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Roger Keagle's Complied History of Canton, Bradford County PA
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Canton, PA.
Eleanor PARSONS Keagle
The subjects in this overview chapter are covered in more detail in other articles.

Canton, Pennsylvania, named for a town in Connecticut, is strategically located in the southwest corner of Bradford County, midway between Elmira and Williamsport, on the Pennsylvania railroad and Route 14.  It is a well planned town, with wide streets, conveniently situated business district, beautiful churches, exceptionally good school system and sound industries.  It lies in the center of a rich farming area, with large and small game hunting and well stocked streams nearby.

Strangers coming to Canton comment on the friendly atmosphere and are eager to remain.  Three adult and two junior music clubs, Rotary and Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Village Improvement Association, Junior Civic Club, American Legion and Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary, Bradford Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, together with a fine Masonic Lodge, Odd Fellows, and Royal Order of Moose and the corresponding women's organization, with many other church and social groups make it difficult for residents to become bored.  Canton has a beautiful library with well-stocked shelves.

During the past 75 years, the population has grown from about 1200 to nearly 2200.  In 1879 Canton was wakening to the realization the prosperity boom occasioned by the flourishing hotel and health resort at Minnequa Springs had gone up in smoke when the hotel burned, November 1878.  A second, smaller hotel was built in 1884, but never attained the popularity of the original structure.  This too was destroyed by fire in 1903.

Due to youth-giving qualities of the spring water, several famous families of actors became guests of the first hotel.  Two of these, the Davenports and Mayos, like the locality so well they bought homes and claimed Canton as their residence as long as they lived.  Harry Davenport came to Canton as a boy in1872.  His long lasting career of 76 years ended with his death in Hollywood August 9, 1949.  His old home, intact with furnishings, was left to his children.

Seventy-five years ago Canton's only industry was Rockwell's Steam Mills, employing only a few men.  This was established in 1852 by Elias Rockwell, who built the large frame building still in use.  In 1878, Martin L. Rockwell, grandfather of M. L. Rockwell presently a member of the firm, took over the mill which has been owned and operated by his descendents ever since.  Large additions built since 1917 make the Rockwell Mill one of the most important in the area.  At least twenty-five are employed there.

In the spring of 1879, William Gleckner started a small harness shop on Troy Street.  By 1892 the business had grown to wholesale proportions with a branch in Towanda in charge of Charles Gleckner, while W. V. Gleckner was the firm's salesman, covering several counties.  A new factory was built in 1906 at Sullivan and Second Streets.  During World War I a large collar factory was built to take care of the expanding business in the factory buildings.

Hugh Crawford started his lumber mill in 1885, at a time when general opinion held lumbering in this section was over.  The business grew through the years and is now being operated as the Holmes Lumber Co. by three great grandsons of the founder, Norvin, Rodman and Franklin Holmes.  This firm now employs an average of twenty persons.

The Belmar factory, founded in 1897 by L. M. Marble, was started in a barn.  Here construction of special machinery for manufacturing a combined coat and trouser hanger patented by Mr. Marble was carried on.  In 1896 the Belmar Manufacturing Company in incorporated and a small factory completed.  From five employees then, a peak of 350 was reached at one time.  Now employing something over 100, the Belmar is managed by E. C. Johnson.

The Swayze Folding Box Co., started by Alden Swayze late in 1898 with a capital of $75.00 and an order for 4500 waterproof signs at $2.00 per hundred, has grown to be one of Canton's largest industries.

Millions of boxes for packaging nationally known products pass through Swayze's gigantic presses each year.

Grandsons of the founder are active in the management of the plant today.

Francis (Butch) Brann.  Not wishing to follow his father's meat business, Brann spent long hours with Siegrist whenever he was in Canton and eventually joined the circus.

As Francisco and Dolores, Brann and his wife did acts with the Ringling-Barnum show for many years and later appeared on the Shrine Circus Circuit.  Both now retired, spending part of their time in Canton and the rest in Florida and elsewhere.

