Ridgway Township - Borough of Ridgway
RIDGWAY TOWNSHIP - STREAMS, ELEVATIONS, ETC. - COAL - FIRST COMERS - ELECTIONS - RESIDENT TAX-PAYERS IN 1844 - POPULATION - VILLAGES - MISCELLANEOUS.
BOROUGH OF RIDGWAY - LOCATI0N, ETC. - THE RIDGWAYS AND OTHER PIONEERS - SOME FIRST THINGS - POST-OFFICE, ETC. - MUNICIPAL AFFAT US - FIRES - MANUFACTURES - BANKS - HOTELS - CHURCHES - CEMETERY ASSOCIATION - SCHOOLS- - SOCIETIES, ETC.
RIDGWAY TOWNSHIP lies entirely west of the main divide. With the exception of a few rivulets rising inside the west line, and flowing southwest into Bear creek, all streams find their way to the Clarion - East branch, Power's run and Elk creek entering from the east; Big Mill, Little Mill and several smaller streams flowing south and southwest into the parent stream. From Bridgetown, in the center of Johnson's run coal basin, to a point south of Power's run, the river flows against the dip of the rocks; for the next 8,000 feet the dip of the rocks increases, and the strike changes from northeast and southwest to a general westerly direction, while the river runs west in obedience. At the mouth of Little Mill creek, it takes a southwest course for about eight miles, paralleling the strike of rock, and at fourteen places running to the strike, causing sharp angles rather than curves. At Ridgway it makes an abrupt sweep north of west, and after receiving the waters of Big Mill creek, below Ridgway, it takes the name "Clarion River." The hills rise from 300 to 600 feet above the river bed, which, at the north line of the township, is 1,460 feet above tide. At Boot Jack, said to be the highest point in this township, the elevation is 2,166 feet, while the lowest point is on the western line, near the Little Toby, 1,321 feet.
From borings made for oil at Silver creek well, Johnsonburg well, Dickinson well and Ridgway Gas Company's well, it is learned that the total thickness of strata is 710 feet, or 285 feet in coal measures; 325 in Mauch Chunk and Pocono, and 100 in Red Catskill. Of this total, about 400 feet appear above the water level, and on the hills are huge sandstone and conglomerate rocks, some 20x30 feet, which are now being cut up for export to Erie. This rock is commonly called Johnson run sandstone, and is much prized by builders; the front of the court-house is constructed of it. While much easier to work and less expensive than granite, it meets all the requirements of granite, except for heavy cornice work.
In January, 1879, a coal bed, two and one-quarter feet thick, was opened on Hyde's hill by E. K. Gresh, which Carll pronounced to be Marshburg coal. The Wilmarth coal tract, on warrants 3285 - 4850, was opened extensively soon after (1880), and given the name "Glen Mayo." as it was operated by J. H. Mayo. The first mine on this tract was originally opened by Frank Whitney, a Chicago detective, and John V. Daugan, a conductor on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad. The elevation of this coal-bed is 1,908 feet above tide, or 461 feet above the track level at Wilmarth depot, or ninety-seven feet below the summit of the hill. Prior to 1883 a number of coal drifts were opened, several wells drilled for oil, without success, while gas wells, notably Grant's, were successful. In 1876 the Fairwood coal mines were worked by Heylmun & Woodward.
About the time the first settlements were made in Fox township, David Johnson came from Salem, N. J., but when he learned of the Gillis settlement, near Ridgway, in 1821, he moved away. The Gallaghers came about 1825, and the following year a sister of Mrs. Gallagher (Hannah Gilbert) opened a school at Ridgway.
About 1826 James L. Gillis commenced improving Montmorenci for Jacob Ridgway. A road from Marvins via Bunker Hill to Eleven Mile Spring was then in existence, and soon after opened to Ridgway. The Kersey saw-mill, nine miles southeast of Ridgway, was brought into connection with the north country later.
At the first election for Ridgway township, held February 27, 1844. George Dickinson and Samuel Stoneback were chosen justices; Caleb Dill and Squire Carr, supervisors; David Thayer and R. B. Gillis, constables; W. H. Gallagher, assessor; James Crow, George Dickinson, James Gallagher, D. Thayer, John Cobb and Jesse Cady, school directors; Charles Horton, clerk; W. M. Redline and C. Horton, overseers of the poor; Henry Karnes, Thomas Irvin and R. B. Gillis, auditors; Riverius Prindle, judge of election, and Charles Horton and Caleb Dill, inspectors. A. I. Wilcox was chosen justice in 1846; James Gallagher in 1847; George Dickinson and Henry Souther in 1849; L. Luther, in 1850. The election for Ridgway township, in February, 1890, resulted in the choice of O. B. Grant and Jacob Steiss, school directors; John Otth and J. B. Bryant, supervisors; J. B. Bryant, O. of P.; F. C. Ely, auditor; B. F. Ely, treasurer; Peter Gulnack, clerk; Maurice Sherman, collector. The elections in Rolfe election district of February, 1890, resulted in the choice of O. B. Grant and H. B. Edwards for school directors; John Otth and J. B. Bryant, supervisors; F. C. Ely, auditor; B. F. Ely, treasurer; Peter Gulnack, clerk; Maurice Sherman, collector.
The resident tax-payers of Ridgway township, in 1844, were W. J. B. Andrews (who owned two carriages and two patent lever gold watches), William Armstrong (saw-mill), Watts Anderson (saw-mill), the Boston Lumber Company (who carried a mercantile business and large saw-mill), W. S. Brownell, Ephraim Barnes, Dave Beniger*, Pierce T. Brooks, Brooks & Morris, W. J. Baxter, John Cobb*, W. M. Clyde, Job Carr (saw-mill owner), Zenas D. Clark, Squire Carr, Philip M. Carr. Absolom Conrad, Jesse Cady. James Crow, Caleb Dill * (blacksmith), George Dickenson* (who owned a watch and carriage), Adam Ditts, George Dull (saw-mill), Henry Dull, Dennis Eggleston, Fred Ely, Dave Fuller, Ezra W. Foster, Carlos Fuller, James Gillis* (owner of saw-mill and gold watch), Caroline Gillis (owner of a horse and gold watch), Ridgway B. Gillis, James Gallagher, William Gallagher, Silas German, John Given, Dyer Harris, Hughes & Dickinson (saw-mill owners), Chester G. Hays, Arthur Hughes, Peter Hardy, Joseph S. Hyde* (assessed $2,800), Charles Horton*, Nathaniel Ide, Isaac Keefer, Henry Karnes, John Knox, Homer Kendall, Thomas Lynde, John W. Blake, D. B. Munger, Jacob Meffert, Robert McIntosh, Edward McQuone, Steve Miner, William Myres, Payne & Watterson's saw- and grist-mill, Chester Payne, Jesse Paulley, Riverius Prindle*, Matthew L. Ross. Willoughby M. Redline, Jacob Reeder, James S. Stratton*, Ephraim Shall, Samuel Stoneback, David Thayer*, Orrin Van Currin, Come -lius Van Orsdell, Genet Robert, Wilmarth & Co., widow Maria Wilcox, Miner Wilcox*, David Worden, Samuel Whisner, A. I. Wilcox, W. P. Weaver, Ebenezer Lee, John C. Johnson, Frances C. Maybury, Alex Beck, Garrett Corwin, David M. Fields (owner of a silver watch), Thomas Irvine, Alvin Bawley (hunter), Charles Knapp* (sawyer), Henry Thayer, P. J. Berlin, David Reed, James James, Edward Derby (owner of a saw-mill, buggy and silver watch), John J. Ridgway's grist-mill, Dave Luther's saw-mill, Libbins Luther, Silas Blake (saw -mill). Greenfield Blake, Hervey Gross, Peter Hufftailing, Thomas Schram, Reuben McBride, Thomas Rielly, Michael White, Fred Marving, Jerry Carr, Andrew Shaul, William Evans, John Knobsnyder, William Payne, Washington Turk, Joseph Christie, Martin Campbell, David B. Sabins, Zachariah H. Eddy*. Levi P. Clover*, John Grant, John Lukins, Noble P. Booth, Fred Keefer, Charles B. Gillis (owner of a silver watch, and money lender).
In 1850 J. S. Hyde & Co., Dickinson & Co. and Job Cobb, were dealers in Ridgway township, and David Thayer and P. T. Brooks kept hotels. J. C. Chapin and Henry Souther were the attorneys; Caleb Dill, postmaster. There were forty dwellings, forty families, 241 inhabitants, seven farms and eleven mills in the township, in 1855 Jerome Powell purchased the Whitney & Horton interests in the store. The old store, now the office of W. H. Hyde, was erected in 1852 - 53, and occupied as a store until 1876, when the Opera House building was opened. There are twelve hands employed directly in this store, and the stock carried is about $50,000. The management of this large store is left to C. F. Burleigh.
The hotels in Ridgway township at present are as follows: At Johnsonburg, the Johnsonburg House, kept by John Foley; Central House, by J. N. Brown and the Haley House, by Mrs. Annie Haley. At Daguscahonda, the McGovern House, by James McGovern.
