Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister    


City of Corry

On almost the last page of Miss Sanford's history of Erie County, published in 1862, appears the following modest paragraph: "At Junction, in Concord Township, where the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad intersects the Philadelphia & Erie, quite a cluster of building has arisen in the woods within the last three months." Few persons at that date could have been made to believe that the humble backwoods settlement thus described would, in less than ten years, become a bustling city of nearly 7,000 inhabitants, the name of which would be as familiar to a large part of the business world as hundreds of places that had been in existence since the beginning of the century. Looking down upon Corry from the high hills which overshadow it, three valleys are seen extending in as many separate directions, the one to the west being that of the South Branch of French creek, the one to the north that of Hare Creek, and the one to the east, which is the widest and most important, that of the Brokenstraw. The central portion of Corry is built on the summit land between these streams, but the residence and manufacturing sections have spread out east, north and west, until they reach into each of the valleys. The South Branch of French Creek almost touches the southwestern edge of the city, while the Brokenstraw is two or three miles beyond its eastern boundary. Bear Creek -- so named from the number of those animals that gathered in the swamp on the northwestern verge of the city -- flows through it from west to east, rising in Wayne Township, and emptying in Hare Creek. The latter stream which cuts across the northeastern corner of the city, was named from Michael Hare, who was one of the pioneers of Wayne Township, and died at Waterford, at the most advanced age attained by any citizen of the county. It rises in French Creek Township, Chautauqua County, N. Y., crosses Wayne Township, and joins the Brokenstraw in Columbus Township, Warren County, about three miles east of the city. Hare Creek was once navigable for rafts as far up as Corry.A smaller stream than any of the above rises on the high land, in the south part of the city, and, flowing through the depot grounds, enters Hare Creek on or near the northeastern boundary.

How The City Started
Corry owes its origin and growth to the circumstance of its being adopted as the point of junction for the Philadelphia & Erie, the Atlantic & Great Western, the Oil Creek and the Cross Cut Railroads. The P. & E. road (then Sunbury & Erie) was opened from Erie to this point in 1858, and to Warren in 1859. In June, 1861, the A. & G. W. (now the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio) was completed from Jamestown to the junction, and the next year it was continued through to Ohio. The Oil Creek road, with a broad gauge track to correspond with the A. & G. W., reached Corry from Titusville in 1862, and the Cross-Cut road was built to Brocton in 1867. These two roads have since been consolidated under the name of the Buffalo, Pittsburgh & Western. For awhile, in 1861, the little huddle of shanties that sprung up at the intersection of the P. & E. and A. & g. W. roads was known as "Atlantic & Erie Junction." In October of that year, a piece of land was purchased by the A. & G. W. Railroad company, from Hiram Corry or Cory, who owned the tract at the junction, and, in consideration of his liberal dealing, Mr. Hill, General Superintendent of the road, changed the name of the station to Corry.

The first building was a small, wedge-shaped ticket office and eating house, directly in the angle between the P. & E. and A. & G. W. Railroads, on the east side. Beginning at this point, the settlement spread out during 1861 along Main street, and to some extent along Cross street. There was little or no improved land in the immediate vicinity, and a good part of the tract since covered by the city was a swamp, covered with immense pine and hemlock trees. A less promising location for a town than Corry was at that time, could not be conceived by the most lively imagination.

Rapid Growth

Although the settlement grew with more than average rapidity in 1861, its era of amazing energy did not fairly commence till 1862. Samuel Downer, a wealthy Boston oil refiner, had conceived the shrewd notion that by erecting a refinery at some point, at or adjacent to the oil fields, and convenient for shipping, he would possess an immense advantage over his rivals, who had to carry the crude oil over hundreds of miles of railroad. With this end in view, W. H. L. Smith was sent from Boston in the summer of 1861, to prospect for a favorable site. His choice fell upon the junction, and he promptly purchased fifty acres from Mr. Corry, for what would now seem a "mere song." This tract he laid out in town lots, and it was cleared under the superintendence of Eugene Wright, of Boston. By fall, a frame building had been put up, as the office of the Downer Oil Company, a post office had been established, with C. S. Harris as first Postmaster, and a small refinery, known as the "Frenchman's," had been put in operation, in the rear of the present Downer works. By this time the Oil Creek road was under contract, and it had dawned upon the minds of a good many people that Corry was destined to become a place of more than ordinary importance. The summer of 1862 witnessed the opening of the Oil Creek road, the erection of the Downer & Kent Oil Works, several other factories, the Boston Hotel and Gilson House, and a large number of store buildings and residences. People from every section flocked in by the thousands, many of them men of uncommon dash and fertility of resources. Money was plenty and real estate sold readily. The founders of the town realized a fortune from the sale of lots, and several parties who owned land adjoining the plot were also made wealthy. From that period on to the panic of 1878, Corry continued to grow at a rate that encouraged its citizens to think that it would some day be a formidable competitor with Erie for the leading position in the Northwest.

