industrial accounts.  Canford now manufactures for such nationally known concerns as IBM, NCR, Eastman Kodak, Frantz Industries, Continental Can Company, Schick Inc.

Photo - page 161p

The Dairy Industry

With Canton situated in the heart of a large dairy country, one of the prime industries of the area is the collection and processing of milk from the many surrounding farms.  The first farms were small subsistent farms with the farmers having a few cows for their own use, making butter for the family and to use as barter at the nearest store for sugar and other supplies not produced on the farm.  As the size of the farms increased, the number of cows a farmer could have depended on the number of people available at milking time.  This and the lack of refrigeration were both limiting factors.

When the size of the dairy herds increased enough, the surplus milk was sold to a creamery or a milk station.  During the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century, Bradford County butter enjoyed an excellent reputation.  There were several creameries in the area processing milk, and one such creamery was the Silverdale Creamery at East Canton which also had skimming stations at Beech Flats and Case's Corners north of East Canton.  Their butter was shipped in tubs or firkins of various sizes to Philadelphia and other cities.  The Silverdale Creamery was sold to the Rosedale Company and the buildings town down.  The creamery at Canton processed milk from local farms, making cottage cheese.  At one time Sheffield Farms had milk plants in Canton, Grover and Alba, and later The Dairymans League had a plant at Cedar ledge.  The only local milk plant in operation today is Grover Farms.

In the early days the farmer had to get his milk to the creamery or milk station with a horse drawn vehicle, which meant the plant had to be fairly close to the farm.  The only refrigeration was a cold spring house to cool the evening milking.  The milk was put in metal cans for storage and transportation.  The advent of the motor truck simplified the transportation problem so the milk could be sold to a milk station further from the farm.

Several things occurred in the 1920's and 30's to change the operation of a farm, The Roosevelt New Deal instituted the Rural Electrification Act which brought electricity to the farm, and electricity opened up a whole new way of life.  Not only could the farmer throw away his kerosene lamps and lanterns, he could now have milking machines and electrical appliances of all kinds.  The motor vehicle for transportation and improvements in farm tractors made it possible to farm more acres with less manpower.  The improvements in hybrid seeds and fertilizers increased the yield of crops enabling the farmer to have even larger herds, and improved breeding practices made cows more productive.

Dairy farms have changed drastically in the past hundred years.  From the small subsistent farms of the early settlers, to the later 19th and early 20th century farms with the horse being used for work and transportation, to the late 20th century farms dominated by the tractor, modern farm machinery, refrigeration tanks and tank trucks picking up the milk in bulk and taking it directly to a processing plant, the modern dairy farm today is a small manufacturing plant.  The raw material is hay and feed for the cow, the cow is a machine for manufacturing milk, and the milk product is used for drinking, making cheese and other products.

The depression of the 1930's saw the elimination of many marginal farms and the consolidation of many others, yet the dairy industry remains one of the most important industries in the entire area.

--Roger M. Keagle

Sheffield Farms Milk Station on upper Center Street when it was still in operation.  Two workers are looking over the wall at the camera, and milk pails are shown on the rack as they left the plant after being washed.

In Beers, Ellis & Soule Atlas of Bradford Co., Dated 1869, The Subscriber's Business Directory Lists the Following for Canton:

1 - S. P. Barnes, Master Builder, Union St.
2 - J. E. Bullock, Justice of the Peace, Troy St.
3 - S. Benedict, Carpenter & Joiner, Union & Center Sts.
4 - A. Burt, Cooper, Sullivan St.
5 - A. Beals, Manufacturer & Repairer of Wagons & Sleighs, Sullivan St.
6 - F.D. Chase, Prop. Keystone House, Troy St.
7 - B.S. Dartt, Hardware, Towanda & Center Sts.
8 - Bailey, Van Namee & Co. Feed & Lumber Dealers, Canton Mills.
9 - A. Doby, General Mdse., Towanda St.
10 - P.C. DeWitt & Co. Groceries, Towanda St.
11 - I.C. DeWitt, Blacksmith, Sullivan St.
12 - J.V. Doolittle, Practical Jeweler, Troy St.
13 - N.B. Denmark, Undertaker & Cabinetware, Troy St.
14 - C.L. Farnsworth, Groceries and Provisions, Towanda St.
15 - Irvin Gleason & Co., Canton Tannery.
16 - S.J. Hickock & Bros., Groceries & General Mdse., Towanda St.
17 - J.A. Hartranft, Blacksmith, Sullivan St.
18 - Hazelton Bros., Steam Sawmill and Clothing Works, Suburbs.
19 - D.B. Knapp, Attorney, Center St.
20 - James Kenney, Jeweler, Towanda St.
21 - Lewis & Fellows, Sash & Doors.
22 - T.H. Morse, Physician, Troy & Carson Sts.
23 - George Metler, Central Hotel, Towanda St.
24 - E. & J.P. Newman, Groceries & Provisions, Troy St.
25 - H.B. Parsons, Dealer in Cabinetware, Union & Troy Sts.
26 - N.B. Peterson, Barber, Troy St.
27 - Stull & Beers, Livery & Canton-Towanda Stage Line, Sullivan St.
28 - C. Stockwell, Real Estate, Towanda St.
29 - Smith & Nichols, Carriage Makers, Sullivan St.
30 - W.W. Smith, Carpenter, Union St.
31 - J.G. Scudder, Brick Yard, Lycoming St.
32 - H. Tuttle, American Hotel, Towanda St.
33 - A.V. Trout, Groceries, Canned Fruits, Confections, Oysters, Hides, Pelts & Furs.
34 - Thompson & Kuecher, Canton Foundry & M/C Shop, Troy St.
35 - J.W. VanDyke, Associate Judge & Lumber Dealer, Center St.
36 - William Wright, Master Builder, Washington & Towanda Sts.

There were 6 carpenters or Builders; 1 each of Justice of the Peace; Cooper; Hardware Dealer; Real Estate; Brick Yard; M/C Shop; General Mdse; Undertaker; Tannery; Sawmill; Attorney; Physician; Barber; Livery; 2 each of Wagon Makers; Lumber Dealers; Blacksmiths; Jewelers; 3 Hotels; and 5 Groceries.  The population listed in the Atlas for Canton, "Original Town" was 2620, which must include more than the township.  Voter registration was 426 Republicans and 98 Democrats.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 20 July 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933