The population in 1880 was 1,480, exclusive of the borough. In November, 1888, the votes cast were 111 Republican, 107 Democratic and one Prohibitionist, representing a population of 1,095. The great industries at Johnsonburg, however, employ a number of Swedes and others, who are not 'voters, so that the number of inhabitants may be placed at 1,500. In 1850 there were forty families of 241 persons in the township, forty dwellings, seven cultivated farms, and eleven saw-mills.
Johnsonburg (or Quay) dates its settlement back to the first decade of this century, when the peculiar character described in. the chapter on pioneers came hither to make a home. On the approach of civilized man, he fled, leaving the wilderness without a white inhabitant for years. In 1882 one of the greatest leather manufacturing industries in the world was established here by Stephen Kistler's Sons, with Samuel Lowry as superintendent. The buildings were completed that year, and the men in this busy hive, together with the hands required to get out 12,000 cords of bark annually, transformed the place into an industrial center of no small importance. This tannery turns out 2,720 hides per week, and the value of annual product is placed at $665,000. The present firm, Wilson, Kistler & Co., own 125 acres, the site of their works, but through them an immense area of hemlock is stripped annually. A correspondent of the Erie Observer, visiting this place in September, 1887, tells the story of its modern progress. He writes: "Perhaps the finest mountain scenery in the State, and certainly the least known to tourists, is found in the Elk mountain region near Johnsonburg. To see the grandest part of the Elk mountains, one should take a carriage or horse from the Johnsonburg hotel and follow the excellent driveway to Rolfe, one mile, and continue to Wilcox, six miles distant. Striking peaks, sharp and glittering as the Matterhorn, surround one on all sides. Crystal streams flow through every valley, and the fair Clarion river supplies immense water-power for innumerable manufacturing plants. No lover of the grand or beautiful in nature should fail to take a drive through and around Johnsonburg. What is known as the Rocks is a wonderful piece of God's masonry. Solid ice may be broken off from these rocks in July and August. Besides being picturesque, Johnsonburg promises to become the emporium of a great business mart some day. L. C. Horton is the leading merchant and business man of this place. One of the largest tanneries in the United States, and owned by Wilson, Kistler & Co., is situated at Johnsonburg Junction. The monster planing-mill of Henry, Bayard & Co. employs a large number of men. There are several fine hotels. The Johnsonburg hotel, kept by L. C. Horton [now by John Foley], is a favorite place for summer tourists and business people. New buildings are going up daily, and the latest is the Park Opera House and billiard hail, built by Mr. A. Parks, one of our rising business men. Johnsonburg produces her own gas, and her churches and schools are all lighted and heated by gas. There is more freight handled here than in most towns of twice its size."
Quay post-office was established at Johnsonburg in January, 1888, with John Foley, postmaster. At this time the place did not have oil wells, but gas abounded. This, coupled with the unexcelled shipping facilities, brought the paper-mill, which in its turn built up the town, and has increased the business so fast that the post-office shows the receipts for the quarter ending August 1, 1889, to be upward of $335. It is now probable that before the post-office is three years old it will be a presidential office, and before twenty-five years old it will be a first- class office with free delivery. Isaiah Cobb is the present postmaster.
The Clarion Pulp and Paper Company was incorporated November 26, 1888, for the purpose of manufacturing paper at Johnsonburg. The stockholders were M. M. Armstrong, L. D. Armstrong, W. S. Blakeley, Richard and Robert Wetherill and G. B. Lindsey. The buildings were completed at once, and another great industry brought forth among the hills.
On July 18, 1889, the Breeze was established, as related in the chapter on the press, and with this new exponent of her resources abroad in the land, the village bounded forward with gigantic strides.
In 1884 religious affairs were represented by a small Sunday-school and a society, the Willing Workers, of which the officers were: president, Miss Annie Golly; vice-president, Miss Mabel Reese; secretary, Miss Hattie Duncan: treasurer. Miss Alice Paxton.
The Catholic Church was first attended, about six years ago, by Rev. Bernard Klocker, and in 1888 Rev. G. Winkler began to build the new frame church, which was dedicated October 6, 1889. The cost was $2,000. There are thirty families belonging to the congregation.
The Methodist Society, of which Rev. J. E. Brown was pastor, worshiped in the schoolhouse, or attended the Union Church at Rolfe.
The Johnsonburg House is now presided over by John Foley, and the St. Charles by James McCloskey. B. Searles carries on a restaurant. Mrs. Wheeler conducts the Wheeler House, J. N. Brown the Central House. and other hotels are being erected. Store buildings are also multiplying, and on hill and in valley dwelling-houses of every character are being erected.
On the night of February 28, 1890, two Swedes were burned up in a small building at Johnsonburg. The burning men were in full view of the onlookers.
The Clarion Breeze of January, 1890, refers to the Armstrong Brothers' Pulp and Papermills, work on which commenced in November, 1888. It was opened in July, 1889, and now gives employment to 130 men. C. H. Glover is superintendent and E. Emeigh paper-maker. The Armstrong Brothers' three gas wells supply fuel and light to the mills as well as to their forty tenant houses. The Union Tannery, across the river, gives employment to 100 men. In one year the village grew from three hotels, one store and three or four dwellings to a town of forty six business houses and a number of dwellings.
Rolfe is a neighbor of Johnsonburg, just across the Clarion. Here is the great tannery of Wilson, Kistler & Co. referred to in the history of Johnson-burg. Here also is the 12,000,000-foot-lumber mill of Henry, Bayard & Co., now operated by W. L. Devine. Henry, Bayard & Co own several other mills in this vicinity, and many thousand acres of timber, which will supply these mills for many years. Their store is under the management of C. J. Johnson. Rolfe had, perhaps, more dwellings than Johnsonburg, in August, 1889, but not very many business places. A fine union church and a graded school building (not completed) are ornaments of usefulness that Johnsonburg then was wanting in. This Union Church association was organized in April, 1888, on petition of G. W. Willan, W. W. Gore, J. M. English, Samuel Lowry, C. J. Johnson, H. J. Baird and C. E. Danber. The Rolfe fire, of March 1, 1887, originated in Henry, Bayard & Co's store, and swept it away, with the old store building of White & Co., Devine's ice-house and the Philadelphia & Erie depot.
Daguscahonda (or "The True Water"), a name suggested by Henry Souther (an act not yet forgiven), contained thirty buildings in 1884, including a school-house, a store, a large boarding-house, and a hotel not opened until early in 1885. The extract works of Jackson S. Schultz and the large saw-mill of Henry, Bayard & Co., are the manufacturing industries. H. U. Eaton was superintendent of the extract works, which have a capacity of thirty-five barrels of ten-pound extract per day. Here is the junction of the Earley branch with the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, but, apart from the industries named, the glory of the place has departed, and there is nothing pretentious about it today, unless it be the strangely euphonious (?) name. In January, 1884, the house of Simon Hanes, at Daguscahonda, was burned, and with it one of his children. L. N. Eggleston dashed into the fire and rescued the second child and its grandmother.
The large saw-mill, owned by J. S. Shultz, is operated by William Locke, for Hall, Kaul & Co. The extract works, built almost seven years ago, are owned by J. S. Schultz and Nial T. Childs. John Klingel is foreman over fifteen workmen, while William Benson has charge of the office. The main building is 250x34 feet, and the other building proportionately large. The capacity is from forty to fifty barrels of ten-pound extract per day. B. E. Taylor is general merchant and postmaster; A. P. Larson, meat dealer, and James McGovern, proprietor of the hotel The gas plant at Daguscahonda was completed in January. 1890.
Whistletown - Cobb, Gallagher & Fisher established a saw-mill at Whistletown in 1846, and it was run by water-power. Early in 1848 they sold to Palmeter & Phelps, who operated the mill one year, when W. H. Post bought Phelps' interest, W. H. Schram contracting to manufacture the lumber. In 1849 Mr. Schram superintended the rafting of the lumber, and after marketing it, ceased connection with the establishment. The mill was sold to B. F. Ely & Co., who disposed of it after some years, when Isaac Horton, Jr., became owner. G. T. Wheeler subsequently had an interest in the concern for some time, but ultimately it became the property of Dr. Earley. In later years Henry, Bayard & Co. became owners of this old water-mill in its modern form. The name Whistletown was given to it, owing to W. H. Gallagher's penchant for whistling. In 1876 the first school-house was erected there, and Miss Lizzie Miller was appointed teacher. Previously teacher and pupils assembled in a barn loft.
Miscellaneous - The Crescent mills, built in 1851, by E. Derby, for the Portland Land Company, sixteen miles below Ridgway, were in operation in 1851. The saw-mill had a capacity of 40,000 feet, while the grist-mill was simply built for small custom work. At Wilmarth a school building erected years ago gave place to a new house in 1875, which was opened by J. E. Hewitt. The school at Gulnack's was opened in 1876, by Rev. I. Brenneman, and Eber Card opened another new school building at Gardner's - the old one having been cut up by the male pupils. At Laurel Hill, school was held in a dwelling-house for years, but abandoned in 1876, when the new school-house at Boot Jack was erected.
In March, 1878, the Island Run colony scheme was extensively advertised. The owners of lands on warrants 4268 - 69 and 4376 - 77, five miles from Ridgway, were Hyde, Bradley & Co., and Earley, Brickle and Hite. Their idea was to donate to each of one hundred settlers there twenty acres of land, reserving minerals and merchantable lumber. The Allentown Weltbote pictured the beauties of the place, and, as a result, inquiries flowed in from all sides. The owners issued a circular of warning, telling intending settlers to wait until spring and not to come without money.
