Settlers VII: Edward Jarvis Eldred and the Genessee Road

Updated by Bob Sweeney in March 2014

First Highway in County in 1800

The first road built in Sullivan County was the Genessee Road, in 1800, from Muncy to Wolf Run, Huntersville, Highland Lake, down Ogdonia Creek to the Loyalsock, up that creek to Elk Creek, Lincoln Falls, over the ridge to Kings Creek, then eastward over Burnetts Ridge and down Schrader Branch and Towanda Creek connecting with other roads to the Tioga River and thence into New York State. Early road builders tried to follow the shortest route, without regard for steep grades. The Susquehannah and Tioga Turnpike "by the best and nearest route" from Berwick to the state line nearest Newtown (Elmira) was built from Berwick by way of the Long Pond to the Loyalsock a mile below Ringdale in 1809 and was extended to the county line in 1814. Other roads were built as the population grew and settlements sprang up.--Sullivan Review, Dushore, PA, July 31, 1959

Editor's Note: You can learn more about the "Turnpike", and where it ran, at the Wikipedia entry for Susquehanna and Tioga Turnpike.


George Jarvis Eldred (Feb. 22, 1818-Feb. 15, 1893)
From an old Picture of Members of the Pennsylvania House of Repsentatives for 1879-1880
Photo contributed by Eldred W. Atkinson

Edward Jarvis Eldred Family

Edward Jarvis Eldred was born Overshot Mill, Norwood, Middlesex County, England on the 19th August, 1763. Obtaining letters of introduction to Messrs. Bond, the British Consul at New York, and John Vaughan, an extensive land owner of the same city, and Dr. Joseph Priestley, a prominent citizen of Northumberland, PA., Mr. Eldred engaged passage and embarked the 18th of May 1798. The "Molly"reached New York Harbor safely, after a voyage of two and half months, landing Mr. Eldred from a "fishing Boat," on Block Island, the 31st of July 1798. From thence he was soon after conveyed to New York, a city at that time about as large as Williamsport of today. He engaged lodgings at "Bayara's Farm, near the Bowery Lane".

In an interview with Vaughan and Bond, on presenting his letters, they proposed that he should qualify himself for a land surveyor, and on that condition offered him the agency of their lands in Pennsylvania. He made his way across the country to Kingston, opposite Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pa. He visited Mr. Priestley, at Northumberland, and obtained also the agency of his lands, who supplied him with a newly established colony of Englishmen. He engaged a log house of Thomas King Sr., which he transferred in the spring of 1800, such articles of personal property as were then in his possession.

There seems to have been no wagon road through this, or perhaps any other part of Sullivan County at this time - at least no public road. Joseph J. Wallis, who was then the Deputy Surveyor of the first district, had several years before in 1784, cut out and opened a "pack horse" road to supply himself and men with provisions whilst engaged with his official duties. Mr. Eldred procured three oxen, and belling the leader, learned the others to follow him. With this team he made several trips to and from Muncy, encamping in the woods when night overtook him, and releasing the oxen of their burden. The scream of the panther and the howl of wolves was often a horrid serenade around him, but the camp fire and bell of the ox deterred those animals from a closer interview. The necessity of a wagon road soon obliged the owners of the unimproved land as well as the settlers to have one constructed, and in 1802-3 those thus interested, by subscriptions of money and work, opened up for travel a private thoroughfare from Pennsborough (now Muncy) to Meansville (now Towanda), It was for several years the main route for emigrants to Western New York from Southern Pennsylvania and Maryland, particularly to the Genesee country, which gave it the name of the Genesee Road. It is said that as many as 28 Conestoga wagons would spend the night enroute to the Genessee area.

Mr. Eldred, who had erected a log house near it, was soon overrun with applications for lodging, meals, and provender for beasts. He needed to adopt the most feasible method for providing better and more extensive accommodations. The only resource, seemed to be a log house. The plan of constructing four houses of hewed logs, cornering together and forming the fifth, occurred to him and was adopted. It was occupied by the owner in the autumn of the same year, operated as a tavern, and was called "Liberty Hall," It was through Samuel McKean that a post route from Pennsborough to Meansville was established in 1825. Post offices were created, one at Hillsgrove, on the Loyalsock, which took its name from that of the tract of William Clair, called so in the patent, and "Eldredville," named by General McKean, from the five houses he had previously helped to erect on the head waters of Elk Creek.

