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Page 328
Canton:  Minnequa, Mayos, Davenports
Eleanor Keagle

Canton, Pa. - Named for a town in Connecticut, Canton is strategically located in the southwest corner of Bradford County, midway between Elmira and Williamsport, on the Pennsylvania Railroad and Route 14.  It is a well planned town, with wide streets, conveniently situated business district, beautiful churches, an exceptionally good school system and sound industries.  It lies in the center of rich farming area, with large and small game hunting and well stocked streams nearby.

Strangers coming to Canton comment on the friendly atmosphere and are eager to remain.  Three adult and two junior music clubs, Rotary and Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Village Improvement Association, Junior Civic Club, American Legion and Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary, Bradford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, together with a fine Masonic Lodge, Odd Fellows and Loyal Order of the Moose and corresponding women's organization, with many other church and social groups make it difficult for residents to become bored.  Canton has a beautiful library with well stocked shelves.

During the past 75 years, the population has grown from about 1,200 to nearly 2,200.

In 1879, the year the Sunday Telegram was born, Canton was wakening to the realization prosperity boom occasioned by the flourishing hotel and health resort at Minnequa Springs had gone up in smoke when the hotel burned, November 1878.

A smaller, second hotel was built in 1884, but never attained the popularity of the original structure.  This, too, was destroyed by fire in 1903.

Davenport and Mayos

Owing to reputed youth-giving qualities of the spring water, several famous families of actors became guests of the first hotel.  Two of these, the Davenports and Mayos, liked the locality so well they bought homes and claimed Canton as their residence as long as they lived.

Harry Davenport came to Canton as a boy in 1872.  His long acting career ended with his death in Hollywood August 9, 1949.  His old home, intact with furnishings, was left to his children.

Seventy five years ago Canton's only industry was Rockwell's Steam Mills, employing a few men.  This was established in 1852 by Elias Rockwell.  In 1878, Martin L. Rockwell, grandfather of M. L. Rockwell, presently a member of the firm, took over the mill.  Large additions since 1917 make the Rockwell mill one of the most important in our area.  Twenty five are employed.

The Industries

In the spring of 1879, William Gleckner started a small harness shop on Troy Street.  By 1892 the business had grown to wholesale proportions with a branch in Towanda in charge of Charles Gleckner, while W. V. Gleckner was the firm's salesman.  A new factory was built in 1906 at Sullivan and Second Street. During World War I a large collar factory was built.  W. V. Gleckner and his son Donald now operate a wholesale business in the factory building.

Hugh Crawford started his lumber mill in 1885, at a time when {page 329} general opinion held lumbering in this section was over.  The business grew and is now being operated as the Holmes Lumber Co. by three great grandsons of the founder, Norvin, Rodman and Franklin Holmes.  This firm employs an average of twenty persons.

The Belmar factory, founded in 1897 by L. M. Marble, was started in a barn.  Special machinery for manufacturing a combined coat and trouser hanger patented by Mr. Marble was made.  In 1898 the Belmar Manufacturing Co. was incorporated and a small factory completed.  From five employees then, a peak of 350 was reached at one time.  Now employing something over 100, the Belmar is managed by E. C. Johnson.

The Swayze Folding Box Co., started by Alden Swayze late in 1898 with a capital of $75 and an order for 4500 waterproof signs at $2 per hundred, has grown to be one of Canton's largest industries.  Millions of boxes for packaging nationally known products pass through Swayze's gigabtic presses each year.  Grandsons of the founder are active in the management of the plant today.

The Business Houses

Several Canton business firms started 75 or more years ago are worthy of special mention.  The oldest of these still operated by descendents of the founders is T. Burk & Co.  This business was established in 1867 as Burk, Thomas & Co. by T. Burk, E. H. Thomas and A. D. Williams.  Mr. Williams retired in 1897 and Mr. Thomas in 1903.  The business has continued under the capable management of sons of the founder, Thomas S. and Robert S. Burk.

