History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
If You Have Photos of People Mentioned on the Page, Send Them In For Inclusion
First Meetings and Elections – Why Federalists – Jefferson and Hamilton – Land Question – First Two Voting Districts – Federal and Whig Parties Overthrown – Old Labor Party – Lincoln, Douglas and Trumbull, An Episode – Election Returns to Date – Etc.
There had been permanent settlers here a considerable time before there was such a thing as distinctive American politics; before even there was any strong point for neighbors to argue and contend about, except some question relating to their religion, or the conduct of the French-Indian war, or something of that nature. After the "Boston Tea Party" there was furnished all a bone of contention. The controlling element in society were the Anglo-Saxons, a race intensely patriotic, bowing with an Eastern devotion at the shrine of royalty, and yet fiercely jealous of any encroachment upon the most trivial reserved rights of the people; their ancestors had made great kings, and chopped off the heads of a greater number of them than had any other people in history; savagely religious, they had struck the temporal power of the Pope the blow that in time destroyed it. When the war of Independence was happily ended and our people had, by a mere hair’s breadth, escaped placing themselves under their own chosen crowned head; the greatest man in the tide of time, incomparably great in war for the liberty of the people, but far nobler and greater in peace, was at the head of the affairs, as the wise mentor of a people confronting the supreme problem of founding the Republic; then arose the first glimmer of what, in one hundred years, grew to be the wide-branching and fruitful tree, American politics. The ship of State had been successfully launched, and now she must be ably
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manned, officered, and piloted in the unknown waters, on treacherous seas where were no charts or beacon lights to point the way to the peaceful haven.
A short paragraph is given in some of our histories to a little incident that is full of deep significance the more it is studied. In laying the very foundation of the Republic, almost the first question, after peace was declared, was the indebtedness that had been incurred in the prosecution of the war. In addition to what was due our own people, it was found that there were nine million dollars due to foreign nations. The executive body chosen to consider this great problem, all realized that here was perhaps the greatest difficulty menacing the new government, the presiding officer of which was the immortal Benjamin Franklin. This immense debt was the young Nation’s nightmare, and these great and good men realized much of the black hopelessness that stared them in the face; in considering it; days and nights and patient weeks and months, they reasoned on the subject of how to provide for it – a very ghost at the feast the would not down. The deliberative body, composed of men who have had few equals, and no superiors, solemnly concluded finally that the young Republic could never pay the enormous amount, and all that could be done was to break up the Government, and divide the territory among the Nation’s creditors – if they would accept that as full payment. This delicate subject was handled as one of the State secrets of the time; not thrown before the people for their consideration and discussion; whether because they assumed the people would not understand it, or it might result in great evil influence on the public mind, is not now known. Our Government still has its "State secrets," which, in the judgment of some good men, is but a relic transmitted from the old feudal monarchies.
To the glory of mankind, our infant Republic was not broken up and divided among its creditors in payment of the hopeless debt of $9,000,000. As to the great and brave men, Americans, who had suffered so much in the long and cruel war, so many lives sacrificed, and such indescribable suffering and want, broken homes and hearts, and fortunes upon the altars of freedom, the indebtedness to them in dollars and cents was a matter largely of indifference; it was the people’s Government, and whatever it might owe its people was simply due to itself and could stand indefinitely, but all foreign debts must be paid, and how was it possible to extract blood from a turnip? In 1789 Washington became President, and, for the next eight years, the half-dozen families in Bradford County had no defined lines in politics, on which to divide in contention. In 1797 John Adams succeeded Washington, and then the faint lines of opposition the Federalists became visible, as they show athwart the political horizon. The four years of Adams, as the Chief Executive of the nation, prepared the way for Jefferson’s succession, and the line of division in parties became constantly more and more clearly defined. The eight years of Jefferson brought matters down to nearly the hour of creation of Bradford county, when every man in the community was expected to both preach, and pray, and vote for his own chosen party. The first four
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of Madison’s eight years in the office of President were but half gone when Bradford county completed its civil organization, and the people were called upon to express their judgments on local affairs through the ballot box.
Whether Jefferson stood in the way of that imperial mind, Hamilton, or not, and thwarted his cherished idea of a strong central government, or whether Jefferson called into active existence the very prominent political life of Hamilton, men may now differ in regard to the fact, but certain it is these are the representatives of the central opposing political ideas that have run throughout the life of our Nation.
The history of the formation of the Federal Constitution shows clearly that there was at that time a large and influential body of men in this country who seriously doubted, if they did not absolutely deny, the capacity of the people to govern themselves. They believed in the establishment and maintenance of a great central power, as far removed from the influence of popular opinion as possible with an Executive and Senators, as well as judges, chosen for life; and Mr. Hamilton, went so far as to declare that he was in favor of extinguishing the State Governments entirely, but did not actually propose such a measure, for the sole reason, as he stated, that it would shock public sentiment. In his plan of government submitted to Mr. Madison, he proposed that the President should be chosen for life, and should possess an absolute power to veto the acts of Congress. Senators were also to be chosen for life, and the Senate was to have the sole power to declare war: the right of suffrage in the choice of Senators and Presidential electors was to be limited to those who owned real estate in their own right, or in the right of their wives; and in order that the people of the several States might be more effectually deprived of the right of self-government, it was provided that their governors should be appointed under the authority of the United States, for indefinite terms, and should have the absolute power to negative all acts of the State Legislatures. In his speeches in the Convention, he distinctly announced that he had no faith in popular government in this country, and contemptuously said that no matter how such governments might be modified, they were "but pork still, with a change of sauce." In relation to the powers, duties and responsibilities of the Executive, he declared that the English model was the only good one, and he wanted an American President as nearly like a British King as possible, except that he should hold his office for life by election instead of inheritance. Hamilton was a man who believed in the authority of precedent, and for this as a guide there were supreme reasons for his judgment that the English form of government was at the time the best in the world or in history, and not only that, but possibly the best that the world’s intelligence would bear – the power of the King Fetich, the infallible ruler, who should be regardful only of the reserved rights of the rich aristocrats, and these two combined would the best care for and protect the people – the hewers of wood and the haulers of water. This at that time was the world’s best experience, and the true interpretation of man in his best and highest form.
