Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Canton Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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Towanda, Pa., November 8, 1883

Typed for Tri-COunties Site by Pat Raymond



Canton, the southwest corner township of Bradford county, was first settled in 1796, by a man named Gere. The settlement was made on the farm of David Innes, and consisted of a few acres of clearing, a log house, and an embryo mill, all of which were sold about four years afterward. Ezra Spalding came also in 1796, moving in his goods on an ox sled. Jonathan Prosser was the first settler within what is now Canton borough making a settlement in 1796. A man named Cook also came in this year, and Gersham Gillett came about the same time.

Among the early settlers was Jephaniah Rogers, who, says the History of Bradford to which we acknowledge indebtedness for this early record, built a tub mill which would grind about two bushels of corn a day. Everything was rude and rough and, from the small log houses, the few cleared acres with the stumps and roots offering every obstruction to husbandry, seemed scarcely less wild than were the woods beyond where all kinds of wild animals lurked ready to destroy the small crops raised among the stumps.

In 1797 John Newell, Dr. Moses Emerson, Ebenezer Bixby, and Isaiah Grover came, and about the year 1800 Samuel Griffin, Sr., Joel Bullock, Jacob Granteer, Benjamin Babcock, Samuel Rockwell, and David Pratt made settlements. An early settler was David Sellard, who moved in from Tioga county.

The first school house was built in 1803, by Samuel Griffin, with Miss Emma Segar for first teacher, thus giving the advantages of education even while struggling for a foothold in the forest, and furnishing a school where it was doubtless necessary to guard the children as they went from their humble homes through the woods filled with wild beasts. It was the same study stock which landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the war on ignorance was at once begun.

An incident of the early settlement was Mr. Spalding’s arrest for intrusion, the Connecticut title under which he held being poor. He was arrested, fined $200, put in jail, and when his time was served out all of his goods were levied on, sold, and his house burned down, leaving him and his family homeless. Mr. Spalding, however, had friends, and a shelter was given him and he built a larger, better house soon afterward which was used as a primitive hotel.

From the names given and their families have come many of those who to-day have fine farms and beautiful homes. The toil and hardship and danger are past, and our space is so limited that we can only briefly call the attention of the Canton people of to-day to the sowing of the early days that has given an abundant harvest which they reap; we merely say a word for the strong-armed, strong-hearted pioneers to whom they owe so much, and ask that they be not forgotten but that their names be kept in remembrance.


Canton is one of the most improved and productive townships of the county, and the surface is broken only by broad and beautiful valleys, and gentle undulations. Through the productive valleys, which are divided into many beautiful farms, and dotted by elegant homes, flow the Towanda creek and its tributaries. The soil is especially adapted to growing hay, oats, buckwheat and potatoes, though wheat and corn are also successfully grown.

Dairying and stock raising is the principal business of the people, and farming is skillfully conducted.

In dairying Canton is one of the foremost townships in the county, and takes the lead in introducing thoroughbred Jersey stock. Here dairymen have the most improved appliances for carrying on this industry, and most handsome and spacious barns for their cattle.

Canton is inhabited by an excellent class of citizens, largely from New England ancestors, whose enterprise and kindness manifest themselves to the passer-by.

The township, since its settlement, has been marked by a rapid degree of progress in every department; and what it shall be in the future we can best judge by examining its progressive record.

By the way, Mr. Editor, did you know that this is the land of "immortal youth?" DeLeon of old, would be surprised at the great age of the people, and would wonder if this be the power of Minnequa’s restoring waters. But we must tell you of some of the old inhabitants.

The very first we would mention is Mrs. Elizabeth Dunning, now nearly one hundred and four years old, living near Alba. She is not only the oldest inhabitant of the county but probably of the State. We will describe a pleasant visit with her in another column.

The next oldest is Mrs. R. Rogers, who is 94; among the four score and ten are Mrs. Thos. Manley, Mrs. A. Taylor, Mrs. S. Watts, and Mrs. B. Grantier. There are many others in the eighties.

In the case of Mrs. Manley and Mrs. Taylor, we have a rare occurrence--both living in the same house--one the mother of T. S. Manley, Esq., with whom they live, and the other the mother of Mrs. T. S. Manley.

Mrs. Grantier is an exceptional old lady. She is very active for one of her age, and spends her time in reading and knitting. At the recent fair held at Canton, she took the premium on a pair of stockings of her own knitting, the yarn of which she spun since in her ninetieth year.

The oldest native inhabitants of the township are Myron Griffin, Capt. C. S. Sellard, Enoch Sellard and Eldaah Landon, the latter of whom is a brother of Joshua Landon, the first person born in the township. We spent a very pleasant visit with Mr. and Mrs. Landon, finding them exceptionally clear in intellect, and recounting many interesting facts of "olden times." Mr. Landon’s father one of the earliest settlers, served as one of Washington’s body-guard during the Revolution, having entered the army when very young. It was he who started the first nursery in the township, and to whom many are indebted for their fruit, apple pies and the like.