BOROUGH OF RIDGWAY
Ridgway is beautifully located in Eagle Valley, near the junction of Elk creek with the Clarion, in longitude 1 degree 45' west and latitude 41 degree 26' north. The population in 1880 was 1,100. In 1888 there were 161 Democratic, 158 Republican and 12 Prohibitionist votes cast, a total of 331, representing 1,655 inhabitants. The name is derived from that of Jacob Ridgway and John J. Ridgway, the latter of whom died at Paris, France, in November, 1885. He was the only son of Jacob Ridgway, who, in 1817, purchased 80,000 acres in McKean county, and 40,000 in Elk. The old proprietor died in 1844. The early agents were Jonathan Colegrove, Paul E. Scull and. James L. Gillis, all deceased. In 1852 W. J. Colegrove succeeded his father as agent. All of them favored this location for the county seat, and to them particularly the citizens of the town are indebted for having the seat of justice fixed here.
Joseph Willis Taylor, who, in 1820, came to this county with his father, Libni Taylor, died May 1, 1885. He aided in clearing the Montmorenci farm, and it is said cut the first tree on the site of Ridgway, before James Gallagher' s arrival in 1825. Henry Souther, in a letter on the subject of James Gallagher's settlement, states that this pioneer preceded his family to the site of the present town, and built a small house, which stood back on the old Gallagher farm, when he purchased the property. Mr. Souther had the timbers of this house used in a wash-house, and in recent years this building stood on Main street, opposite the court-house. It was 16x20, one story, and used successively for various businesses. When Mrs. Gallagher and her sister, Hannah Gilbert, arrived, the house referred to was completed.
Ridgway was laid out in 1833, when seven families resided here - the Aylesworths and Caleb Dill, west of the creek; Enos Gillis, J. W. Gallagher, H. Karnes, Tom Barber and Joab Doblen on the east side. In 1834 the first bridge across the Clarion at Ridgway was built, and also one over t-he north fork at Bridgetown.
Mr. Gillis, with Mr. Dickinson, Arthur Hughes and Lyman Wilmarth, owned the land north and west of the Clarion, in what is now known as West Ridgway, and engaged in the business of lumbering, under the firm name of Hughes, Dickinson & Co., which afterward became and continued Dickinson & Co. These gentlemen laid out some town lots, but the sale of them was very slow. Mr. Wilmarth had the one south of the turnpike, now Main street, between the mill race and the river; Mr. Gillis, one east of the turnpike, as continued south to the race. John Cobb had two or three, and Caleb Dill some two or more. On the east side of the river Mr. Ridgway caused a village to be laid out, bounded south by the warrant line, west by the river, north by Elk creek and east by James Gallagher's land, and what was afterward known as the "Rough and Ready" property, lying on both sides of Gallagher run. James Gallagher had a plat of about three acres on the north side of the pike, and Enos Gillis a contract for the land north of Elk creek, bounded west by the river.
Ridgway, in April, 1836, as remembered by Mr. Schram, was a very little village. Beginning at the western end of the present town, near the location of Grant & Horton's tannery, was Dickinson's boarding house, Henry Gross' house on the flat close by, then the saw-mill and a barn. There were no buildings from that point until coming to the school-house (built in 1834) adjoining the old burial ground, opposite and below the Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad depot of 1886. Next came Van Orsdall's plank dwelling. On the corner of the Smethport road, on the site of M. E. Lesser's residence, was Caleb Dill's dwelling, justice shop and post-office, and across the road was his blacksmith shop. Just above lived Stephen Neiver; at the northeast corner was John Cobb's house, where Mrs. Dill resided in April, 1886. On the right side of Main street. a few rods east, was James L. Gillis' home, then the store of Gillis & Clover. Crossing the race bridge one came to George Dickinson's home on the south side, the store being on the north side. The mansion house was subsequently built west of the race on the north side of the street, and George Clyde occupied a log cabin toward the dam. The bridge was a 16x12-inch stringer, resting on cribbing; teams forded the river, and in times of high water, boats were used. On the east side of the stream stood the Exchange, owned by David Thayer, then Edward Derby's Old Red House, in the cellar of which was the famous spring, above where Dillon's meat market was located in 1886. Then came P. T. Brook's Lone Star Hotel, where Messenger's drug store was in 1886; an old grist-mill stood back from the street near the present Hyde mill. On Main street was the dwelling of M. L. Ross and the old Dutch House of William Weaver; while on the right the court-house was the only improvement. James Gallagher's store stood where was the~ telegraph office in 1886, while his dwelling, then used as a temperance hotel, stood on the corner. It was rebuilt in 1886 by John G. Hall. After leaving the corner of Main street, was Mrs. Wilcox's dwelling, occupied by Minor Wilcox, in 1886; Elk creek emptied into the Clarion at the point where is now Dickinson's dam.
In the general history, it is stated that Reuben Aylesworth was the first postmaster at Ridgway. This office appears to have been established in 1829. Caleb Dill was postmaster in 1836 and evidently served until 1850, when John Cobb was appointed. In November, 1851, the post-office was moved from Cobb's old building, in the lower part of Ridgway, to his new store. W. N. Whitney was appointed postmaster in June, 1853, vice John Cobb. Business about this time was trifling, and the main street of the village was so quiet and new that rattlesnakes sometimes appeared thereon. It is related that in August, 1854, W. H. Post killed a reptile with seven rattles. Matthew L. Ross succeeded Jerome Powell about 1857, as postmaster, and served until Mr. Luther was appointed. This Luther was serving in 1863, when Dr. Bardwell arrived. In 1867 G. G. Messenger was appointed postmaster, succeeding Lib. Luther. In 1869 J. H. Hagerty was commissioned postmaster, serving until 1887, when G. G. Messenger was commissioned. On August 1, 1889, -Postmaster Messenger turned the office over to Mr. Hagerty. William A. Irwin, the veteran deputy, has been continued.
Municipal Affairs - The petition to incorporate Ridgway was dated September 23, 1880. The petitioners were Madams G. G. Messenger, A. M. Scribner, J. Y. Barrett, Mary Service, M. E. Lesser and S. E. Johnson, and Messrs. Little, Oyster, Derby, Morgester, C. B. Farley, E. J. Miller, Kime, Bardwell, Willard. Campbell, Holes, Head, Schram, Ross, W. C. Healy, Penfield, H. S. Thayer, Luther Hagerty, Dr. Day, Phil Lesser, Jr., Jerome Powell, W. H. Hyde, J. F. Dill, S. A. Olmstead, F. McGloin, J. M. Schram, W. S. Hamblen, Fred Schoening, W. H. Osterhout, W. C. Geary, Gresh, French, Noon, J. R. Kime, Miles, II. E. Lesser, A. B. Chapin, Dr. T. S. Hartley and H. A. Parsons, Jr.
The first election was held February 15, 1881. Jerome Powell was elected burgess; D. C. Oyster and C. H. McCauley were chosen councilmen for three years; W. H. Osterhout and W. H. Hyde for two years, and W. H. Schram and H. S. Thayer, for one year. The school directors chosen for the respective terms were J. S. Bardwell and H.A. Parsons, Fred Schoening and E. E. Willard; H. M. Powers and W. S. Hamblen. W. C. Healy was elected assessor; J. P. Fullerton, justice of the peace; R. V. Kime (three years), Hugh McGeehin (two years) and T. S. Hartley (one year), auditors; George B. Woodward, high constable; B. P. Mercer, constable; D. S. Luther, judge, with John Flynn and A. W. Jones, inspectors of election; M. E. Lesser and R. J. Campbell, overseers of the poor. The highest vote cast was 174 for Councilman W. K Hyde. The office of burgess has been filled by Jerome Powell in 1882; M. S. Service, 1883; John B. Kime, 1884 - 85; R. J. Campbell, 1886; W. H. Schram, 1887; Thomas Gillooly, 1888; L. S. Guth, 1889. W. C. Healy has served as recorder of the borough since organization.
The justices of the peace elected since 1881 are named as follows: A. Swartz Ross, 1882; E. K. Gresh, 1884; W. C. Healy, 1885; Rufus Lucore, 1889.
In June, 1885, there were 55 votes cast for a gas and water-tax, and 1 against, and 140 cast against a water-tax and 2 for. In August, 1888, the vote on the respective questions was 146 and 3 and 185 and 15. In November, 1888, the vote to increase debt was 207, opposed by 1.
The elections of February, 1890, resulted as follows: Burgess - A. Swartz Ross (P.), 226; no opposition. Coundil - W. H. Hyde (P.). 223; John Flynn (D.), 185; William Earl (H.), 117; J. C. Millin (R.), 133. School directors - S. W. Miles, 198; M. O'Connor, Jr. (P.), 197; Delos Dolliver (R.), 96; B. P. Mercer (R.), 137. Justice of the peace - W. C. Healy (1).), 197; no opposition. Collector - Thomas Barry (D.), 149; Robert Morrison (R.), 176. High Constable - W. M. Dill (P.), 198; no opposition. Borough constable - W. M. Dill (D.), 238; no opposition. Overseer of the poor - John Dwyer (D.), 194; Jacob Butterfuss (R.), 124. Auditor - J. P. Messenger (D.), 210; no opposition. Judge of election - DuBois Gorton (D.), 205; A. Reriburg (R.), 1118. Inspector of election - W. O. Beman (D.), 213; John Larson (B.), 118.
