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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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northern part of Tioga and the eastern part of Elkland, to be erected into a
separate township. Whereupon, February 32, 1816, the court appointed Charles
Blanchard, John Cady and Daniel Walker, viewers, who at the following term
reported in favor of setting off the new township, and the report was confirmed
nisi. At the^ September term following (September 16), "upon the petition of
divers inhabitants of the townships of Tioga and Elkland, setting forth that a

* By Rev. David Craft, of I^awrenceville.


township hath lately been formed out of part of each of the townships of Elkland
and Tioga, which township, if confirmed by order of the court, will be injurious
and burdensome" to the inhabitants of said townships, and therefore "pray the
court to appoint suitable persons to reyiew the same. The court upon due con-
sideration do order and appoint Ebenezer Seelye, Elihu Hill and Lorentes Jack-
son, to review the township thus laid off as aforesaid and enquire into the pro-
priety of forming the same." At the following December term (December 6),
the reviewers reported as follows: "That we consider the convenience of a more
compact township to overbalance the expense that will eventually arise from such
division, therefore, think proper that the new township begin at the ninety-fifth mile-
stone of the York State line; thence south four miles to a hemlock comer; thence
east eight miles and a half to a stake; thence north four miles to the State line;
thence along said State line [west] to the place of beginning. The report having
been read the first time on the 17th of this month, December, and a second time
on the 18th instant, the court (consisting of Hon. James Burnside, president; Ira
Kilburn and Samuel W. Morris, associate judges) do approve and confirm the
same, and order and direct that it be entered of record, according to the courses
and distances aforesaid, and in grateful remembrance of the gallant James Law-
rence, of the United States navy, who fell in the action between the Chesapeake
and the Shannon, call this township Lawrence."

The township as thus described is bounded on the north by the New York
state line, on the east by Jackson, on the south by Tioga and Farmington, on the
west by Farmington and Kelson, and contains thirty-four squsj-e miles, 30,760
acres, nearly all of which is arable land. The Tioga river enters the south line
of the township about three miles from its southeast corner, takes a course a little
west of north, leaving the township a few rods east of the ninetieth milestone.
The Cowanesque, its principal affluent, enters the township from the west, about
a mile and a half south from its northwest corner, flows in a mean northeasterly
direction, leaves the township between the ninetieth and ninety-first milestones,
and empties itself into the Tioga a short distance north of the State line. These
streams flow through broad valleys, whose rich soil, of deep alluvium, is very pro-
ductive and adapted to great variety of culture. While all crops are remu-
nerative, of late years tobacco has been the leading product. The valleys are
bounded by low ranges of hills from 500 to 600 feet in height, when they spread
out in broken plateaus, which, until recently, were heavily timbered, but now
contain some of the best farms in the coimty. The principal streams that fall
into the Tioga from the east are. Smith's, Hart's and Westbrook creeks, which,
having their heads in the plateau above the river flats, have cut deep ravines
through the soft shales, not wide enough for farming purposes, but affording
magnificent scenery and beautiful drives on roads of easy grades. The Tioga
branch of the Erie railway is built in the ravine of Westbrook creek. On the
west there are no affluents of any size within the limits of the township. A creek
of considerable size, having its sources in the Farmington hills, flows into the
Cowanesque at Tompkins, the only affluent of much volume it receives after enter-
ing the township.



