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Center Street in Canton
On November 20th, 1913, the Green Free Library was opened to the public with appropriate ceremony. This event, however, may be considered the climax of thirteen years striving toward an adequate library for Canton.
In 1897 articles were written in school publications and the Canton Sentinel by Att’y Charles E. Bullock of the Board of Education and W. L. Rowlands, Principal of the Canton Schools, setting forth the urgent need for a library and suggesting plans for raising money for its support. These were followed by stirring appeals by Rev. Day Crockett, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, and the results of their efforts were 927 volumes, collected by purchase and gift, to be circulated from a room on the ground floor of the Boro Building and offered by the Boro Council, rent free. The librarian was to receive a salary of $50.00 a year.
Miss Eva Tyler was the first elected librarian. She worked to catalog the books but resigned before the opening. Consequently, Miss Sarah Gates presided on the opening day and for three years thereafter.
On January 1st, 1900 the great day came, but with it a blizzard, and only 16 books were borrowed, a sad beginning. However, by the end of the year, borrowers numbered 485 and circulation had climbed to 9548. After two short years the room so generously donated was outgrown and the collection was moved to the 2nd floor of the building now occupied by the Acme Store. Some years later another move located the Library in rooms on the second floor of the McConnell building.
During this period money came from various sources. Mr. L. R. Gleason started the ball rolling with a contribution of $100.00. From his estate, three years later came the first legacy. Att’y C. E. Bullock contributed $50.00 and Mr. John Innes a like amount. The Board of Education followed with $100.00 per year for several years. There were pledges of individuals for terms of four and five years. A benefit play, Esmeralda, a concert by musicians of the town, donations from Cantonian Dames and the Chatauqua Circle were also noted. An outstanding social event each year was the book reception for which the admission charge was one book or money to buy a book. Another notable event was an art exhibit arranged by Miss Parsons at which the pictures were sold.
In 1903, upon Miss Gates’ resignation, Miss Margaret Dwyer took over for a year and she was followed by Miss Sadie Parsons whose regime lasted until 1928. To Miss Parsons fell the task and the privilege of moving into the new library building for which Mr. Charles S. Green, lumberman from Roaring Branch and close friend of Att’y W. C. Sechrist made provision in his will. Mr. Green stipulated that a corporation be set up by the Board of Education to establish a library free to all persons seeking information who appreciate the privilege of a free public library and who will not abuse or injure the volumes.
This corporation was duly formed according to school law of 1911, which prescribed seven directors, two of whom shall be the President and Vice President of the Board of Education. The corporation took over from the Board of Education all library properties previously held by it, for the library opened in 1900, and in that way two units were made into one. Beside the seven directors, three trustees were appointed by the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County, to have the power of general supervision and inspection and the right of requiring reports of the management of the library for the Green Estate. In case of a vacancy caused by death or resignation the two remaining trustees were instructed to petition the court to appoint a successor.
The following was taken from the Canton Sentinel of Thursday, November 27, 1913, and tells about the opening of the Green Free Library on Thursday, November 20, 1913
The formal opening of the Green Free Library occurred Thursday afternoon and evening and was much enjoyed by the people of Canton and vicinity, who are proud of this addition to their town. In the afternoon the building was thrown open for the first time for inspection by the public. The tables and desks were adorned with large bouquets of Chrysanthemums and roses and the Muncy orchestra played during the afternoon. Throngs of people were shown through the building by the librarians and the Board of Directors.
The exercises were held in the Presbyterian Church in the evening and opened with an overture by the orchestra. After the invocation by Rev. G. W. S. Wenrick, H. F. Lundy rendered a tenor solo, - A Song of Praise, by Goebler. W. C. Sechrist then read a biographical sketch of Charles S. Green, the material of which was gathered during the writer’s personal acquaintance with Mr. Green. This was followed by a contralto solo by Miss Maud Benedict, - The Day is Done, by Balse. Charles E. Bullock then read the charter and financial statement of the Library, and the choir which had been especially organized for the occasion sang Kiplings’ Recessional, by Fearis. The next talk was by Prof. William Day Crockett, who was the leading spirit in the first library movement in Canton. He spoke on, - The Early History and Problems of the Canton Public Library, and recalled many incidents, amusing and otherwise of the pioneer days of the institution, bringing out forcibly the rapid steady growth from very small beginnings.
In the space reserved for three minute talks, remarks were made by Att’y Lee Brooks, Rev. W. C. Hull, Rev. Horace C. Broughton. The meeting was closed by singing America, and the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Caldwell.
