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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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Medad Gunn, and Samuel Hunt, Mansfield. After the shackles were taken off a
contribution of money was made for the benefit of the fugitives, and they were sent
on their way toward Canada.

Early next morning a warrant was issued by a justice of the peace at Tiogn, and
Messrs. Boyd and Freanor were held to bail for kidnapping. No obstacle was
thrown in the way to prevent them from obtaining bail. In fact, it was a part of
the programme that they should be bailed. It may be as well to say here that, of
the other two fugitives, an attempt was made to arrest one at Covington, but being
a strong and powerful man, he knocked down his would-be captor and escaped to
the woods; the other was for a while concealed in the cellar of IHder Ripley, beyond
Mansfield, on the road to Troy; and after the excitement was over and the owners
gone from the country, he was furnished with money and sent northward into

Soon after this exciting affair an action for trespass was commenced in the
United States court, by the owners of the colored men who had been rescued, as
they did not like the idea of being so summarily deprived of their property, if it
did consist of flesh and blood. Proceedings were begun against Joseph McCormick,
Oliver T. Bundy, William Garretson, Almon Allen, Samuel Hunt, Medad Gunn, and
several others whose names are not now recalled. Jledad Gimn was not notified, for
he "went off" before the marshal had time to serve the writ upon him. The case
took its regular course, was put at issue and set down for trial at the United States
court at Williamsport, and a large number of witnesses from Tioga county were sub-
poenaed, among them Josiah Emery; but as none appeared, the case was continued
to the ni'xt term.

After the case was continued, Joseph McCormick had an interview with the
plaintiffs, and offered, if they would rttum home, to furnish suflBcient evidence to
convi( t the defendants, and would himself be a witness, as he knew every one


engaged in the rescue. The bargain was concluded and a paper drawn up and signed
in which it was stipulated by the plaintiffs that, on the condition of the payment of
twenty-five dollars by said McCormick, to be considered as full satisfaction of any
damages claimed from him, he was discharged from the suit.

The next term the case came on for trial. Judge Lewis presented the
McOormick paper discharging him from all further claim for damages, and moved
the discharge of all the other defendants, on the principle that the receipt of satis-
faction from one of several joint trespassers was a satisfaction by all. Thus ended
the suit through this acute legal dodge. McCormick always claimed that some one
of the defendants stole the paper from his desk; but the truth is, it was a little bit of
"sharp practice" got up between Ellis Lewis and McCormick, and the paper was
handed over to Lewis by McCormick himself. The Marylanders saw that they were
defeated and soon after departed.

The two rescued colored boys fled to a point near Eochester and obtained em-
ployment at a country tavern, and their whereabouts was soon afterwards known to
Judge Morris. When the Marylanders were discharged from the kidnapping suit
they hurried north instead of south, still intent on looking for their property; and
when Judge Morris became aware of that fact he suspected they had found out the
location of the boys, and had gone to have them arrested and make another
attempt to carry them to Maryland. He acted quickly. Harnessing his horse and
sulky he started after them, and changing horses at Lavn-eneeville, overtook the stage
at Painted Post, and found Messrs. Boyd and Preanor aboard. Leaving his horse and
sulky he took passage in the stage with them.

But the ride was apparently too much for him, and when the stage stopped a
few miles from where the boys were at work he was so sick(?) that he had to retire to
a private room to be doctored, where, making a confidant of the landlord, he pur-
suaded him to hitch up a fleet team and send him to the tavern ahead, and in the
meantime detain the stage as long as he could under pretense that he would soon be
well enough to go on!

When they finally got to the next tavern, the aggressive slave owners were
outwitted and at the end of their journey in that direction. The young colored men
had been advised of the pursuit of their masters and were safely beyond their reach.
When the stage drove up Judge Morris, who was standing on the porch, politely
bowed to the Maryland gentlemen as they alighted! They were greatly surprised,
and the expression of their countenances, as Judge Morris afterwards described them,
indicated that they would have experienced great pleasure in shooting him!

