The Reverend Mr. David Craft
Troy Borough and Township
Towns, cities, and communities, regularly planned and organized at their earliest foundation, like the ancient city of Asia Minor from which we derive our name, are seldom without records and archives, preserved frequently with sacred care: to be referred to by succeeding generations as undoubtedly accurate and ample chronicles of their origin and progress.
The village of Troy, Pennsylvania, such as it is at the present, or whatever it may be in the future, was but the offspring of chance, and we may easily imagine the original locality as dark and forbidding, with its low and marshy grounds, heavily shaded by a forest of hemlocks and pines, interspersed with tangled thickets of laurel, through which roamed the deer, the bear, and the panther, unmolested save by an occasional arrow from the quiver of the wandering Indian hunter, whose distant wigwam marked some spot more congenial for the abode of even savage humanity.
The greater portion of our borough, according to old maps and original surveys, is included in three lots of warrant No. 1004. The western lot, of about 220 acres, was taken up by Elihu Smead, and the two eastern are inscribed with the names of Aaron and Moses Case; while the southwestern, of 130 acres, lying on what is now Canton street, was the territory of Joseph Wills.**
The division line between Elihu Smead on the west, and the lots of Aaron and Moses Case, was about three-fourths of a mile in length, and its course north 18 deg. west, passing through Pomeroy's brick stores on the west side of Canton street and the outer corner of' the opera-house. Adjoining the lots above named, east, was a tract of 200 acres in the name of Thomas Backer: and south of this the lands of Samuel Rockwell, the father of Luther and Rufus Rockwell.
The early name of the township in the maps of the county, under the old Connecticut title, was Augusta.
The grant of the town of Augusta was made June 18, 1794, with the following bounds: beginning at the northwest corner of Burlington in the south line of Columbia, and near the southeast corner; thence south five miles to the west line of Burlington; thence west five miles; thence north five miles; thence east five miles; and was granted to parties who had been deprived of their rights by the Pennsylvanians.
On the Susquehanna company's records are the following: "At a meeting of the proprietors of the township of Augusta, legally warned, and held at the house of Joseph Bulkley, innkeeper, at Fairfield, Conn., March 9, 1795, David Allen, moderator, it was resolved to give Mr. Nathaniel Morgan, one of the proprietors of said township, five hundred acres, to be laid out in regular form, provided he settle the township with eight settlers, so as to secure said township to the proprietors, agreeably to the regulations of the general meeting.
"Oct. 17, 1798, Nathaniel Morgan has made choice of lots No. 44 and 45 in Augusta, out of which he takes the above-mentioned five hundred acres.
"Attest, JOHN FRANKLIN, Clerk."
The beginning of a little town at this point, with its tavern, store, and post-office, came about merely from the crossing of the old road east and west with the route surveyed as early as 1807, from the West Branch to the State of New York, at Elmira; and these cross-roads, irregular as they still are in direction, width, and outline, constituted for a long time the entire system of streets. The beginning of anything like town, village, or corners can be dated but little if any earlier than the year 1820, and the indications at that period must have been very slight.
If we look back to the early settlers of this region we shall find them to have been for a long term of years few and far between. Probably the earliest permanent settler, within a radius of five or six miles at least, was
who is said to have located as early as 1793, on the place now owned by Philemon Pratt on Sugar creek. After remaining there a year or two, he advanced his line of pickets to tile place just below East Troy long afterwards occupied by him and his descendants, serving there, as it would seem, for some time as an advance guard upon these ragged outskirts of civilization. As a land agent under the Connecticut title, he made tile original surveys of a great portion of this then wilderness, extending them as far west as the Tioga river. Under the original title he became himself tile owner of three townships, but together with the other original settlers he was obliged at length to relinquish his claim, unless paying a second time for the right of soil. He subsequently built a saw mill and grist-mill below the present East Troy, which were resorted to from quite a distance. Nathaniel Allen was of English descent, but was born on Long Island.
One of his daughters married Howard Spalding, resided in the immediate vicinity, and lived to the advanced age of ninety. Another daughter married Benjamin McKean, brother of General Samuel McKean. The eldest son, Adolphus, was a physician, and emigrated to Illinois. His second son, Samuel, continued to reside on the farm until his death. Some of his family still reside on the homestead. Nathaniel Allen was a man of more than ordinary intellect, and one of the leading men of his time of northern Pennsylvania.
Samuel Allen was a justice of the peace of Troy township. Elihu Case was born at Hebron, Washington Co., N. Y, September 22, 1790.
Reuben Case, the father of Gen. Elihu Case, deceased, and of his brother Reuben Case, came on in 1798, from Granville, N. Y., and took up the land still in part occupied by his descendants, about one and a half miles from Troy borough. The first house in the township, a cabin, which he and his family first occupied seventy-eight years ago, was within a few rods of thc old homestead where still dwells the aged widow of Gen. Case. On the arrival of Reuben Case from Washington Co., N. ¥., Nathaniel Allen, already at East Troy, turned out to assist in cutting a road from his place to the log cabin of the new-comer, four miles distant. There were then but eighteen settlers between this point and the Susquehanna river at Ulster, then known as Old Sheshequin, and thc road thither through Burlington was the only route then, and for a long time after, by which the Sugar creek settlement was accessible from the east.
Noah Wilson, the father of the venerable Col. Irad Wilson, of Alba, came on with his family to that place in the spring of 1803. Thc colonel speaks of the following individuals as being then the occupants of this vicinity: Elihu Smead, in a little log cabin near thc present residence of Mrs. Thomas Maxwell with chopping of about an acre; John Barber, with a similar cabin and chopping near the site of Viele's steam-mill. Towards thc south was a little clearing of Caleb Williams, and that of Reuben Case; next was Samuel Case, on the Wood farm, now belonging to the estate of Edwin C. Williams. Farther on was Aaron Case, where is now the farm of Shepard Spalding; and Dr. Rowley, on that now owned by Alonzo Thomas, his grandson. With good will in their hearts, and sharp axes on their shoulders, all these sons of the forest mustered in force to cut a road through to Alba, for the passage of Noah Wilson and his family to their new home.
We may well imagine the style of' living with the early settlers in this western wilderness to have been decidedly simple and primitive.
Gen. Case speaks of the cabin occupied by his father as having been three logs in height, but adds that they were big ones. The roof was of bark and the flooring and doors of split basswood plank. One entire end of the edifice was left for fire-place, and a hole in the roof served for an exit to the smoke. In order to get their wheat or corn ground at a mill, they had to traverse the hills and the forests thirty miles to John Shepard's, at Milltown, above Tioga Point, but ordinarily they made holes in the top of hardwood stumps, and, with a pounder fastened to the end of a spring-pole, they hammered out the material for bread and hominy. Johnny-cake sweetened with maple-sugar was in use at parties and other festive occasions, while sage, roasted corn, and even pine-bark were the prevailing substitutes for tea and coffee. Venison, trout, and bear meat furnished the market, and deer-skins supplied clothing until the homespun woolen and tow cloth became more abundant, while the bear and the coon generally furnished coverings for the head. Col. Wilson states that the common usage was for men, women, and children to go to meeting on Sundays barefoot, but that when a taste for style and display began to prevail, the women adopted the plan of carrying their woolen stockings and cowhide shoes in their hands until arriving near the place of worship, generally some private house, when they would stop by the wayside and put them on before entering.
