Emanuel Swedenborg.

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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in Massachusetts, in the spring of 1787, and who had Joined him in the summer of
that year. After enduring many hardships, Mr. Baker succeeded in bringing his
family, up the river in the spring of 1788, his father-in-law, Eichard Daniels, a
native of Albany, New York, and his wife, accompanying them and locating on an
adjoining farm. William Barney, who came from the "North River," soon after-
ward joined the little settlement. Another settler here was "William Holden, who
came from near Albany, when a mere boy, so it has been stated, and accompanied
the party that surveyed the State line. As his age is given at twenty-eight years
in the taxables of 1800, he was only fourteen years old when this survey was made,
and it is not likely that he would settle by himself in the wilderness. It is more
than probable that he came about the same time as Richard Daniels.


In the spring of 1793, when the Williamson road reached the State line,
Captain Williamson, finding Baker and the other settlers much disturbed over the
uncertainty of their titles to the land upon which they had settled, offered them
land with perfect titles in Pleasant Valley, near Lake Keuka, Steuben county, Xew
York. The offer was accepted by all of the settlers, except William Holden. and
they removed to their new location in the spring of 1794. Here, in time. Baker
became a prominent man, was elected an associate judge, and died in 1S42, at the
age of eighty years. William Holden remained at Lawrenceville until about 1795,
when he sold his possessions to Uriah Spencer, removed up the Cowanesque valley,
and became the first settler at the mouth of Holden brook, on the site of Ostcula.

The first white settler in the Cowanesque valley west of Lawrenceville was
Reuben Cook, who in May, 1792 or 1793, orccttd a cabin on a little flat north of
the present residence of Harris T. Ryon, in Xelson borough. James Strawbridge,
who made a clearing and temporary settlement at the mouth of Yarnall brook, at
Academy Corners, Deerfield township, is thouglit by some to have preceded Reuben
Cook, and to have settled as early as 178."). Other early settlers in the valley before
1800 were Dorman Bloss, a millwright, who located at Xelson; John AUiii^rton,
Abner, (Iharles and Kzekiel [Jlanchard and Amasa Culver, who si-ttk-d in what after-
wards became Nelson township; Daniel Holiday, who sittled below Elkland;
Cooper Cady, Caleh Griggs, Daniel Pliillips, Titus Sesse, and l>rael Bulkley. who
settled in the neighborhood of Osceola; l-^bciu'zcr Si'i^iye, who settled at Academy
Corners; William Knox, who settled on the site of Kno.xville, and Jonathan Bonney,
an early physician, who afterwards settled permanently in I'.r<ioktiilcl township.

The first settler in the Tioga valley, above Lawrenciville, was Jesse Losey. The-
other settlers in the valley, whose names appear in the census of 1800 — given in
a preceding chapter— were Isaac and Rufus Adams, who located at Lawrenceville;
Thomas Berry, who settled at the southern end of what is now Tioga borough;
Ilopestill Beecher, who located temporarily at Tioga, and afterwards settled at
Beecher's Island; Aaron Gillet, who located at the mouth of Mill creek, in Tioga
township, and afterwards removed to Cherry Flats; Josiah Ilovi y, who settled and
kept an inn near the Richmond township line, above Canoe Caiii]). (his two sons,
Simeon and Gurdon, also settled with him); Uhadiah Iii-tiio, who settled almve
Lawrenceville; John Ives. Sr., John Ives, Jr., and Benajah, Timothy, Titus, llmja-
niin and Ambrose Ives, who settled in and about Tioira borough; James Jennings,
Jacob Kiphart, and Stcjihen Losey, who located at Tioj:a: Gad Lamli, who settk-d
at Lamb's Creek; Elisha Jfarvin, who settled near the site of Mansfield; Richard,
Thomas and Robert Mitchell, who located at Mitchell's Creek; Nathan Niles, Sr.,
who settled below the mouth of Mill creek, in Tioga township: and Uriah S^iiciinr,
who bought out William Holden, at Lawrenceville, and who afterwards removed
to Tioga, where he became a prominent and leading citizen. The Cady and Wilson
families, of Lawrence, are also given in that assessment.

Although the name of Dr. William Willard does not appear on the assessment
list of 1800, he is credited, by those familiar with the early history of the county,
with locating at Tioga, in 1798, soon after which the place litcame known as Wil-
lardsburg. Benjamin Corey, who sittled on the site of Mansfield in 1797, is iiut
mentioned cither.


Another early settlement was made as early as 1793, at Millerton, in Jackson
township, by Garret Miller and his family. John Newell, a pioneer settler at ISTew-
elltown, in Union township, was here before 1800, and also Elisha "White, who settled
at Holidaytown, Middlebnry township. Other names appear on the assessment list
of that year, but as they were, for the most part, those of persons who made but
a temporary stay, it is not possible at this late day to determine just where they
made locations.