This remarkable slave hunt, and its happy termination for the fugitives, be-
came the topic of conversation not only in Tioga, but in the adjoining counties, and
for years it was discussed in the family circle, in the bar rooms of the country and
village inns, and at public gatherings. And as considerable more than half a century
has rolled away, it may be stated as a historical fact that not one of the participants
is now alive.


One of the most exciting events of early times was the theft of all the important
records of the county contained in the original public building. The robbery oc-
curred in the fall or early part of the winter of 1828. The thieves entered the


biiilding at night and carried ofE all the deed books, seven in number, together with
the dockets and records in the prothonotary's oflBce, and the books of the com-
missioners. When the news became known a profound sensation was caused, and
there was much speculation why such a high-handed outrage should be committed.
As no one person could carry the records, it was evident that there must have been
more than one concerned in the affair, and probably a wagon and team were re-
quired to carry away the official plunder.

The facilities for ferreting out offenders at that time were limited; there were
no sharp detectives to follow up clues, consequently the work of searching was slow.

Finally it was ascertained that the object of the robbery was to secure the par-
don of a man from the penitentiary who had been convicted and sentenced for
horse stealing. Many arrests were made and hearings had, but no evidence could
be procured sufficient to hold any of the suspected parties. Among others arrested
on suspicion was a man living in the eastern part of the county. It turned out
that he was not one of the perpetrators of the theft, but had some knowledge of
the plot. As time wore on and the records could not be found, this man, it is said,
was induced, on the promise of no further prosecution, to give information which
led to the recovery of the missing records. They were found hidden in a hollow
log in the woods about a mile east of the court house, where tin y had lain for
about three months. The object of the theft failed, as the convicted party was not

As the public mind had become very much inflamed over the matter, because of
the trouble, expense, and possible litigation, that would have followed in the event
of the final loss of the records, several persons supposed to have been connected
with the affair were arrested and indicted for conspiracy. Much delay ensued in
bringing them to trial, when, finally, the indictments were quashed in consequence
of some informality in the proceedings and through the ingenuity of able counsel,
of whom that rising and brilliant young lawyer, Ellis Le\vis, was one. It is a tradi-
tion that the persons who carried away the records were never arristtd, and they
carried the secret in their breasts the balance of their lives. It is not likely that any
one concerned in the affair is now living.

The robbery gave the commissioners a great deal of trouble, and cost the
county a handsome sum. From the records in the commissioners' office (see
Journal for 1829, p. 2G9), it appears that a large number of persons were employed
to search for the stolen property, and they were paid the following sums:

Feb. 20, 1829, Almon Allen $ 31 44

George Divins, 4 00

' John Marvin 12 27

" '• " Thomas Kaydon, 34 31

" " " Daniel Lamb, 22 50

" " " Medad Gunn, 12 00

' Charles Mann 6 00

Charles Atherton, 42 00

" ■■ " Benjamin Gitchell, for finding lost records 200 00

" ai • Samuel Hunt 22 00

" " " Lincoln Powers, 12 00

May 20, " .Asa Mann IS 00

" " ■ " Erastus Rose 3 00


May 20, 1829, Levi Kose

" John Gray '''* ^^

" Asa Mann ^° °°

Charles Spencer ^^ 5"'

" 21, " William Garretson ^2 00'

June 16, " Kobert Tubbs f ""'

July 38, " Harris Corey, ^ ^^

Benjamin Bentley 1^ ^^

" " " Peter Eoberts, ^^ ^*

Feb. 25, 1831, Lorentes Jackson ^^ "*

May 26, " Uriah Spencer 26 30

Total $56123

It will be observed that considerable time had elapsed before all the bills were
paid, and the last two, which had run for about two years, were collected by process
of law. There are no explanatory notes on the minute book, consequently we are
left to draw our own conclusions as to some of the causes which produced the
friction. The amount of money paid for the recovery of the records was a great
deal for that time; in fact, it represented a purchasing power greater than three
times that amount to-day. When the robbery was committed the following com-
missioners were in of&ce: Lorentes Jackson, John Cochran, E. B. G-erould. Before-
all the settlements were made Mr. Jackson had retired from office.