Few indeed were the roads that could be traversed with a wagon; it was sufficiently difficult to get over and through them in the ordinary conveyance of an ox-sled.
Uel Porter, who, with his father and elder brother John, came on to the Porter farm in 1813, in speaking of the cabin they first occupied there says, "Our fire-place was constructed with a chimney of chestnut sticks split out and laid up cob-house fashion, then covered with a coat of clay. The fireplace was of a size to admit a huge log, 14 feet in length, by way of backing to a rousing fire not seen indoors in these degenerate days. On each side of the ample fireplace, or rather within it, was a large thorn-bush. One of these my brother kept well supplied with strips of venison; thc other, it was my duty, and no very great task, to have pretty well strung with good-sized mountain trout, which then abounded in Sugar creek and the smaller streams flowing into it."
While thus some of the daily supplies afforded by the kind hand of nature to the early settlers in the wilderness would be classified by us as luxuries, their way of life must have been full of' what would seem to the present generation the greatest privations and hardships. It might be of advantage to those who habitually indulge nowadays in the common complaint of hard times, to imagine themselves back into the times and circumstances that surrounded the pioneers of this region, in order to enjoy a realizing sense of the true meaning of hard times.
Another early settler, one of the few still remaining of the times in which he arrived, is Hon. Reuben Wilbur, who has almost completcd his ninety-third year, having settled here in 1807, He spent about six months with Esquire Nathaniel Allen, of whom he purchased about three hundred acres, being the same land which Judge Wilbur has occupied for more than threescore and ten years, he originally contracted for it at fifty cents per acre under the Connecticut title, but was obliged finally to pay four hundred dollars under that of Pennsylvania. The possession-right he purchased of Paul Dewitt. Regarding the weather of' those days, he says that in the year 1807, about the 1st of April, a snow fell four feet in depth. There was at the time scarcely a ton of hay in all this section, and not to exceed five tons in the county. Straw beds had to be emptied, and browsing on the buds of trees was resorted to in order to carry the cattle through.
Elihu Smead and Aaron Case seem to have been at that time the only inhabitants of the village proper, the latter living in a cabin near the present residence of Mrs. George Hull. Thomas Barber lived near the site of the old Taylor house, now owned by G. F. Viele; and Joseph Barber near the present residence of John A. Parsons.
Without referring particularly to Judge Wilbur's subsequent career as sheriff of Bradford County and State senator, we may be allowed to give an incident related by a resident of Wellesboro', formerly of Columbia, and who very probably was himself a little mixed up in the circumstances as narrated. It serves to illustrate the ready fhc-ulty of adjusting difficulties and taking things, as we may say, by the smooth handle, which has been characteristic of the judge.
A number of years since, while he held the office of associate judge, there was a small tavern kept somewhere in Cabot Hollow, by one Peter Cooper. Here a number of the young men of the surrounding country,--farmers and the sons of farmers,--during the period of' their sowing an unfortunate crop of wild oats, were in the habit of meeting for what is called a jollification. Departing from thence late one night, quite a number chanced on their way home to pass the house of an individual whose name may or may not have been Joe Gilpin. By this name however, we will call him. Neither he nor his family enjoyed affluent meals, nor in fact a very good reputation. Some words passed between this man and the party of rowdies, who finally entered the house, sang some songs, and inflicted a little damage on the furniture and fixtures such as they were, before resuming their way homeward.
The next morning Judge Wilbur was interviewed by the injured proprietor, who recited his grievances and demanded a warrant for the offenders. His relation was listened to by the judge with a considerable amount of patience and sympathy, and he declared they ought to be made an example of. "But, Mr. Gilpin," said he, "if you take this matter into court costs will be incurred, your lawyer will charge you a heavy fee and what with the expense and delay you may fail in getting proper compensation for the grievous damage you have sustained. Now, I'll tell you how we'll fix this thing: as associate justice of the court of quarter sessions of Bradford County, I will take your testimony in the matter, and you will please consider yourself under oath in making your statements. Then I will make out a list of the fines each man is to pay upon the spot."
So the judge sat down at his desk, with pen, ink, and paper, while Gilpin recounted the part each offender had taken in thc damages done. One, for instance, had upset thc table and broken some dishes. The fine imposed upon him was two bushels of wheat. Another had broken the leg of a chair, and was set down tbr three bushels of potatoes. A third had spilled a panful of milk and smashed several pipes, and was accordingly sentenced to pay ten pounds of pork. So on through the list.
"Now, Mr. Gilpin," said the judge, signing his name to the document, "I deputize you to collect these fines, which are to compensate you for the damages you have suffered. You can get some bags, borrow a horse and wagon from some neighbor, and call upon the parties immediately."
The man departed, well satisfied with thc arrangement, and lost no time in starting upon his tour of collection, with the judge's warrant in his hand. This, although it must be considered to have been a somewhat informal document, yet carried with it such respect and authority that every one without hesitation paid or commuted, and the humble home of the outraged citizen was soon better supplied with the substantials of life than ever before, insomuch that he afterwards declared that he "wouldn't much care if those same chaps came around his way again."
Upon an eminence overlooking Sugar creek, something over a mile eastward from Troy village, there stand the ruins of a building, probably one of the first framed houses built in this region. The stone wall, which has long supported the ancient structure, is tottering to its fall. Within, you may see the chimney of stone, with its ample fireplace. Near by are some aged Lombardy poplars, which Dr. Almerin Herrick, in his journal, now unfortunately lost, states that he assisted in setting out in the year 1818.
This building was formerly the residence and tavern of Major Ezra Long, who came hither from Vermont, about thc year 1810.
For many years this locality constituted thc headquarters of this section of country. Here was the post-office, and here were held the military trainings and elections, together with other public and social gatherings, long before the present village had an existence. There was also here au institution for the protection, if not the improvement, of the understanding, this being a shoe-shop, employing a number of hands, carried on by Silas Rockwell; and, alas! up a little ravine east of thc creek was an institution for the confusion of the understanding,--a small distillery. Liquor was in considerable demand, and was known in the current language of the times as "mudpaw."
The "IvyLodge" of F. and A. M. had also its regular sessions at this place; the "Compass and thc Square" being conspicuous emblems on Major Long's tavern sign, with thc date of 1812, which is still preserved in the office of the Troy House.