Mr. Landon well remembers when the township afforded but one wagon. This was used by Capt. William Spalding. In the spring the settlers would join together and hire the wagon, load their maple sugar and start for Williamsport to exchange for articles of comfort. They would walk to the "depot of supplies", and ride back--quite different today. But I must digress, for fear I will not mention all the good people, and knowing that it is for the welfare of the people that such are elected to office, I will first mention the township officers:

Justice of the Peace--Warren Landon and Edward Vermilya; Supervisors--S.S. Williams, H. Catlin, J. C. Roupp; Clerk--I. N. Beardslee; school directors--L. Williams, A. E. Watts, Charles Taylor, J. Crandall, O. P. Ward, R. Hicok; assessor--W. Pierce; constable--George Camp; treasurer--R. G. Brown; auditors--T. S. Manley, A. Owen, Chas. Warren. Of the business centres of the township we will first describe Canton borough.


In a pleasant valley with hills on either side is located Canton Borough. It is situated on the Towanda creek, twenty-six miles from the county seat, and comprises a population of over 1200 persons. It has gained some prominence as a summer resort, and is the home of two noted actors, "Frank Mayo" and "Fanny Davenport," or Mrs. Price. The place affords five churches and a most excellent public school--"the pride of the town," which is under the skillful management of Prof. F. S. Porter, assisted by an able corps of teachers. The school has a much greater per cent of attendance than during any previous year of its existence. The place also affords a brass band, hook and ladder, and hose companies, a spicy newspaper, the Canton Sentinel, and fine water works which supply the town with most excellent water.

The Northern Central railroad passing through the place makes it an important shipping point in butter, stock, and farm products.

The place was incorporated as a borough in 1863, and has for its present officers--postmaster, a. M. Ayers; burgess, Edward Jennings; council, Oscar Whitman, R. J. Dunbar, A. Wilson, G. F. Krise, A. Williams, Geo. W. Griffin; justice of the peace, J. N. VanDyke; constables, R. J. O’Donnel, I. Rockwell; school directors, W. S. Lewis, J. W. Parsons, F. A. Owen, T. Burk, J. H. Shaw, C. A. Krise; police, E. B. Kelly, A. D. McCraney.

Mention of business places and professional men, etc., next week.


Towanda, Pa., Nov. 15, 1883

Business Places of Canton Borough

One of the most flourishing institutions of South-western Bradford is the first National Bank of Canton, established March 1, 18?1. It has a cast capital of $50,000, and is conducted by an able financier. The deposits for the last year were over $100,000, which shows the confidence of the people. The bank affords the best Herring burglary proof safes, protected by the Yale time lock, thus making monies on deposit doubly secure.

The following are the officers:

President--Adam Innes

Vice-President--B. S. Dartt

Cashier--Geo. A. Guernsey

Directors--Adam Innes, B. S. Dartt, A. D. Foss, Geo. E. Bullock, L. R. Gleason, Daniel Innes,

K. Packard

L. R. Gleason is a popular tanner, manufacturing a most excellent article known as the Union crop leather, or a trimmed leather. The tanning is from oak and hemlock. The tannery has been in operation for sixteen years and is constantly growing in popularity.

H. Sheldon & Co., are manufacturers of map mountings and rolls. Their business is one of the rare industries of the United States, there being only five or six such others. Mouldings and rolls are manufactured of different sizes and lengths, painted and varnished, then shipped to New York and Philadelphia where they are attached in maps, advertisements, etc.

J. M. Mitchell, foundryman and machinist, manufactures circular saw mills, plows, cultivators, dog powers, cider mill screws--in fact manufactures and repairs anything from a needle to a stump machine.

Burke, Thomas & Co., carry a very large stock of general merchandise and lead in their line of trade.

Griffin and Bacon conduct a fine trade in dry goods and groceries.

Geo. H. Estell leads in the line of clothing, hats, caps, boots, shoes, etc.

B. S. Dartt has his store crowded with the finest lot of stoves ever placed on the market--the least wood, the most heat the cheapest and the best.

Messrs. Price and J. H. Tripp each have stores well filled with choice articles of general hardware merchandise.

Lyon and Shelden, D. S. Crippen, L. w. Owen and Son, W. S. Crammer, L. Newman, M. Preston, and O. H. white represent the grocery business.

Coe and Fairlee, and C. Tabor & Co., furniture and undertaking.

C. A. Krise, G. F. Krise, W. W. Gleckner, harness-making.

Clark and Whitman and Mix and Whitman are druggists.

