Tioga County, Pennsylvania

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Tioga County Courthouse is located at 118 Main Street, Wellsboro PA 16901; 570‑723‑8191.


Beginnings [1]

Formed March 26, 1804; name, corruption of the Iroquois word "Tiagoa" (gateway); noted for its high altitude and wonderful views; part of Allegheny plateau, where it breaks into parallel flat-topped mountains, supporting, in shallow basins, several isolated bituminous coal fields. Heritage of timber is being dissipated; the State Tree Nursery at Asaph is trying to replace the great waste. Chief industry, agriculture, land for dairy purposes is among the finest in the state, several extensive milk condenseries. Indian trails crossed the county from Big Tree on the Genesee, among the Senecas, to the frontier at Northumberland. First great road was built by Charles Williamson of New York in 1792, agent for Sir William Poulteney, who had received a large grant of land in New York State, adjoining Pennsylvania, in the "Genesee Country," home of the Seneca Indians; the road, commencing at Loyalsock, passed through what is now Williamsport, up Lycoming Creek to Trout Run, over Laurel Hill to "Block House," now Liberty; here Williamson built a blockhouse of logs 20 by 40 feet, as place of refuge; to Peter's Camp, now Blossburg, where coal was discovered in 1792; ending near Bath, New York, it opened up to settlers 15,000,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania north of Williamsport; this road is still used from Williamsport to Tioga County.

County seat, Wellsboro, population 3452, named for William Hill Wells, United States Senator 1799-1814, laid out March 21, 1806, in a primeval wilderness. Courthouse, center of group of county buildings facing the public green, colonial with cupola, built in 1835, native sandstone and conglomerate, which was hauled on ox sleds for several miles over poor roads; high on the southwest wall is carved the outline of an eagle, insignia of one of the stonecutters from the neighboring Welsh settlement. Opposite, across the green, is the brick office of the Bingham Estate, built in 1855, and still occupied by the agent, patent of 1,000,000 acres, land mostly in northern tier, included site of Binghamton, New York. William Bingham, lived 1751-1804, was a Philadelphia merchant, member of Continental Congress, and of the United States Senate. Facing the courthouse is a Soldiers' Monument to Civil War heroes, dedicated, 1886; also on the green is a monument to the late John Magee, who developed the coal fields and railroads of the county, a colossal portrait bust on polished granite pedestal; sculptor, Samuel Conkey, New York.

Best modern buildings are, The Presbyterian Church, Gothic, Ohio sandstone, erected in 1894, architects, Culver & Hudson, Williamsport, contains, among memorial windows, one to George Dwight Smith, killed in the battle of Smith Mountain; also Tiffany tablet to Mrs. A. C. Shaw, white marble, framed in mosaic of favrile glass. St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, fronting the green, is a choice example of Norman Romanesque, the last ecclesiastical work of the late Halsey Wood, New York, built in 1897, native sandstone, windows furnished by Tiffany, are quiet and pleasing in tone, of unusual harmony with the masonry; pulpit and altar are also from the Tiffany studios; the church contains many fine memorials. St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church was remodeled from the old academy, locally an important and historic institution; standing on a hill the church raises aloft a gilded cross, impressive and beautiful above the surrounding foliage.

The broad main street is paved with brick, around a central strip of green grass, and shaded with fine old elms and maples. The Wellsboro Cemetery, purchased in 1855, was laid out by B. F. Hathaway, landscape gardener, of Flushing, Long Island; stone arch gateway, Romanesque, of local conglomerate, is memorial to Honorable Henry Warren Williams, Justice of Supreme Court, buried here; architect, J. H. Considine, Elmira; on summit of the knoll is the grave of George W. Sears, poet of outdoor life and wood lore, monument has bas-relief bronze portrait, set in granite; Honorable John J. Mitchell, Judge of Pennsylvania Supreme Court and United States Senator, is also buried here. Woodland Park, twenty-six acres, is owned by Leonard Harrison, Esq., who generously maintains it for public use; has surface of hill and dell, stretches of natural forest, and fine views from its higher outlooks.

Several citizens have grounds formally laid out, and planted under professional advice; of these, designed by Bryant Fleming, of Townsend & Fleming, Buffalo, is Chester Place, left to the borough by bequest, for a public library; the garden has an Italian roofed pergola ending with a marble bust and seats, on top of the terrace which divides the upper and lower gardens; a sundial, fastened to an old Spanish Renaissance capital, which came from the collection of garden marbles made by the late Stanford White, is on a rectangular plot of green, and forms the center of one garden room, surrounded by a brick walk, in turn framed by a broad border of shrubbery; into the brick pavement are set little marble panels, carved with designs of roses, birds, etc., other insets contain quotations appropriate to gardens; set into the wall outside at right and left of entrance, are tiles with trees in bas-relief, inside, correspondingly placed, are reliefs showing old Italian garden decorations, Socrates and Hercules.

Just outside of Wellsboro is an old covered wooden bridge, in Pine Creek Gorge, through which the Tyadaghton (River of Pines) runs, mountains rise perpendicularly on either side for 1000 feet; the gorge is sixteen miles long, filled with trout stream tributaries, where also bear, deer, and other game abound.

In Mansfield is a state normal school, on beautifully terraced hill, five buildings, brick with marble or brownstone and terra-cotta trimmings, built 1889-1909, later buildings, modified classic; contains many fine carbon prints of famous paintings and buildings, also plaster replicas of noted pieces of sculpture. Carnegie Free Library, classic architecture, built, 1912, light-pressed brick; architects for school and library, Pierce & Bickford, Elmira, New York.

  1. Archambault, A. Margaretta (ed), A Guide Book of Art, Architecture, and Historic Interests in Pennsylvania, The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1924

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