Those familiar with Pennsylvania history will remember that the charter of
the Connecticut Colony gave her a territory extending through its entire breadth
of latitude from Charles river to the Pacific ocean, except where occupied by
some other Christian prince or State. The territory subsequently grajited to
William Penn lapped tipon this grant more than the width of one degree of
latitude, across the entire northern part of Pennsylvania. Connecticut claimed
this on the ground that her charter was nineteen years older than Penn's. Ac-
cordingly, in 1754, she assigned to certain freemen and their associates, known
as the Susquehanna Company, that portion of her territory from ten miles east
of the northeast branch of the Susquehanna river, westward through the whole
breadth of latitude, two degrees of longitude, or one hundred twenty miles, or
measured on the State boundary line from the forty-sixth to the one hundred
sixty-sixth milestone — from the eastern part of Bradford county to the Tuna
valley in McKean. The strifes, conflicts, captures, reprisals, destruction of
property, special legislation, compromises and law suits, growing out of this
claim, which disturbed the Susquehanna valley for half a century, cannot here
be discussed. The New England settlers believing the Pennsylvania government
had taken an unfair advantage of the "Decree of Trenton," made December 30,
1782, which conceded to Pennsylvania the jurisdiction and pre-emption of the
disputed strip, by the oppressive, unreasonable and tyrannical legislation, which
had been harshly enforced against them, a meeting was held at Hartford, July
13, 1785, at which it was resolved that the company would support its claim to
the purchase, protect the settlers and give as a gratuity a large number of rights
to such as would come upon the ground and maintain by force and arms, if need
be, their possessions. This resolution was scattered broadcast over New England
and hundreds, mostly young men, or relatives of the old settlers, rushed upon
the disputed territory.

In disposing of their lands, the company surveyed them into townships as
nearly five miles square as the conformity of the land would allow, each con-
taining twenty-five square miles, or lp,000 acres, which were divided into fifty-
three shares or rights of 300 acres each, fifty of which were for settlers and three
for public use. Hamilton, which embraced the present borough of Lawrence-
ville, was granted as early as 1790. May 30, 1796, Major Zephon Flower, the
surveyor of the Susquehanna Company, ran the projection of the east line of it
for fifteen miles. His field notes read: "A survey of part of Hemhnton and
other towns." Beginning at the eighty-ninth milestone he indicates the streams
crossed and their courses, with observations as to the timber, quality of land, etc.

The earliest emigrants into this county were mostly young men from New
England and eastern New York, either single or recently married, who, availing
themselves of the liberal offers of the Susquehanna Company, thought to secure
for themselves, at small price, farms and homes on the rich bottom lands of the
Tioga and the Cowanesque. Their route was by the way of the Susquehanna and
Tioga rivers through Athens, Newtown, now Elmira, and Painted Post to their

Immediately after the piirchase of the Indian claim by Pennsylvania to the


north-western portion of her territory, the land office was opened and the land sur-
veyed and offered for sale at a price which was soon reduced to six and one-fourth
cents per acre. Speculation ran wild. Philadelphia merchants, bankers, men hold-
ing public office and others invested to the utmost limit of their money and credit.
As early as May, 1785, warrants of survey were laid on both sides of the rivers, and
patents were granted on some of them as early as 1793. Great efforts were made
to sell these warrants to settlers, but the uncertainty about title led them to hesitate
in making investments. Men who had embarked in these speculations soon found
themselves greatly embarrassed and unable to maJce their payments. Their lands
were sold by sheriffs and United States marshals for taxes and warrant fees, and
many were hopelessly ruined.

In the meanwhile, after pursuing a vacillating course toward the Connecticut
people for more than sixteen year, in 1799, the Pennsylvania legislature reached
a settled policy in its dealings with them. The confirming law passed that year,
with its various supplements, made a distinction between the Susquehanna Com-
pany's settlers prior to the Decree of Trenton and those who came later — "half-
share men" — confirming the titles of the former to the lands they occupied, and,
using the language of an eminent judge, "cutting up the pretended titles of the
half -share men by the roots."

The question of title being settled the landholders, in 1806, appointed as their
agent Thomas Overton, of Ulster, Bradford county, who came here in the summer
of that year, and with great tact and persuasion prevailed upon most of the settlers
to abandon their worthless Connecticut titles and buy of the Pennsylvania owners.
The people had no money. The little they once had, had been expended in the
purchase of their Connecticut rights and the improvement of their farms. Mr.
Overton, however, arranged easy terms of payment, which was secured by bond and
mortgage upon the holding. He was succeeded by Michael E. Tharp, who adjusted
the great majority of titles and is still remembered by the older people. The first
volume of records in the recorder's office in this county is mostly filled with mort-
gages upon farms along the river given to secure the payment of the purchase money,
and many of the deeds contain a warranty which can only be understood by remem-
bering that to a part or the whole of the land conveyed there was an adverse title
from another State.

