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Roger Keagle's Complied History of Canton, Bradford County PA
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125 Years Postal Service in Canton
Asa Pratt was First Local Postmaster

Asa Pratt was the first postmaster of Canton, his commission dating December 31, 1825 making the postal service herein Canto 125 years old this year, 1950.It was served by a stage line that was operated between Williamsport and Elmira, and there were two mails a day, one north and one south.  The post office was located on Troy street in a log house that stood near the later residence of D. E. Thomas.

James Parsons, father of Horatio B. Parsons, and grandfather of Dr. James W. Parsons, was commissioned September 23, 1828.  His house was on Troy street, a log house standing on the east side of the road, just this side of where Troy street crosses Mill creek - probably near McIntosh Alley.

J. R. Pratt was commissioned March 21, 1832 as postmaster.  It was he who built what was known for a generation as "the old red tavern."  It stood on the site of the building occupied by T. Burk & Co. store and the J. O. Whitman drug store.  His post office was in that building.

John Cummings was commissioned in August 8, 1835.  He bought "the old tavern" fro Pratt and succeeded to the business.

Bernard Wood who was commissioned April 30, 1839, moved the post office to a small red dwelling house about where later was the location of the Canton House.

But again in 1841 when Benjamin Coolbaugh was commissioned, he moved the post office back to its old quarters in "the old red tavern."

Seneca Kendall was appointed postmaster October 28, 1841, and moved the office to a building on Lycoming street, that stood nearly on the site of the house where H. B. Drake lived.  There was a wagon shop in front, and living rooms in the rear and second story.

Charles Stockwell was the next postmaster.  He was the father of Mr. R. M. Manley, and he kept the office in a house on Troy street that stood nearly on the site of the building occupied as a market by Arthur Thomas.

In January, 1848, Seneca Kendall was appointed a second time and moved the post office back to his wagon shop.

John VanDyke succeeded Seneca Kendall on April 21, 1848, and moved the office to a little store building at the corner of Main and Sullivan streets, where Harry Hendleman's store was later.

W. H. VanDyke succeeded John, January 27, 1849 and located the post office in what was for years known as "the McClellan house," a house that stood just north of Sam McDonald's pool parlors on Troy street.

John W. Grimm was commissioned six months later, July 17, 1849, and moved the office to his house on Lycoming street, on the site of the building later occupied as law offices by W. C. Sechrist and T. S. Hickock.

Frederick Hall was commissioned January 27, 1853.  He clerked for J. F. Rathbone, who had a store on the site of what was known as the Donavan block and recently purchased by the Leon Keagles.  The old store building was about where the Wynne Brothers were later located.

John VanDyke, the next postmaster of May 7, 1853 moved it back to the corner of Main and Sullivan Streets.

Page 229 - Two Views of the Old Post Office in 1898

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James Metler succeeded VanDyke on November 19, 1856, and moved the office to a building adjoining the Rathbone building on Main Street.

Edwin Newman was commissioned April 19, 1861.  He continued the office in the Metler building and later moved to a smaller building on Troy Street, located about where the Bullock block is (and the Sentinel office was located).

Albert J. Conklin, a veteran of the Civil War, who lost a leg in the service, was commissioned March 27, 1886.  He moved the office to what was known as "The Judge VanDyke store" on Main Street.

Edwin Newman followed Conklin, the date of his second commission being September 16, 1870.  He kept the office for a while in the same place, and then moved around to the rear of the Dartt building, on Center Street, to rooms vacated by the Sentinel when they moved to other quarters.

Allen M. Ayres (Tom Ayres) was the next postmaster.  He was a one-armed soldier.  He was commissioned January 6, 1876, and moved to a one-story building on the site of the Brann block, on Main street.

Augustus Owen, July 16, 1885, retained the office in the same place.  The big fire of 1888 burned it out, and he then located in a small building on Troy street, near where later was located Tripp's grocery store, and eventually moved back to the Brann block, when that structure was erected.

Theodore Rice, February 10, 1890, R. J. O'Donnell, March 29, 1894, Charles E. Riggs, May 4, 1898 occupied the same quarters in the Lewis building.

Flyer sent in by Don Stanton January 2009

Lynn G. Thomas was appointed June 27, 1902and served until Blythe J. Davison took office January 15, 1915.

May 2, 1904, Rural Delivery was begun with three carriers, Earl Furman, Fred Furman and William Mason.  As the beginning of  1905 on more rural route was added with Arthur Putman as carrier.  Other added services to the community were Postal Savings, Bonds and Parcel Post.

