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was born in Norwich township in 1821, died June 26, 1889, at Smethport
Edward Corwin, who served in the Revolution for six years and a quarter, came with his family to Norwich in 1822, and in 1828 settled at Smethport. Ghordis Corwin, the son, died in 1876, leaving $800 to the Baptist church, which he joined here in 1836.
The old Delmar Church, the first organized in the western part of Tioga county, lost seventeen members in 1820-21, when the old Norwich church of McKean county was founded. In 1876 James Steele, of Port Allegany, was said to be the last survivor of the first members.
The Norwich Cemetery Association was incorporated in November, 1874, with W. J. Colegrove, A. P. Brewer, O. D. Gallup, D. D. Comes and Orlando Gallup, trustees.
Colegrove is a thriving village, located on the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad. The post-office there was presided over, up to 1880, by W. J. Colegrove, to whose efforts the establishment of an office at this point was due. Jonathan Colegrove is the present postmaster. In 1883 the general mercantile business of W. J. Colegrove & Son was purchased by C. A. Anderson. The Heinemann lumber industry and other lumber interests in the vicinity contribute principally to the trade of the village. A pumping station of the National Transit Company is located here.
In May, 1847, the stores of C. R. & B. O. Burdick and J. F. Gallup were opened in Norwich.
Gardeau is the new postal name given to the old Elk-lick.
The Parker Magnetic Mineral well, near the corner of McKean, Potter and Cameron counties, nine miles from Emporium, was analyzed in July, 1888, and found to contain 627.59 grains of mineral matter—Silica, 1.33; Mag. Chi., 109.84; Cal. Carb., 11.95; Cal. Chi., 221.92; Sod. Chl., 282.55; Pot. Chi. traces. In 1887 a mineral spring was discovered at Four Mile on N. P. Minard's lands. The present site of the flowing well has always been known, since the earliest history of the country, as the great Elk-lick. Although it is not certain that the water flowed from the ground in its present strength, it undoubtedly possessed saline qualities which attracted deer and elk in great numbers. In 1865 N. H. Parker drilled a well 640 feet deep in the bed of the old spring, and struck the present vein of mineral water that flows from the top of the well. Mr. Parker drilled the well in the hope of finding oil. The water was allowed to flow uncared for and unthought of, until about four years ago, when one George Brougham, who was working for Mr. Parker in the sawmill, was laid up with an attack of calculus, which had been troubling him for several years. Having a fondness for this water, he commenced drinking it from the well, and began to recover immediately. The flow of the spring, which never varies perceptibly, is about sixty-five gallons per hour. The spring was purchased by the Parker Mineral Spring Company in 1888. They have built a good hotel and commodious bath-house, which are under efficient management.
In February, 1890, H. C. Crawford bought 1,400 acres of timber land, on the line of the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, about fifteen miles south of Port Allegany, and engaged in cutting the timber on it. He has built two saw-mills, one at Gardeau, and the other at Sizerville.
Digel is the name of a post-office in this township.
Newerf, formerly known as Spearsburg and later as Crosby, is six miles south by east of Smethport. Here at the old Spearsburg mill, lately owned by G. C. Carpenter & Son, people in this vicinity and Smethport, no later than 1873, came to have lumber planed. This mill was burned about 1884. Here also were the oil extract works written of in the chapter on the oil fields.
The town is pleasantly located on the line of the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, and contains several frame houses, a billard room, a tonsorial parlor, a building recently erected for a foundry, not yet in operation, a boarding house which is under the management of Ed. Eldridge, two blacksmith shops, and two saw mills, one owned by the Crosby lumber company and the other by James White. There is also a school-house ,which was built in the fall of 1882. The school is managed by a Mrs. Cary of Bradford. Besides all these many improvements there are two stores, one owned by the Crosby Lumber Company, and the other by M. Erhart. The last store contains the post-office and M. Erhart is the postmaster.
At the rate of the present output of hemlock lumber, it will be but a few years when people around here will be compelled to resort to other industries, in order to gain a livelihood. The forests are being stripped of the hemlock very rapidly and no doubt the present generation will live to see hemlock as scarce as pine is. After the little hills are stripped of the hemlock the land will be of little use save for grazing, and then the sheep will have to be shod, for the hills are so steep and stony that they can not hold their footing.