The membership of the choir included Mrs. J. E. Roenitz, Miss Lillian Cupp, Mrs. W. T. McFadden, Miss Maud Barnes, Miss Edna Yeats, Miss Maud Benedict, Mrs. G. E. Newman, H. F. Lundy, Joseph Mason, Edward Hallett, Robert Gleckner, E. J. Bailey, Willard Hagar, and Fred Newell, Jr. J. Fred Clark was the organizer and leader of this choir.
The official board of the library is as follows: Trustees W. V. Bacon, Charles D. Derrah, and C. E. Bullock. Board of Directors, F. W. Taylor, C. M. Harding, L. T. McFadden, W. C. Sechrist, H. L. Clark, Dr. W. T. Davison, H. W. McNett.
The following is taken from the paper read by W. C. Sechrist, Attorney and friend of Charles S. Green, at the dedication exercises of the Green Free Library, November 20, 1913.
Owing to the fact few written or printed records relating to the life of the late Charles S. Green, founder of the Green Free Library are in existence, it is necessary for the writer to rely largely on what he has heard Mr. Green say from time to time, and on his own recollections, for what he now says.
It was my good fortune to see Mr. Green often during my boyhood days; to have many business relations with him during my business activities, and the pleasure of travelling with him more or less during the last 10 or 15 years of his life. I also saw him as many times as was consistent with his condition, during his last sickness.
Mr. Green was born at Poughkeepsie, N. Y. on July 6, 1829. He lived there with his parents, John and Eliza Green, until he was about 12 years of age, and there attended the public schools. The family then came to Williamsport, PA., and he there attended a boy’s private school (later Dickenson Seminary, and now Lycoming College) a short time. He also clerked in a Williamsport drug store for a year, and was then occupied for two years in a drug store in New York City. He then went to New Bedford, Mass., and worked in a bookstore there for 11 years. He came to Roaring Branch, PA. in June 1885, where he located permanently, and soon after engaged in the lumber and mercantile business, and later in the coal mining business, and there died March 27, 1911.
It will be seen that his school advantages were very limited. He was a self-educated man and a well educated one. His employment in a bookstore no doubt helped in an educational way. He read many books later in life, and enjoyed reading immensely. He learned the drug business during his short stay in New York and became an expert druggist.
In my opinion if he had remained in New York, with his great business ability, he would have been one of the great merchants of this country. His proper way of expressing himself, his accurate knowledge of all branches usually taught in schools and his aptness in figures or mathematics, all go to show that he educated himself thoroughly. He could talk intelligently on all important subjects and had very decided opinions about books and reading matter.
He engaged very little in social affairs, but notwithstanding this he seemed to know as much in regard to the rules and forms of propriety and etiquette as many who made a study of such matters. His language was always proper. I never knew or heard of his speaking an oath and I never knew or heard of his using language, which might not with propriety be heard by women and children. He seldom used a slang word or expression. He enjoyed and could tell a good story, but he would neither tell nor listen to a "shady" one. I think these traits of character are at least in part due to his Quaker ancestry and to rigid home training while a child.
As stated, his parents came to Roaring Branch in the year 1855, the family then consisted of father, mother, three sons and two daughters. His father engaged in the business of lumbering, but it was not a success, and he lost all he had. A few years later Charles S. opened a small store. He had earned and saved about $800 and this was his stock in trade to begin with. His store was a small affair and was located a short distance south of where the Roaring Branch tannery stood. As I remember the store it seemed little larger than present day dry-goods boxes. His business was not very profitable at first, but as war times came on, it became so. He added to the size of the store, and yet the business outgrew the building. He then built the new store near the station, where he did an exceedingly profitable business until he sold out this branch of his business 12 or 15 years before his death.
While his mercantile business was successful for some years, yet he made most of his large fortune in lumbering. In about the year 1858, he was offered the purchase of a large tract of "wild" land, as such lands were then called, at a price of about $1.75 per acre, with the understanding he could take all the time he desired in which to pay for same. He knew the lands well and accepted the offer. On these lands were then standing thousands of ash, basswoods and cherry trees and as war times came on this class of lumber became exceedingly valuable, and he lost no time in manufacturing and selling same at large profit.
|The top photo shows Sadie Parsons, the librarian. She was a single woman and Eleanor Parsons Keagle's aunt. The person in the bottom photo is not identified, but was taken Feb. 2, 1917|
This was the beginning of his financial success and he continued his lumbering operations until the year 1907, although after 1897 the business was principally conducted, under his supervision, by Mr. J. D. Allison, who remained in the employ of Mr. Green until his death.
His success was largely due to his capacity for hard work and to the fact that he never let up on anything he undertook until it was successfully accomplished. He knew very little about the words "quit" or "can’t". No matter how much work he did or how many hours he was engaged; during his activities he never showed signs of being tired. His business never drove him, but he always drove his business.