Mrs. Evalyn Field Newell retired from the post office on January 31, 1940 after serving 31 years under the various postmasters.  Her retirement was due to disability caused by a broken ankle.

Mrs. Aileen Hickey McCausland who now resides in Baltimore, Md., was in the postal service even before Mrs. Newell and later served as acting postmaster.

William A. Foster was appointed as carrier at the time city delivery was established.  October 1, 1915.  Robert M. Northrop was appointed substitute carrier at that time.

In 1917, Mr. Foster was transferred into the office as clerk.  He was appointed to the local civil service board in 1918 and served in that capacity until 1926 when he became assistant postmaster, retaining this office until his retirement, June 1, 1948.  Mr. Foster served under postmasters B. J. Davison, 1915; D. T. Lindley, T. S. Green and O. S. Williams.

The post office remained in the Lewis Building until the devastating fire in 1942, which completely destroyed everything but the first class mail which was recovered.  By 8:00 o'clock the following morning the post office was functioning in the Wynne Building across the street, which was later remodeled.

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The transfer to the present quarters in the building has proved very effective and convenient.

Through the years at numerous times the possibility of a new post office has been the topic of much discussion but the plans so far have not materialized.

In September, 1949, Otis Williams resigned after many years of faithful, courteous service to the public.  That same year he was elected burgess of Canton.

James H. Taylor was appointed Acting Postmaster, September 1, 1949.  Other of the personnel are:  Assistant Postmaster, William Mason, 1919; First Clerk, Charles Russell, 1920; Second Clerk, James D. Innes, 1940; City Carrier, F. J. Biddle, 1923; City Carrier, W. S. Gardener, 1930; Sub Carrier, J. W. Fulkerson, 1948.

Special Delivery Messenger, William K. Smith, 1949; Rural Carrier No. 1, Lloyd Kniffin, 1920; Sub Carrier, Raymond Smithgall, 1949; Rural Carrier No. 2, John F. Ryan 1942; Sub Carrier, Robert Austin, 1945; Star Route Carrier, Ogdensburg & Liberty, John Wetherbee, 1939; Star Route Carrier, Wheelerville, Shunk & Ellenton, Chester Mix, 1942.

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The Eighty Years' History of the Canton Independent-Sentinel is Traced

The Canton Independent-Sentinel Will Move into the First Permanent Home of the Newspaper in its 80 Years' History Shortly After January 195?

Every good thing has a beginning and so your newspaper came into existence in the early days of Canton.  It was in February, 1870 that Eli McNett, station agent for the Northern Central Railroad at Carpenter's Switch (later Penbryn) frequently visited Williamsport and while there he visited his old friend Charles Butts who operated a little job printing shop.  And so the story goes:  Eli asked, "How's business Charley?"  "Oh its bad, bad," replied Charley, as he filled his pipe and tossed the tobacco bag over to Eli.  "I wish I could find a little town somewhere that needs a paper and I'd get out of the this berg."  "Why don't you go up to Canton?" asked his friend.  "Canton, what kind of a place is that and where be it?" asked Charley.  "It's a jim-slicker of a town about forty miles up north of here and they all want a paper," said Mr. McNett.

Then and there Charles Butts, who was born in London, England, decided to pack his printing kit and come to Canton.  He decided on the name The Canton Sentinel and the subscription price of two dollars a year.  His advising friend, Mr. Eli McNett claims to be his first subscriber as he reached in his pocket and pulled out the price of the subscription on that very day.

It was April when the first sticky sheet came off of the old Washington hand lever press and nearly six hundred Cantonians read the first paper, The Canton Sentinel.  It was a seven column folio and Mr. Butts ran it until 1879 and then sold it to Attorney Charles E. Bullock and A. B. Bowman.

In 1883, Charles D. Derrah, who proved to be one of Canton's highly esteemed and best loved citizens bought the paper.  Mr. Derrah was no stranger to the Fourth Estate as he had worked as an apprentice soon after the paper was founded by Charles butts and Son.  He also worked on the Detroit Free Press for five years, returning to Canton to own and edit The Canton Sentinel.

Mr. Derrah was well known here as he came from Troy, moving there from Carbon county when he was six years old.  Three years after reaching Troy the family moved to Canton where he spent his boyhood.

On July 6, 1886, Mr. Derrah took as his bride, Miss Fannie P. Dartt, daughter of the Hon. Benjamin Dartt, one of the area's most illustrious figures.  To this union was born one son, now Dr. Benjamin Derrah of Long Island, a famous specialist in surgery.

Mr. Derrah was a faithful member of the Canton Methodist Church, serving for many years as a Sunday School Superintendent and a member of the Board of Trustees.  He was a man of deep religious convictions and his life was a credit to his family, his church and to himself.

