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Hunt, Hunt, Bradley & Fobes (saw-mill owners), John and Absalom Hutchison, Lyman Imus, John Inglebee, G. W. and Timothy Kelly, James Lilly, James Meddock, William Miller, W. G. McKean, William and Simeon Morris, Amos Moore (saw-mill owner), Dr. McDougall, J. F. Melvin, Melvin & Wheaton (saw-mill owners), G. W. Mantz, Michael McCullough, Sands Niles, Dr. E. C. Olds (tan-yard owner), Barnabus Pike, R. C. Phillips, R. B. Rogers, George Reynolds, John Rutherford, Seth Scott, William Sherman (saw-mill owner), Silas Stormes, J. P. S. Snape (a foreigner), W. Snyder, H. Stellon, Amos Shepherd, W. C. Shedd, Silas Sutton, William Tanner, Jerry Totton, Col. L. C. Little (agent for Boston Land company), William Vansickles, L. R. Vaughn, Henry Webb (saw-mill owner), Roswell Walker, J. S. and T. L. V. Waggoner, Allen Whittaker, Matt. Woodruff, Matthew Withrow (saw-mill owner), Sabines Walker, Henry Welks, John & Willard Whipple (saw-mill owners) and Eli Whipple. L. S. Foster was assessor.
In 1840 the stores in Bradford village were those of L. C. Little, A. K. Johnson, R. Walker & Co., Melvin & Wheaton and R. P. Allen, the grocery of Seth Scott and the tavern of S. Walker. In December of this year Kingsbury & Fuller, the Boston Company, Sam. W. Bradley and Noble & Tozer were merchants.
The merchants of Bradford township in 1852 were S. Holmes & Co. (J. H. Porter), J. F. Melvin, B. Chamberlain, andB. McCoy, H. Hazzard&Co., David Hunt, G. A. S. Crooker and Daniel Kingsbury. McCoy, Melvin & Co. paid a tax of $10, while the others paid $7.
In 1829 David DeGolier and his wife took three days to move from the site of the present town of Eldred to their farm on the east branch of the Tuna. The Beardsleys, Fishers, Dollops and Fosters were then in the valley, and Henry Bradford Dollop was the first white child born there, in that same house above Sawyer City which was destroyed by the glycerine explosion of 1880. Of the two first houses built on the site of Bradford, one was occupied by the Hart family, six boys and six girls, including three sets of twins. The Deacon speaks of wolves being very plentiful, even in 1807, when the well drillers appeared on the west branch, the time whistles would be chorused by packs of wolves. He further states that No. 1 well, on the Tibbett farm, was the first successful one on the east branch. The farm was purchased by Louis Emery, Jr.
Warrant 3900 dated July 17, 1793, to William Bingham, the consideration for 1,100 acres being £5, 8s. The patent was signed by Gov. Mifflin December 12, 1794. On February 6, 1795, Bingham deeded the warrant to Robert Morris and John Nicholson, but it fell into the hands of the Binghams in 1799 as shown in Deed Book F, page 41. In 1851 the United States Land Company deeded this tract to Daniel Kingsbury.
Col. Levitt C. Little, agent for the United States Land Company, who had purchased 250,000 acres in McKean county, settled where Bradford city now is, and the place was called Littleton. The first log house was constructed in December, 1837, where the old calaboose stood; but later a frame house was erected where the Berry block stands. The plan of the town was drawn in 1838 by Leech, of Boston, after the Colonel's idea. In 1840 another plat was drawn by C. D. Webster, wherein is shown the space for a church-house where is now the St. James Hotel. Main street was known as the Smethport road; the south extension of Mechanic street, the Warren road, and northward, the Olean road. Congress street was a short alley, which connected Main street with the Corydon road. The old lumbering town of Littleton was down in Egypt until 1858, when a weekly newspaper, the Miner, was inaugurated, and the name of Bradford assumed.
