Bradford County in Pennsylvania is an example of a town stooped in history and culture. There are many events that have happened here; people who did great things that hailed from this place; and a lot of structures where events have happened or famous people have passed through. It’s a very fortunate occurrence of events that placed Bradford in Pennsylvania’s historical map.
There are many places in Bradford that lent their piece to history. These are only a few of them.
Bradford County’s Courthouse (Towanda)
Bradford County’s famous Courthouse has been a very influential structure in the town and a pride of the county. It was first constructed in 1898 and has been one of the most recognizable buildings in the town. Perhaps the most noticeable feature that will alert you about it is the octagonal dome, a structure that sits about seventy feet from the main floor.
Dogwood Trail (Wyalusing and Wysox)
The Dogwood Trail is a part of history that Pennsylvania is really proud of. It extends from Wyalusing to Wysox, regions found in the County, and was witness to a great many families mourning the loss of their loved ones—soldiers who fought for the country. The Trail has been recognized as early as 1930 when the Daughters of the American Revolution organization planted it.
Knapp’s Covered Bridge (Knapp’s Hill)
A rather picturesque bridge that may have played a part in a movie or two, the bridge can be found near Knapp’s Hill. It spans the Sugar Creek for at least a century or more. The architecture of the bridge features the “Burr Arch Truss” design. Due to old age and weathering, the bridge received renovations in 1961 and again in 1963 to ensure that it can be used another hundred years or so.
Underground Railroad (Sugar Run, Rummerfield, Towanda and Ulster)
A tribute to a dark chapter of the country’s history, Bradford County’s Underground Railroad played a part in the important struggle of the nation’s African-American citizens. Once slaves, they escaped to Canada using the ‘railroad’ network. Before them, the Native Americans as well as General Sullivan traveled through these parts. Rummerfield also has a hotel known as the “Old Tavern” where slaves hid for a while before proceeding northward to freedom.
Van Dyne Civic Building (Troy)
It was originally christened the Troy Courthouse when it was constructed in 1894. Finding room for a school, E. Everitt Van Dyne purchased the building and later gave it to the Troy School District. It played a part in the formation of many of the community’s youngsters—from being a community center to becoming home of many organizations like the Red Cross and Civic League, the building was at the forefront of the county.
There are many other places you can visit in Bradford that has been a part of history. These ones, however, played an important part in nation-building and economy.
There are a lot of stories from the time of slavery in the US. A lot of people gave their lives during that struggle and the war that came after it. However, it should be known that there weren’t only black slaves and lives lost during that time; soldiers who fought in the war, as well as white slaves, gave their lives too.
The Underground Railroad had been an instrumental tool for the fight for freedom. Not only did Harriet Tubman benefit from it; many others were also saved by it.
Harriet Tubman is Araminta Ross
When Harriet was born, she was named Araminta Ross. She used the name Harriet as she escaped a Maryland plantation with her brothers in 1849. She also took the surname ‘Tubman’ when she got married. An independent woman, Tubman made her way to Pennsylvania, where she reportedly received a vision of God. She then organized the Underground Railroad and began to help slaves escape to Canada.
The Underground Railroad begins
The movement actually was mentioned already in 1831, when Tice Davids, a slave from Kentucky, managed to move to Ohio. His owner then placed the blame on an ‘underground railroad’. About 8 years later, in 1839, a newspaper from Washington reported that Jim, a slave, confessed under torture that he planned to follow an ‘underground railroad’ to the North following a path to Boston.
The Underground Network
The Underground Railroad worked by helping slaves escape from border states. Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky are good examples. On the side of the network were people labeled ‘conductors’; people who hid slaves in places like churches and private homes. On the other hand, especially in the south, were people who enforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793—justifying capturing slaves who escaped from their owners, abusive or otherwise.
Movement of the People
In truth, the Underground Railroad was run by everyday people—some business owners and even farmers were key figures here. Levi Coffin, a Quaker and North Carolina native, is credited as one of the pioneers of the Railroad. He was 15 when he started helping. He found out slaves’ hiding places and brought them to where they can move along. Eventually, word got out and slaves sought Coffin wherever he lived.
The Final Toot
The Railroad stopped in 1863, well into the Civil War. What happened really was that they supported the Union’s war against the Confederacy; it only felt natural—after all, they were helping slaves escape their masters, and the Confederacy represented these masters. Naturally, people like Harriet Tubman became important figures in the struggle for unification and the end of slavery.
The colorful struggle of the African-American people is worth learning about. Bradford is a good enough place to start learning about the Underground Railroad and the people who are involved in it.
The war always scars men in ways that are hard to heal and most difficult to erase. However, it also produces the best in men—wars may be ugly and fought for foolish reasons, but the funny thing is it also produces resolve and brings out something that men don’t know they have. It brings out fortitude.
Here now are two sons of Bradford—Homer Chatley and Harlow Pike. Men from different backgrounds but, somehow, found their fate intertwined when fighting in the Civil War.
Two Sons from Different Mothers
Chatley wasn’t from Bradford. Homer was born in Milledgeville, Mercer County, and it was there that he was conscripted into the Union Army. Pike was, however, a son of Bradford; his father was a pioneer of Bradford, Barnabas Pike. They entered the war as boys turning into men—Chatley was 17 years of age while Pike was conscripted just a day shy of his 18th birthday.
Of the two, Chatley had the most activity. He was enlisted into the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers and wherever Ulysses S. Grant was, he was there, fighting alongside his regiment. Twice he was wounded at his side during the Battle of the Wilderness—the same battle Pike would find himself in 1864. Pike, meanwhile, fought in some 40 battles and, like Chatley, he was also wounded twice. He got enlisted with the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry, serving with the greater Army of the Potomac.
Bradford became home for both men when the war ended. Chatley taught at Edinboro Normal School after the war and found his calling as a teacher. Meanwhile, Pike settled in Bradford and got married. He was, however, active as a War veteran and was a visible in the Grand Army of the Republic Organization, a group for Union veterans. He was also constantly available during Memorial Day events.
Chatley joined up with the GAR, joining the John S. Melvin Post 141 branch of the group. It was then that he caught up with Pike’s reputation; he was a well-loved figure in the McKean County region and was also active as a participant of many observances pertaining to the way. He eventually replaced Pike as commander of the post, attending the 75th anniversary of Gettysburg as a 92-year-old man.
No one can escape death, for sure, and both men greeted it like an old friend; Pike surrendered his life on April 4, 1935, losing the battle against sickness. Chatley, meanwhile, joined Pike and the rest of his Post friends five years after, finally surrendering at age 94. In the case of these old soldiers, it was Father Time that they didn’t beat.
A big part of staying in Bradford—or, for some, buying property in the city—is to be near history itself. Who knows? Perhaps your family can also be part of creating new history. Nevertheless, Bradford is too interesting a town to give up living in. Given also that it’s near the New York border, it can also become a welcome substitute for a suburb.
If you’re staying at a hotel or living in Bradford, you should check out these places when you can.
The Penn-Brad Oil Museum
The Bradford Oil rush of the 19th century was a big part of why the city is currently in the historical map of the US. What better way to celebrate that by seeing the structures where people once did their trading? The Penn-Brad Oil Museum gives visitors a look into the lives of 19th century oilers.
The Crook Farm
The Crook Farm site has been moved to 476 Seaward Avenue. The significance of this site is that it allows a look towards a not-so distant past in Bradford’s rural beginnings. The Farm also shares space with the Stack Barn and replicas of a Carpenter, Blacksmith, and a Railroad Station, which has been donated.
The Seneca Allegany Casino
More a part of a luxurious vacation than a historical tour, the resort hotel and casino is owned and operated by the Seneca Nation, a group of Native-Americans residing in New York. If you found a hotel close by, you can enjoy its gaming space, restaurants, and spa that is available for visitors to the property.
The Allegheny Arms and Armor Museum
It is a rare look into one of the wars that shaped the United States as a nation. Visitors can be treated into pieces of that conflict such as the Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank as well as a LVTP-7 Armored Amphibious Assault Vehicle. A good condition M-48 Patton is also located in the museum.
The Eldred World War II Museum
The town of Eldred in Pennsylvania has converted an old wartime era munitions plant into a museum for future generations. The museum has exhibits and a library for curious minds seeking to learn about the Second World War.
There are a lot of other sites to visit in Bradford. Perhaps, the best part of it all is to learn the history of why these became parts of history and what roles they served.
The city of Bradford, located in the greater McKean County region, has a population of 8,608 and is steeped in history. There are some pretty good reasons to move into the city aside from that; there’s the suburb feel and its closeness to the state of New York, among others.
Aside from those, here are some reasons to consider Bradford as your next home.
A Young, Vibrant Community
The city features a population of youth; the people aged 21 and over are around 73%, while those of legal age make up 76.9% of the population. Elders account for 17% of ages 62 over and 14.1% of ages 65 over respectively, making it a relatively young city.
Quaint, fairly busy Suburb
If you love hills and greens with your living space, you’re going to love Bradford. The quiet and peaceful living it offers is unlike any other. There’s only a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the city; no malls and very few business are available, if ever, a con to living in a small suburban type city. A pro, however, is its closeness to places of art and sites to see such as the Niagara Falls.
A Fair Economy
While one of the only jobs even taking new office workers belong to the health industry, living in Bradford is fairly easy; people live on an average of $31,857 yearly while they can own a home for as low as $54,600. It’s a fair trade-off considering the place is great if you’re starting a family. You can take them to the area’s university—the University of Pittsburgh.
There are lots of reasons why to choose a city to live in. Bradford’s suburban feel, as well as the history of the place, is why it’s a good choice. It’s a great place for a young family wanting to make a history and a tale of their own within a heritage city.
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