Otto Township Topography — Population — Officers Elected In 1890—
Resident Tax-payers, 1854-55—Arthur Prentiss' Account—Some Early Settlers — Storms And Fires —Church—Society At Rixford —MiscelLaneous
Duke Centre Some First Things—The Place In 1879—Postmasters— Population— CnAHTER Election. 1881—Gas Company—Bank—Churches —societies.
OTTO TOWNSHIP is situated in the north part of the county. Indian creek rises in the northeast corner near the New York State line; Tram, North and Kansas branches of Knapp's creek, which flow together above Duke Centre, occupy the three canons of the north, while the heads of the north branch of Cole creek flow south by east from the southern divide, leaving the center of the township to be drained by Knapp's creek, in the valley of which the Kendall & Eldred Railroad runs. The greatest measured height is the summit of the Tide Water Pipe Line southeast of Rixford, 2,148 feet, but it is ascertained that the summit between Indian Creek and North branch is 2,350 feet above tide. Up to 1879 there were no discoveries of coal or other mineral made here, save that of petroleum, and the little territory was second to none of equal extent in the production of this oil.
Otto township in 1880 claimed 4,277 inhabitants. Of this number 249 resided in Kansas Branch village, 145 in Fullerton, 737 in Oil Valley, 1,127 in Rixford, 136 in Prentiss Vale, 231 in Tram Hollow and 16 in Windfall village. In 1888 there were 173 Republican votes cast, 99 Democratic, 50 Prohibition and 50 United Labor, or a total of 372, indicating the population at the time to be 1,860.
The officers elected for 1890 are as follows: Supervisors, F. W. Sprague, H. T. Breese; school directors, James Fraiser, J. M. Sloan; auditor, J. T. Irvine; collector, Z. Wilson; town clerk, E. B. Cronk; constable, C. C. Amalong; justice of the peace, E. R. Nash; judge of election, First District, E. B. Cronk; inspectors, J. W. McCown, Frank Walsh; judge of election, Second District, J. J. Donley; inspectors, J. R. Martin, F. R. Burton.
The resident tax-payers of Otto township, in 1854-55, were J. M. Baldwin (who died in Maine), Nahum, Samuel, Sr., James Cyrus, Asa and Sam. Baldwin, Jason W. Blanchard (now in Wisconsin, former owner of Rixford), T. J. Bryant, Cook, Borden & Co. (saw-mill owners), John and Josiah Davis, Gideon Ellis ("Irving near Eldred), L. Ellis, James Fogle. Jesse Garey (Keating), Orisson Grey (moved to Wisconsin), Milton Koons, Col. James Labree, O. Lovell, William Lovejoy, James McCord, William McCullough (moved to Jamestown), Hiram Moore, Robert Moore, Arthur Prentiss (still a resident) and H. K. Prentiss G. M. Prentiss, Ed. S. Reed, Brad. G., Joe and William H. Spiller, George and William Plummer, John Swink (living in Kansas), Rev. M. W. Strickland, J. S. Thompson (now in Eldred), Henry Twambley (living in Minnesota), Coon Wagoner (moved away) and Miami York (moved west). The value of their property was placed at $6,305 by Nahum Baldwin. Deacon Sprague came in January, 1856, and settled that year on his present farm.
