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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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1837, were all here in 1830, as was Amos Coolidge, who afterwards settled in
"Coolidge Hollow," Delmar township. John B. Murphey, physician, located in the


village about this time. He practiced his profession and kept tavern for a number
of years.

In 1822 William Baehe, St., and Chauneey Alford were both operating distil-
leries. Mr. Bache's distillery was located on Kelsey run, back of the court house.
He eajried it on about ten years. Alford continued about five years. Luther K.
Hildreth, shoemaker, was also here in 1822, as was Capt. Lyman Adams, who kept
tavern until 1837, and Ellis Lewis and Lloyd Wells, attorneys.

The name of Eichard Hughes, "shopkeeper," appears in 1823. William Bache
says he was a peddler. The names of John Lawson, "wheelwright;" James Lock,
"watchmaker," and Cooley Newcomb also appear. The name of Eichard Gates,
blacksmith, appears in 1825. In December of this year Ellis Lewis and his nephew,
Eankin Lewis, a printer, started the Tioga Pioneer, the first newspaper published
in the county. It was removed to Tioga in 1827. In 1825 the name of Francis
Wetherbee, "house Joiner," also appears; as does that of Jonathan Webster, who
established a fulling mill on Charleston creek, near the railroad station. In 1838
he added a carding machine, and carried on the enterprise until his death about 1844.
Wetherbee succeeded Seth Daggett as sheriff in 1831, and finally removed to Min-
nesota when that state began to attract settlers.

William Garretson, attorney; James Lowrey and M. T. Leavenworth, students-
at-law; 0. T. Bundy, physician; Benjamin Shipman and Charles Nash, early teachers
in the Academy, and Israel Merrick, Jr., whose father settled in Delmar township
in ]S805, were all here in 1826. Stephen Bliss, blacksmith, was here in 1828, and also
John E. Donaldson, "printer," and afterwards prothonotary for upwards of thirty
years. In this year Josiah Emery became a teacher in the Academy. The names of
Edward Price and James JCllsworth, carpenters, and Justus Goodwin, attorney at law,
appear on the assessment list for 1828, and that of Henry H. Wells, attorney, in 1829,
in which year Archibald Mchols came from Chenango county, New York, and with
his son, Levi I. Nichols, who had preceded him the year before, opened a general
store on the east comer of Main and Grafton streets.

The foregoing is a comparatively complete list of the names of the settlers
within the limits of Wellsboro previous to its incorporation as a borough. A fuller
mention is made of many of them, as well as of others not heretofore referred to, in
"Josiah Emery's Eeminiscences," which follow. Of those early settlers a number af-
terward became distinguished in their several callings and were active in directing
the affairs of the State and Nation.

JOSIAH emery's reminiscences.

In 1879 a series of articles, entitled "Early Impressions of Wellsboro," appeared
in the Agitator. They were written by the late Josiah Emery, and give a vivid
picture of Wellsboro as it appeared to him in 1828, when he came here, fresh from
college, to teach in the Academy. These reminiscent articles, from the pen of one
for many years a resident of Wellsboro, possess a high historical value and are worthy
of permanent preservation in these pages. Mr. Emery says:

"It was a dreary, cloudy day, with a heavy fog hanging over the marsh, in April
—I think the 23d— when, just at dark, I called at the tavern standing where the
Coles House now stands, and kept by Dr. John B. Murphey, the father of Mrs. L. P.

WELL8B0B0. 263

Williston, and put up for the night. Sad, weary and financially not very flush, the
impression on my mind of the small village, as it then was, was not the most favor-
able; and the approach to it up Crooked creek had prepared my mind to dislike it.
A small gathering of "Charleston friends," as they were then called, paying their
daily visit to the tavern, tended somewhat to disturb the gloom of silence that might
otherwise have hung over the place; and before I went to bed that night I was pre-
pared to believe that Wellsboro was at least a very stirring little town.

"An early walk next morning revealed a very pleasant little village, a snug
little nook surrounded on all sides by romantic hills covered then mostly by forests,
but, as they appeared to me, full of beauty, and from their summits presenting
as fine landscape views as I have ever seen. A few years ago Dr. Saynisch, of
Blossburg, who was a native of, and familiar with, Switzerland and her romantic
landscapes, remarked to me that the landscape views around Wellsboro were ex-
ceeded by none in his native country. He particularly admired the view from
Wetmore hill, where just before sunset the scenery is most beautiful, and the
reflection from the stream that runs along the valley into Wellsboro makes it appear
like a silver thread winding deviously through the green of field and pasture.

