Potter County, Chapter 6, Journalism - Education

Created: Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email






THE first newspaper published in the county was the Democratic Republican, issued at Coudersport in 1839. The name of this paper was changed to the Potter Pennant, and this name was merged into the Potter Pioneer. F.B. Hamlin was the editor of the Pennant, and he with Timothy Ives, Jr., and W. Caldwell were the owners. In 1844 C. B. Cotter, a lawyer, took charge of the Pioneer as editor. On his retirement, in May, 1850, B.C. Cannon and L.F. Maynard became editors, continuing until the Potter County Union was established.

The Potter County Union was published in 1851 by Judge Charles Lyman, who died in Iowa, in March, 1888. Mr. Haskell believes that the Union was the political successor of the Pioneer, and that a man named James was the editor, and that Judge Orvis, of Centre county, was a compositor in the office. Miles White, who was sheriff from 1848 to 1850, and has been justice of the peace from 1852 to the present time, was the owner until 1855, when the Union ceased publication.

The Potter Journal, subsequently named the Potter County Journal, should take precedence of the Union, had not the latter been the successor of the Pioneer. The Journal was established in 1848 with William McDougall editor. He held entire control until 1853, when Edwin Haskell, John S. Mann and the original editor claimed ownership. At this time the title was changed to the People's Journal, with Edwin Haskell editor. In 1855 this name was in existence, and it is believed continued so until about the beginning of the war for the Union. In the spring of 1861 a suspension of three weeks duration marks its history, and in June, 1861, it was revived by M.W. McAlarney, who purchased the office from T.S. Chase, and who, it is said, gave it its old name-  the Potter Journal. In 1868 W.W. Thompson and Vesta Dyke were the publishers, but in 1870 J.S. Mann was sole owner. Early in 1883. D.W. Butterworth took charge, and, later that year, was joined by Dr. Mattison, who edited this paper until the sale of the office to Edwin Haskell, January 1, 1884. Mr. Haskell is now editor and publisher of the Potter County Journal.

The Highland Patriot was established at Coudersport in 1854 by C.B. Cotter and Dwight James. Within a short time the Patriot gave place to the Northern Democrat, which, after a little while, went the way of many hopeful journals.

The Item was issued at Coudersport in 1874 by S.F. Hamilton, but it was merged into or consolidated with the Journal within a few months.

The Potter Enterprise dates back to 1875. On April 16, 1875, a company was organized for the purpose of publishing the Enterprise at the county seat, with S.P. Reynolds, Isaac Benson, C. Hollenbeck, W.W. Thompson, William Dent, F.W. Knox, Isaac Benson and L.N. Whiting, directors. There were twenty- four stockholders, residents of the county, holding 151 ten- dollar shares. In 1880 W.W. Thompson became sole owner of the stock, and continued editor until December, 1886, when the office was sold to D.W. Butterworth & Co. In 1887 it was understood that James Benson was owner, while later Scott Winfield was credited with the ownership. On Mr. Butterworth's return from Austin, early in 1890, he resumed editorial charge of the Enterprise.

The Workman, established in 1887, with Thomas Harrington, editor, ceased publication at Coudersport, in June, 1889, when the office was removed to Elk county, where A.J. Quimby publishes the Clarion Breeze.

The Ulysses Sentinel was issued at Lewisville by A.E. Owen, August 25, 1881, who sold to Seth Lewis in 1882. The latter carried on this journal until January, 1888, when the office became the property of A.J. Evans and C.W. Bailey, editor and publisher, respectively. In September, 1888, Mr. Evans became Bole owner. The circulation is about 800. The present editor was born in Steuben county, N.Y., and moved with his parents to Potter county in 1874, where he was educated and taught school for eleven years. He graduated from the State normal school at Mansfield in 1884, when he took charge of the Ulysses schools.

