Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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diligent search has failed to develop a copy. The only poem that could be found
at the present time was discovered in a stray copy of the Phoenix, printed many years
ago. It is entitled "The Parting," and from the tone of sadness which seems to
crop out in every stanza, it is inferred that it was written about the time she became
a bride and left the home of her childhood at Wellsboro. It is as follows:

The Parting.
One look, one passionate parting word,

And the pang of the heart is o'er;
One tear for the yearning which grief hath stirred,
For the deep, low tones of the farewell heard,
And we shall meet no more.

And yet as the lingering ray of eve

Fades over the distant sea —

As twilight's shadows the wild flowers leave,

• And the winds thro' the leaves of the lotus grieve,

Will ye have no thought for me?

I am leaving the whispers of bnd and bough,

Ere the summer's wild flowers fade;
Yet a furrovif is deep on my darkened brow.
That has worn in its sorrowless pride till now.

The garland ye have made.

And as the winds of the cold north come

With a tone more sad and deep ;
Will ye not meet at our childhood's home
For the weary feet that are doomed to roam

In their fragile strength, to weep?

Ye have been the fountain in life's young hour, '

Of affection's wealth to me ;
And now when the tempests of noonday lower
And fate frowns dark with a fiendish power,

Will ye not think of me? »

Ye will think of me, ye will think of me

As ye think of the soulless dead;
Ye will meet at the haunts of our childish glee.
Where all bright things of the earth are free.

But not as in days now fled.

Ye will know that a shadow has passed away.

That broken is love's deep spell;
That hushed are the breathings of Love's young lay.
And dark is the close of its summer day —

Home, friends of my youth, farewell!

— Maby Emilt Jackson.


One of the sweetest singers of Tioga's poets was j\I. H. Cobb, for some time
editor and publisher of the Wellsboro Agitator. So highly appreciated were his
poetic effusions, that on the eve of his departure for another field of labor, his friends
pollected a "small number of the many excellent fruits of his own genius," printed


them in a beautiful little volume and presented it to him as "a memento of friend-

Mr. Cobb was bom in Litchfield county, Connecticut, April 30, 1838, and became
a printer and editor in early life. His connection with the Agitator will be found
described in the chapter on the press of Wellsboro.

Harpel's elegant volume, entitled "Poets and Poetry of Printerdom," refers to
that exquisite gem, "The World Would Be the Better for It," in these words: "It
took form in his mind almost unbidden early one December morning in 1854, and
rising he transcribed it, and sent it to the New York Tribune, and it has been every-
Avhere read since. He obeyed the poetic impulse then, under the influence of love
for humanity." Here is the poem:


If men cared less for wealth and fame,
And less for battlefields and glory;
If, writ in human hearts, a name

Seemed better than in song and story;
If men, instead of nursing pride.

Would learn to hate and to abhor it;
If more relied
On love to guide.
The world would be the better for it.

If men dealt less in stocks and lands,

And more in bonds and deeds fraternal;
If love's work had more willing hands
To link this world with the supernal;
If men stored up love's oil and wine,
And on bruised human hearts would pour it;
If "yours" and "mine"
Would once combine,
The world would be the better for it.

If more would act the play of Life,

And fewer spoil it in rehearsal;
If bigotry would sheathe its knife

Till good became more universal;
If custom, gi-ay with ages grown.
Had fewer blind men to adore it;
If talent shone
In truth alone.
The world would be the better for it.

If men were wise in little things —

Affecting less in all their dealings;
If hearts had fewer rusted strings

To isolate their kindly feelings;
If men, when wrong beats down the right,
Would strike together to restore it;
If right made might
In every figlit.
The world would be the better for it.



George W. Sears, poet, editor, traveler and woodsman, was born in Massachu-
setts, December 2, 1821, and died at Ms home in Wellsboro, May 1, 1890. He early-
developed a liking for outdoor life, and in his youth spent much of his time with
the remnant of a tribe of Nepmug Indians living near his home. He took a fancy
to their chief, Nessmuk, and in after life signed that name to his poetic effusions.