"At that time we had on the site of the present court house, a court house and
jail built of squared logs; and log houses then were quite an institution. Judge
Morris lived in a log house on the side hill above the High School building, and a two-
story block or hewed log house occupied the spot where John IST. Bache now lives, and
it was occupied by the father of the Wellsboro Baches. There for a long time were
held the courts after the judicial organization of the county, and there was kept
the postoffice till after the election of Polk, in 1845, when, not being a good Demo-
crat, Mr. Bache [he was postmaster for more than twenty-three years] was super-
seded by a carpet bagger.

"Where the Presbyterian church now stands was a log house occupied by Mrs.
Lindsey and family, and a log church, sixteen by twelve, stood back of where Mr.
Sherwood's office now stands, built by Mr. Benjamin W. Morris, the father of
Judge Morris, for Quaker meetings. A part of Mr. Converse's house was in existence
before my time, and was built of logs, which are now covered with siding. There
was another near the building now ocupied by M. M. Sears as a restaurant. This
was occupied by John Beecher, then, or near then, the treasurer of the county. There
was also a log house near the site of E. J. Brown's, called the Hoover house, built
and then lived in by Mr. Hoover, the father-in-law of William Eberenz, and the
grandfather of Mrs. E. J. Brown. I think those were all the log houses within the
bounds of the village.

"Beginning at the upper end of Main street, there was the house of Captain
Greenleaf, near the site of Mr. Osgood's, and his shop near where Mrs. Nichols' house
stands. This has been moved, rafted over, and is the house between Mrs. Nichols'
and the creek. The house now occupied by H. W. Dartt was built by Lorentes
Jackson on the Chester Eobinson lot, and afterwards moved to where it now stands.
On the corner where Dr. Shearer now lives Ezekiel Jones had a house and, blacksmith
shop, and on the corner across the street from his place was a small house in which
lived Colonel Field, the father of Prescott Field. On the opposite side of Main
street lived Ebenezer Jackson on the corner; further up 'Uncle Eben,' and near


where William Harrison lives was the house of "hias.' The two last were colored
families, and 'Uncle Eben' and his wife, 'Aunt Hetty/ were especially respected
by everybody. [They were slaves of William Hill Wells and were given their free-
dom when he left the county]. Everybody in Wellsboro knows their daughter,
Betty Murry, who is no older now than when I came to Wellsboro, more than fifty-
one years ago. Wear Dr. Packer's office was another house. I don't remember
its occupants then. On the opposite side of the street, where Judge Williams lives,
was a small story-and-a-half house occupied by Colonel Hill, the father of Garwood

"Fear the site of the old bank was a high-roofed house in which Alpheus Cheney,
the first sheriff of Tioga county, for some time kept a tavern. What became of him
I do not now remember. The nest frame house on the northwest side of Main
street was the Kimball tavern, a house of very respectable dimensions for the
place and times. Below that was a two-story house near Harden's, now standing
back on Water street. Opposite this house, on the southeast side of the street, was
the 'Yellow Tavern,' kept, I believe, at that time, by Eoswell Alford. This was
the property bid off at sheriff's sale by Judge Lewis for a mere nominal price, and
the decision in an ejectment for which first settled the law that a sale on a judgment
which was a lien on the property discharged all mortgages whatever on the same
property. It was a surprise to all the lawyers of the State, and was the cause of the
present mortgage law being enacted.

"There was a small shoemaker shop on the next corner, owned by a man whose
remains lie buried ta Eoss Park, Williamsport. [Now occupied by the City Hall],
Going on down to near where Will Herrington's store is, was a small two-story
house with stairs to go 'up chamber' on the outside slanting down on the sidewalk.
This was occupied by Francis Hill, whose wife was a sister of Mary and Sally Lindsey,
and a very clever fellow he was, too. The next building on that side was on the
comer where C. C. Mathers' store stands, and was a long, rough-looking building, in
which a man named James Borst had a kind of store. Opposite, on the northwest
side of the street, was the Bliss house, painted red. Opposite that, where the Cone
House [now Coles] stands, was the Murphey tavern. And opposite that was a two-
story house built by Dr. Brown, a most excellent physician. This was also sold out
at sheriff's sale, and bid off by Judge Lewis. Dr. Brown was the father of -Mrs.
Colonel Huling, of Williamsport. The next on the street was B. B. Smith's, on
the northwest side, which I see is torn down, and around the old cellar are piles
of stone which would indicate that somebody is going to build. Then came the
Taylor house and tannery in the forks of the road, but now demolished, and next
the Fellows house.