The town as laid out by Mr. Smith did not cover more than a third of its present dimensions. Since then additions have been made which render the city lines about two and a half miles in width from east to west, and nearly three miles in length from north to south. The original owners of the land, besides Mr. Corry, were Amos Heath, H. D. Francis, Mr. Crandall, Anson Johnson, Hollis King, Lorenzo Dow and Mr. Dunham. In laying out the place, a portion was taken from both Wayne and Concord Townships, the straight portion of Smith street marking the old boundary between them. Those who are curious to know something of the history of these townships are referred to the sketches elsewhere.

Borough and City

Corry was organized as a borough in 1863, and the first election was held on the 18th of August, of that year, a few less than 100 votes being cast. The first borough officers were the following: Burgess, S. A. Bennett; Treasurer, H. N. Ransom; Clerk, S. A. Beavis; High Constable, E. W. R. Baker; Council, Eugene Wright, H. N. Ransom, F. H. Parkman, James Lewis and O. B. Vincent. A city charter was obtained in 1866, which took off an additional area from Concord Township and a strip about a mile wide by two and a quarter in length from Wayne Township, making the Warren County line the eastern boundary of the corporation. Two wards were created by the charter, the dividing line being the track of the A. & G. W. Railroad. The first city election was held in the spring of 1866. The Mayors of the city with terms of service have been as follows: W. H. L. Smith 1866-67; S. A. Bennett, 1867-68; R. H. Palmer, 1868-69; F. S. Barney, 1869-70; M. Crosby, 1870-72; F. A. Phillips, 1872-73; A. F. Kent, 1878-74; B. Ellsworth, 1874-75; T. A. Allen, 1875-79; F. Stanford, 1879-81; J. D. Bentley, 1881-82; T. A. Allen, 1882-83; Isaac Colegrove, 1883-84.

The census of 1870 and 1880 showed the population to be as follows:

1870

 

1880

First Ward

3,559

 
2,758

Second Ward

3,250

 

2,519

------------

------------

Totals

6,809

 

5,277

 

The following were the valuations of the two wards in 1883:

First Ward

 

Second Ward

Real estate

$500,740

 

$538,375

Personal estate

5,841

 

11,115

Trades and occupations

36,070

 

33,010

Money at interest

16,200

 

34,642

----------------- ------------------

$558,851

 

$617,142

------------- ------------------

Total

 

$1,175,993


The City in General

Those who only know Corry by what they see at the depot or by passing through in the cars have no proper conception of the place. Having sprung up in the woods, as if by magic, it has always labored under some disadvantages in appearance, which are not incident to old and regularly developed communities. It is only recently that the main streets were cleared from stumps, and the outside thoroughfares still contain frequent remnants of the forest. Yet it is wonderful how much has been done in the short space of twenty years to build up a snug and progressive city. Many tasty private residences have been erected, and some of the public buildings would be a credit to larger cities. The stores are generally large, well stocked and apparently liberally patronized. A part of three acres has been laid out and planted with trees, which gives promise of being a real ornament. It is true that the sidewalks are still principally of plank and that the streets remain unpaved, but improvement in these regards will come in due season.

As a railroad center and shipping point, Corry has few equals and no superiors among our inland cities. With three great railroads passing through, giving direct connection with the oil regions, the anthracite and bituminous coal fields and the markets east, west, north and south, the city possesses rare advantages as a manufacturing point, and it is not surprising that enterprising men have availed themselves of the fact to a considerable extent. Freight trains go through every few minutes, and twenty-one passenger trains leave daily in the winter and twenty-five in the summer. As long as the railroad system exists, Corry must be an important distributing point and a leading center of business. Property is low compared with other places that are advantageously situated, and choice sites are still to be had on reasonable terms. It is stated in the report of the Board of Trade for 1881 that every manufactory started in Corry has been "eminently successful."

Oil Works
As mentioned before, it was to the establishment of the Downer Oil Works that the city owes its origin. The Downer Oil Works, located between Washington street and the railroads, were erected in 1852. The owners are the Downer Kerosene Oil Company of Boston, the members of the company having remained unchanged since the works were built. W. H. L. Smith was sent out from Boston as manager, which position he held until 1868. C. A. Murdock succeeded, and, in 1872, T. A. Allen, the present manager, was appointed to the position. Until about 1872, all grades of illuminating and lubricating oils were refined from the crude petroleum, but of later years the business has been directed to the production of "heavy ends," which are then shipped to the Boston refinery. The Corry works consist of a number of substantial brick buildings, the main one being 27x313 feet, two stories high, containing offices, ships, loading tanks, etc. The still house is 52x200 feet, the pump room, 26x37 feet, the boiler room, 27x76, and other buildings are of various dimensions. Fifteen tanks have a combined capacity of 441,400 gallons, and the distilling capacity is about 60,000 barrels of heavy oil annually. About twenty-five men are employed.

