Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
The Romance of Old Barclay by Clarke
Chapter Thirteen - Some Interesting Letters
The Romance of Old Barclay

By Staley N. Clarke

Originally Published 1928, Towanda PA

Photos by Joyce M. Tice October 4, 1998
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Richard Harris and Connie Unganst and Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

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Here is a picture of the company store at Barclay about 1868. Mrs. Fred Wattles of Towanda provided the picture for this article in memory of her husband who began his business life in this store. Among those who may be seen in the picture are W. J. Thompson, one of the owners, Mr. Brown, engineer, Mr. William Wattles (18 years of age, standing second from right) and Will Tidd.

Since this series of articles dealing with the history of Old Barclay, Bradford county’s deserted village, began to be written, a large number of very interesting letters concerning the town have been received.

Miss Edith B. Carey of Athens R. D. 2 calls attention to the fact that her mother, the late Susie M. Spalding, taught for several years in the schools of Barclay, Sand Run and Foot of Plane. Prof. Ryan was then superintendent of schools. Miss Carey writes in part as follows:

"I have often heard her speak of Maggie Barrett and Ida Disbrow, Miss Barrett having taught in the same school with my mother. She spoke many times of the people of Barclay, how she enjoyed those days; and how kind the people were to her, especially the mothers of those boys and girls who had come under her influence."

Sadie Larrabee of 118 Herrick St., Athens, in writing of her early days on Barclay mountain encloses a poem which it is believed her father, John Vandermark, a native of Fall Creek, made up. It runs as follows:

A—It is for all the boys that work in our town.

B—It is for Barclay, a place of great renown.

C—It is for coal we’re working every day.

D—It is for drivers that drive the coal away.

E—It is for engines that run the narrow way.

F—It is for firemen that fire the live long day.

G—It is for George McGee, the cashier in the store. And if he has one dollar, he need not ask for more.

Another former resident of Barclay who remembers much concerning the village is Leroy Talada of Center street, Powell.

Mrs. Moselle Northrup of Monroeton R. D. also remembers a great deal about Barclay and she has written in part as follows:

"The first teacher I remember at Barclay was Julia Sullivan, others being Frank Fairchild, Eliza McKean of Towanda, Ernest Thompson and his brother Edward, and A. T. Lilley of LeRoy. They are the old teachers that taught when I went to school. Leah Lyon taught there when F. F. Lyon was superintendent.

"Charles Moore lived at Barclay and weighed coal over at the chutes. He kept books also at the office by the superintendent’s house. The men that worked outside gathered at the office and at 6 o’clock the bell rang for all to go to work. The bell rang again at 12, 1 and 6 p.m. At the last bell, every man dropped his tools and went home.

"The oldest man that ran the planes was Richard Northrup, better known as Dick. The engineers of the old Barclay railroad included Murve Northrup, Ed Stevens, Bill Gunn and Ed Campbell. Lon Cahill and Charlie Sage were firemen at that time. J. B. Judd was superintendent of the railroad and lived in Towanda. Whenever one of the officials passed away, they draped the coaches and engine in black and white for ten days."

William Strope of Towanda recalls that some time before Barclay shut down, the Lewis brothers, George, Harrison and Lloyd, and a brother-in-law, Louis Stone, started in the lumber business on the mountain back of West LeRoy at what was known as Cranberry Marsh. They [Page 19] hauled most of their lumber to Foot of Plane on wagons and sleds. The lumber not taken to the "Foot" was hauled to Barclay where it was piled, later being loaded on cars and shipped down over the plane to market. The bark was hauled to Granville by way of LeRoy.

In after years these men lumbered at Carbon Run for a time and turned out a good many million feet of lumber. The timber was cut around Carbon Run as far as Sunfish Pond. This work gave employment to a number of men for years, all the employees drawing good wages. The bark from this latter job was hauled to Foot of Plane and there loaded on cars which took it to Powell. George and Harrison are dead, Lloyd lives at LeRoy and Louis Stone is now residing in Elmira, N. Y.

Maud Hawkins of Towanda R. D. 1 has one of the most interesting collections of pictures of Barclay. Included are the following:

Picture of the school house in which she taught in 1898; saw mill at Barclay in same year; Mrs. John Miller standing by a horse at Barclay in 1898; cross haul at Carbon in that year; streets of Carbon same year; "Down by the Mill Pond"; and the "last day of school at Carbon" in 1898. The hats and dresses worn by the girls in the picture look very odd to those of the present day.