When he grew to manhood his love for the woods did not forsake him and he
spent much of his time in the solitude of the forest, and there many of his finest
poems were written on birch bark. Mr. Sears came to Wellsboro in 1848, preceding
his father's family several years. He learned the trade of a shoemaker, which he
pursued when not enjoying the solitude of the forest. When a young man he shipped
aboard a whaler for a three years' cruise, but the vessel put in at Fayal Islands,
and, as he was sick with the fever, he was taken ashore and left in the hospital. When
convalescent he was sent home by the United States government.

Some time in the fifties he contributed to the Spirit of the Times a serial
romance under the nom de plume of ISTessmuk, which was widely read and commented
on. From that time on he became a valued correspondent of Forest and Stream,
Outing, American Angler, etc.

When the call for 75,000 volunteers was made by President Lincoln, he was
one of the first to respond and became a member of the original Bucktails; but
meeting with an accident while in camp at Harrisburg, by which his right instep
was broken, he was discharged and reluctantly returned home.

In 1867 his love of travel led him to South America, and he spent most of his
time at Para, Brazil, carefully watching the workings of the rubber industry and
corresponding for the Philadelphia Press. He remained in Brazil nearly a year.

Mr. Sears was a true lover of nature. Unaccompanied he would go to the wildest
nooks with rod, dog and gun, and pass weeks in solitude. In this way he explored
the Adirondack region, and the log of his canoe, Nessmuk, a boat which only weighed
seventeen pounds, shows a cruise for 1880 of over 550 miles. In 1884 he cruised in
the same region a distance of 350 miles, but the voyage was cut short by failing

In order to escape the rigors of the winter in this northern latitude he went to
Florida in 1886. The climate agreed with him and he was greatly benefitted. He
returned in 1887 and remained during the summer. This was a fatal mistake. He
contracted malaria, and this coupled with his king trouble wore his life away. He
faded like the maple leaves he loved so well and died as stated in 1890. It was his
request to be buried in his own dooryard under the lilacs that he planted, and the
six hemlocks which he had carefully nurtured were to be sentinels over his grave.
But his wish was not carried out. In the cemetery his remains rest and a granite
tablet marks the spot, reared to his memory by the Forest and Stream publishing
company. And sunken in the stone is a bronze likeness of the poet in relief, which
is said to be excellent.

A contemporary says that he was somewhat of a recluse. Early in life he made
up his mind that the vanities of the world were not worth the struggle. That marts
were but places where "man cheats his fellow man, or robs the workman of his
wage." The trumpet of Fame sounded not in his ear, urging him to higher aspira-


tions. Prosperity, fortune and position lured him not with their seductive smiles,
and for the pomp and vain glory of the world he had no wish or desire. Leaving
all the vexations of life, he sought solitu'de in the peaceful woods. In mountain
path, by sylvan brook, alone, he loved to stray. The appended gem, written while
buried in one of the wildest nooks of Tioga county, shows the thought which moved
his mind:


Who treads the dirty lanes of trade

Shall never know the wondrous things

Told by the rugged forest kings
To him who sleeps beneath their shade.

Only to him whose coat of rags

Has pressed at night their royal feet

Shall come the secrets, strange and sweet,
Of isegal pines and beetling crags.

For him the Wood-nymph shall unlock

The mystic treasures which have lain

A thousand years in frost and rain.
Deep in the bosom of the rock.

Tor this and these he must lay down

The things that wordlings most do prize,

Holding his being in her eyes.
His fealty to her laurel crown.

No greed of gold shall come to him,

Nor strong desire of earthly praise;

But he shall love the silent ways
Of forest aisles and arches dim.

And dearer hold the open page

Of nature's book than shrewdest plan

By which man cheats his fellow man.
Or robs the workman of his wage.

As a writer of prose and poetry Mr. Sears ranked far above mediocrity. In 1884
he published a modest little volume under the nom de plume of Nessmuk, entitled
"Woodcraft," giving his experiences of fifty years in the woods, with instructions to
hunters and fishermen how to camp out and enjoy the sport. The book proved
very popular with sportsmen and ran through several editions. It forms one of the
"Forest and Stream" series, and is still much sought after by lovers of the chase.

But the crowning poem of his life, which gave him reputation and fame in
spite of his seclusiveness, was "John 0' the Smithy," first published in the Atlantic
Monthly. It is given herewith:


Down in the vale where the mavis sings

And the brook is turning an old-time wheel.
From morning till night the anvil rings

Where John 0' the Smithy is forging steel.