One of the most successful and enterprising business firms of Western Pennsylvania is Clark & Warren, of Corry, manufacturers of all the finer products of petroleum. The members of the firm are R. C. Clark and M. H. Warren. They commenced business as producers and refiners of oil at Grafton, Ohio, in 1875. Two years later, they removed to this State, and became one of the pioneer firms in producing oil in the Bradford field, erecting works at Sawyer City, three miles from Bradford. Not content with the old processes of refining, these energetic men instituted a series of experiments on distillation and refining with the aim of obtaining better results than the old methods afforded. Success crowned their efforts, and, in 1881, they commenced the erection of works at Corry in accordance with their new and improved plans of distillation. The complete success of their operations is attested by the continued enlargement of the capacity of the works. At present the firm use 500 barrels of crude petroleum daily, and arrangements are now being made to increase the capacity to 1,000 barrels per day. The products of the works include all the finer grades of lubricating oils, coal test filtered cylinder oils, filtered cylinder stocks, illuminating oils of 120 degrees, 150 degrees and 300 degrees fire test, fine neutral oils and the various grades of petroleum, formerly known as vasaline, cosmoline, etc. The products of the works are sold through the Pennsylvania Oil Company (limited), of which Mr. Warren is President, and Mr. Clark, Vice President. The products have almost a world-wide reputation, and the sales are largely European. The Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter, in a recent issue editorially, compliments the works of Messrs. Clark & Warren as one of the best appointed oil refineries in the United States, and speaks at length of their painstaking efforts and in proved methods to manufacture superior oils. The firm holds patents upon the construction of stills, the heating of stills, the construction of filter, the heating of filters and for renewing bone black, all their own inventions. The extensive works are located in the western part of the city at the junction of the N. Y., P. & O., P. & E. and B., N. Y. & P. Railroads, where employment is given to about sixty men.

Other Leading Industries
The Corry Wooden Ware Manufactory owes its origin to Wilder & Howe, who in 1865-66, built a pail factory on East Main street. It burned down in 1867, and was rebuilt on the present site, the corner of Washington and East Wayne streets, in 1868. In 1869, the Corry Manufacturing and Lumber Company was organized and operated the works until succeeded by D. H. Wilder. A. M. Kent & Co., the present owners, assumed control in 1878. Lard and butter packages, tubs and pails are manufactured, at the rate of about 2,500 pieces per day. The lumber, mostly pine, is obtained from Warren County, and about 3,000,000 feet are annually consumed. The wares are shipped to all parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, to West Virginia, Maryland and other States. Employment is given to 100 hands.

Harmon, Gibbs & Co., manufacturers of steam engines, erected their shops on the west side of Center street, immediately north of the railroad in 1877. The building is 50x105 feet and three stories high. Steam engines and boilers of from 10 to 150 horse-power are manufactured, besides a general line of machine and foundry work. Their Ajax oil engine is a specialty, and the demand for it equal to the capacity to supply. Employment is given to twenty-five skilled machinists. The firm is composed of C. G. Harmon, L. L. Bliss, C. H. Bagley and the estate of George H. Gibbs.

The Corry City Iron Works were established at the northwest corner of Main and Concord streets in 1880, by P. I. Lynch. Soon after, he admitted G. D. Gilbert into partnership, and the proprietors were successively Lynch & Gilbert, P. I. Lynch and the Corry City Iron Company, of which George N. Barnes is President, P. I. Lynch, Treasurer and manager and C. B. Ely, Secretary. The engine shop is 45x65 feet, two stories high. Boilers only were manufactured until June, 1882, since which date in addition portable and stationary engines for agricultural purposes have also been produced. When running at full force, about seventy-five men are employed.

The Corry Novelty Works, located on East Pleasant street, were erected in 1870 by King, Shafer & Co. The main shop is a two-story brick building, 32x62. Mr. Shafer retired in 1873, and the firm has since been H. King & Sons, succeeded by H. King & Son, present proprietors. For several years, a general machine and repair business was continued, then the manufacture of King's patent portable engine was commenced, and has ever since been continued with success.

An important manufacture, recently started at Corry, is that of the caligraph, by the American Writing Machine Company, of which T. A. Allen President; C. G. Harmon, Treasurer; G. W. N. Yost, Secretary, and A. A. Aspinwall, Manager. Mr. Yost, having perfected the Remington Type Writer, invented the caligraph. Its manufacture was commenced in New York, but in the spring of 1883 the works were removed to Corry. The instrument is meeting with a wide and extensive sale, and an increase in the capacity of the shops has already been made; about 150 employees are usually at work and sixty-five caligraphs are made per week.

George N. Barnes, in June, 1883, started the Corry Lounge Factory in the basement and first floor of the Opera House building, where he gives employment to from fifteen to eighteen workmen and manufactures about one hundred lounges of various patterns per week.

In the same building Murray M. Raymond in January, 1883, commenced the manufacture of the baby jumper and swing, of which he is the inventor. This novel invention is meeting with wide and favorable reception, and the business of Mr. Murray is increasing. At present 150 jumpers are manufactured weekly.

One of the largest industrial establishments of Corry was the Gibbs Sterrett Manufacturing Company recently suspended. The manufactures were the Climax mowers and reapers, steam engines and boilers, mill machinery etc. The buildings are large brick structures, and at one time about two hundred men were employed. (These works have since resumed).

The large steam tannery of Emanuel Weisner, on East Wayne street, was erected by C. A. Auer in 1862, and the present owner purchased it in 1871, and has since greatly enlarged the buildings and capacity of the tannery. About thirty men are employed, and 30,000 hides are annually tanned. Mr. Auer in 1872 erected another tannery on Turnpike street, and still operates it.