He was secretary of the old Union Agricultural Association and contributed much toward making the Canton Fair a success.  He was continually striving for the betterment of the community, was a prominent member of the Library Association and upon its merger with the Green Free Library he was made a trustee for life.

For years he was secretary of the Sheldon Manufacturing Company and the Belmar Manufacturing Company.  Upon his retirement from the newspaper he became more closely associated with the Belmar interests and continued until failing health forced his resignation.

After a long illness Mr. Derrah passed away on September 29, 1915.  The entire community mourned his death.

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His widow, Mrs. Fannie Dartt Derrah, 87, one of Canton's oldest residents, resides at her home on Minnequa avenue summers and spends the winters with her son, Dr. Benjamin Derrah on Long Island.

Mrs. Derrah is keen of mind and alert to all happening in the world about, and has a vivid memory of the early pioneer days here.  One leaves her much refreshed as her knowledge and keen sense endears her to all who have the privilege of conversing with her.  She has a host of friends in the community.

During the twenty-five years the Derrahs published The Canton Sentinel it was moved many times.  At one time it was in the Bullock block, now owned by the Keagle's, then moved upstairs in another Bullock block, where Dr. Dann now has his offices.  For a number of years it was housed in the back of the Canton Shoe Store, owned by Prestons.  This building was torn down and the Farmers Bank building erected and is now the home of the Canton and Leroy Farmers Telephone Company.  The newspaper was later moved into the Moose building on Sullivan Street.  Due to failing health, Mr. Derrah sold the Canton Sentinel to Fred Newell, Sr., of Dushore in September 1909.

Newell History

Fred Newell, Sr. purchased The Canton Sentinel from Charles Derrah in September, 1909.  In taking this step he came back to live in his native town, on the paper where he had learned his trade as a printer many years before.  Prior to that he had held positions on the Towanda Review and Williamsport Sun, and was for a number of years owner and publisher of the Sullivan Review in Dushore.

In addition to numerous local activities he was keenly interested in the Pennsylvania State Editorial Association, which he served as president in the year 1914.

At the time of his death in1929 the Montrose Independent said of him and other editors of his time, "What chiefly distinguished them from the modern type of editor was their all round practical knowledge of the printing and publishing business as it was carried on a generation ago.  They began by working at the type case, now obsolete, and at the making table.  Later they took up reportorial and editorial work and graduated early into ownership of their publications."  Other editorial comments stated that he always "hit the nail on the head," and that there was no camouflaging with him.  During his active years the Sentinel was well known and widely quoted throughout the entire state.  In the latter part of the year 1928 he was compelled to retire from active connection with the paper because of poor health, although he continued to write his forceful editorials until the day before his death, which occurred on March 5, 1929.

Fred Newell, Jr. learned the trade with his father on the Sullivan Review.  After graduation from Williamsport Junior College in 1910 he became associated with his father on The Sentinel, supervising the composing and press room, taking charge of accounts, and holding the title of Associate Editor.  During the years 1918 and 1919 he served with the 80th Division in France and was severely gassed during the battle of the Argonne.  Upon discharge from the army he resumed connection with the paper as soon as health permitted.  Upon the death of his father in 1929 he assumed charge of the publication and became known as a writer, with much the same style of his father, with his fearlessness, forcefulness and keen sense of humor.  Along with editorial duties he served the state in various positions of responsibility and was a well-known personage in state politics and activities.  Even when duties called him away from home, he moulded the editorial policy of the paper, and his writings appeared from week to week.  He was a continual sufferer from the effects of the gas attack in the World War, and succumbed on June 29, 1945.

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A peculiar coincidence occurred in the lives of this father and son.  During Fred's service for his country, he was reported "killed in action," a mistake which occurred at the time he was gassed.  While recuperating in a base hospital in France he was much surprised to read in the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune that he had been killed.  As soon as possible he took steps to have the record corrected, as otherwise he would have been "officially dead."  However it had been so reported in several publications in this country, and upon his return home, a number of old friends were agreeable startled when they met him on the street.

Some years previous to the death of Fred Newell, Sr., he had a severe attack of pneumonia, from which he made a good recovery.  But an exchange was the victim of a false rumor, and came out with the news that his death had occurred the previous day.  Mr. Newell had so far recovered that he was allowed to read the papers, and was very much amused at reading his own obituary.  He wrote to his colleague in the newspaper business notifying him that the statement was very much exaggerated.  Of course corrections were made, but meanwhile the news spread to other papers, and very complimentary sketches of him were published, all of which he read with pleasure.  The family also received numerous letters of sympathy.  In his editorial comment Mr. Newell said that it was the only case on record of both father and son belonging to the Mark Twain Club.

