|We now have a local history museum in Mansfield representing the area
in and near Manfield.
Visit the History Center on Main Street at 83 North Main Street. We also have a locaton at 61 North Main Street.
Regular hours are noon to 3 T, W Th or by appointment.
by George A. Retan, Ph.D.
Pictures Collected by Chester P. Bailey
Published by The Council of Mansfield Borough 1956
Copyright Mansfield Advertiser 1957
Reprinted on Tri-Counties Site by permission of Chester P. Bailey, former owner of Mansfield Advertiser
II. THE FIRST QUARTER CENTURY 1857-1882
This arbitrary division of the first twenty-five years has been made because, as was mentioned, the files of the Mansfield Advertiser begin in 1873.
The first important event, coming almost as soon as the Borough was organized, was the burning of the Mansfield Classical Seminary in April. This building had been completed only in time for the current year and was still unpaid for. Nevertheless, plans were at once made for its rebuilding and considerable sums of money were raised and pledged.
The first task confronting the new Council was to raise money for Borough and highway expenses. A levy was made of ½ cent on the dollar for Borough expenses and 1c for highways. The Borough levy raised $54.22. The first ordinance was one prohibiting horses, cattle, sheep, hogs and geese from running loose in the streets. In time a "Pound" was set up and a "Pound Master" appointed. In the "Pound" were placed all such animals held for their owners who could get them on payment of a set fee. Milch cows were exempted from the provisions of this ordinance from sunrise to nine P. M., April 1st to December 1st.
In working out Borough Taxes a man received one dollar for ten hours work, a man and team $2.50, a yoke of oxen 75c. An ordinance in 1862 prohibited the piling of waste in the streets, hitching horses or cattle to shade trees, shooting fire crackers or guns, horse racing, and driving or leading horses or cattle on the sidewalks. People in those days were no better than in the present as in 1860 Phelps and Lilly were prosecuted for running a gambling house.
Many of the early ordinances and motions passed had to do with ordering sidewalks built or kept in repair. Frequently the Borough had to do this and then collect from the property owners. It was not until 1860 that any crosswalks were built by the Borough.
The Civil War brought financial troubles. The Borough was authorized by state law to pay a bounty to recruits. This was usually $100.00, but in 1864 five recruits received $300.00 each. At first the money was advanced by citizens who were given script to be redeemed later. Special tax levies were made; seven cents on the dollar in 1864; six cents in 1865 and 1866, and $1500.00 in bonds were issued in 1865. The seven cent levy raised over $1500.00.
Evidence that there was much building going on is found in the establishment of new streets. Cherry Street, now Center Street was opened. The name was later changed after the building of the Grand Central Hotel. Railroad Street, including what is now East Main, was opened; the present Extension Street was ordered opened by the County Court and a bridge across Corey Creek on this street was paid for partly by the Borough and partly by Public subscription in 1870; a street called Prospect Street, the present St. James Street, was authorized. In 1868 E. P. Deane was hired to lay out and establish the streets and corners. This map does not seem to be in existence, but the map of 1875
Probably followed the Deane map, as did the various lot maps used in selling lots. In 1872 the new Methodist Church was built. In 1870 the St. James Church was built on a large lot donated by Dr. Morris. In a later chapter are listed some of the houses built at this time. In 1869 Mart King started his Furniture Factory.
In 1872 a small-pox scare led the Council to order all unvaccinated persons in the Borough to be vaccinated and fixed the charge at 20c per person. A pest house was also provided in case of need—fortunately unneeded.
An examination of the minutes discloses that at each election there was an almost complete turnover in all Borough offices. Election was held annually in January until 1869. In 1869 and 1870 it was in October. In 1872 it was in January and in 1873 in February. Mart King was perhaps the most persistent office holder in this period. He.
was apt to be Secretary to the Council if he was not Burgess. As Burgess he sometimes doubled as Secretary. Henry Allen was one of the most persistent in presenting bills for services rendered, sometimes a year or more late. Although the meetings of the Council were held in homes or offices, the Council at one time bought a lamp, and at another time, a set of chairs for their use. Almost half the meetings were adjourned for lack of a quorum. The minutes do not give any clue to the frequent changes; it would be interesting to know what local issues were at stake
.In 1873, the Mansfield Advertiser was started by O. D. Goodenough, who had formerly had a paper in Towanda. There had been papers here earlier, as previously mentioned, but the Advertiser has continued with but short interruptions to the present. During this period the Editors were H. D. Farnham, 1874; Pratt and Goodenough, 1875; Goodenough and Lewis, 1878; W. A. Rowland for F. A. Allen and later for himself.