The following from the pen of Mr. Arthur Prentiss, giving some of his reminiscences of Otto township, will be read with much interest: "The valley of Knapp's creek," says Mr. Prentiss, "now forming the greater part of Otto township, was formerly included in the township of Eldred. It was an unbroken wilderness until 1842, in which year Hermon Strong, who had come from Springfield, Penobscot Co., Me., located a farm at what is now called Prentiss Vale, although for three years before settling here he had been a resident of Farmers Valley, same county. Soon after getting fairly to work on his farm he put in operation a Yankee shingle machine, the first in the county. Through the influence of Mr. Strong, who was an old acquaintance of mine. I first came to what is now Otto township in December, 1845, having in view the purchase of the pine timber land (at the head-waters of the creek branches). and also the location of a colony of eastern farmers and lumbermen. I spent several days with Mr. Strong in exploring the pine lands, and then returned home. In the spring of 1846 I again visited the spot and made further examination of the valley, as well as several other locations, but being unable to make any definite agreement for the timber land, owing to the existence of some old speculation contracts, I again returned home. The fall of the same year, however, once more found me out in this land of promise, and I succeeded in arranging with W. B. Clymer (general agent for the Bingham estate) and John King (agent for the Keating estate) for all the land we wanted. In April, 1847, I moved my family to Farmers Valley, and occupied the old Sartwell (now Goodwin) farm two years, while locating land preparatory to building a mill, etc. In the spring of 1849 I moved into a log house in the valley and began the erection of a saw-mill, which was put in operation in the fall. The heavy frame of this mill was raised without the use of whisky, probably the first so raised in the county. (No intoxicating drink was ever sold in the valley before oil was found.) In 1851 the timber land and mill were sold to W. P. Pope and Cyrus Strong, of Binghamton, N. Y., who cleared the streams, built dams to reserve the water, and drove the pine logs, Yankee fashion, to Olean, where they built mills and manufactured for the eastern market. In 1854 they sold out the remaining timber and the mills to Borden & Co., of Fall River, Mass., since known as the Olean Lumber Company. Almost all this timber land has proven to be the best oil territory in the county.
'' A goodly number of settlers from the vicinity of my former residence in Penobscot county, Me., came and located on farms in my vicinity. We soon built a small schoolhouse, in which, for years, were held school. Sabbathschool, religious services, etc. We had only a winter sled road from the river, a distance of about three miles, but it was not long before we made a wagon road, spending about $1,000, $500 of which were appropriated by the county. Soon after starting business we procured the establishment of a special post-office, which continued as such for about fifteen years, when a regular mail route from Eldred to Bradford was put in operation. I. W. Prentiss was appointed postmaster in 1850, and held the office about two years, since which time I have held the office. Since the discovery of oil, two other offices have been established. In 1852 (I think, as all records were destroyed by fire) a Congregational church was organized, with Rev. M. W. Strickland, from Maine, as first pastor. This church at one time had more than thirty members, but through deaths, removals and other causes is now almost extinct. Most of the early settlers were Old Line Democrats, but they were soon converted to anti-slavery Whigs or Republicans, and at one election, near the commencement of the war of the Rebellion, the eighty or so voters gave a unanimous Republican vote. At the outbreak of that war almost all of our men, liable to military duty, volunteered, and I think only two were drafted. We sent nearly fifty soldiers in all, of whom about twenty lost their lives. Probably no other township with the same number of voters furnished and lost an equal number of men during that struggle."
Benjamin Bunker came in 1852, and was engaged in lumbering and milling until 1884, when he moved to Minnesota, where he died in 1889. John Duke came here about the time of the Civil war, and built the present mills after that struggle.
This township, like the adjoining one of Foster, has suffered considerably from fire, and on one occasion was storm-stricken. The storm of November, 1879, destroyed the new church building at Rixford, and a number of derricks there, at Dallas, and at other points.
The Rixford fire of May 9, 1880, occasioned by a gas explosion, destroyed seventy-five buildings, forming the business center of the town, in less than two hours, and burned up 70,000 barrels of oil and forty rigs.... The United Lines Tank 714, completed in July, 1880, on the McKean farm, one mile south of State Line, burst August 4,1880, and 20,747 barrels of oil cut a channel down to the creek.... United Lines Tank 738, opened on the McKean farm, 200 rods northeast of Babcock depot, August 11, was struck by lightning August 28, 1880, and 26,597 barrels of oil burned up... .The bush fires around Rixford began on August 31, 1881, near Baker's trestle, and spread rapidly, destroying twenty-four rigs and consuming large quantities of oil.... The fires around Bordell in September, 1881, destroyed forty-six rigs and 3,900 barrels of oil. This fire spread over 250 acres.... The fire on the Loop farm on the north branch of Indian Creek, resulted in the destruction of oil at Hardison & Kribb's wells.