Other manufactories of the city include a bedstead factory, three planing mills, four carriage shops, one cigar box factory, two cooper shops, one brick yard, one broom factory, one mitten factory, one sucker-rod factory, one oil cup factory, three flouring mills, one sausage factory, two breweries, three bottling works, three patent medicine manufactories, nine cigar factories, one saw and shingle factory, one saw mill, one candy factory, one brush factory, one brush block factory, one handle factory, one cider and vinegar factory, one feed mill, one wood pump factory, one bedspring factory, one drain tile works, one foundry, one meat refrigerator factory, one fruit cooler factory, and one nickel plating works.

General Business Features
A special advantage that Corry possesses is the convenience for procuring coal, lumber and stone. Bituminous coal reaches the city at a low charge by way of the B., T. & W. and the N. Y., P. & O. roads from Mercer and Butler counties, and the latter road and the P. & E. give it the benefit of competition in securing anthracite from the Eastern Pennsylvania fields. Large bodies of timber still stand near the city, and a good quality of building stone in inexhaustible quantity is found a few miles down the Brokenstraw. There is also plenty of good clay for making brick, and sand for building purposes is found in ample quantities in the vicinity.

The mercantile houses of the city embrace the following different lines of business: Wholesale -- Groceries, 2; hardware, 2, confectioneries, 1; tobacco and cigars, 9; oysters and fruits, 3; illuminating oil, 1; pork packing, 1; drugs, 1; carriages, 2. Retail -- Groceries, 19; dry goods, 12; clothing, 5; millinery, 6; drugs, 7; meat markets, 7; variety stores, 4; leather, 1; fruits and confectionery, 3; boots and shoes, 7; furniture, 2; merchant tailors, 3; bakery and confectionery, 4; news depots, 3; harness, 3; jewelry, 2; hardware, 5; stoves and tinware, 2; hats, 1; feed stores, 2.

The city has intimate business relations with a wide scope of country, embracing, besides Wayne and Concord Townships in our county, several town slips each in Warren, Crawford and Chautauqua counties. The farming population tributary to Corry is really more extensive than that which helps to sustain Erie. The post office at Corry distributes mail matter over a territory extending perhaps ten miles in every direction, the sale of stamps and stamped envelopes alone amounting during the year 1880 to some $10,000. The financial institutions of the city are the first National Bank and the Corry National Bank, both established in 1864, with a capital in each case of $100,000. A good index to the business of the city is shown in its hotels, which number fourteen, of which four are equal to the average in places of the size.

City Government
The city is governed by a Mayor, and Council of three members for each ward. The latter body is presided over by the Mayor, who also appoints the Committees. The expense for the year 1881 was a little over $17,000. The city tax was thirteen and a half mills on the dollar. The Fire Department consists of a Chief Engineer and two assistants, two engineers and fireman for the two Silsby steamers, three hose companies and a hook and ladder company. The value of the Department property is estimated at $11,840, and the annual expense is between $2,000 and $3,000. For a place that is largely built of wood, there has been a remarkable freedom from fires. The school system is under the control of a Board of Directors, consisting of three members for each ward. The schools are graded, and a superior high school is maintained, which includes in its course a thorough training in book-keeping. Including the Superintendent, there are nineteen teachers. The school term is eight months. The schoolhouses are five in number, three of them being capacious and handsome brick buildings, and two frame buildings.

School Buildings
Directly after Corry was incorporated as a borough, an election was held August 18, 1863, for a School Board, which resulted in the election of the following Directors: For three years, G. E. coney and R. Morgan; for two years, W. H. Doan and J. L. Hatch; for one year, L. J. Tibbals and L. Rockwood. A schoolhouse which had been erected on Concord street, the year previous by the School Board of Concord Township was transferred to the borough, and the first schools under the dispensation of the Borough Board were taught in the winter of 1863 by J. L. Hatch and Miss Mary Doud. Commencing in 1864, the Catholic schools were under the control of the Board for several years. In 1865, the rapidly increasing population necessitated more accommodations. An acre of ground was purchased at the corner of Washington and Essex streets for $1,350, and the schoolhouse thereon was designated the Union Schoolhouse, completed by Henry Drake in March, 1866. Vincent Moses, a theological student from Clymer, N. Y., was its first Principal. In 1865, however, the Board leased a building on East Main street, near the Philadelphia & Erie crossing, where school was held until 1870. When Corry became a city in 1866, the schools were yet ungraded, so rapid had been the increase. In that year the old red schoolhouse on the Columbus pike became city property; it was re-named Wayne School, No. 4, and used until the completion of the Hatch School. In 1869, a course of instruction, compiled by J. J. Manley, then President of the School Board, was adopted, and the schools were regularly graded and classified. The same year a school building was leased on Pleasant street. This school was suddenly burnt down in March, 1869; but a room was engaged on the corner of Main street and Second avenue and the school re-commenced in a few days. It was continued until the completion of the Fairview Schoolhouse. In 1869, a tax was levied to erect a new brick schoolhouse on the corner of Second avenue and Fairview street, the lot having been purchased two years previous. The contract was let to Henry Drake for $14,580. The building was dedicated April 2, 1870. A new frame building was erected in 1869 on Concord street for the accommodation of primary pupils, and lots were purchased between Congress and Bond streets, east of Wright, for the erection of a large brick edifice. The necessary expenditure exceeding the amount that could be levied by tax, a special act of Legislature was obtained in 1870 authorizing an additional tax of seven mills. The contract was awarded to S. L. Leach for $21,500. The building was completed in 1871, and, including heating, seating and furnishing, cost $30,000. It was named in honor of J. L. Hatch, who had been a member of the board since its first organization. The Union Schoolhouse on Washington street was totally destroyed by fire December 12, 1871, having an insurance of $6,000. A temporary structure of three apartments was forthwith constructed, and the schools continued in this building until it was replaced in 1882 by a neat brick edifice of four rooms, at a cost of $6,000.

