Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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sell out and leave that part of the country, which he did, removing to Sheshequin
in the fall of 179."). He left hia family there during the following winter, and


with his son, Horace, went to Canton and located a farm under the Connecticut


He built a log cabin near Towanda creek, chopped a fallow of about four acres,
and then returned to Sheshequin for his family, and in the month of February
moved his goods to his new home on an ox sled, while his family were transported
in a sleigh drawn by horses. They made the trip in about four days, picking
their way through the woods and frequently being compelled to stop to clear out a
road for the teams.

His family consisted of two sons and three daughters, viz: Horace, William,
Lucy, Betsy and Delight. Besides these there were two negro slaves, who came
from Connecticut — Beulah and her son, Caesar. Mr. Spaulding suffered all the
inconveniences of living in a new country, and endured many privations. He
could raise no more grain than was needed for the sustenance of the family, while
maple sugar was the only product with which to buy groceries and clothing, glass,
nails, etc., and Tioga Point or William sport were the nearest places at which they
could do their trading. The latter place was less than forty miles away, but the
road or path down Lycoming creek was rough and narrow, the stream had to be
forded many times, and the gloom caused by the thick forests of pine, hemlock
and overhanging vines, was not inviting.

When he purchased his Connecticut right Mr. Spaulding supposed he had
a ^ood title to his farm, but when the question of title began to be raised he was,
at the suggestion of a neighbor who had been an inmate of his house, sued for
a small debt, the summons being returnable to Kewberry, before 'Squire Eobert
Martin. While there he was arrested and tried under the "Intrusion Law."

After his trial and conviction he served his time in the little log jail at
Williamsport, and gave security for the payment of his fine. During the time he
was imprisoned a gentleman visited his family, and, on hearing the history of the
case, said that he would aid Mr. Spaulding in obtaining the Pennsylvania title
from the Asylum Company. The Pennamite party, who had instituted the prose-
cution, enraged at Mr. Spaulding's return to his old home, and his persistency in
holding to his Connecticut title, determined to drive him from the country. The
payment of his iine was demanded, and in default, SherifE John Cummings, of
Lycoming county, levied on all his property, which he sold, and then set fire to
his house and burned it to the groimd, and his family, in the beginning of winter,
were left homeless and shelterless. A friend bought in his property and left it at
his disposal, and as the season was too late to build, he accepted the offer of a small
log house that stood near by. About a year after he built a large house, which he
made a place of entertainment and kept it for many years. It stood on the public
road leading from Williamsport to Elmira and became a famous landmark.
Everybody knew Ezra Spaulding, and made it a point, when traveling, to tarry
over night at his house. In 1801 he obtained a lease of the Asylum Company
for his farm, which was resurveyed in 1804, and conveyed to him in legal form.

Ezra Spaulding surmounted all his trials, tribulations and persecutions;
founded a home of comfort, and died in December, 1828, in his seventy-fourth
year. His eldest son, Horace, lived to be almost one himdred years old, dying only
a few years ago.



A number of the early settlers of Tioga county were prosecuted under the
Intrusion Law and tried at Williamsport, but they fared better than Ezra Spauld-
ing. They were among the first representative settlers on the Tioga and Cowan-
esque rivers and many of their descendants live in Tioga county to-day. An old
indictment tried before May sessions in 1797, foimd among the papers when the
little book previously spoken of was discovered, reads as follows:

The grand inquest for the body of the county of Lycoming npon their oaths and
affirmations respectfully do present: That Benjamin Cole, Leonard Cole, Michael Eidy,
Abel Cady, Thomas Willson, Sr., Thomas Willson, Daniel Ingersole, Nathan Niles, Uriah
Spencer, Benjannin Corey, Samuel Patterson, Timothy Ives, Titus Ives, Reuben Cook,
Joseph Mathews, Benajah Ives, Gideon Salisbury, Barret Montgomery Ingersole, John Holi.
day, Jacobus Van Camp, Richard Mitchell and John Ives, all of the county of Lycoming afore-
said, yeoman, and within the jurisdiction of this court, with force and arms, etc., at the
township of Lycoming, in the county aforesaid, did take possession of, intrude and settle
on lands within the limits of the now County of Lycoming (formerly Northumberland
county) by virtue and under color of conveyances of half-price rights or from other pre-
tended title neither derived from the authority of the commonwealth, nor of the late
proprietaries before the Bevolution, contrary to the form of the act of general assembly
of this commonwealth in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity
of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Jabed Ingehsoli,,
Attorney Oeneral.

