Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Bradford County PA
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Barclay Reunion 1931
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Editor Malcolm McFarlane 1931
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Barclay Reunion – 1931

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the Barclay Railroad from Towanda, Pennsylvania, to one of the first Coal Fields developed in America; to the operators, early settlers and their descendants, and to all who made possible the success of Barclay, including Carbon Run, Fall Creek, Sand Run and Long Valley, these pager are dedicated.

August 16, 1931

Malcolm MacFarlane, Editor

Important Dates in Barclay’s History

1794 - Robert Barclay of London, England, became the owner of a very large body of mineral land, containing about 30,000 acres, situated in the southwestern part of Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

1829 – Charles Barclay, son of Robert, became the owner. The existence of a large and very valuable deposit of bituminous coal, of an excellent quality, upon these lands, was discovered at a very early period. Coal was mined soon after the first settlement of the County and limited quantities continued to be taken out for use of blacksmiths, until the present time, as well as for domestic uses in the vicinity.

1835 – Mineral wealth of Towanda Mountain (Barclay) examined by Richard C. Taylor, well-known Geologist, under all the disadvantages incident to an unsettled country and lack of assistants and limited means at his disposal. The report was so satisfactory, that very shortly thereafter, the land was bought from Mr. Miller, then owner. Coal Companies (composed of some of the best business men of the time) were organized and in expectation of the then early completion of the North Branch Canal, Professor Walter R. Johnson was engaged by one of them to make a more thorough exploration for the railroad location.

April 9, 1853 – "THE TOWANDA AND FRANKLIN RAILROAD COMPANY" was organized.

January 2, 1854 – J. P. Lesley (noted Geologist) examined and reported very favorably on property.

April 3, 1854 – Name of Company changed to the "BARCLAY RAILROAD AND COAL COMPANY".

April 27, 1855 – Contract for grading the railroad was made and construction work was commenced.

Spring 1856 – North Branch Canal opened to navigation.

July 1856 – Barclay coal delivered at Towanda by rail. Production of coal, this year – 7,137 tons.

1857 – James MacFarlane was appointed General Superintendent and had sole charge of all operations of the Company for the first eight years and established the coal business under great difficulties from want of transportation on the very poor canal which was the only outlet to market.

1865 – In 1865, he organized the Towanda Coal Company, which in 1868 leased the mines of the Barclay Coal Company. The stock soon afterwards came into the hands of the Erie Railroad which mined a large portion of the coal used on their road at Barclay. Later, Jay Gould, who controlled the Erie, visited this pioneer mining town and viewed the property.

1868 – 1876 - The Pennsylvania & New York Railroad, (now a portion of the Lehigh Valley) was finished from Towanda to the Erie connection at Waverly, N.Y. and the following year more than 180,000 tons of Barclay coal were used by that railroad. The output gradually increased to 384, 787 tons in 1876, a remarkable performance.

More than 10,000,000 tons of low volatile coal have been shipped from this pioneer Coal Field.

Letter From the President To the Stockholders of the Barclay Railroad and Coal Co.:

The Barclay Railroad and Coal Company, by their Charter, are authorized to hold 2,000 acres of coal lands, as also lands for their railroad, depots, termini, etc., and their capital stock limited to $1,4000,000.00.

We have purchased from the individuals composing the Schraeder Land Company for  the sum of $4000,000.00, two thousand acres of "Coal Lands", together with the "Mineral Rights" on five hundred acres more; containing not less than 10,000,000 tons, and most probably about 13,000,000 tons of coal. The land is covered with a dense forest of hemlock, beech, maple and cherry timber, with some pine and oak.

The Road is let, on favorable terms for the Company, to Messrs. V. E. and J. E. Piollet, two very able, energetic and efficient contractors, who will, no doubt, fully build and finish it before the first of June, 1856 (the time mentioned in their contract) and without allowance or claim for extra work.

The capital stock of the company at present is $600,000.00, which is contemplated to be now increased to $7000,000.00, a sum fully adequate to pay for all the lands (including the right of way) and twenty-four acres at the terminus of the Road in the borough of Towanda; to completely finish the Railroad, and pay for the locomotives and all the rolling stock; in short, to build the Road, and equip it in all respects ready for business.

The purchase of lands of the Railroad has been made at a low valuation (even if a railroad were not about to be built) and without any charges for making such purchase.

I give to the Company an assurance, as strongly based as any such assurance can be, that on the first day of June, 1856, their railroad, depots and water stations will all be completely finished and ready for business; that the locomotives, passenger and coal cars will then all be on the ground, and 10,000 tons of coal already mined; and that all these, with the right of way and grounds for depot and basin will be paid for, or provision made for their payment, without exceeding the $300,000.00 which will have been applied for that purpose. Thus sixteen and a half miles of a good permanent railroad with bridges, sidings, right of way, twenty-four acres of land at the terminus of the Road, a chute of about 200 feet in length, locomotives and rolling stock, water tanks, and the necessary buildings at the depot, together with the salaries of the Engineer and his corps, will be fully paid for and settled within this amount.

