Beaver
Many land features and even one small town along the border of Lycoming
and Sullivan County, Beaver Dam, are named after the prodigious tree chopping mammal. This one was captured
swimming near the Brotzman farm in Tuscarora Township, Brandford County, PA.
Photo courtesy of Carol Brotzman

HISTORY OF SULLIVAN COUNTY
Articles in The Sullivan Review
1888


Transcribed by the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page transcription team
October 6, 2003

The Sullivan Review
March 15, 1888

SULLIVAN COUNTY HISTORY

We hope the time is not far distant when some person more competent than we will write a history of Sullivan County from the first known settlement until the present day.

Much valuable material has already been lost through the death of old residents and the destruction of records and documents which would aid very material in the work proposed. This work cannot commence too soon and its value to the present and future generations is incalculable.

Again we offer the services of the Review in gathering and preserving these records. There is scarcely a man in Sullivan County of middle age or past who is not in possession of some papers, or knowing of some anecdote, whose publication or recital at the present time would aid the local historian in compiling the history of Sullivan County. Give us a sketch of the first settlers in your locality, the date of the settlement, their trials and struggles to gain a foothold in the almost trackless forest on the summits of the Alleghenies; the lives and military records of our soldiers, the early county officers, both those of Lycoming from this section and those since the county has been struck off from Lycoming. There is a vast field full of facts of interest, if it can only be worked properly.

We would respectfully request our brother committeemen- Messrs. Meylert and Ingham, to prepare articles based on their personal remembrances or from documents in their possession. We are unable to do much in this work but to aid others, but we can be depended on to do that.   

The Sullivan Review
April 19, 1888

Historical

Bearing in mind the honor conferred on us by our appointment as co-laborer with Messrs. Meylert and Ingham to rescue from the half-forgotten past such scraps of local history as are attainable, we have drawn upon the abundant store of information and taxed the good nature of two of our aged friends-Rev. Wm. Reeser, of Colley, and Mrs. J.W. Martin, of Cherry. What follows is entirely their own, as we have only slightly re-arranged their separate manuscripts to fit them each to the other.

In 1819 Cherry Township comprised what is now Shrewsbury, Davidson, Colley, Cherry and Laporte townships. There were few roads and few settlers. Where Dushore now stands was a low and marshy piece of ground covered with alders and choke cherry bushes. So far as we can learn not a building was at that time standing in what is now the main or business portion of Dushore.

At that time Amos Ellis kept tavern on the Big Loyalsock, where John Seeman now lives; John R. Lopaz lived near Shinersville; Ezra Payne where Daniel Bahr now lives; Samuel McNeal where J.B. Cox now lives; Freeman Fairchild where Judge Pomeroy at present resides; Nicholas Potter 1st on the place now occupied by Mr. Sandos; Frederick Huffmaster where his grandson, Henry H., now resides; Jacob Miller on what is now the Zaner farm. Other early settlers: Wm. Graifly, Casper King, Henry Yonkin, Joseph Litzleswope, Dennis Thall, Wm. Hartzig, Joseph Fiester, Samuel Jackson, Russell Phillips, John Mosier, Wm. Darby, Wm. Martin, John Miller, Frederick Barge, Wm. Lawrence and others.

A sawmill had been built some time before near the Headleyville Falls on the Little Loyalsock (Those falls are today known as the "falls below the dam".) by Theodore Phinny. The millwright's name was Noble.
The first schoolhouse was built of logs, and was on the hill near where the Old Evangelical Church now stands. Salome Tomkins, from Morris County, N.J. was hired to teach for one year at the princely salary of $1.00 per week and board. This was in 1820. After that, Roswell Phelps, from Simsbury, Conn., and Alma Potter, from Huntington, Pa, taught in the same house. There are still living some persons who attended school there, viz; Rhoda Potter, now Burdick, of New Albany; Maria Dill, now Schofield, of North Towanda; Nicholas Potter Jr., now of Troy, Bradford County; Lucy Potter, now Chadwick, of Wellsburg, Chemung County, N.Y. and probably many others.

On July 4, 1819, the settlers of Cherry Township assembled at the residence of Ezra Payne and raised a "liberty pole", the first one raised within the limits of what is now Sullivan County. Seven women were present, all the women the township could boast of. No doubt they stood by and clapped their hands as their husbands and sons pulled at the ropes that swung the pole--the Cherry pole--into its place. When it stood stiff and straight and the flag had been run up, the township was christened then and there Cherry Township.