The indictment is indorsed: "A true bill, John Cummings," and was found
by the grand jury at May sessions, 1797. The trial of these parties took place
at September sessions, 1798, and the verdict was as follows:

And now, to wit: A jury of the country being called came to wit: John Lawson,
Matthew Armstrong, James Burchfield, Joel Ferree, James McCuen, James Bennet, John
Hall, Samuel Torbet, Matthew Luch, John Hamilton, John Bennet, and Thomas Wenter-
ringer, who being sworn and returned upon their oaths do say that they find the defend-
ants not guilty.

The suit was brought in the name of the "Republica," which was then used
in place of "Commonwealth" of to-day, but the names of the witnesses or prose-
cutors do not appear in the record.

On the back of the indictment, which is still in existence, and opposite the
name of each party, the number of miles the constable had to travel from Williams-
port to serve the summons is recorded. The mileage is given herewith: The two
Coles, Eidy, Cady. and Willson, have each sixty-six miles charged against them;
Patterson has sixty-eight; the two Ives', Barret M. Ingersole and Holiday, sixty;
Salisbury, sixty-four; Daniel Ingersole and Xathan Xiles, sixty-three; Reuben
Cook and Benajah and Titus Ivce, fifty-seven; Richard Mitchell, fifty-six; VanCamp,
fifty-five, and Benjamin Corey, forty-nine. The la.«t lived the nearest to Williams-
port, according to the constable's reckoning, his place being at the mouth of Corey
creek, on tlie site of Mansfield. The route traveled by the constable was by the
Williamson road, there not being another road opened at that time, .\fter being


compelled to travel this long distance to be tried under the Intrusion Law, passed
at the instance of rapacious land speculators, it is a source of satisfaction to their
descendants to know that they were acquitted and returned home in triumph.


Although Tioga county was erected March 26, 1804, it remained attached to
Lycoming county for judicial purposes for more than eight years. All its civil
business was transacted in Williamsport, and all civil and criminal processes were
issued from and were- returnable to the courts of Lycoming county, and a com-
plete severance was not effected until the convening and formal organization of
the first courts, in Wellsboro, January 11, 1813. The opening of the court was
an event of more than ordinary importance and it attracted the attention of the
entire population of the village.

Prom the quarter sessions docket, which has been preserved, it is learned
that Hon. John Bannister Gibson appeared as president judge to open the new
courts. He was supported by Samuel Wells Morris and Ira Kilburn as associates,
but the records are silent as to the name of the crier who made the official
proclamation. On ascending the bench Judge Gibson read his commission to show
his authority for appearing there to open the first court. His judicial district
was composed of the counties of Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne and Tioga, and
was the eleventh in the State. When he had finished reading his commission,
Henry Wilson arose and presented his commission as prosecuting attorney, by ap-
pointment of the attorney general. This served as his admission to the bar of the
new court. Several attorneys were in waiting. Mr. Wilson then arose and made
a motion that Eobert McClure, of Williamsport, be admitted. He was one of the
first three lawyers to locate in Williamsport in 1795, and therefore had been a
practicing attorney for eighteen years. Having been formally admitted as a
member of the bar of Tioga, he made a motion for the admission of his colleague,
Francis C. Campbell, also of Williamsport. Ethan Baldwin was admitted at the
same time. These were the first attorneys admitted. It is regretted that nothing
is known of Henry Wilson. Whence did he come? Who was he, and where did
he belong?

The ceremonies of admission being over, Eddy Howland and Timothy Ives,
commissioners, informed the court that Samuel W. Morris, who was elected at the
general election held in 1811 to serve three years as a commissioner, desired
to resign, as he had been elevated to the bench. The court therefore appointed
Nathan Niles, Jr., to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Morris. Aside from some
road petitions there was little business before this court. Preliminary steps, how-
ever, were taken towards bringing some important suits at the next term, and
this was why the attorneys from abroad were present.