Rockwell and Allen, millers.

G. M. Coons, full line of building materials.

S. J. Hickock, manufacturer of doors, sash, etc., and dealer in shingles, lumber and all kinds of building materials.

A. B. Braine, Canton sash factory.

A. J. Strait, cider and feed mills.

Hackett Bros., saw and carding mills.

C. W. Beardslee, Jas. Kenny, L. L. Stone, jewelers

M. M. Trout, variety store.

C. A. Weidenhamer and Moran, bakers and confectionery.

T. J. Brown, tea and coffee store.

M. P. Lewis boots and shoes.

Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Irvine, Mrs. Lyon and Miss Jennie Fitch, millinery.

Krise and Stone, agricultural implements.

There are also a number of blacksmith and wagon shops, and minor establishments.


The Canton House is neatly kept by the well known hotel man, G. H. DeWitt.

The Taber House furnishes fine accommodations and is kept by S. S. Merithew

The Central Hotel, the old reliable, by J. S. Fox.

The Mountain View House, temperance, by S. Wright


Doctors--J. E. Cleveland, W. S. Lewis, Davison and Son, R. Brooks, J. W. Parsons.

Dentist--A. Millary, H. Merrick.

Attorneys--Shaw and Sechrist, Cleveland and McGoveru, Mial E. Lilley.

Insurance agencies--R. N. Perry, J. A. Moody.

The place also affords three Masonic Lodges, I.O.O.F. and I.O. of G.T. The Odd Fellows have a spacious and finely furnished hall.

From Canton to Grover, a picturesque valley rich with the memories of true pioneer life presents itself to the tourist, as he nears the head of the Towanda Creek. Here began the Spaulding’s, the Landon’s the Tabor’s the Grantier’s, the Sellard’s and others--their battle with the wild woods, the panther and the bear. Several of the old land-marks are yet visible. A few days since we took dinner in a plank house erected by Stephen Sellard, in 1818. The nails in the building cost twenty-five cents per pound. The house is in an excellent state of preservation having been repaired within a few years. We should farther state that this is one of the most productive regions in the valley of the Towanda Creek, and is inhabited by a thrifty class of farmers. Much iron ore is found in this locality.


Near the head of Towanda Creek, in a pleasant basin with huge hills towering on all sides, is situated Grover, or "the town of the plains." The town is located on the Northern Central railroad, three miles from Canton, and comprises a population of 250 persons. It is an important shipping point in Lumber, leather, manufactured products and stock. But a few years since where now stands one of the most rapidly growing towns in Pennsylvania, there was only a small tramway, a station, and a few houses.

The rapid growth of the town has been during the last five years, and especial credit is due Henry Williams of Shunk, Sullivan county, for his interest and effort in helping to build up the place. Through his influence the Grover Shoe Peg company came here. He also put in mills, to build up the lumbering interest, and we will state that during the year 13,000,000 feet, will have been shipped. The tanning interests of Daniel Innes has also given a great impulse to the growth of the town, and gives employment to more individuals than any other enterprise here.

The Grover Shoe Peg Company conduct another rare industry of the United States, there being only five other such establishments, and only one larger which is at Bartlett, N. H. To make a shoe peg the material must pass through eighteen different hands, yet, over 100 bushels are made daily. The timber used is yellow birch, some maple. The timber goes to the machinery green, but the pegs come out seasoned. The pegs are put in barrels of five bushels each and exported to Germany, where they are sold for 60 and 70 cents per bushel. From the black birch bark is distilled the oil of wintergreen, which it is said cannot be detected from the genuine. The business of the Company is conducted by W. R. and J. E. Straight, formerly of Monroe county.

A. A. Vermilya is postmaster and dealer in general merchandise.

Denmark Bros., run a large planing mill.

J. L. Packer carries on boot and shoe, and harness-making.

F. J. Cassada is engaged in the lumber business and runs a steam saw-mill.

The hotel is kept by D. Doud.

The place affords three churches, and a graded school, which is in charge of Miss Ella Parker, assisted by Abbie Church.

Brown and Roup are millers.

There is also a wagon ship, two blacksmith shops, a barber shop, and a second store nearly completed.

Grover is finely located for manufacturing purposes, and will in time become a place of no little importance. The place is named in honor of Simon Grover, Esq., one of the earliest inhabitants.

Alba, East Canton and other points of interest next week.



