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Mansfield Classical Seminary, Tioga County PA 1857
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School: Mansfield Classical Seminary
Township: Richmond, Tioga County PA
Article by Chester P. Bailey
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Submitted by Chester P. Bailey, Mansfield, PA

In 1854 according to Simon B. Elliott, Mansfield had 2 stores, 2 small hotels, 2 churches, a two story frame school house. The only brick buildings were the Gitchell house and the tannery walls.

Joseph S. Hoard has the honor of being the first to suggest the establishment in Mansfield of Higher grades than the average County academy. In May of 1854 he discussed his plan with Simon Elliott, Dr. Joseph Morris, Rev. H. N. Severs, Rev. William Manning, and possibly a few others.

Encouraged to bring it before the Quarterly Conference of the Mansfield Methodist Church on July 4, 1854, he discussed it with some men during the Camp meeting at the Seeley farm in Sullivan Township. It was held under the tent of Col. R. C. Shaw.

It so happened that a gentleman was there soliciting funds for a school in New York State and offering scholarships. Mr. Hoard did not believe they should send children away to school and thus lose them to other areas.

The conference was held there on July 6, 1854, but was not ready to act upon it so set the following Monday night at the M. E. Church in Mansfield (Elmira and N. Main Sts.). The enterprise was explained and at that meeting a resolution was passed to hold a public meeting in the same church on July 26, 1854. The public meeting was enthusiastic, and a paper was passed for signatures and a proposal to form a stock company with shares at $50 each.

It was stipulated that the school should not be under the patronage of the East Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and in no sense was it to be a church or sectarian school. The Principal was, however, a member of that church. A Committee was named including Rev. Manning, R. C. Shaw, Hon. D. L. Sherwood, Lyman Beach, and others to solicit subscriptions.

On August 8, 1854, the subscriptions having reached $5,000, a committee was appointed to present the enterprise to the Genesee Conference. The Conference appointed five commissioners to investigate and to decide whether support should be pledged. In the meantime Wellsboro had decided such a school would be good for their village. The commissioners decided on Mansfield.

A charter was secured for the Mansfield Classical Seminary. Its first meeting was December 1, 1854. Officers and trustees were appointed. President J. S. Hoard, V.P. Dr. C. V. Elliott and R. P. Buttles, Recording Secretary Dr. B. M. Bailey and S. B. Elliott Corresponding secretaries, Lyman Beach Treasurer, W. M. Johns was librarian. Members of the Board: Rev. Wm. Manning pastor of the Mansfield Church 52-53, Dr. Joseph Morris (Gave the land for the school), Rev. A. Sherwood (pastor of the Baptist Church), T. L. Baldwin, G. R. Wilson, Rev. Richard Videon, Joseph Hubble, Lyman Reynold, Honorable D. L. Sherwood, (Speaker of the House), William K. Kimble, J. B. Clark Jr., B. W. Bailey, Lymond Beach, Jr., Rev. Lymond Beach, Sr.

At the first meeting of the Trustees, held February 17, 1855, a plan for a brick building, four stories high with a front of 100 feet, with two wings seventy-eight feet high was adopted. The building was erected under the supervision of J. S. Hoard, D. L. Sherwood, and Amos Bixby. On April 17, 1856, the Board elected Rev. J. E. Jaques, principal and Mrs. Jaques as preceptress, at $900 per year.

The Seminary was formally opened on January 7, 1857, with 105 students. The building when finished and furnished represented an outlay of nearly $20,000 with an indebtedness of $6,000.

The second term started April 16, 1857, with 150 students. Six days later the building burned to the ground. No lives were lost. The fire was discovered at 10 o’clock in the morning. The night following the fire, the friends and promoters of the institution held a meeting in the Methodist church and resolved to rebuild and subscribed $4,000. By September 1, 1857, the better part of the first story was built. The panic of that year was blamed on one of the insurance companies refusing to pay and the other one collapsed. Work was suspended and the building made ready for the winter.

In the period between 1857 and 1861 the personnel of the Board of Directors changed due to the fact that 100 men from Mansfield and Richmond Township left Mansfield under the command of Joseph Hoard to answer the call of President Lincoln. They became Co. B of the 101st Reg. Inf. Vols.

In the month of August 1858, the M. E. Conference was to meet in Corning and it was thought best to make a grand effort at that time, hold a free picnic on the island and invite members of the Conference to attend. Arrangements were made; a special train was engaged to bring the members of the conference, free. August 14, a beautiful day, ample dinner provided and the local people turned out in great numbers. The train arrived carrying three gentlemen. It should have been expected for the conference had plenty of things to attend to.

After the men returned to Corning, Rev. Jaques formerly the principal and a man of powerful mental facilities brought them down to reality. He told them that they should not depend on aid from abroad, but if the planned structure was to be built it had to be by the people. Never in our history was there such a day as this.