At this time the turnpike was completed across the North Mountain as far as Birch creek. Mrs. Martin distinctly remembers the cabin formerly occupied by DuThouars, standing a few rods from the turnpike on the south side of Marsh creek.
In 1822 Andrew Shiner had built a small gristmill on the premises of Amos Ellis, and John Reeser (the father of William of Colley; Amos, of Dushore; and John of Hillsgrove) moved from Columbia County and tended his mill. Milling was poor business, as the settlers were few and the grain scarce, and after a yea's experience he moved to where Percival Wentzell now lives, built a small log cabin, without a floor, and in the construction of which not an iron nail was used. Many cabins were built the same way, although some split ash and basswood logs for flooring and roofed with "clap boards." It was a poor roof, however, for we learn that it was nothing uncommon for the youngsters of those days to spring from their beds in the loft and land in two or three inches of snow that had sifted in during the night. After retiring on a clear night they could count the stars through the chinks until sleep closed their eyes.

The first frame barn in the township was built by Ezra Payne on what is now the Daniel Bahr farm in 1820, and here also the first apple orchard was planted. The first public road in the township was laid from Payne's premises through to the river at Wyalusing and is called the Payne road to this day. The first public road on the west side of the turnpike started from Sam'l McNeal's (J.B. Cox farm) and ran through the woods to what is known as Germany.

{We are promised more manuscript soon, and if this proves interesting we will continue.-ED}

 

The Sullivan Review
May 3, 1888

Historical

Rev. Wm. Reeser, of Colley, written as follows:
The tools used by the first settlers were an axe and hand spike, and, with the assistance of a pair of oxen, the early settler was ready to commence his battle with the wilderness. Horses were very scarce for a long time.
There were no stores nearer than Towanda or Berwick and our fathers suffered great inconvenience thereby. People would send by the stage driver for groceries and often when they arrived find the papers broken and their precious supplies mixed in a confused mess of tobacco, coffee, gun powder, tea, salt, etc. Very little of the genuine article, either of tea or coffee, was used. Parched rye took the place of the Mocha and Java of today, while sage and other herbs done duty for our Young Hyson and Japan.

The first store in the township was opened by a Mr. Dodge at Shinersville, but it was a small affair and lasted but a short time.
Store No. 2 was kept by Samuel Jackson on the premises where John Fick now lives. Dr. Josiah Jackson backed the enterprise financially and goods were hauled from Bloomsburg and sold at a high price.

The second grist mill was built by Mr. Murray at the falls of the Little Loyal Sock just below Headley's pond; the third by Geo. Miller, I think on the premises now occupied by Percival Wentzell, and after Shiners and Geo. Miller's mills went down (they being cheap affairs and giving poor satisfaction) the fourth mill was put up by my father, John Reeser, on the site occupied by Geo. Miller's old one. There was a time before my father built his mill when no grinding could be done in the county. Some lived on boiled rye for a long time, I know we had it for a number of days.
Then father went to work and put up a hand mill, the stones being two grind stones, and the neighbors came for miles around and chopped their rye in this primitive mill. Bread baked of rye chop was all the bread we had until mother and Mrs. John Miller converted their caps into a bolting cloth. Some might think wheat would have answered better, but the reader will please remember that wheat could not be raised in this county at that time. There was a plentiful growth of straw, but it would not head. Corn was the same way, all stalks and no ears. The first corn was raised on what is now the Lyman Baker farm. Rye and buckwheat done well. Often people would have been glad to have had even such bread as that just referred to. I have seen families sit down at table when the entire meal consisted of potatoes and salt. I have heard children cry for bread when there was none to be had, and I have seen others make a meal entirely of corn meal mush and sweetened water. Butter was useless, on account of the wild garlic and pepper, which the cows browsed on in the woods, and we were glad to spread such bread as we had with stewed dried apples of pumpkin sauce.

Such were a few of the trials and tribulations that beset the sturdy pioneers who cleared the forests and rendered cultivatable the broad acres now inherited by their children. It must be remembered that the timber was perfectly v alueless and every stick must be burned except the small amount required to construct the rude cabins, which served as habitations. Sixty-five years have wrought great changes, and where then was a trackless forest the civil engineer now surveys the line for some artery of commerce, and the streams that once ran undisturbed to the Susquehanna now bear on their bosoms the logs (then worthless) which are now floated to the mills to be manufactured into Sullivan county's staple product- hemlock lumber. But enough of old time reminiscences for the present. I will continue some other time.  