In December, 1849, when Judge Ward came from Cattaraugus county, N. Y., he settled at Tarport and took charge of the large school there. He was at once struck with the remarkable progressive character of the people and merchants, and equally so by the pupils. Prof. F. A. Allen was then county superintendent and principal of the Smethport Academy. Tarport was then the business center of the Bradford lumber field, and here were the large stores of John F. Melvin (who came as a lumberman in 1826), and Benjamin Chamberlain, his partner, who lived in Cattaraugus county. Sylvanus Holmes and Joseph Porter also had a large store there. Hiram Hazzard was also a merchant, and like the others, engaged in lumbering. David Hunt was solely a merchant; Sabines Walker carried on his grocery; Harvey D. Hicks was postmaster (it is thought deputy to Mr. Melvin) and hotel-keeper; Dr. Goit Brown was physician there, while Dr. Peckham was at Littleton. Johnson & Leech were sole dealers in pine lumber and shingles. There were four saw-mills running, of which W. R. Fisher owned one and Melvin & Chamberlain the remaining three. The school building was a large one, ornamented with a cupola, and in this building the Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists used to worship. Elder Porter (who owned the farm on which Judge Ward's house now is) was minister of the last-named denomination, while the energetic Williams watched over the Methodists and Elder Prosser over the Baptists. Judge Ward presided over this school for two sessions, then moved to Bradford to take charge of the village school, and about 1855 he established the Bradford Academy, with Mr. Sellick, assistant. This select school continued only two years, but Judge Ward continued teaching at Limestone, and after the war completed his school experiences at Salamanca. After Mr. Kingsbury's office was really established Tarport began to decline, and Littleton to advance.
At Littleton was Daniel Kingsbury's little store, also that of G. D. H. Crooker. The Boston Company's land office was just opened with Mr. Kingsbury in charge, and Col. Little, agent. The double mill stood just west of the Mechanic street iron bridge; a frame school-house stood on what is now the corner of Corydon and Mechanic streets. Therein religious services were held by the preachers named in the history of Tarport. From this period the progress of Littleton dates. Thomas J. Melvin, Loyal Ward (who, about war times carried on a store at Tarport) and Nelson Parker established their business at Littleton after the war. E. C. Old's tannery was here in 1849. Among the leading lumbermen were Fuller and Miller, of Bolivar run. The firm of Bradley & Fobes had three mills on Foster brook. At the State line, on the Tuna, was the Webb and Leech & Johnson mills; up Kendall creek was F. A. Moore's mill, also Whipple's and Silas Sutton's. Up the south branch was N. DeGolier's mill, and above Bradford Fobes & Bradley had a mill. The Judge is convinced that this list covers the mills in operation forty years ago. All over the country shingle makers found a home, bringing the shingles to the lumberman in the evening and receiving their pay. The square timber industry was also very extensive, as the pines were large and clear. The large timber was rafted and run down the Tuna to the Allegheny, and thence to the Ohio.
The first golden wedding celebration ever held in Tuna Valley was that of July, 1883, by W. R. Fisher and wife. Forty years prior to this date they settled on the Tarport road in a log cabin which this old settler erected. In 1847 he built the house in which the celebration was held. Dan Glass, who for forty years played the violin throughout the Tuna and neighboring valleys, contributed the music on this occasion.
In September, 1875, when C. L. Wheeler came to Bradford, the business of the village was represented by Thomas Melvin, who kept a general store, Frank Davis, the druggist and telegraph operator, and Wilbur DeGolier, watchmaker and postmaster. J. K. Pomeroy kept a dry goods store; Albert DeGolier had a general store, the popular Bradford House, Green's Hotel on Main street, while the old St. Nicholas Hotel stood where the Producers' Exchange now is. The hotel formerly kept by P. M. Fuller was in existence in 1875.
The officers of the township elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Supervisors, J. L. Morris, H. Boss; school directors, W. H. Emery, H. G. Cutting; auditor, M. Ingalsby, Sr.; collector, J. L. Morris; constable, G. W. Eddy; town clerk, H. C. Chesney; judge of election, First District, C. A. Wilbur; inspectors, C. E. Seely, Louis Brown; judge of election, Second District, W. W. White; inspectors, George A. Brown, James Bell.
Villages.—Custer City, south of Bradford, was brought into existence during the days of the oil stampede up the east branch. Here are the works of the Rock Glycerine Company noticed in the history of the city. The bull and bear fight of July 1, 1879, took place at Custer City, under the management of one Marsh. The officers of the Pennsylvania society for prevention of cruelty to animals, tried to stop the fight; but the people threatened to pitch them into the pit, and ultimately drove them as far as Bradford. The fight went on, but the bear, escaping from the infuriated bull, ran through the crowd, was recaptured, placed in the pit and made fight to the death. The agent had twenty men arrested for participation in this brutal affair, but without satisfactory results. The fire of December 16, 1881, destroyed seven buildings, including the Straight House. In March, 1885, the explosion of 6,000 pounds of glycerine at Custer City resulted in the deaths of H. V. Pratt and William Harrington.
