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On March 6, 1888, about 11 A. M., while several customers were transacting business, a man, wearing a mask and a long rubber coat, entered the front door of the bank. Approaching the cashier's window, he presented a revolver, and ordered the official to open the door. Without pausing, he rapidly walked a short distance toward the rear of the bank, and suddenly sprang over the seven-foot railing, landing directly behind the paying teller. So quickly was this done that the attention of the teller, who was engaged in checking out a deposit, was not attracted. Mr. Tomlinson had apparently kept an eye on the man, and as he vaulted over the partition the official started from his post and met the robber, who instantly placed his revolver against the cashier's abdomen and fired, the bullet passing entirely through his body. The desperado then turned on the paying teller, and, covering him with his revolver, drove him toward the rear of the room. Then seizing what money lay on the counter (about $600) he escaped through the cashier's room and the front door of the bank. A crowd gathered and started in pursuit. After running a short distance, the robber turned and fired upon Louis Bleich, who was in advance of the crowd, the bullet striking Bleich in the bowels and passing through his body. The robber continued his flight about 1,500 feet farther, when, apparently thinking escape impossible, he placed the revolver to his head and fired, dying almost instantly. The name of the desperado was George A. Kimball. He was formerly a resident of Bradford, but for some years had lived at Garden City, Kas. Several parties who have known Kimball are of the opinion that he was insane, but it was believed generally that the robbery was the well-planned act of a desperado.
The First National Bank is presided over by F. W. Davis (the successor in that office of J. M. Fuller), with C. C. Melvin, vice president, W. W. Bell, cashier, and George H. Mills, assistant cashier. The directors are S. G. Bayne, D. O'Day, Joseph Seep, T. Wistar Brown, Trust Company (Philadelphia), A.B. Walker, F. W. Davis, C. C. Melvin, J. M. Fuller and W. W. Bell. Among its stockholders may be named Byron D. Hamlin, Henry Hamlin, A. G. Olmsted, L. Emery, Jr., J. T. Jones, C. E. Hequembourg, L. E. Hamsher, C. M. Farrar, L. F. Lawton, S. Auerhaim, John Weiss, P. W. Roth, John McKeown, Robert C. Simpson, W. R. Weaver, F. D. Wood, Asher Brown, John Loy, P. L. Webster, Joseph Stettheimer, Robert Long, I. W. Shirley, A. Hochstetter, James E. Blair, A. B. Smith, Kenton Saulnier, E. T. Howes, J. D. Case. The capital is placed at $150,000, and the surplus at $30,000.
The Tuna Valley Bank of Bradford, established in 1875-76, by Whitney & Wheeler, was forced to close its doors, owing to the fierce pressure brought to bear on financial houses during the year 1884. In February, 1886, the final dividend, with interest, was paid to creditors, and the honorable projectors were the only losers.
The Commercial National Bank was opened in March, 1890, in the O'Donnell Building, on Main and Pine streets. The entire capital stock of $100;000 was easily disposed of, and the new bank started out with a solid backing, both in a financial and a patronizing sense. At a meeting held in January, 1890, the following officers were chosen: P. F. Borckman, president; C. H. Lavens. vice-president; W. H. Powers, cashier; R. L. Mason, assistant cashier and teller; C. H. Lavens, Alexander Urquhart, John R. Zook, J. C. Lineman, E. H. Barnum, J. H. Healey, R. F. Borckman, directors.
The People's Building, Loan & Savings Association was organized at Elliott & Edgett's office, July 18, 1889, when the following-named officers were chosen: W. W. Brown, president; George A. Sturgeon, treasurer; Roy W. Edgett, secretary; Silas G. Elliott, manager; Stone, Brown & Sturgeon, attorneys; board of appraisers: E. J. Boylston, A. T. Godfrey, James H. Roche, Frank W. Boss and C. M. Carr. At this time no less than 116 shares were subscribed for.
The Bradford Building & Loan Association is presided over by H. S. Southard, with H. H. North, secretary. The second series of stock was authorized to be opened February 2, 1890.
The McKean County Board of Underwriters was organized some time ago, and presided over by E. V. Cody, with John Troy, of Olean, vice-president, Fred W. Groves, secretary, and William Haskell, treasurer.
Oil Exchanges.—The Tuna Valley Oil Exchange was presided over in January, 1877, by A. I. Wilcox, with Col. D. Gardner, vice-president, and C. Everson, secretary.
The Bradford Oil Exchange may be said to have been established March 19, 1878, when a meeting, over which C. L. Wheeler presided, considered the question of organization. A. J. Stephenson was secretary; J. M. Fuller, L. Emery, Jr., C. L. Wheeler, G. H. VanVleck and F. E. Boden, executive and building committee, and A. F. Kent, treasurer. Stock to the amount of $30,000 was at once subscribed, and in May plans by E. A. Curtis were adopted, and the old Johnson homestead on Main street, purchased for $10,000. The building contract was sold to Henry Shenk, who commenced work June 13, 1878, and completed the house in February, 1879, the total cost including lot being $44,000. Charles L. Wheeler, the first president, has been elected annually down to the present time. The officers of the Bradford Oil Exchange elected for 1890 are C. L. Wheeler, president; J. E. Haskell, vice president; Winfield Scott, secretary and treasurer; J. B. Jayne, F. W. Davis, C. C. Melvin, F. L. Blackmarr, E. Boyer, W. E. Weaver, S. H. Durston, A. B. Walker, J. E. Cochran and John Denman, directors; F. H. Roberts, A. Thornton, F. P. Leonard, W. E. Gould and J. M. McElroy, arbitration committee; C. L. Wheeler, E. P. Whitcomb and J. T. Jones, conference committee; C. K. Thompson, judge of election; E. J. Boylston and I. G. Jackson, inspectors of election.