The school property at present consists of three handsome brick structures, known as the Hatch, Fairview and Washington Street Schools, and two small frame buildings on Concord street. At the Concord Schools are three teachers; at the Washington, three; at the Fairview, four; and at the Hatch, including Superintendent, Principal and Assistant of high school, nine. The schools are divided into primary, secondary intermediate, junior and grammar grades of two years each, and high school of three years. The high school permits the selection from three courses -- Latin and English, German and English, and commercial. Ten classes, aggregating 148 members, have completed the course. Frederick Hooker was elected Principal of the schools in 1869; resigning the same year, he was succeeded by James McNaughton, gave up the charge of the schools in May, 1871, and Miss G. M. Kent was appointed to act as Principal of the High School. A. J. Crandall was elected Principal in 1871. The following year, A. B. Crandall, a member of the Board, acted as District Superintendent. In 1878, V. G. Curtis was elected Principal and Superintendent, remaining ten years. His successor, A. D. Colgrove, is now serving his first year.

Newspapers
Corry sustains three newspapers, the weekly Telegraph and the daily and weekly Herald. The Telegraph was established in 1865 by Joseph A. Pain, who still owns and edits it. The earliest newspaper venture in the place was by Stebbins & Larkins, who put forth No. 1 of the Corry City News on the 22d of October, 1863. Within less than two years, this journal changed managers four times and names twice, finally appearing as the Telegraph, when it fell into the hands of Mr. Pain. The latter gentleman published a daily edition of the Telegraph for about a year after getting control of the establishment, again he battled courageously for nine years, but unsuccessfully, in trying to keep up the Daily Blade. The Herald is to a certain extent the successor of the Union Mills Star, first issued in 1866, removed to Corry in November, 1867, and the name changed to the Republican. The editors and owners have been Horace G. Pratt, Dan Scott, W. B. Gallegher, Henry C. Eddy, Pratt & Gail, S. Colegrove, W. A. Moore, and others. The weekly, which received its present name in 1877, was purchased by F. S. Heath December 1, 1880. The daily edition was started February 5, 1883. Among journals that have died out, after a lingering illness, as the obituary writers say, were the daily and weekly Review, Commercial Advertiser, Democratic Press, Democrat, Daily Itemizer, Daily Whetstone, Temperance Vindicator, Daily Republican, and Enterprise.

Secret Societies

Probably no city of the same size in the United States equals Corry in the number of its secret societies. Almost every secret organization in the Union is represented, as will be seen by the following list:

Jonathan Lodge, No. 685, I. O. O. F., was instituted January 19, 1870, with the following nine charter members: H. L.Wyman, A. P. Friesman, J. W. Chipman, S. H. Johnson, Thomas Blackburn, J. H. Armstrong, T. P. Ober, A. O. Watson and E. W. Buss. The present membership is 111. Meetings are held each Wednesday evening.

Corry Encampment, No. 241, I. O. O. F., was instituted July 26, 1873. The charter members were J. E. Stubbs, W. M. Arnold, H. O. Mackres, William Mulkie, H. D. Clemons, H. O. Watson, D. W. Nutting and Charles Stricker. Many others were initiated the evening of institution. The present membership is about forty. The second and fourth Monday evenings of each month are the appointed times for meeting.

Corry Lodge, No. 365, F. & A. M., was chartered March 12, 1866. The membership is now 100, and meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month.

Columbus Chapter, No. 200, R. A. M., was instituted at Columbus, Warren County, May 16, 1866, and removed to Corry January 13, 1870. It has fifty-five members, and meets Thursday evening, on or before the full moon.

Clarence Commandery, No. 51, K. T., was instituted January 22, 1874, with sixteen charter members. Forty-four is the present membership, and the second Tuesday of each month the regular date of meeting.

Corry Union, No. 2, Equitable Aid Union, was organized May 2, 1879, with about eighty members, now reduced to seventy-five. Meetings are held on the first and third Monday evenings of each month.

J. J. Andrews Post, No. 70, G. A. R., was instituted in June, 1867, with about twenty-five members. It now numbers 140, and meets every Friday evening.