In 1786 commissioners and surveyors began to run the boundary line between
the States of 'New York and Pennsylvania, beginning at the Delaware river and going
westward. When reaching the ninetieth milestone, which stands near the northeast
corner of William Kuhl's barn, in the borough of Lawreneeville, they suspended
work until the following spring, when it was resumed. At the re-survey of this
line, in 1879, astronomical observations were taken at this point, which was found
to be exactly 42° 00^ .01't0".14 north latitude, the exact parallel cutting the houses
on the north side of State street. At the time of running this line there was not a
white settler farther up the Tioga than Painted Post. The open plains at the junc-
tion of the Cowanesque, where generations before the red man had cultivated his
corn and squashes, had now grown up in hazel bushes, or were covered with wild grass
higher than a man's head, but as yet no white man had sought it for a habitation or
located upon its fertile meadows his future home.



The distinction of being the first white settler within the township of Lawrence,
and indeed in the county of Tioga, belongs to the Hon. Samuel Baker,* late of
Steuben county, Few York. He was born in Branford, Connecticut, April 24, 1763,
of Puritan ancestry. Jonathan Baker, father of Samuel, removed with his family
to White Creek, Washington county, ISTew York, before the Revolutionary War.
Early in August, 1777, Burgoyne was marching by easy stages from Ticonderoga to
the Hudson. The forests in advance of him were swarming with hostile savages.
One of these parties came upon young Baker and a younger brother picking berries.
Both boys hid themselves and might have escaped had not Samuel been too anxious
to see a live Indian, when he was discovered and captured. The next day, after a
journey of considerable hardship, the party reached the camp of Burgoyne, and
Samuel was redeemed by a British officer for twelve dollars, and became a waiter
at army headquarters. After the surrender of Burgoyne he was found by an
American officer, who gave him two dollars and told him to go home, which he did,
and remained there until 1781. In that year, at the age of eighteen, he enlisted in
Col. Maxius Willett's regiment, for the protection of Tryon county, and took part
in the skirmish of Canada Creek, in which the noted Tory leader, Capt. Walter
Butler, was killed.

In 1786 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Eichaxd Daniels. Having pur-
chased a right in the Susquehanna Company, in the spring of 1787, provided with
only his rifle, he started alone to locate his land on the Tioga, the unexplored west.
Striking the headwaters of the Susquehanna, he came to Tioga Point (now Athens),
then pushed up the Tioga to Painted Post, and on to its junction with the Cowan-
esque, and there he built his cabin and commenced a clearing. His log house was
near the west bank of the Tioga, almost directly east of the residence of Charles Beebe,
in Lawrenceville, near a large oak on the lands of Mrs. Damon. He was the first
settler in the valley of the Tioga in Pennsylvania. Samuel Harris, son of John
Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, located at Painted Post, was his nearest neighbor,
and next to him was Colonel Hendry, below Big Flats. Having provided himself
with a cow, purchased probably at Tioga Point, Mr. Baker managed to live through
the summer. He planted with his hoe a piece of com and raised a good crop.
Game and fish were to he had at his own door.

Before autumn he was joined by Capt. Amos Stone, who had been a prominent
actor in Shay^s notable rebellion against the operation of the Federal Constitution
in western Massachusetts. Shay's army was defeated January 35, 1787, and his
adherents sought refuge from the federal authorities wherever they could. Baker
and Stone remained here alone until Christmas day, 1787, when Baker, leaving
Captain Stone to hold his claim, started for the Hudson to bring on his wife and
child. The weather was severe. Night overtook him at Big Flats. He kindled
a fire on the bank of the river and laid down, but though accustomed to exposure,
so intense was the cold he could not sleep. Early in the morning he resumed his
journey, and in due time reached his family in safety.

* For the facts relating to Samuel Baker and Richard Daniels, I am indebted to A. J. McAU, Esq., of Bath,
New York, who. obtained them at first hand.


In the spring of 1788 he brought his wife and infant daughter, accompanied
by his wife's father and mother, to Tioga Point. Leaving his family here until
the freshet in the Tioga should subside, he struck across the country to see how his
friend Stone fared. On reaching the bank opposite his cabin not a human being,
except an Indian pounding corn in a samp mortar, was to be seen. Baker supposed
his friend had been murdered by the savages, and he lay in the bushes an hour or
two to watch the red miller. At length he saw the captain driving the cow along
the bank of the river. Baker hailed him, when Stone, seeing who it was, sprang
into the air with delight. He had not seen the face of a white man during Baker's
absence. In a few days, returning to the Point, he brought his wife and little one
and his wife's parents to their new home in the forest.