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Could Hamilton have foreseen the rotten boroughs, some of this unspeakable corruption that has found its way to the ballot box, that has come in time, he would have held in his hand a weapon that Jefferson would have found difficulty in warding off its blows.
The few that were in what is now Bradford county, as they were then citizens of Luzerne and Lycoming counties, had not voted for Jefferson nor his successor, Madison. When the county completed its first civil government, the country was at the door of the War of 1812-15. The majority of the people were Federalists and the deciding factor in men’s minds in this county was the very important and nearly vital question of the disputed land titles between Pennsylvania and Connecticut colonists. The authorities of both states supposed that this strip of territory, including this and other counties, belonged, under the original crown grant, to them respectively; the Penns had granted and sold manors – a species of feudal rights, exceedingly liberal in their terms, yet retaining the fee and demanding the perpetual acknowledgement of the Proprietaries’ rights by a least a nominal tribute, while the Connecticut authorities had sold township after township of land, giving freely the fee upon the permanent location of the agreed number of settlers thereon. The conflict of title arose over the indefiniteness of the crown grant in describing and locating the lines after they had proceeded west from the ocean into the unknown wilderness. Prior to, as well as at the same time, the same question was mooted on the south line of Pennsylvania, between the Proprietaries and Calvert of Maryland, which finally was adjusted, after years of serious contention and some bloodshed, in establishment of the historical "Mason & Dixon Line." On the south the contention over the disputed strip was between the Quakers and the Catholics; on the north it was between the Quakers and the Yankees, but in all such vexatious questions the final and permanent adjustment was always exactly on the lines claimed by the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania.
In fixing the northern line of the State, the north line of Bradford county, resort had to be had over the arbitration of the courts, and Commissions were appointed for that purpose. Connecticut claimed the land south even of the south line of the county, and commenced systematically the work of occupying it. The grant of the Six Nations had been made to the Susquehanna Company, and much in the spirit of the "boomers" that recently gathered in such crowds on the borders of the new Territory of Oklahoma, the keen-eyed settlers came down the Susquehanna, and up the Susquehanna, and met in dispute as to the possession of the coveted land, now the confines of Bradford county. In this case, as in many others, it seems that those, the most innocent, were in the end the chief sufferers. We can not know now fully in what good faith in the Company of the Susquehanna made their purchase on the river from which the company took its name, but it may be assumed that it was in implicit good faith and that their title was clear. This much is unquestionable, the people who bought of the company were in good faith, and when they were forcibly dispossessed of their homes it was a cruel wrong to them. It was the land question, arising
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from the facts just referred to above, that largely determined the politics of the people of Bradford county. When the enabling act, creating the county, was passed in 1810, an overwhelming majority of the people were those who had come under the auspices of the Susquehanna Company, and therefore at the first election in Bradford county there was a majority that were Federalists; the vote for John Franklin was unanimous – they put their faith in that party because they supposed that that was the short and certain way to settlement of the disputed land titles that was a solemn problem for them. They staked their all on the Federal courts, and believed that here they would have their titles under the company the more surely confirmed. It is a little difficult now to understand upon what ground this impression rested, but it had gone abroad, although, as early as 1795, a test case was decided in the United States Circuit Court against the Connecticut claimant. Col. Franklin was the central figure of Northern Pennsylvania and the people would vote for him regardless of his politics.
The members representing Luzerne county in Assembly from 1787 to 1802 inclusive, were as follows: 1787, John Paul Schott ; 1788, Obadiah Gore ; 1789, Obadiah Gore ; 1790, Obadiah Gore ; 1791, Simon Spalding ; 1792, Simon Spalding ; 1793, Ebenezer Bowman ; 1794, Benjamin Carpenter ; 1795, John Franklin ; 1796, John Franklin ; 1797, Rosewell Welles ; 1798, Rosewell Welles ; 1799, John Franklin ; 1800, John Franklin ; 1801, John Franklin ; 1802, John Franklin and Rosewell Welles. These were nearly all Bradford county men. That is, what is now Bradford county was then the strongest and leading part of Luzerne county.
