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Early History of Canton [Part Two] - See also Another article from Mr. Bullock
As Related By Charles E. Bullock

This is one of a series of historical articles written for The Sentinel by Charles E. Bullock.
Time:  A year following Civil War, somewhere from 1866 to 1870.

Let us take a walk through what was then the business section of Canton, the Canton of Canton Corners emerging into the Canton of today.  We will start at the corner where Sullivan Street opens into the “Square” so called, and wind our way eastward.  What buildings do we find and who are the people selling commodities and services to the public?  In front of each store are one or two hitching posts, to which the horses of customers are tied.  In rainy times each hitching post has on the streetward side, a puddle of water.  The favorite diversion of the boys of the time is to bestride those posts and leap to the firm ground on the far side of the puddle.

In the building at the southeast corner of Sullivan Street and the Square are located Mix and Hooper, Merchant Tailors.  Hohn S. Mix and John A. Hooper are the proprietors.  Upon the second floor Rebecca Thompson, spinster, sells bonnets, and hats to her feminine customers.  Next is the general store of Abner Doty, well regarded in the community, who after a destructive fire removed to Burlingame, Kansas, where he operated a similar business.  Next comes the general store of Jesse E. Bullock, who soon retired from business and for many years Justice of the Peace in Canton.  In part of the same building Horace Tuttle conducted a lunch room.  Mrs. Tuttle was a famous cook and assisted Mr. Tuttle in the success ha afterward made as landlord of the American House on the same site, and then of the Canton House, on Troy street.

Next were several vacant lots extending to the building occupied by A. V. Trout as a restaurant, adjoining which was a general store operated by James O. Randall.  One Christmas Eve during this period a fire, originating in the Rebecca Thompson Millinery Shop, swept the building named, except the Trout and Randall structures.  For many years this section was not rebuilt save for a hemlock shanty where Abner Doty conducted business.  This covers all of the business section on the south side of the Square, east of Sullivan Street.

Dartt as a hardware store, Aaron Spaulding and Benjamin S. Dartt conducting the business.  In the west half of the building John VanDyke has a grocery store.  On the second floor Dr. Churchill, dentist, has offices on the west side, and the Good Templars have rooms on the east side.  Now westward from this building the space occupied until the Central Hotel is reached.

The Packard Hotel afterwards replaced this hotel.  Next comes the driveway to the hotel in the rear, and vacant lots until a building at the corner of Troy street is reached.  This is occupied by White and Taber, grocers, and John Turner’s shoe store where William Hamilton was expert boot maker.

On the west side of the Square is a small building occupied by the Post Office where Edwin Newman is Postmaster, and J. K. Seems, jeweler, has a shop in the same building.  There are also here a building occupied by Joseph Wright as a tintype and photograph gallery, and by T. Beardsley, grocer.  In the Newman block on the southwest corner of Sullivan and Lycoming streets is a general store operated by Walter and Ezekiel Newman.  There are no other business buildings on Lycoming Street.

On Sullivan Street is a shoe shop operated by James G. Scudder and a number of blacksmith and wagon shops.  On the east side of Troy Street is a harness shop operated by Charles A. Krise, and on the west side of Troy Street, a furniture repair shop operated by a man by the name of Taylor.  At the southeast of Troy and Union Streets is a furniture store and repair shop.  Horatio B. Parsons is the proprietor.

The Canton Railroad Station devoted to both passengers and freight is on the east side of the railroad tracks, at or near the point where the Robert Krise coal yard is now located.  Near the railroad station stood the Keystone Hotel and a brick drug store and Doctors office, owned by Dr. W. S. Baker.

