Tri-Counties Genealogy &
History by Joyce M. Tice
People of the Tri-Counties
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Some Reminiscences of the Porter Road
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One bright June morning, in 1912, a party bent on sightseeing drove
along the Porter road near Troy, Pa. Among the party was Lyman Porter,
a well preserved gentleman of 65 years.He recalled many Decedents of by
gone days when his father, John Porter and his uncle, Uell Porter owned
two adjoining farms.
Coming up from Troy a double row of maples show where the road originally
led along the brow of the hill and joined Elmira street opposite the Stanton
stock farm. In the distance a grove of hickory trees still stand. In this
grove Mr Porter and his brother, George, caught grey squirrels by bending
over the little saplings when they ran up in the top. The boys wore thick
mittens and would catch them in their hands. They got fifty cents a piece
for them.Two Troy boys, Lucian and Edward Ballard were in New York city
going to school. They were sent to them and they sold them to stock Central
On the old homestead is a barn built in or about 1832 in a good state
of preservation.Below the row of maples there is a ledge of rocks where
Rufus Baldwin quarried out grind stones to sell. Across the brook which
used to be as full of trout that the boys sometimes caught them in their
hands, is the Crystal Ice company's little dam of concrete. In this stream
Brigham Young, of Utah fame was baptisted in the early days. In the Hunt
school house which used to stand near the cemetery corner, Brigham preached.
Mr Porter attended the meetings. The people in that vicinity made such
a fuss he got frightened and moved very suddenly.
In those days wolves and panthers were thick. Mr Porter said he held
a tallow candle to give light to sight the gun, to kill a wolf that had
caught a calf.Young Lyman and his father were working in the corn field,
and he told his father there was a black hog there - the father went for
the gun, Lyman on guard. It proved to be a large black bear.
When they lived in the log house built in 1820, they had two doors opposite-
one at each end ofthe house, and a fireplace half way across the side.
They would take a horse and log chain anddraw the back log up to one door,
unfasten the chain and take the horse and chain around to theother door
and hook on the chain and draw the log on the fire place. The maple sugar
soldfor three cents a pound.
This same young man took his best girl to a donation and he had no way
to pay for their supper. He told his mother his troubles and she helped
him out by sending a pound of old fashioned lick sausage. The donation
was held at the home of Deacon Daniel Dobbins, at the corner of the Porter
The preceding is from an undated scrapbook clipping, photocopy of which
is in possession of Joyce M. Tice.
PRANKS OF YESTERYEAR IN TROY
We are indebted to Miss Charlotte E. Paine and to David Paine, New
York, who arranged the material, for the following tales of the Troy of
the fifties. The late Dr. Robert Kendall loved to tell these stories of
his young manhood here and, although many changes have taken place in Troy
since the stories were told and since his death, we print them just as
told to the Paines that summer evening in 1917.
Here follows an account of some of the early days in Troy and the vicinity
as related by Dr. R. C. Kendall, who came to Troy with his parents from
Athens at the age of thirteen in 1849.
These tales were told by Dr. Kendall, sitting in grandmother Herrick’s
chair on the porch at Briar Cottage, Mountain Lake, one July night in 1917.
About the year 1856 there were a number of young fellows in Troy who
seemed to have been drawn together by their uncontrollable propensities
for mischief. By day they worked as clerks in Ballard’s, Hayden’s and Long’s
stores. By night their agile minds were turned towards plots against the
sleep of the Village. What little sleep they seemed to need they got in
their rooms over the various stores in which they worked. Besides Bob Kendall
there were Dave Ayres, later the husband of Emma Redington, Con Holiday,
Oscar Adams and his brother, Mort, George Davison, Asa Landon, Clem Paine,
who later moved to Williamsport, Gid Jones and several others and what
those fellows used to do to keep town awake, as Dr. Kendall says “beats
my time”. Its easy to suppose he was their leader, but he declines the
honor and says it was Gid Jones.
In those days Troy’s livery stable was owned and run by a man named
Asa B. Moore. It was located on Centre Street, where the Troy House barn
now stands. Asa was much more than a livery man for he kept a pack of hounds
and had a tame fox which he had caught somewhere in the Troy hills. Tom
Dove also kept a pack of hounds.
One muggy summer’s night in 1856 when the little village was peacefully
asleep and no one stirring on the streets, this band of young Trojans came
forth from their lodgings over the various stores and made their way to
Asa Moore’s livery stable. They found an unfastened window and Gid Jones
was hoisted through it. He dropped inside and quickly found the fox and
led him out on his chain, by which he was fastened. Then he and his gang
carried the fox to the corner of Main Street and there put him on the ground,
and led him up the street to the old Ballard Exchange building, long since
destroyed. This building occupied the space from Exchange Street to where
the Troy House stands and at that time Hayden’s store was there, and also
Dewey and Winston, who dealt in wool and hides and upstairs living apartments
and law offices, Squire Kendall, the Doctor’s father, a Justice of the
Peace, had his office there. On the third floor was a large ball room.