"Up what is now called Central avenue was the house now owned by Mr. Eey-
nolds. A house, burned down, where Jerome B. Mies' house now stands, and there
was a house above it long occupied by Mr. Donaldson, but now, I see, demolished.
This house was occupied by Dr. Bundy, and in the cellar was a dissecting room
where two or three persons learned a good deal of anthropological science. As the
house is torn down now, the secret may be told, for no one will be sleeping there to
.see ideal ghosts, as they certainly would have seen them if they had known that
cellar had been used for such a purpose. There was also a house further up the


avenue, which was moved across the road and turned into a barn, and its place oc-
cupied by a house since built by William Eoberts!

"Over the creek, near Mass BuUard's, was a stone distillery in which William
Bache made pure whiskey, which did not kill on sight like the present article. In my
travels over the village I have left out mention of a small two-story house on the
corner of M. M. Converse's lot, in which then lived Ellis Lewis. The house now
stands up in the German settlement. There was also passed over the public of&ce
near the old bank, supplanted by the brick office. This building was sold at auction
forty-three years ago — bid off for $100, moved across the Green, lived in by the
writer [Josiah Einery] till October, 1871, and is now owned by the Bingham estate.
I have also omitted Fish's tannery, near where the foundry now stands.

"The Academy at that time was unfinished in the upper story, the two lower
rooms only being used for the school. I may have passed over some of the houses
then standing, but have mentioned all I can call to mind. The reader will con-
clude that we were a small settlement; and Jamilies that ranked as high in culture
and refinement as any in the present day did not disdain to hve in log houses. They
suited themselves to their circumstances without murmuring.

"When I came there Mr. WUliam Bache was postmaster, and the office was kept
in his dwelling, the tall log house situated where John N. Bache's house now stands.
Mr. Bache was an Englishman, brother-in-law of Lant Carpenter, whose wife was
Mr. Bache's sister. Carpenter was a celebrated Unitarian preacher, a friend and
companion of Dr. Priestley, and father of the celebrated Carpenter family in Eng-
land, Miss Mary Carpenter, the philanthropist, and William B. Carpenter, one of
England's most distinguished scientists, as well as his brothers, Philip and Eussell
Carpenter, both scientific men.

"Mr. Bache was a man of strong common sense, well read, and a man of more than
ordinary ability. He always preserved the character of a Christian, and though
manufacturing whiskey for others, he drank but little himself, and was never but
once known (at least to the writer) to be in the least intoxicated. On the 4th of
July, 1828, we, the patriotic citizens of Wellsboro and the surrounding country,
celebrated. In the cool shade of the wide spreading elms on the flat, above Dickin-
son's pond, seats were improvised, a stage erected, a president, several vice-presi-
dents and secretaries were chosen, and a great multitude gathered to listen to the
orator and pass judgment on the speaking qualities of the new teacher of the
Academy. Then, when the speaking was done and duly applauded, a procession was
formed, and we all marched up to Colonel Kimball's to a gay dinner and to whiskey,
rum, gin and brandy for the men and the Colonel's best wine for the women. And
thus we dined and drank and listened to music till the sun began to sink low in the
west and some heads lower. Mr. Bache was one of the most jolly of the crowd.

"A sober company sat at Mr. Bache's breakfast table next morning, of whom
I was one, being a boarder. After the preUminary grace had been said Mr. Bache
very solemnly remarked that he believed he was slightly 'out of the wa^ at the
celebration, and he hoped the family and especially the young boarder, who also
needed forgiveness, would forgive the little mishap; and he was sure the Lord
would, as He knew very well it was the Fourth of July !