DeGolier, north of Custer City, was named in honor of the pioneer, of whom mention is made in the history of Bradford. As a settlement it is among the oldest in the western part of the county. The DeGolier Cemetery Association was incorporated in December, 1869, with M. Ingalsby, H. J. Hammond, Phil. Shaffner, Aug. M. Cram, Michael K. Dexter and John K. Haffey, trustees. The United Brethren Church of DeGolier was incorporated April 12, 1888, with L. E. Cutting, Allen T. Foster, W. C. Freeman, M. Ingoldsby, G. W. Foster, Spencer Tibbits and H. E. Bryner, officials.
Howard Junction, near the south line of the township, is a lumbering village.
CITY OF BRADFORD.
Throughout the pages devoted to general history and particularly those on the Bradford oil field, a good deal has been written relating to this capital of oildom. In the foregoing sketch of the township many names, inseparably connected with the early agricultural and lumbering interests of this section are given, so that little of the early history of the old village remains to be told. How often the Indians camped in this beautiful valley of the Tuna will never be learned any more than the history of the people who were here before them. How often the ancient Mount Raub was ascended by the watchmen of the tribes to give warning of the advance of hostiles of the same race, or to signal the approach of friends, as they turned the distant valley curve, can never be known, but enough has been told by the Complanters to point out the fact that Indians hunted here before the coming of Seneca or Delaware, and that the valley, from Foster brook to Marilla creek, on the west branch, and Rutherford run on east branch, was a favorite site for their camps. As told in the third chapter, remains of ancient settlement were unearthed a few years ago.
From 1823 to 1827 the pioneers of a new race appeared on the scene. Dr. William M. Bennett, after whom Bennett's branch is named, the Pikes, Farrs, Scott's, Fosters, Beardsleys, Harts, Dollops and Fishers came into the beautiful wilderness. This immigration took place almost a quarter of a century after Robert Morris, of Revolutionary fame, lost his title to lands here, leaving them to revert to the Binghams. The Hart family, fourteen members, settled on the site of Bradford in about 1827. For years they held possession of the Forks, welcoming new comers and hailing new settlers. They saw a thriving village built up north of them at Tarport, and south of them the DeGolier settlement was winning recruits; but their chosen spot was merely a mark in the forest.
In 1837 Col. Little purchased 250,000 acres in and around Bradford, and built a log house. In 1838 the village was surveyed, and named Littleton. In 1851 a large tract was sold to Daniel Kingsbury by the United States Land Company, and to that year we must look back for the first faint beginnings of the city, though not until 1858 did the new proprietor make a determined effort to build up the place. Thirty-two years ago the name Littleton was cast aside, and the present name chosen. Messrs. Kingsbury and Haffey established a newspaper to aid in building up a village; Old's tannery, the mills, stores, schools and religious societies referred to in Judge Ward's reminiscences were all here sharing in the hopes of Kingsbury; but all their efforts were rewarded with very limited results, the mercantile and manufacturing interests . named in the history of the township being the only material response. During the Civil war the oil fever penetrated the valley, and new hopes were built up, only to be cast down; after the war, a series of disappointments waited on the attempts to find oil; but amid all such reverses men came and remained, a few of whom in after years, took a foremost place among those to whom the honor of developing the resources of this section is credited. They decided to carve out for themselves a home in this valley and fashion out a city in the forest, which would one day be regarded as the goal of enterprise, where scholars would find a home and religion 10,000 adherents. They built well! Only a few years of hope deferred, and a city sprung out of the ancient forest, extending from hill to hill, and stretching down the valley. In 1873 the people asked for borough government, and the demand was granted. Within three years the locality was filled with busy men, and the oily ocean was yielding up its wealth of petroleum; the forest fell, and in its place hundreds of houses and a thousand derricks grew up, as it were.
In 1880 eight large brick buildings, including the Riddell House, and 500 frame buildings were erected; the swamp was reclaimed and a number of new streets laid out.