Samuel Rockwell; the father of Luther and Rufus Rockwell, occupied in those days a house near where H. F. Long now resides. Like his son Luther, he left nine sons grown to maturity. He afterwards built and occupied a two-story house at the summit of the hill, south of the road to Troy, which was standing not many years since.
THE FIRST MEETING HOUSE
in the region was erected in 1808, on the summit of the hill, where the old burying-ground remains and the forefathers of the hamlet sleep. The size of the building was about 24 by 36; it was built of hewn logs, and the timber was got out and dressed by Reuben Wilbur and Stephen Palmer. The church was occupied for worship one month and thirteen days after the appointment of the building committee.
Elder Rich was probably the earliest pastor of the Baptist church who worshiped there.
The traveled road in those days, instead of leading, as afterwards, directly over the hill, passed through the old burying-ground and down the steep declivity towards the creek, through a little ravine known by the not very musical name of the "Pinchgut." Its route towards Troy village was formerly much nearer the creek than at present.
THE FIRST FLOURING MILL
was originally erected by an individual named Ward, and afterwards owned by Major Long. Were we able it would be a matter of curiosity to compare its machinery and dimensions (the dam being then only six feet in height) with those of what is now known as Long's mills, standing upon tile original site and rebuilt by H. F. Long in 1858.
Another mill on a small scale was afterwards built by Thos. Barber, in the glen above, near the bend in the Rock road; some of the spars of the dam were to be seen but a few years since still projecting above the water. The carding and cloth dressing works below Long's mills were put in operation by Samuel Conant about thc year 1808. The main building, which, with the older one in its rear, was destroyed by fire in November 1875, was built by Luther Rockwell for Clement Paine in 1840.
Elder Adriel Hebard is said to have come into this section from Vermont about the year 1800, and occupied a house on the present site of J. G. Loveland's. The large butternut-tree shading the road near the house below is said to have been planted by him.
West of the Burlington road, about half-way between Major Long's and Esquire Allen's, stood
THE OLD SHAD SCHOOL-HOUSE
probably the earliest institution of learning, and there are those among our citizens who may remember taking their first lessons from Webster or Cobb within its humble walls. It took its name from the weather vane, in the form of a fish, which surmounted the building.
Thc first board roofed house in the township was erected by Gen. Elihu Case in 1798. The first house in the borough was built by Timothy Nichols, father-in-law of E. Case, in 1800. It stood near where the new Presbyterian church now stands. Nichols sold to Elihu Smead, who previously had resided at tile foot of the mountain, on Smead creek.
Elder Rich, a Baptist preacher, was the first adult interred in Glenwood cemetery, in 1812.
DR. ALMERIN HERRICK
then a young man, came hither, in 1817, from the State of New York, to find a suitable opening for the practice of his profession. He remained for two or three years at Major Long's, and finally became a settled citizen of thc county, quite as much from the force of circumstances as from choice. Accustomed as he had been to a society of literature and refinement, he found it difficult to reconcile his mind to the idea of settling down for life in a region so rude and wild, and with so little prospect, as it then seemed to him, of general improvement. In his diary kept at the time (and to which, were it now to be had, it would be interesting to refer) the often indulged in the expression of such a feeling, and on two occasions had fixed upon a day for his positive departure. On the arrival of the time set, however, the entry is made that, although a considerable amount was due on his books, which he had hoped to realize, he actually could not succeed in collecting a sufficient amount in money to carry him out of the country. But a good citizen was thus saved to the community, of which he long continued a useful member. Not long after this the doctor was married to the lady who now, in old age, has survived him some thirty three years, and we do not hear subsequently of his repining at the fate which had kept him here. It was about the year 1820 that he was appointed postmaster and removed to the present site of Troy, then and for some years after known as Lansingburg; the original name of the township, under the Connecticut title, having been Augusta.
One of the earliest documents connected with the progress of the place at an early period is the following, dated Nov. 5, 1823:
"At a meeting of a number of the inhabitants of the vicinity of Lansingburgh, at the school-house, to devise or fix some plan for finishing the old school-house, thereby making it the more comfortable for our children, and we, the proprietors, the more applauded by foriners. Voted, unanimous, that we finish off the schoolhouse. Proceeded to sine for the purpose above-mentioned, and then voted that after the subscription is expended, to proceed in finishing off the same, and we are bound to pay in proportion to what we have already sined. To be superintended by Almerin Herriek.
(Signed) "Laban Landon, Cbairman.
Elihue Case, Secretary."
The accompanying subscription is signed by A. Herrick, Churchill Barnes, and John Dobbins, well known in the early history of the place, both acting for some time as justices of the peace; Elihu Newbery, Zoroaster Porter, Benj. Oviatt, Isaac N. Pomeroy, Vine Baldwin, Elihu Case, Ansel Williams, Abraham Case, James Lueas, Dan'l Gregory, and several others. It is noticeable that there are three columns opposite the signatures: one being for number of days' work subscribed, another for number of bushels of wheat, and the third for number of feet of lumber. There is also a column for subscriptions in money, but all the contributions are in the other columns. Dr. Almerin Herrick's subscription takes the lead, being 8 days work, 2 bushels of wheat, and 10 pounds of iron; Elihu Case's subscription, 1 day's work, 200 feet of boards, and 10 pounds of iron, towards andirons; Vine Baldwin's, 20 pounds of four penny and eight penny nails and 20 pounds of iron."
We do not understand these subscriptions payable in iron, only so far as Elihu Case explains his by stating that it was for andirons, an article getting to be nowadays so much out of use that some may not even understand that. But, considering the scarcity of gold, silver, and bills in those days, we are rather carried back in imagination to the times of the Spartans, who established an iron currency, so cumbrous, however, that its transportation to any amount required the aid of at least one ox-cart.
The old schoolhouse Stood on the present site, or nearly, of F. H. Parson's meat-market. It might well be supposed to bare gone out of existence long before this time, but having been bought years ago by one Bryan Hanaway, it was removed down Elmira street, where it still forms part of the small dwelling belonging to S. W. Pomeroy, below the residence of Edward E. Loomis.
In Dr. Herrick's bill for the work, etc., which he superintended on the schoolhouse, we find the following rates as then prevailing: for 14 days work by himself, 56 cents per day; for carpenters work by James Lucas, Joshua Landon, and others, 75 cents per day; for board of workmen, 18 3/4 cents per day; for boards (probably a good quality of pine lumber), $3.75 per thousand feet; and for nails, 12½ cents per pound.
whose name appears on the subscription referred to, was a preacher, and also filled up the time by working as a house-joiner and carpenter. Dr. S. E. Shepard relates an anecdote of him showing a good faculty at repartee. In one of his discourses he had made a characteristic illustration of the kingdom of God, by comparing it to the building of a house, nicely fitted and framed together in all its parts. It happened that a somewhat critical individual of the name of Sill was afterwards discussing the points of the sermon with Elder Oviatt, and among other difficulties and objections he inquired:
"Suppose, elder, on working up a lot of timber into a frame, you found, among the rest, a stick which was so crooked and warped that you could neither line nor square it, what would you do with it?"