The Bradford county people held their first joyful and patriotic Fourth-of-July celebration in 1801, and the previous year had voted in the election districts that had been provided in this part of the two counties of Luzerne and Lycoming. The first political meetings within this territory had been held in the year 1799. These meetings and elections were in the ancient townships of Ulster, Springfield, Allensburg, and Rindaw. They were referred to at the time by the Gazette, of Wilkes-Barre. The meeting of "a respectable number of the inhabitants" of the townships named, we are informed, met at the house of Jeremiah Lewis in Springfield, for "the purpose of consulting as to who would be the best person for candidate for governor"; Ezekiel Hyde was chairman of the meeting and Samuel Gordon, secretary. The next meeting of which we can now find traces was in 1804, in Rush township. Of these elections, Rev. David Craft, in his history of the county, says that all papers referring to the returns while this was a part of Luzerne county "are hopelessly lost." There are meager and only partial returns for the years 1801, ‘2, ‘3, and ‘4. In 1801 there were two election districts here, Tioga and Wyalusing – the former cast 112 votes and the latter 39. The conclusive evidence that at this election the voters were not strictly divided on party lines is given in the vote for Colonel Franklin and John Jenkins. The candidates for the Assembly were John Franklin and Lord Butler, running against Mathias Hollenback and Benjamin Carpenter. In Tioga the
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vote stood, Butler, 106; Franklin, 112; Hollenback, 3, and Carpenter, 2. For Commissioner, Arnold Colt received 110 votes and his opponent, Pettibone, 1. In the Wyalusing district, for Assembly, Butler, 20 votes ; Franklin, 23 ; Hollenback, 18 ; Carpenter, 15. For Commissioner, Colt, 24, and Pettibone, 15 votes.
At the election, 1802, Thomas McKean was standing for re-election as the Democratic candidate for Governor, and was opposed by James Ross, Federalist. Three election districts were then provided in the territory that is now Bradford county, Wysox township having been added to the two former. The vote for Ross, Federal, was Tioga, 96, Wysox, 26, and Wyalusing, 36; and for McKean, Democrat, the vote stood 20, 20 and 7, respectively. In a total of 205 votes cast in what is now Bradford county, a little more than three to one were Federalists. The vote for Governor better indicates the politics of the people than does the remainder of the ticket, where mostly they were influenced by individual preferences. There were four candidates for the State Senate, who were voted for as follows in the Tioga districts: Joseph Kinney, 58 votes ; Laurence Meyers, 21 ; Thomas McWhorter and Nicholas Kern, none. These were evidently neighbors, voting only for their neighbors, and probably the two latter did not reside in this part of the county, as Nicholas Kern did not receive a single vote in the three Bradford districts. In Wysox, McWhorter received 3 votes, Meyers, 17, and Kinney, 32; while in Wyalusing the vote was, McWhorter, 28, Meyers, 7, Kinney, 6. For the Assembly, Franklin received every vote but three in the county, and his popularity is again manifested in the year 1803, when he received every vote in the county but ten, attesting alike to the personal and political popularity of the man.
We have a strong indication as to who were among the active leading Republicans (Democrats), at that early time, in a letter dates October 1, 1805, by the signers thereto: John Hollenback, Guy Wells, Elisha Keeler, Daniel Ross, M. Miner York, Jabez Hyde and Benjamin Stalford, who addressed William Ross, Esq., and others, informing that the Republicans of Wysox District have nominated Moses Coolbaugh "and have talked of Reed Brockway," but are willing to consult with the lower part of the county, and select the person who would be most agreeable to all the freemen of the county." [That word "freemen," in the communication, may sound a little strange to readers now-a-days. It is explained by the statement that at that time Pennsylvania was a slave State.]
September 25, 1805, the prominent people of Wysox and Orwell met in convention or consultation at the house of Jacob Myer. They described themselves as "reputable and respectable citizens of the township." They placed in nomination Moses Coolbaugh and Job Irish. They made a good race, but the Federalists could outvote them, and it is said that the street gamins of that day jibed at them and called them "Denis." A meeting at Wyalusing recommended, for the Legislature, Justus Gaylord, Jr., and Roswell Welles for the Assembly, and John Jenkins for commissioner.
Back in the year 1800, October 3, a letter was written by Clement Paine to Col. John Jenkins, in which he said: "The undernamed
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persons in this township (Athens), may depend upon to give their votes in your favor: Wright Loomis, George Welles, Jonathan Harris, Elias Satterlee, Daniel Satterlee, Capt. Stevens, Pitkin Pratt, John Miller, David Alexander, Capt. Tozer, Maj. Mathewson, and Capt. Joseph Spalding." He then adds: "We may, I think with safety, calculate on at least double the number I have named above in your favor."
The district of Wysox, Wyalusing and Braintrim sent a meeting of delegates to the house of Bartholomew Laporte, in Asylum, September 17, 1806, when Moses Coolbaugh and Justus Gaylord, Jr., were again put in nomination for the Assembly. This election was confirmed by the other delegates of the county. At the election the vote stood, Justus Gaylord, Jr., 333 votes, and for Justus Gaylord (with the junior left off), 38 votes – total 371; Moses Coolbaugh received 364 votes. Justus Gaylord, Jr., was defeated because it was held by the judges that omitting the "Jr." were intended for his father, who was quite an old man, and was not a candidate at all. Mr. Coolbaugh was a Democrat while Maj. Gaylord was a Federal.
The first election in the new county of Bradford was in October, 1812, when a full corps of county officers were chosen, every one being a Federalist. One Democrat was elected until 1816, in the person of Eliphalet Mason, county commissioner. All the appointed officers in the county were Democrats, because Gov. Snyder was of that party.