He had an unusually good memory and was quick and correct in dealing with figures. If it was a cash transaction, when the bill of goods was wrapped and ready for delivery to the customer, he was able to tell the amount, even though the purchase consisted of a large number of items. The amount when given was absolutely correct. This enabled him to do much business in a day as could be done by several men of ordinary business capacity.
He loved his work, and his task was never limited by time. The work before him had to be finished regardless of the number of hours required and no waste whatever could be connected with his affairs. Small matters received as careful attention as large ones, and before he went to sleep everything relating to that day’s business was finished and closed.
When Mr. Green died in March 1911, he had survived all his brothers and sisters, though he was next to the oldest of the family. He was never married, and his nearest kin are two nieces; one a daughter of his brother David, and the other the daughter of his brother Harry.
In disposing of his property he made suitable provision for his two nieces and for a few of his friends. He then provided for two "Free Libraries", one at Wellsboro and the other at Canton, PA. The larger part of his estate, however, was left to found a Home for the aged people at Roaring Branch, PA to be located on his old homestead and which is now (1913) being built by the Trustees of that Institution, a short distance from his late residence, which he built about the year 1871, and where he lived during the last 40 years of his life.
While he desired that all the people of Canton should have the privileges of the Library and fully enjoy same, he was particularly interested that the children should have the full benefits thereof. He firmly believed that children should be furnished with good clean reading, and that the class of reading which often falls into the hands of children, especially if selected by themselves, is a positive injury to them, and in some cases their utter ruin.
|Reading Room Photos 1916|
---------------The library "shall be free to all persons seeking information, who appreciate the privilege of a Free Library and who will not abuse or injure the volumes, furniture or fixtures of the same, and who will cheerfully conform to the Rules and Regulations adopted by the Trustees".
I have little knowledge of Mr. Green’s church relations. His early training was that of the Quakers, but I do not know whether or not he was a member of their society. I do know that in his family he observed some of the rules and forms of the Society, and that whenever he spent any time in Philadelphia, he attended the Friends Meeting. He told me that on several occasions when his business took him into Sullivan County he attended such meetings there.
He contributed largely to the building of the little Union Church at Roaring Branch, near his home. He paid liberally in sustaining the same while he lived and at his death created a trust fund of $3,500, the use of which is to go to the support of the church perpetually.
He was extremely modest in regard to himself and his doings, and seldom spoke of his accomplishments or successes, but gave the impression that what he had done was an every day occurrence that might be accomplished by anyone.
Additional information from a paper on Mr. Green prepared and read by Miss Helen Rockwell for the Canton Village Improvement Association, April 3, 1941.
In 1828, John Green, father of Charles S. Green, with several other men formed the "Lycoming Coal and Navigation Co." They bought land around Ralston and planned to dredge Lycoming Creek so that coal could be taken to market by boat. Besides coal, a good grade of iron was found in the mountains for the smelting of which several furnaces were built. One of these was for many years a landmark near the highway below Ralston. Two or three runs of iron were made but either from lack of experience or because of scarcity of funds, the business was discontinued and the furnaces allowed to cool.
Some years later, about 1852, through a reorganization of this early company, the Red Run Coal Co. began operation. Two men, Alexander Murray and William Miller had purchased 8 warrants of land (a term dating from the grant of the King of England to William Penn, a warrant being 1,000 acres) for the mining of coal. John Green owned a like amount of land, covered with virgin timber and extending from Roaring Branch toward Liberty.
It was at this time that Charles Green came to assist his father in these interests; The following is from the Tioga County History: - In June 1855, he came to Roaring Branch, where he erected a mill for the manufacture of shingles, barrel staves and heading, and two years later opened a general store which he carried on up to 1883. It will be noted this account of the store does not coincide with Mr. Sechrist’s, the latter probably being more accurate from personal observation.
During this period, lumbering seems to have been more important than coal mining. It is related that Mr. Green built the road leading from his home, over the mountain toward Liberty for $2.00 per rod. In time most of the logs were processed so that there were 8 or 10 sawmills scattered through the section manufacturing all kinds of hemlock and hard wood lumber.
In 1891, the coal business revived, Mr. Green owning ¼ and other local men, including Allison’s interest. They operated the Red Run Coal Co. and Red Run Lumber Co. within one corporation. Later, the Ralston Brick Co. intended to use clay from the Red Run mines for brick, was a third activity of the company. Add to these the tanneries in each of the towns, and the picture is one of intense living in a busy community.
By 1907 all the timber had been taken from the mountains. In 1906 and 1907 there were strikes in the mines for higher wages. By the time they were settled, the coal company had lost its best customer, the Northern Central Railroad Co., thus making it increasingly difficult to operate at a profit, so finally mining was discontinued.