In 1826 Joshua Barnes and Barnabas Pike built a fluter saw-mill at State "Line.
, The State Line Chapel Association was incorporated March 8, 1887, in order to build a house for Methodist worship. The names of the petitioners are C. Beaton, N. J. Warren, E. H. Crook, D. Bleakslee, A. R. Wagner and S. E. Humphrey.
The E. A. U. of Rixford was established in March, 1876, with seventy members. The officers chosen were J. Fraser, Mrs. D. Pearsall, John Jack, Mrs. E. E. Brown, Miss L. Love, J. B. Nutting and J. W. Martin.
The accidental shooting of Fred Sprague, a boy aged seventeen years, took place at McAdoo's engine-house, near Duke Centre, in October, 1888. It appears he and Dallas Thomson stepped into the engine house to see the well starting up. Young Sprague grounded his gun, but, slipping through a crack in the floor, it was discharged, the shot entering his liver and causing his death.
The first house built on the site was Cook, Borden & Co.'s frame boarding house, erected in May, 1856. Peter Haines, another pioneer, died before the oil era, and Chauncey Root resided on the site of Duke Centre before the war. The settlement of the Bunkers is noticed above, and also the coming of John Duke. In February, 1878. the business houses of Duke Centre were those of Charles Duke, Huffman & Dalrymple, Swan & Bacon, O. D. Bloss & Co., and Barber Bros.
When V. P. Carter, who, as president of the Duke Centre Gas Company, built the second gas line known in this county in 1879 (from Rixford to Duke Centre), found at Duke Centre that year John, Thomas and Charles Duke, with Randall, afterward postmaster, the Spragues and Baldwins and others. There were ten store buildings and several hotels, among which was Brown's Empire House and the McDonald House; G. F. Barton conducted his Opera House, while three church buildings existed. Mr. Sprague building the Congregational and John Duke the Church of Christ. The lot for the Congregational society was secured, and a room over Barton's Opera House was being fitted up for the Good Templars. William H. Randall was appointed first postmaster, having previously carried a penny-post between Eldred and Duke Centre. He served until 1885, when the late postmaster, P. L. Golden, was appointed. W. H. Randall was re-appointed in July, 1889. Prior to 1878 the office of this section was at Prentiss Vale.
The population of Duke Centre, in 1880, was 2,068. In 1888 there were eighty-five Republican, forty-four Democratic, nine Prohibitionist and fifteen Labor-Union votes cast, or a total of 153. Multiplying by six, as in the case of Bradford, the population is found to be 918.
The charter election for the borough of Duke Centre was held February 15, 1881. M. M. McElwain received 214 votes, and William Williams 116, for burgess; A. H. Low received 287 votes, and John M. Lyman 38, for justice. Henry Fitzsimmons, Charles Duke, E. M. Reardon, B. M. Moulton and J. W. Flynn, were elected members of council; John Duke received 302, and A. M. Boyd 198 votes, for auditor, three years' term; and George Fisher was elected for short term; J. C. B. Stivers, Joseph Norris, W. I. Lewis and Monroe Henderson, were elected school directors; A. N. Heard, assessor; A. A. Coon, overseer of the poor; J. L. Thomas, constable; George Tinto, high constable; John Mills, judge of elections, and C. S. Colt, inspector of elections. R. T. Salvage was elected burgess in 1882, the total vote cast being eighty-two; John Needham, in 1883; W. B. Graves, in 1884-85, when G. F. Barton was elected justice; Robert Shaffer, in 1886, with W. H. Randall, justice; W. D. Singleton, 1887-88, with A. Wheeler, justice, and J. S. Moody, justice in 1888. The charter is not now observed.
The Duke Centre Gas Company was incorporated in November, 1879, with T. Kemper, V. P. Carter and John J. Roberts, trustees, and Daniel Dodge and J. N. Brown, unofficial subscribers. Mr. Carter is present president. The company operates forty-five wells, of which twenty-seven are their own.
The first bank at Duke Centre was carried on by H. O. Roberts in 1879.