On June 5, 1830, the Phoenix announced that the circuit court would meet
in Wellsboro on the first Monday of August of that year to sit at least one week.
When the time came Judge Eogers appeared and took his seat on the bench, but to
the surprise of all the court only lasted one day. The Phoenix summed up the pro-
ceedings as follows:

There being five causes upon the calendar for trial, several of which, from their im-
portance and the number of vvitnesses subpoenaed, it was supposed would occupy the
court a day or more, it was very reasonably conjectured that the court would continue
pretty much through the week. But to the utter consternation of all, and more es-
pecially the tavern keepers, the court adjourned early in the afternoon of the first day,
before any one could have anticipated such an event, and before the sheriff, attorneys,
jurors, witnesses, spectators, politicians or loungers had half arrived. A few minutes
after the adjournment several wagons made their appearance loaded with witnesses and
accompanied by the parties in the case of Baldwin vs. Kilburn — all however too late.

Nineteen jurors only answered to their names on being called, and the absentees-
were fined five dollars each for non-attendance — four out of the number were, however,
excused for cause shown.

The attorneys with one accord besought the court to delay the time a little till their
worthy clients should arrive, but his honor was inexorable. One cited the practice of the
common pleas as authority for putting over business till Tuesday morning, to which his
honor replied, that " if such were the fact, it argued a laxity of practice to which I can
not subscribe." A second urged the consideration of his client, being a judge likewise,
having inadvertently appointed an adjourned court about the same time, to which the
reply was : " That is no cause for continuance, and your client being not ignorant of
these matters, I would rather enforce the rule against him with the more rigor." In
short as the judge refused to be pettifogged, the bar were unable to detain the court or
prevent the trial list from being taken up and disposed of in regular order. Only one
cause was tried, and as there was no substantial defense to the plaintiff's claim, and the


court absolutely refusing to listen to any other, though most feelingly importuned to
the contrary, it occupied but little time, and thus ended the circuit court, after a session
of about three hours !

It would seem from the above statement that Judge Eogers had taken offense
at something and was resolved on getting out of the town as soon as possible, re-
gardless of the business of clients and attorneys. Perhaps his honor in coming
into the town over corduroy roads was so terribly shaken up, and his equanimity
.80 completely destroyed, that a night and a day failed to heal his bruises and restore
his temper, and he took revenge on the absent jurymen and the tavern keepers.



First Traveled Ways— The State Line Survey— a Rutde Road Brushed Out
—The Williamson Road— Why and How It Was Built— a Princely Enter-
tainment IN the Wilderness— The Patterson Brothers— Morris state
Road— More Roads Laid Out— East and West st.vte Road— Era of Plank
Roads— Early Navigation Schemes- The Corning and Blossburo Railroad
—Morris Run and Arnot Branches— The Fall Brook Railroad- The
Cowanesque Branch— The Pine Creek Branch— El.mira and State Line
Railroad— The Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad— Othkr Railroads.

THE first roads in Tioga (.(uiiily wuro narrow Indian jmths, and it has been shown
how they ran. The early explorers and settlers followed them, or traviliMl by
caiioos on tlic river. In (.oiirso of time the most important of thosi- paths were
widened, or "brushed diit," by the settlers, and in sulisequent years became public
highways for the jiassiige of wheeled veliieles.

Jluntion has been made of the road cut through the wilderness by the State line
surveyors. This was the first road constructed by white men. It was a rude affair,
but it enabled the party to get their pack horses and provisions through, as well as to
curry forward their work. Being on the line separating the States of Pennsylvania
and New York, however, it did not jienetrate tlie interior of the territory of Tioga,
but it enabled a few of the earliest settlers to enter the country from the east and
tlien move south. This line was authorized to be run by the legislatures of the re-
spective States, and in ITSii Andrew Ellii-ott and Andrew Porter, on the part of Penn-
sylvania, and James Clinton and Simeon DeWitt, on the part of New York, were
ap|)ointed to perform the work. In their first report, which is dated October 12,
1786, they say they commenced "at the river Delaware in 42 degrees, north latitude,"
and continued on the same parallel to the western e.xtrennty of the two States. The
first ninety miles from tlie i)oint of beginning ended on the "western side of the


south branch of the Tioga river," at Lawreneeville. Here a substantial mile-stone
was set up, and for many years it was regarded as a conspicuous landmark. The last
boundary survey, made in 1893 — 107 years after the first — ^reported that the
"ninetieth mile-stone is a small monument standing about 100 feet north of State
street, in the village of Lawreneeville, at the northeast corner of Hallenback's bam,
and about 1,260 feet east of monument 319. It is on line between property of Kuehl
and Harraway."