Gas - On November 26, 1885, the gas well was connected with the pipes at Johnsonburg, and in four minutes a volume of gas traveled six miles to the gasometer at Ridgway in rear of the Hyde House. That night the burner at the corner of Main and Broad streets was lighted, and the chase after the grim plumbers commenced. The Ridgway Gas Company petitioned for incorporation October 22, 1883, through the stockholders, C. H. Earley, D. P. Cook, F. W. Morgan, Charles B. Earley, A. Thompson and S. A. Rote. The capital stock was placed at $5,000. The Ridgway Light & Heat Company was chartered September 16, 1885, with D. C. Oyster, W. C. Healy, H. M. Powers, Dysan Rishell and Alfred Short, stockholders. The Elk Gas Company was chartered by the State August 19, 1886. 0. B. Grant, W. H. Osterhout, G. F. Dickinson, H. S. Thayer and C. H. McCauley were named directors, representing twenty-eight stockholders. A charter to the People's Gas Company of Warren was entered here in 1886, and one to the United Natural Gas Company the same year; also one to the Northwestern Pennsylvania Natural Gas Company. The New Era Gas Company petitioned for charter in April, 1889, through I. P. Bell, S. A. Rote, D. C. Oyster, Alfred Short and John C. Brady. H. M. Powers was named as treasurer. The object of this company was to mine for gas in Ridgway township to be consumed in the borough.
Water. - In November, 1843, the water privilege of the large spring south of the town was granted to the county for the use of the proposed public buildings. The Ridgway Water Company was chartered July 7, 1885, the stock being placed at S50, 000, held by citizens of Williamsport. About this time the proposition of Peter Herdic, in behalf of this corporation, was made. The company proposed, among other things, that "the borough of Ridgway grant a franchise for the building, constructing, erecting and maintaining said water-works within said borough, and the exclusive privilege of maintaining and operating said works for a period of ten years, or until such time as they may be purchased by said borough, and during said period to rent or lease from said P. Herdic, his heirs or assigns, the twenty-five hydrants at an annual rental of forty dollars each, to be paid quarterly. Should other fire hydrants be required hereafter, the rate of rental shall be thirty dollars each for such additional hydrants, payable quarterly as above mentioned." This and other articles were signed by Herdic, John B. Kime, the burgess, and William M. Sweet. On January 7, 1889, water from the new works was turned into the pipes, and came with a rush into the borough.
Fire Companies - The Laurel Fire Company, No. 1, of Ridgway, was incorporated April 22, 1884. W. H. Osterhout, D. C. Oyster and C. H. McCauley were named directors, and among the subscribers were W. H. Hyde, H. S. Thayer, E. J. Miller, W. L. Williams and John A. Kime. The Emerald Hose Company elected the following-named officers in March, 1890: President, Thomas B. Gillooly; first vice-president, M. O'Conuer; second vice-president, William Vanorman; recording secretary, Samuel Ross; financial secretary, Thomas Barry; treasurer. Daniel Fitzgerald; foreman, Thomas H. Led-den; first assistant, Charles O'Conner; second assistant, Daniel Maloney; board of trustees, H. E. Van Aken, one year, S. G. Coon, one year, B. E. McFarlin, two years; plugmen, J. J. Devoge and John Barry; fire police, J. H. Ellinger, Lib. Luther and Thomas Barry.
The new hose company, organized in February, 1890, elected the following-named officers: J. M. Schram, president; W. S. Horton, vice-president: L. J. A. Lesser, recorder; A. L. Bell, financial secretary; J. H. McEwen, treasurer; H. H. Wensel, foreman; Gus F. Rohde, first assistant; George McFarlin, second assistant; W. S. Horton, George Clark, W. Irwin, William Earl and. F. H. Ely, trustees. There are forty members.
Fires - In June, 1870, the first big fire swept the north side of the square from the site of the Ridgway Bank to Broad street, leaving the old Hyde House safe. The fire of August, 1873, destroyed. Lesser & Debbie's wagon and the Hyde harness shop. In July, 1874, a building near Hyde's saw-mill was burned.
The Ridgway fire of September 29, 1882, was discovered between 2 and 3 o'clock that morning in the Democrat block. The losses are given as follows: Commencing at Broad street, Dr. C. B. Earley's building, $3,000; Charles Holes' building (net), $2,500; Jerome Powell's building (net), $2,050; B. V. Kime's building, $350; James S. Maginnis' building (net), $1,800; Fred Schoening's building (net), $1,000; Union Store Company's building $3,000; Bank building (net), $500; George W. Rhines & Son (net),. $2, 300; J. W. Morgester's building (net), $1,000; B. I. Campbell's store building (net), $1,500, and dwelling house, rented t.o 0-. A. Rathbun (net), $600. (In the above list of losses the value of buildings destroyed above amount of insurance is only given.) The Elk county Advocate office in the Powell building lost, above insurance, $1,000, and the Democrat office was totally destroyed, except books, etc., in the safe. The loss on G. A. Rathbun's library and office in the bank building was about $1,325. Many others suffered small losses in personal property and mercantile stocks - the people saving the greater part of such property from the fire. The north side of Main street or of square from Mill to Broad street and back to the mill race was destroyed, except a barn in rear of Powell & Kime' s store. The Hyde House escaped, through the efforts of the workers to confine the fire to one block; and Edward Derby's house, at the western end, was saved in the same way. A dwelling belonging to B. I. Campbell and one to Mrs. M. L. Ross, on Race street, were also saved, as well as the Hyde mills. It destroyed all the buildings, except one, on the north side of Main street, between Broad and Mill, and for more than a year thereafter many of our business men occupied shanties in the streets pending the construction of new buildings. What then seemed a disaster to the merchants and owners has, as in many cases, proved a benefit to the village and the community at large. The buildings destroyed were of wood, irregular in construction and unsightly in appearance, but have been replaced by substantial brick blocks. Scarcely had the heated ground cooled, than J. W. Morgester and Robert I. Campbell began the work of rebuilding, the former completing his building before the close of the year at a cost of $6,000. In March, 1883, work on the Union Hall (a $20,000 house), for Fred Schoening and James McGinnis, commenced; also on Powell & Kime' s Grand Central block, the Ridgway bank building, and G. W. Rhines' building. Morgester's building and three houses erected by Campbell in 1883 form a block with a frontage of eighty-nine feet on Main street. Up to 1889 this work has been carried on. The new building on the corner of Broad and Main streets was erected in 1889 by Hyde & Murphy for Frank G. Earley, P. Fitzpatrick was contractor for the brick work. The cost is estimated at $12,000. The fire of April 22, 1889, at Thompson's mills on Island run, two miles south of the borough, destroyed nearly 500,000 feet of hemlock and pine; also some lath, pickets and clap-boards, valued, altogether, at $5,000, was destroyed, the total loss in lumber, buildings and machinery being from $8,000 to $10,000.
Mrs. William McNall and her four children, of Ridgway, sought safety in the cellar of their house from the terrible storm of May 10, 1889. While there lightning struck the house, and the mother and three of her children were killed. The other child, a babe of a month, was alive and uninjured in the arms of its dead mother. The destruction of a large section of the Eagle Tannery took place Friday, July 19, 1889. Early that morning, the people of Ridgway were alarmed by the report of a loud explosion, and looking in the direction from which the report seemed to come, they beheld, just over the bark-mill of the Eagle Valley Tannery, on the north side of Elk creek, a dense cloud of black smoke, and flames were bursting from the roof of the building on every side. The alarming shrieks of the whistle were heard for miles around. In less than five minutes a large crowd of the town people had gathered, and were assisting in taking care of the sadly injured workmen, and helping the tannery men to connect their hose with the pumps, to save as much of the property as possible. The Tannery Hose Company, assisted by the Emerald Hose Company, saved some of the principal buildings, leaving the bark-mill and engine room (containing two good engines), 45x100 feet, with cellar; leach house, 250 x45 feet; bark-shed, 45x200 feet, containing 300 cords of rock-oak bark, worth $8 to $10 per cord, and the "cooler," 20x50feet, besides a team of horses valued at $450, to be destroyed. The buildings and bark, valued at $15,000, were insured. The human victims of this fire were named as follows: John Strycker, Swiss, cremated, aged about twenty years, single man, a nephew of Andrew Strycker; Andrew Strycker, Swiss, fatally burned, died Saturday night, aged about fifty years, leaving a widow and several children: John Fisher, Swiss, fatally burned, died Saturday night, aged about fifty-one years, leaving a widow and several children; John Westerline, aged about eighteen years, fatally burned, died Sunday morning, lived with his brother, parents being in Sweden; John Borjeson, Swede, very badly burned; John Bergendahl, burned on one arm and face, was in the leach house and was thrown some twenty feet by the concussion; George D. Smith, engineer, an American, burned severely about the hands, arms, face and neck, his escape being marvelous. The mill was not in operation. The men had been cleaning up to change from grinding hemlock to oak bark. The engineer had just turned on steam, and the machinery had only commenced to revolve when the shock came, and the men were burned as with a flash of powder, and instantly the building was in flames. In clearing out the debris, the lantern held by John Strycker was found in the elevator, and it is supposed that while waiting for the mill to start up, he left this lantern on the works, whence it was carried up when the machinery was set in motion, and the light catching the bark-dust caused the explosion. The company has established a fire department, the employees forming the force. A fine hose cart and a large amount of hose have been purchased, also other equipments.
