George Streby paints a wonderful historical picture of early Pennyslvania in his History of
Sullivan County, PA, just as he did in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Unfortunately for descendants, some of these
records are flawed.
The following overview incorporates George Streby on Sullivan County early residents Powell Bird, Theophilus
Little, William Molyneux, and the Bennett brothers Joel and Thomas and their descendants. To rectify errors and
insure balanced information, we are going to also turn to additional sources: Molyneux on Molyneux; Brotzman on Bird; and Kehler on Bennett
Under the laws of Pennsylvania, between 1792 and 1814, land could be purchased at six and two-thirds cents per acre.
To this amount was added the cost of the warrant and survey. Although the law allowed only a four hundred acre
tract to be sold to a single individual, buyers evaded it by buying under different warrant names.
The surveying in the future Sullivan County area was done mostly in 1793. William Molyneux joined a party of surveyors that included Powell Bird and
During this time, the land embraced in Sullivan County belonged to Northumberland County; Lycoming County,
which took in the territory, was organized in 1796. The first permanent settlers were William Molyneux, John Warren and
Powell Bird. William Molyneux came to where Millview is now located, in 1794, accompanied by Powell Bird, and built a
house. ...says George Streby.
Very little is actually known about William Molyneux prior to his arrival in America. The familiar history is given in The Genealogy of William Molyneux. Lore suggests that he was a married man with children, was seized by a press gang from a British Naval vessel, conveyed to a recruiting center where he was confined with other men who had also been forcibly detained, and then put aboard a British man-of-war. The ship crossed the Atlantic and slipped through patrolled American waters to anchor at Chesapeake Bay where he jumped ship and eluded re-capture by British soldiers. This William Molyneux, who later appears in Priestley's Lycoming County survey crew, is thought to the be the progenitor of the Molyneux family in America.
The following account is from an unpublished manuscript entitled Anatomy Of A Family by Kenneth W. Wright, M.D.:
...About the same time, Joseph Priestley arrived at Northumberland village and joined his son. Much of what is
now Pennsylvania had been given to William Penn by royal land grants in the late 1600's, and the Penn family
purchased additional land from the Indians in 1768. In the 1790's, however, the Penn land was being sold to
private speculators and investors. Some land was listed for as high as $1 per acre, but much of it was sold for
as little as 6 cents per acre. Investing his dad's money, young Joseph Priestley, along with several young
English friends, bought large tracts of land in Northern Pennsylvania to form a commune.
When the elder Priestley arrived on the scene in 1794, the Priestleys decided to find out exactly what they owned.
They hired crews to survey their extensive land holdings. Molyneux, arriving in Northumberland village at this time,
and looking for work, signed on as a member of the crew that was sent up the Loyalsock, a small river which drains
parts of what are now Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan Counties. The name Loyalsock was derived from the word
"lawisaquk" meaning "rushing waters." Fast-flowing in narrow mountain canyons, the Loyalsock River joins the
Susquehanna River at Montoursville -- several miles downstream from Williamsport.
In the area just north of Forksville, the surveyors found the valley broadened out into an alluvial plain which
would be tillable when cleared. Thus, when he had finished with the surveying work, Molyneux decided here would be
a suitable place for him to hide from the British. [He consequently raised sons here and died.]
Meanwhile, back in Northumberland, young Priestley lost interest in the commune concept mainly because his friends
got married and started raising families. Thus, it came about, at the time Molyneux wanted to buy land and settle
along the Loyalsock, the Priestleys were selling off their land in farm-size plots.
The Priestley museum in Northumberland holds a dissertation which lists the names of purchasers of Priestley land,
along with the acreage...
Here is The Molyneux Family of America on Molyneux:
Powell Bird, who located on lands above the Warren farm, was one of the three first permanent settlers in what is
now Sullivan County. Mr. Bird was a native of Norfolk, England, and there married Lydia Hannant. Mr. and Mrs. Bird
came to America in 1793, locating first at Northumberland, where they remained two years, and in the fall of 1795
came they to Forks Township. A complete list of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bird is not given, some of them
probably dying in infancy. The following list contains the names of ten daughters and two sons: Mary (Jones),
born October 12, 1775, died January 9, 1843; George, born 1790, died July 14, 1872; Rebecca (Molyneux), born January
1, 1797, died July 24, 1882; Sarah (Bennett); Ruth (Bennett); Lydia (Rowe); Eleanor (Bull), died in 1862;
Esther; Phillipi (Cropley); Elizabeth (Summers); Naomi; and Robert.