Some of the old residents of Barclay can remember Andrew McFadden, at one time one of the best known characters on the mountain. It was claimed he was more than 115 years old when he died. He is buried in the Barclay cemetery.

Mrs. A. B. Bailey of Troy recalls that her first husband, William Bird, used to huckster on Barclay mountain with Solomon Hottenstein and that she baked ginger snaps for them to sell.

Dorse Green of Powell, Pa., sends along a picture of the old Barclay Cornet Band. In it in uniform may be seen Henry Duggan, leader, William Duggan, George Strange, Thomas Duggan, Henry Duggan, Jr., Frank Talada, James Turnbull, James Duggan, W. V. Deegan, Dorse Green and John Matthews. The picture was taken in the fall of 1874. Mr. Green moved with his family to Barclay in 1867 and started school there that fall. His teachers were Lill Fairchild, Estelle Dodge and Katherine Gahan. His father, Charles Green, was night watchman at the old Barclay chutes. These chutes had a capacity of 1,000 tons every ten hours. Mr. Green used to put 62 cars with one ton each over the chutes every 30 minutes. January 17, 1880, he was found dead in the office of the chutes.


Here is a picture of the Barclay chutes sent by Mrs. Mazie Steele of Union, N. Y., R. D. 1. In the picture may be seen John Fassett, William Frazer, Charlie Talada, Sol Talada, George Talada and Rube Talada.

Mrs. Nellie Hawkins of Powell, Pa., recalls that she was the first to discover the blaze when the saw mill at Barclay caught fire.

Mrs. George McCabe of South Waverly has contributed some very interesting additional facts regarding the Presbyterian church at Barclay between the years 1876 and 1885. She says Andrew Beveridge, a fine tenor, was leader of the famous old choir and the others in it were Richard Simpson, William Duggan, David Reed, Joseph Baitson, Mary Walker, Jane Duggan, Margaret Baitson, Robena Ditchburn, Flora Petrie, Montie Finnelson and Nellie Page. Josephine Petrie was organist and the pastor at that time was the Rev. J. E. Petrie.

Sunday School and prayer meetings were held in a separate building erected for the purpose. Christmas parties and church entertainments also were held there. Richard Simpson was superintendent of the Sunday School and Mrs. John Davis, better known as "Aunty" Davis, was superintendent of the primary department. The school had a membership of about 100.

Mrs. McCabe says the teachers who taught in the big yellow school house on the top of the mountain road leading from Foot of Plane were Frances Fairchilds, Julia Sullivan, Margaret Barrett, Belle Lyon and Lea Lyon. These teachers taught in succession from 1875 to 1881, having charge of the room devoted to children up to the fourth reader. The other room of the building held the higher classes and was always in charge of a male teacher. Those teachers were A. T. Lilley, Arthur Thompson, Edward Thompson, C. P. Garrison and William V. Duggan.

Mrs. McCabe also recalls the annual oyster supper and dance each New Year’s Eve in the I. O. O. F. hall and speaks of the travelling show companies that occasionally gave performances in the same building. One of these shows was Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Some interesting information regarding the Barclay cemetery has been obtained from Mrs. Joseph Pelton. Writing from Laquin she says:

"My father was caretaker of the Protestant cemetery for years, until Barclay went down. It was a pretty place in the summer with all its flowers. He had it laid out very prettily with a big heart shaped bed in the middle surrounded by rustic seats. The hearse could go in at the gate and drive around and out without turning around. My father did the work because he liked it. Of course he got pay for some of the graves he dug.

"All the old residents of Barclay will remember Auld Bob Drysdale’s stuffed birds, as they used to call them. People came from far and near to see them. He had a room 16 by 16 under glass and in there he had all kinds of stuffed birds and animals. He had a white robin with brown spots, an eagle, deer, wild cats, snakes and bugs of all descriptions—just about everything that roamed the woods."

Mr. Drysdale was badly hurt by a fall of rock in the No. 4 mine and always after that walked stooped over. While working in the mine at Sand Run he had a shock and died without regaining consciousness.