Over the period from 1808-1845, Eldred collected his notes and papers in what has come to be known as "Eldred's Docket". Since he was Justice of the Peace in Lycoming County for a long time, this compendium has become a major source of historical information bout the early families and events of what later would be Sullivan County. Originally edited by H. Delbert Bird of Muncy, PA, the full title was Edward J. Eldred's Docket: 1808-1845, and parts of it were reissued in Now and Then (Volume X, July, 1952, Number Five, pages 151 to 157). Here is what was said by H. Delbert Bird in his comments on the Docket in 1952:

The Docket

Whatever information or pleasure that may be derived from this paper, is due to the kindness of Mrs. Louise Ford of Laceyville, Pa, who loaned Dr. T. K. Wood a Docket, compiled by Judge Edward J. Eldred, a Barrister from England, who was a Justice of the Peace in and for Lycoming County.
He held forth in Elkland, Forks, Shrewsbury and Cherry Townships, in the upper end of Lycoming which is now Sullivan County.
You can possibly imagine the personal thrill that attended the reading of this docket, which begins with the year 1808 and ends with 1845 - all over one hundred years ago. To make it doubly interesting, several of the transactions recorded concerned people that we can recall seeing in our boy-hood. For instance, Abram Bough was our next-door neighbor. His farm adjoined ours and many times did we visit his home and Aunt Ann, his wife, would always fill our pockets with cookies, apples, etc. Sarah Sherman, or Aunt Sally as we all called her, was Red Grange';s paternal great-grandmother. She was blind in one eye and always wore a black patch over the blind member.
Thomas Molyneaux was my maternal great grandfather. Benjamin Nevil was my mother's uncle. Josiah Warren often called at my grand-father's when I was a small chap. Richard Biddle married my paternal grandfather's sister.
All of these people were seen by me, as one born out of due time. Altho not all of them are mentioned in this paper because their names appear merely as witnesses or in any way as to be of little interest.

Editor's Note: A transcribed version of marriages recorded by Eldred over the course of about 25 years can be found at Edward Eldred's Marriage Docket.

Edward Jarvis Eldred expired the 7th day of July, 1847. He was our contributor's great-great-great grandfather. He had 15 children eight of whom survived him, of which three stand out: William J. of Elkland, Sullivan County; Charles D., of Muncy, Lycoming (later Sullivan ) County; and George Jarvis of Mackeyville, Clinton County. George was elected to the state Legislature as a Democrat in 1853, serving Clinton, Lycoming and Potter Counties in PA, and again in 1878 for one term.

Contributor:
Eldred W. Atkinson
Ewa728@aol.com
York PA

Here is a picture of Eldred with his children and grandchildren, and also two stand-alone pictures of Eldred with his grandchildren, Kelly and Daniel Hester. Kelly is the older by one minute. Edward Jarvis Eldred was their great x 5- grandfather. Their lineage goes back as follows:

Kelly Nicole and Daniel Stewart Hester, born 11/03/1999
Paul Hester, born 08/09/1969 m. Amy Nicole Atkinson, born 10/05/1968
Eldred W. Atkinson, born 12/02/1934
Clair Atkinson m. Dorothy Eldred
George Brooks Eldred
Robert Clayton Eldred
George Jarvis Eldred
Edward Jarvis Eldred


Eldred W. Atkinson
Twin Grandchildren Daniel Stewart Hester and Kelly Nicole Hester
Born Nov. 3, 1999
Photo contributed by Eldred W. Atkinson


Eldred W. Atkinson
Twin Grandchildren
Daniel Stewart Hester and Kelly Nicole Hester
Early 2002
Photo contributed by Eldred W. Atkinson


Family of Eldred W. Atkinson
L to r: Daniel Hester, Amy Atkinson Hester (Daughter and Mother of Twins), Douglas Atkinson (Son), Paul Hester (Son-in-Law), Kelly Hester
Photo contributed by Eldred W. Atkinson

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