There was an entrance to the building from both Main Street and Exchange
Into this building and up the dark stairs and along the narrow halls,
with stealthy tread, the young hopefuls led this fox. It was a damp night
and the fox left a strong trail. He was taken all the way around the ball
room to the top floor and then down the stairs and out the Main Street
entrance. Across the street stood the old Pomeroy Block. Some one had left
the door open and the little fox was soon following the tireless Gid up
through its stairways to the top and down and out again. Then across Canton
Street to a store building where McClelland’s store now is (1917). This
building also had a ball room on its top floor and to this the fox was
taken past doors on the other side of which many a tired workman slept
peacefully, to Dr. Kendall’s office building. The marauders stole through
here, the fox trotting sleepily behind on his chain. From there they journeyed
the length of Elmira Street to the Porter Creek bridge, and back again
on the other side of the street. As soon as the center of town was reached,
the fox was lifted from the ground and soon he found himself back in his
stable and, wondering what it was all about, went to sleep.
The boys having brought back Asa’s fox now borrowed his hounds and
they were dragged out, blinking and protesting, and soon were joined by
Tom Dove’s pack, which had been silently acquired by others of the party.
As soon as the trail near Exchange Building was reached, the dogs were
let loose. They sniffed about a bit and then their leader crossed the first
scent of the fox and sent up a deep-toned bay and away he went, followed
by a dozen yowling dogs.
Being somewhat weary Gid and his friends now went their several ways
Then began the greatest fox hunt of Western Bradford. Straight to the
Exchange building ran the howling pack and up the stairs they rushed, filling
the building with their glad cries, around the ball room, down the stairs
and past the doors of all the sleeping tenants they fought each other,
each eager to get the fox which must be just ahead. They dashed across
the street to the Pomeroy building and were through it to the roof and
out again in record time. They rushed across Canton Street and to the building
opposite and yelping, howling and barking scramble up its dark stairways
to the Ball Room. They circled around this on the slippery floor, falling
over one another in their haste. Then down again to the street and through
the narrow alley behind the stores. Their voices faded in the distance
as they ran down Elmira Street. They circled at the bridge, and came flying
back in full cry, hot on the scent and to the spot where the trail suddenly
ended and there they stopped and, panting, wagged their tails and greeted
Asa Moore and Tome Dove and half the people of the town who had tumbled
out, may still in their night caps, to learn what bedlam had been let loose
in their midst. Among them were Clem Paine, Bob Kendall and the other young
innocents, yawning sleepily, nor more surprised than they at that night’s
In those days there was a portico extending from the Ballard Exchange
Building across the sidewalk and resting on posts set near the curb. O.
P. Ballard, when he built it, little guessed the uses to which it would
be put. This merry crew discovered that by putting a dry goods box against
one of these posts and sawing across it with a resined plank a series of
shrieks could be produced which would have no man, woman or child abed
after the first note. This was known as the Horse Fiddle and no Stradivarius
had a better sounding board that O. P. Ballard’s portico furnished. As
Dr. Kendall says “The Horse Fiddle was generally laid to Dave Ayres.”
For some years before the Civil War the Methodist Church stood where
the Grange Bank now stands. In recent years before the Bank was built it
was used as an Opera House and in it the Troy Term of C. P. Court was held
twice a year.
The Methodist clergyman for many years was Mr. Knapp. He turned to
commercial affairs later in his career and bought out the old Stephens
On the north side of Canton Street stood an office building in which
the Post Office was housed. A narrow stairway led from floor to floor and
through a hatchway out to a steep roof.
One Sunday morning as the Methodist and Presbyterian and Episcopal
flock went through the streets to their places of worship they were astounded
to see a great lumber wagon, newly painted and taking that wagon, piece
by piece, to the roof and there erecting it, none stared with more open
eyed wonder than young Clem Paine, Gid Jones and Bob Kendall.
Just north of Glenwood Cemetery and down the high bank of Sugar Creek
we can still se the traces of the old road to Towanda. There was no road
around Long’s Pond at that time but the mill stood near the southern end
of the present pond. In 1900 the present dam went out in a freshet and
the timbers of the old dam just above the point which juts into the Pond
could be seen.
Long’s Tavern, owned by Mayor Long, was on the high ground south of
the present mill and near the present road leading to Azor Rockwells. In
the upper part of this tavern were the lodge rooms of the Troy Masons.