Hattie Belle Newell was associated with her father and brother, more or less actively during their ownership of the Sentinel.  Her work was mainly along the line of securing local news, and reporting social and civic activities.  It was during her work that the idea of devoting a certain section each week to Public School activities was inaugurated.  Since then most of the country weeklies have adopted this plan.  The ideas was inspired by the late Prof. R. L. Vanscoten at that time principal of the Canton schools.

In the absence of Fred, Jr., during World War I she assumed more responsibility.  Thereafter during her brother's illness and absence while in service of the state, she was in charge of the administration of office affairs, and maintained active connection with the paper until its sale to the Canton Publishing Company.

The duties of these three people were at all times interchangeable, and conference frequent.  To sum it all up, they solicited advertisements and news, kept books, sent out bills, sometimes collected debts and sometimes paid debts, got the paper to press, then started to get ready for another one.

Mention should be made of Leslie Warren and Lester Rinebold, who did the mechanical work on the paper for many years, in a faithful and efficient manner.

After covering the Canton area for a number of years, serving a large number of calendar customers, Earle E. Wootton of Montrose was urged to start a newspaper in Canton.  In August, 1941, he founded the Canton Publishing Company and issued the first number of the Canton Independent on August 21, 1941 from the Crist building on Troy Street.

Less than one month later he purchased from the Newell's, The Canton Sentinel and merged the two publications into The Canton Independent-Sentinel.  From the purchase very little was used in the new plant with the exception of the subscription list.

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Shortly thereafter a subscription drive was conducted resulting in the largest circulation of any weekly in Bradford County.  Our readers and advertisers still enjoy this advantage as the 1950 subscription drive gives us the distinction of having the largest circulation, by far, of any weekly in Bradford County.

From1941 to 1945 the newspaper was published with very few exceptions as an eight page paper.  The newspaper was completely assembled in the Canton plant, but the press runs were made in the plant of the Montrose Publishing Company at Montrose of which Mr. Wootton is the managing partner.  The Montrose plant is one of the finest weekly newspaper plants in the East.

An addition was made to the present location in 1944 in order to accommodate a cylinder press for printing the newspaper.  Upon its completion a carload of machinery was installed, adding to and replacing equipment.  Every phase of the newspaper has been done in Canton since 1944.

In the late summer of 1945 Donald Thomas became associated with the Canton Publishing Company.  Effective January 1, 1947 a partnership was formed with Earle E. Wootton and Donald Thomas.  At that time Mr. Thomas became managing editor and managing partner.

Mr. and Mr. Thomas edited the published the Lackawanna Trail News and The County Herald in Susquehanna County prior to coming to Canton.  Mrs. Thomas has also been actively interested in newspaper work in all its phases for the past several years.

Mr. Thomas's parents published a weekly newspaper for 40 years and he has several brothers and sisters engaged in newspaper work at the present time.  At one time his father was foreman at the Elmira Advertiser where the family originally resided.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas purchased the former Attorney E. J. Cleveland residence on Troy Street in 1946 and after completely redecorating it have made their home there.  They have three children, Roger, David and Karen.

Since 1946 the newspaper has steadily grown into a ten, twelve and larger page paper weekly.  The fine response on the part of both subscribers and advertisers has made it possible to render a better publication.  During the time the Canton Publishing Company has been publishing the newspaper a large number of valuable and faithful country correspondents have been added contributing newsletters each week.

In September, 1950 the Canton Publishing Company purchased from Mrs. Lena Stone, the brick and concrete building on Troy street directly across the street from its present location.  This is one of the finest buildings in Canton and is to be the first permanent home of this newspaper in its 80 year history.  It will constantly strive to give its customers the best in a newspaper and printing that is possible.

The Canton Independent-Sentinel is the only newspaper published that is solely interested in the Canton Trading Area.

In 1941 the newspaper has had the following News Editors:  Wilmer Birdsall, Dr. Carl Wieland, Miss Rhoda Hackett, Miss Elizabeth Bunyan and the present News Editor, Mrs. Talbert Snyder who has spent her entire life in this area.  She is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Orson Elllis of Grover.

Mrs. Thomas Towner and Mrs. Robert Spencer, linotype operators; Miss Mary Lou Mott, secretary-bookkeeper; Mrs. Donald Thomas who has headed the research work for this edition and assists in the various departments; Mark Baseshore and Leroy Seelye in the mechanical department.
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Two Views of Park Hotel
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 07 FEB 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933