Charles Lee died in 1905 and is buried in Park Cemetery here.  Mrs. Lee, known in the circus world as Madame Elnora, when she had a trained dog act, died a few years later and is buried beside her husband.

His grave is a shrine for circus people who come this way, and a memorial service is held here at intervals by circus friends who wish to keep his memory alive.
--Towanda Daily Review - August 7, 1963

Several Canton business firms started 75 or more years ago are worthy of special mention.  The oldest of these, still operated by descendents of the founders is T. Burk & Co.  This business was established in 1867 as Burk, Thomas & Co. by t. Burk, E. H. Thomas and A. D. Williams.  Mr. Williams retired in 1897 and Mr. Thomas in 1903.  The business has continued under the capable management of sons of the founder, Thomas and Robert S. Burk.

The Rexall Store was founded in 1875 by G. E. Newman and B. J. Davison in the Newman Block, now known as the Fritz building.  This stands at the corner of Lycoming and Sullivan Streets, and is the oldest business block in town.  It was built in 1852 by Walter Newman upon his return from California after the '49 gold rush.  Mr. Newman returned with bags of gold dust received from miners whom he grub staked.  Ernest Newman continued his drug store at several locations and was the first in Canton to serve ice-cream sodas.  His was one of the first stores in the United States to become affiliated with the Rexall Company.  Mr. Newman operated the store until his death, after which it was continued by his heirs until bought by the present owner, William R. Most on July 1, 1941.

Michael Preston established his store on Sullivan Street in 1881 as a trading post business for farmers of the vicinity.  Here they could swap farm products for articles they had to buy.  In 1900 he was joined by his youngest brothers, John J. Preston, the firm being known as Preston Brothers.  In 1911, the firm bought and renovated the old Riley Mill on West Union Street, and have conducted a thriving business there since that time.  Preston Brothers built the first public automobile garage in Bradford County, and appropriately named it the Bradford county Garage in 1916.  In 1919, Lee Preston bought out the interest of his father, M. C. Preston, and has conducted the Canton branch of Preston's Inc. since then.  In 1929 a branch was established in Mansfield which was managed by John J. Preston until his death and by his son, James Preston since then.

Brann's Meat Market was founded in 1882 by John and Thomas Brann, under the name Brann Brothers.  This partnership was later dissolved and the business continued by John.  His son, William Brann bought the market in 1922 and has continued to operate it.

The Canton Volunteer Fire Department is nearly 75 years old, having been organized in 1882.  First equipment consisted of two dozen leather or rubber buckets carried to fires on long poles.  In gratitude for help at a fire which destroyed Frank Mayo's barn, the Davenports and Mayos staged a show, netting $300.00, with which the first hand drawn hook and ladder cart and hose was purchased.  The department now has two pumpers, and equipment truck with resuscitator, portable light plant, portable pressure pump, an efficient two-way radio system and other modern equipment.  They also have an $8000.00 Firemen's Community Ambulance, manned by volunteer drivers, which fills a very important need in the Canton area.

The first church to be organized in Canton was the Baptist, in 1817-18, having Canton and Alba as principal places of worship, and meeting in homes.  The church in Canton was built in 1861, remodeled in 1894 and dedicated free of debt on March 1, 1895, without having taken up a collection.  The building was partially destroyed by fire in November, 1929, and rebuilt and rededicated September 28,1930.  The Rev. George Wood has recently become Pastor of this congregation.

The Church of Christ was organized September 18,1850, meeting in the schoolhouse.  In January 1852, $1386.00 was subscribed by members to purchase a lot located at the corner of Troy and Union Streets, and build a church.  This church was improved in 1870, and again in 1882, and at later intervals until the site was finally abandoned and the present brick church built on East Union Street and Minnequa Avenue.  This was dedicated March 9, 1924.  the Rev. Donald L. Gardner has been pastor for several years.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in East Canton in 1832, but the first church in Canton was not built until 1861.  This was remodeled several times and finally raised and the beautiful stone church now in use was built in 1921-22.  This was partially destroyed by fire in February, 1922, shortly before the dedication ceremonies.  The walls were intact but the entire interior had to be rebuilt.  This was done and the church dedicated on July 18, 1822.  The Rev. John B. Kleffel is now minister of the church.

