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Democratic Watchman May 5 1899, page 8


"On Tuesday the Bellefonte Republican and Daily News passed into the control of Wilbur F. Harris, under a five year lease which was taken on the property that day.

For some time several parties had been dickering for the Republican plant and it is reported that the Quay element in Centre county were after it, in fact a proposition having been made by E. R. Chambers for an option on the paper. Though the Hastings people were already assured of the Gazette's suppliance to their wishes it is evident that they did not case to risk the Republican in the hands of the opposition and thought best to secure it to themselves, hence the lease.

Mr. Harris will take editorial control of the papers on Monday and without meaning any reflection on our old friend Tuten, it ought not to require much of an effort on his part to effect a material improvement on them. He is bright, well informed on general and political matters and has abundant capital at his command to make the Republican what it ought to be. In entering the field of journalism Mr. Harris will find many duties that are pleasant and some that are extremely disagreeable, but we hope that there will be a preponderance of the brighter ones for him and that he will find the business both profitable and interesting enough to retain him in the ranks that he will certainly ornament."

Democratic Watchman May 12 1899, page 8


"It has been several years now since J. Wesley Gephart, Esq., began work on a line of rail-road from this place in Clearfield, to be known as the Bellefonte and Clearfield rail-road, the purpose being to complete a series of links in what will ultimately be a grand trunk road from New York to Chicago. The peculiar business conditions of the country during this time and the natural disadvantages under which such large undertakings are consummated, together with Mr. Gephart's inherent taciturnity about any of his business operations have made the work on that project a matter of mere conjecture among our people. All sort, of theories have been advanced and exploded and enough lines have been built in the minds of the gossips to encircle the globe several times, but Mr. Gephart has been working steadily on and to-day no one, except himself and those closest in touch with him, is any the wiser.

On Monday, however, like a clap of thunder from clear sky, came a message from the silent and indefatigable worker. It was indeed a surprise, for Bellefonte had no reason to think that this man owed her industry a single good turn. But like the reorganizing of the old Centre iron company, and the building of the Central R. R. of Penna. he has made another great industrial move for Bellefonte, blazed another corner on his trail of good work, as it were, and gone on as modestly as ever.

Always keen in his insight of the most extensive business operations of the country and quick and effective in organizing and carrying his plans to fruition Mr. Gephart grasped the iron situation at once and saw the folly of a great furnace, like the Collins plant, standing idle in the midst of naturally rich ore beds when the demand for iron is so great that metal is "literally being loaded red-hot at the furnaces." Delving deeper into the conditions existent he doubtless saw the incapacity of the out-put of all the furnaces in the country - which is no greater than it was ten years ago, for scarcely a new furnace has been built in that time - to supply the demand for iron that has been augmented by the enormous consumption for structural purposes, ship building and trolley-lines, as well as the other natural channels through which it has been used. Realizing that there must be a great demand for the commodity for years to come he carried through a triple transaction, the magnitude of which has fairly startled the public, for it was as sudden as it was complete.

By the deal Mr. Gephart's company, represented entirely by eastern capitalists, has become the owners of the Bellefonte furnace company's properties, here, of the mines at Red Bank and Mattern's and of all the property and franchises of the Carnegie company at Scotia.

When seen at his office, on Monday evening, he stated that it is the intention of their company to go to work at once. According to their plans the Bellefonte furnace will be in blast by the Fourth of July and the Scotia, Red and Mattern banks will be working within two weeks. It would be possible to put the furnace in blast much earlier, for the plant is in excellent condition, but a rail-road connection will have to be built between the C. R. R. of Pa. tracks and that property first. The survey has been made for the connection and the contract let for the viaduct over the P. R. R. tracks already.