There is a tradition that the opening of the court was regarded as such an
important affair that the event was celebrated by a dance in the evening at the
tavern kept by Alpheus Cheney. It was given a semi-official character by the
judge, who was present and played the violin for the dancers. There is nothing
on record to show that the dance really took place under the direction of his honor.


hence we have to depend on the tradition alone. It was well understood, how-
ever, that he was a man who played the violin and loved fim, and as he was only about
thirty-three years of age, but had seen much of frontier life, it is not improbable that
he joined in the merry-making.

In visiting this addition to his district the judge came via Covington, travel-
ing over what was known as the "East and West Eoad," which came direct from
Towanda, where he then probably resided, as it was in the center of his district.


At the April sessions, 1813, the business of the court seems to have been
fairly under way. The first case called was that of Levi Ives vs. James Dickinson
and James Matteson. This was an ejectment suit, and the sheriff's returns show
that on March 17, 1813, he "served the writ for John Ives, Benjamin Ives, Roswell
Ives, John Ives, Jr., Jesse Losey, Samuel Losey and iI(Dses Caldwell." A con-
tinuance was held until the November term, when the jury returned a verdict
for the defendants, "plaintiff to pay the cost, whereupon judgment ft. fa
sheriff returns that he took the body of Levi Ives, who was discharged by James
Dickinson and James Matteson." Francis C. Campbell, of Williaiosport, appeared for
the plaintiff, and Ethan Baldwin for the defendants. The writ was one growing
out of land troubles.

The second case was the trespass suits of Abraham Foster vs. David and Jere-
miah Miller. It resulted in a non-suit being entered l>y the plaintiff.

At this term of court the following tavern licenses were granted, for which
the prothonotary charged a fee of $1.15: Sarah Kelsey, widow, on Crooked creek;
John C. Youngman, Nathaniel Seely, on C'owanesque; Asa Mann, Tioga river;
Jonathan Matteson, on Cowanesque; William Willard, Tioga river; Alpheus
Cheney and Israel Greenleaf, Wellsboro; Aaron Hloss, Rachel Berry, Oliver Jen-
nings, and Adam Hart, on the Tioga river.

The court announced that "Aaron Bloss and Adam Hart, and all others who
now keep tavern under former licenses, are permitted to go on until next court,
and then take out licenses dated at the April term." Licensee previous to this
date had been granted by the court of Lycoming county.

At the April term, 1814, the grand jury, of which Luke Scott was foreman,
reported "that the county jail is sufficient to imprison debtors for the present."
From this we infer that it was not in very good condition for more desperate


At the August term, 1814, the first case on the criminal docket was that
of Samuel L. Jfills, indicted for horse stealing. Nathan Niles was foreman of
the grand jury. On beinp arraigned the prisoner pleaded "not puilty." The work
of impanelling a jury was proceeded with as follows:

1. John Hart, 2d, 5. Daniel Cummings,

8. Samuel Carpenter, 6. Benjamin Lawrence,

3. Jonathan Thorndike, 7. Caleb Austin.

4. Erastus Nilua,


This exhausted the panel, whereupon the court ordered a talis de circum-
stantibus. The sheriff summoned and returned the following new men and the
jury was completed:

8. Cyrus Wright, 11. Israel Bulkley,

9. Harris Hotohkiss, 13. Ichabod Smith.
10. Elihu Hill,

The prisoner was tried and convicted, and the court imposed this sentence:

Samuel L. Mills [shall] undergo a confinement in the goal of Tioga county for the
term of four years, and that he be kept to hard labor, fed and clothed as the law directs;
that he pay a fine of eighty dollars to the commonwealth and restore the property, pay
the cost of prosecution, and stand committed till the sentence be complied with.

And the court further directs, that the confinement and labor mentioned in this sen-
tence be undergone in the goal and penitentiary in the City of Philadelphia.

At this term of court the grand jury reported concerning the jail as follows:
"We have viewed the prison of Tioga county and say it is in no manner fit for the
reception and safe keeping of either debtors or criminals."

At September term, 1816, May term, 1817, and December term, 1819, Judge
Thomas Burnside, of Bellefonte, presided. He was assisted by associate Judges
Morris and Kilbum.