Manufactures - The lumber trade had always been the leading industry up to 1870, and still is, perhaps, in the number of men and amount of capital employed. Although since the burning of Hyde's saw-mill on Race street, there are no saw-mills within the borough, there is a number in its immediate neighborhood and contributory to its mercantile interests. Whistletown, on the Clarion, three miles north, is operated by Henry, Bayard & Co.; Eagle Valley. one mile north, formerly owned by J. S. Hyde; West End, owned by Dickinson Bros.; Mill Creek, four miles southwest, owned by Bryant & Ewer; Elk Creek, on Elk creek, one mile east, owned and. run by B. F. Ely & Sons; H. S. Thayer' s. on Big Mill creek, and J. S. Hyde' s mill, on Gallagher run, near the borough line. All these are circular mills of large capacity; and the four on the Clarion are run by water-power.
Enos Gillis came to Ridgway in 1827, and began the building of his sawmill and tannery immediately thereafter, placing James Gallagher in charge. In 1844 Enos Gillis moved to near Pittsburgh, and thence to Michigan.
The Hyde estate lands aggregate about 15,000 acres in Ridgway, Horton, Spring Creek and Fox townships. The Hyde Hill, along Eagle Valley is capped with sandstone boulders, some of which are 30x20 feet and ten feet high. In recent years the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and several individuals have leased quarry tracts on this and on other hills west of the Eagle Valley mills from the estate, and dimension and common building stone quarrying has become a great industry. The estate receives a royalty of fifteen to twenty-five cents per perch of stone.
The Eagle Valley mills were built years ago, and. the late J. S. Hyde was interested in their building. They are now the property of the estate. The capacity is about 25,000 feet per day, and the number of men employed is about fifteen throughout the year. The Gallagher Run mills were built about 1882, and the railroad constructed ten miles up the valley that year for the transport of lumber. The road runs two miles up the run, and thence over the abandoned Shawmut road to a point near Shawmut. The capacity is about 30,000 feet per day. The old Elk Creek mills were owned by J. S. Hyde, up to the time of sale to Souther & Willis, who sold to B. F. Ely.... The Hyde mills, in Horton township, are at the mouth of Brandy Camp creek and on Saw Mill run, two miles northeast of the former. Thirty men are employed, and the capacity of both is 50,000 per day. The Laurel Run mill is operated. by White & Thayer, a mile above the mouth of that stream. A tram road connects with the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, one and a half miles distant. The capacity is 40,000 per day, and the number of men employed twenty.
The Portland Lumber Company comprise the quarter interest of W. H. Hyde, the quarter interest of the Hyde estate, the quarter interest of 3. K. P. Hall, and a similar interest held by A. Kane, of St. Mary's. The unsold lands in Horton, Spring Creek and Ridgway townships comprise about 18,000 acres. On the tract there are 250,000,000 of hemlock, 40,000,000 of pine, some oak and other hardwoods. The hemlock is valued at $2 per M., and pine at $10 per M. Throughout the Hyde lands, W. H. Hyde is engaged extensively in lumbering, and also on a lease from Grant & Horton on their lands.
The Portland Company's mills, in Spring Creek township, are important industries, turning out 80,000 feet per day and giving employment to forty men. . . . The number of men employed in the woods by jobbers for W. H. Hyde and associate owners is at least 150, exclusive of those employed around the woods.
There are two grist-mills in the borough, one owned by W. H. Hyde & Co., at the foot of Mill street, and run by water-power from Elk creek, one of the oldest mills in the county; the other, recently built by A. H. Buckland, is situated on the Ridgway & Clearfield Railroad and South street, and is run by steam power. Both are noted for the good quality of their products, principally corn-meal and feed, and are run nearly to their full capacity. The Hyde grist-mill was erected years ago, and is still the old-style water-mill, with a capacity of 36,000 bushels of oats per annum. The grain, oats and corn are imported from the West, and here all the feed for the Hyde stables is ground. The Cobb grist-mill, which took the place of the one burned, was completed in June, 1850.
The Ridgway Company's planing-mill was erected in 1878 by Hyde & Ross, and the machinery of the old J. V. Houk mill on Centre street moved thereto. In 1883 Mr. Ross sold his interest, and in 1884 M. P. Murphy purchased. This mill gives employment to thirty-five men the year round. The building and machinery are valued at $25,000.
In 1876 the firm of Hyde, Kline & Co., composed of W. H. Hyde & Co. and D. R. Kline, established a foundry and machine shop on Depot street. Their business is largely repairing, but they also do considerable in the way of new work, and have as specialties the "Carman Saw Guide" and the "Kline Natural Gas Burner." In January, 1889, Mr. Kline's term of partnership expired, and the works are now operated by W. H. Hyde with B. I. Robinson, manager. The value of buildings and machinery is $15,000, and number of men employed is twelve.
In 1885 the joint stock company of McEwen Bros. & Co., limited, was formed for the purpose of carrying on a machine shop and the building of engines, boilers, and saw-mill and tannery machines. They built a large shop on Main street at the crossing of the Ridgway & Clearfield Railroad. Hardly was the machinery set, before the whole plant was destroyed by fire, May 27. 1886. With characteristic American energy they pushed ahead, and the works are again in full operation with better buildings and plant than before.
The Hamilton Wagon Company, composed of W. H. Hyde, W. H. Osterhout, D. C. Oyster and D. B. Hamilton, perfected organization in January, 1889. The shops were completed on Broad street, near the depot, and opened in the summer following, and twenty or thirty employees are unable to supply the demand for their product.
Grant & Horton were the second parties to locate a sole leather tannery in Elk county (the first having been built at Wilcox), and are at the junction of Aylsworth run with the Clarion, about one mile from the court-house, and west of the borough line, where they bought from Dickinson, and built in 1867. The business is a very successful one, and grows in extent each year. Their works are called "Ridgway Tannery," and their leather is well and favorably known, a large amount being exported to foreign countries. After the opening of their works, they found the tannery cut off from communication with the railroads in the spring and fall, for during the rainy seasons the bottom of Main and Broad streets was way below the surface. To remedy this, Grant & Horton and the Dickinsons built a plank road from the tannery to the railroad station at their own expense, an improvement that has since been kept up by the township and borough authorities.
The Eagle Tannery may be said to date back to the fall of 1870, when W. H. Osterhout purchased, from J. S. Hyde, 135 acres of land for a building site and 1,700 acres of hemlock bark. He also purchased from S. S. Schultz 4,000 acres and from others 3,000 acres of bark lands. He at once built the Eagle Tannery, with a bark-mill of 18,000 cords capacity. The tannery company was organized for incorporation August 13, 1888, with William H. Osterhout, Calvin D. Osterhout, Jackson S. and Louis H. Schultz and W. B. Benson, directors. The capital stock consisted of 6,000 shares of $50 each. G. W. Childs, of Broome county, N. Y., was named treasurer. The cost of plant, etc., is about $200,000; sides of leather tanned per year, 250,000; amount of yearly sales ci leather about $925,000; cords of bark used annually, 20,000; value of bark constantly in yard, from $75,00ft to $100,000; 165 men are employed immediately in and about the works. The great fire of 1889 caused a temporary stoppage of work in some departments, as related in the sketch of that catastrophe. There are about forty-six dwellings, including Mr. Osterhout's own residence. The water supply was put in in 1889, by Mr. Osterhout, on the moral assurance that the borough would pay ultimately. Previously he had conducted the water from the springs on the hill above for the use of his tenants. The rebuilding and improvements of 1889 will amount to $20,000, extending the capacity considerably. The lands owned or leased by this tannery company amount to 25,700 acres.
Banks - The Ridgway Bank was established in 1875 by Henry Souther, Albert Willis and Edward Souther, as Souther, Willis & Souther, and was conducted by E. Souther until 1876, when it was sold to the present proprietors - Alfred Short, D. C. Oyster and Hezekiah Horton, Mr. Oyster being the president. The office is almost opposite the court-house on Main street. The wealth and industries represented by this banking company compare with that of any other business association in this section of the State.
The Elk County Bank was established August 16, 1874, with Jerome Powell, Dr. C. B. Earley, John G. Hall and C. B. Kline stockholders. The office was opened in Hall's brick block, where it has since been conducted.
C. R. Kline served as cashier from 1874 to June, 1880, when M. S. Kline succeeded him. In 1877 Dr. Earley retired; in March, 1880, W. H. Hyde purchased an interest, and in January, 1888, Jerome Powell retired, selling his interest to John G. Hall. The same month M. S. Kline and C. H. McCauley entered the partnership, and. in May of that year J. S. Hyde became associated with them. In July W. H. Hyde purchased his father's share, and he, with M. S. Kline and Messrs. Hall** and McCauley are present owners. The original capital was $50,000. a sum not since increased, although the present surplus is $24,291.
Hotels - David Thayer, born in County Cavan, Ireland, in 1816, came to Ridgway with his family in 1836 or 1837, and died here in February, 1884. He built the Exchange Hotel at the east end of Clarion bridge, and conducted it for fifteen or twenty years, and carried the mails from Ridgway to Warren. In later years he conducted the Thayer House until 1871, when he sold to Ripley and Brother.