The Sullivan Review
May 24, 1888

WESTERN SULLIVAN HISTORY
By Ulysses Bird

At the time the first settlements were made in this part of the country, it was a part of Northumberland but Lycoming was struck off soon after, viz: in 1796. Elkland Township then included what is now Fox, Hillsgrove, Plunkett Creek and Cascade Townships. Forks was then a part of Shrewsbury.

The first settler in what in now Sullivan County was Daniel Ogdon who moved to Hillsgrove on the loyal Sock soon after the close of the Revolutionary War and commenced improvements on the place now owned by Richard Biddle and built a small gristmill there. It has been learned from a reliable source that Ogdon was a Tory and no doubt settled here in the wilderness to escape persecution, if not death, from his more patriotic countrymen.
His most bitter enemy was a man name Flatt living near Muncy, then known as Pennsburg. On two occasions, Flatt came over the mountain on purpose to shoot Ogdon, but did not find him at home, Ogdon did not remain a great while at Hillsgrove but was there when the settlements were begun in Forks and Elkland. He seemed to be greatly displeased when settlers began to come in and said the neighbors were too close for him, so he sold his land to John Hill and moved up the west branch of the Susquehanna where some of his descendants still reside.

Soon after Ogdon moved to Hillsgrove, Captain Brown, a noted hunter and trapper, built a cabin on the Loyal Sock below Forksville on the flat now occupied by Isaac Rogers; he did not become a permanent settler but was there several years fishing, hunting and trapping the greater part of the time. "Browns Gap" takes the name after him.

Joseph Priestly and John Vaughn owned a large body of land on the Loyal Sock and its waters, and being anxious to dispose of it, offered new settlers fifty acres of land a piece to become in and settle on their lands.
This offer induced three Englishmen, William Molyneux, John Warren, and Powell Bird, to make a settlement on their lands. They came to the Forks in 1793, though Molyneux had been there the year previous and built a cabin, then returned for his family. They moved up the Sock in canoes, there being no roads then, only the old Wallas trail from Muncy to Hillsgrove.
These men begun improvements on land afterward owned by their descendants William and Thomas Molyneux; heirs now own the land taken up by their grandfather. The late Joseph Warren inherited his father's property but it is now owned by Molyneux's and J.K. Bird. J.K. Bird now occupies the old Bird homestead. Rebecca Bird was the first person born (Indians excepted) in what is now Sullivan County. Priestly gave her fifty acres of land for being the first child born in the new settlement. She married Edward Molyneux and was the mother of a large family, many of her descendants remaining in the county, all intelligent and industrious citizens.

"Aunt Becky" as everyone called her, was known far and near for she spent much of her time in her old age nursing the sick and visiting her many relatives. She died in 1883, aged 86 years. George Bird, being the only son, remained on the homestead; he was a man of great nerve and courage and a sure shot, he killed panthers, wolves and bears by the score. He died in 1872, aged 83 years.

John Warren was from Derbyshire, England. When he moved to the Loyal Sock his family consisted of his wife and one child, a daughter named Sarah. Joseph the oldest son being the first male child born in the county, remained on the farm. John Warren died in 1816 in the forty-fifth year of his age.

A good story is told about Joseph Warren when a young man. One day he heard their dogs barking fiercely down near the creek, so he went down but did not take his gun with him. He was somewhat surprised on reaching the creek to find that the dogs had a young panther treed on a drift pile. Fearing that the panther might escape if he went for his gun, he seized a club and struck him several blows thinking of course he had finished him; he took the panther by the tail and slinging him over his shoulder started for the house. After going a short distance, he felt something scratching him on his back and looking over his shoulder he saw that the panther had come to life and was growling at the dogs. To lay the young king of the forest down and kill him again with a vengeance took him less time than it takes me to tell it. A cat is said to have nine lives and it seems that some panthers have at least two.  

The Sullivan Review
June 14, 1888

WESTERN SULLIVAN HISTORY
By Ulysses Bird

Joseph Warren lived to be eighty-three years of age, having departed this life in 1878. Two younger brothers still survive, viz: James and Joseph who now reside in Canton. The tall erect form of the latter is often seen in our county, though he has long since passed three score years and ten allotted to man, and his hair is whitening for the grave.