Col. A. K. McClure, of the Philadelphia Times, visited Bradford in May, 1883. In his description of the city, he says: "The houses as a rule are pitched together like a winter camp, with here and there a solid brick edifice to mock the make-shift structures around it. The oil exchange is a beautiful building, and looks as if it was expected that oil gambling would continue, even after the day of doom, regardless of the shifting of oil centers. * * * Oil is just now on a boom. Everybody talks oil, and the visitor must talk oil or endure the unconcealed pity of all around him. Oil had struck somewhere about $1.12 on Tuesday. * * * They sold oil by the million of barrels, without a speck in sight, and with only a small percentage of margin money to give substance to the hazard. Five million barrels, and even more, are sold in a day, and speculators make one day to lose the next. * * * The one thing that the people of this great center of oildom pride themselves upon is their hospitality. They are, as a community, a broad gauge, manly, generous people, with little affection and much merit."
The first public observation of Decoration Day at Bradford was that of May, 1870. On May 13 a subscription list (now in possession of F. S. Johnson) was circulated, and thirty persons paid $2 each to aid in defraying expenses. The first subscribers were Ezra Holmes, E. F. Clark, John McGill, Joseph A. Hughsto, E. J. Carew, George Wright & Co., G. A. Berry, A. L. Hughes, J. E. Butts, Jr., J. Moorhouse, H. J. Pemberton, D. E. Matteson, J. H. Norris, Ed. Dolan, A. DeGolier, J. K. Haffev, C. S. Whitney, L. C. Blakes lee, G. D. H. Crooker. J. Amm, P. T. Kennedy, P. M. Fuller, F. W. Davis, L. Emery, Jr., A. B. Walker, P. L. Webster, E. Parsons, Bell Bros., F. S. Johnson and J. C. Jackson. The oration was delivered by R. C. Beach, on the public square, and the cenotaph erected there.
Fires.—The Bradford House, valued at $10,000,and one of the first buildings there under the rule of progress, was burned May 30, 1868. The oil fire, one mile from the center, of June 13, 1876, arose from lightning setting fire to the gas from the Olmsted Well No. 1, on the Sandford farm. It communicated with the McKean county pipe line tank, then with the P. C. L. & P. Company's tank, P. T. Kennedy's mill, Prentiss & Co.'s tanks, Jackson & Walker's well and tank, J. B. Farrel's well, forty empty wooden car tanks of Prentiss & Co., and Riley's dwelling, the total loss being placed at $90,000.
The fire of November 15 and 16, 1878, destroyed forty buildings, great and small, including the Riddell House, the machine shops and foundry of Bovaird & Seyfang, the planing mills and tank shop of Stewart, the United States Express Company's building, besides numerous stores, saloons, boarding houses, and shops of every description. The area burned over extended from Boylston street on the north through and across Main street to Corydon street on the south, easterly to the Erie railway track, and west on Main street to Osgood's dwelling house on the north side and Burgess' green grocery on the south side. The total loss was placed at $150,000. The following list embraces the names of owners of destroyed buildings in the order of location on Main street, looking east along that street: Fred Schutt's, where the fire was stopped, still standing; Hogan & McCartey's unfinished building; Dilaberto's barber shop; Keystone clothing store; Boyd & Dickson, drugs; Corbierre & Benson, billiards; cigar store and Brunswick saloon; Theatre Comique, where the fire originated; Union House; United States Express office; George S. Stewart, planing-mill; office, occupied by Williams & Cushman, vitrified stone flues; Sanborn & Co.'s news room; Tinker's hardware store; Pierce House; Riddell House; Lockwood & Haggerty, bakery and confectionery; Osgood & Howard's, occupied by Misses Rogers, millinery; Osgood, owner, Mrs. Clark, occupant, boarding house (damaged, but fire stopped); Thompson & Co., feed and flour; Riddell House laundry; Johnson's, Ryder's Shaw's and Mrs. Wentworth's boarding houses; Palmer's dwelling and grocery; Wallace Lawkes', scorched and damaged, but fire stopped; Kennedy's building (Brady, tenant); Newell's building; Bradley's oil well rig; Whitney & Wheeler's oil well rig and tank; Bovaird & Seyfang's boiler shop, damaged, but fire stopped; Seyfang & Bovaird's machine shop, consumed; planing mill, George S. Stewart; Oyster Bay, Pete Heaton; Bradford Ice Company's store room, ice melted; House that Jack built; Bell Mahone's house; Bradley's oil and well rig, tank and two old buildings; the union and elevated railway depots were scorched, but saved. The fire did not cross the Erie track.