George Bird was born in Norfolk, England, and came with his Parents to America in 1793, and to the wilderness of
Forks Township in 1795. He located on his fatherís farm, and married Sally King, who was born in England. Their
children were Phoebe, born November 23, 1813, died November 19, 1899, married Joseph Fawcett, of Elkland township;
Charles, born June 21, 1824, died October 15, 1897; William, born July 2, 1826, died February 20, 1828; George C., of
Elkland, born February 15, 1829; Ann, born August 10, 1832, died March 21, 1879; John K., born November 27, 1837,
lives on the homestead.
Powell Bird was a son of George Bird and Sally King. He was born January 16, 1815, in Forks Township, and located on
a farm near the Bird homestead. In 1839 he married Sarah P. Molyneux, a daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Rogers)
Molyneux. She was born August 1, 1820, at Millview, PA. To Mr. and Mrs. Bird were born: Hannah, born July 7, 1840,
died November 28, 1860; Manoah T., born December 16, 1842; Lucy, born March 13, 1846; Mary, born August 28, 1854,
died February 17, 1881, married William Gibbs.
Charles Bird was born at Millview in 1824, and located on a tract of land near the Bird homestead, which he cleared
up. In 1845, he married Harriet Molyneux, a daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Rogers) Molyneux, who was born at Millview, January 12, 1825. To Mr. and Mrs. Bird were born five children:
Oliver H., of Forks; Ruth, married George Rinebold, of Forks; William of Overton; Adaline, married James Ferrell, of Forks; Angeline, married Lewis McCarty, of Forks.
Thus we find a long relationship between the Bird and Molyneux families which began with the surveying of the
Theophilus Little, Jr. located on lands below the Forks at an early date. The Littles are of Scotch Irish descent.
They came from England to Monmouth County, New Jersey, about the year 1700. The descendants later were identified in
the Revolutionary struggle, two of them being commissioned officers. Theophilus Little Sr., the father of the subject
of this sketch, came to Lewis Lake, (now Eaglesmere) in 1799, and purchased three thousand acres of land. He had
six sons; the second son Daniel, came to Lewis Lake in 1804, the other members of the family followed later. On
making the survey of the lands it was found that there was not the required three thousand acres remaining in the
vicinity of the lake and Mr. Little was induced by Joseph Priestley, of whom he purchased the land, to take a
four-hundred acre tract about a mile below the Forks. Upon this tract Theophilus Little, Jr., located. ..all per Streby
For the record, there is nothing in recorded Little history to suggest Theophilus Little Jr., was of Scotch Irish
descent, or that his family came from England to New Jersey. On the contrary, his great grandfather, the progenitor
John Little, was born in Scotland and took a Scottish bride in 1700 at Dumfrieshire, Scotland long before they
sailed to America with two sons. There were, however, two Dutch marriages. The first occurred when John Little,
the son of the progenitor, wed Moica Langestraat (Mary Longstreet) and begat seven children. The second marriage was
that of their son Theophilus who is the original purchaser in Lycoming County. When he wed Maria Polhemus in 1769
she brought several Dutch families to this union. Streby also indicates Theophilus Sr., had six sons.
Streby is correct, however, the last born son, Benjamin, died the day of his birth in 1782 and is buried in New
Jersey. Thus, only five sons: John, Thomas, Theophilus Jr., Tobias and Daniel followed their father to Shrewsbury
Township where, according to Little History, he purchased a total of 4,500 acres from Priestley and his wife Elizabeth.
More can be learned about this Little family by looking under the SETTLER INDEX MENU on this website and selecting,
THE LITTLE FAMILY: An American Odyssey.
Comments: Little on Little
Among the eary settlers of Shrewsbury Township were Joel and Thomas Bennett. Joel Bennett came from New Jersey in
1809 when he was 21 years of age, locating first near Forkville, where he remained some six or eight years, during
which time he purchased land in Elkland Township. He married Sarah Bird, a daughter of Powell and Lydia Hannant Bird.
They located on this farm in 1817 and remained three years before they sold the property to Joseph Pardoe and moved to
Lewis Lake. Mr. Bennett worked for Mr. Lewis for several years before purchasing land from Lewis located near the
Edkin farm. He died in 1867. To them, ten children were born, only three remaining in the county: George
Washington Bennett, William Bennett and Caroline Bennett, who wed Mr. Sheets.