"Mr. Sill," replied the elder, after a moment's thought, "if I found that to be the case, I would just flatten one side of it and make it into a sill !"
Elder Oviatt lived for some time on the Sylvania road, near the present residence of Edward Redington, and engaged himself in the manufacture of nails wrought by band, then much in use. Although a preacher, he was afflicted with an impediment in his speech, in connection with which the following circumstance is narrated. Several years after his removal from this place he came back on a visit. The lapse of time had brought with it some change in his personal appearance, and many of his former acquaintances did not at once recognize him. It was about that time that Gen. Case, wending his way homeward, towards evening, from a day's surveying, noticed an elderly man approaching from the opposite direction. On getting nearer the general turned out of his path to afford him a passage, but the stranger turned out to the same side; trying another tack to the left, he found himself again confronted. It seemed a game of cross-purposes. Gen. Case finally stood still, and inquired,--
"Do you know who I am ?" "Yes," was the reply, "I have known you of old. You are Elihu Case. Do you know me?" "I do not," was the reply. "Then I will tell you. I am an unworthy preacher of the gospel, to whom you once said you doubted the Lord's ever having given me a call to preach, for the reason that, if so, he would, as you believed, at the same time have loosened the cords of my tongue."
is another name on the school-house subscription. He was the father of Thomas B. Baldwin, of this township. He then had a store at this place, and for some time kept tavern in a building standing where the Troy House now stands. His store building stood a little east of the present corner-store building of Pomeroy Brothers, and stood on what was then the corner. To illustrate the value of corner lots and other real estate in this town and vicinity, we may state that on his purchasing his store lot (the best business location in the place) the valuation of the ground, being in its dimensions about 24 by 38 feet, was left to two disinterested citizens, Churchill Barnes and Adriel Hebard, who promptly and unanimously decided upon the sum of $10 as the purchase money to be paid, which award seems to have been entirely satisfactory to all concerned.
Another purchase made subsequently by Vine Baldwin, was of the land on the hill towards Long's mills, including thc present farm of V. M. Long and Rufus Rockwell's estate,--160 acres with 40 sheep, 7 cows, 5 hogs,--for the sum of $700.
Another of the subscribers came here with a horse, saddle, and bridle, for which he purchased of Elihu Smead a lot of land about two and a half acres, including that on which his son, Geo. N. Newbery, now lives; the consideration mentioned in the deed being twenty dollars per acre.
COL. ISAAC N. POMEROY
and Ebenezer Pomeroy came in about 1818. They were natives of Connecticut, and for some years carried on the carding and cloth-dressing works below Long's mills. Like Dr. Herrick, they had for some time no intention of making this a permanent home. Col. Pomeroy in a few years bought Conant's tavern on the corner, which was replaced by him in 1837-38 by the Eagle tavern, a wooden building with lofty columns, which was destroyed by fire in 1852. A little house standing on the summit of the hill, above where his son is now erecting a large mansion, was for a time the residence of Col. Pomeroy after his arrival.
Col. Isaac Pomeroy died at Troy, May 30,1861, aged seventy-one years. He was a native of Tolland Co., Conn., and settled in Troy in 1818.
The McKean family are of Scotch extraction. James McKean, the grandfiather of our subject, came from Scotland some time previous to the Revolution, and settled in Maryland, whence James McKean, Jr., the son of the progenitor of the family in this country, emigrated to Braddford County in 1791, and settled in what is now Burlington township, where he was the first white settler. His family consisted of eight children,--six sons and two daughters,--James Jr., Andrew, John, Robert, Samuel, Benjamin, Rebecca, and Jane.
John was born in Burlington, May 10, 1809 When fifteen years of age he came to Troy, and commenced life as a blacksmith's apprentice; but the trade not proving congenial to his tastes, he entered the employ of O. P. Ballard as clerk, with whom he remained ten years. He was possessed of a great deal of business acumen, and such was his employer's confidence in his ability and integrity that he sent him to Philadelphia with a drove of cattle, the proceeds of which he invested in goods.
In 1832, Mr. McKcan was married to Miss Electa Moore, daughter of William and Polly Moore, of Springfield. She was born in Columbia, May 22, 1811. Soon after his marriage, he associated himself with Ira P. Ballard in tile manufacture of baskets, in connection with which they carried on a small grocery trade. They did business two years, when Mr. McKean went to Springfield, Ill., where he engaged in the mercantile business with a gentleman by the name of Spalding. He was interested in other enterprises, and remained in Illinois until the year 1840, when he returned to Troy, where he met a younger brother, Timothy McKean, who was a resident of' Texas, and who persuaded him to try his fortune in the "Lone Star State." Accordingly, in September of the same year, they purchased in New York a large stock of goods, which they shipped for Galveston, Texas, with the intention of establishing themselves there in trade. They took passage on the same vessel, and were wrecked on the Bahama islands, losing all excepting what money they had on their persons. They took passage in another vessel, and after a stormy passage, arrived in Galveston, where they found everything in a very unsettled condition, the State having just declared its independence.
After a sojourn of eight months, he again returned to Troy, where be continued to reside until his death. For some time after his return he was engaged in clerking, in which occupation he remained about four years, when he commenced the business of a broker, which he followed the balance of his life.
Mr. McKean was preeminently a self made man, and possessed of more than ordinary business ability, and perhaps the two most prominent points in his character were energy and perseverance. Misfortunes never daunted him, but only stimulated him to renewed effort. He was extensively known for years as one of Troy's best citizens, and in his death, which occurred March 8, 1877, the borough met with an irreparable loss.
Among the prominent old settlers of the Township of Troy, none are more deserving of a place in the history of Bradford than Allen Taylor. He was Born in the State of Vermont, May 23, 1792, and was the son of Moses and Martha Taylor, who had the good old-fashioned family of ten children. In 1803 the elder Taylor emigrated from Vermont and settled in the town of Athens. Like the majority of those who came to found homes for themselves and families, he was in limited circumstances, and for the three years succeeding his arrival he rented a farm. At the expiration of this time he came to Columbia, where he remained a short time, having decided to settle permanently in Troy, where he lived until he died. Allen remained with his father until he was twenty-four years of age, sharing the privations and hardships of a pioneer family, and none are better qualified to speak of the hardihood, endurance, and the almost insurmountable obstacles that lay in the pathway of the early settlers than he, and did our space permit, we could pen from his own lips many a tale of suffering and privation that to the present generation would sound more like fiction than fact.