Corry Grange, No. 55, P. of H., was organized December 23, 1873. It meets the first and third Saturdays of each month, and now has a membership of about 140.

Corry City Lodge, No. 470, K. of P., was instituted October 16, 1880, with forty charter members. The active membership is now ninety, and meetings are held every Tuesday evening.

Lincoln Council, No. 75, Royal Arcanum, was instituted April 10, 1878, with fourteen members. Sixty-one is the present membership, and the first and third Wednesdays of each month the regular evenings for meetings.

Teutonia Lodge, No. 148, D. O. H., was organized August 17, 1867, with twenty members, now reduced to nineteen. Meetings are held each alternate Thursday.

St. Joseph's Branch, No. 4, c. M. B. A., was organized April 24, 1878, with sixteen members. There are now about sixty members, and meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

Ahaveth Sholem Lodge, No. 160, B'nai Brith, was organized May 30, 1871, and now has a membership of twenty-nine. Meetings are held each alternate Sunday.

Bliss Council, No. 3, R. T. of T., was instituted in April, 1879, and now has about 200 members. Meetings are held every Wednesday evening.

Hope Council, No. 55, R. T. of T., was instituted march 15, 1880, with about twenty-two members, now increased to fifty. Tuesday evening is the date of meeting.

Ely Lodge No. 45, K. of H., was instituted in November, 1874, and now has a membership of sixty-one; meetings are held the first and third Mondays of each month.

Humboldt Lodge (German), No. 51, K. of H., was instituted in February, 1874, with about twenty members. The membership has not materially increased since. Meetings are held each alternate Tuesday.

Washington Lodge, No. 2, A. O. U. W., was organized in January, 1870, and has 137 members. Meetings are held every Saturday evening.

La Fayette Council, No. 2, Guardian Knights, was instituted December 8, 1879, and now numbers sixteen in membership. The first Tuesday of each month is the date for regular meetings.

Evening Star Lodge, No. 24, K. & L. of H., was instituted in March, 1878. It meets the second and fourth Fridays of each month, and has now a membership of about fifty.

Germania Lodge, No. 26, K. & L. of H., was organized March 26, 1878, with eighteen members. For a time the lodge met with Evening Star Lodge, but it procured the old charter, and meets the first and third Saturdays of each month. The membership is small.

Gas, Gas Wells, Public Halls
Gas is furnished by a company with a capital of $50,000. Several quite extensive gas wells have been struck in the effort to find oil, but the supply gave out too soon to enable them to be utilized to any extent worth speaking of. There are two public halls, the Academy of Music, with a seating capacity of 1,000, and the Harmon Opera House, estimated to accommodate about 700.

Religious Societies
The city is well supplied with churches. They include two Methodist Episcopal, two Catholic, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Congregational, one Episcopal, one United Brethren, one German Lutheran and one Jewish. There is a Universalist society, it has no building.

The first Methodist Episcopal congregation was organized in September, 1862, by Rev. George F. Reeser. The early meetings were held at private houses and at the schoolhouse until the erection at the southeast corner of Concord and Pleasant streets, during the summer of 1865, of a frame meeting house at a cost of $10,000. The building was dedicated October 27, 1865, and is now in use. The pastors at Corry have been as follows: 1864 and 1865, J. W. Wilson and G. W. Staples; 1866 and 1867, J. S. Lytle; 1868-69 and 1870, J. C. Scofield; 1871 and 1872, W. F. Wilson; 1873, W. H. Moseman; 1874 and 1875, A. S. Dobbs; 1876 and 1877, N. Norton; 1878, A. S. Goodrich; 1879, J. W. Wilson; 1880-81 and 1882, A. G. Merchant; 1883, James G. Townsend. The present membership of the church is about 290.

St. Thomas Catholic Church dates its origin back to 1860, in which year Father Thomas Lonnergan came from Warren, Penn., and organized a small society. The early meetings were held at private houses until 1862, when a frame church was built on the southeast corner of Church street and Fourth avenue. It was dedicated in September, 1862, by Bishop Joshua M. Young, and has since been twice enlarged. Father Lonnergan has been the only pastor; his assistants have been Revs. J. Delaroque, J. M. Dunn, B. McGiveney, J. Brady, J. Maher and B. Donohue. The present membership includes about 200 families. The congregation has almost completed a handsome brick church structure, the cost of which will exceed $30,000. Its cornerstone was laid in 1872, and five years later the foundation was completed. It was placed under roof in 1883, and will be ready for occupancy it is expected in 1884. The building stands on Washington street near the foot of First avenue.

The first Baptist services at Corry were held in the unfinished second story of a dwelling on the northwest corner of Washington and Wayne streets November 28, 1862. The congregation was organized with seven members October 18, 1863; Rev. J. R. Merriman became pastoral supply, and services were held in a hall on Main street until February, 1865, when the hall was rented to the Disciples. The Baptists were without a place of worship till later in the same spring when their present church edifice on the southwest corner of Second avenue and Pleasant street was built. It was first used April 19, 1865, for the public memorial services of the martyred President, and was dedicated April 26, 1865. Rev. A. D. Bush became pastor in April, 1864; Rev. W. R. Connally succeeded in August, 1868; Rev. A. C. Williams in October, 1870; Rev. S. K. Boyer in March, 1872, remaining five months. The church was then without a pastor till September, 1873, when Rev. John Trowbridge was elected. He was succeeded in April, 1875, by Rev. J. B. Vrooman, who remained two years. Rev. E. F. Crane then served about two years and his successor, Rev. M. W. Dillingham, the present pastor, has officiated three years. The membership of the church is about 225.