The Methodist Church was founded in 1851, and for a number of years was but one operation in a large circuit of the Elmira District.  In June 1887, the cornerstone of the present church was laid.  Members still living who have been affiliated with this church 70 or more years are, Mrs. L. J. Moody, Elmira, since February 8, 1872; Mrs. Fannie Darrah, Canton, from December 30, 1883, Miss Maude Benedict and Miss Elizabeth Wolfe since March 1886.  The sanctuary of the church was completely renovated and redecorated in 1949 and dedicated in January, 1950.  The Rev. Lewis F. Bachman has served the church since 1948.

Previous to laying the cornerstone for the first wooden church of St. Michael's congregation on November 10, 1872, the early catholic population was served by circuit Priests who had journeyed to Canton since the early 1800's.  The cornerstone for the present brick church was laid by the Rt. Rev. M. J. Hoban on July 4, 1899 and the first Midnight Mass celebrated by Fr. William H. Connolly on January 1, 1900.  The church has been redecorated twice, first in 1916 and again before the Golden Jubilee in October 1950.  The Rev. Laurence Weniger now serves both St. Michaels, Canton and St. Johns, Troy.

The fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of St. James Episcopal church was celebrated by the congregation January 24, 1954.  The present chapel was consecrated January 15, 1904, but services had been held at various locations since 1888.  The Rev. Paul A. Phipps has served as vicar since September, 1948, and the church has grown and prospered under his ministry.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church was started in 1929.  On December 17, 1931 the old schoolhouse on upper Troy Street was purchased and remodeled into a church, which was dedicated the first Sunday in May, 1932.  A large addition was built later, and recently a parsonage has been added to the structure.  The Rev. George W. Rawding is present pastor.

A Seventh Day Adventist congregation was organized in Canton on June 7, 1936.  Later a stone church was built at the corner of Elm and East Union Streets, and dedicated May 20, 1944.  During the past two years the church has conducted a school for the children of their members, taught by Harry Lehman.  Elder L. F. Myers is pastor of the church.

A congregation of Free Methodists has recently been established in the former house of Donald Thomas on Troy Street with Rev. M. E. Fellows as pastor.

In a little more than 75 years, Canton Schools have grown from the four room brick building erected in 1870, through several enlargements of this building and the high school built in 1916 and more than doubled in size by the addition built in 1924, to the million dollar High School now being constructed.  The four room school of 1870 cost $9,000.00 complete with equipment and had four teachers.  The new High School is one of the largest and most modernly equipped in this entire area; about 35 teachers will be employed, also a school nurse, school doctor and several stenographers.  Accommodations are provided for 750 pupils.  The graded schools of the Tri-County Joint District now employ 25 teachers, who instruct about 725 youngsters.  The first principal under whom a class was graduated in 1873 was the Rev. Harry Moyer, who also was pastor of the Methodist Church.  Supervising principal J. T. Williamee, Jr., has found his time fully occupied with the duties of his office since coming to Canton in 1942.

The history of any town must include the story of its Banks, whose financial aid makes much of the progress possible.  Samuel Doane and Company operated a bank on Canton prior to 1878, to be succeeded by the Bank of Canton in October 1880.  the latter became the First National Bank upon its organization, January 1881.  It was capitalized for $50,000.00 and Adam Innes was the first president.  The bank has grown and prospered and in June 1932 merged with the Farmer's National Bank of Canton, which was organized January 19, 1909.  Present officers include, president, C. Arthur Bullock; vice president, Martin L. Rockwell, cashier, Walter A. Saxe.  Capital now is $150,000.00; surplus, $150,000.00.