My lord rides out at the castle gate,

My lady is grand in bower and hall,
With men and maidens to cringe and wait,

And John O' the Smithy must pay for all.

The bishop rides in his coach and four,

His grooms and horses are fa,t and sleek;
He has lackeys behind and lackeys before,

He rides at a hundred guineas a week.
The anvil is singing its "ten pound ten,"

The mavis pipes from its birken spray.
And this is the song that fills the glen,

John O' the Smithy has all to pay.

The smith has a daughter, rosy and sweet,

My lord has a son with a wicked eye;
When she hears the sound of his horses' feet

Her heart beats quicker — she knows not why.
She will knovy very well before the end;

She will learn to detest their rank and pride,
When she has the young lord's babe to tend.

While the bishop's daughter becomes his bride.

There will be the old, old story to tell

Of wrong and sorrow in places high,
A bishop glazing the deeds of hell.

The Priest and the Levite passing by.
And the father may bow his frosted head

When he sees the young bride up at the hall.
And say 'twere better his child were dead,

But John O' the Smithy must pay for all.

The smith and his daughter will pass away,

And another shall make the anvil ring
For his daily bread and the hodden gray;

But the profits shall go to the priest and king.
And over the wide world, day by day,

The smiths shall waken at early morn
Each to his task in the old dull way,

To tread a measure of priestly corn.

And the smith shall live on the coarsest fare

With little that he may call his own.
While the idler is free from work or care;

For the best of all must go to the drone.
And the smith complains of the anvil's song.

Complains of the years he has wrought and pined,
For priests and rulers are swift to wrong

And the mills of God are slow to grind.

But a clear, strong voice from over the sea
Is piercing the murk of the moral night!

Time is, time was; and time shall be

That John O' the Smithy will have his right.



And ttey who have worn the mitre and crown,
Who have pressed him sore in body and soul,

Shall perish from earth when the grist is ground
And the mighty miller has claimed his toll.

His best poems have been 'collected and published in a handsome volume by
Forest and Stream, so that they will not perish, but form a part of the permanent
literature of Tioga county — a literature that will last as long as the beetling crags
and dashing rivulets of his adopted county.

While this chapter is termed the "Literature of Tioga," much in the line of his-
tory, both civil and military, has been written at later dates, which is not regarded
as belonging to this department.



Desceiptive— The Original Town Plot— Additional Lots Surveyed— Promi-
nent Pioneers— JosiAH Emery's Reminiscences — Postoffice and Post-
masters — John Scheffee, the Young Mail Carrier — His Route Through
THE Wilderness— Postoffice Statistics— Old-Time Taverns and Land-
lords-Modern Hotels.

WELLSBOEO, the county seat of Tioga county, is situated about two miles south
and west of the geographical center of the county. Within its limits Charleston
creek, Morris run and Kelsey run — all flowing toward the north — unite to form
Marsh creek. The converging of these hill-inclosed creek valleys affords an excellent
site of great natural beauty for a good-sized city. The rapid fall of the streams and
the undulating character of the ground, insuring free drainage, combined with the
altitude, which is 1,319 feet above tide water, make it a healthful as well as beautiful
place of residence. Its location near the geographical center of the county — at the
crossing of the east and west and the north and south State roads — and its proximity
to the main line of the Fall Brook railroad, a branch of which passes through it,
render it accessible to the people of the various townships, and give those who live
within its limits every reason to beUeve it will more than keep pace with the country
about it, in all that goes to make up a permanent and enduring prosperity. It is the
business and trading center of a number of the most prosperous agricultural town-
ships of the county, and its mercantile and manufacturing enterprises are in the
hands of energetic, wide-awake and intelligent business men, who, aside from the
conduct of their own personal affairs, are neglecting no opportunity to keep it well


up in the procession of progress, and make it worthy of good repute as a well-gov-
erned, orderly and forward-marching borough.