The afternoon was spent in the effort – boys and girls, men and women vied with each other in the effort as they subscribed to the project. The sun was low in the west when the meeting broke up. The Classical Seminary was saved that day, over $4,000 in subscriptions. But it was not all in cash. Labor, baked goods, lumber, feed for horses, farm produce & etc.

Work was again started without skilled bricklayers. One of the men on the construction committee took three or four young men and instructed them. The work went very slowly.

Rev. Severs resigned as treasurer and P. M. Clark was appointed and S. B. Elliott was appointed to the Building Committee. The Trustees insisted that they not take on any debt. Somehow the treasurer made trades and exchanged goods for cash, we will never know the details but in the next three months the workers finished the walls on the first story, the second story and nearly all of the third. The treasurer had laid out only 50cents cash. This to a stranger who presented himself as a brick layer one morning, but did not prove it and was dismissed before noon.

With cold weather coming on the walls were secured for the winter. Work was again started on April 25, 1859.

$1,150 was received from one Insurance Companies in March and this was paid on the old mortgage taken on the old building. On August 4, 1869, Rev. Lanbreth was elected principal at a salary of $800 and house rent. He immediately asked the Board for a resolution to open the school as soon as enough was completed. On November 23, he was allowed to open the school, a preceptionist was hired at $400 and assistant teacher $300.

At the November stockholders meeting S. B. Elliott was elected President, J. P. Morris V.P. and P.M. Clark Treasurer. School opened Nov. 23, with 30 students and at the close of the spring term had increased in numbers. By July 1860 a festival was held and J. K. Beecher of Elmira gave a speech in the unfinished chapel. Rev. Landreth resigned.

At the November 1860 annual Stockholders meeting Rev. Fellows was elected principal. The new Board included, Rev. N. Fellows, W. C. Ripley, Rev. R. A. Drake, J. P. Morris, J. C. Howe, A. Pitts, I. Bennett, T. Berry. Only four officers had ever served on the board before and some had no connection to the village or the institution.

At the second meeting, the next evening, Prof. Holt was elected principal, Prof. Wildman had been promised the position. Some arrangement must have been made between Holt and Wildman, for Wildman opened the school in December and Mrs. Wildman was made preceptness.

In June of 1860 Rev. Drake attempted to seal the institution at sheriff sale. Other attempts were prevented by S. B. Elliott and County Judge Williams.

Rev. Fellows resigned as president and A. S. Ross was appointed to fill the vacancy. School was opened in September 1861 with a good number of students.

The annual stockholder meting was held on November 19, 1861. Rev. William Cochran, president, E. Wildman Treasurer and R. Videan secretary, Trustees – L. Beach, Jr., W. Cochran, Bailey, Wildman, J. B. Clark, Rev. Videan, Rev. Drake and Howe. Drake, Howe and Videan held a large block of stock.

Through the efforts of S. B. Elliott, J. P. Morris and Rev. Cochran contact with the State were made to have the school become a State Normal School. The State made inspections and accepted the school. Rev. William Cochran was appointed by the Conference to continue to carry on a peaceful transfer to the State.

Much of the problems was the cause of a few who bought stock from others at one half price and then tried to collect. The debt problem bothered for two or three years, when the State allotted $5,000 to the school.

Rev. Cochran, S. B. Elliott and Dr. Morris had secured a loan of $6,000 from John McGee, a wealthy mine and railroad owner in Tioga County. They still owed $3,500 in 1866. In January 1867, McGee sent a receipt for the full amount with a New Year wish.

By resolution The Mansfield Classical Seminary was separated from the Methodist Conference with a "God Speed Blessing".

Above - Reference: 1804 – 1883 History of Tioga County, Mansfield Classical Seminary By Simon B. Elliott & Andrew Sherwood

There were eight ministers in Mansfield between 1853 and 1862, all but one became involved with the school. Rev. William Manning – 1852 – 53, Rev. L. L. Rogers – 1854 – 55, Rev. J. R. Jaque – 1856, Rev. Seavers – 1857, Rev. R. L. Stilwell – 1858 – 59, Rev. R. A. Drake and Rev. W. Beach – 1860, Rev. W. Cochran and Rev. R. A. Drake – 1861, Rev. W. Cochran – 1862.

Rev. Seavers was in the area in 1853. Rev. Manning became minister of the Covington M. E. Church in 1854. During 1858 – 59, only construction was being done on the school. Rev. Stilwell was not involved with the school. He had been at Mansfield in 1846 – 47.


Early in the year 1853 the project was started of building a seminary at Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The idea originated from Mr. Joseph S. Hoard, a layman in the Mansfield Episcopal Church in that village. Mr. Hoard consulted with his pastor Rev. Manning, who engaged heartily in the enterprise. Meetings were held, the subject thoroughly canvassed, and a subscription of $20,000 was raised to build and equip the "Mansfield Classical Seminary".

The condition in the subscriptions were that the Seminary should be under the patronage and control of the East Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

A committee was appointed with the pastor for its first chairman to attend the session of the conference in August of that year, and ask the conference to adopt this young but promising child.

The people of Wellsborough in the same County, learning what was going on in Mansfield were stirred up to make a similar request for themselves and so at the conference there were two committees, each asking for the location of the seminary.

The conference appointed a commission of five, naming Revs. Nathan Fellows, William Hosmer, Benjamin Shipman, H. M. Severs, and W. C. Mattison to visit the ground, consider the claims and locate the institution.

The commission visited both towns with much enthusiasm. Large crowds attended the meetings and many speeches made. Local pride developed local rivalries and the advocates were eloquent and urgent in exhibiting their claims.

The commission reported to the conference at its next session recommending the location of a conference seminary in both villages and the conference adopted their report.

After carrying their point and getting the conference to locate two seminaries, twelve miles apart, the Wellsborough people quietly dropped the subject.

The friends of the enterprise at Mansfield called a meeting of the subscribes, elected a board of Trustees, of which J. S. Hoard was made president, Rev. William Manning treasurer and agent.

After the seminary was destroyed by fire, the friends of the seminary rallied, raised a new subscription and erected another building on the ruins of the first and reopened the school.

But the burden was too heavy and after a heroic struggle they accepted the proposition of the State of Pennsylvania to assume their obligations, and make the Mansfield Classical Seminary one of the "States Normal Schools".

Under the fostering care of the State, the school buildings have been increased and the accommodations enlarged, and the institution is now (1886) prosperous, able, and a public benefactor.

Rev. James Lanbreth became principal of the Mansfield Classical Seminary. Rev. William Cochran was appointed in 1861 and 1862 in order, at Mansfield, that he might guide the interests of the Conference in the Mansfield Classical Seminary and its transfer to a State Normal School.

Our limits do not admit a full statement of the circumstances made necessary to part with the institution as a conference seminary and its transfer to a State Normal School. Suffice it to say, the necessity, after all that had been done to cancel a debt of $10,000. In every step Rev. Cochran acted an important part, but could not save it.

We can only give the final steps as recorded in the "History of Tioga County, PA".

In July 1862 L. Beach, Jr. moved in the Board of Trustees the adoption of the following "Resolve, that the Trustees of the Mansfield Classical Seminary now institute measures to offer the said Seminary to the State, to become a State Normal School"

The purpose of this resolution was carried out. Rev. Cochran was appointed to present the matter to the next East Genesee Annual Conference to obtain their concurrence, which he did. The Conference expressed their regrets of the necessity of such a measurer.

On the 4th of December following the examiners appointment by the Governor and State Superintendent met at the Seminary building and examined the same and made reports that it conformed with the requirements of the law. Thereupon Dr. Burrows State Superintendent, officially declared it the State Normal School of the fifth district of Pennsylvania, 1862.

Today 2002 the Mansfield University.

Following Article added 2005 from about 1916

A Reminiscence of Former Governor Stone

The following is from the Montrose Republican of last week.
Editor Republican – the item in last week’s Republican clipped from the Troy Gazette, about former Governor Wm. A. Stone, reminds me of a time when Stone was in office, and also in politics up to his ears, which was quite deep, as the aforesaid ears were more that 6 feet from the ground.  Stone was reminiscing of old school days at Mansfield of about 45 years ago, and said in substance] “After I came home from the army, I took up a piece of wild land, cut a fallow, made a clearing in Tioga county, built a log cabin, and started in to make a home and be a farmer, like the rest of my family.  Prof. F. A. Allen, principal of the new Mansfield school, came to Wellsboro and delivered a lecture that stirred me all up.  At its close he spoke of the Mansfield school, the value of an education, and invited anyone who wanted a better education to meet him at the Cone House, the next morning.  Next morning I was there, and arranged to go in debt for a better education.  Later I went into law then politics, and here I am.  Prof. Allen inspired many others, and me and he had that personal magnetic and propulsive force to enthuse boys.  Had it not been for him I would not be here in office.” When Stone was asked whether he was glad Allen had stirred him up, he replied, “Sometimes I wish he had let me alone.  I could have gotten a living on the farm, and been reasonably content.  In office and politics no one ever does better than that for himself.  The principle advantage I have gained is to help some others to places and power they wanted.  The whole matter runs back to the question, was Prof. Allen a benefactor or a nuisance?”  D.T.B.

More on Governor Stone here -
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