Much more could be added to Canton's history for the past 75 years; the story of Charles Lee's Great London Shows, whose winter quarters were in Canton; the Great Canton Fair; industries which have flourished for a time and are gone.  Among these were Giles W. Coons Lumber Co., Hollis H. Taylor's big Lumber Mill; Sheffield Farms Milk Co.; the Sheldon Mfg. Co., the Canton Couch Co.; Minnequa Furniture Co.; Independent Cabinet Co. and many others.

Reminiscences of Orrin Brown
Dated March 10, 1910

Solomon Brown, father of Orrin, came to Canton Township from Rutland, Vermont in March, 1815, making the trip by sleigh.  His family consisted of himself, his mother, who travelled the entire distance seated in a chair, now the property of Mrs. Eva Brown Stover, his wife and two children, Orrin, age three years and Hulda, 1 ½ years old.

They temporarily occupied a log house formerly used by David Bailey and his wife, both of whom had died some time before.  The three Grantier brothers, John, Jacob and David, had settled the area previously and owned all the land which now comprises Canton Borough.  A small frame house stood where the Packard House now stands; (this later was occupied by Emmaline Levitt's family, the Sellards).  No other house was in sight of the present public square at that time.

The next house below was the David Bailey place on the Colin Innes farm.  The next was the home of Agusta Loomis, J. K. Innes farm.  Next we come to what's now the C. C. Griswold place, where at that time there lived a man by the name of Dr. Streeter, an intelligent man and a good doctor for those days.

David Pratt of "Pratt's Pond" lived in this neighborhood.  In the next home on the other side of the road lived Samuel Griffen, farmer and blacksmith, the father of George and John Griffen, grandfather of Harry Griffen and Mrs. Will Sechrist.  Now we come to the fine home of John Palmer and perhaps he can hardly realize that at the time of which we speak, there was just a little clearing on the knoll and a log house.  Amos Strickland lived there with his wife who was the daughter of Samuel Griffen.

We next come to Crowells (Bordie).  Mr. Brown said that William Smith lived there in the long ago, that he was a shoemaker, that the log house had two rooms and that one was used as a schoolroom for a number of years.  According to others sources, this was known as the Griffen School and was the first school in what is now Canton Township.  They got water from a spring at the side of the road, and Oh; what a place to ride down hill, regardless of shoes and stockings.

Roselle Rogers, Sr. lived on the Hubbell Manley place in 1910, Mrs. George Meeker's farm.  Later while Robert Castle's family lived there the house burned and it is now (1961) part of the Donald Baldwin farm.  The first polling place (1810) was on this farm where the Seymour mansion, now the Conservative Baptist Church stands.  The house stood on a steep hill, slanting toward the road.  There was a basement opening toward the road, making the front, three stories, and at one time this was used as a schoolhouse.

The next place was Rosewell Rogers, Jr. (or Deacon Rogers, as he was called), and the next settler was David Lindley, whose wife was a Brown.  He had taken up land where the Lindley's now live, about 200 acres - mostly level land.  He cut down trees and built a log house south of where the road now is, below the knoll - up towards Hiram Lindley's.  Solomon Brown, father of Orrin Brown (and sister of B. S. Dartt's mother) took the east part of David Lindley's farm and built a log house near David Lindley's - his brother-in-law, and moved in September 1816, before doors and windows were in place.  Where the boards and shingles came from, Mr. Brown could not remember; he lived in this house about 20 years, raising quite a large family, and finally built a house on the Hiram Lindley farm (presently owned by the Ray Bushnell's).  Solomon Brown being a man of mirthful disposition, the log house was the scene of many gatherings & dances in the next few years.

Then a Methodist itinerant came to the settlement.  A revival took place and men and their wives were genuinely converted.  A class was formed, among these were David Lindley and his wife and daughter (the daughter became Mrs. Horace Stone, grandmother of J. W. Stone), Solomon Brown and wife, Elias Wright and wife, (who was a Brown), Levi Landon and wife, David Andrus and wife and Thomas Mile.  The home of Solomon Brown was the place where meetings were held for years afterward, many coming from a distance, (Wellsboro, etc.) and staying all night, (at the time of the Quarterly Meeting), many stayed at Solomon Brown's "as there were boards on the floor," as Solomon said.  All these people were fed and you can imagine the amount of baking and cooking done the day before to prepare for the crowd.  Monday morning, all were gone.