The Hyde House was built in 1858 - 59, and opened June 10, in the latter year, by Mr. Osgood, who leased it from J. S. Hyde. In 1861 he retired, and the house was conducted for Mr. Hyde some time, when Mrs. Cummius purchased it. She, with H. S. Belknap as manager, carried on the hotel until 1867, when a Mr. Moore, now of Olean, bought her interest. In 1869 Mr. Schram became owner, and with the exception of ten months, in 1883, when Mr. Holly conducted the house, he has managed it successfully down to the present time. Dr. Day-, his son-in-law, purchased the house in 1887, but continued Mr. Schram in the management. The east wing of the proposed modern Hyde House was completed in 1888.
The hotels now in the borough of Ridgway are the Thayer House, kept by T. Wingfield; Hyde House, by D. B. Day; Clarion Hotel, by Mary J. Vaughan; Rochester House, by H. H. Deet; Bogert House, by Hugh MeGeehin; McFarlin Hotel, by James McFarlin; Broad Street Hotel, by Daniel McGovern; Revere House, by C. W. Barrett, and the Eagle Hotel, by Frank Showers.
Churches - There are seven church organizations and six church buildings in the borough, as follows: St. Leo's Roman Catholic church, on Depot street, is the finest and most expensive, as the congregation is the largest. Rev. M. Meagher, pastor, resides in a parsonage belonging to the parish, situate on the Brookville road. The German Lutheran church is on South street above Broad, and has a parsonage upon the same lot. The Methodist Episcopal, Protestant Episcopal and Congregationalist are on Centre, the former having a parsonage on "Zion's Hill," in Souther's addition, while the Episcopal rectory is on a lot adjoining the church lot. The Swedish Congregational church, recently built, is on Broad street opposite Osferhout's tannery, and the Presbyterians occupy a hall, fitted up as a chapel, over Messenger's drug store, corner Main and Mill streets. Ridgway is thus amply provided for the moral, religious and mental instruction of its citizens.
The Methodists organized here about 1833, with Reuben and Mrs. J. A. Aylesworth, Mrs. Gallagher and daughter, Emily, and Lucretia Gilhis, members. At that time Revs. Benjamin F. Sedwick and Abner Jackson were preachers; Rev. G. D. Kinnear came in 1834, and Rev. A. Plimpton, in 1835. In February, 1851, Revs. R. Edwards, of Warren, and S. B. Sullivan, of Youngsville, officiated at the Methodist quarterly meeting held at Ridgway Academy. I. Blackford advertised this meeting as early as December, 1850. The Methodist church house was erected in 1873 - 74, during the pastorate of Rev. W. Martin, at a cost of $8,000, and was dedicated January 31, 1875, by Mr. Ives, of Auburn, N. Y. In 1879 part of this debt was unpaid, and members of the church expressed dissatisfaction. In explaining matters, H. V. Talbot published a statement in August, 1879, in behalf of the trustees; and in 1880 the debt was extinguished during the pastorate of Rev. S. M. Clark. The Methodist Episcopal Church of Ridgway petitioned for incorporation August 2, 1876, through W. H. Osterhout, E. K. Gresh. Jacob McCauley, C. E. Holaday, S. A. Olmstead, Charles Mead and T. S. Hartley. Rev. J. C. McDonald reports the membership at 120, and the value of property at $10,000.
The old frame Catholic church, now standing on the hill, was not built until 1867 - 60. The priests of St. Mary's attended this mission [the church was formerly known as the Sacred Heart of Mary until June, 1874, when Rev. M. Meagher was appointed to the charge, having previously served at Tidioute, and subsequently at Corry. In 1874 the congregation was below the 100 mark, since increased to 500. Among the leading members in 1874 were the Flynns, Mrs. Jackson and family, Fannings, Gilloolys, Maginnis, the Schoenings, Healys, McGeehins, McGloins, Meenans, Hollands, Noons, Williams, Singletons, Dalys, Riellys, Maloneys, Sheehans, McCauleys, O'Neils, Murpheys, Mulqueens, Powers, McGoverns, Hays, Barrys, Mrs. Dickinson and family, Mays, Casserlys and a few others. In 1880 Father Meagher, seeing that the time for building a new house of worship had arrived, looked around for a location. Dr. Charles B. Early donated a lot, 136x227 feet, and on August 12, 1883, the corner-stone of the present building was placed by Bishop Mullen, of Erie, and dedicated September 6, 1885, by the same bishop. The church is a solid brick structure with sandstone facings. It cost $15,000, and was built after plans by P. C. Kieley under the direct superintendence of the pastor. This large church was almost paid for at the date of dedication. Father Meagher attends the people at Carman, Daguscahonda, Vineyard Bun, Cameron and other places. The stained glass windows were presented by Hugh McGeehin, James Duffey, Mary E. Maginnis, Matilda L. Schoening, John Williams, J. J. Vaughan, Jeremiah Dennison, Ellen D'Arcy, William Fanning, Susan Campbell, Mrs. D. J. McDonald, John Healy, Jr., J. D. Meenari, John Fanning, Jr., D. Canavan, Patrick Holland, Robert Power, Patrick Ryan, Kate O'Connor, the Sheehan family, the Meisinger family, George Dickinson, Patrick Murphy, J. W. Lahive, Dennis Flynn, Temperance Society and Rosary Society.
Grace Protestant Episcopal Church of Ridgway was incorporated July 6, 1866, on petition of E. Derby, J. G. Hall, H. Souther, C. McVean, A. Willis, J. H. Mays, J. Powell, G. D. Messenger, L. and L. C. Wilmarth, B. F. Ely, J. K. Whitmore and C. V. Gillis.
The Lutheran Church was organized April 14, 1872, with George Walker, Phillip Lesser, Arnold Bruegger, Caspar Bruegger, John Christ and John Wunderlich and their families, members. Rev. J. Brenneman was first pastor, followed by Augustus Schaeffer and Rev. A. R. J. Graepp, the present pastor. The corner-stone of the present church house was placed May 25, 1873, and the building was dedicated in October of that year. The membership is 200, and the value of property $10,000.
The Swedish Church of Ridgway may be said to date back to 1873, when the immigrants of 1870 - 71 were supplied with a preacher. In 1882 an organization was perfected - Bethlehem congregation. Trouble at once ensued, and in 1884 a number of members withdrew, leaving the remaining ones to purchase a lot on Earley' s Hill. Owing to troubles in title, the building there was not completed, but in October, 1887, they purchased a lot in west Ridgeway, and later began building. M. A. Nordstrom was preacher at this time.
The Swedish Congregational Church of Ridgway was incorporated Novemher 15, 1886, the trustees being J. E. Swanson, C. M. Johnson, A. Froberg, P. G. Greenwall and W. Johnson. J. E. Lundberg and J. T. Johnson also signed the petition.
The First Congregational Church of Ridgway petitioned for incorporation November 11, 1882. The subscribers named were W. H. Osterhout. E. K. Gresh, W. H. Hyde, D. C. Oyster, Peter Gulnack, T. J. Reese and Jerome Powell. The corner-stone of the Congregational church was placed August 28, 1882, by Rev. A. VanCamp. In June, 1883, the bell presented by J. S. Hyde was placed, and dedicated July 15, 1883. The total cost was about $10,000.
The First Presbyterian Church was organized November 9, 1875, with the following-named members: John and Elizabeth Winklebleck, Mrs. R. Lucore, E. J. Miller, Elizabeth McIntosh, Mrs. S. B. Chapin, Mrs. L. A. T. Little and Horace Little, the present clerk. There are thirty-seven members. Rev. T. S. Neglen is pastor.
The Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church was incorporated September 16, 1884, with C. Lindgren, L. Carlberg, A. G. Moller, C. P. Green and John Nelson, subscribers. John Kolmberg was among the trustees.
The First Evangelical Lutheran Church was chartered in May, 1884, with Rev. John Sander, Ferd. Sallach, J. A. Miller, J. Fuhrer, C. Brugger, John Otth, Jr., and John Christ, directors.
Cemetery Association - The Ridgway Cemetery Association was organized in 1872, and on April 8, a petition for incorporation was signed by the following-named members: R. V. Kime, W. H. Hyde, Jerome Powell, Horace Little, C. B. Earley, George A. Rathbun, H. S. Thayer, J. G. Hall, C. H. McCauley, W. S. Service, G. G. Messenger, G. D. Messenger, James Penfield, D. F. Farrand, L. C. Horton, Rufus Lucore, Edward Souther and Charles Holes. W. S. Hamblen was one of the trustees.
Schools. ***The first school was opened in Gallagher's log house (near the central graded township school building), in 1826, by Hannah Gilbert and attended by the children of the three families then residing there. Subsequently Ann Berry and Betsy Hyatt taught in the "Old Red House," a dwelling. In 1834 a house for common-school purposes was erected near the Dickinson dwelling by Messrs. Crow, Thayer, Gallagher, Dickinson, Cobb and Cady, directors, and Betsy Hyatt installed. She was succeeded by Mr. Barnutz in 1835. A second building was erected close by in 1838, intended for a graded school, and came down to our own day. In 1870, a $7, 000 school building was erected this side of the Clarion, and opened with L. D. Rockwell, principal, and Addie P. Taylor, assistant.