Second Article

Were the Canton of this time to have a Chamber of Commerce, its membership would be small, for there were very few people in business.  The character of the goods and services supplied at the time mentioned was very different from those in demand at the present time.  Men’s clothing “ready to wear” was not manufactured or dealt in to a great extent.  Nearly every house-wife could make the garments of her men folks, as well as her own and the garments of her children.  Men who required clothing more skillfully made, patronized the tailor shops.  Boots and shoes were made by the local shoemaker.  Groceries were bought in bulk, little or nothing in the way of provisions came in pasteboard cartons.  Wood was used exclusively as fuel, except by blacksmiths.  Wood ashes were kept in leaches where lye was made each year and used in the manufacture of soft soap, which met the family requirements in that line.  Every many who shaved was his own barber, and many men did not shave at all.  Fresh meat was a luxury, obtainable as a meat wagon came around.  Many people had a barrel of salt pork and corned beef for winter use.  Wagons and buggies were made by the local wagon maker.  It was the usual thing for each family to keep its own cow, which supplied the family needs in the way of milk an butter.  Every well equipped blacksmith shop had a frame where oxen could be lifted and shod.

The business activities of Canton were not confined to the Square and streets nearby.  The tannery, operated by Thomas Howard, whose wife was a sister of H. B. Parsons, was located on Mill Creek, just east of Center Street.  Previously the tannery on Union Street, where it crosses Lycoming Street, near the sand-bank, had been operated by a man named Bullock.  This building in the rear of the Landon property is standing today.

East of Troy street on Mill Creek was a foundry operated by Mark Thompson and John Kucher.  The Rockwell Mill, erected and operated by Elias Rockwell had always run by water power, but in the sixties a steam boiler and engine were installed and it was advertised as the Canton Steam Mills.  The proprietors were John Bailey, Nicholas VanNamee, and John E. Rockwell.  Messrs Bailey and Rockwell afterwards removed to California but Mr. Rockwell after a number of years, returned to Canton.

Wagon shops flourished at this time, one owned by George Ketchem on Troy street and the other by Walter Leavitt on Sullivan street.  A woolen mill on the Pond Hill road was operated by Roswell D. Hazelton, His son, Oscar Hazelton and Jacob Hartran afterwards operated the woolen mill and saw mill adjacent.

Canton Borough

A petition for the incorporation of the Borough of Canton was approved by the Grand Jury at Towanda September 3, 1856, and approved by the Court of Quarter Sessions December 11, 1860.  The first meeting of the Borough Council was held May 26, 1864.  A special act of the legislature February 19, 1868, legalized the incorporation.  The first borough election was held May 23, 1864, and resulted in the election of the following officials:  John S. Mix, Burgess; Herman Townsend, Edward W. Bolwell, Daniel Wilcox, John A. Hooper and H. T. Beardsley, Councilmen; John VanDyke and Thomas Bennett Justices of the Peace; Orrin Brown, constable; Milton H. Case, assessor; Walter S. Newman, James O. Randall and Nathan Bristol, auditors; Horatio B. Parsons, Judge of Elections; John H. Hazelton and Daniel S. Adamy, Inspectors of Election; Charles Stockwell and James G. Scudder, Overseers of the Poor; Abner Doty, H. N. Williams, John W. Newell, Judson Dann, J. K. Seems and Charles A. Krise, School Directors.  At an early meeting of the Council the following scale of wages was adopted.  Man, team and wagon, 10 hours $3.00; Ox team, man and wagon, $2.50; man, $1.00 per day.  The first auditors report showed $138.62 received, and that $91.75 had been expended during the first year.

Third Article

Streets and Roads

Canton was built following a plan made in 1856 by O. W. D. for Kingsburey, Newman & Co.  This plan was pretty closely followed except that a street marked to be opened where the Main Street Cemetery now is, was never opened.  At the time of which we write, there were no buildings east of Minnequa Avenue and north of Main Street was a large pasture lot owned by Charles Stockwell.  Center Street extended no further north than Center Street hill.  The only wagon road to Minnequa Springs was the cross road from the Troy road, near the Leahy farm.  The road to Beech Flats, which is north of the lad had not been opened.  The land north of the lake, nearly to the borough line was covered by the original forest.


