Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Developing Tomorrow's Leaders
Mansfield: 150 Years of History

Elliott Part 2

Elliott was soon after elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature, where he served from 1861-1862. During that time, the seminary set a goal to become a State Normal School. Normal schools were begun in1857 in Pennsylvania to educate new teachers in a two-year program to teach in the common schools of the state.  Elliott worked to secure that designation for the institution in Mansfield. Mansfield was to become the commonwealth’s third normal school. (Millersville and Edinboro received their designations earlier).

At the time, the state was divided into 12 (later 13) districts with one normal school serving each district. Mansfield was the school for the fifth district. The normal school designation helped to partially erase the last of the debts incurred by the fire, but it would take a private loan of $6500 from the Honorable John Magee, owner of the Fallbrook Mines to completely wipe out the schools liabilities. After the school repaid around $3300 of the debt to Magee, he gave the school a gift of the balance on New Years Eve of 1867, not long before his death.

Four years earlier, Elliott designed and built the sheriff’s home and county jail in Wellsboro. According to his obituary, he charged the county $10,000 for the service, a small amount for the time. That structure, houses the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce and the Tioga County Development Corp.

Elliott is also credited with building three railroads in Tioga County, as well as designing the Mansfield Methodist Church on the corner of Academy and Sullivan streets in 1872, just across the street from Elliott Hall. He would later go on to work as a manager of the coal mines near Arnot, eventually moving to Reynoldsville, Jefferson County Pa. to do similar work there.

However, he always considered Tioga County his home and would often return to the area.

Elliott developed a fascination for astronomy and the newspapers raved about the quality of his lectures. The Wellsboro Agitator even ran a notice in 1900 that Elliott, then age 70, traveled to North Carolina to witness an eclipse.

However, Elliott’s later years were mainly marked by his dedication to the environment. He was a noted expert on geology, including erosion problems, and forestry. In 1907, he wrote to The Agitator and explained some of the problems with the new macadam roads.

Elliott was named to the state forestry commission in 1904 at a time when the forests of North Central Pennsylvania were nearly ruined by clear-cutting. He was a leader in the effort to create nurseries for growing trees that could later be replanted, thus restoring some of Pennsylvania’s forests. His efforts were particularly centered in Clearfield County and the area that later became Moshannon State Forest. In 1933, 318 acres of that forest was designated as S. B. Elliott State Park in his honor.

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