The old Masonic Tavern sign is preserved in the Masonic rooms over the
new First National Bank. On the turn in the East Troy road just below the
present mill stands (1917) a peculiarly shaped little building, the sides
of which composed of boards laid edgewise. This house formerly stood about
opposite the mill and just below the tavern. It was used by Mayor Long
to house some of his men. It was never used as a Lodge Room by the Masons
as some suppose.
The Eagle Tavern stood near the center of Troy and where the Pomeroy
Block and the Post Office now are. There was a triangular sign on top of
the old pump near the present watering trough. In the early forties the
Troy boys were wont to get a town character, Squire Shattuck, on the platform
atop this sign and have a speech from him. They’d take away the ladder
by which he climbed up and leave him to get down as best he could.
Grandfather Clement Paine of Athens and his brother David were well
known to Robert Kendall when he was a boy. Clement Paine had a fine apple
orchard and around it a high fence with spikes atop it. The Athens boys,
when Mr. Paine was away, would steal around and unfasten the gate to the
orchard and get at the apples that way. An old man named Parry worked for
Mr. Paine and he would often frighten away the marauders by donning Mr.
Paine’s beaver hat, caped coat and rushing into the orchard, flourishing
Mr. Paine’s historic cane.
When the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad was built in the fifties
a good deal of trouble was caused by the quick sand at the cut just south
of the Tin Bridge. A passenger train going through there one day was caught
in a landslide and buried in the sand and mud up to the car bodies. Sasky
Post was the conductor on that train and he jumped off the side of the
train to find out what the trouble was. The ground looked solid, and dry
but Lasky was in up to his waist in no time. It took seven or eight Irishman
to put him out.
The first freight which went through from Elmira met disaster at the
same point. Said Irishmen were taking a truck load of railroad ties down
the grade above the station. They were accustomed to put a rail down through
a hole in the floor to brake the truck but this time they forgot to leave
any space for the brake. This was not discovered till they were well under
way down the grade. Then they all jumped off and left the truck to go on
its way unchecked. It met the freight at the cut and made a sorry sight
of the handsomely decorated pilot of the engine.
Some More Tales of Troy - Clipping
Not Titled or Dated:
||FLORA – A FAITHFUL HORSE (1884 – 1915)
Here is a story about Flora as told by F. Marshall Case of Troy,
Flora was bred on Armenia Mountain by the Morgan Family and purchased
by Franklin Pierce Case (F.P.) for F.P. Case and Sons. When he was young,
George F. Case, F.P.’s son and Marshall’s father, would hitch Flora to
a wagon to deliver coal in and around Troy. On one winter day, George was
on a delivery, shoveling coal down the chute to the customer’s cellar coal
bin. The chute got clogged so George went into the cellar to move the coal
from the chute. The noon whistle at the Troy Engine Machine Company blew.
Flora knew it was lunchtime and took off with the wagon back to the lumber
yard. George had to walk home.
Submitted by Sally Anne Case, Millheim, PA Submitted January 2005
Tombstone in Case Cemetery
Many residents of Troy will remember Richard Smith, a rotund and somewhat
bibulous colored barber, who held forth in the spot now occupied by the
Troy Lunch. He owned a talkative parrot. A local legend has
it that while said Smith was more or less in his cups one gloomy day, the
parrot launched at him a string of profane invective so virulent that Dick
shut it off via choking until poor Polly was no more. During the
dark hours of the night, local wags draped the front of his shop with black
cheese cloth and the lugubrious announcement: “Poor Polly is Dead.”
When Dick arrived for work the next morning, he was greeted with a mourning
barber shop. It is said that his language was such that women fainted
and strong men turned pale. Jim Smith, a brother, operated for many
years a barber shop in the Smiley location. In addition to tonsorial
accomplishment, he was versed in the ways of catering and serving.
It is said that he once floated a rose in the fingerbowl at a local affair
– thinking to thus add the last word in daintiness. The waiter mistook
his thought and, in a grave and dignified manner, offered to each feminine
nose the aroma of the beautiful blossom. These brothers raised fine
We have from our good friend, Hiram R. Bennett, this letter: “I
kindly remember Professor Tubbs, and also Billie Litey, both of whom, although
they were over looked when brains were dealt out, and although they were
the butts of the town’s humorists, yet nevertheless, were loved, I think,
by all of us.
“There was never anything vicious about either of them, and I well-remember
the Professor’s lectures.
“A friend of mine said to the Professor one time: ‘I note that you
were caught making love to another man’s wife, and the husband chased you
two miles.’ ‘Oh, no,’ said the professor, ‘it was only a half mile.’
“Someone gave him a stovepipe hat which he wore with proper dignity
whenever he came down from his mysterious rendezvous in Armenia.”
