Thursday, April 20, 2017

Not your ordinary stories - Coudersport

An Accidental Suicide - 1893
After spending a week away from home, Daniel Glassmire returned late one night, and headed straight to the bedroom. Mrs. Glassmire went to check on him & was shocked when her husband said he had just drank a lethal dose of Aconite, and was going to soon die. She quickly called a local physician who ran to the home, but the 46 year old man died from the effects of poison. The tragic suicide of the wealthy and prominent Mr. Glassmire was talk of the town. A few weeks later the public was addressed and a coroners jury had changed the cause of death from suicide by poison to accidental. There was mention that money cant buy love or happiness, but that it may have bearing on cause of death in Potter County. 

Something Smelled Fishy - 1908
The townspeople were overcome by a terrible stench from dead rotting fish that began piling on the banks of the river. The cause of all the dead trout was a complete mystery and for the next few years the waters were baron, no fish seemed to return. In 1913 the mystery was solved when the Coudersport Borough Council received notice they were being sued by the Department of Health for $145,000, $50 for each day the Borough refused to stop dumping raw sewage into the creek and $500 for continuing to violate the law knowingly and causing harm to wildlife and anyone who had been drinking, swimming, or eating fish in the water. In case you are wondering, nowadays the amount the borough was sued for would be over 3.5 million dollars. I would say there may have been a tax increase soon after. 

Man Pays For His Own Birth - 1911
A local physician was settling up on old unpaid bills before retirement. One of these bills was for the birth of a son to Mr. & Mrs. Alphonzo Vergason in 1888. As Mr. Vergason had already passed away, the $10 bill was made to his son, Leroy.. who promptly paid the bill for his own birth. he was said the be one of the few honest men in town. 

Reverend Sheehan Rescues A Body From Dissection - 1912
Mrs. Caroline Haynes died at the Potter County Home when she was 102 years old. To avoid the chance of someone claiming her body, it was prepared immediately that day and placed on a train for shipment to the Philadelphia Medical Science Department for dissection. Reverend Sheehan stopped the train just in time. As he made visits to her in the home, he knew she was near death and had already secured the 10 signatures needed to claim her body and stop the process. Reverend Sheehan held a service for Mrs. Haynes and gave her a proper burial in the Eulalia Cemetery. While he always tried, unfortunately Reverend Sheehan didn't always make it there before this happened. Many times inmates and patients from the Potter County Home were shipped off before the 10 day waiting period was up and by then there was not much that could be done unless you had a lot of money. The facility was well known for scandalous activities including receiving funds for services never rendered...such as payroll checks, purchase of goods, and burial plots. 

Abandoned Baby - 1918
Before sunrise one summer day Miss VanDusen, Superintendent at the Children's Home in Harrison Valley, heard a knock on the door. A well dressed elderly couple, who she knew as the Dodd's from Coudersport, were outside with a baby in a basket. They didn't say much, just gave her $5 to help care for the infant and quickly left. Miss VanDusen took the baby out, finding it was a newborn baby boy that was deathly sick. By the time a Doctor arrived, the infant had passed away and the probable cause given by the physician was pneumonia, most likely caused by neglect after being exposed to damp weather. The baby was buried in Harrison Valley quietly. Word made it back to the District Attorney and the Coroner, who charged that no proper death certificate had been made because the names of parents, and other information had been omitted, despite the fact that the same Coroner had done this himself a number of times, especially on death certificates from the county home. The matter was very quickly dropped by the two and no further discussion of the matter was made when it was realized that the child was illegitimate, son of the well known and married Mr. Hall of Coudersport and a Miss Dodd.  

Skeleton Reese Hollow Road - 1924
Albert Sherwood & Clarence Gilbert were doing repairs to a farmhouse on Reese Hollow Road and were excited when they found a box buried in the cellar. They quickly opened the lid but were horrified to find the arm of a skeleton adorned with a bracelet... and quickly made proper notification. Coroner Knight arrived and with Sherwood and Gilbert peering over his shoulder, the Doctor inspected the box. Decaying teeth, fragments of charred bones, a mouth brace and women's garter buckles were int he box with the mysterious arm. The Coroner snapped the lid shut, and said there was no reason to suspect the bones were human, leaving with the box in his possession. Rumors flooded town, but with the coroner's decision final, the whole thing is just another mystery. 

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