William Molyneux was born at Bold Maple, Lancaster County, England, in 1761. He died in 1848, aged 87 years. The Molyneux's are of French descent having moved to England something over a century before they came to America. Mr. Molyneux had three sons and one daughter.
John Molyneux remained on his father's place. He died in 1861 aged 75 years.
Edward Molyneux married Rebecca Bird as stated before; he lived to be 83 years old, having departed this life in 1872.

Thomas Molyneux married Hannah Rogers and lived for sometime at the Cape Mills then moved to where Frank Hannon now lives, having built the stone dam and a grist mill at that place.

A short time after the commencement was made at the Forks by Bird, Molyneux and Warren, Thomas Huckell came. He was born in Birmingham, England and moved to the Forks in 1797. He was a husbandman by trade. He made a contract with Priestly for a whole tract of land containing four hundred acres, lying on both sides of the creek, including the land where the Borough of Forksville is located. He died in 1789 having only resided one year at the Forks, and leaving a widow and family of children. His widow being unable to pay for all the land contracted for, surrendered to Priestly the part of the land on the south side of the creek. The other part has since been occupied by his descendants and is now owned by D.T. Huckell, Esq.

In 1802, Samuel Rogers purchased the land surrendered by Thos. Huckell's widow and commenced improvements where Forksville now stands. He came from Leeds, Yorkshire County, England, where he was born in 1760. His family consisted of ten children when he moved to the Forks and had three children afterwards; eleven of them were sons and two, daughters.

Mr. Rogers was a clothier by trade and built a woolen factory, a little below the bridge at Forksville on the Big Loyal Sock. A wagon road called the Carson Road was opened across the mountain about this time, though there had been a pack horse road opened previous to this which went farther to the west, passing to the westward of Hunter's Lake. This wagon road took a zigzag course to the top of the mountain south of Forksville, intersecting the present road at a point about a mile beyond the Bennett place.

Rogers hauled his manufacted goods to Philadelphia and brought back wool on the return trip; some of the wool came from South Carolina and contained the seed of the tory burr which are found all along the Sock, as great a pest to farmers as the Canada thistle.

It seems almost incredible to believe that any profit could be realized from an undertaking of this kind with so many difficulties to contend with, but manufactures were scarce in this country at that early date, and we are informed that a very successful business was carried on for some time, especially during the war of 1812.

During the great flood in August 1817, the factory was carried away and was never rebuilt. Samuel Rogers died in 1828. His youngest son Moses remained on the homestead.

After the first opening was made at Forks, settlers came in rapidly. In 1796 Joseph Huckell went on the land afterward occupied by Benjamin Huckell, and John Huckell went on land now owned by Wheeler Green in Hillsgrove.

Soon after this some settlements were commenced on the hills north of the Loyal Sock to what is now Elkland Township. Elk were actually found there, hence the name. An aged friend once told us of having, when a boy, seen a herd of 70 elk on Burnetts ridge.

About the beginning of the present century a number of settlers moved to this Township and among the earliest were Edward J. Eldred, Francis Bull, James Ecroyd, Ezra Haines, Jesse Haines, John Binley, John Conxey, Joseph, John and Amos Hoagland, Jonathan Hartley, Edward Jones, William King, Joel McCarty, James Meek, Charles Mullan, Aaron Patterson, William Russell, William Snell, Robert Sample, John Brown, Peter Domnick, Joseph Reeves, Webster Wynne, Lewis Danelley and Jonas Yours. The above named all being here in 1807, as shown by a duplicate of road tax for that year. The first twelve families settling here were each granted 150 acres of land free, upon the following conditions: That they would within one year build a substantial log house and completely clear, fence and cultivate 10 acres in five years;; only one family were to settle on a tract of land and they were to have the privilege of purchasing the remainder of the tract at the rate of 20 shillings per acre.

Many of our people know that the James Meek place now lies in Bradford County, but it was then a part of Elkland as the original boundary between Lycoming and Luzerne was a natural one, the dividing ridge or watershed between the west and north branch of the Susquehanna being taken as the boundary, Meek's place being on the south side of the ridge was then in Lycoming county. Bradford County was formed from a part of Luzerne in 1810 and was called Ontario until 1812 when the name was changed to the present one. The new line was run at this time.

James Ecroyd settled on the place now owned by Fred Kunuppler and Fred Smith as near as can be ascertained in 1799 and built a saw and grist mill on Kings creek below the Beaver Dam. The dam, a long race and the foundation to the mill can be still seen; many trees a foot over stand in the old race.
The following letter will be of interest to many, it being addressed to a millwright named Stephen Bill.