"Mr. Bache had a scientific and inquiring turn of mind, was a great lover of


nature, and liad a quick and appreciative sense of the ludicrous. The lapse of more
than half a century has not blotted out the memory of the pleasant six months I
spent in that family, and especially the remembrance of the many good qualities of
its female head. As one who knew Mr. Bache well, 1 can bear testimony to his in-
tegrity and purity of mind.

"Samuel W. Morris and family were considered at that time, or considered them-
selves, or were, at the head of the aristocracy — though it would seem that in a village
of two hundred and fifty inhabitants, many of whom lived in log houses and all
comparatively in the woods, such an article as aristocracy was an entirely unneces-
sary ingredient of society. I hardly know how to describe the "aristocracy of so
small a village, or tell upon what it was founded, unless upon culture and avoid-
ance of amusements such as are found in such places. Judge Morris, Mr. Norris and
Mr. Bache were educated men. The first was educated at Princeton, the last two in
England. I do not know that any of these families made any assumption of aris-
tocracy. The people assumed it for them. There was, however, a kind of quiet
distinction between the Yankee element which largely predominated, and the down
country element with a large English ingredient in it.

"The Yankees claimed to be the practical element, and preserved among
themselves a kind of brotherhood, a 'hail-fellow-well-met' spirit, shook hands
heartily, and each one considered himself equal to and no worse than his neighbor.
Those who had got into their heads that those down country people were aristocratic
accused them of being a little too exclusive, of reaching out two fingers for a Yankee
to shake, and of thinking each himself as good and a little better than his neighbor,
especially if the neighbor happened to be a Yankee. There was no general outward
expression of such a feeling, but an observant person could see it occasionally.

"The Morris family were of EngHsh descent, were originally Quakers, and the
father of Judge Morris, Benjamin Wistar Morris, held the position of leader among
the Quakers, and sometimes preached when the spirit moved him.

"I have spoken thus fax of these two families in a general way. They were
totally different in most things. In one point, however, they resembled each other;
that was in the education and bringing up of their families of children. They both
acted on the precept of which Solomon has the credit: 'Train up a child in the way
he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.' In each family the
general rule was 'spend your evenings at home.' The children were not taught,
as many children are nowadays, that amusement and fun are the chief objects of
life. They learned, too, by precept and example, that profanity was vulgar, and that
vulgarity was the mark of a low character. Most of the children of these two fami-
lies were my pupils while I was in charge of the Wellsboro Academy. William E.
Morris became an able civil engineer, and B. W. Morris the present Protestant Epis-
copal Bishop of Oregon and Washington. The children of the other family have
done no dishonor to the system adopted by their parents.

"Another family I remember most distinctly was that of Benjamin B. Smith.
He was one of the notables when I came into the county; was, I think, the only
justice within the bounds of the village, was editor and publisher of the Phoenix, a
man of infinite mirth and fun, and full of reminiscences of funny happenings when
he and Amos Coolidge, enterprising Yankees, as they were, peddled dry goods and


notions in their younger days. Mr. Smith was like a great many other men I could
name. He had in his character a popular and an unpopular element. No one
claimed that he was unjust in his dealings or unfair in his decisions; and yet his
ways were not such as to endear him to the masses. He was a man of rather more
than ordinary talent, active and persevering; was a Wellsboro man in contradistinc-
tion from a Willardsburg man, and consequently had enemies in such men as Uriah
Spencer and WilUam Willard, who were active advocates of the removal of the
county seat to Willardsburg, now Tioga borough, and in those days, as now, it was
not always safe to rely implicitly on what one enemy said of another.

"Mr. Smith came into the village near or before 1820. He was the first
teacher in the "Wellsboro Academy. His school was not classical. Mr. Lowrey, a
graduate of Yale, was the first classical teacher regularly employed by the trustees.
There must have been a good deal of fun in school keeping at that early time,
for Mr. Smith had an inexhaustible fund of very amusing school-keeping anecdotes.
His system of managing his children was the very reverse of the system of the other
two families mentioned above. His motto was, 'let 'em run; they will come out all
right in the end.' Well, most of his did 'run,' and most of them came out right in
the end; but the one that didn't run came out ahead. The exception of Mr. Smith's
family does not lessen the value of the precept, 'guard well the ways of your

"In calling up to memory the old personages that lived in Wellsboro, in 1838,
one could hardly fail to remember 'Old Mr. Eoyal Cole' and his worthy companion,
'Old Mrs. Cole,' and that would bring to mind the old frame building, the Cole house,
situated just below Walter Sherwood's. It was, however, torn down many years ago
to make room for a better building. Mr. and Mrs. Cole were the parents of Mrs.
Erastus Fellows, who seemed to have inherited her mother's longevity as well as her
quiet and amiable propensities. Lewis Cole, a lawyer of Potter county, was also
their son, and the Wetmore boys their grandchildren.