This year, 1816, Bradford county swung into the Democratic line, and thus continued, without variation, for twenty years. The county was in touch with the country that was drifting away from the old Federal party, which was finally completely overthrown in 1828, and was succeeded by the now long since defunct Whig party. In 1836 the county, on President, gave 58 majority for Harrison, but at the next general election it swung back and gave Van Buren 213 majority over Harrison.
In 1828 the old Federal party was finally and completely overthrown, and its immediate successor was the Whig party. Bradford county, with but few exceptions, remained true to the Democracy. Up to 1840, the Abolition party had no strength or standing among our voters, and even then its strength was small. The Democratic party, however, had its trouble, dissensions sprung up, and in time it became a house divided against itself. The State had rid itself of slavery without having made the question a political one; it had black slaves, and it had indentured servants, and a class of immigrants who had bonded their labor in the old country, for a certain number of years, to companies that brought them over the sea. These contracts were enforced by the law and the courts. In their easy-going mode of life, with the very small "clearins," that were then the farms, the great abundance of fish and game, made servants of small profit. But few tradesmen wanted more than a good, stout apprentice, who was one of the family. There appears no record of any Negro slaves having been brought and permanently held here. The institution never flourished in this State, and the heaviest ownership was along the south line of the State, adjoining Maryland. The immigrants to this
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county, much like all northern frontiersmen, were poor in this world’s goods, brining little wealth except stout hearts and honest industry. The old "Hunker" and "Free Soil" factions sprung up in the Democratic county in the "forties," the first serious dissension in that party’s ranks. This, in fact, was nothing more than a quarrel over the distribution of the offices, and was brought up mostly by Van Buren, who had failed in securing the nomination at his party’s hands, and ran to punish and defeat his successful rival. The names given the factions were mutual terms of derision and contempt – "Old Hunkers" and "Free Soilers." Neither one of them was at all influenced in this section by any sentiment on the subject of African slavery, whatever may have been the feelings of the people in other sections. An attempt was made, about this time, to organize an Abolition party in Bradford county – John McKinney and Justus Lewis being at the head thereof. In 1839 a general meeting was called in Towanda, and an Abolition Speaker from Philadelphia was secured to address it – a riot followed, and the speaker was abused and a hearing denied him. The sober-minded people called on Hon. David Wilmot to pacify the mob; he addressed the excited crowd and took occasion to denounce all Abolitionists, and counseled the people to quietly disperse. The next year a county meeting of Abolitionists was convened at Wysox, which was attended by about 200 people of the county; the meeting was held there for the reason that the people of Towanda, it was understood, would not tolerate its presence. This organization then took the name of "Liberty party," and in 1840 organized and put up its ticket, and for the head of their National ticket in Bradford county there were 26 votes given; there were 56 votes given for some of the ticket. In other respects the history of this party in this county is but the same as that of it in nearly all the northern counties of the Union, where at least the early prophets were not without honor save in their own county.
In 1842 there was the first, though not the last, Laborer’s party in this county. It was organized, and a ticket put in the field: Representative, Chauncey Frisbie, of Orwell; Sheriff, John Van Dyke, of Canton; Prothonotary, Theodore Wilder, of Springfield; Register and Recorder, E. W. Hale, of Monroe; Commissioner, N. B. Wetmore, of Herrick; Coroner, Gordon Wilcox, of Smithfield; Auditor, Benj. Thomas, of Towanda. These people were evidently encouraged at that early day to put up a ticket of their own by the nearly patent fact that the Whig party was in the throes of dissolution; President Harrison died almost as soon as inducted into office, and his vice-president had Tylerized almost as soon as he was firmly in his seat, and the Whigs of Bradford county were aimlessly floundering without a head, and very naturally they made up a headless county ticket; the most of them supported the Laborer’s party, possibly not so much because of their love for them as their desire to down the Democracy and to express their hate for Tyler. The Whig organ in the county – The Scribe – advocated the Laborer’s ticket out and out, but the Democrats carried the day by over 300 majority.
The Labor party, nothing daunted, kept their adherents together, also
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the next year, 1843, and now established their weekly paper, and, if, at this late day, we may judge that party by the motto that adorned the head of their paper, it certainly deserved success whether it gained it or not. The motto was a strong platform. Here it is, and, pray, who may throw the first stone at it?
"The Laborer’s party will endeavor to fill all State and county offices with the best workingmen that can be found in both old parties. [This is buncomb, but read the next sentence.] We are for low salaries, little legislation, few offices, no sinecures, reduced taxes and strict accountability of office-holders."