The land originally set apart as a site for a "county town" by Benjamin Wistar
Morris embraced 150 acres, a full description of which may be found on pages 1, 3, 3
and 4 of Deed Book No. 1, in the of&ce of the register and recorder. By a deed dated
July 14, 1806, and recorded September 6, 1806, Benjamin Wistar Morris and his
wife, Mary Wells Morris, conveyed to John Fleming, William Hill Wells and William
Ellis, the trustees appointed by law to locate the county seat of Tioga county, "one
full and equal moiety," or seventy-five acres of this tract. This conveyance included
all of the tract lying northwest of Walnut street and southwest of a line drawn
through the center of Central avenue, and took in the squares occupied by the county
buildings and the park. The remainder of the tract, lying northwest of Walnut
street and southeast of a line drawn through the center of Central avenue, was re-
tained by Mr. Morris.

Before this conveyance was made a town plot had been surveyed, embracing
forty-five and three-fourths acres with usual allowances, etc. This plot, which was
six blocks long by three wide, extended from northeast to southwest, the line being
north, forty-five degrees east, and was bounded on its northeastern side by Queen
street; on its southeastern side by Walnut street; on its southwestern side by King
street, and on its northwestern side by Water street. Main street, the principal street
running from northeast to southwest, is 100 feet wide, as is also Central avenue, the
principal cross street. All the other streets are fifty feet wide. The plot shows eighty
lots, the full-sized ones being 60x250 feet. A map of this survey was filed for record
May 5, 1808.

Morris, it will be remembered, said in the advertisement, quoted in a preceding
chapter, that the town was "laid out upon the same plan as the City of Philadel-
phia." The two acres which he set aside for the public buildings and like amounts
for the square, or "green," are in the center of the plot, and around the latter he
expected the business houses and churches would cluster. But his dream was never
fully realized. The county buildings face the western side of the "green," law offices
are on the north, and churches and dwellings on the east and south. His idea was
based on the English plan for founding rural towns.


It will be observed that of the seventy-five acres conveyed by Benjamin Wistar
Morris and wife to the trustees named in the deed, but a little more than twenty
acres were included in the original town plot. The remaining portion, embracing
some fifty odd acres, lay, for the most part, southwest of King street, and it is pre-
sumed was soon afterward sub-divided into out lots and offered for sale.

Upon the election of the first board of county commissioners and their entrance
upon their official duties in October, 1808, the trustees selected to locate the county
seat turned over to them the charge of the sale of these lots. After the opening of
the first court in Wellsboro, in 1813, and the completion of the organization of the
county in all its departments, there appears to have been an advance in price of lots.


since we find in the proceedings of the commissioners^ under date of July 9, 1814, the

Eesolved, That town lots ninety-five feet in front by 250 feet deep be sold at
eighteen dollars per lot. The acre lots, which coatain one and two acres, to be sold at
ten dollars per acre. Said lots to be cleared in one year from date of deed. Purchase
money to be paid on delivery of deed.


Benjamin Wistar Morris, the founder of Wellsboro, and the first settler upon
its site, came into Tioga county from Philadelphia, about 1799, as the representatiye
and trustee of the Pine Creek Land Company, and also as the contractor for opening
the north and south State road, from Newberry, Lycoming county, by way of Little
Pine creek, through Tioga county to the ISI ew York State line. He soon afterward re-
moved his family hither and took up his residence in a log cabin erected on the site
of the present home of W. D. Van Horn in 1800. Soon after this William Hill Wells
and Gideon Wells, brothers of Mrs. Morris, located two and one-half miles southwest
of the village site, and, so far as known, were the first settlers within the boundaries
of what is now Delmar township.

Before Mr. Morris laid out the town of Wellsboro, in 1806, and offered its lots for
sale, a saw-mill and a grist-mill had been erected on Marsh creek, just below the
present borough limits, by Samuel W. Fisher, a resident of Philadelphia. It is pre-
sumed that these enterprises were, at the outset, owned by the land company, and that
they were in the charge of Mr. Morris, the company's representative here, who al-
luded to them in his advertisement in the Lycoming Gazette, November 13, 1806,
setting forth the advantages of the new "county town."