In her letter Mrs. Pelton, whose maiden name was Miss Jemima Drysdale, says the old stone powder house in Sand Run is still standing.

J. F. Deegan of Milton, Pa., writes:

"My parents lived at Barclay and Long Valley for a number of years. After the flood of 1902, which washed out the Barclay railroad, necessitating the closing of the mines on account of lack of transportation facilities we moved to Foot of Plane. My father was one of a very few who remained in that section and helped on the reconstruction of the S. & N. Y. railroad. When the lumber operations started at Laquin he was one of their first employees and helped build the big saw mill and the homes for the employees. When one of the first houses was completed, he moved from Foot of Plane to Laquin, where he remained until his death in 1919."

Mrs. F. F. Barner of Sheshequin [Page 20] calls attention to the fact that her grandfather, Joel Saxton, was one of the first superintendents at Sand Run.


Here is the famous Long Valley baseball team of 1900. The boys in the picture won the Bradford county championship in that year. Those in the photograph are W. R. Jones, manager, now deceased; Pat Lynch, deceased; John Talada, Powell, Pa.; Joe DeLong, deceased; Ben Strope, Elmira; Tim Sculley, deceased; Tom Burke, deceased; Bill Deegan, Ridgway; Pat McCloskey, Rossiter, Pa.; Tom Sculley, Parkersburg, W. Va., and John Deegan, Corbin, Ky.

Mrs. Minnie Anderson of Troy R. D., says the first house in Sand Run was built for her father, C. A. Burroughs. L. C. Burroughs of Rome is a son of C. A. Burroughs.

William Strope has thought up one more of the songs once popular in Barclay township. Since many of the old residents may be glad to get the words, it is printed here as follows:

There were six jolly mining boys

And miners they had been,

They had traveled after mining

For many a long year.

They had traveled East,

They had traveled West,

They had traveled the country round,

To find out the secret

That lies within the ground.

Whenever you see those mining boys,

Go marching down the street

All dressed up in their clean clothes

They look gentile and neat.

With their teeth as white as ivory

And their eyes as black as sloe,

You can tell those jolly mining boys

Where’er you let them go.

Sometimes they have money,

Sometimes they’ve none at all,

But when they have money,

Their company they’ll call.

They fill the glasses to the brim,

Now it’s, "Let the toast go round"

Here’s health to all the mining boys

Who work below the ground.

I will build my love a castle

A castle of renown,

Where Lords, Dukes nor Earls

Can tear my castle down.

For the king he loveth the queen

And the emperor does the same,

And I do love the mining boys,

And how can I be blamed?

It is the farmer’s delight

In sowing of his corn,

It’s the huntsmen’s delight

In blowing of his horn,

But it’s the miner’s delight

To split the rock in twain,

And find out the secret

That lies within the vein.

Ruby Schrader Crandell recalls the night the company’s big barn was set on fire by Davie Lyle to "see the fun." The men had a hard time getting the mules from the barn and saving the building which was full of hay and feed, but they did it. Mrs. Crandell says they put out the blaze with snow. Every man and boy was throwing snow balls—the only fire company they had in those days.

Mrs. Crandell also brings to mind the time a Mr. Richey went to Barclay and took "tintype" pictures in the band house. Nearly everyone, old and young, went to get their pictures taken. Of course, all dressed up in their best "Sunday, go to meeting" clothes.

S. M. Hottenstein of Towanda remembers that his father, Solomon Hottenstein, then living near Overton, had a wagon built and covered with white canvas especially for trucking to Barclay.

This wagon was named the Swamp Street Schooner and butter, eggs, potatoes, apples and farm produce were sold to the people of Barclay.

S. M. Hottenstein, at the age of 14, and a younger brother, made weekly trips to Barclay selling and collecting. Sometimes they had as much as $200 in cash and always found the people honest and good pay.

Mr. Hottenstein at the present time has a cage of eleven birds and a wild cat that were stuffed by Robert Drysdale of Barclay.

William Penn Crandell of Towanda writes that in the spring of 1888 the late William Wheatly and himself contracted with the company (then controlled by the Erie railroad) to cut the hemlock timber on the tract and deliver the logs at the company mill in Barclay, also to peel the bark and deliver it on board cars at the switch. By November they had cut thousands of mine props and ties and the whole work went forward speedily. By mutual consent with the company, O. L. Smiley of Towanda, an expert accountant, measured logs as delivered.