Mr. Green, as people remember him in the late 1890’s, was small of stature, always immaculately attired, wearing white shirt and black bow tie. He took his responsibilities seriously, was busy planning and working long hours each day in his office.
Eventually an unmarried brother and two unmarried sisters shared his home, described in the Tioga History as a "model of comfort and convenience." These consisted of a bathroom, running water and furnace. There were wooden shutters inside but no shades. One large room was filled with bookcases and had leather upholstered chairs and was known as the library, and it also served as a storeroom for jellies and preserves. The furniture was good, of a kind and quality suited to the tastes of a bachelor and a Quaker.
A housekeeper with several helpers kept the house in order, while an Italian gardener raised vegetables for the family, looked after the horses and usually a cow or two. A large coal bin near the house supplied the furnace. There was no lawn and very few flowers.
Mr. Green never had time or inclination for hunting, fishing or other recreation of the period. At intervals he would take a long trip to Alaska, to Jamaica or to Bermuda, etc. On several of these occasions he was accompanied by W. C. Sechrist of Canton, whom he admired extravagantly for his honesty.
Mr. Green belonged to two clubs in Philadelphia, and if he was to be considered as having a hobby, it was the collection of fine paintings. Among his friends were some Philadelphia artists of the time. He also owned pieces of very fine glass. Many of his purchases were made at John Wanamakers, for he considered him absolutely reliable.
From Mr. Green’s diary, one may get an accurate account of wind and weather during his lifetime. His idea of education was that of self help through reading and travel, rather than that of the formal school or college. He was a Republican in politics.
In business he demanded an accounting for every cent so that he acquired a reputation for being over zealous in that respect. He was fond of children, would take them on to ride, ask them to meals and the like. Beside the bequests already mentioned, the Home for the Friendless and the Industrial Home in Williamsport were remembered.
Continuing with the Green Free Library by Eleanor P. Keagle:
After removal to the new building, an assistant to Miss Parsons was engaged, the reference collection expanded, and service generally improved. There followed a period of well being until Miss Parson’s resignation in 1928, when it was found that the income from the Green estate would no longer cover expenses. Money originally loaned at 5%, at this time brought only 3%. Salaries had materially increased and books were doubled and tripled in price.
Again the Board of Education came to the rescue by electing a teacher librarian who would have one class in English, then spend the major part of her time in the library. The library board contributed $250.00 toward her salary and waived the right to the one mill tax permitted by state law for library purposes.
Miss Helen Bullock was the first to serve under this plan and she was followed by Miss Blanche McCauley, afterward Mrs. Dan Hallett. It was during her regime that the children’s room was opened, its artistic wall panels being the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Thurston.
In 1935, Miss Frances Kilburn became librarian. She organized library clubs among the students and because of the National Youth Administration she was able to engage students to paint the interior of the building. Her day began at 8:30 A.M. and included a Sunday reading hour.
Soon after Miss Kilburn accepted a position in Williamsport, Miss Martha Smith arrived. Through her efforts, Friends of the Library came into being and it is still carrying the work so well begun. Miss Smith became Mrs. Martha Smith Marble and Miss Lilly Hess took over her position for two years. A successful hobby show was one of her major accomplishments and attractive book exhibits were often seen in down town stores at this time.
Miss Elizabeth Powell, afterward Mrs. Seubert came as a wartime Librarian in 1943, and while we were still feeling the pinch of wartime restrictions, Miss Eleanor Williams succeeded her in 1945. Books had increased in price and we could have fewer of them. Reading room attendance was greatly improved because modern lighting was then installed. Miss Williams left for war service in Okinawa but returned as Librarian for the new Tri-County High School and the Green Free Library. During this interim, Miss Leila Grube and Miss Barbara Oldt were librarians and both were outstanding for their work with student assistants.
Miss Williams became Mrs. Tracy Kuhn and departed for a position at State College. Since her departure we have had a resident of Canton, Mrs. Keith Mosier who is a graduate of the Library School in Syracuse University. Mrs. Mosier, with Miss Elsie Reynolds as Assistant now devotes much of her time serving Elementary School pupils. Each grade under the supervision of a teacher visits the library once in two weeks. The circulation among the pupils is about three times that of the adults. Reading of non-fiction is growing and that of fiction is declining.
Eleanor P. Keagle (1896-1971)
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your account of library and photos.
I am the president of the "Friends of the Green Free Library" and very
interested in this account of early history. The "friends" try to
do as much as possible to add to the funds, books and fixtures of the library.
We have been contributing $2,500 each year for new books plus have been
holding a Chinese Auction for six years to add to the general updating
of the library. We also hold a "Silver Tea" the first Friday in December
to raise money for new books. Consider this an invitation to attend
if you are ever around that weekend. Thank you again, Dona Beers
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