In 1816, Mr. Taylor was united in marriage to Miss Olive H. Stevens, daughter of Joel and Lydia Stevens, of Troy, and shortly after, Mr. Taylor purchased one hundred acres of land near where he now resides, and commenced life for himself'. Being a man of remarkable perseverance and industry, he has been successful, and to his first purchase one hundred and thirty acres have been added; he is enjoying in his old age a well-earned competency, the result of a long life characterized by industry, integrity, and honorable dealing. Mr. Taylor is now living at the advanced age of eighty-five, and his life has been devoted almost entirely to the cares of his farm and family. He has, however, been called to fill several positions of trust. He has been assessor of his town for three terms, and the office of supervisor he has held for a number of years. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have been blessed with a family of thirteen children, ten of whom grew to maturity; eight are now living.
In closing this brief sketch we should prove recreant to our duty did we not speak of the many virtues of Mrs. Taylor. She has proved to be a helpmeet in the truest and fullest sense of the word, a kind mother, a worthy wife. She is all, in fact, that is expressed in the term amiable and intelligent. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are both worthy and consistent members of the Disciple church. Thus closes the brief history of one who has done his part in laying the foundation for the present wealth and prosperity of the town, and to him will be said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
ALFRED PARSONS, M.D.
The subject of this sketch was identified for a period of forty years with the physical, moral, and social development of western Bradford. He was the oldest of five children in the family of Thomas and Anna Osborne Parsons, and born at Enfield, Hartford Co., Conn., on Nov. 16, 1797. In the year 1800 his father removed to Franklin, Delaware Co., N. Y. In his father's family he remained until, at the age of eighteen, he entered Williams college. During two years stay there his whole time was given to earnest and laborious study, and while there the foundation was laid for that learning, the possession of which, in after-years, contributed so much to his prominence in the profession of medicine. A reverse in the pecuniary affairs of his father, at this time, compelled him to abandon the idea of acquiring a classical education, and, returning home, he entered the office of Dr. Dewey as a student of medicine. After remaining for some time with Dr. Dewey, he put himself under the instruction of Dr. Morse, of Otego, N. Y., then one of the most skillful practitioners in the State. This medical education, as a student, was completed by attending lectures at the old "Fairfield college," where he graduated in 1825, receiving from "the president and members of the Medical Society of the county of Herkimer, State of New York," a diploma as physician and surgeon. At the same time he was made a member of "The Medical Society of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western District, New York."
About the year 1826, being on a visit to Eli Parsons, a paternal uncle, one of the pioneers of the county then residing at Columbia, in the county of Bradford, he was persuaded to locate there for the practice of his profession, and entered upon a career of usefulness which continued for a period of forty years. In June, 1834, Dr. Parsons was united in marriage with Jane, the oldest daughter of Hon. Reuben Wilber, one of the early settlers of this section, whose personal history m~ be found in another part of this volume.
The perseverance and integrity, which are marked characteristics of the family from which he sprung, combined with his great skill and learning, brought its sure reward. Business accumulated rapidly on his hands; he attained a leading position in his profession, and in his later years had acquired a competency which enabled him to rejoice that his family need not endure the privations to which he had been subjected. Dr. Parsons was one of the founders of the Bradford County Medical Society, and took a deep interest in all its meetings and deliberations. Three times elected its president, he was honored and revered by each of its members. In matters of education he was always prominent, contributing freely to the establishment and maintenance of the old Troy academy.
In religious matters he was among the foremost. Thc ground upon which the beautiful structure of the First Presbyterian church of Troy now stands, was his gift to the society many years ago.
Always energetic in business, and keenly alive to the sufferings of others, the calls of his profession, whether in sunshine or in storm, at early hours or late, whether for the poor without hope of remuneration, or for the wealthy, were never disregarded. He died Oct. 24, 1865, of disease contracted while in attendance upon a patient. Two children, Mary Helen, in childhood, and Sarah Ann, wife of Theodore Waldron, of Troy, in 1865, had preceded him to the grave. Surviving him were his widow and two children, Sophia L., the wife of W. H. Carnochan, Esq., of Towanda, and John A. Parsons, of Troy.
Dr. Parsons was a man of fine personal appearance and an easy, frank address, possessed of a kindly nature which won the esteem and retained the confidence of all with whom he came in contact. Frequently called in consultation with the eminent physicians of his day, his cautious but sure judgment was always recognized, and he is still remembered by the older members of the profession as a skillful physician and cultured gentleman. Sound in judgment, resolute in purpose, and possessing those qualities of head and heart which gained the affection of the community, he was enabled to maintain during life the supremacy in this respect which he early attained. As he lived, so he died, worthily. His remains are buried in the "old cemetery" at Troy, and of those who knew him in life, none read the inscription upon the plain granite monument which marks his grave, without feeling that there lies one worthy to be remembered, an example of patient self-denial, a lover of his kind, a Christian gentleman.
The subject of this sketch was born in Troy township, Bradford Co., Pa., Aug. 31, 1813. His parents, John and Nancy Lilley, emigrated from Vermont in 1809, and located in Troy. John Lilley, the father of Dummer, was born in Ireland, of English parents, in 1781, and was impressed into the military service of Great Britain and went to Canada, where he deserted, came to Ogdensburg, N. Y., then to Vermont, where he married Nancy Smith. Dummer was the fourth of twelve children, eight of whom are still living. When he was twelve years of age, Stephen Fowler, a celebrated physician, persuaded his father to consent to Dummer's living with him, promising to make him a physician. At Dr. Fowler's he enjoyed the benefit of three years' schooling, making rapid progress in his studies. When he was fifteen years old, Dr. Fowler moved to Ohio. Mr. Lilley then went home. His father told him that he was too fond of reading to make a successful farmer, and consented to his learning the printing trade. He soon commenced work on the Bradford Settler, a paper published at Towanda by J. P. Bull. At the expiration of one year he left on account of the refusal of his father to sign indentures binding him till twenty-one years of age. He was employed on the Anti-Masonic Democrat, in 1830, published at Troy, and remained till the paper was discontinued two years afterwards.
In company with Mr. G. W. Kinney he printed the Troy Argus for a short time. He went to Towanda in 1834, and became a member of the firm of Utter, Kinney & Lilley, publishers of the Bradford Argus, the first number of which was dated Feb. 4, 1834. At the end of the first year he sold out his interest to Utter, but became sole proprietor one year later. He published the paper with much ability and credit till 1840, when he sold out to Elhanan Smith. He soon afterwards purchased a farm in Canton Township. In the fall of 1856 he was elected one of the commissioners for Bradford County. He discharged the duties of this office with strict fidelity. He represented Bradford County in the State legislature in 1862. He was re-elected in the following year by a handsome majority, which is a practical test of his popularity, ability, and integrity as a legislator. During the war he was actively engaged in securing bounties for soldiers, which kept him most of the time either at Washington or Harrisburg. He was appointed in 1838, by Governor Ritner, register of wills and recorder of deeds, which appointment he held until the office was made elective by an amendment to the State constitution.