There were three churches – the Disciples, Presbyterian and Baptist.  The pastors at this time were as follows:  of the Disciple Church, the Rev. Silas M. Shepherd, a scholar who had the rare distinction of having visited the Holy Land.  Of the Presbyterian, the Rev. John Caldwell, a native of Scotland.  Of the Baptist, the Rev. Ebenezer Loomis.  Mr. Loomis was a native of New England and a man of considerable literary attainments.  He contributed largely both of money and labor to the erection of his church in Canton.  Without the aid of the farming community outside of Canton, the three churches could hardly have been maintained.


There were four doctors in Canton; Dr. Holmes, Dr. Baker, Dr. James Davison and Dr. Truman H. Morse.  Dr. Holmes who was the father of the late Clay W. Holmes, afterwards removed to Elmira.  Dr. Baker had a drug store near the Keystone Hotel.  He later moved to Topeka, Kansas.  Dr. Morse was a surgeon in the Civil War.  It was not uncommon for doctors in these days to use saddle horses in visiting their patients, or in riding on a two wheel vehicle called a sulky.


There was the Keystone Hotel close by the passenger station on Troy street on land now occupied by the Swayze factory.  The Central Hotel where the Packard Hotel now stands, and the American Hotel on the south side of the Square.  All of these had a license to sell intoxicating beverages, in which they did a flourishing business.

Livery Stables

In proportion to its population, Canton had more than the usual equipment in its livery stables, since it had the only north and south through railroad between central New York and Harrisburgh, Baltimore and Washington.  The Lehigh Valley railroad which passes through Towanda on the east had not yet been constructed, nor had the New York Central constructed its line through the Pine Creek Gorge on the west.  During the Civil War numerous “Soldier Trains” were operated through Canton, and Canton was a convenient point for men residing east or west to take the train or leave it on returning home.  This fact gave business to Canton’s eating houses and livery stables.

Stage Lines

A daily stage line was operated to Towanda on the east and to Morris on the west.  During the Civil War the Towanda line was operated with Concord Coaches and four horse teams, and one of the morning sights after the arrival of the train from the south was the departure of the Concord Coach with its complement of passengers and its four horses rarin’ to go.

Fourth Article

Bear’s Den

Just west of Canton, alongside the railroad tracks, is a small cave known as the “Bears Den.”  It is large enough to shelter one caught out in a thunder storm, but not large enough to be dignified as a cavern.  Tradition has it that one Spery Baker once explored its recesses, and fearing that some person following his example might be imprisoned within its walls and be unable to extricate himself, closed the entrance with a large stone.  Any small boy whose curiosity has let him to verify this with a lighted candle attached to a long pole will assure you that young Baker did a very thorough job.

Cedar Ledge Rocks

This ledge of rocks about a mile south west of Canton takes its name from the few scrubby cedar trees which grow on top of the ledge.  Most of them have been removed, and only a few cedar bushes which overhang the ledge remain.  The trees on the ledge are mostly oak trees.  Laurel bushes, in species of dry moss and a few huckleberries are to be found there.  Upon the south side of the ledge is a gap which has been named “The Devil’s Staircase.”  Near this, underneath on the bottom of the overhanging rocks may be seen the impression of the trunk of a tree.  This was a favorite walk from Lake Nephawin, a trail having been marked through the woods.

Sol Bunnell

During the Civil War, and shortly thereafter, a man of some importance in Canton was Sol Bunnell.  He was the proprietor of the line of stage coaches which operated to Towanda, and of the largest livery stable in town, having many men in his employ.  He was a man of energy, and somewhat fastidious in his dress and personal appearance.  The patrons of the bars of the various hotels were not at all times quiet in demeanor, and when the barkeepers required a bouncer, they would send for Sol Bunnell.  His method was to first knock a few of the boisterous ones down, and if there was any arguing to be done, to do it afterwards.  Usually the crowd fled, and quiet reigned supreme.

Old Man Terry

The Keystone Hotel had a “character” in the person of a gray haired man, the father-in-law of Delos Chase, the proprietor, and this old man everyone in Canton came to know.  Much of the time he was dressed in a spotless white suit, wore a stovepipe hat and carried a cane.  A favorite diversion of his was to get thirty or forty boys, line them up in single file and march them up the street and then march them down again.  He was very talkative, and new everybody and everybody knew him.  His usual words at parting were, “Well there is a good deal about everything” and these words of old Terry came to be repeated everywhere by everybody.