Thus was Methodism planted in this part of the country, from which has sprung the churches of the present day.

Orrin Brown said he used to go to the mill through the woods on horseback to Shunk to get a grist ground when nine years old.  Soon after the Pratt Mill was built by David Pratt.

This was a wilderness at the time, only small patches here and there being cleared.  Stumps still remained.  Mr. Brown lived in the old homestead until 1862, when he moved to Canton.  Three of his sons, Clark, Rufus and Calvin going to the war of 1861.  Orrin was too old to enlist then.

He has seen the village of Canton grow from a dozen inhabitants to a population of 2000.  He has seen the school grow from a small building at the corner of Main and Center streets to a large graded school; the post office from a very small affair to a large operation with rural delivery.

He saw the Northern Central Railroad projected and built, and saw the P. B. & E. projected and NOT built.  He lived to see telegraphy, the telephone and the start of wireless communication and the early use of airplanes.

Note - the C. C. Griswold place is the property where Edward Scholtz now lives.

The John Palmer place now belongs to Charles Tarbox.

The Bordie Crowell place to Wilbert Lepper.

Orrin Brown was born in Vermont on March 11, 1812.  he died November 12, 1911, age 99 years, 8 months and one day.  Mr. Brown was a farmer most of his life.  The first Methodist church in western Bradford County was organized at his father's house when he was a boy and he was a member of this church for 85 years.  He married (1) Nancy Wright and they had four children; Clark C. Brown, Rufus G. Brown, Calvin M. Brown who died in 1908, and Maria Brown who married Allen Lee.  He married (2) Roxey A. Taylor, who predeceased him by 20 years.  The darkest days of his life were when his boys were in the Union Army and he feared he would not see them again.  At the time of his death, Orrin Brown was the oldest man in Bradford County and the third oldest in Pennsylvania.  On his 98th birthday Bradford Chapter, DAR celebrated the event with a ceremony which also honored the founding of the township.  (Canton)

Solomon Brown died September 7, 1856, age 68 years.  He married Fanny (Lusanna Glass who survived for many years).  Children were; Hulda (Mrs. Joseph Fellows), Luthera (Mrs. Nathaniel Hickock), Betsey (Mrs. Alexander Gage), Cynthis (Mrs. Daniel Knapp), Arthura (Mrs. Jarius Crandall), Johnathan to Clarissa Clark; E. Fowler (unmarried) and Orrin to Nancy Wright and (2) Roxana Tyler, Lorenzo to Laura Crandall.  Rufus died when nine years old.

John E. Rockwell of South Ave. and a great friend of H. B. Parsons was the oldest member of the Church of Christ at his death, age 88 years.

Orrin Brown remained with his father on his farm until he was 24 years old, when he married Nancy, daughter of Joel Wright and moved to Beech Flats.  After her death he married his second wife in 1844, who died in 1892.

Excerpts and comments on:

The Whir of Wings - by Gertrude W. Haywood
Copyright in 1929 with 300 copies printed by Edward & Broughton Company, Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Life of Ernest Eagles Haywood - 1902-1928

Mrs. Haywood had premonitions of a special child in her womb before Eagles was born, at least the unborn child was special to her.  He was christened Ernest Eagles Haywood, Eagles being an old family name on both sides of the family, and he went by the name of Eagles rather than Ernest, with Buster sometimes used as a nickname.  He had an older brother named Rufus who was his godfather and two sisters, but there is little mention made of these in the book.