Mr. Lilley is in every sense of the word a self-made man. Few men have led more arduous and active lives, or discharged with greater ability and credit, the numerous public trusts which he has filled. By means of his keen, practical insight into human nature, and his wide range of general knowledge, he has done as much, perhaps, as any other man in developing the early resources of Bradford County. He is an earnest friend of improvement and reform, and has always zealously forwarded every project with his pen and purse, which tended to better the political and educational interests of his county. Mr. Lilley is still living, enjoying excellent health, and has every reason to feel gratified over his long and successful career.
O. P. Ballard is believed to have established himself in trade here in the fall of 1822, having been, for a few years, a clerk in the store of Clement Paine, at Athens. He commenced with a few goods taken on commission of Charles L. Hopkins, of that place, and succeeded so well as to buy out his partner at the close of the first year. The people from this section had previously been under the necessity of going to Athens to trade for the most part, and, as he was accustomed to relate, dealt very freely according to their means, when they found an opportunity, at length, of buying goods near home; if they could not find just the article they came for they were pretty sure to invest in something else.
The staple articles of trade and produce in the country, as Clement Paine writes, in the year 1810, were cattle, wheat, and lumber. He adds:
"Lately the manufacture of potash has been introduced into the adjacent towns. I have endeavored to promote this branch of business by furnishing the necessary implements and materials, and we shall, the present year, receive about one hundred barrels of the article, whereas three years ago there was none manufactured."
This manufacture, carried on amid the forests of western Bradford, must have involved a destruction of timber that would now, even in this wooden country, be looked upon as deplorable, great quantities of the finest trees being cut, piled, and burned, merely to gather up the ashes for boiling down into potash. It was worth, in those days, about twenty or twenty-five dollars per barrel, and being an article easy of transportation, it soon afforded an important item of industry and income.
Thc difficulties of trade in those early days must have been very great; it was mostly barter, owing to the scarcity of money, and the transportation of produce to market, or of goods from thc city, was attended with great expense, delay, and risk. A trip to Philadelphia with wagons, as was customary, for goods, occupied about three weeks; but in those days a few wagon leads of goods made up what was considered a large assortment. If the assortment was in fact small, the prices of course had to be large in an inverse ratio. When John Cummins, many years ago, opened a little store here, the advertisement he published was headed, "Small boats must keep near shore; larger ones may venture more." In connection with which idea, Nelson Adams (I think it was) made the remark, after noticing the limited extent of his stock, "I guess you must have come over in a canoe?"
George Kress was one of the early merchants of Troy, buying out the stock of Vine Baldwin. Gen. Kress built the house now owned by Robert Kendall, in its day probably the most aristocratic style of residence in the place
O. P. Ballard for some time controlled to a considerable extent the trade of the place. Gillet & Cone commenced business here about 1836 or 1837. G.F. Redington was here first as their clerk, until he and D. F. Pomeroy bought them out, and established their store on the corner, which was subsequently, and for quite a long period, the scene of' business operations of the Pomeroy Brothers.
Butter, which is now the great article of production and trade, was in the early days a thing of not much account, for the lack of a market. When sold it was merely in small parcels and seldom put up in tubs and firkins. As a general thing, when sold, it would not command over sixpence per pound. When Eli Baird, about the year 1840, commenced paying 12½ cents per pound, the producers of the article seemed to feel that it was opening a fine harvest for them. Since then the greater quantity produced, and the enhanced price, have brought the value of butter purchased at and shipped from this village in a single year to the sum of not less than $450,000.*
TROY IN 1827
To give an idea of the extent of Troy in 1827, the year in which Dr. Silas E. Shepard came here, we will give his statement of the residents: Caleb Williams then lived near the present site of Delos Rockwell and Warren Williams, in the old Spalding house; Ansel Williams in the old Seely Mann house, where E. B. Parson's house stands. Next was Joseph Wills, who married the widow of Moses Case, in the old two-story house still standing in the rear of S. H. Fitch's house. Along the present Canton Street, at that time, the forest came for the most part within twenty-five rods of the road, and covered the hill west of the creek. Mr. Wells' sawmill stood near where Bowen's tannery is at this time. A small foundry was afterwards erected there by Capt. Joseph Morse, and subsequently carried on by him and Thos. E. Paine. Jas. A. Paine afterwards took the business, and after him Seth W. Paine, who removed it finally to the place where, through a long term of years, he continued and extended it.
The next was the log house first occupied by Dr. Herrick, on the place long owned by him and afterwards by his son, Delos, where T. McCabe now lives. Elihu Newbery's house and blacksmith-shop came next, the house having been what is now the rear part of the residence of his son. Next was the old schoolhouse and Col. Pomeroy's tavern on the corner. On the opposite corner was Geo. Kress' store, and below was the residence of Esquire Churchill Barnes, near H. Pomeroy's and the bank. Next came the tannery with its half-dozen vats, probably then carried on by Calvin Dodge, on the lot afterwards owned by Matt. Carnochan; and below, where stood afterwards S. W. Paine's foundry, was the old grist-mill, built by Aaron Case, and in which he was accidentally killed.
On the other side of the street, as now, stood the Adriel Hebard house: and the brick house, now the Adams house, then unfinished.
Below, on Elmira street, was Capt. Jas. Hickok's Mill, where the plaster-mill now stands, and his house. He was the father of Leander Hickok: who says that, in the days of his boyhood here, it was not unusual in the winter nights to hear the wolves howling on what is now known as Paine's hill.
The only house on the west side of Elmira street, in 1827, was thc frame house of Aaron Case's widow, where Mrs. Hull now lives. The tavern kept by Vine Baldwin then stood at the present site of the Troy House, and above this the little house and store of O. P. Ballard. Farther west there was but one house, that of Reuben Smead, until arriving at Jas. Lamb's, near the present residence of Delos Herrick. The large farm-house of O. P. Ballard, built a few years subsequently, where he afterwards erected tile Exchange block, was ail immense building for its day. "I remember its looking to me of sufficient size to swallow up all thc rest of tile village, containing as it did store, printing-office, tavern, and shoe-shop."
*BUTTER Trade IN Troy,--Only a small portion of the United States is fitted, by the peculiarities of soil and climate, for the profitable production, and this is the belt between the 40th and 42d parallels of latitude. To produce first-class butter, clear, soft water is required, and a climate not too variable during the summer season, and a soil capable of producing a tender, succulent grass. These conditions are better supplied in western Bradford than in any region with which we are acquainted. The butter region proper embraces portions of Tioga, Chemung, and Steuben counties, in New York; Tioga, Bradlbrd, and Susquehanna counties, in Pennsylvania. In 1877 there were shipped from Troy and Canton about 2,300,000 lbs., the largest shippers being Redington, Maxwell and Leonard, in Troy, whose shipments are almost entirely to New York, while Newberry and Peek, whose establishment ranks next, ship mostly to Philadelphia, where Bradford County butter is peculiarly popular. The whole business is reduced to a most perfect system, adjusted to the rule of supply and demand. Most butter is contracted for early in the season, especially of favorite dairies. In the early fall the loads of butter begin to arrive, and from that time to the 1st of January, and even later, it comes in steadily, while shipments are made at seasons which will meet orders. The principal dealers have facilities for storage, so that farmers bring their packages of butter to the stores, where it is weighed, tested, branded with the producer's name, and stored for shipment when the orders call for it. The business has grown up almost entirely within the last twenty years; it having received a marked impulse during the war, and has been steadily increasing ever since.