Not everybody who lived in Canton has been fortunate enough to live here all his life.  Not even a memory remains of some who called Canton home for a time, but three families residing near Canton left more than a memory – they left growing apple trees.  There is the Bennett place; you go up the hill on the Myron Lewis farm, at the west end of South Main Street, and just before you reach the woods, you come to it; there you find a small orchard of apple trees.  Had you visited this spot a few years ago, you would have found the stone foundation of a house.  Then, going thru the woods to the west, another small orchard bearing the same kind of fruit as on the Bennett place.  This is the Gillett place, whose owner named Gillett’s Pond, now Lake Nephawin.  Here is, or has been another stone foundation of a house.  Here is also a good spring of water and a walnut tree, probably set out by the owner of the house.  It is said that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was a visitor of this family, and that they accompanied him to the west.  The same kind of apple trees will be found on the Fred Glockler farm, near Cedar Ledge.

Pickett Hill

Not “Peaked” hill is the hill lying between the Square portion of Main Street and the railroad track.  It is a deposit of sand and gravel left by some glacier in the remote past.  It is named from a picket fence on its town side by which it was partially enclosed.  On its summit was a lofty pine Liberty pole surmounted by a wooden ball.  It was dedicated one Fourth of July with appropriate ceremonies.  One of the older residents of Canton who was present, states that at the dedication, the hill and its approaches was black with people.  A cannon salute was fired from Picket Hill when the Lady Washington drew the first passenger train through Canton.

Wild Pigeons

The pigeons came every spring when the winter snows had disappeared from the woods.  They came sometimes in vast flocks whose shadows darkened the ground like a huge cloud, or broken in small flocks which passed constantly over head for days at a time.  They flew just over the tree tops, and sometimes alighted to feed on the beechnuts and other edible things in the woods, but hunters found it difficult to approach them, as they always seemed to have some of the flock on guard.  One year they rested in the Rock Run woods, and many were killed.  This bird is extinct.


The transition from wood to coal as a fuel was not easily or quickly made.  Soft coal was used only by blacksmiths, and the first coal burning stoves were not well adapted for keeping fire, or their use was not well understood.  Wood and not coal was used in locomotives on the railroad, and a large pile of wood was racked up near the track at every railroad station.

The Railroad

It was called the Elmira & Williamsport Railroad, and was built through Canton in about the year 1854.  It had previously been built to Ralston, with wooden rails, topped with strap iron, to reach the iron furnaces there.  At the time of which we write the trains were short and equipped with had brakes.  The locomotives and cars were short and light as compared with the heavy rolling stock of today.  The rails were not joined together with plates bolted to their sides as at present, but were held in place by plates underneath spiked to the wooden ties.  Trains often left the rails at that time, and accidents were frequent.  Passenger trains frequently ran past the station through failure of the hand brakes to bring them to a stop.  The first passenger locomotive upon this railroad was named “Lady Washington.”

Rope Walks

One summer day handbills were distributed throughout the town stating that a rope walk would be given on the afternoon in the near future.  On the day set, a considerable crowd had gathered and found that a rope had been stretched from the Central Hotel to a building on the other side of the Square.  A man in tights, balancing himself with a long pole, delighted the crowd by walking back and forth upon the rope, at one time wheeling a wheel barrow before him.  About two weeks later another rope walker was advertised, and a still greater crowd was present to witness the event, but they found no preparations had been made for a rope walk.  While the crowd was speculating a reason for this failure, a man seated in a buggy, and driving a spanking team, drove into the square.  Putting down the top of his buggy, he displayed a large case of jewelry, and began to harangue the crowd in the manner of a barker at a side show.  To draw the people nearer to him, he began scattering coins in the street, for which there was quickly a great scramble.  He stated that for advertising purposes he was about to give away his jewelry, but only to people who had sufficient money to prove they would be future customers.  First he gave jewelry valued at a quarter.  Upon payment of this amount he returned each customer his money; then the amounts were raised to a half dollar – one dollar – five dollars and finally ten dollars.  The people passed up their money so rapidly that he had difficulty in returning it to them as promptly as it came into his hands, and at last became much in arrears in returning the five and ten dollar bills handed him.  When he had gathered in a large sum, he whipped his horses and disappeared, and was never seen in Canton again.  After his hurried departure, numerous residents, including notable tight-wads found themselves parted from their money and in possession of worthless trinkets.