The lines italicized are a model party platform. There have been many much longer ones written, but it is exceedingly doubtful if there has ever been a better one. "Low salaries, little legislation, few offices, no sinecures and reduced taxes." What more can be said in behalf of better government? It is like the Golden Rule in good morals – the great omnium, where all elaboration merely weakens and confuses. Its supremacy is in its short simplicity. Nearly fifty years – half the life of our nation – have come and gone since these men struck out in this bold line of economics, and now there has arisen a young and powerful party, composed nearly exclusively of the farmers, who are very nearly on the line of the "Laborers" of fifty years ago. When the next hundred years are ruled off and have been added to the life of our great Democracy, who can forecast what will be the dividing political and social questions then deeply interesting all men? Indeed, though we may wander far from present moorings of parties and factions, there is no certainty that we may not circle back by that time to the identical place now occupied. Since the hour of our American victory against the oppressor, man has been in the eager pursuit of a better government – in the Eastern as well as in the Western hemisphere. These ideas now flow in the two lines: First, the old idea of a strong government, absolute power vested in the head, and the military ability, not only to beat back the invader, but to invade and conquer and possess such of your neighbor’s domain as you may covet; where there is the one supreme law of might. Second, the other or parallel idea, is the acquirement of a better government than have been the old ones – in short, a good government. In many respects these two theories are directly opposite, and yet it can be readily seen that good men, equally earnest, honest and patriotic may here divided. A man may pride himself upon his country’s invincible army and navy; or its great institutions, public buildings, palaces, castles, public libraries, State schools, and colleges, a rich church, and a powerful aristocracy, and the extravagance of the expenditures upon its great ruler or rulers, or even feel a glow of patriotic pride that his nation has the largest list, and pays the greatest annual sum to its pensioners of any nation in all history; while his next-door neighbor, viewing things from a radically different standpoint, may equally pride himself upon what his neighbor or might call the poverty of the government; that is, but few and cheap public institutions or buildings, the lowest possible salaries to officials of all grades, little or no standing army, and the very minimum of taxes. While verging that way, it can not be said that such issues have
ever yet exclusively divided our people in political lines. This may come to be the case in time. One thing is patent, while one hundred years ago men took issues, mostly upon the sole question of the limit of the right of people to vote, in the form of the constitutional powers of the rulers, and the reserved rights of the people, this condition is slowly changing, especially since the experiment of the right of suffrage, almost universal among the males of the nation, as it has existed the past few years. Practical experience thus slowly but surely is educating mankind toward a general betterment. The story of Rome in her day of greatest splendors is told in the boast that was on the lips of every citizen: "I am a Roman citizen." This was not only a subject of pride, but it was held that anywhere in the world it was the only needed shield and protection from imposition from outside peoples. The law of might was clearly then the supreme law of mankind – physical force the great captain of the world.
The coming statesmen may in time abandon the idea that the people bring and offer up on their country’s altar their lives, their honor and their property in the first step in forming a body politic, and then the good government protects and cares for all as the most wise and loving parent; the government being the loving father – the people the obedient and trusting children. This enchanting theory is liable to be worn threadbare in time, and it is possible it may come to be so thoroughly questioned that economists will declare that rulers are mere machines, mere nothings, incapable of much good at best, and that the people are everything – supreme in every natural right to justice, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the real lords of creation, literally owning the earth, and that they may condescend to appoint this or that servant, called Presidents, Senators, Governors or dog-catchers, and elect to dole out to these menials the pittance of their daily wage. "I am a freeman" may some day be the boast incomparably above that of the old-time Roman citizen. Men will cease to plume themselves and strut in their gay coachman’s or policeman’s uniforms, or any of the badges of servitude, from the wigs and gowns to the maid’s caps. The world will still turn round, the sun will still shine and the fructifying rains descend, and population increase, even after that terror to nearly all rulers, universal liberty and justice, has come to all men. Man in the untrammeled pursuit of happiness is the godliest being possible for this world to possess. To have striven for this, though never so little, is to wear the crown of crowns, is to be one of the most exalted that has come in the tide of time – is to deserve the fullest and brightest immorality.
First Election of course was an important affair to the people, and fortunately the old poll book has been recovered wherein there is very nearly a complete list of the voters given in the county. If this country has any such thing as "the first families," then this is our royal "400." Look over the list, and see if you can trace any of your lineage to this list of F. F’s.
After the formation of the county the "Red Tavern" was the election place for many years. The first election was held on the second Tuesday (13th) of October, 1812, for the purpose of electing county
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officers. The board appointed to conduct the election in Towanda were Eliphalet Mason, inspector; John Felton, Jacob Bowman, Charles Brown, judges; Ethan Baldwin and E. B. Gregory, clerks. Those that voted at the election were – Henry Salisbury, William Finch, Henry Spalding, Benjamin Coolbaugh, James Dougherty, Wm. Coolbaugh, Ananias Whitman, Solomon Allen, John Pierce, Peter Edsall, Reese Stephens, Usual Carter, Issac Foster, Nathaniel Edsall, Russel Fowler, Elias Thompson, Samuel Seely, Jacob Wagner, David Blanchard, Ezekiel Griffis, Moses Gladden, Jacob Ringer, Nathan Coon, Aaron Carter, William Coolbaugh, Jr., Amos Ackler, Stephen Wilcox, John Goodwin, Wm. Peppers, Wm. McGill, John Head, Andrew Gregg, Ezra Rutty, Thomas Cox, Abial Foster, John Northrup, Benjamin Ackles, Edsall Carr, Absalom Carr, Wm. French, Jr., Wm. B. Spalding, George Bowman, Noah Spalding, John Mintz, Wm. Means, Moses Warford, Amos Bennett, Jr., Amos V. Matthews, Buckley Chappel, Ezra Rutty, Jr., Stephen Horton, Elisha Carpenter, Lemuel Payson, Abner C. Rockwell, Ebenezer P. Clark, Adonijah Alden, Abijah Northrop, Martin Stratton, Timothy Stratton, Sam’l Needham, Eleazer Sweet, Timothy Alden, Job Irish, Oliver Newell, Moses Rowley, Richard Goff, Solomon Talady, Jr., Ozias Bingham, John Fox, Jonathan Fowler, Abraham Foster, Austin Fowler, Wm. Thompson, Isaac Ellsworth, Elisha Cole, Richard Benjamin, Jas. Lewis, Samuel Cranmer, Parly White, John Schrader, Josiah Cranmer, Wm. Goff, John D. Saunders, Ethan Baldwin, John Franklin, Jabez Squires, Jacob Bowman, Zabin Williams, John Wythe, Samuel Gibson, James Roales, John Schrader, Jr., Calvin Cranmer, James Northrup, Eliphalet Mason, John Felton, Charles Brown, Jonathan Frisbie, Josiah Stockings, E. B. Gregory, Rufus Foster, Smith Horton, Rueben Hale, Ephraim Ladd, Warner Ladd, Rowland Wilcox, Sheffield Wilcox, Daniel Miller. Total number of voters, 108. These electors resided in what are now the towns of Asylum, Albany, Monroe, Franklin, and the Towandas.