The- Producers' Petroleum Exchange was chartered in December, 1882, and early in 1883 the inaugural meeting was held in Armory Hall, with 500 members, each of whom carried a $100 share. In June, 1883, a site for the Exchange building was obtained, and January 2, 1884, the house was completed and opened, David Kirk, the president, delivering the address. Messrs. McKevett, Williamson and Lockwood formed the building committee. Mr. Kirk, referring to the progress of the county, said: "Congressionally we are in the same condition. For six years of the ten at least we must continue to be the tail end of a wild-cat district. Politically we amount to no more to day than when the population of McKean county consisted of a few men in the lumbering camps of the wilderness. Our representatives must be held accountable. One of them, with a vulgar display of wealth, has tendered money in place of services.''
The Association of Producers was organized June 11, 1884, with H. L. Taylor, president; David Kirk and W. J. Young, vice-presidents; F. Wr. Mitchell, treasurer; W. H. Johnson, secretary; John L. McKenney, John Satterfield, J. A. Cadwallader, W. W. Hague, F. T. Coast, J. T. Jones, B. Goe, W. R. Weaver, C. S. Whitney, J. S. Davis, F. W. Andrews, James Amm, W. J. Young and H. B. Porter, executive committee. A meeting was held August 21, 1884, when the secretary read the report on the "shut-down" prepared by the executive committee, and with it the agreement, signed by 861 individual owners of wells or representatives of firms, while the total number of wells in the Bradford district, connected with the National Transit and the Tide Water Lines, was IB, 328.
The Producers' Protective Association elected the following named officers September 3, 1889: T. W. Phillips, of New Castle, president; H. L. Taylor, of Buffalo, vice-president; James R. Goldsborough, of Bradford, secretary; R J. Straight, of Bradford, treasurer. The association was organized two years before this date, and is credited with introducing the new era of prosperity in the oil field.
The W. P. Driven Well Protective Association was organized at Bradford in 1883, with A. J. Edgett, president; Dr. M. A. Todd, secretary; A. DeGolier, treasurer; P. T. Kennedy, C. C. Melvin and James E. Blair, executive committee.
Post-office.—In 1879 W. F. DeGolier was postmaster at Bradford. His direct salary was $2,300, with $1,500 allowance for clerk hire. During the first quarter of the year 1879 money orders for $31,000 were issued, and $5,899 worth of stamps sold. In March, 1885, the citizens of Bradford petitioned for the extension of the free-letter delivery system. The petitioners were given an idea of the mills of the gods, for the department devoted fourteen months to the consideration of their prayer. The present postmaster, C. B. Whitehead, took possession of the office May 28, 1886, and within thirty days the welcome letter-carriers were distributing letters among the people. In 1887 the volume of business was far in excess of any preceding year, and an increase in business marks every month since that time.
Hotels.—The Riddell House was sold in November, 1881, by Dr. George Riddell, to Chamberlain & Gelm for $40,000. The Doctor built a large frame house in 1878, on part of the site of the present structure. Late that year it was swept away by fire. In 1879 the present house was built by him. Anderson & Co. purchased Chamberlain & Gelm's interests; Mitchell & Anderson bought the house from them on July 23, 1885; F. P. Holley purchased Mitchell's interest, and in 1887 he became sole owner. The Riddell is a first-class hotel, admirably managed.
The St. James Hotel, at the head of Main street, near the exchanges, banks, newspaper offices and leading business houses, is equally as well managed as the Riddell House. The building is quite modern, and the location unexcelled.
The Henderson House comes next in importance. It is a most popular hostelry, and well conducted. The hotel is a large building, one block from Main street, but near the business center, the churches and schools, and convenient to the railroad depots.
The American House is spoken of with favor by visitors from various sections of the Bradford field; while several other houses have their admirers, leading one to suppose that the city knows no such thing as a poor hotel.
In January, 1847, Sabines Walker petitioned the court to grant him a license for keeping a house of entertainment in his dwelling on Tunuanguant creek, where the Smethport and Ellicottville road passes. In January, 1848, Sylvanus Holmes asked license for this house. For about thirty years Bradford and neighborhood were happy in the old-time inns referred to by Judge Ward, and when the modern inns came to replace them, fire swept away a few of the new institutions, as related.
Schools.—In the reminiscences of Judge Ward, references are made to the early schools of Bradford. In 1877 the old school building became the property of the Catholic church, and on its site stands the present St. Bernard's