Sixth Article


A Mr. Greenman was the first lawyer in Canton.  He lived in the McClelland house on the west side of Troy Street, near the Square.  A tavern kept by Mr. Spaulding was on the opposite side of the street, and Mr. Greenman was one of the best patrons at the bar.  He had been drinking heavily and one day drew a knife and slashed his throat from ear to ear.  Mr. Spaulding who had been waiting on him was so overcome by the spectacle that he dropped dead.  Greenman also died and there were two dead bodies on the bar room floor.  This was Canton’s sensation for many a day.  At about the same time Milton H. Case was practicing law in Canton.  He afterward removed to Topeka, Kansas, and was at one time elected Mayor of the city.  Henry M. Williams practiced law in Canton for many years.  The article in the Sentinel advocating a new county as proposed by Peter Herdic, was written by a member of the Bradford County Bar.

Mr. P. M.

In the day of quill pens and abbreviations, James Metler was Postmaster of Canton.  He was a staunch Democrat and had been appointed during Buchanan’s administration.  The Post-Office was in one corner of a grocery store, and after he had served for several weeks, he approached the setters around the stove with a package of letters.  “Does anybody around the stove know,” he said, “who there is that goes by the name of P.M.?  I have a lot of letters here addressed to Mr. P.M., which have not been called for, and I cannot think of any person with those initials.”  He was enlightened that P.M. stood for Postmaster and that the person intended was none other than himself, in his official capacity, his story was published in the Editor’s Drawer of Harper’s Magazine in the early seventies, and is believed to be the first time that the word “Canton, Pennsylvania” appeared in a metropolitan periodical of national circulation.

Canton Has a Cockfight

One day in summer the morning south bound train brought a crowd of men and boys to Canton.  They brought with them two boxes, each containing a number of roosters.  Among the men was Dan Nobel, Elmira’s bad man, and the leader of the underworld in that city.  Their presence and their dealings were soon known throughout the town.  Everyone agreed something should be done but just what no one knew.  Some suggested an injunction, but this meant a trip to Towanda, and when the fifty two mile round trip had been made, the fight would have been an accomplished fact.  Some thought the whole crowd should be arrested, but many difficulties would attend this plan.  The borough lock-up was designed for only one prisoner at a time, and the last prisoner it had contained had kicked his way out and made his escape.  The crowd might refuse to be arrested, and both Canton’s High Constable and Constable might not succeed in subduing them.  The fight finally took place in a small piece of woods just west of the Lake road, and the crowd returned to Elmira, it was peaceable and orderly and Canton was not apparently contaminated by its presence.  When compared with the drunkenness and with the fighting on Fourth of July and circus days of that time in Canton, it was like a Sunday School picnic.