It will be effected by a three quarters of a mile extension that will cut off from the C. R. R. of Pa. tracks, about 100 ft. south of Morris' Pike lime kiln, cross Spring creek on a 750 ft. curved iron trestle that will go over the P. R. R. tracks between the water tank and the round house, being 20 ft. above their rails, and cutting in over the rear of the lot of the old Thomas home now occupied by Mr. Isaac Mitchell, it will strike the hill near about where the barn stood on the Thomas farm down there. The extension will wind along and over the north side of Half-moon hill, entering the stock house at the fornace at its northern end and making connection with the Bellefonte Central tracks there.

As to the furnace. It will he operated to its fullest capacity under the supervision of an expert furnace master. The ores that will be used will be both lake and native. In securing the latter probably the frost incomprehensible and neatest of the series of transactions has been effected.  The ores from Scotia, Red and Mattern banks are all to be hauled around by Tyrone and then over the B. E. V. to this place. This arrangement makes the C. R. R. of Pa. people a large shipper over the P. R. R. and will probably terminate the contention between the two lines for the tonnage of the Valentine furnace, which will soon be in blast.

To many it will doubtless seem strange that the Bellefonte Central line is not to be used in transporting the native ores from the mines to the furnace, but if you will recall the fact that several years ago the rails were taken up on the Stormstown branch of that road to build the extension to Pine Grove Mills you will understand one of the reasons why this will be impossible. The hauling of the ores from Red bank, Mattern's and probably Graysdale negotiations for which property are still pending - to Scotia will necessitate the building of about one mile of track connecting those points.

The new company has come into outright possession of all the Carnegie interests at Scotia. The bill of sale includes I30 aores of land, the mineral rights on 430 acres, all the buildings, machinery and franchises. In addition to these large mines the Red bank, Mattern bank and Nittany bank pass into the absolute control of the company.

Nittany bank, which is located over at Brumgards, near State College, will not be operated, however. Graysdale mines will probably be secured and this will give the new concern control of the entire local ore with the exception of the mines in Nittany valley. As practical masters of this situation they have gone a step further in contracting to furnish all the native ore that will be used at the Empire furnace, being the old Valentine plant. F. H. Clemson, the present manager at Scotia, will be, made superintendent of all the mines and was in town on Monday to talk their development over with Mr. Gephart, who is to be president and general manager of the new concern, which is as it should be. The Bellefonte furnace company will be the name of the corporation and the officers, were elected in Philadelphia Wednesday, when the hand money was paid.

The effect of this great business deal on Bellefonte need not be elaborated on here. If no hitch occurs to disrupt it it will speak for itself in an amazingly short time and once more the town will see the fruits of an untiring man's labors, one whose unpretentious nature has never permitted his being classed with our benefactors, yet whose works have been greater than most of them."

Democratic Watchman May 19 1899, page 8

"The new machinery for the Houser springless lock factory is all in the building except the boiler and shafting. At present skilled workmen are employed in making the various models for the lock.  The managers are going along carefully and in a short time it will be in operation."

Keystone Gazette May 19 1899, page 1


In Making the New Railroad to Collins' Furnace


Indications are that a Number of Other Industries will be Put In Operation Here in the Near Future - Offices of the C. R. of Pa. Moved from Bush Arcade to Temple Court, where They Occupy all of the Third Floor.

"Monday morning about sixty men were put to work grading the bed for the new railroad from the track of the Central Railroad of Penn's to Collins' furnace. The work is progressing very rapidly under the supervision of H. C. Rechter and E. W. Forrey as engineers. Work has also been begun on the furnace and it won't be long until things will be booming in that end of town.  On Tuesday afternoon men were put to work in digging the foundations for the abutments of the big iron bridge that will be erected over Spring Creek. This was found to be a little difficult owing to the fact that the bottom of the stream is very stony. When once they secure the foundations the stones will be laid rapidly. The building of the railroad from the creek to the furnace is in charge of E. B. Hogue, while W. H. Gainsford has charge of a gang of men on the other side of the creek who are filling up a portion of the stream for a road. Each day additional men have been put to work until the number employed will reach over one hundred. Everything is being pushed as rapidly as possible.