This period was one of rapid growth for the Borough in spite of the effects of the panic of 1873, which are frequently referred to. The Greenhouses which Mrs. S. B. Elliott had started were taken over and twice enlarged by Robert Crossley. In 1873 Pitts Bros. built the block at the S. W. corner of Main and Wellsboro Streets. The Soldiers Orphan School, which had been started in 1867, was enlarged by a new building on Wellsboro Street in 1873. The south end of what is now the girls dormitory at the College was built in 1874 at a cost of $85,000.00. In all, 23 buildings were erected in 1873. In 1874 T. H. Bailey built nine houses on Brooklyn Street. In 1875 the Presbyterian Church was built at a cost of $1350.00. The population in 1875 the Allen Block, corner Main and E. Wellsboro Street was built. In 1880 the contract was let for the new brick high school and Allen’s Commercial School building at No. 14 N. Main Street. In 1882 the present Depot was built. Also in 1882 a fire wiped out the wooden stores from Center Street south for some distance. As a result the Council established a zone between Sherwood Street and Railroad Street (E. Main) of 200 feet on each side of the street within which only brick structures could be built. The burned section was rebuilt with brick stores in 1884-85.
This expansion created many problems for the Council naturally the tax levy had to be increased to 10 mills, five each for Borough and highway. There was a constant demand for more sidewalks and crosswalks. In 1877 it was decided to erect street lamps and to hire a man at 40c a night to keep them lighted and in repair. As soon as some were authorized more were demanded by the citizens. Evidently a few, as one in front of the Baptist Church, had been maintained privately. In 1877, there were 22 in operation. In 1880 a bill for $1.98 was presented to the Council for 13 ½ gallons of oil, soap, lampwicks, and three boxes of matches. The next demand was for a night watchman. In 1875 one was authorized at 70c a night for the hours between ten P. M. and five A. M. This service was irregular for years as the Council would drop it, and then after a time restore it.
Another demand was for fire protection. Twice fire inspectors were appointed to examine all the chimneys in town and condemn those deemed dangerous. In 1876 buckets and ropes were bought and a cistern dug near the four corners, probably in front of the present diner. In 1880 a Hook and Ladder truck was bought and a Hose Company was organized with F. W. Clark as President. These early Hose companies emphasized the social side and had annual parties which were the events of the year.
The growth of the Borough was not only in homes and business places, but also in a considerable annexation of territory. In 1873 an ordinance was passed enlarging the Borough to a size larger than at Present, especially on the northwest. Evidently this was done without proper legal advice as in 1874 an attempt was made to have the State Legislature legalize it. This attempt failed and finally, in 1875, the proper legal conditions were fulfilled and on September first the County Court approved the expansion with the exception that the proposed boundaries were cut down west of the river and north of the present limits.
The land on the south was soon cut up into building lots. James W. Morris made the official map of the Borough. First, Second and Third Streets were opened and St. James and Academy were extended to Third Street, Brooklyn Street (Smokey Row) was opened. The present Prospect Street was so named when the citizens presented a petition objecting to the name Poverty Hill by which it was then called. The present Railroad Street was opened and an Alley, Now Hoard Street, was authorized from Sullivan Street to Seminary Avenue (1882, Normal Ave, now College Ave). Normal Street then is now Clinton Street, Elm Street and Lincoln Avenue (7th and 8th Sts) were opened on the J. H. Putnam lands at the south end of the Borough, known at different times as Englishtown and Paisley.