It is a gratifying fact, that, throughout the whole operations of the Company, not a single dollar has been paid to any officer of it (other than the Engineer) for services of any kind, from the first to last, nor for legislature or charter; neither has any one connected with the Company received, either directly or indirectly, any private benefits or advantage in any of the purchases of the right of way, or other lands bought by the Company.

I feel flattered by the station in which your favors have placed me; and it will give me as much satisfaction to see this great undertaking completely accomplished in a manner wholly without precedence, and free from debt, as a failure in the least of its parts would fill me with mortification and regret.

I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant.

(Signed) Edward Overton,
President of the Barclay Railroad and Coal Co.
Towanda, Pennsylvania, May 8th, 1855.

Extract From Third Annual Report

Office of the Barclay Railroad and Coal Company

Philadelphia, January 12th, 1857

The coal is semi-Bituminous and corresponds with the Cumberland and Broad Top coals, being quite their equal in quality, and by some considered superior. It is peculiarly well adapted for generating steam and is in high favor with iron workers, while some give it a decided preference as a house fuel.

Quality of the Coal

Coal from Barclay found a ready market and was in a demand as the following letters indicate:

Office of the North Penna. Railroad

John Ely, Esq.

Philadelphia, Jan. 31st, 1854

My Dear Sir:

The Specimen Sample of Coal from the Barclay Mines, near Towanda, which you so kindly sent me, I burned in an ordinary anthracite grate in my office. It lasted a week, so that it gave a very fair trial.

Although not a very good specimen of coal, for that which I saw at Towanda from the same mines seemed to me generally of better quality, it burned beautifully, affording a cheerful and steady fire with a pleasant flame, and leaving little residum. I have no doubt that it will be found a valuable fuel for Blacksmith’s and Steam Engines, as well as for parlor purposes.

Yours very respectfully,

Edward Miller, Chief Engineer


The undersigned received in January, 1854, of Mr. Ely, one box of Bituminous Coal, which, after a fair trial, we pronounce to be of fine quality, and calculated to give every satisfaction for blacksmiths’ purposes.

Wilson, Childs & Co., Wheelwrights,

305 North Third St., Philadelphia.

March 15th 1854

Elmira, N.Y., April 2nd, 1855.

Please send me another load of your Barclay coal for I find it the most agreeable and satisfactory coal for the grate that I have burned this winter, which is saying more for your article than you are aware as I have used many. Yours burns freely, and being very pure, and harder than any other varieties of Bituminous coal, cannot fail to give the best of satisfaction for domestic use. It is an excellent coal to hold fire at night, keeps fire excellently well with a small quantity. But that quality of Barclay coal which makes it perhaps the most desirable to us is the very small amount of ashes which it makes, although it leaves no slag or cinders at all. I found, by most accurately weighing the coal and contents of ash-box each morning, that the average amount of ashes did not exceed five pounds per diem for my room, which is large, with two bedrooms attached. I can conscientiously recommend Barclay coal to our citizens here as the best article for domestic use and wish you every success in your enterprise of introducing it to out market.


S. W. Hall.

Towanda, Pennsylvania, April 10th, 1855.

Regarding Barclay coal for blacksmiths’ use, I have used it in my shop ever since I came to this place which is not thirteen years. No other coal is used in this part of the country by blacksmiths, unless it is the new red coal, because it is not so far to haul, but the coal is not so good. Before I came to this country, I used charcoal and stone coal in Germany. I like none so well as Towanda coal. It makes a good hollow fire, lasts well, is free from sulphur and very superior for edge-tool work.

Adam Epstein.

Owego, New York, April 19th, 1855.

We have used for the last ten years in our smith fires, a semi-bituminous coal, bought from Barclay coal lands, near Towanda, Bradford County, Pa., and for our use as a practical blacksmithing coal, we have no hesitation in stating that we give this coal a decided preference. It is but just to state that we have been subjected to considerable trouble and expense in procuring the Towanda or Barclay coal, owing to our having to transport it on wagon for forty-eight miles, over bad roads, which makes it cost per ton here nearly $7. Other coals are sent less expense, one only $4.80.

In our judgment, the Barclay coal is a very superior coal for blacksmithing purposes, entirely free from sulphur and making a good hollow fire and we have no doubt that when it is better known it will command a ready sale at high prices. As a coal for blacksmithing purposes, it has no equal now in market, and its extended introduction here will be hailed with pleasure by the blacksmithing community.

Owego Horse-Shoe Manufactory.
In Memory of Charles W. Tidd

Pioneer in Barclay

Born July 9, 1846

Died November 6, 1925

Pioneer Developments in any industry require men of courage and determination to overcome innumerable obstacles. Sixty years after the American Declaration of Independence, despite dense forests and lack of facilities, geologists were actively engaged in examining the Barclay Coal Field. Seventy-five years ago, the Barclay Railroad was completed and shipments of coal commenced on the eve of one of the worst financial depressions (1857) in American History. After a brief period another panic (1873) was encountered with Black Friday, and twenty years later we saw 1893 with difficult times for capital and labor. Despite these adverse times Barclay carried on, for practically fifty years.