According to a minute on the journal of the commissioners, dated October 6,
1814, the board met and transacted the following important business:

In conformity to an act of the legislature of Pennsylvania of the 14th day of March,
1814, making it the duty of the commissioners of Tioga county to lay ofE the said county
into suitable districts for the appointment of a competent number of justices of the
peace, the said commissioners having met on the day and place aforesaid do resolve, to

That the county be divided into six districts and bounded in the following manner:

The township of Delmar shall be a district and numbered one.

The township of Deerfield shall be a district and numbered two.

The township of Elkland shall be a district and numbered three.

The township of Tioga shall be two districts and numbered four and five. District
number four shall begin at the ninety-third mile-stone on the State line— thence south
ten miles and 310 perches by Elkland township to the line of Covington township; thence
by the line of Covington township, east six and a half miles; thence north ten miles and
310 perches to the State line; thence west on the State line six and a half miles to the
ninety-third mile-stone, the place of beginning.

District number five shall begin at the eightieth mile-stone on the State line; thence
south six degrees east by the line of Bradford county eleven miles to a post; thence west
by Covington township seven and a half miles to district number four, before described;
thence north by district numbered four, ten miles and 310 perches to the State line-
thence east on the State line six and a half miles to the eightieth mile-stone, the place of

The township of Covington shall be a district and numbered six.

Timothy Ives,


Ambbose Millabd,



These six districts, according to an ennmeration made in pursuance of an act of
the legislature, contained 463 taxable inhabitants, distributed as follows: Delmar,
Daniel Kelsey, justice, 87; Deerfield, no appointment of justice, 63; Elkland, Dor-
man Bloss, justice, 79; Tioga, the original township, WUliam Rose, justice, 139;
Covington, Daniel Lamb and Elijah Putnam, justices, 95.


It has been stated that a few slaves were brought here by the Wells family from
Delaware, and that they were manumitted. In later years runaway slaves occa-
sionally found their way into this section, either to visit colored acquaintances, or
while in transit for Canada via the "Underground Railroad." Mr. Emery in his in-
teresting reminiscences of early life in Wellsboro records the incidents of a slave hunt
which were very exciting if not thrilling.

It was in the fall of 1828 or 1829 that two young colored men came to Wellsboro
and stayed a day or two with "Uncle Eben Murry." They were set to work by Judge
Morris. Two other boys came into the county with them, but they found employ-
ment at or near Covington. The first two remained a month or more with the
Judge, when the people were startled by the announcement that Jlossrs. Boyd and
Freanor, of Maryland, were in the village as owners and claimants of the two young
oolored men, who were fugitives from slavery, and had obtained writs of arrest from
Judge Kilburn, of Lawrenceville, and had placed them in the hands of Chauncey
Alford and Carlisle Atherton as deputy sheriffs. Word was immediately sent to the
runaways that their masters were in to^ni, and a short time after rocoiviiig the infor-
mation they were fleeing across the hill to the ( 'ovinfrton road, to be met there by the
two deputies, who brought them back to the village, where thuy were handcuffed and
fettered with irons brought by their claimants, hustled into a sleigh and started for
Judge Kilburn's, at Lawrenceville, followed by Judge Morris to see fair play.

What was to be done? "Uncle Eben and Aunt Hetty" thouirlit it was terrible.
It was talked over half an hour or so, when some one said, "Let's go down and see
the fun and help the boys if we can." Another, more executive than the rest, sug-
gested that they should "take out a habeas corpus returnable before Judge Morris
in Wi'llsboro, bring them back and have the hearing here."

"But Judge Morris has gone to Lawrenceville and there is no one to bring them
back and have the hearing here," interposed another.

"Make out the writ in due form," exclaimed another, "and have Judge Morris
sign it at Lawrenceville."

"But they will insist on trying it there before the judge."
"Hustle him home as soon as he signs the writ and before it is served," yelled
one in the crowd, which had largely increased and was still rapidly increasing.

"What good will it all do?" said a conservative gentleman in the crowd. "The
owners have tlic law on their side, and they will take the niggers back anyhow."

"We'll see," shouted a dozen voices at once. "Hurrah for Lawrenceville and
freedom for slaves!"