The First Presbyterian Church of Corry was organized January 18, 1864, with the following nine members: Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Osgood, Charles Boyle, Mrs.Martha Boyle, Asel M. Davis, Mrs. Mary A. Davis, Mrs. Ellen M. Bennett, Mr. Elizabeth M.Gridley and Miss Nancy J. Knight. Rev. J. Odell was engaged as temporary supply and served the church about one year; increasing in the membership to twenty-one. Rev. Hutchens acted as temporary supply for a few months, and in October, 1865, Rev. John C. Taylor became stated supply, remaining until March, 1867; when he left, the church membership was sixty-one. Rev. Alvan Nash then became stated supply, and died at the expiration of one year's service. In November, 1868, Rev. S. G. Hopkins was installed the first pastor, resigning in Mary, 1876, to accept a call to the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Columbus, Ohio; Rev. D. V. Mays then served as pastor from June, 1876, to November, 1877, and was succeeded in the following December by Rev. B. M. Kerr, who remained two and a half years. Rev. W. N. Sloan, the present pastor, entered upon his official relations in October, 1880. The first Elders were E. S. Osgood and Charles Boyle; the present ones James Turner, T. A. Allen, Lewis L. Bliss and George H. Humanson; the present Deacons are C. H. Bracken and Levi P. Hard. The membership now numbers about 200. Services were held in the Concord Street Schoolhouse, McKenzie's Hall and Cook's Hall successively, until the winter of 1865-66, when the congregation erected near the corner of Church and Center streets a neat, frame edifice which was enlarged two years later. During the winter of 1883-84, a handsome skeleton brick structure was reared on the southwest corner of Pleasant and Center streets at a cost of $10,000.

The first services of Emanuel Episcopal Church were held July 10, 1864, in McKenzie's Hall. They were conducted by Rev. Calvin C. Parker, a Missionary of the Board of Missions of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The first Vestrymen were James Foreman, H. L. Woman, O. S. Reynolds, F. A. Phillips, George H. Coney, S. A. Bennett and E. W. R. Baker. During 1865-66, the church edifice was erected. It was 100x45 feet in size and stands on the southwest corner of Center and Smith streets. The lot cost $500, the building $4,000. When the corner-stone was laid in September, 1865, there were but twenty communicant members. Rev. Parker resigned June 1, 1866. He was succeeded by Rev. John T. Protheroe, who resigned in May, 1871. During that year the church was enlarged by the addition of side aisles, organ chamber, etc., at an additional expense of $5,000. Subsequent rectors have been Rev. Thomas Bell from October, 1871, to August, 1872; Rev. Robert W. Grange, June, 1873, to November 16, 1874; Rev. William G. W. Lewis, April, 1875, to August 31, 1877; Rev. Thomas A. Stevenson, January, 1878, to August, 1881; John L. Taylor, the present rector, who took charge in June, 1882. The present communicant membership is 110. The present Vestrymen are O. C. Holden, Senior Warden; J. B. Davis, Junior Warden; Charles Middleton, Augustus Harrington, Frederick Stanford, R. C. Dawson and E. M. Bonnell.

In 1864, Rev. John W. Clark, preaching on the Bear Circuit, organized a small United Brethren class at the Little Red Schoolhouse, and in 1865 commenced building on the corner of Pleasant and Lemon streets a frame house of worship. The year following, during the pastorate of Rev. J. Hill, the site of the building was changed and the unfinished structure was taken down, removed to the turnpike, and there completed at a cost of about $2,000. This building was destroyed by fire in 1872, and immediately another was erected at an expense of $2,500, on North Center street, where services are now held. The membership of this society is about fifty. Its pastors since Rev. Clark have been J. Hill, 1865; W. Rittenhouse, 1866; O. Badgley, 1867; W. Calman, 1868-69; I. Bennehoff, 1870-71; J. Holmes, 1872; H. H. Barber, 1878; J. Hill, 1874; P. Butterfield, 1875; A. Peckham, 1876; S. Evans, 1877; W. Cadman, 1878; N. R. Luce, 1879; J. P. Atkins, 1880; L. L. Hager, 1881-82; D. C. Starkey, 1883. Corry is a mission station.

About forty years ago, a Methodist Episcopal class was organized, and held meeting in a schoolhouse in Wayne Township; in 1860,it erected a meeting-house about one and a half miles north of Corry, and in 1870 the society was re-organized by Rev. J. W. Wilson, with about thirty-five members, and the house of worship was removed to Pike street, Corry, and has since been the home of the North Corry Methodist Episcopal congregation. The society is attached to Columbus, Warren County, Circuit. Among its pastors subsequent to 1870 have been A. A. Horton, A. S. Goodrich, S. S. Burton, William Rice, Rev. Fordon and Rev. Adams; Rev. J. W. Wilson is the present pastor. The membership is about sixty.

The first Congregational Church of Corry was organized in 1874. The early meetings were held in the Christian Church, located on the northeast corner of Fourth avenue and Pleasant street. This handsome building was purchased by the Congregational society in 1878, and it has since remained its place of worship. It is a brick structure, the dimensions of which are about 50x100 feet, its original cost being about $15,000. It was repaired in 1882 at an expense of $4,000. The Christian congregation, now defunct, formerly owned a frame meeting-house on the site of the above brick structure. It was destroyed by fire, and replaced, through the munificence of G. W. N. Yost, by the brick church. The pastors of the Congregational Church have been Rev. Joseph Adams, who remained two years; Rev. J. B. Davidson, three years; Rev. E. A. Squier, eighteen months; a temporary vacancy now exists. The membership is about 100.

St. Elizabeth (German) Catholic Church was established in April, 1875, with about twenty-eight German families who had formerly been connected with St. Thomas' Church. Under the management of a building committee, consisting of H. L. Spiesman, J. Franz, J. Rehrich, Martin Huffman, Frank Roeboch and Henry Heineman, the congregation at once proceeded to the erection on Pleasant street of a fine brick church, which was completed in 1876 at a cost of $7,000. It was consecrated in September, 1876. The society owns a parsonage, school and cemetery. Rev. F. Winters, the first pastor, remained in charge till October, 1883, when Rev. Reck succeeded him. The society numbers about forty families.

The German Lutheran Church, a skeleton brick structure, 26x40 feet in size, located on the northeast corner of Concord and South streets, was erected in 1876-77, at a total cost of $2,140. It was dedicated June 3, 1877. The society was organized several years previous, by Rev. M. Kugler, the first pastor, and services had been held in various places. Rev. Kugler was succeeded in the autumn of 1877 by Prof. Herman Gilbert, of Thiel College, Greenville, who has since conducted services here each alternate Sunday, and is present pastor. The church membership enrolls about fifteen families.

The Hebrew congregation at Corry was organized about ten years ago and has a small membership. Its first rabbi was Rev. Galen, who was succeeded by Rev. Bernstein. Rev. S. Fielchenfield then took charge about seven years ago, and still serves the congregation. Meetings have been held in various buildings. In the autumn of 1883, the congregation purchased the old Presbyterian Church.

The Universalist Church of Corry was organized with thirty-three members March 7, 1877, by Rev. Aaron A. Thayer, who remained in charge about three years. The first officers elected were A. A. Aspinwall, Moderator; W. Ed Marsh, Clark; C. G. Harmon, Treasurer; L. Hammond, H. A. Baker and G. W. Panlee, Standing Committee. The membership increased to about eighty-five, but for a year past no services have been held. The congregation owned no place of worship, and met last in the Congregational Church.

Miscellaneous
The city has three cemeteries -- Pine Grove, St. Thomas (Catholic) and the Jewish. The first named embraces a tract of ten acres near the northern terminus of Center street, purchased by a corporation of Amos Heath for $2,000 in 1866. About $8,000 have since been expended by the company in improvements. St. Thomas' Cemetery is in the southwestern part of the city, and covers about two acres. The Jewish Cemetery is a small inclosure in Wayne Township, near the north line of the city.

The following is a list of the citizens of Corry who have held elective State and county offices: Associate Judge, Hollis King, November 8, 1866, to November 17, 1871; Delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1873, C. O. Bowman; Assembly, C. O. Bowman, 1869; W. W. Brown, 1872 to 1874; Isaac B. Brown, 1881-82, and 1883-84; County Commissioner, W. T. Brown, 1872 to 1875; Mercantile Appraiser, L. E. Guignon, 1875; William T. Brown, 1880; Director of the Poor, S. A. Beavis, 1869 to 1872; Jury Commissioner, D. L. Bracken, 1879 to 1882.

W. W. Brown moved to Bradford, and was elected to Congress from the McKean District in 1882.

The following Corry physicians had registered at the Court House in Erie in 1882: A. S. Bonsteel, Bellevue Hospital and Medical College, N. Y., 1872; C. B. Kibler, University of Buffalo, 1870; H. O. Macres, University of Buffalo, 1867; M. Pickett, University of Buffalo, 1869; D. Storer, practice of medicine since 1844; G. A. Elston, Medical Department University of New York, 1880; Emma L. Jordan, eclectic Medical College, Philadelphia, 1879; John B. Chace, American Medical College, Cincinnati, 1855; S. R. Breed, practice of medicine since 1856; D. E. De Ross, Eclectic Medical College, Cincinnati, 1875; J. E. Weeks, Michigan University, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1881; B. H. Phelps, cleveland Medical College, 1871; H. S. Tanner, Cincinnati Eclectic Medical College, 1859; Mrs. F. H. Stanford, Boston University School of Medicine, 1878.



Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XVII, pp. 809-823.
 

 


This page was last updated on  Wednesday, September 27, 2000.

Return to Erie County Genealogy Project

2014 Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project