PROGRESS AND IMPROVEMENTS
It is hardly practicable, nor is it necessary, to give here a detailed account of the progress of building since 1827, but some of the more important ones may be noticed.
The Baptist church, which is thc oldest in thc place, was erected about 1834, James Lamb, Reuben Case, Joseph Wills, and Rufus Rockwell being then its leading members, and Elder Root one of the first pastors who officiated there.
Col. Pomeroy's Eagle tavern, on the corner, was built about 1837 or 1838. The colonel kept the house for some years, and it was subsequently kept by Jackson Strait, Herrick, and Loren B. Morse, who occupied it when it was destroyed by fire in 1852.
It was in 1838 that the first brick store was erected by Long, Taylor, and Thomas. It stood on the present site of H. F. Long's block.
The old Troy Academy was built in 1842 by James Riddle, under the direction of Col. Pomeroy. Among those who originated and aided in this laudable undertaking were Col. Pomeroy, V. M. Long, F. Smith, and S. W. Paine. The old building, divested of its steeple, is now, occupied as a dwelling-house, standing in its original position on the hill overlooking the village from the east.
It was also about this time that the Episcopal Church, overlooking the village from the West hill, was erected; and also the mill, now known as Viele's, by Seba C. Taylor and Daniel Dobbins, Chas. Colony being the architect, The first steam engine in operation in this vicinity was put into this mill by Eli Baird, who, in 1846, was the proprietor. As an illustration of the dread inspired by steam works in those days, it is related that a respectable farmer of the vicinity being present when this engine, which was an upright one, was first put into operation, a sharp and sudden escape of hissing steam from one of the valves sent him flying through the window of the building with almost as great rapidity as if he had actually been blown out by the explosion which he dreaded.
The large frame house erected by O. P. Ballard on the north side of Main street was burnt in 1848. An immense barn, afterwards built near by, was also destroyed by fire, with a large amount of valuable property which it contained. The house built by him farther west, under tile hill, which was burned in 1873, was quite an extensive one, and involved a large expenditure, especially in the stone work connected with it. The stream near by was walled up, and subsequently for a considerable distance flagged at its bottom with splendid stone. From the dam in this stream water was carried through a large underground canal to the house, and thence for some distance eastward before connecting again with the creek.
The style and plan of the house, with its numerous small rooms and underground passages, was so peculiar as to excite a considerable degree of wonder and curiosity. Strange rumors became current, and in the country around there were many who believed that it was built in the interest of the Pope of Rome, and could be intended for nothing short of a nunnery or inquisition. Many will remember the circumstance of a committee having been sent here from a township to the eastward, for the purpose of examining the building, and reporting upon its plan of construction and probable intended use. What they reported on their return we have never learned.
This house, for many years the residence of the family, was burned in 1873, only about three months after the destruction by fire of Ballard's brick exchange, a four-story block, 90 by 72, erected for Sir. Ballard, by Sidney Hayden, in 1849. The still unoccupied space of its ruins constitutes a serious vacuum amid the well-constructed business buildings of Troy borough.
The church building still occupied by the Presbyterian congregation was erected in 1848, a much smaller one having previously occupied the site. Rev. Mr. Harrower, a Scottish clergyman, was the pastor some forty years since. He was succeeded by Rev. Isaac Todd, who remained some fifteen years. Among the leading members of this church in those days we remember such men as Ebenezer Pomeroy, Laban Bowen, and Capt. Solomon Morse. Jonathan Peek is perhaps the oldest, living member. The original church building; not exceeding in size 20 by 30 feet,still stands in the rear of E. C. Oliver's house. Thus there are in near neighborhood of each other three successive church buildings, including the extensive and elegant brick edifice just now completed. A comparison of the buildings illustrates well the increase of wealth and refinement; let us hope that it may also express the growth of true religion and sound morals in the community.
The first Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1854, during the pastorate and under the personal direction of Rev. W. H. Knapp. The building and its appointments were decidedly creditable to the society for the time at which it was built, but the location being deemed unsuitable for a church building, the property was disposed of, and the building converted into the present opera-house on Canton street, a neat and tasteful edifice being thereupon erected for the purpose of a church on Rcdington Avenue.
THE FIRST NEWSPAPER
published in the place was entitled the Anti-Masonic Democrat, edited by Thomas E. Paine, in the year 1830. This was succeeded by the Troy Argots. A large proportion of the subscribers to this sheet were on one occasion surprised and almost panic-stricken at receiving their weekly number bearing the conspicuous but ominous title of "Troy Argus," a transposition which may have been accidental, but was thought to be the sly work of a roguishly-inclined employee.
Subsequent to the Argus were the Analyzer, by F. Smith and Jas. A. P. Ballard, the Troy/Banner, by Wm. Webb; the New Star, by Julius Sherwood; and the Trojan, by Barclay & Messenger. Previous to our present Northern Tier Gazette, 'there was also a journal published by Dr. Johnson, and another by W. H. Baldwin.
ORGANIZATION OF THE BOROUGH
Tile organization of the village as a borough took place May 14, 1845, E. C. Oliver having been the first burgess; G. F. Redington, V. M. Long, Frederick Orwan, and Layton Runyon, members of the first common council; and Allen E. Thomas, clerk.
The first assessment of the taxable property of Troy borough amounted to $58,925, and the borough tax laid thereupon was $180.69.
Troy Township lies on the head-waters of Sugar creek. The borough lies at the confluence of the Middle branch, Glen branch (formerly Smead's creek), and South branch of Sugar creek. The line between Troy and Springfield townships formerly ran up the Main street of Troy borough. Troy was so named to please Churchill Barnes, who, although a native of Vermont, had visited Troy, N. Y., and was so pleased with the place that he was anxious to have it called by that name.*
The first road was opened in 1798. The first brick-kiln was put up by Ezra Long, who also opened the first tavern. The first blacksmith-shop was on the west side of Canton street, with Caleb Williams at the forge. The first steam sawmill was at H. A. Case's, and the first steam grist-mill that of H. F. Long. The first white child born in the township was Esther Case.