The candidates voted for at this election were, for Sheriff – A. C. Rockwell, 84 votes; John Spalding 2d, 25; Wm. Means, 40; John Mintz, 26; John Taylor, 3; Jacob Boardman, 1; Jacob Bowman, 8; Job Irish, 2; Aaron Carter, 2; Josiah Stocking, 1; John Miner, 1; George Bowman, 1; Elisha Cole, 1; John Fox, 2; Peter Edsall, 1; Andrew Gregg, 1; Samuel McKean, 4. Commissioners – John Saltmarsh, 35; Samuel Gon, 34; George Scott, 33; Joseph Kinney, 58; William Myer, 62; Justus Gaylord, 54; Eliphalet Mason, 14; Jesse Hancock, 3; Isaac Chaapel, 2; Clement Paine, 6; Charles Brown, 1. Coroner – John Fox, 2; John Taylor, 43; John Horton, 43; John Minor, 41; Harry Spalding, 48; Jacob Bowman, 6; Rueben Hale, 2; Job Irish, 1.
At the general election, October, 1813, are the following names not contained in the list of 1812: Daniel Thompson, Thomas Simpson, Chas. F. Welles, A. C. Stuart, Daniel Drake, Nathaniel Talcott, Jesse Woodruff, George Davidson, Burr Ridgway, Christopher Cowel, John Simpkins, Andrew Irwin.
In 1843 the "Laborer’s" were better organized, and nominated in the county a full ticket. It is said they drew their leaders and voters
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from the old parties impartially. George Kinney and Joseph Kingsbury were Whigs who were prominent leaders in the Laborer’s party, and side by side with them were the strong Democrats, Asa Pratt and John L. Webb. At that election, 1843, the ticket presented by them was for Congress, Bela Jones of Susquehanna county; Senator, George Kinney, of Sheshequin; Representative, C. Frisbie, of Orwell and Eli Baird, of Troy; Commissioner, John Van Dyke, of Canton; Treasurer, Wyllys Brownson, of Towanda; Auditor, Milton Bailey, of Ulster. Again the Whigs made no nominations, so it was the Laborers and Democrats. Kinney carried Bradford county, but was defeated by the vote of Tioga, and so Reed and Sherwood, Democrats, were elected to the Legislature. The vote of the three parties for the two years was as follows:
Laborers. Democrats. Whigs.
1842…………………………….. 941 2,239 1,662
1843…………………………….. 1,289 1,750 938
This shows that all the gain was to the Laborer’s party, while both the others lost in their vote, – much the largest percent. of loss being from the Whigs.
Away back in 1828 the politics of the State was deeply stirred by the anti-Masonic movement that quickly became a political question. The rather nebulous idea that the Masons had murdered a man named Morgan, a member of the order who gave away for gain or notoriety their lodge secrets, began to pass current among the people, and Thad. Stevens, then a young man of Gettysburg, was shrewd and bold enough to seize upon this general delusion, feed and fatten it, and make it the issue in the election then pending. This was a singular exhibition of the public mind. In the first place the Masons never had any secrets in this country, whatever may have been theirs in the Old World, where men had to secretly combine and conspire in defense of their lives and plainest rights. There can be no place for secret political or otherwise organizations in this country; when that necessity arises then American democracy, all freedom and all justice will have gone forever from our land. The leader of this movement in Bradford county was Mr. O. P. Ballard. It had soon run its brief and brilliant course throughout the State. It never succeeded in getting a majority of the voters in the county, and it peacefully passed away.
Jackson was now the idol of the Democracy, while Clay was equally honored by the Whigs. These were two strong types of Americans – the dashing and brilliant Clay, the unequalled orator, the man of personal magnetism, challenged on his highway the strong, unyielding, brave and chivalrous Jackson; so unlike that they may well be said to have been splendidly matched. These were the successors in the great political tournament of Hamilton and Jefferson, and equally as well equipped to leave the impress of their lives upon their day and age. Clay was superb – Jackson was iron; both were patriots, the one as invincible as the other was captivating. It was natural that such leaders would reorganize political parties; reform the ranks and create the new era in American politics, when voters became wrangling and often fierce politicians, and all realized that they had leaders
History of Bradford County – p.294
who possessed pre-eminently the courage of their convictions. Clay would "rather be right than be President," while Jackson, "by the eternal" with the people at his back, struck dead incipient American aristocracy, and of each was it true that their party was their personal following. Nothing of the kind was known to the country before their day, nor has any parallel come since.