Thomas Bennett came from New Jersey in 1809 with his brother Joel. He stayed at the lake a short time before he
returned to New Jersey where he remained several years and married. He later returned to Lake Lewis where he worked
for George Lewis. Later he moved to the outlet of Hunter's Lake where he managed a gristmill for Lewis.
He purchased land from Lewis and cleared it. Thomas Bennett died in 1870 aat the age of eighty-eight years. ...
says George Streby
The history of Joel and Thomas Bennett is also flawed. Joel's tombstone plus several censuses all indicate his
birth as 1780, therefore he would have been 21 in 1801 not 1809 as Streby suggests. Further, his name appears on a
roster of registered voters in 1808. Additionally he purchased a 50-acre tract in 1807 from Peter Knott and his wife
Lydia Hendrickson, which was transfered from a 1051 acre tract Knott had purchased from Priestley in 1804. At this
same time, John Garrison Holmes, a brother-in-law, Theophilus Little, an uncle, and George Lewis purchased a total of
16,150 acres of Pennylvania timber which included Lewis Lake. It is entirely possible that Joel accompanied one of
the men on one or more inspection trips prior to his purchase.
Joel married Sarah Bird, the daughter of Powell Bird and Lydia Hannant, in 1810 and to them ten children were
born. The birth order is not known. Thomas marred Melinda Conley and migrated to Hardin County, Iowa. John Bennett
wed Lavinah Conley. Edmand married Sarah Sones and migrated to Warren County, Iowa, where he died in 1869. Lydia
married Samuel Wilson and moved to Fostoria, Ohio. George Washington Bennett wed Sarah Smith in 1845 and they had
issue. Caroline Bennett married William Sheets and died in Sullivan County in 1892. David Bennett was born in
Logansport, Lycoming County in 1826. He went to Fostoria, Ohio where he wed Catherine Boston in 1848. He then trekked
to Washington County, Iowa and lastly to Harden County, Iowa where he died in 1855. William Alfred Bennett was first married
Elizabeth Berry, then to Mary Jane Walters Bateman. He migrated to Washington Territory in 1879 and thence to
Baker, Oregon where he died in 1911. And lastly, there was Samuel Bennett and Edward Bennett.
Thomas Bennett was born a year after his brother in New Jersey and moved to Pennsylvania in 1808 where he worked for
George Lewis, first at Lake Lewis and later at Hunter's Lake where he managed a grist mill for Lewis. Thomas married
Phoebe Wooley.Woolsy in New Jersey and had two sons, Joel Jr., and Nimrod, before moving to Pennyslvania. Joseph and
their succeeding children were born in Pennsylvania. The chidren were Joel Jr., who married Eliza ? and had five
children in New York before the 1830 census; and three children in Lycoming County before the 1840 census.
Nimrod was with Joel in the 1830 census, but had moved to Catherine, NY by the 1840 census. Joseph wed Sarah
Fiester and they had nine children. William Watson Bennett married Sarah Fiester's sister, Livina, and had eight
children. Frank wed Lavina Reese and moved to Michigan. George L. Bennett, 1817-1906, married Lydia Ann Little,
the daughter of John Little and his second wife Mercy Dennis, and they had six children. ( Note: John is the
oldest son of Theophilus Little, Sr..) Charles Bennett, born six years later, wed Margaret Taylor. Mary Bennett wed
Robert Taylor in 1838 and they had eight issue. Agnes Bennett married John Glidewell and begat eleven children.
Dahlia (Delia) Bennett wed William Taylor. The last two childen of Thomas and Phoebe were David Bennett, who married
Margaret Steelman, and Elizabeth Bennett.
Confusion still surrounds the Bennett brothers today for they may have two or more brothers, or possibly cousins,
named Nimrod who married Ruth Bird, the sister of Sarah Bird Bennett, and Chevalier, the father of Mary Ann Bennett.
This Mary Ann wed Thomas Little, the son of Tobias Little and Content Allen. Tobias is also a son of Theophilus
Warning: There is NO connection between Amos Bennett of Bradford County and the brothers Joel and Thomas Bennett.
However, my fellow contributor Charles Kehler is a direct descendant of both houses. You can read his history of these families and their descendants at Some Descendants of Joel and Sarah Bennett Bird of Sullivan County, PA.
NOTE: In 1790, Benoni Weisner of Northumberland, Lycoming Copunty, was listed in the first US Census with a wife and
two children. Therefore, he was clearly a very early settler in the county. His two eldest children married the
two oldest children of John Little and his first wife Ann Jackson. T hus, once again, we prove a strong connection
between the Little family and the earliest settlers of Sullivan County.