Given a block of primeval forest containing a mineral spring, close by a railroad track and the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Railroad and Peter Herdic did the rest.  He was a man of small learning but of great business acumen and resourcefulness.  He wielded the wand and a great summer hotel assumed proportions, filled to capacity during the summer season.  Its presence within a mile or two of Canton meant much to the growth of the town.  Herdic constructed a gas plant, piped water from a mountain stream we call Mill Creek to Minnequa, and provided a year round revenue by extending mains to the streets of Canton.  Farmers found at Minnequa a market for their butter, their eggs, their garden produce; Canton’s young men and women found employment, and the avenue leading to employment in distant places, Herdic brought to Minnequa persons of national reputation; Edwin L. Davenport, the tragedian; Frank Mayo, the actor, Grace Greenwood, the author; Andrew G. Curtain, War Governor of Pennsylvania; Alex McClure, Editor of the Philadelphia Record, and many other notables.  City visitors became acquainted with the charms of our Northern Pennsylvania hills and many became permanent residents here.  Passengers on the northbound and southbound Niagara express, meeting at Minnequa soon afternoon, took dinner there.  The volume of business of Canton Merchants was substantially increased by the patronage of the guests at Minnequa.  Livery stables did a great business in transporting city visitors to points of interest about Canton, and many farmers equipped themselves with canopy-top wagons to be used for this purpose.  Gillett’s Pond ceased to be a pond and was called Lake Nephawin, the name having been suggested by Grace Greenwood when she visited it.  Canton had visions in those days of a greater growth that it ever attained, and Minnequa was always present in these visions.  A streetcar line from Minnequa to Lake Nephawin not considered altogether improbably, hence the name Minnequa Avenue, for one of our streets.  It had previously been called Division Street.

Its residents were potent with the borough council, and Canton Township Commissioners.  The Borough Council changed its name and the Commissioners opened the road to connect with Minnequa Avenue.  The residents of the Avenue raised a sum of money which was used in the construction of a bridge to span Mill Creek and to excavate a road through Parsons’ Hill, but funds proved short for this last undertaking, and Center Street became the real avenue to Minnequa.  It was because of Minnequa that the Davenports and Mayos came to reside here.  Francis S. Elliott was a prominent figure in Canton, and after the really great actor, Edwin Davenport, with his family, had made several visits to Minnequa, he sought to establish himself in a country home here, and Mr. Elliott sold him his residence on Troy Street, and built for himself another residence which he afterwards sold to Fanny Davenport, famed actress.  This is now owned by Casper Weis.  Mr. Davenport when on various tours throughout the country frequently wrote letters to the Canton Sentinel which were published in that paper.  Frank Mayo presented his successful play “Davy Crockett” in the Citizens Hall for the benefit of the Canton Fire Co., as an acknowledgement of the efforts of the Fire Co. towards extinguishing a fire which destroyed one of Mr. Mayo’s buildings.

Mr. Herdic’s most ambitious effort for his Minnequa was his attempt to make it the county seat on a new county, to be formed from the western part of Bradford County and the eastern part of Tioga County.  The argument for such a county seat was the remoteness of these sections from both Towanda and Wellsboro, the county seats.  It was impossible to reach Towanda by public conveyance other than by rail and return home the same day, and the distance was too great ordinarily with a horse drawn vehicle.  By rail one hundred and sixty miles must be traversed, and the time from 9:00 A.M. until midnight spent on the journey.  This also applied to a trip to Wellsboro, the people of Canton were divided upon the proposition; those opposing it feared that the taxation necessary to provide a court-house and public offices would be ruinous.  Luther J. Andress of Alba presented Mr. Herdic’s views in communications printed in the Sentinel, and because a candidate for election to the State Legislature.  Major Benjamin S. Dartt of Canton, Bradford County’s Representative in the Legislature, opposed the proposition.  As Mr. Herdic had the reputation of obtaining whatever legislation at Harrisburg he wanted, there was real apprehension on both in Towanda and Wellsboro that he might succeed.  It is now needless to say that he failed at his attempt.

Eighth Article

Foot Races

Crowds were usual in Canton at Fourth of July celebrations and on circus days, but a crowd of a different kind was attracted here when CANTON HAD A FAIR AND RACE TRACK.  During the first years the mines at Fall-Brook, Morris Run, Barclay and McIntyre were in full operation.  The miners were for the most part of Scotch ancestry.  Foot racing was a popular sport for them.  Morris had a champion runner in person of William Steel; McIntyre had Robert Carmichael.  They ran ten miles on the Canton Fair Grounds, viewed by crowds from these mining centers.  It was on a day of one of these races that a fight between Sam Keltz and Jack Custy took place.  They pummeled one another from the Canton House on Troy Street, where it started, to the Public Square, but the fight was never fought to a finish nor was it stopped by the borough authorities.  One man stopped it.  He was George A. Gurnsey, Banker.  When the fighting men and the surrounding crowd reached the Square, he stood, hose in hand, sprinkling the street.  He at once turned the water upon the fighters, and the crowd vanished and the fighting ceased.  A few, irritated by the wetting started to attack him, but only an elderly man, placidly engaged in laying the dust in front of the bank, and desisted; thus the incident was closed.