Much of the attention of the Council was spent on keeping roads, bridges and sidewalks in repair. In 1878 the first stone crosswalk from the Bank to the Pitts Block was built. In 1879 there is mention of a street sprinkler. In working out the road tax, a common practice at that time, a man received $1.25 a day and a man and team $4.00. The first sewer was laid in 1880 from the Soldiers Orphan School to near the Depot and then across the lands of Crossley and J. P. Morris to the river. Robert Crossley built part of this of six-inch tile and it was paid for partly by the parties served. The claim was made that in 1877 Mansfield had the longest continuous stretch of sidewalk (Main St.) in Tioga County. Curbing and gutters of cobble stone laid three feet wide were built on Main Street in 1882 between Elmira Street and the point where East Main Street begins.
Dogs and drunks were a nuisance. In 1873 the vote was 244 to 13 in opposition to a license to sell alcoholic drinks. In 1875 dogs had to be licensed at $1.00 each; 34 licenses were sold. An ordinance was passed against drunk and disorderly conduct, carrying a fine of from one to then dollars and costs and confinement in the lock-up up to forty-eight hours. A temperance organization, the Independent Order of Good Templars were very active during much of the decade. In 1879 the Independent Order of Patrons of Temperance was started. The paper has much comment on the visits of citizens to Tioga and Blossburg with descriptions of conduct and often with the names of those involved. There was also a good deal of complaint of the Fourth of July celebrations and Fair Week.
Organizations of one type or another were very popular. In addition to the Temperance orders mentioned and the Masons from 1850, the G.A.R. was organized in 1875. The Knights of Honor, an assessment and benefit order was started in 1877. Literary societies were formed, a public reading room was maintained for several years, a dramatic club put on plays to raise money for various purposes, the Normal Atheneum and the Normal Literary Clubs gave public programs, or maintained lecture courses. For short periods there was a musical Academy taught by D. J. Jewett, a German and fencing school by Oscar Reishling, and a private school by Mrs. M. J. Grey.
One of the most important events was the organization of the Fair Association. For some years Dr. Smyth’s "Island" had been used for picnics and reunions. It was called an island because part of the river ran on the east side of what is now the park and the entrance was on the north side. In 1877 a track for racing was built and later in the year, June 27th, the association was formed with Philip Williams as President. By 1879, money had been raised, the "island" was acquired and an effort was made to get the County Agricultural Association, which held exhibitions at Wellsboro, to join. This was naturally unsuccessful. A building to hold exhibits, a dining hall, 400 stalls for stock, and a railroad switch were built. The first Fair, October 1,2,3, was a great success. Sixteen carloads of stock came from New York State. Five thousand people attended on October 2nd. Meals cost 25c. Premiums ran from 50c to $5.00. During 1880 the women of Mansfield raised $520.00 toward the $1,150.00 needed for the Women’s Pavilion. That year the receipts were $2,500.00. In 1881 nine thousand tickets were sold on October 12th. Thursday was formerly the big day, Friday the last day. The railroad ran excursions from all parts of the County and from Corning and Elmira.
During this period there were very severe epidemics of Scarlet Fever and Diptheria, not only in Mansfield, but all through the County. Frequently two or three children in the same family died within a few days. The Doctors seemed to be helpless to stop the spread of the diseases.
There were, in the ten years, many changes in the ownership of businesses. The Tannery, Iron Works, Grist Mill, and Mart King’s Furniture Factory were import industries. The Doane Sash and Blind Factory had started. Men in business for most of the period, or all, were: O. V. Elliott, shoes, at 54 N. Main Street; Wm.Hollands, leather goods; Ross and Williams Bank; F. M. Spencer, Photograph Gallery; Pitts Bros., general store; R. E. Olney, jeweler; J. S. Murdaugh, dry goods; N. Kingsley, shoes; Allen Peterson, barber; C. V. Elliott, drugs; L. A. Ridgway, drugs; A. J. Cole, drugs; l. Cummings, restaurant; D. A. Gaylord, blacksmith; R. P. Buttles, wagon shop; T. F. Rolason, groceries first and then undertaking and furniture; J. F. Howe, coal.
There were now five churches in town, the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and the Universalist congregation which had bought the old Methodist Church.
There were seven doctors: C. V. Elliott, C. W. Brown, Wm. M. Barden, J. P. Morris, A. J. Cole, H. G. Smythe, Benj. Moody in 1877. Dr. O. Newell was a Dentist.
Henry Allen, J. W. Adams and F. W. Clark were lawyers.