In 1882 Rev. Mr. Kelly, of the Methodist Church of Lewisville, and a Miss Monroe established a church journal there, which continued publication for a short time. The Valley Mail was established at Harrisonville about five years ago by George F. Wood. Business was carried on in the Doud Building for less than a year. The name was changed to The Banner, and shortly after the journalistic field was abandoned. The Palladium, a Greenback journal, was issued at Shinglehouse, with Mrs. George Pearsall, publisher. Later the name was changed to The Signal, and subsequently to the Sharon Leader. In 1889 The Leader and the The Ceres Courant consolidated under the name Oswayo Valley Mail, with Mr. Herrick in charge. This paper is published at Ceres. The Austin Autograph was established in September, 1887, by the father of the McKean county press, A.J. Hughes. In April, 1889, D.W. Butterworth, of the Enterprise, purchased this office, and on his return to Coudersport, Mr. H.D. Caskey, the present editor, took charge.



Concerning the growth of education in Potter county we are indebted for a great deal of the information that follows to J.W. Allen, late superintendent of schools for Potter county, to whom much of the prosperity of the schools in Potter from 1866 to nearly 1880 was due. During his terms of office the County Teachers' Institute was brought into being, and the superintendent threw himself, heart and soul, into the cause of education.

"In the winter of 1816 and 1817 Harley Knickerbocker taught by subscription, on Ayers' Hill, the first school in this county. About a dozen scholars attended, and it continued three months. Not long after this, Israel Merrick taught a similar school about half a mile east of Lymansville, and afterward one in Coudersport, near the site now occupied by the jail. As the inhabitants increased, schools were temporarily established in other parts of the county. With scarcely an exception these schools were taught by schoolmasters. The branches taught were reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic. Corporal punishment with the rod was ‘the rule,' which had few exceptions.

"In the winter of 1842-  43, F.A. Allen taught, on Crandall Hill, his first school. When he was examined he was only required to make a pen from a goose quill, to write with it a copy, and sign his name. He afterward taught at Lymansville and Coudersport.

"In 1862 twenty- six male and one hundred and forty- five female teachers were employed. In 1866 there were thirteen males and one hundred and sixty females; in 1876, forty- six males and one hundred and fifty- eight females taught. In 1862 there were one hundred and nine schools; in 1866, one hundred and thirteen, and in 1876, one hundred and twenty- one.

"In 1807 John Keating, an extensive land owner in this part of the State, offered to give to the trustees of the county district of Potter one square in the town of Coudersport, and one hundred acres adjoining the plat of said town for use of academy or public school, and also $500 for the purpose of erecting a suitable building on said plat for use of such school."

During the session of 1836-  37, the legislature incorporated the "Coudersport Academy, for the education of youth in the English and other languages, and useful arts, science and literature," with six trustees empowered to erect necessary buildings for this school and to manage the affairs thereof. The next year the legislature authorized the State treasurer to pay to the treasurer of the trustees of this academy $2, 000, to be used in erecting suitable buildings, and for purchasing, at their discretion, the necessary library and apparatus for the use of this school. In the same act our county commissioners were authorized to convey to the trustees of this academy all the lands which had been conveyed to them and then held by them, for any public school in the county, and also any balance of funds in their hands, except funds received from the State treasurer for the use of common schools. In 1846-  47 the legislature authorized the county commissioners to pay the trustees of this academy $200 annually for five years, beginning June 1, 1847, provided twenty students had attended each quarters. In 1851 they were authorized to pay $300 annually for five years with the same provisions. This was repeated in 1857. This school from the first was a strong educational agency of the county.

"In 1881, by act of the legislature, the academy building and all of the property connected therewith was conveyed to the school district of Coudersport, to be used for the purpose of a graded school. The same act authorized the school board to establish, in connection therewith a high school, and students entering were required to pay a tuition fee. Thus this school offered academic advantages. In September, 1869, the graded school opened with B.B. Slade, as principal. The average number of pupils was one hundred and fifty."