With the election for President in 1852, when Pierce (D.) was elected over Scott (W.) the Whig party was finally overthrown and ceased longer to be a factor in American politics. The mantel of Jackson had fallen on the shoulders of Stephen A. Douglas, and the "Little Giant" was forging his way to the front rank of living statesmen. The "Free Soil" question was precipitated upon the country by the Kansas-Nebraska question, that followed so closely upon the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and in 1853 was organized in a county in Illinois, the Republican party. This may not, although it is so claimed in the locality, to have been the first organization ever effected of that party, but it was the one that was pregnant with the remarkable future that then and there dawned upon the nation. The two leading anti-Douglas men in Illinois and who were a part of this first Republican organization were Abraham Lincoln and Lyman Trumbull – the latter had been a Democrat, who had ample reasons to believe he had never been justly treated by the leaders of his party, an New England man, an able lawyer and scholar, but said to be a cold, intellectual tower; while Mr. Lincoln was a Kentuckian and had been a Whig, and when a youth had migrated to Illinois with his parents, who possessed but a meager share of this world’s wealth. These men were very unlike, as much so personally and mentally as they had been politically and socially. Much the only thing in common between them, now, for the first time brought together in a political struggle, was the opposition to Douglas, and they joined hands to overthrow him, and wrest from him the control of the office of Senator from Illinois. The terms of this agreement were readily adjusted. Lincoln was to rally the old Whigs and bring them bodily into the Republican camp, and both supposed of course that this would be the big end of the new party. Trumbull was to rally the anti-Douglas Democrats, all those who opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise or who had caught the general "Free Soil" cry that then began to be heard all over the North. Gen. Shields was the junior Senator from Illinois and the first struggle was to capture the Legislature and it was agreed, in case that was done, that Mr. Lincoln should be made Senator, and then in 1858, when Mr. Douglas’ term would expire, Mr. Trumbull would stand against him for the office. On this basis the State and national election in Illinois, 1856, opened and one of the most remarkable campaigns was fought out. The Republicans carried the Legislature and Mr. Lincoln expected that his fight for Senator was over. When the Legislature met, Mr. Trumbull had gone carefully over the members returned and to his surprise he found that a majority of those elected as Republicans were those who had formerly been Democrats, and he therefore quietly stepped in and took the office of Senator and left Mr. Lincoln to warm his toes in the ante-room and
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wait until 1858, and then make the fight against Douglas. Mr. Trumbull was shrewd enough to realize that to defeat Douglas in his re-election was altogether another matter from that of defeating Gen. Shields. It was a bird in the hand with Trumbull, while it was a two-years’ wait and a very uncertain "bird in the bush" in the end with Mr. Lincoln. It is a part of the common history of the country that Douglas and Lincoln canvassed the State, holding joint discussions, from the North Line to Cairo, and Mr. Douglas defeated Mr. Lincoln, and this in the end made Mr. Lincoln President, in 1860. One of the notable things in this celebrated contest for Senator was the fact that the candidates went before the people, and to all practical purposes the choice for Senator was known as soon as the vote was counted; and this was the first time in the history of the country that this innovation had occurred. This yet unwritten episode in American politics perhaps has had more to do in shaping the history of the Union in the past thirty-four – the greatest era concerning our country – than probably any other circumstance that has ever occurred. Even after the war, and Mr. Lincoln was dead, Trumbull in the Senate voted against Johnson’s impeachment, and since that time has been actively identified with the Democratic party. These and preceding facts and incidents are given as explanatory to the reader, and will lead interest to the following compilation of the Bradford county voting in the early days of the county, that are taken as compiled by Rev. David Craft, and also as taken from the official records:
1814: For Governor (Lycoming and Bradford counties combined), Simon Snyder (D), 724 votes; Isaac Wayne, 11; George Latimer, 13; total, 748 – Democratic majority, 700. 1817: William Findlay, 929; Joseph Hiester, 353; total, 1,282 – Democratic majority, 576. 1820: William Findlay, 915; Joseph Hiester, 788; total, 1,703 – Democratic majority, 127. 1823: J. Andrew Shulze, 977; Andrew Gregg, 804; total, 1,781 – Democratic majority, 173. In 1826, Shulze received 1,753 votes; in 1829, 1832 and 1835, for Governor, Wolfe received respectively 1,219, 1,685 and 1,504 votes. In 1838, the vote for Governor was, Porter, 2,420, and Joseph Ritner, 2,219.