Taverns and Saloons

The first Tavern was the Red Tavern.  It stood on the ground now occupied by Burk & Thomas stores.  A short time later another was located on Troy street where the Canton House stood.  Both of these were destroyed by fire.  At the time of which we write, there were three hotels in Canton; the Keystone Hotel at the Railroad Station, The Central Hotel, replaced by the Packard House, the American Hotel on the south side of the Square, succeeded by the Canton House on Troy street.  They sold hard liquor, and a little ale and wine; lager beer was unknown, but it gradually came into use.  There was much drunkenness, and it was usual to see a drunken man zigzagging his way from bar to bar.  Bar-room brawls were frequent.  Not many years afterwards there were many places licensed to sell liquor or beer in Canton; the three hotels already mentioned and two saloons and two bottling establishments provided dealers and public with either Blue Top or Red Top beer, those names being adopted so that the purchaser would make no mistake in his brand.  There were also two hotels with licensed bars at Alba, Grover, Leroy and Ogdensburg, licenses being granted where the need for a place for the lodging and entertainment of the travelling public could be shown.  When Prohibition came, all of these hotels, save in Canton, went out of business, and one of these in Canton was found sufficient.

Ninth Article


After the incorporation of Canton Borough the first meeting of the School Directors was held in June of that year.  The members of the Board were J. K. Seems, Judson Dann, Charles A. Krise, H. W. Doty and John H. Newell.  Judson Dann was elected President and H. W. Williams, Secretary.  The Board found themselves in possession of a two story frame school building on the south side of Union Street where the grade school building now stands.  This building was equipped with home made desks and two large wood stoves.  The desks showed the result of much wood carving by the pupils, and the building was in great need of repairs and paint.  As a township school where had been two months summer school and three months winter school, and terms of this length were continued for many years.  The first teachers of the summer school were Philah Griffen (Mrs. George Bristol and Agusta Wilcox (Mrs. Henry Warren).  A man equipped with both muscle and book learning was required for the winter term when the Ikarger boys attended school.  John Hazelton was employed for the upper grades and Augusta Wilcox for the lower grade.  The salaries for the summer school were $10.50 per month.  For the winter school Mr. Hazelton received $31.00 per month and Miss Wilcox $16.00 per month, the former to board himself, the latter to board among the patrons of the school.  The custom of boarding with parents of the pupils attending school was continued in Canton for several years thereafter.  The school teachers at that time believed in the injunction “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”  The women teachers usually carried a ruler to be applied to the extended palm of the child.  The male teachers carried a hickory rod.  When a boy was punished, and this was not infrequent, he was called to the platform, and punishment was inflicted in the presence of the whole school.  In the next few years Canton began to grow, and new families were added to its population.  The schools became crowded, and the need of more school room was felt.  The question of enlarging the school building and giving it needed repairs was considered by the board.  It was found that some $2500.00 would need to be expended if this were done.  It was then decided to erect a new four room brick school building.  This was constructed in 1869, at a cost of $9000.00, including the necessary equipment.  There was much opposition to its construction, it being argued that the necessary taxes would be so high that Canton would lose a considerable portion of its population, they being driven to locations where taxes were not so high.  The names of the school board serving when the new building was constructed were; Orrin Brown, James Davison, B. S. Dartt, John A. Hooper, E. L. Manley, and H. N. Williams.  After the new building was erected, teachers were paid larger salaries and the school term lengthened to eight or nine months, and no summer school was held.