Towanda, Pa., Nov. 22, 1883

History of Canton Township--Continued


is pleasantly situated in the northern part of Canton township, on the Northern Central railroad, four miles from Canton, and comprises a population of 230 souls. This locality was settled in 1803, by Noah Wilson of Vermont, who made the first clearing where Alba now stands, in 1802. Here he lived the remainder of his days, reared his family and with them, cleared away the mighty forest. Of the many interesting facts connected with the history of this true "pioneer of the West," space forbids us to recite but few. However, we must mention that Mr. Wilson was a man of ability and influence. He was one of the first commissioned Justices of the Peace of Bradford county, being appointed in 1810, by Gov. Simon Snyder, for life, or during good behavior. He continued to act until the Constitution of 1830 made the office elective. The name Alba was given by Mr. Wilson from its stream of pure clear water. Of the Wilson family there are but two survivors--Mrs. Chester Williams, the first born of the place, and Dr. Irad, or as everybody calls him "Colonel Wilson" an account of whom we must briefly sketch. Dr. Irad Wilson is now eighty-six years old, being five years of age when his people moved from Vermont to Bradford county. With exact clearness he can recount anything of importance happening from the settlement of Alba to the present time. The Doctor has been ticket and station agent at Alba ever since that office opened, and at present attends to its duties in person, and without the aid of glasses. Though not required to work, he says he feels better satisfied when having something to busy himself at. Mr. Wilson has never asked for office, but was elected county commissioner in 1839, and to the Legislature in 1844 and re-elected to that office in 1845--the term of Representative then being one year, with a salary of $3 per day and traveling fees for not more than a hundred days. For every day over the hundred the pay was $1.50. Mr. Wilson says there was not such scrambling for office then as now. Mr. W. has been a very successful physician, but has now retired from practice. He has taken the REPORTER since before it became the BRADFORD REPORTER. He says it was first known as The Porter, named in honor of Gov. Porter, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Wilson is a genial old gentleman, and takes delight in relating the incidents of pioneer life. We only regret that space will not allow a more detailed mention. But we would ask our kind readers to notice what Dr. Wilson says in the county history in his "early recollections of Alba."

Alba borough has for its present officers:

Burgess--O. Montgomery

Justices of the Peace--V. M. Wilson, Geo. Evins

Constable--Edward Hawley

Councilmen--J. W. Foss, Dr. Smith, Jas. Henry, V. M. Wilson, Wm. Reynolds, J. Loughhead

School Directors--Ira H. Smith, J. S. Reynolds, Wm. Goff, E. C. Reynolds, M. L. Packard, Geo. H. Well.

Geo. H. Webb is postmaster, and conducts an enterprising business in general merchandise.

John Youmans, also does an active business in general merchandise.

Mrs. O. F. Young deal in groceries and provisions.

The pride of Alba is the "Union carriage shop" which has gained for their work a reputation in the State, unexcelled. It builds carriages and coaches for such men as ex-Gov. Andrew G. Curtin and Wm. Doud, of Philadelphia, and ships work to Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisana and Canada. Carriages , phaetons, sleighs and cutters are manufactured in all styles and from the very best materials. The company does the exclusive work of the McIntyre and Clearfield coal companies, and ships to various parts of the State. The first sixteen Herdic coaches were manufactured in their shops. The blacksmithing of the company is under the charge of James Henry, formerly foreman of the Herdic Coach Manufacturing Company, at Philadelphia.

Miller Bros. run a combination mill--sawing lumber, lath and shingles, together with a grist mill. They are doing a fine business.

Boot and shoe making is skillfully executed by J. Loughhead.

V. M. Wilson is the popular and accommodating blacksmith of this place.

E. L. Case is the genial cooper.

The place affords two churches and a finely conducted school, under charge of Miss Emma Bush, also a hotel, the "Union" which is kept by I. H. Smith.

The physicians of the place are Irad Wilson, C. Smith and C. C. Hooker.

William Andrews, of Alba, now 98 years old is a pensioner of the war of 1812. He retains his mental faculties well, and is able to walk some distance. He is father of Wm. Andrews, Esq., of Williamsport, a well known lumberman.


or the place of "brotherly love" is a quiet enterprising community, three miles from Canton, and with its pleasant village, comprises a population of 400 souls. The locality has some of the finest dairies in the county, prominent among which are S. H. Lindley’s, T. S. Manley’s, D. G. Lindley’s, Wm. Lawrence’s, R. and M. Foster’s, B. Montgomer’s, B. Wright’s, C. C. Brown’s and H. F. Beardslee’s. The place affords two very pleasant church edifices. I. N. Beardslee is the village postmaster, and is doing an extensive business in general merchandise.

Landon and Son are reliable carriage makers and are doing an extensive business in their line. Their work needs no recommendation, it recommends itself.

S. Craven, is the enterprising cooper.

Jas. Barnes, is the popular blacksmith

A. Darling, makes the ladies happy by making the old knives new by his silver plating.

M. Haxton, in his genial way shows the ladies how nicely the new Howe does its work.

The village school is successfully kept by Miss S. A. Manley.