One of the finest letters of all those received was that from John J. Harvey of the Judge Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. His letter and a song he composed after a visit to the deserted town in recent years, follow:

Mr. Staley N. Clarke

The Daily Review

Towanda, Pennsylvania.

Dear Mr. Clarke:

Last night I read the first four installments of the "Romance of Old Barclay" now appearing in the Daily Review. Some kind friend sent the papers to us and we are reading your story with a deep interest. I feel that it is nothing more than just to write and tell you that we feel grateful to you for your appreciation of the character of the people of Barclay, and for your deep sympathy and understanding of them and of their labors and their love of their mountain home.

Four years ago last summer, unable to secure a driver, I walked up the mountain from Laquin and on top of the hill discovered the most picturesque waterfall that I have ever seen. Later I found out that this miniature waterfall was the outcome of a trickling stream which used to flow out of the rock, at which I had often drunk when a boy. This was at Carbon Run where I spent the happiest days of my boyhood. The changes there are so great that I did not recognize the village site until Mr. Mott told me I was standing before the boarding house site and a few feet from my old home.

Our garden, once the pride of my father and the boast of Captain Abbott, was overgrown with brush and [Page 21] wild strawberries and, I was told, infested with snakes. However, across the road there was a good stand of timothy. The old school hill was almost as steep as ever, notwithstanding that a drift had been run underneath it to mine the coal which had been left standing until the school house was razed. This was the school in which three Thompson brothers taught the "young ladies" in Carbon Run to parse with varying results; they were eminently successful in establishing discipline in as wild a bunch as ever climbed up the pike. We boys of course assisted for we had our choice of cutting either a beech or a birch gad for the operation; it was in this school that Miss Ida Bedford by her every act and word inspired us to higher and better things; it was in this school too that Miss Julia O’Connor by her gentleness, her culture and her charm, made all, who knew her there, love her to the very end. I looked in vain for the old beech tree which grew at the top of the hill and on whose bark was carved the initials of the boys, their sweethearts and their buddies (spelled butties then). Of the two noble hemlocks close by, on which a swing was hung, there was not a trace. Of the old trysting place of the seventies with its beeches, its birches and hemlocks there was but a memory. I was alone most of the day, and enjoyed the pleasures of solitude.

Up the mountain in the first place and now on the road to Barclay, I was amazed to see laurel still in vigorous bloom; other wild flowers grew in profusion and beauty on every hand. Arriving in Barclay, I went to number four and all about in search of water and finally, found Mrs. Pelton and her party. I was amazed at the changes, fearful to drink out of the old wells and there came a time in the day when I was famished with the thirst; strange as it may appear only a few feet away from me there was a large stream flowing in a bed new to me.

Your reference to the graveyard of the pioneers on the road to Sand Run, brings to mind the first impressions I had of that then hallowed spot. Each plot was enclosed with a neat, sturdy fence. Most graves were marked with headstones bearing quaint inscriptions and in each plot dwarfed evergreen trees were growing in quiet dignity. What a contrast with present conditions of this and the two other graveyards in the vicinity of number four. With a few notable exceptions, all marks of identification are being destroyed or overgrown.

A short time after my return from this trip I wrote the words of a song entitled "Fond Memories." From your studies, it is easy to infer that memories of Carbon Run and Barclay made them possible.

I am enclosing you a copy as a slight token of my appreciation of your present labors.

Sincerely yours,


The enclosed song was as follows:


In springtime’s enchanted season,

When wild rose and laurel bloom,

When arbutus twines a reason

For garlands from Nature’s loom;

Rare perfumes float over the tryst,

Birds sing with throats full-blown,

While we sat near the old steep road at first

And dreamed our young dreams—alone.

Oh, the stars never shine

But I dream of the time

When I first pressed you to my heart;

And the winds never blow

Across tree tops, you know,

Like a harp of the forest thou art,

But I hear sweet voices, your own

Sweet melodies, fond memories—alone.

On Barclay’s deserted mountain,

Where the beech and maple grow,

Where every stream’s a fountain

And refreshing zephyrs blow;

Fond memories came fleeting then

Of you, our love and home,

As I stood on the old school hill again

And dreamed our fond dreams—alone.

--John J. Harvey.

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