ORIN P. BALLARD
The subject of this sketch was born Feb. 22, 1798, in Greene Co., N.Y. His parents, Thomas and Catherine Ballard, were among the early settlers of the town of Burlington. His early life was spent upon his father's farm, sharing the privations and hardships of a pioneer family. When seventeen years of age he engaged himself to Clement Paine, of Athens, as clerk, with whom he remained five years. He then returned to Burlington, where, for some time, he worked on a farm; but finding this a slow road to fortune he went to Athens, and proposed to Charles Hopkins, of that place, to establish a store in Troy. The proposition was accepted, Mr. Ballard selling the goods on commission. This was the first store in the borough. By business ability and honorable dealing he soon found himself possessed of sufficient means to purchase the stock, and commenced business for himself. For many years he purchased his goods in Philadelphia, and hauled them with teams over the mountains. For thirty years he was the most prominent businessman in the western part of the county.
In connection with his mercantile business, he carried on various other enterprises for several years. He ran stage line from Troy to Elmira, and also kept a hotel for several years. He established the first paper published in Troy, called the Anti-Masonic Gazette, which was edited by Thomas E. Paine. Mr. Ballard was a leading man in the Anti-Masonic party, and best known for the prominent place he held in that movement. Foreseeing that Troy would ultimately become a place of importance, he purchased largely in real estate, especially farms, many of which he carried on himself, and at his death was an extensive landholder. As a businessman, Mr. Ballard was very methodical, and his success was attributable largely to his foresight, remarkable energy, and strict integrity.
In 1823, Mr. Ballard was married to Miss Amanda Calkins, of Burlington. She died in 1826, and he was again married to Miss Eliza Ann, daughter of Howard and Lucy (Allen) Spalding, of Troy, where Mrs. Ballard was born, Nov. 1, 1808. Mr. Ballard was one of the most substantial men of Bradford County, and a powerful aid in developing the resources of his town, building up and advancing the best interests of society, --a man of broad charity, generous liberality, and manly honor. He died Aug. 8, 1872, "a good old man, and full of years."
HON. REUBEN WILBUR
The subject of this sketch was born in Charleston, R. I., nearly opposite Newport, May 21, 1785. He was the son of John Wilbur, one of the most ardent patriots of the Revolution. He received an excellent education, and gave early promises of those abilities and morals, which were so highly recognized and rewarded in after-years. In the winter of 1805-6, full of hope and youthful energy, he directed his steps to the west, and passed a year at Penn Yan,* Yates Co., N.Y. He returned to Rhode Island in 1807 and came in the same year to Bradford County, then a portion of Luzerne county, where he spent a few days with Dr. Stephen Hopkins, who was proprietor of a hotel and store at Tioga Point, now known as Athens, and then came to East Troy, making his home at Nath'l Allen's, the land-agent for the Connecticut title. He purchased in June of the same year three hundred acres of land on Sugar creek, for which he paid fifty cents per acre, only one acre of which was cleared; but, unfortunately, his title proving worthless, he was compelled to repurchase the land at four dollars per acre, and pay Paul De-Witt one hundred dollars for the right of possession. At the outbreak of the war of 1812 his patriotism induced him to enter the American army, wherein he did gallant service, and was rewarded with the position of paymaster and first lieutenant. At the close of the war he returned to the quiet life of farming.
In 1825 he was elected sheriff of Bradford County, and discharged the duties of this office with such ability and integrity as to give general satisfaction. Under the administration of Governor Wolf he was elected State senator for Bradford County, and re-elected while Governor Shunk was in office. As a senator he was cautious, prudent, and honest, and favored all legislation which tended to develop the resources of the State, and advance the general welfare of its citizens. He was afterwards appointed associate judge for Bradford County.
When James Buchanan was elected president, Mr. Wilbur was one of the presidential electors; and when the electoral board met at Lancaster to pay their respects to the president elect, the eldest of their number began to introduce his associates separately to Mr. Buchanan, who, espying Mr. Wilbur, exclaimed, "You need not introduce to me this man; he is an old friend of mine," and taking him by the hand greeted him warmly. Before leaving he asked his opinion upon various matters of State policy coming up at that important crisis of the nation's history. He was appointed State inspector of prisons by Governor Wolfe, and while discharging the duties of this office at Philadelphia, became intimately acquainted with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, America's great statesmen. He was appointed a member of the State board of equalization, discharging the delicate duties of that office with such impartiality and justice as to give general satisfaction to the people.
Judge Wilbur was married to Sally, daughter of John Dobbins, an early settler on Sugar creek. She was born Jan. 15, 1792, and is still living.
The most salient feature of his character was his indomitable energy. He never failed in anything he undertook. He is very hospitable, entertaining his guests with a remarkably clear and interesting recital of the early days of Bradford County. He is still living at the ripe old age of ninety-three years.
Among the venerable pioneers of Bradford County, the subject of this sketch is entitled to a prominent place. He was born in Bethlehem, Albany county, N. Y., Dee. 15, 1805, and was the youngest child of Thomas and Hannah Porter. In 1814 his father came to Troy, where he purchased a farm of one hundred and fifty acres of the "Drinker" tract, for which he paid ten shillings per acre. When nineteen years of age his father died and he was left in sole charge of the farm and his father's business. His brother John owned a farm adjoining, and the attachment between the two brothers but strengthened with years; they labored in unison and held everything in common. In 1825, Mr. Porter was married to Miss Eliza Ann Farman, of Columbia, by whom he had eight children, six of whom are now living. In 1863, Mrs. Porter died, and in the year following, Mr. Porter was again married to Miss Mary Jenks, of Elmira. She died in 1864. Mr. Porter is well qualified to speak of the trials and privations of early days. For many years they were obliged to pound their corn in a stump hollowed out for the purpose, as there were no mills in the locality. Wheat was boiled and eaten with sugar or milk. But life in early days was not entirely devoid of charms; good appetites were the result of temperate habits, and many a dish common fifty years ago would have tempted an epicure. The woods were full of deer, and Sugar creek abounded with fine trout. Game of all kinds was plentiful, and the coarse but nutritious fare had probably much to do with the hardy constitutions of the people.
In the house of the elder Porter,
which was built of logs, was the old-fashioned fire-place, on either side
of which there hung a thorn-bush, upon which in the summer season hung
dried venison upon one side and dried trout upon the other, ready at any
time to appease the appetite of the occasional visitor or of the family.
Mr. Porter was a great hunter in his early days, and proficient in all
athletic sports. As was common in those days at any gathering, shooting
at a target, wrestling, and jumping were the principal amusements, in all
of which he excelled, and it is with pleasure that he looks back upon the
feats of strength and endurance exhibited upon these occasions. Mr. Porter
has been a successful farmer and is enjoying a competency, the result of
a long life of industry, economy, and honorable dealing. Notwithstanding
the privations and hardships of early life, he is in the possession of
good health and all his faculties, and worthy in every respect of honorable
mention in history.