The survey was not completed through to Lake Erie until the subsequent year.
EUicott and Porter continued to be the commissioners from Pennsylvania, but New
York was now represented by Abraham Hardenberg and William Morris. Their
final report was made October 29, 1787, accompanied by maps showing the topog-
raphy of the country from the Delaware river to Lake Erie.

In continuing the line westward from the ninetieth mile-stone, the commission-
ers say that they"marked the same in a lasting and permanent manner by mile-stones,
or posts surrounded by mounds of earth where stones could not be procured." The
stones, at the several points where the latitude was determined, were large and well
marked and contained on the south side, "Pennsylvania, latitude 43 degrees N.,
1787, and also the variations of the magnetic needle; on the north New York and
their several distances from the Kiver Delaware."

In making the original survey the commissioners had to surmount great difficul-
ties on account of incompetent knowledge of the geography of the country, the
death of their horses, time taken up in making canoes, and treating with the Indians.
Their axemen and laborers had to cut a road through the wilderness to enable them
to run the line, as well as to convey provisions and stores for their sustenance and
comfort. The Indians at several points on the line — particularly in the country of
the Senecas — ^looked upon them with suspicion, notwithstanding peace prevailed,
and they had to cultivate friendly relations Avith them by making presents, and ex-
plain to them the object of their work. This was the first road therefore that pene-
trated what afterward became the northern part of Tioga county, and over it
traveled many of the early explorers and adventurers from the east in. search of
homes in the wilderness.

The last boundary survey was made in accordance with an act passed by the
Pennsylvania legislature in 1889, to co-operate with the authorities of New York in
accordance with the provisions of the law of 1887, to make an examination and in-
spection of the boundary line monuments between the two States. The commis-
sioners made an elaborate report under date of December 13, 1893, which may be
found in the report of the secretary of internal affairs for that year. They say that
the line was "monumented by a joint commission of the two States durin<^ the years
1881, 1883, 1883, 1884 and 1885. The monuments, with exception of the large
mitial monuments, are of Connecticut granite, of a reddish gray, coarse texture,
qmte hard and durable."

They say monument No. 268, and mile-stone 115, "Is a small monument
with diagonal grooves standing on a steep northwesterly slope on north
edge of thick woods, about 100 feet west of the summit of the ridge. It marks the
corners of Potter and Tioga counties, Pennsylvania. It is on line between properties


of C. P. Gill and Ealph McCiillough. This monument was found to be in good con-
dition in every respect."


The next road through what afterwards constituted the territory of Tioga
county, was built by Charles Williamson, agent for the Pultney estate in the
"Genesee Country." The causes for the building of this great thoroughfare through
what was then almost an unknown wilderness, may be briefly stated: In November,
1?!)0, Phelps & Gorham by deed conveyed to Kobert Morris, of Philadelphia, 1,2.JU,-
000 acres of wild land lying in western New York and adjoining the State of Penn-
sylvania, in what was more particularly known as the " (Jenebee Country," in the
home of the Seneca Indians. April 11, 171*2, Mr. Morris conveyed by deed to
Charles Williamson the above tract, which has since been known as "The Pultney
Estate." While these enormous operations in land were being made, it was con-
templated to found a colony, composed of Europeans, in this wild region for the
purpose of improving the country and therefore appreciating the value of the land.
Consequently in the spring of 1792, Charles Williamson, who had been appointed
secret agent for Sir William Pultney, of Bath, England, arrived in this country and
established his headquarters at Northumberland, while making arrangements to
proceed to the magnificent domain that had been entrusted to his care and manage-
ment. And as a preliminary to beginning business in this country in due form,
Williamson took the oath of allegiance before the court in Pliiladelphia and became
a naturalized citizen.