Sirs: I will beg of you on the part of Mr. Ecroyd to come or send some efficient hand to set the mill to rights. Mr. Ecroyd is down at Philadelphia and we have a number of new settlers that are very much distressed for flour; the mill will not perform at all. I undertook to grind for the settlers in Mr. Ecroyd's absence; it therefore rather devolves on me to request of you a ready attention to our necessities, as most of the settlers have not the means of going out for provisions and are therefore much distressed for bread. I therefore beg you will not fail to come or send immediately.
. I am Sir, Your Obedient and Faithful Servant. E.J.E.
Elkland's, March 28, 1800

 

The Sullivan Review
June 21, 1888

WESTERN SULLIVAN HISTORY
By Ulysses Bird

Edward Jarvis Eldred was no doubt the most prominent person among the many good people who first settled in Elkland. He came of a noted family in England and not far distant relative of William Penn, the illustrious founder of our Commonwealth. He was born August 19, 1763 at the Overshot mill, Norwood, Middlesex, Old England and was well educated at the age of sixteen years. He moved to New York in 1798, having letters of recommendation and introduction to John Vaughn and Joseph Priestly, spoken of in a former chapter. They induced him to study surveying so he could move on their lands and act as surveyor and land agent. His first two years in America were spent in teaching school, studying surveying and visiting different parts of the country; but he became a permanent settler in 1800 on land now owned by Henry Kobbe and Chas. Hugo.

The old Genesee Road, as it was called, passed by his house. This road is followed the old Wallis trail to Hillsgrove, thence up Elk creek and King's creek and over Burnett's ridge, continuing northward through Towanda, on to Painted Post and that part of York state which was then known as the Genesee or Lake Country.
Many people from the southern part of this state were induced to move even over the horrible mountain roads to this much-famed Genesee country and Eldred's became a convenient stopping place. His house was frequently overflowed with emigrants desiring to remain all night. This induced Eldred to erect his large house called "Liberty Hall," which is still remembered and often spoken by old men at the present day. It was commenced about 1805 and built of course, of logs; the central part was twenty feet square and three story with four wings each twenty feet square and two story, making five rooms all twenty feet square in the first floor, before he finished it. However another and better road was constructed for the northward travel, emigrants no longer passed that way in such numbers, and he abandoned the completion of his great house. It remained for many years, an object of curiosity and perhaps occasionally of ridicule, until it was finally destroyed by fire in 1845.

Mr. Eldred became the first Justice of the Peace in this part of the country, having been appointed to this office by Thomas McKean, then governor of Pennsylvania, in 1808 and continued in office almost continually for forty years, until near the time of his death. He was well qualified for this important office, having studied law in England and being an excellent penman, fully acquainted with law forms and from those reasons he was employed to do nearly all the legal business for the entire settlement and surrounding country. The writer meets quite frequently with deeds and other documents written by him even to the present day. His docket shows that he married about fifty couples, there being few preachers at that time, not even to attend funerals.
Transcriber's Note: You can examine this record directly at Edward Eldred's Marriage Docket.

We give here an oration on Felin Powell, the first man who died in Elkland, vix: February 27, 1802

MEN OF THE ELK LANDS-We have been called together on a solemn occasion, the first of the kind that has happened in these lands. Men as we are from different countries and of various religions, but united it is presumed in the same general moral and social sentiments, we trust and hope in the guardian care and wise disposal of the great God of nature. In our being while we exist the same hand is over us in death, the same God exists when our spirits are fled, we know not whither, and our bodies moldering in the dust. On Him the great and ever living God, let us with steadfast and unshaken confidence depend while we regard with unremitting attention the monitor he has placed within our bosoms, that monitor would teach us after our acknowledgement to the great God of all, next under our present circumstances to apply decent and becoming honor to the deceased. We remember him as a man, we cannot forget him as a man active and laborious considering his years, three score years and ten, we must remember him as a useful member of society, we commit his body to our mother earth, tenderly as brethren, whilst we hope through the different modes that our various religions inspire for the future disposal of our deceased brother.

Men of the Elk Lands, we have paid the last sad honor to a deceased friend; let us consider that echo of us in our turn shall one day require the same kind office at the hands of some of our fellow men; this should teach us the necessity of moral and social duties and while we observe a decent and becoming regard for the dead, let us bear away with us from the grave the reflection that higher and still more important duties are due from each of us to the other and from us, to all mankind that live.

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