Now that his family was with him, Mr. Baker, with redoubled energy and zeal,
set himself to work to make for them a comfortable home. There were many
Indians living in the neighborhood, who, though peaceable, yet now and then by
their unexpected visits caused the young wife some trepidation. She had, however,
far more dangerous neighbors in the deadly rattlesnakes which swarmed in great
numbers in the vicinity. One day while engaged in some out of door duties, her
little one, whom she had carried in her arms from the Hudson the year before, was
sitting upon the sUl of the open door. Casually turning her eyes that way, the
mother witnessed a sight that would have paralyzed an ordinary woman. A large
rattler was eoUed in front of the child attempting to charm it, while the child was
reaching out her tiny hand to clutch the sparkling, diamond-like eyes of the reptile.
The snake would duck its head to avoid the hand. This it did several times. The
mother, equal to the emergency, flew to the rescue, reached over the glittering
charmer, seized the child, threw it into the house and killed the snake. Por several
years the sturdy pioneer quietly pursued his labors and diligently sought to enlarge
his clearing and make comfortable his woodland home.

Early in June, 1793, the settlers were startled by a cavalcade of battered, travel-
stained horsemen, and shaggy, leather-dressed hunters emerging from the forest
into the clearing. Their first thought was of a party of Pennsylvanians to dis-
possess them of their homes which they were holding under a Connecticut title
that had been declared void by the Pennsylvania legislature. The leader was a tall,
spare, dark-visaged gentleman of courtly manner and bearing, who, as he gracefully
vaulted from his saddle, introduced himself as Captain Williamson, "of whom you
have doubtless heard," and craved the hospitality of the frontiersman. The greet-
ing in return was most cordial, and from that day the two men were fast friends.

Great uneasiness was begimiing to be felt by the settlers here on account of
the uncertainty of their Connecticut titles. Captain Williamson promised Mr.
Baker a farm, with a clear title, of any shape or size he should wish wherever he
should locate it on the Pultney estate. At the suggestion of Benjamin Patterson,
one of Williamson's surveyors, he located a farm in the deep and beautiful valley
extending from Lake Keuka to the Conhocton. In the summer of 1793 he went
upon his location, erected a log house, made a clearing, receiving a conveyance from
Mr. Williamson, dated October 19, 1793, for 300 acres of land, after which he re-
turned for his family. In the spring of 1794 he removed from the Cowanesque
with his wife and four children, viz: The daughter bom on the Hudson, and two


daughters and one son, William, bom on the Tiogaf, to his farm in Pleasant valley.
Here he continued to reside in peace and comfort, beloved and respected, until his
death, which occurred December 2, 1843. His wife was a woman of great strength
of mind and high character, stately in manner and a most devoted member of the
Episcopal church. Beside the four children they had on leaving Lawrenceville,
eight were bom to them in Pleasant valley.


Eichard Daniels, father-in-law of Samuel Balcer, was born in Albany, New
York, and served in the French and Indian War of 1754. Soon after the war he
returned to Columbia county, New York, and married Cornelia Hoos, a near rela-
tive of Martin Van Buren, and took up his residence in Coxsackie, New York. In
the War of the Eevolution he was a loyalist, but his wife was a tme, spirited
American, and in every way his superior. He was "a North Kiver Dutchman, short,
stout, stubbom and thrifty." They had two children, Elizabeth, who was said to
be the very likeness of her mother, and married Samuel Baker, and Mary, ,who died
unmarried, probably before leaving their Coxsackie home. He accompanied his
daughter to Lawrenceville in 1788, where he had a log house near his son-in-law.
Mrs. Daniels brought some apple seeds, which she planted, and from which grew trees
that were standing near the site of their residence until a few years since. He fol-
lowed Mr. Baker into Pleasant valley in 1794, where he had a beautiful farm north
of the inlet, which he conveyed to his grandson, Eichard Baker, in 1816, and soon
after was laid to rest.