After the Erie Railroad gained control of the Barclay Railroad and Coal Company, General Superintendent Chamberlain who had supervision of the Erie Bituminous Coal interests assumed charge of their Barclay properties. He was followed by many other Superintendents at Barclay, Fall Creek, Carbon Run, Sand Run and Long Valley as follows: Major Robert McDowell, I. O. Bright, H. W. McCraney, F. F. Lyon, J. B. Judd, Captain Abbott, R. T. Dodson, E. Z. Griggs, during termination of Erie Railroad Lease; Edward O. MacFarlane, Long Valley Mines and Barclay Railroad.

John Carroll supervised Long Valley operation for many years and was succeeded by W. R. Jones.

The religious character of the people is evidenced by the fact that three churches were supported by this community.

In its best days the population of Barclay was 2,000, which required medical and surgical attention. On several occasions, emergency cases brought prompt response from Towanda, Monroeton, Franklin, LeRoy and Canton. Among the medical profession who rendered skillful service at Barclay were the following: Dr. Randolph Lyon, Dr. Joseph Stevens, Dr. W. B. Wilcox, Dr. T. B. Johnson, Dr. Hilles, Dr. Charles Johnson, Dr. W. M. Cheney, Dr. McAulife, Dr. Edward Taylor, Dr. Harrison Holcomb.

Sturdy pioneer stock which overcame many hardships, thereby developing character, was responsible for the early success of America. These same indomitable traits have placed Barclay men at the helm of many industries in this country. Among these are the following: George N. Tidd, President, American Gas & Electric Company, 30 Church Street, New York City.

Frank R. Lyon, Vice-President & General Manager, Consolidation Coal Company, Fairmont, West Virginia.

Hugh T. Wilson, President, Norfolk & Chesapeake Coal Company, Book Building, Detroit, Michigan.

John B. Williamson, President, Williams Run Coal Company, Land Title Building, Philadelphia, Pa.

John W. Cuineen, Superintendent, New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Danbury, Connecticut.

William A. Deegan, Secretary & Treasurer, Hyde, Murphy Corporation, Ridgeway, Penna.

Foreign lands have been developed through the engineering skill of Charles Carroll who enjoyed the healthy atmosphere of Barclay Mountain, in his youth. Railroads have been built in Mexico and China under his guidance and at present railroad construction is going forward in the distant land of Persia, under his direction.

Shortly after 1900, disastrous floods practically wrecked the Barclay Railroad, destroying bridges and undermining the road-bed, and this property was acquired by the Susquehanna & New York Railroad, who rebuilt the line, extended it through large virgin timber reserves of the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company, and connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Ralston and Marsh Hill junction, with trackage rights into Williamsport.

Although in former years, the active mining town of Barclay produced daily, approximately 1,500 tons of high grade semi-bituminous coal, - today, this mining town is a deserted village. The coal from this Field, however, is not exhausted, as a considerable area, formerly inaccessible on account of lack of modern equipment and facilities, is producing this same high grade coal. The LeRoy Coal Company with Ernest H. Holcombe, General Manager, has rail connection with the Susquehanna & New York Railroad and is actively engaged in mining and shipping Lone Star Bituminous Coal from the original Barclay coal field which is the farthest North and East coal basin in the United States.

Analysis of this coal follows:

Moisture ……………….0.90%

Volatile Matter………..19.18

Fixed Carbon………….71.06



B.T.U.’s (dry 14,210)

In addition to shipments by rail, Barclay coal is delivered locally by auto trucks. On account of low volatile content, this is classed as Smokeless coal and is well adapted for domestic use, as well as general steam and blacksmithing purposes.


The site of what was once the thriving coal community of Barclay has been acquired by the State Game commission. It is located in the heart of the mountains of Barclay Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

The town’s history is of interest. It was settled more than seventy-five years ago almost on top of a mountain at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level. The site has been acquired by the Commission as a part of a tract of 13,946 acres purchased from the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company, LeRoy Coal Company and others.

The Commission maintains a game refuge of 2,106 acres wherein no hunting is permitted. A Game Refuge Keeper is regularly employed to look after this section as well as to superintend the surrounding public hunting grounds.

From Philadelphia Ledger, Sunday, March 15, 1931.

The acquisition of this acreage by the State will not effect Coal Mining on Barclay Mountain, which will continue for many years.

Barclay’s sons and daughters have scattered far and wide throughout the United States, including California, Utah, Colorado, many middle western states, Michigan, coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia, all sections of Pennsylvania, New York, eastward to New England and southward to Florida. Very frequently their thoughts revert to Barclay with happy recollections and on several occasions, former Barclay people have come hundreds of miles to visit their former homeland.

"Breathes there a man with a soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is mine own, my native land".

An event most significant, in the interest shown and memories aroused, was the August, 1930 Reunion of more than 500 former residents, with their families, who assembled on the site where Reunions have been held for mare than half a century.

Published Through the Courtesy of

LeRoy Coal Co.

George R. Hill

Malcolm MacFarlane


Towanda Printing Co. Towanda, Pa.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 09 FEB 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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