For President, 1824; Jackson, 1640, Adams, 31, Crawford, 16; Democratic majority, 1593. 1828, Jackson, 1553, Adams, 910: Democratic majority, 643. 1832, Jackson, 1598, Wirt, 1221; Democratic majority, 377. 1836, Harrison, 1521, Van Buren, 1463; Whig majority, 58. 1840, Van Buren, 2844, Harrison, 2631; Liberty party, 26; Democratic plurality, 213. 1844, Polk, 3495, Clay, 3164, Liberty, 63 – total, 6722; Democratic plurality, 331. 1848, Taylor, 3272, Cass, 1889, Van Buren, 1780 – total, 6941; Whig over Democrat, 1383; Whig over Free Soil, 1493; Cass and Van Buren over Taylor, 397. 1852, Pierce, 3930, Scott, 3526, Liberty, 281 – total, 7737; Democratic plurality, 404. 1856, Fremont, 6969, Buchanan, 2314, Fillmore, 71, Liberty, 7 – total, 9361; Republican majority over all, 4571. 1860, Lincoln, 7091, Douglas, 2176, scattering, 31 – total, 9228; Republican majority, 4884. 1864, Lincoln, 7530, McClellan, 3195 – total, 10,725; Republican majority, 4335. 1868, Grant, 7768. Seymour, 3538 – total, 11,306; Republican majority, 4230. 1872, Grant, 7452, Greely, 3563, Temperance, 16 – total, 11,031; Republican majority, 3873. 1876, Hayes, 8008, Tilden, 4989, Cooper, 59, scattering, 62 – total, 13,118; Republican majority, 2898. 1880, Garfield, 8152, Hancock, 4950, Weaver, 496. For Congress, C.C. Jadwin (R.), 7974, Robert H. Packer (D.), 4924, Joshua Burrows (N.), 625. 1882, For Governor, Beaver (R.), 5191, Pattison (D.), 4217, Stewart (I.), 1262. The latter was Independent-Republican. For Congress, E. Overton, Jr. (R.), 3273, G.A. Post (D.), 3961, C.C. Jadwin (Ind.), 3595. 1884, Blaine, 8405, Cleveland, 4216, Butler, 304, St. John, 521. For Congress, Burwell (R.), 8232, Post (D.), 4474, Dobson, 602, Decker, 107. 1888, Harrison, 8762, Cleveland, 4552, Fisk, 536, Scattered, 58.
The last presidential election, 1888, shows that there had been an irregular growth in the Republican majorities in the county since the election of 1856. And that at the last it reached within a few votes of its highest figure, given Lincoln in 1860. But by reference to the State election of 1882, when Pattison, Democrat, was elected governor, there was a split in the Republican ranks, which is represented by the votes for Stewart, Independent-Republican candidate for governor, and in this congressional district there was a split likewise in the Republican congressional vote, when the Democrat, Post, carried the county by a small plurality. The vote given above in 1882 does not show a Republican loss of voters, simply that they were divided.
The election of November 4, 1890, was a State and county one, where a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of internal affairs, congressman, and county officers were voted for. This was one of those peculiar moments in politics that are sometimes difficult to account for. At the beginning of the campaign the regular Republican convention was held, and a full county ticket nominated. A spirit of dissent rose in the ranks of the party, and finally another convention was called, composed of those who were dissatisfied with the action of the regular convention. By a singular coincidence this meeting convened in Towanda the same time as the Democratic convention, and after some negotiation the two bodies appointed conference committees, and a fusion or joint ticket was nominated, each taking about one-half of the nominees as near as they could be divided, and then opened out one of the most animated political contests ever witnessed in the county; speeches were held by day and by night, and livery rigs were kept unusually busy carrying young and old campaigners into every nook and corner of the county to talk to the dear people – on local matters, however. The State ticket was but little mentioned, and national issues were entirely forgotten, and the writer of these lines, who was an impartial looker-on, was impressed greatly with the fact that, considering the intensity of the struggle, there was but little personal mud-slinging at the respective candidates on either side. While it was not a presidential year, yet the whole county was never more thoroughly aroused, exactly what it was all about, it was a little difficult for an outsider to understand. "Down with the old ring!" seemed to be one side’s watchword, and "down with the kickers" was answered back. A general election for congressmen occurred at the same time in all the States, and outside of Pennsylvania it was the question of tariff – the McKinley Bill (a tariff bill then just passed), or similar national questions, over which parties were so earnestly wrangling. In the Southern, and many of the Western States, the farmers had just organized, and in some of them, as Kansas for instance, they swept all before them. But in Pennsylvania there was no Farmers’ ticket in the field – a straight Democratic State ticket was up. All over the State, but more especially in Bradford county, the opposition to the dominant party ignored national issues and the result of the poll was nearly bewildering. Pattison, Democrat, was elected Governor by nearly 20,000 majority, and the Republican candidates for the other State offices were elected by nearly the same majority. In Bradford county there were only 145 less votes cast in 1890, than had been given the last preceding presidential election, 1888, the vote being 13,315 and 13,170 respectively. As an evidence that it is sometimes the unexpected that happens, it is told that one of the men elected to one of the best offices in the county thought so little of being a candidate – such a modest "not an office-seeker." Although a Democrat, that when he was named "simply to fill up the ticket," was what they told him, in the Democratic convention, he declined to run; three of four others were then put in nomination, but each one refused; finally the first one was persuaded to let his name stand, and reluctantly, to accommodate his friends, he consented, and was nominated and elected by 2,000 majority.
November 4, 1890, was, therefore, an eventful day, politically, in Bradford county. Another incident is worthy of note: John A. Fox, Democrat, was not nominated by any convention, and he became a candidate on the heels of the campaign for commissioner, and received 5,809 votes, and failed of an election by a narrow majority. Thus the official vote is so full of interesting reading that it is here given, and for the purpose of easily comparing, the vote for President in 1888 is given in the first two columns: