Set in southwestern Bradford County, LeRoy is a rural community in the heart of LeRoy Township. It was first settled in 1795 by two brothers, Hugh and Sterling Holcomb, whose family came from Granby, Connecticut and settled in Ulster, Pennsylvania in 1793. Seeley & Hannah (Holcomb) Crofut came soon after the brothers and built a farm where the LeRoy Cemetery is now located.
In 1835, LeRoy Township, originally named Union, was formed out of Canton and Franklin Townships. The name was suggested by Ira Crofut, son of Seeley, and is a French combination of two words meaning, "the king".
Agriculture, lumbering, and mining have all played a part in the history of LeRoy Township and former Barclay Township (now Barclay Mountain). These industries attracted people to the mountain from many different countries to find work.
The southern portion of LeRoy and neighboring Franklin (originally Barclay) Townships are well known throughout Bradford County for its diverse history. Known as Barclay Mountain (after Robert Barclay of England who purchased the land in 1794), this region has been host to coal mining activities dating back to 1812. The first settlement in what later became Barclay Township was in 1856. Coal from this area was shipped to locations all over the northeastern United States. Coal mining operations continued in the Barclay Mountain/LeRoy Township area into the early 1980's.
Lumbering in this area dates back to 1808 when Hugh Holcomb built a sawmill in the center of what is now the community of LeRoy. Later, hemlock bark was harvested in the mountains of LeRoy Township to feed the local tanneries. Lewis Brothers Lumber Company later cut much of the timber from the mountains in a portable sawmill. In 1902, the town of Laquin was born in old Barclay Township and by May of the following year, the Laquin Lumber Company, under the leadership of Watson L. Barclay, began to saw lumber under contract with the Union Tanning Company. Union was owned by the United States Leather Company, one of the largest companies in the nation at that time.
Laquin included five companies which, all of which used wood in one way or another. These were:
By 1932, all of Laquin's plants had shut down leaving no work and no reason for families to stay in town. The community was quickly deserted and by 1941 no people and few buildings were left in town.
The Civilian Conservation Corps spent several years on the mountain beginning in 1933. The CCC was one of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs and was responsible for replanting trees on the mountain, building roads, feeding game, and generally restoring the mountain after years of logging.
LeRoy Township is also home to Sunfish Pond County Park. Sunfish Pond has drawn visitors to the mountain for over 100 years. In 1915, the Pennsylvania Game Commission was authorized to establish game refuges on private lands. Refuge #12, which includes much of the southern portion of LeRoy Township, was the first refuge on private land in Pennsylvania. Sunfish Pond was part of the game refuge, and a game protector was hired to live in a house at the pond. In the early 1970's, the Commission traded the land surrounding Sunfish Pond for a tract of land elsewhere, allowing the creation of Sunfish Pond County Park.
A resort hotel was built at Minnequa Springs, north of Canton, by Peter Herdic of Williamsport in 1869. The mineral springs near the hotel attracted famous residents from major cities across the country including actors, actresses, politicians, and the wealthy. The hotel, which eventually was expanded to the point where it could house 600 guests and their servants, burned in 1878. Prior to the fire, construction began on a courthouse for the new county of Minnequa that Peter Herdic had proposed. After great debate among legislators across the state, the plan was struck down. The uncompleted courthouse became the new hotel in 1884 and was operated for several more seasons until it burned in 1903. During these years and for decades thereafter, Canton was the home of the Davenport family of actors including E.L. Davenport, a contemporary of Junius Brutus Booth and John Wilkes Booth. His daughter Fanny was known around the world and his youngest son was Harry Davenport, who was best known for playing "Dr. Meade" in "Gone With The Wind". Frank Mayo, who made the role of "Davy Crockett" popular, lived here; as did circus little people, Casper & Mab Weis; aerialist, Charles Siegrist, who is in the Circus Hall of Fame; and perch pole performers, Butch Brann and Amelia LaPell Brann.
This was also the home of Congressman Louis T. McFadden who served from 1914 to 1934 in the United States House of Representatives. He was known nationally for his multiple attempts to impeach U.S. President Herbert Hoover, a member of his own party. He also had two hard-fought elections against the well known Cornelia Pinchot, wife of Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot. Often making antisemitic speeches on the floor of the House prior to World War II, he was praised by Adolf Hitler in a letter to the New York Times.
Southwestern Bradford County has an amazing heritage and you can immerse yourself in history at LeRoy Heritage Museum.
CAPTION FOR PHOTO AT LEFT: Actor Frank Mayo in the play Puddin' Head Wilson, which he wrote based on Mark Twain's popular book by the same name.