In 1874 three teachers were employed in the Ridgway schools. In 1885 - 86 a wing as large as the main building was erected, and in 1887 the pupils residing outside the borough were excluded. This necessitated the building of another school house on the G. G. Messenger lot, Mill street, which was completed in October, 1887, and opened by W. H. Devereaux, principal, assisted by B. E. Wilcox and Maggie Reese. In 1888 Prof. Kline was principal, and in 1889 Prof. Devereaux was re-appointed. C. J. Swift was principal of the borough schools at this time with Misses Little, Kime, O'Connor, Ross and Thompson, assistants. In April, 1889, the largest class ever graduated at Ridgway, comprised Franklin Lesser, Amos Williams, Frank McFarlin, Henry Willard, John Flynn, Lynne Hamblen, Heber McDonnald, Maud Thompson, Josephine Scribner, Mary McQueen, Mina VanAken, May Noon, Alice Schirk, Mary Logan, Willa Webb, Viola Metts, Eva Irwin, Louie Little.
The school buildings are situated at the corner of South and Broad streets, and although built of wood are considered very good. The main part was erected in 1870 by Salyer Jackson, then of this place, built at a cost of 87.000. The first teachers in the building were L. D. Rockwell, now a physician at Union City, Penn., and Miss Addie P. Taylor, who still resides in Ridgway. After Dr. Rockwell came a Prof. Urnholtz as principal. In 1873 and 1874 George B. Dixon was princip~l, Misses Addie P. Taylor and B. E. Wilcox assistants. In 1874, Miss Garritt (now Mrs. E. T. Grant) also assisted. J.
B. Johnson, J. D. Rishell, C. J. Swift, now county superintendent, and D. C. Murphy, the present principal, followed in succession. The staff of teachers comprises Miss Lizzie Thompson, Miss Maggie Flynn, Miss Maud Nutes, Miss Ada Munro and Mrs. Emma Lane. Mrs. Lane is a graduate of the Mansfield Normal School and has received special training in kindergarten work. She has taught successfully in Wilkesbarre and Galeton, where important positions were held.
The Ridgway Academy was presided over in 1850 by W. H. Neiver. The convent schools of Ridgway are on Zion Hill, near the old Catholic church.
Societies.- Elk Lodge, No. 379, F. & A.M., was constituted under charter January 15, 1867, with the following- named members: G.A. Rathbun, H.A. Thomas, G.B. Earley, Byron F. Ely, D.D. Cook, Henry Souther, Hiram Carman, Isaac Horton, Jr., B.J. Jones, B.I. Robinson, J.L. Brown and W.A. Boyer. The past masters are named as follows: Henry H. Thomas, 1867- 69; C.B. Earley, 1868; W.C. Healy, 1870; G.T. Wheeler, 1871; Isaac Horton, Jr., 1872; E.P. Dickinson, 1873; E.J. Miller, 1874; W.H. Schram, 1875; H. Warner, 1876; C.V. Gillis, 1877; W.W. Mattison, 1878; P.R. Smith, 1879; A.B. Wheeler, 1880; H. Carman, 1881; J.M. Schram, 1882; W.F. Mercer, 1883; Dr. Fullerton, 1884; F.C. Ely, 1885; D.D. Cook, 1886; A.B.C. Young, 1887- 88, and George R. Dixon, 1889. The secretaries have been Hiram Carman, one year; J.P. Whitmore, three years; G.L. McCracken, two years; D.B. Day, half a year; W.C. Healy, two and one- half years; E.J. Miller, one year; G.R. Dixon, two years; W.C. Healy, two years; G.R. Dixon, two years; W.C. Healy, in 1887- 89, The officers for 1890 are W.S. Horton, W.M.; W.D. Drysdale, S.W.; Delos Dolliver, J.W.; George B. Dixon, chaplain; B.F. Ely, treasurer (over twenty- one years); W.C. Healy, secretary.
Elk Chapter, No. 230, R.A.M., was chartered September 13, 1870, with C.R. Earley, H.P.; G.T. Wheeler, K.; C.V. Gillis, S.; D.P. Cook, T., and William C. Healy, secretary. The past high priests are named as follows: Dr. C.B. Earley, 1870; Gilman T. Wheeler, 1871 and 1877; C.V. Gillis, 1872; W.S. Service, 1873; Rufus Lucore, 1874; W.H. Schram, 1875- 76; John W. Morgester, 1878; Nathaniel T. Cummings, 1879- 81; Amos B. Wheeler, 1882; Eugene J. Miller, 1883- 84; Jas. B. Wicks, 1885; Daniel D. Cook, 1886; Wilbur F. Mercer, 1887; John M. Schram, 1889. The chapter uses the Masonic hall meeting, but as an organization has no share in ownership.
There are fifty- four members. The secretaries have been as follows: W.C. Healy, in 1870; George L. McCracken, 1871- 74; Horace Warner, 1874-75; Eugene J. Miller, 1876; W.C. Healy, 1879- 89. The officers for 1890 are Frank C. Ely, H.P.; J.P. Fullerton, king; T.H. Claffey, scribe; B.F. Ely, treasurer, and W.C. Healy, secretary.
Knapp Commandery, No. 40, was organized under dispensation March 29, 1871, with the following- named officers: C.B. Earley, E.C.; G.T. Wheeler, G.; C.V. Gillis, C.G.: W.C. Healy, recorder, and unofficial member, Samuel C. Hyde. The past commanders are C.B. Earley, 1871; G.T. Wheeler, 1872- 73; C.V. Gillis, 1874; L.W. Gifford, 1875; Rufus Lucore, 1876; E.J. Miller, 1877- 78; G.T. Wheeler, 1879- 1881; Hiram Carman, 1882- 86; Amos B. Wheeler, 1887; E.J. Miller, 1888; Frank C. Ely, 1889. The commandery, like the chapter, rents the Masonic hail. There are now forty- seven members, eleven of whom were admitted last year. The past secretaries are W.C. Healy, 1871- 75; George R. Woodard, 1876- 78, and William C. Healy, 1879- 1889. There was no regular election from March, 1877, to March, 1879. The election in March, 1890, resulted in the choice of J.M. Schram, C.; W.S. Horton, G.; W.C. Healy, recorder, and B.F. Ely, treasurer. In 1868 a committee was appointed to procure a new hall, and in September of that year this body reported and was authorized to purchase lot and building of Albert Willis, on Depot street. This was carried out and a part of the Willis building forms a part of the present hall, to which additions have been made to accommodate, the other Masonic bodies of the borough.
The Elk Hall Association was incorporated August 8, 1867, for the purpose of erecting one or more buildings at Ridgway. The members were Henry Souther, Charles B. Earley, B.F. Ely, D.P. Cook, Hiram Carman, B.P. Saltsman, J.B. Whitmore, G.A. Rathbun, G.L. McCracken, P.C.
Oyster, W.C., Healy, G.F. Dickinson, B.A. Dill, W.S. Service, Henry H. Thomas, G.T. Wheeler, N.T. Cummings, A. Thompson, H.S. Belknap, Isaac Horton, Jr., B.J. Robinson, J.L. Brown, E. Kimm Scribner and Byron J. Jones. The lodge leased a room where Powell & Kime's store now is.
Ridgway Lodge, No. 969, I.O.O.F., was chartered February 28, and instituted March 11, 1880, by D.D.G.M. Robert Dick, with John Knorl, N.G.; M.P. Cohn, V.G.; Rev. C.A. Squier, secretary; N.M. Space, assistant secretary, and J. Colderbank, treasurer. Among the members admitted W.H. Schram, I.W. Beckwith, L. Vankirk, J.A. Anderson, William Johnson, A. and George Fredenburgh, Thalius Wingfield, Joel Miller, J.A. Ross, F.A. Vanoredall, C.H. Rhines, J.N. Rhinos, F. Kiester, A.F. Kuhns, Sam Hildebrand, W.A. McChesney, Patrick Connor, Lewis A. Brendel, C.L. Chamberlin and H.H. Wensel. The past grands of this lodge since September, 1880, are named as follows: Marks D. Cohn, John Boss, L.A. Brendel, William Cuthbert, T. Wingfield, C.H. Rhines, John A. Anderson, W.C. McMillan, Reuben Mohney, Gus. Rhodes, M.P. Cohn, J.A. Gear, J.E. Logan, J.J. Hinkle, L.J.A. Lesser, A. Lindholm and James Davison. The past secretaries are Reuben Gross, J.W. Smith, John A. Anderson, 1881- 83; William J. Cuthbert, 1883 to June, 1888, when L.J.A. Lesser was, elected secretary. The present grand is B.I. McChesney. The present membership is about 55. In the fire of 1882 the hall in the Rhines building was destroyed, when the lodge lost all property except the secretary's desk and records. The insurance company paid $297 of this loss. Subsequently the lodge met in the Knights of Honor hall until their present quarters in the Ridgway Bank block were leased. The personal property is valued at $800. Only one death is recorded. The officers chosen in October, 1889, were W. Johnson, N.G., and L.J.A. Lesser, secretary. In March, 1890, Henry E. Van Aken was elected presiding officer.