Amos Stone was a captain in the Connecticut Line in the Eevolutionary War,
and an active participant in Shay's Eebellion. He was bom in 1759 and unmar-
ried when he came to Lawrenceville, but in the winter of 1789 he married Miss Eliza-
beth Ives*, of Newtown, now Elmira, New York, and brought his wife to Lawrence-
ville on a "pung." He lived a near neighbor to his friend, Mr. Baker, and removed
with him to Pleasant valley in 1794, purchasing the farm next east of Baker. The
conveyance from Williamson is dated December 4, 1793, for 160 acres, which he
paid for by cutting the road from Bath, New York. He lived to the advanced age
of eighty-three years, entering into rest in 1842, having outlived his wife a number
of years. He was light-hearted and jolly, making many friends, an intelligent and
respectable farmer, and left many descendants.

Of William Barney but little is known, except that he came from the "North.
Eiver" and settled in the neighborhood of Mr. Balier. There are very strong rea-
sons for believing that his log house was on the north side of the Cowanesque, on
the farm subsequently owned by John Cady. That he had a family is certain, as
in 1811 his son, George Barney, writes from Vincennes, "Indiana territory," to a
friend describing his home, etc., who must have been at least twenty-one years old,
and bom before his father left the Cowanesque. He also removed to Pleasant
valley, bought a farm adjoining those of his old Pennsylvania neighbors, the con-

f Some of these were, no doubt, the first white children born in Tioga county.

* She was doubtless of the family of Ives who subsequently settled in Tioga, but who were for a short time-
at Southport. They were from Bristol, Connecticut, near where Captain Stone had lived.


veyance bearing date October 18, 1793, for 160 acres. These four families seem
to be almost inseparable. They came on the Tioga nearly the same time, settled
near each other here, left the same spring for Pleasant valley, where they took
adjacent farms, and all of them lived to an advanced age.

Another pioneer of considerable note in his day was William Holden. He
came also from the neighborhood of Albany, New York, when a mere boy. There
is a tradition that he accompanied the party who came to survey the State boundary
line. He was here before 1790, probably as early as 1788*.' At that time he was
but a young lad. In the assessment for 1800 his age is given at twenty-eight. He
built a log cabin west of the present Main street, in Lawrenceville, and put under
cultivation a few acres of ground. About 1795, having sold his possession to Uriah
Spencer, he went up thg Cowanesque and made a settlement at Osceola, on Holden
brook, which is named in his honor. He was a bachelor and seems not tO' have had
a residence at any one place for a great length of time. He was expert in making
post and rail fence, and during the latter part of his life he was employed the most
of the time in that occupation by the farmers. He fell a victim to the drink habit,
and for several years was maintained at public expense. He died near Pritchard
station about 1846, about seventy-four years of age, and was buried in a little ceme-
tery near Henry Colgrove's. He was of good family. After he became a public
charge he was visited by his brother and sister, both in affluent circumstances, who
desired him to return and spend his remaining days with them. This he refused
on the ground that his tastes and habits were such as to reflect upon them, while
the culture and refinement of their home would be an uncomfortable restraint upon
him. He was a man of much natural ability and shrewdness, and had his surround-
ings and early opportimities been of a more favorable character he would have made
his mark in the world.

The period from 1790 to 1800 was one of considerable activity along the Tioga
valley. At the first named date there was no road except nature's highway, the
river, and the trail of the boundary surveyors now being rapidly obliterated. There
was not a saw-mill nor a flouring-mill in the county. The settlers were compelled
to go to Tioga Point for anything better in the way of breadstuSs than their samp
mortars afforded. In 1791 an act was passed providing for the opening of a road
from the mouth of the Loyalsock creek to where the State line crosses Troup's creek.
The survey was made in the spring of 1793. It crossed the Tioga at the forty-
eighth milestone near the south line of the township; thence in a northwesterly
direction, crossing the Cowanesque near the present railroad bridge; thence in a
west by northwest course to the ninety-second milestone on the State line. Near
the Cowanesque crossing on the north side is marked "Baker's house," evidently a

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 69 of 163)