An effort is being made to start the charcoal furnace at Roland, Pa., known as Curtin's Furnace. An option has been secured by private parties who do not wish to have names published. But there is every indication that it will also be making iron in a short time.

There also are well grounded rumors that when the Bellefonte Furnace is in blast, the same company will likely secure the Bellefonte Nail Works and use the puddling department for converting a portion of their product into bar iron. That mill is well equipped for the purpose.

The puddling mill near the Valentine Furnace will also likely resume.

Everybody has been expecting to hear that the C. R. R. of Pa. will be extended to Clearfield. Up to this time no definite information has been given out by the railroad people. Mr. Gephart is in the eastern cities this week with this object in view.

Bellefonte Furnace Company was duly organize d and the following officers were elected:  J. W. Gephart, president and general manager; John Reilly, vice president; Wm. H. Hollis, secretary and treasurer; Wm. J. McHugh, assistant treasurer ; Board of Directors, J. W. Gephart, Bellefonte; John Reilly, Philadelphia; Horace Diabrow Reeve, Philadelphia; Charles M. Clement, Sunbury ; Thomas A. Shoemaker, Bellefonte.

The Central Railroad of Pennsylvania and the Bellefonte Furnace Company have leased the entire third floor of Temple Court and the offices were moved from the Bush Arcade on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The change was made in order to secure more room and thus have the offices of both companies together on the same floor. The work will ho systematized so that if the public has any business to transact with one department, either with the railroad or the furnace company, they can do it without interfering with the other branches of the work. Another advantage is that they will have the use of four fire proof vaults which has become a necessity in their business. They have now the finest equipped offices to
found in this part of the state."

Democratic Watchman June 2 1899, page 5

"A hoisting derrick made out or 8X8 timber that was being used for placing rock on the piers that are being built in Spring creek for the new C. R. R. of Pa. extension to the Bellefonte furnace fell, on Saturday, and nearly crushed the life out of Ed. Swiler, one of the workmen engaged there. They were pulling out one of the coffer dams at the time when a heavy iron hook that fastened one of the guy cables to the top of the derrick straightened out and caused the accident. Had Swiler not been knocked into the creek he would probably have been killed. As it was he suffered painful cuts and bruises on the back that will lay him off for several weeks. John Munson was sitting over on the railroad track watching the workmen and was struck on the head by one of the heavy cable guys. He was dazed by the blow and didn't know whether be had been run over by a train or not, but when he regained his senses he made tracks for the Central station about as fast as any train ever covered that distance. Arrived there it was discovered that an ugly gash had been cut in his scalp."

Democratic Watchman June 2 1899, page 8

"Work was begun at the Houser springless lock works inst Friday morning. All the machinery having been set up the men went to work making the dies that will he necessary for the manufacture of the locks. F. B. Weaver, formerly connected with the Miller lock company in Philadelphia, is in charge.

Democratic Watchman June 2 1899, page 8

"Among the recent shipments from the factory of the Standard scale and supply company limited was a consignment or four scales to a firm in St. Petersburg, Russia."

Democratic Watchman June 2 1899, page 8


"Memorial day, one of natural sadness to all American people, was made sorrowful indeed for David Rice and his family; for in the future it will always bring the recurring memory of the sad drowning of their little son Samuel.

Some time during the afternoon, after 4:30 o'clock, he went swimming at the breast of the old car shops dam and at 6:30 his lifeless body was pulled out of Spring creek at the foot bridge, just below the office building at the shops. It had floated a distance of about 300 yards when it became lodged in the stream and attracted the attention of two little colored boys, who call ed William Reed to the scene.

Just when or how the lad was drowned will probably always remain ii mystery, but as near as possible the known facts seem to warrant this story of it.

Sammy Rice was the eldest of David Rice's four children. He was 11 years old.  He was sent to Rees' grocery on Decoration day for some lard and ham it was 4:30, as near as Willie Rees can estimate, when the boy left their store with the lard in a bucket and the ham under his arm.

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31 December 2001

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