It seemed like a small bit of information without a lot of merit. The Bradford Era had an entry that gave a tidbit of information concerning my great-great grandfather William C Davis.
Bradford Era, Bradford, Pennsylvania, March 27, 2009
100 Years Ago
The First Baptist church is negotiating for the purchase of the old building just north of the church on Congress Street, now occupied by W. C. Davis as a meat market, which will be razed this summer.”
I went to Google maps and started digging for the location of the First Baptist in Bradford. I found it at 71 Congress Street. This didn’t seem to make sense for a location as the addresses that I had previously found for my great-great grandfather’s meat market had been in the 20s on Congress, much closer to Main Street.
I opened my account with Newspaperarchive.com and searched for articles on the First Baptist Church in Bradford Pennsylvania. I knew I needed information around the late 1880s to early 1900. I found an ad for the times of services at the First Baptist Church located on Congress and Corydon streets.
The Daily Era, Bradford, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1886
“FIRST BAPTIST Church — Corner Congress and Corydon streets. Rev. James P. Thorns, pastor. Services at 11 a, m. and 7 p. m. Sunday School at 12:30 p. m. Young people’s meeting at 8:30 p. m. Evening subject: "The Perils and Hopes of Working Classes.’‘
I knew now that my original information on the store location was correct; the next problem was locating on which corner. I was guessing that it would be the northwest side of Congress, but I couldn’t be sure.
I grabbed the history book that I had on Bradford written by Sally Ryan Costik from the Bradford Landmark Society, Images of America, Around Bradford Volume II and started flipping through the pages. Chapter Five, page 83 held all the information I would need.
The top photo showed the church in 1923, Corydon Street appeared on the south side of the building and I couldn’t tell what was on the north side from this photo. The description told me that the church was built in 1880 and dedicated in 1881. It also confirmed that the building was torn down in 1941 when the new church at its present day location was built.
The photo on the bottom of the page, taken from directly in front of the building, showed an empty lot that was filled with children and a large tent covered area marked for Bradford Vacation School in 1923 on the north side of the building.
I grabbed the photo of my great-great grandfather’s meat market off the wall and closely examined the porch posts, brickwork, windows and trim on the building next door. Records that I had found let me know that the W. C. Davis meat market was in business from 1887 to 1893. This article would let me know that he still had the business location as late as 1909.
There was a match to the porch posts, brickwork, brickwork and trim on the photos of the church in the Bradford book. I had wondered what the building that peaked out from the left corner of the photo had been.
The church was designed with three front doors. The middle one seemed to go into the church, the other 2 doors, located on either side of the main church door and had entries off of porches. The window on the right had side of the church had a business name in it, Northern Oil. This bit of information is still a bit curious. Did the church rent out space as a money making venture?
I also found out that there was a hotel located behind the church on Corydon street called the Hotel Florence.
The Daily Era, Bradford, Pennsylvania, August 18, 1887
“Mrs. A. Simon Painfully Hurt.
Mrs. A. Simon, wife of our respected townsman, fell on the sidewalk on Corydon street between the Hotel Florence and the Baptist church on Tuesday night. Her left leg was fractured and she sustained other serums internal injuries. Last night Mrs. Simon was progressing favorably. A suit against the city will result.”
The buildings are long gone. The corner where the church once stood has a gas station and has had for as long as I can remember. The building that was behind the church is now the “Friendship Table.” It had been several things over the years including the telephone company office.