While at Northumberland awaiting advices from his employer in England,
Williamson was informed that about 200 emigrants would reach him in due season,
and to make preparations to conduct them to their new home in the wilderness.
An important question now presented itself. Which was the better route to pursue
to reach the point of destination ? Up the Susquehanna by boat to Tioga Point,
thence by the Tioga river to a point as near the proposed place of settlement as
possible; or to cut a road by a direct route overland ? At that time the river route
WHS the only one known, but it was long, circuitous and danfjerous. With the large
number of immigrants under his charge, ^\'illiamson argued that a part of this force
at least might bo advaiitngeously used in the construction of the prdposed road, and
lie therefore set about making preparations to carry out the project.

As this road woidd be a benefit to the country as well, Williamson made appli-
cation to the Assembly for an appropriation to assist in its construction. After
«)nic discussion the small sum of £100 was gruilpinjrly appropriated. This was not
encouraging for such a great undertaking through 100 miles of wilderness, but it
was accepted. Williamson secured the services as guides of Robert and Benjamin
Patterson, two brothers residing at Xorthunilicrland. They had done distinguisheil
service as scouts and soldiers in the Kevoltitionar}' army, and especially in watching
and aiding in the repulse of the invading Indians on the West Branch of the Sus-
quehanna, and as scouts in the country through which this road was to pass. They
were familiar with the ground and therefore well equipjieil for the work. Their
father, William I'litterson, had distinguishetl himself in the French and Indian wars;
flieir mother wn.s a Boone, a near relative of Daniel Boone, the celebrated frontiers-


The work of cutting the road through the wilderness was commenced in May-
or June, 1792. According to the draft now on file in the land oface, it commenced
.at Loyalsock, passed through where Wilhamsport was afterwards built to Lycoming
creek, up which it ascended by the Indian path to Trout run. Here the builders
iairly entered the wilderness when they commenced the ascent of Trout run. The
forest was dense and gloomy, but by dint of hard work a road was made over Laurel
iill to the site of Liberty. From this point the site of Blossburg, on the Tioga river,
was reached. At Canoe Camp, eight miles down the river, the road was abandoned,
.and the party set to work making canoes out of the heavy timber which grew there.
Having a sufficient number completed they embarked and floated down the river to
Painted Post and then ascended the Conhocton to their point of destination, where
they founded the town of Bath.

It was the custom of Williamson and his party to establish depots for the storage
of provisions on the line of the road, and to erect a commodious log house to shelter
the women and children, and then advance with the axemen, roadmakers, etc., and
prepare the way. The "Block House" he established at what is now known as
Liberty borough was constructed of logs and was about 30x40 feet in size. In front
of it was erected a large bake oven, in which bread was baked for the party. This
block house stood in the midst of a heavy forest of timber and it remained there for
years as a famous historic landmark.

Blossburg, or "Peter's Camp," was the next station where a depot was estab-
lished. It took its name from a man named Peter. At Canoe Camp, eight
miles down the Tioga river, the work of road building was temporarily abandoned,
■on account of the lateness of the season, and the party floated down stream in canoes
which they had hurriedly constructed.

The next station was Apple Island, near Painted Post, and the last was about
midway between Painted Post and Bath, the point of destination, which they
reached in December. While Williamson and his party were tarrying at Peter's
•Camp (now Blossburg),^ Eobert and Benjamin Patterson discovered coal, which was
then pronounced by the English immigrants, "stone coal," to distinguish it from
-charcoal or wood coal. This was in September or October, 1793.

This thoroughfare was not finally completed until the summer of 1796, and it
was regarded as one of the greatest successes of the times. It opened a country
Mtherto almost unknown, and shortened the distance between Northumberland and
Painted Post almost 100 miles.

The undertaking was of such magnitude as to have almost deterred any other
man but Williamson from beginning it. But being endowed with indomitable per-
severance, tenacity of purpose and a well-balanced head, he accomplished what
would have appalled and discouraged scores of others. But one of the great factors
in the enterprise— one of the essential attributes to ultimate success — was in being

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 11 of 163)