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Preface by Joyce M. Tice - I am including this crime article in the business section because it has some interesting and long lasting connections. The building that Mr. Cole alias Porter and Ms. Coan alias Porter built as a store in Sylvania, became the Waldo Store, the Waldo and Soper Store and the Waldo and Mosher, Waldo and Soper , Soper and Mosher undertaking businesses. It also became the Post Office and the letters indicating that are still on it. The present post office is across the street. In more recent times the building has been used as an antique shop. It still stands. Its origins will be a surprise to those who are familiar with it and who think they know the history of one of Sylvania's best known landmarks. 




And Were Looked Upon as Good, Pious People Until Mysterious Actions Cast Suspicion Upon the Husband - Revelations Then Came Which Caused A great Sensation in That Portion of Bradford County – The Story in Detail.

[Staff Correspondence of the Telegram.]

Sylvania, Pa., Feb. 4. – This little borough lies a few miles from Troy, and its inhabitants are, as a rule, hospitable, fairly well-to-do people, who have had little of sensation to stir up their common, every-day life until the recent developments in the life of a man who made his home here for several years and lately left under a cloud, which grew larger and larger as the inhabitants became aware of their once respected citizen’s doings here and elsewhere. Last Sunday the TELEGRAM made mention that there was somewhat of a sensation here, but failed to disclose names. The facts in the case, as gleaned by one "one the spot," will make decidedly interesting reading, not only here, but in all portions of the country where the TELEGRAM circulates. The story contains matter enough to write a book from, or would furnish the material for a drama. It was a stormy, blustering day in 1883, when a man calling himself Jasper B. Porter blew into Sylvania, accompanied by a pretty young wife. He claimed to be a relative of Judge Porter, who was connected with the celebrated Beecher trial.

WAS A MAN OF EXCELLENT APPEARANCE, and the way he flashed $500 and $1000 bills around was a caution to the natives. He and his pretty wife boarded with Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Waldo for a time, and conducted themselves in such a way that they were rather looked up to as a little better than the common people. Porter gave out the he was from Washington, D. C., where he had accumulated a fortune, and that he had come to Sylvania with a view of retiring from active business pursuits on account of ill health. He finally concluded that retirement was not in his line, and later engaged in the drug business with Dr. Case, now a resident of Elmira, and a highly respected physician.

Stella Coan Joshua Cole
This partnership continued about a year, when Porter built a fine store and established himself in the general merchandise business. C. E. Waldo now owns that store, being obliged to take it in order to save $500, which he had kindly loaned Porter when he was in trouble, as will be related later. Porter then erected a very fine residence, as country residences go, and he and his attractive wife flew high and gained the confidence of the people. Porter was elected burgess, the highest office in the gift of the voters of the borough, and served in that capacity for four terms. When the new house was built, into it was moved a good outfit of furniture and a wagon load of trunks containing silverware, fine wearing apparel, etc. The house and contents were insured for $4,500, which is considered a pretty figure by those who know something about what the house cost and what was supposed to have been in it when it burned.

A FEW YEARS AFTER the house was built Porter went away one night and was met by a man from Sylvania, near Canton, with a load of trunks, which he said he was taking to Canton for a drummer. During his absence the pretty house burned, and none of the silverware was ever found in the ruins. The incident of the trunks set people to thinking, as did the fact that Porter frequently received boxes of goods sent in the name of other people in Sylvania and opened them in the presence of the men in whose name they were shipped. In those boxes would come bottles of the finest liquors, shoes, gloves and horseblankets. In every box thus received would be money; sometimes wrapped in a horseblanket; again it would be found tucked in the toe of shoe or in the finger of a glove and other outlandish hiding places. Porter, however, evidently understood his business, for he never failed to unearth the hidden treasure. The mysterious actions of the part of Porter caused many people to lose confidence in him; but his professed piousness left him many friends who were loth to believe any wrong of him. However, these same persons have now come to the conclusion that he was a "fence" or receiver of stolen goods and be glad that the community is well rid of him. One evening a man, whom it has since been learned was a detective from Scranton, Pa., came to Sylvania and remained all night with Mr. Porter, and the following day, after borrowing $500 from C. E. Waldo, which he stated he wanted for the purpose of paying a note.

HE HAD SIGNED WITH A MAN, Porter left with his "guest" from Scranton. He took, in addition to the $500, about as much more of his own money, and came home strapped. He repeated the plausible story of the note affair, and the matter was finally partially forgotten. A short time after Mr. Waldo purchased Porter’s store, he began to miss money from his cash drawer, and decided to watch for the thief. He did so and caught Porter tapping the till. The latter was taken before a justice of the peace and made a written confession of the robbery and repaid a portion of the money. Mr. Waldo has the confession in lieu of the balance. Soon after this Porter and his wife left the place, taking a circuitous route to get out to avoid being seen by people they knew. And now came further developments. A detective named Williams, of Scranton, came to Sylvania, the other day, looking for Mr. Porter and his wife. In his inside pocket the detective carried a package of sweet scented letters which had been written by Mrs. Porter to a merchant in Nanticoke, Pa. By means of these letters and with the connivance of her alleged husband, "General Stella," as she called herself, had succeeded in pulling the old merchant’s leg for a goodly supply of long green. The merchant was interested in Spiritualism and she had him on the string by leading him to believe she had the spirits locating a gold mine in California in which the merchant was to have a controlling interest. The detective divulged, also, the fact that Porter has a wife living in the coal regions, whom he deserted a long time ago, and that when he went to pay "that note" he went under arrest for nonsupport, and that is what caused him to drop his bundle on that trip. The detective said that after his return to Sylvania, Porter often sent his first

AND LEGAL WIFE boxes of provisions and dry goods, which Mr. Waldo now believes were stolen from his store, as Porter only gave up one key to the front door of the store when Waldo purchased it from him, claiming to have lost the other. The letters Mrs. Porter, who by the way, was Miss Stella Coan, of Bloomville, Delaware County, N. Y., wrote to the Nanticoke merchant, besides containing lots of information regarding the conduct of the "spirits" were couched in the most endearing terms of the "dear George" order. Porter, while in South America, had a letter written by a hotel clerk to his first wife notifying her that he was dead but the game evidently did not work. A Sylvania man met Porter and "General Stella" in Jersey City soon after they left Pennsylvania, but they were not at that time in a mood for recognizing friends from this section of the country. The revelations in the double life led by this couple have caused no end of talk, and much surprise, especially as to the part taken by Mrs. Porter in her spiritualist séances. She was looked up to as a model of propriety, but the idol is now fallen and shattered, and there are many here who can now see where many mysterious actions in the past might have been used as a pointer toward turning on the search-light earlier in the game. In the latest history of Bradford county the information I given that Jasper B. Porter was born in Rising Sun, Cecil county, Md., June 20, 1849, and that on account of ill health he had traveled extensively. The history doesn’t go into the details of his past as is usually the case in biographical sketches in these histories. His real name is said to be Joshua Cole. Where he and his pretty, accomplished and scheming companion now are is what is bothering the detectives, who could use them both to good advantage so far as law and order are concerned. Detective Williams left Sylvania to go to New Jersey to see if he can find them.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 14 FEB 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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