It is difficult, at this late day, to give the names of the early settlers upon the
site of Wellsboro in the order of their coming. The assessment list of 1813, the best
authority at hand, shows that the following-named persons were taxed either as resi-
dents or owners of lots in that year: Abisha Baker, Alpheus Cheney, then sheriff
of the county; Joseph Fish, who soon after established a tan-yard, which developed
into a paying and important enterprise, and who was also an early tavern keeper;
William Hill, who planned the first office building for the commissioners a.nd pro-
thonotary; Titus Ives, a county commissioner; David Lindsey, at whose home the
meetings of the commissioners were held as early as June 23, 1809; Aaron Niles,
who settled near the Charleston township line, in 1810, east of the old, but within
the present borough limits; Benjamin Wistar Morris, Samuel W. Morris, the first
postmaster, and a county commissioner; John Norris, prothonotary and register and
recorder, and Henry Sligh, or Sly, the first "village blacksmith."

Mordecai M. Jackson came with his parents to this part of the county in 1804,
being then about twenty years of age. His parents becoming discouraged returned
to Philadelphia. He, however, remained, and some years later became the owner of
the old Samuel W. Fisher mills, in which he had been employed. William Bache,
Sr., who had visited the village in 1811, removed here from Philadelphia in 1812,
with his young wife. His son, William, was born here October 26, 1812, and is now
one of the oldest living persons born in the county, and the oldest bom within the
borough limits. It is said that Harvey, a son of Henry Sly, the blacksmith, was the


first child bom in the village. He first opened his eyes in a rude log house which
stood on the site of the Wellsboro Hotel. Daniel Kelsey, who settled in 1807, was
then living within the present borough limits. The resident "single .freemen" were
David Henry and David Greenleaf.

At this time, so far as either record or tradition informs us, the only things in-
dicating a purpose to build a town were a few scattered cabins, the old Quaker Meet-
ing House, the postoffice, kept at Mr. Morris' home, and Henry Sly's blacksmith
shop, if he then had one.

The opening of the courts in Jamiary, 1813, infused new life into the struggling
village. Alpheus Cheney and Israel Greenleaf were granted tavern licenses and
work was begun on the court house and jail and an office building for the com-
missioners and the prothonotary. A store, the first one in the place, was started
soon afterward by William Bache, Sr., in a log building on the site of the present
Presbyterian church. About the same time Mr. Morris, so it is said, kept a small
stock of goods in his home. These were the pioneer mercantile enterprises.

Among those who settled in the village between 1812 and 1816, whose names
appear on the assessment -list of the latter year, were Charles Daniels and Ezekiel L.
Jones, blacksmiths. Daniels died a few years later and his widow removed to Tioga.
Jones remained and worked at his trade until about 1843, after which he appears
to have lived retired. Peter Faulkner, a physician, was here in 1816. In that year
Alanson Thompson was granted a tavern license, which was renewed annually up
to 1833. A license was also granted to Joseph Fish and renewed to 1818. A^out

1816, also. Dr. Jeremiah Brown settled in the village and became the first physician
to locate permanently. He remained until 1830, when he removed to Shippen
township. Ebenezer and Lorentes Jackson were also here in 1816. The latter was
afterwards a surveyor and land agent. William Patton, the first lawyer to locate
in the village, came soon after the opening of the first courts.

Upon the assessment list of 1818 appears the name of Solomon Daniels, "laborer
and fiddler." In this year Samuel W. Morris appears as "shopkeeper." He was
also operating a saw-mill and a grist-mill near the site of Stokesdale Junction,
then known as "The Marsh." John Beecher, who was licensed September 15,

1817, was keeping the old "Cheney Tavern," his license being renewed annually until
1831. He was also an early merchant, and transacted business in a store building
on the east corner of Morris and Main streets. In 1818, also, Eoswell B. Alford was
operating a saw-mill on Charleston creek, near the present railroad station.

Among the newcomers appearing on the list for 1819 were Royal Cole, a veteran
of the Revolution and War of 1813, afterward a well-known and prominent citizen,
who died July 4, 1849, in his ninetieth year; Daniel Parker; Joseph Reynolds, shoe-
maker; Elijah Stiles, shoemaker, and two years later sheriff; James Kimball, car-
penter, and for nearly forty years an "innkeeper;" Chauncey Alford, an early distiller
and grist-mill owner; Uriah Spencer, who was elected prothonotary in 1818, and
Benjamin Tome.

William Covenhoven, "tanner;" Ebenezer Hill, John Isenhouer, "iaylor;"
Frederick Leete, physician, and Benjamin B. Smith, who founded the Phoenix in

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 33 of 163)