The Rexall Store was founded by G. E. Newman and B. J. Davison in the Newman Block, now know as the Fritz building.  This stands at the corner of Lycoming and Sullivan Streets, and is the oldest business block in town.  It was built by Walter Newman upon his return from California after the '49 Gold Rush.  Mr. Newman operated the store until his death.  The present owner is William R. Most.

Michael Preston established his store on Sullivan Street in 1881.  Lee Preston has conducted the Canton branch of Preston's Inc.  James Preston manages the Mansfield branch.

Brann's Meat Market founded in 1882 by John and Thomas Brann, is now operated by William Brann.

The Canton Volunteer Fire Department is nearly 75 years old, having been organized in 1882.  First equipment consisted of two dozen leather or rubber buckets carried to fires on long poles.  In gratitude for help at a fire which destroyed Frank Mayo's barn, the Davenports and Mayos staged a show, netting $300, with which the first hand drawn hook and ladder cart and hose was purchased.  The department now has two pumpers, an equipment truck and resuscitator, portable light plant, portable pressure pump, an efficient two way radio system and other modern equipment.  They also have an $8,000 firemen's community ambulance.

History of Churches

The first church to be organized in Canton was the Baptist, in 1817-18, serving Canton and Alba.  The church in Canton, built in 1861, was partially destroyed by fire in November, 1929, rebuilt and rededicated September 28, 1930.  The Rev. George Wood is pastor.

The Church of Christ was organized September 28, 1850.  The present large brick church was dedicated March 9, 1924.  The Rev. Donald L. Gardner is pastor.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in East Canton in 1832, but {page 330} the first church in Canton was not built until 1861.  The beautiful stone church now in use was built in 1921-22.  This was partially destroyed by fire in February 1922, shortly before the dedication ceremonies.  The walls were intact but the entire interior had to be rebuilt.  The church was dedicated July 18, 1922.  the Rev. John B. Kleffel is minister.

The Methodist Church was founded in 1851.  Members still living who have been affiliated with this church 70 or more years are, Mrs. L. H. Moody, Elmira, since February 8, 1872; Mrs. Fannie Darrah, Canton, from December 30, 1883; Miss Maude Benedict and Miss Elizabeth Wolfe since March, 1886.  The sanctuary of the church was completely renovated in 1949 and dedicated in January, 1950.  the Rev. Lewis F. Bachman is Pastor.

Previous to laying of the cornerstone for the first wooden church of St. Michaels congregation on November 10, 1872, the early Catholic population was served by circuit priests.  The cornerstone for the present brick church was laid by the Rt. Rev. M. J. Hoban on July 4, 1899.  The Rev. Laurence Weniger serves both St. Michaels, Canton and St. John's, Troy.

The fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of St. James Episcopal Church was celebrated by the congregation January 24, 1954.  The present chapel was consecrated January 15, 1904, but the services had been held at various locations since 1888.  The Rev. Paul A. Phipps has served as vicar since September, 1948.

The Christian Missionary and Alliance Church was started in 1929.  A parsonage has been added to the structure.  The Rev. George W. Rawding is pastor.

A Seventh Day Adventist congregation was organized on June 7, 1936.  A stone church was dedicated May 20, 1944.  Elder L. F. Myers is pastor.

A congregation of Free Methodists has recently been established in the former home of Donald Thomas on Troy Street with Rev. M. E. Fellows as pastor.

Growth of Schools

In a little more than 75 years, Canton schools have grown from the four room brick building erected in 1870, through several enlargements of this building and the high school built in 1916 and more than doubled in size by an addition in 1924, to the million dollar high school now being constructed.

The four room school of 1870 cost $9000 complete with equipment and had four teachers.  The new high school is one of the largest and most modernly equipped in this area; about 35 teachers will be employed, also a school nurse, school doctor and several stenographers.  Accommodations are provided for 750 pupils.

The grade schools of the Tri County Joint District now employ 25 teachers, who instruct about 725 youngsters.

The first principal under whom a glass was graduated in 1873 was the Rev. Harry. C. Moyer, who was also pastor of the Methodist Church.  Supervising Principal J. T. Williammee, Jr. has found his time fully occupied with the duties of his office since coming to Canton in 1942.

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 20 MAR 2009
By Joyce M. Tice
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