"Ebenezer Jackson was an old man when I came to Wellsboro, and lived in a
small frame house diagonally across from Dr. Shearer's. He had a peculiar and
emphatic way of saying 'Which?' when he did not understand what was said to him,
while he was crier of the court, which office he held for many years. He was a great
ore hunter, and was always talking of the wonderful resources hidden in the hills of
Tioga county, and was firm in the belief that it would sometime be one of the richest
counties in the State. He believed largely in coal; and though not given the credit
of the original discovery of coal at Blossburg, he claimed to be the first suggester of
its presence in the county. He always contended that there were large bodies of
that mineral in that part of Delmar now called Duncan and Antrim. * * *
Ebenezer Jackson was the grandfather of Mary Emily Jackson, who was a pupil of
mine in 1828-39, and who early displayed a good deal of practical genius. Many of
her poems were published in a Philadelphia literary paper, and one published by
George P. Morris in his magazine he pronounced equal to any written by Mrs.
Hemans, who was then the female poet of the day.

"Israel Greenleaf was also another well known citizen of Wellsboro. He lived
in a frame house on th'e same side of the street below what was known as the Hoover
log house. He was a wagonmaker, and had a large manufactory near where Mrs.


Nichols lived. This was afterwards removed from its former site and transformed
into a double dwelling house. He was a native of Connecticut, where he was born
in 1765. He came to Tioga county at an early day and purchased a large tract of land
in Charleston township, under a Connecticut title. It extended from the east line
of Delmar and embraced the whole or part of the Alden Thompson neighborhood. But
when the Connecticut titles were declared invalid the captain woke up one morning
to find himself a poor man instead of a large land holder. He served in the Revolu-
tionary War. Captain Greenleaf died June 1, 1847, aged eighty-two years, and was
buried in the old graveyard on the hill, where his tombstone may yet be seen sur-
rounded by trees and brambles. His wife, Sarah, preceded him to the grave, dying
March 8, 1840, aged seventy-two years.

"Amos Coolidge, reference to whom has been made, built the house that for-
merly stood on the site of the Bennett house, and owned and cleared up what has
since been called the Nichols hill and farm. He was elected one of the trustees of
the Academy in 1838, and was the active member of the building committee who
finished up the upper story of the building. He was the father of a large family,
viz: Charles, Amos, Jr., Kilburn, William, Wesley, George, Mrs. E. M. Bodine and
Mrs. Metzgar, of Potter county. Mr. Coolidge was in his younger days and in his
middle age, an active, enterprising, hard-working man, and did much to advance th,e
material interests of the town. In the bringing up of his family he was ably seconded
by his wife, who was a most invaluable woman, and to whom the family owe a debt
of gratitude, the magnitude of which they will never fully understand, and can never
fully repay except by training their children as she trained hers. One must have
lived in the times now passed away to comprehend the full worth of a discreetly
pious and truly good woman. Mr. Coolidge died May 16, 1851, aged sixty-nine
years, seven months and twelve days, and was buried in the old graveyard on Academy
Hill, where, in a thicket of brambles, his marble headstone still stands. It is re-
gretted that the record of his amiable and Christian wife is not at hand.

"I have mentioned a number of the matrons of Wellsboro who aided materially
in moulding the sentiment of the young and in making society better; there are
others of equal piety and domestic virtue entitled to mention in this connection. The
first woman on my list was my first female acquaintance in Pennsylvania. She was
my landlady. The first six months of my residence in Wellsboro I was a boarder at
Mr. Bache's, and I had an opportunity to know intimately the internal machinery
and management of the family. In the method of training up a family of children
the father and mother were a unit. She was a quiet, motherly and good woman,
never to my knowledge fretting or scolding, and everything moved on like clockwork.'
Her religion was of the quiet kind, never strongly emotional or demonstrative, but
"manifest in good works and in a well ordered walk and conversation. She has long

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 34 of 163)