Campbellville Schoolhouse Site
Kelly Hill Road
Campbellville, PA, May 2001

Campbellville: A Community in Forks Township

The material in this brief article was contriubted by Burke Campbell, who lives in St. Louis, MO. He is a direct descendant of JOHN CAMPBELL, the original founder who settled in the area about 150 years ago. He can be reached at burke1@myexcel.com. The Sullivan County Settlers Web Page is grateful to Burke for his historical information and beautiful pictures.

On or about the year 1849, John Campbell, his wife Mary, and sons James, Hiram and Joseph transferred his milling operations in Bradford county to his son John, Jr. and moved into Forks Township, Sullivan County. Searching out a spot for the erection of a new gristmill, he selected a location at the union of Level Branch and Lick Creek. Thereupon he purchased seventeen and a half acres for the sum of thirty-seven and one half dollars US from Thomas Coggins.

Immediately John began construction of his new gristmill and a covered bridge across Level Branch to serve the milling needs of the farmers in the area. The mill was constructed with a "turbine driven shaft" which is located below water at the center of the edge of the mill. It was driven by a gate and sluice allowing the water to race past it and drive the vertical shaft. John Campbell once said, "In the fall when farmers would bring their grain to be milled, a joyous time was had." as farmers waited their turn, which may have taken a day or two. The covered bridge was built by the "Burr Truss" method, first introduced in 1804 and patented in 1817. Old records show that Campbell did not always receive cash. Instead he would take a percentage of the crop to be milled--usually a fifth to an eighth depending on the type of milling wanted, such as flour, corn meal, bran, cream of wheat, etc.

A small village soon developed with the mill as the nucleus and it was called Campbellville for the owner of the mill. At that time, there was one house already there (formerly a logging cabin,) the first to be built in the area. That house is now over 200 years old and still inhabited by the Litzelman's. A cluster of houses was built along with a schoolhouse, a general store and post office. On 8 January 1851, John Campbell was made the first US Postmaster of Campbellville.

A current picture of the site of the old school is shown at the top of this page. Many local families attended this one-room schoolhouse through the end of the 1800s. In the Kelly family alone, Regis, Willie, Francis, Florence, Alice, Raymond Jerome, Julia and James all attended. There were children named Kester, Bahl, Keeney and others too. Miss Agnes Leahy was their school teacher. The mill and covered bridge would have been immediately just around the curve going down Kelly Hill Road in the picture. The building (at the same location and with the same size as the schoolhouse ground floor) is a summer residence now.

Some of the residents over the first fifty years were: John & Mary Campbell, James H. Campbell, Hiram M. & Hannah B. Campbell, 2nd Postmaster, Robert Warburton, 4th Postmaster, Joseph Campbell, Wilson R. Campbell, 5th Postmaster, William Campbell, 6th Postmaster, M. Warburton, 7th Postmaster, Hiram L. Campbell, Powell Norton, 8th Postmaster, Watson & Ada (Bedford) Fawcett, Thomas R. & Josie Wank, John & Sara Wank and daughter Laura, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Wank, James Hart (who died there in 1880), Mr. & Mrs. John Fleming and their daughter Melvia.

In 1902, a flood washed away the mill which led to the demise of the village over time. During the first half of the 1900's, a resident was burning brush near the edge of the surrounding woods and caught the woods on fire, which burned the general store and some of the houses. In 1954-55 the covered bridge was auctioned off and sold to Otis and Florence Hatch of Forksville for $82.50.

The picture on the top page of this site shows the old Litzelman House as it looks today. I have been told by the owner that it was the first house in the area back in the 1830-40 era, and was first a logging cabin. Now, if you look at the picture closely, just to the left of the window with the wood stick across it (the window on the right), you can see a faint vertical line. The line separates the older building (front) from the addition in the back. It's a lot clearer up close in person naturally. The house is currently inhabited by Litzelman descendants. The lady of the house claims it's over 200 years old. The house for sure is over 128 years old, as it is indicated on the 1872 map of Sullivan County. So I suspect she is right on. She is 80 years old and remembers going to the then still surviving general store as a youth.

The first picture shown below is a photo taken of an oil painting made from an 1899 actual black and white photograph. The oil painting adorns the wall of my den. Right where the covered bridge and mill stood, there were only a few houses close by. The rest of the Campbellville "neighborhood" was located in adjacent farms surrounding the mill. Right by the mill itself, there were perhaps three houses, a general store and post office combined, and a saw mill a few hundred yards away. The second picture shows the combined general store and post office taken probably about 1912. The bridge crosses Lick Creek, with a house on the left and the general store/PO on the right. The auto on the bridge is vintage 1910-1912. Out of view to the left are the mill and covered bridge over Level Creek, which merges into Lick Creek between the two bridges. Now take a look at the third picture, which shows the same intrsection as the second picture in more recent times. This is the crossing known today as the Devil's elbow. See the tree at center right. Well, to the immediate right of the tree, about two feet or so, there was a house and general store with the road passing on the right of them as you view the picture. A tight fit I'd say. Lick Creek is in the center down below the road, heading downstream away from the viewer. Today everything is gone. But thanks for letting me resurrect Campbellville.

Burke S. Campbell
St. Louis, MO

 

Here is a complementary excerpt from the History of Forks Township written by George Streby in 1903:

About 1850 John Campbell erected a gristmill at Campbellville and about the same time George Hunsinger erected a sawmill near the same place. The flood of December 1901 took out both gristmill and a sawmill. The gristmill property is owned by Norton & Hottenstein and the sawmill property by George Kester, who has erected a steam saw mill since the flood. Powell Norton, of the firm of Norton & Hottenstein, conducts a store at Campbellville and is also postmaster at that place.

Streby also listed the registered voters for Campbellville at the time of his comments (1903):

Bahl. EJ
Fawcett, Watson
Haverly, Wm D
Kester, Geo W
Kenney, Ezra
Litzelman, Geo J
McCarty, MJ
McCarty, Septer
Mathews, Manning
Mathews, Jerome
Norton, RW
Norton, Powell
Norton, Manley

 

Copyright 2001 Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors before this material can be printed or otherwise copied, displayed or distributed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at ~Sullivan County Genealogy Project (http://www.rootsweb.com/~pasulliv)