The principals of the Coudersport Academy and graded school from its opening to the present year, are named in order as follows, beginning with the first, in 1840: Profs. Maxson, Depew, I.B. Pratt, Smith, W.B. Slaughter, H.J. Olmsted, F.W. Knox, J.B. Wentworth, Bloomingdale, Joel Hendricks, Elliot, J.W. Allen, Mrs. Culver, Miss Stockwell, B.B. Slade, Weaver, McFerran, J.B. Groves, McDowell, W.T. Palmer and Prof. John C. Silsley, the present principal (elected in April, 1889). The old academy building was used for school purposes until the spring of 1887, when it was sold by the school board to the highest bidder, Chauncy Stacy, of Coudersport, to whom the building was knocked off at $35, the material he wished to use in building a private house upon his lot west of the academy site. He was required to pull down and convey away the building by a given time. This was done, and upon the ground where stood the old building, so well known to all of the inhabitants of Potter county, has just been completed an elegant brick structure at the cost of about $11,000. It is furnished with a heater, which is in the basement of the building, and cost $1,300; it ventilates the entire building, summer and winter. It is, in fact, a model school edifice, standing upon an elevated plateau, which overlooks the valley of the Allegheny and the borough of Coudersport.

"In 1859 a building for an academic school was erected in Lewisville, by subscription. Burton Lewis, O.A. Lewis, A.B. Bennett, Hon. D.C. Larrabee, Benoni Pearce and Seth Lewis were among the chief contributors. Prof. J.A. Cooper was the first principal, who opened the school in September, 1859. He was followed by Profs. Seth Lewis, E.B. Campbell, F.M. Johnson, J.L. Davies, B.B. Slade, H.H. Kies, D.H. Cobb and Evans. These may not be in order or all of the principals."

"In 1873, by act of the legislature, in conjunction with the board of school directors of that borough, a graded school, similar to the one at Coudersport, was established. B.B. Slade was the first principal."

A little incident regarding the erection of the Lewisville Academy may be interesting. The building is octagonal in form, the posts of it being twenty- four feet long. Either the last of May or the first of June, 1859, just after the frame was raised, a heavy wind blew it down. There were but two persons upon the frame at the time, Mr. Swift, who was somewhat jarred by the fall, and Hon. D.C. Larrabee, who escaped by sliding down a post, receiving no injury save from a multitude of fine hemlock slivers in his arms. The damage done to the frame amounted to $200.

"Under the law of 1854, Dr. Gage was first commissioned as county superintendent. Rev. J.B. Pratt resigned the following: year. Rev. Joel Hendricks was appointed to fill out the unexpired term, closing June 1, 1857. He was elected to succeed himself. After him followed Seth Lewis, R.T. Claflin, J.W. Allen, Amos F. Hollenbeck, Miss Anna Buckbee, H.H. Kies (1887), the present superintendent.

"Under Superintendent Joel Hendricks the first Potter county teachers' association was held at Coudersport, in the fall of 1857.

"The chief instructors were C.W. Sanders, W.W. Woodruff, H.S. Jones, F.A. Allen, Rev. N.L. Reynolds, J.A. Cooper, C.H. Verrill, A.N. Raub, Flora T. Parsons, Anna Randall Deihl, Emma Garfield Martin and Emma S. Stilwell. Until December 17, 1835, all of the money used for the support of the schools in this county came from private individuals, either by subscription, donation or taxation At that date, in accordance with the school law of 1834, the State appropriated $72.81 for our schools. The appropriation for 1837 was $360.40. The receipts from taxation of property in the county that year was $8,486.20, and the total expenditures for school purposes, $10,334.24. The average cost per month for each scholar was 82 cents. The expenses of the first institute, held in September, 1867, and paid by the county, and since then (to 1877), from $100 to $200, have been paid by the county. The average annual salary paid by the State to county superintendent for the fifteen years ending 1877, was $820; since raised to $1,000.

The report on the schools of Potter county for the year ending June 4, 1888, presents the following statistics: 145 school- houses, or 161 rooms; 8 graded schools, two districts, which supply text books free; 61 male and 203 female teachers; 2,222 male and 2,138 female pupils, of whom 3,034 attend school; tax for school purposes, $32,237.09; State moneys, $4,085.08, total revenue, $43,675.44; paid teachers, $21,754.47; total expenditure, $36,361.01.

During the two last years remarkable progress in efficiency and corresponding increase in school population and expenditure have been reported, and several buildings erected.

Source: Page(s) 1021-1024 History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed March 2006 by Mary Bryant, Published 2006 by PA-Roots