Tenth Article

Bradford County Butter

Fifty years ago every farm was a factory and there was not any unemployment.  The product was butter.  At first it was just butter but later the quality was so good that it came to be known in the city market as Bradford County Butter.  Many a farmer owed his prosperity to the skill of his wife in producing this article.  For a time after the Civil War the best market for butter was in the neighboring village of Troy.  Farmers drove through Canton to carry their butter to Troy and to purchase there in part their year’s requirements of dry goods and groceries.  Canton merchants had no facilities for handling butter and had established no market for it in the larger cities and in mining regions.  About 1870 Ted Burk, Herrick Thomas and Ansel Williams, all clerks in Troy, came to Canton and started a general store under the name Burk, Thomas and Company.  They understood the requirements of a butter market, and how to conduct a general store.  Other stores of a similar character were established here.  Farmers trade came to Canton, and this fact decided Canton’s growth.

Cooper Shops

Extinct as the wild pigeon and disused as the candle snuffer and the household bellows used for energizing reluctant wood fires is the cooper shop where tubs and firkins for containing butter were made.  Red oak staves were planed with draeing knives and bound together with split hickory hoops.  Benjamin N. Harding operated such a shop on Sullivan Street, employing several men.  Many persons visited the shop, to get shavings for kindling fires; these were given away.  The late Almeron Burt conducted a similar establishment on Troy Street.


Note that the first settlers who came to Canton Township from 1794 to 1796 made their location on ground convenient to small streams of water, viz. – Jonas Gere on the headwaters of Towanda Creek.  Ezra Spalding at Cedar Ledge near Taber Creek.  Jonathan Prosser in Canton Borough were C. B. Williams shop now stands near Union Creek, John Grantier on the same creek just north of Lycoming Street, Samuel Griffin near the old fair grounds on Mill Creek, and Zepheniah Rogers near Minnequa Creek, where it flows into their domestic animals and for cooling milk, butter and fresh meat in hot weather.  No where in this region could a better site for a village be found than in the broad extent of level land which Canton now occupies, nor is there a like extent of territory where natural streams afford so great a supply of water, there being no less than seven considerable streams within the limits of Canton Borough.  These early residents made use of these streams for the most part, in times of drought, when wells went dry.  Horses had to be led and cattle had to be driven to these streams, and residents not fortunate enough to have a never failing well, hauled water from these streams, or carried water from some neighbor’s well which had not gone dry.  The roofs of most houses were equipped with eave spouting and water gathered in barrels.  Many houses had cisterns which received rain water.  Where L. G. Thomas store now stands was a well where nearby residents obtained water.  Water from Mill Creek was piped to a few houses in wooden pipes.  At one time the Borough Council considered the matter of obtaining a public supply from Mill Creek, and estimates of the cost were obtained but no action taken.

Eleventh Article

Tailor Shops

There were two tailor shops for men’s clothing in Canton – those of Fred Black and John B. Shakespeare.  The latter came to Canton in 1869 and was a suffer in the Xmas Eve fire of which mentioned has been made.  Fred Black came twenty years earlier in 1849.  Some years ago his experience were printed in the Sentinel.  There were only two stores in town at that time, one kept by Walter and Ezekial Newman the other by Mr. Rathbone.  After moving into the house he had rented, he went down to Newman’s store and asked for a bag of flour.  The late Ezekial Newman who waited on Mr. Black was astonished at the request.  “We don’t keep four, “ said he, “you must get some wheat and take it to the grist mill.”  Then he directs him to Mr. Rathbone’s place where he purchases some wheat, loaded it on a wheelbarrow and had it converted into flour at Rockwell’s Mill.

A day or two later he wanted some meat and asked for it at Newman’s store.  They told him they didn’t have meat for sale but there was a chunk in the back room that he might have.  Mr. Black examined it and said he would take three or four pounds.  They refused to cut it, but said he might have the whole for three cents a pound.  It weighed fifty pounds, and as he had no ice, not even a cellar, his only way of keeping it fresh for a few days was by tying it to the end of a rope and lowering it down a well, almost to the water line.

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 29 JAN 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice