Little Known Facts of Bradford County History

Towanda - The County Seat

This is the twelfth segment in a 20-week series that is being submitted by the Bradford County Historical Society in honor of the bicentennial of Bradford County, which occurred on March 24, and is being celebrated throughout this year. The columns were originally written by Society President Leo E. Wilt in 1940.

The new county-seat had quite a time getting a name. When it was decided to locate the courthouse in Towanda in 1812, the town was laid out in lots and streets, and the name was to be Overton. It is so called in the deed conveying the public square to the county.

The name Meansville, in honor of William Means, was used for several years. In 1815, Monmouth was suggested and the Bradford Gazette was dated at Monmouth for a year. In 1816, Williamstown was tried. Claverack and even Vauxhall, but in 1828 the town was incorporated as Towanda.

In 1812 there were seven families in the village and two merchants; William Means and Henry Spalding. By 1829 there were 30 families and three merchants. By 1840 the population of the town had grown to 912; in 1850 it was 1135; 1860-1571; 1870-2696; 1880-3813; 1890-4169; 1900-4663.

In 1847 - "The Great Fire" - all the buildings, some 22 in number, between Court and Bridge and on the east side of Main, were destroyed. The courthouse burned and across the street the Claremont House, a three-story hotel extending clear through to Pine. It was a severe blow to the town but the town people were equal to the occasion and recovered quickly. The opening of the North Branch Canal in 1854, the Barclay Railroad in 1856 and new manufacturing enterprise all contributed to Towanda's growth.

The reminders of the early days of Towanda are the Mix and Barstow homes. The Mix house (now the James Christini home) was built in 1812, by Col. Harry Spalding as an inn and also a store. The Barstow house (just north of the library, now Gannon Insurance) was built in 1814 by Charles F. Welles, who was the first prothonotary of Bradford County. The Means house built in 1816 stood where the Citizen Bank building (Now Citizens and Northern Bank) now is, it was removed up Bridge street and in 1940 was occupied by Eugene Means.

Bradford County

What do you know about it?

Quiz No. 12

1. How many townships has Bradford County?

2. What is the largest township? The smallest?

3. What two states has Bradford County been under the jurisdiction of?

4. When was all of Bradford County a township and to what county did it belong?

5. What is the oldest township in the county?

6. How large is Bradford County?

7. What parallel marks the northern boundary of Bradford County?

8. When were attempts made to divide Bradford County?

9. What is the oldest borough in Bradford County?

10. What town in Bradford County derives its name from the fact that it is exactly in the same latitude as an important European city?

Answers on Page A8

Answers to Quiz No. 12

1. Thirty-eight

2. Largest is Wilmot smallest is North Towanda

3. Connecticut and Pennsylvania

4. Tioga township of Luzerne 1789-1792

5. Wyalusing

6. 1160 square miles, third in the state in size.

7. Parallel of 42 degrees north latitude

8. In 1828, 1841, 1844, 1859, 1855, and 1873

9. Towanda incorporated in 1828

10. Rome