The late R. F. Redington, owner of the old opera house, was particular
about any possibility of a fire. The frame structure would have burned
like tinder. After every show he instructed his assistants, at that
time Dan Mason and Herm Pierce, to search carefully for lighted cigarette
stubs or any other potential source of fire. One of their jobs was
to crawl though a tiny door into the space beneath the stage, there to
see that all was well for the night. There had been a production
of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the cast and the cash customers had departed.
Herm and Dan were going through the usual schedule and entered the blackness
of the sub-stage storage. They were quite a distance from their point
of entry when, without warning, the silence was shattered by blood-curdling
howls. The bloodhounds had been quartered there for the night.
It is said that the scramble for that tiny door established a record for
hasty exit. At one time, the late Kelly Hager, great grandfather
of Earl Hager, staged a patriotic spectacle in the opera house, with about
half the town in the cast. It was a cold night and some of the lighter
dressed participants almost froze to death before the play ended.
The late Nora Haggerty took the part of “Liberty Lighting the World.”
It was during the days of the old opera house that “Perfesser” Tubbs,
the famous lecturer from Armenia’s dizzy heights, used to emerge in Troy
for speeches and his great “egg trick.” He was short and slight.
He wore an ancient coat, green with the years and cut as the one that helped
to make Charlie Chaplin famous. Its lapel was adorned with his various
“medals” – the small tin clips that used to come on plug tobacco.
In his hip pocket was a huge red bandanna handkerchief. Different
ones recall his appearances in the old opera house, on the Carpenter &
Pierce company horse block and in front of the Troy Hotel, where once the
late Fred Orcutt drove him up in state. Just as Tubbs was about to
begin his lecture on metaphysics, Fred slapped his horses sharply with
the reins, they leaped and up the street went the “Perfesser.” In
the opera house, he was doing the egg trick at a “show” and just as the
hen fruit reached the safety of his tall hat, jovial John French clamped
the hat down on his head with very disastrous results. About that
time Mr. Redington appeared and stopped the show with such abruptness that
Tubbs ran up West Main Street – even as a deer. He was finally found
perched in one of the trees near the present Martha Lloyd School.
While delivering a lecture on the Carpenter & Pierce horse block he
called for a drink of water. It is said that Perce Coles, at that
time clerking there, passed him something of the same color but much stronger
that water. The lecture ended right then and there. W. D. Morse,
one-time attorney in Troy, once asked him what time it was when the clock
struck thirteen. Tubbs replied that it was time to fix the clock.
Not bad! He was even a budding newspaper man. He turned the
hand press for the late A. S. Hooker, of Northern Tier Gazette fame.
During the days of Jim and Dick Smith, colored residents of Troy, they
issued invitations for a ball in the Mitchell’s hall with the letters:
A. A. F. O. on the corner. Many of their white friends were included.
They were curious as to the meaning of the letters. It transpired
that they represented “Ask and Find Out.” A colored employee of the
Dick Smith barber shop was prone to use large words and one of his expressions
has come down through the years: “Your conversational capacity is
too copious for my comprehension.” Other gentlemen of color of that
day included Ed Jones, a porter at the Troy Hotel. He was possessed
of a fine tenor voice and for years carried the mail on his shoulder between
the postoffice and the station. Many times he was accompanied to
the “mid-night” by a group of the songfully inclined. While waiting
for the train they would do some very enjoyable harmonizing – sounds of
which could be heard all along the upper reaches of Canton Street.
“Old Cato” was a colored man, employed for many years by the Alonzo
Long family, at that time in the house now occupied by the Cromans.
There was a low addition and a side porch in the rear of the Long home
and there “Old Cato” lived. It is said that he was a slave in the
days when slavery was legal in this state. No mention of the colored
Trojans of yesteryear would be complete without the name of Henry Harrison.
He was personal attendant and coachman for the late George O. Holcombe.
Henry was a bulky person of vast good-nature. Speaking of Dick Smith,
he had a habit of taking a drink all by himself at one end of the bar of
the former Williams Hotel. Thence came the local expression: “Taking
a Dick Smith.”
|Joyce - Mr. Decker was a "character around town" when I was growing
up. I think I recall him being written in for Mayor of Troy in the
late '40's as a joke and he either won or nearly so. Maybe someone
can confirm my recollection. Don Stanton
“No Fumigating Needed”
R. E. Decker of Troy, who says he’ll be “67 years young” on March 11,
puffs away at the pipe “which hasn’t lost a day in five years”. He
is holding some swamp berries he was getting out for use at Christmas time.
Decker writes on the back of his picture, “52 years of good enjoyment with
the old pipe and still can breathe as good as ever” ….”The boys and gals
hate the smell of this old pipe. No fumigating around where the old
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 28 NOV 1997
By Joyce M. Tice
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