The Bradford County Historical Society has recently released the September issue of their quarterly magazine, The Settler, to its membership. Copies are available for sale at the museum, located at 109 Pine St. in Towanda. Due to COVID restrictions, please call (570) 265-2240 ahead of time to reserve copies.
This issue of history and biography contains articles on the United States Census for the years 1920 and 1950 in relationship to Bradford County. There is also a story on the V-J Day Parade and celebration in Towanda in 1945 when word of the surrender of Japan was received. This article has several photos of groups that attended or participated in the parade.
There is a story of the Winters twins, John and William, who were killed in an Army Air Force training in 1945. Bradford County’s Original Snake Story told about Jacob Strunk from Lime Hill in 1840. A Memorative for Helen M. Landmesser, a long-time staff member and friend of the society, and finally the story of A. G. Spalding “Father of Baseball” who had a connection to Towanda are included.
The following is the story from the Settler of A. G. Spalding. Henry G. Farley, editor of the magazine, reported that positive comments have been received from members regarding the issue, some saying it brought back many memories.
‘Father of Baseball’ Bradford County Boy – A.G. Spalding’s Grandfather was Colonel Harry Spalding, Pioneer of Towanda
The famous Albert Goodwill Spalding, “Father of Baseball,” and one of the greatest pitchers the national game has ever known, who died at Point Lomo, Calif. on Sept. 9, 1915, came from good old Bradford County stock.
Spalding, whose death was sincerely mourned throughout America, was the grandson of Colonel Harry Spalding, one of the pioneer settlers of Towanda. Colonel Spalding was born in Sheshequin on Sept. 30 1784, and moved to Towanda where in 1812 he built the Mix homestead on York Avenue, the oldest house in the borough (now the Christini home). He died there on May 21, 1821.
A.G. Spalding was the son of James Lawrence Spalding, who was born in Towanda on Sept. 15,1813 and moved to Byron, Illinois where he died on Jan. 23, 1859.
Albert G. Spalding was born at Byron, Illinois on Sept. 2, 1850. He made a number of visits to Towanda while prominent as a baseball player, and later as a manufacturer of the sporting goods, which bear his name.
Besides his widow, Spalding is survived by three sons – Albert Goodwill Spalding Jr., Keith Spalding and Durand Churchill, a son by adoption. Keith Spalding resides in Chicago; Churchill and Albert Spalding are in Europe.
His only brother, J. Walter Spalding of New York, is vice president of the firm of A. G. Spalding and Bros. His sister, W. T. Brown, and his mother reside in East Orange, N.J.
For many years, Spalding was a prominent member of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society. Since making his home in California, Spalding had been identified closely with the good roads movement.
In the first primary election in California for United States Senator in 1910, Spalding entered the race against John D. Works of Los Angeles. Although he had only 30 days for his campaign, he carried 75 legislative districts of the State, as against 45 for all other candidates. Despite this the State Legislature declared that Works should be chosen, and Spalding was defeated.
Spalding as a boy gave up a $5 a week job in a grocery store to become identified with baseball and was perhaps better known to the sport than any other man. To veterans of the game, he was known as the “father of baseball.” He became famous as a pitcher, one of the first to use the underhanded delivery and later became the manager of clubs.
With his parents he moved from Byron, Illinois, his birthplace, to Rockford in 1863, where he attended commercial college. But he soon learned he could make more money playing ball, and joined the Forest City club of Rockford, which made a reputation when it defeated the National Club of Washington in 1867.
Four years later, Spalding joined the famous Boston Red Stockings and pitched the club to a pennant victory in the races of the Professional Association in 1872, ‘73, ’74, and’75.
His longest connection with active baseball playing was with the Chicago club, which he joined in 1876. He was successfully its manager, secretary, and president until 1881.
For years he had cherished the idea that the sport might be popularized in England, and in the winter of 1874 after the tour of the famous Baltimore Orioles he went to Europe. Everywhere he was received enthusiastically.
In 1888 and 1889 he managed the first world tour of the Chicago and All-American baseball teams. In 1875, Spalding became interested in the manufacture of sporting goods and started a small shop in New Haven, Conn., with a capital of only $800.