A hurried consultation was held by a few outside the crowd. Mr. Donaldson,
clerk in the protlionotary's otlice, went up to the office; two or three others went off
in different directions. Another half hour passed. Mr. Donaldson came out of


the office holding a folded paper in his hand; a couple of double sleighs drove up
and as many as could get in loaded them up; but the conservative gentleman looked
on, declining to go. Three cheers were given for the darkies and the party drove
off for a frolic or something else, most of them having no clearly defined idea of
■what was going to be done, or what was contemplated as a result. Perhaps an
hour and a half or two hours had passed before they were fairly under way.

Two or three of the party seemed to be anxiously looking out on the north
side of the road as they passed down the creek and whispering quietly to each other,
as if they were hatching some conspiracy or looking for a good site whereon to build
a reputation or start a negro plantation. Someone in one of the sleighs suggested
that it would be a good plan to get up a hustling fight on the way back and let
the negroes get away; and he chuckled loudly over his suggestion, as though it was
an original thought.

Onward dashed the rescuers. What a flourish they made as they drove up to
the tavern door of that great apostle of temperance who kept the only tavern in
Lawrenceville, and what cheering news the loungers gave as they saw the formida-
ble delegation from Wellsboro.

"Too late, boys," shouted Samuel Hunt, "the niggers are on their way to Canada,
and their owners are laid away upstairs, afraid of their lives; but, come in, all hands,
and take something;" which they did, of course.

The house was full, and a more excited and wild set of fellows, when they had
got fairly mixed in and sufficiently refreshed at the bar, it would have been hard to

During the afternoon an important arbitration was in progress at Lawrenceville
— one party living on the Cowanesque and the other up the Tioga — and it had ex-
cited considerable interest and drawn together a large collection of people. The
arbitration had run into the edge of the evening, and was about concluded when
Deputy Sheriffs Alford and Carlisle Atherton drove up to the tavern with their
prisoners, accompanied by the Marylanders and followed by Judge Morris in his
cutter. It was soon whispered about that the two blacks were fugitive slaves, who
had been living with Judge Morris, and that the two strangers were their masters
from Maryland.

Those who are old enough to know what an arbitration sometimes was in those
early days, and how easily a large crowd, stimulated by whisky, became excited, can
in some measure Judge of the situation. The capture of fugitive slaves in Tioga
county was a new thing. The people, somehow or other, had got it into their heads
that when a slave had escaped out of the southern into the northern States he was,
or ought to be, free. They, as well as those who went down from Wellsboro, thought
that the darkies ought at least to have fair play; that their shackles ought to be taken
off and— the sheriff being the umpire— there should be a fair run or a fair fight, the
slaves for liberty and the masters for the darkies. Under such circumstances, if
the boys were foolish enough to be taken, then they were not in fact fit for freedom.

But the sheriff would not agree to any such arrangement, and Messrs. Boyd
and Freanor were not consulted on the subject. So the ground was reeonnoitered
and the room occupied by the sheriff examined with a view to ascertain its exact
situation and military defense. Some hard words were said, threats of lynching


heard, advances and retreats made, pistols drawn by the Marylanders, and on the
whole it looked as though there might be some "little unpleasantness."

The sheriff, however, kindly informed the owners that he knew the people
of Tioga county better than they did; told them to put up their pistols, or he
should be under the necessity of putting them under arrest to save their lives; for
if one shot was fired he would not be answerable for their safety; and that if they
valued their lives more than their slaves they had better leave the defense of their
property in his and his assistants hands; "for," said he, "you will be dead men in
less than ten minutes after the first shot is fired!" The belhgerent Marylanders
were effectually frightened and slunk back into the comer.

In an instant* a rush was made by the crowd, the lights were extinguished in
that room and in the bar room, the darkies were seized and hurried to the door —
one, however, was recaptured but retaken — and both were hurried over the line
into the State of New York, which passes near the village. From one the
shackles were easily taken; for either his heels were too short and his hands too
small, or the irons were too large. From the other the shackles were taken by break-
ing them.

The names of the principal leaders in the rescue have been preserved. They
were: Joseph McCormick, Elkland; William Garretson, Tioga; Almon Allen,

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 10 of 163)