There was an abnormal bond between Eagles and his mother which persisted throughout his life.  His mother had an interest in esoteric phases of religion and life and psychic experiences that had an influence on Eagles.  His mother sheltered him to such a degree that he had only two playmates by the time he was 12.  his education was fragmented, and he attended at least four different schools.  He attended the village school in Pinebluff, N.C. for a time, and this was the only experience he had in a public school.  He was tutored by Miss Margaret Innes (Mrs. Payson Tucker) at Minnequa in his 9th year.  He also attended Pinehurst School for Boys, St. Lukes School, Wayne, Pa. and Brown-Nichols Day School in Cambridge, Mass, a preparatory school for Harvard.  His mother had aspirations for him to attend college, but Eagles had no interest in a scholarly pursuit and refused to go.  While in prep school he continually pleaded with his mother to let him come home.  He was an avid reader of the classics but otherwise was a poor student.  He seemed to read for his own pleasure and diversion rather than to use his reading as part of a plan leading to a career.

The Haywoods had a home in Pinebluff, N.C. as their permanent residence and used Minnequa as a summer home.  When they first bought Minnequa is unknown, but according to the book they were there in the summer of 1919 and again in 1921.  In Eagles' letters to his mother he says he is glad she is going to Minnequa in 1925 and asks in 1926 if she is going again.  He often refers to the Delano's and Dana's.  In 1926 he writes, "Marie left for Canton this afternoon."  Also, "I hope glorious Minnequa will do the Delano's good this summer.  I could ask for Saturday morning off leaving here Friday night, spending Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Minnequa, leaving Monday evening and arriving in Hempstead in time for work Tuesday." [From Don Stanton : The article on the Haywood “Eagle” mentions their summer home – that home is the original Owenheim  - the picture of which is included in the Minnequa Cottage article. Many people might not realize that and think there is another cottage that doesn’t exist.}

In 1927 he writes, "Do you know where you will be this summer?  Roland Seems to think Marie will spend the summer with you at Minnequa.  I can give you the week of June 19th, or a week later at Minnequa.  Marie apparently is going to Minnequa and will have her car, of course."

In February 1928 he writes, "Do you plan to go to Minnequa this summer?"  Marie is apparently one of his sisters, and Roland is her husband.

In 1924 Eagles got intoxicated with a friend and this humiliated him so much that he could not cope with it, so he spent two months wandering from place to place trying to live it down.  He was determined to make a place in the world for himself, so he found a job with a lumber company on Long Island.  He enjoyed this type of manual labor and seemed quite content with the situation.  He was later promoted to a sales position but did not enjoy this phase of the work as much.  Most of his letters to his mother were written while he was working on Long Island.

There are at least two enigmas from reading this book.

1.  The only mention of his father was before he was born.  His mother seemed to have a perpetual problem with her health, so while she was pregnant with Eagles, the doctor advised her to go to a different climate.  Her husband took her first to Racquette lake in the Adirondacks, and later to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  When Eagles was born, he told his wife, "He looks like Beethoven."  No further mention is made of him, and Eagles never mentions him in his letters.  Did he die shortly after Eagles was born, or was there a separation or divorce?

2.  What caused Eagles death?  He seemed to be in good physical health up to the time of his death, yet he predicted the time of his death.  This would indicate the he took his own life at the appropriate time.

After his death his aunt, Eliza Skinner McGehee wrote about her, "Memories of Eagles."  An excerpt from this says, "I visited his mother at Minnequa, her lovely country home in the mountains of Pennsylvania, supposedly convalescent from fever. I had a relapse there, and Gertrude, my dear sister, though far from strong, insisted on nursing me herself.

"Our older children were happily occupied with amusements suited to their maturer years and a vacation in the country.  With the young people of the Dana family - his mother's dear friends and only close neighbors - they made a merry party - walking, swimming and tennis were the order of their days."

Eagles seems to have been one of the many unfortunate people in the world who never seem to fit in with the rest of society.  Perhaps this was because of his sheltered boyhood.  He never saw the rough spots of the real world, so when it came time to leave his mother's protection, he was not prepared to face reality.  His interests in life were so narrow and restricted that he could not accept anybody who differed from his life-style.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 30 JAN 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

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