Albert W. Perrin Post, No. 370, G.A.R., was organized September 21, 1883, with D.F. Farrand (36th Wis. Inf.), commander; Reuben Mohney (78th P.V.I.), V.C.; DuBois Gorton (143d New York Regiment), J.V.C.; James Penfield (105th P.V.I.), Q.M.; O.T. Miner (11th Pa. R.I.), adjutant; W.L. Williams (62d P.V.I.), surgeon; M.E. Lesser (Pa. I. Co.), O. of D.; Philip Shirk (111th P.V.I.), O. of G.; J.C. Andrews (57th P.V.I.), chaplain. The soldier in whose honor the post was named, was a resident of Spring Creek township until the war. He died in Andersonville prison. The names of the other charter members of the post are Nathan Laugher (Pa. R.), A. Fulmer (10th Pa. Cav.), H.H. Wensel (148th Inf.), J.K. Moore (105th Inf.), J.A. Stroup (63d Inf.), William Tierney (62d Inf.), John Hamilton (2d W.Va. Inf.); J.H. Secor, (56th N.Y.), J. Bear (127th Pa.), S.R. Milliven (18th N.J. Inf.), Lewis Mohney (78th Pa.), A.G. Travis (6th U.S. Cav.), Raymond Eastley (78th Pa.), Jonathan Mohney (21st V.R.C.), Thomas B. Johnson (lst V.R.C.), W.P. Henry (160th Pa.) and J.C. Malone (58th Pa.). The present membership is forty- eight. H.H. Wensel was commander in 1884, C.F. Yennie in 1885, Philip Shirk in 1886, J.M. Grosh (89th Ill.) in 1887- 88, and R.A. Park in 1889. James Woodward served as adjutant in 1884, W.M. Elliott in 1885, R.A. Park in 1886- 88 and W.S. Boss (5th Pa. H.A.) in 1889. The officers for 1890 are P.A. Mead, commander; B.I. Robinson, S.V.C.; W.S. Ross, J.V.C.; T.B. Johnson, O. of G.; J.A. Myres, O. of P.; J.H. Secor, Q.M., J.N. Brown, surgeon; Philip Schirk, chaplain.
W.S. Ross Camp, No. 222, Sons of Veterans, was chartered October 13, 1888, with L.T. Park, G.H. and Charles Secor, A.S. Grosh, R.E., P.O. and S.E. Ross, P.B. Mercer. A.K. Houghtaling, A.J. Lewis, E.H. McCurdy, P.D. Walsh, F.A. Walshe, H. Lentz, J.M. Kennedy and Jerome Gordon.
The names of soldiers buried in the cemeteries of Ridgway prior to May 30, 1887, are Elisha DeGroat, Company F, 58th Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1880, in St. Leo's Cemetery; William Stephenson, Company D, 100th Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1868; Willis Taylor, Company B, 149th Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1883; N.P. Lent, Company F, 56th New York Regiment, who died in 1881; A.D. Laymon, Company H, 143d New York Regiment, who died in 1886. Interred in Pine Grove Cemetery. Thomas J. Malin, Company K, 111th Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1866; E.K. Scribner, Company G, 42d Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1869; Eli Rolle, Company I, 105th Pennsylvania Regiment, who died in 1883, and Ephriam Shall, and also White, whose military records are unknown, in Ridgway Cemetery.
Ridgway Council, R.A.M., was presided over, in 1889, by Regent C.F. Burleigh, the other officers being as follows: W.H. Baker, C.F. Yennie, D.C. Murphy, Robert Morrison, William Earl, D.C. Oyster, E.H. McCurdy, M.D. Cohen, J.E. Logan, G.F. Rohde. The trustees are J.T. Waid, W.H. Baker and Thalius Wingfield. The past regents are J.T. Waid and D.C. Murphy. C.F. Burleigh is regent and William Morrison, secretary (1890).
The P.O.S. of A. was organized in November, 1888, with the following named members: B.R. Kline, D.C. Murphy, W.G. Kline, F.H. Ely, John G. Whitmore, C.F. Hartley, B.E. Taylor, Joe Messenger, F.O. Tinthoff, E.A. Sowers, Clyde Kime, Ralph Bitter, H. Schindler, W.S. Pittman, Ed Kime, F. Baker, Harry Hyde, A.K. Houghtaling, P.R. Mercer, W.A. Locke, C.H. Taylor, E.H. McCurdy, S. Murphy. The names of past presidents are John G. Whitmore, F.H. Ely, and D.C. Murphy. W.A. Fleming is secretary. The present number of members is fifty- four, and the value of property $150. F.H. Ely is now president.
Knights of Labor Lodge, No. 9993, was chartered January 27, 1887. Ridgway Tent, No. 75, K.O.T.M., was chartered September 13, 1888, with W.C. McNutt, D. Cunningham, G.L. French, P. Schirk, J.B. Nicklin, S.T. Scott, W.L. Williams, C.F. Geary, John Fraser, Paul Johnson, Andrew Johnson and John P. Johnson, officers in the order of rank.
Laurel Green Division, No. 455, Sons of Temperance, was organized at Ridgway in January, 1854, with Caleb Pill, T.O. Hutchinson, H.A. Pattison, F.J. Dill, Harvey Henry, Henry Souther, B. Maginnis, Charles Robinson, Jerome Powell and James L. Gillis, officials in order of rank.
Ridgway Lodge, No. 256,I.O.U.T., was reorganized in May, 1877, with twenty- five charter members, and the officers named as follows: J.O.W. Bailey, Mrs. C.E. Holaday, Dr. James P. Fullerton, O.S. Davis, Docia Rhines, James E. Pugh, G.W. Gardner, Clara Brooks, Daniel Irwin, Ada Young, Ella Wade, Mrs. T.S. Hartley, Mrs. Fannie F. Olmsted, C.E. Holaday and. Dr. T.S. Hartley, and trustees: S.A. Olmsted, C.P. Osterhout, Dr. T.S. Hartley.
The Ridgway Temperance Society was organized December 16, 1881, with C.D. Osterhout, president; Horace Little, P.B. Kline, Ben Stewart, W.S. Hamblen, A.H. Head, G.F. Dickinson and George Gulnack, vice- presidents; Will Dickinson, secretary; F.C. Ely, treasurer; C.E. Holaday, Jacob McCauley, B.V. Kime, S.A. Olmsted, H., Gorton, S.H. Langley and C. Luther, directors.
Ridgway Council of Royal Templars of Temperance was organized January 18, 1884, by M.E. Peck, of Corry. The object of this organization is the promotion of temperance work, which is assisted by the beneficiary aid which members enjoy. The following- named officers were elected: C.J. Swift, D. Rishell, Rev. A.L. Goodrich, Miss H. Goodrich, Miss May Little, Miss A.E. McKee, Mr. L.C. Dingman, Mr. P.G. Wooster, Miss Alice DeHaas and Dr. C.L. Kellogg; physician, Dr. J.T. Waid; trustees, C.E. Holaday (three years), Dr. C.L. Kellogg (two years), C.J. Swift (one year).
St. Leo's Branch, No. 61, C.M.B.A., was chartered May 29, 1889, with the following- named members: Rev. M. Meagher, chaplain; John Flynn, president; Hugh McGeehin, vice- president; T.B. Gillooly, second vice- president; Albert Weis, recorder; Robert Powers, assistant; Thomas Lehan, F.S.; James S. Maginnis, treasurer; John Dwyer, marshal; P. Ryan, guard; A.M. McClain, D.R. McDonald, John Nagle, John Lahhive and Cornelius Hogan, trustees.
The W.C.T.U. was organized November 28, 1881, with the following- named members: Mrs. J.C. Houk, Mrs. H. Little, Miss Anna McKee, Mrs. S.B. Chapin, Mrs. D.C. Oyster, Mrs. W.S. Hamblen, Mrs. G.G. Messenger, Mrs. W.H. Osterhout, Mrs. C.E. Holaday, Mrs. P.S. Luther, Mrs. George Garritt, Mrs. Fred Dickinson and others. Mrs. G.G. Messenger is president. The names of secretaries in the order of holding office are Miss Anna McKee, Mrs. N.T. Arnold and Mrs. Annie E. Irwin. The present number of members is thirty.
The Elk County Bible Society was organized February 25, 1887, with J.H. Beadle, C.D. Osterhout, N.T. Arnold and Rev. T.S. Negley, officials.
The Ridgway Silver Cornet Band was organized in March, 1872, with Fred Schoening, president; T.S. Hartley, vice- president; E.J. Miller, secretary, and D.B. Day, treasurer.
The Mill Creek Rod and Gun Club was organized in August, 1888, with C.H. McCauley, E.J. Grant, O.B. Grant, Irving Schultz, G.B. Horton and Norman Schultz, members.
* Owners of lots.
** While on a visit to England, Hon. John G. Hall died suddenly in the city of Liverpool, on October 7, 1889.
*** Ridgway received $94 toward the old school- house, built in 1834, over which Barnutz presided in 1835; the Ridgway and Warren Turnpike Company received $10,000, a share in the annual distribution of $100,000 of the bank fund, together with moneys subscribed for other purposes. All this came from the $2,500,000 relief note issue.
Source: Page(s) 682-711, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed December 2006 by Nathan Zipfel for the Elk County Genealogy Project
Published 2006 by the Elk County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project
Return to the Elk County Home Page
(c) Elk County Genealogy Project