During the year 1800, and within the next succeeding five years, there was
a marked increase in the number of settlers, the more prominent new comers being
Benjamin Wistar Morris and family, who settled on the site of Wellsboro in 1800;
Aaron Bloss, who first located near Covington in 1801, and in 1803 became the
founder of Blossburg; William Hill Wells, who settled southwest of Wellsboro in
1803; Samson Babb, who settled on Babb's creek, in Morris township; Eobert Steele,
who settled on the site of Ansonia, in Shippen township; and Aaron and William
Furman, who settled at Furmantown, in Gaines township.

Fuller details concerning the foregoing named pioneers, as well as of the settle-
ment and development of the various sections of the county, will be found in the
chapters devoted to the different townships and boroughs. Nearly all of these early
pioneers endured great suffering and privation. Ebenezer Seelye, whose father was
one of the first settlers in the Cowanesque valley, contributed, in 1867, to the
AVellsboro Agitator the following account of how they lived after their arrival:

My father erected a cabin of bark set against a large pine log, and lived in it for a.
year and a half. He then built a log house. In this he lived the first winter without a
floor, there being no saw mill nearer than Painted Post. For a grist mill we used a
stump hollowed out by fire for a mortar, and a spring pestle. In this we pounded our
samp for bread and pudding- timber for two years. After a while several of the settlers
•clubbed together and purchased a pair of millstones about two feet in diameter, which
we turned by hand. At first we could only raise corn. Wheat blasted, rusted, and would
not mature. This state of things lasted seven or eight years, when wheat, rye and oats
began to be raised. The family dressed chiefly in deer skins, and I was ten years old
before I had a pair of shoes.


From a "Declaration of Trust," recorded in Lycoming county (Deed Book E,
p. 545), we are enabled to get at the primary causes which led to the founding and
settlement of Wellsboro. From this instrument it appears that on September 31,
1796, Josiah Hewes, Meiers Fisher, and James Wilson, in consideration of five
shillings, per acre, or £14,715, did by "indenture tripartite" convey unto "George
Eddy and Moore Wharton, as tenants in common and not as joint tenants," seventy-
five tracts of land sittiated in Lycoming county, which had been warranted to Hewes
and Fisher, August 10, 1793, making in the aggregate 73,575^ acres. These war-
rants, which were supposed to cover about 1,000 acres each, are all numbered in
the declaration. In this great sale it appears that Mr. Wilson was the owner of
6,594 acres, or six tracts, warrants for which had been issued to him, February 3,
1794. These tracts, added to those of Hewes and Fisher, made an aggregate of
80,569^ acres.


It is unnecessary in this connection to note all the sales and transfers which took
place between the different parties referred to in the declaration, but suffice it to
say that in view of the interest of one Joseph Thomas, Edward Tilghman, grantee of
said Thomas, and trustee for Edward Shippen and William Graham, thirteen tracts
were excepted in the general plot, together with the fraction of another, the whole
making 14,001^ acres.

Othei: transfers then occurred, when it appears that Gideon Hill Wells and
Richard Hill Morris were made "tenants in common and not joint tenants," in
certain lands which are all referred to in the Declaration. Richard Parker was
also interested in certain tracts.

Then, under date of July 22, 1799, it appears that Moore Wharton, Thomas
Qreeves, Gideon Hill Wells, Richard Hill Morris, and William Parker, of Phila-
delphia, conveyed each of their interests to Benjamin Wistar Morris, by
which transfer, in tlie language of the Declaration, "he became seized in his
desmense as of fee in the said great tract of land so as aforesaid to them severally
conveyed in and by the said 80,569^ acres and allowances — except the said 14,001^
acres and allowances so as aforesaid conveyed to the said Edward Tilghman."

morris' great trust.

The foregoing preliminaries having been settled, the "Declaration" then con-
tinues in these words:

Now, therefore, this indenture witnesseth and all the said parties hereto, do hereby
confess, acknowledge niul declare that the said llcnjamin W. Morris do and shall, stands
seized and possessed of the premises aforesaid to and for the use and Iienefit of all the
parties to this indenturo aeeording to their several proportions of and in the same in
trust to and for the uses, interests and purposes, and under the conditions, etc., that is
to say, upon this trust and eontldence that lie, the said licnjamin W. Morris, do and shall
grant, bargain, sell, convoy and assure to any person, or persons, actual settlers or others,
all or any part of the said land for the best prices that can be procured for tlie same, and
receive the consideration, monies or security for the same and pay the monies arising
therefrom to all the parties to this indenture of the first part, according to their respec-
tive interests therein, and do and shall reconvey and assure to the said parties so much
of the said land as shall be undisposed of at the expiration of five years from the date

And that he, the said Benjamin W. Morris, do and shall pay all necessary sums of
money for the improvement and settlement of the said lands; and if any of the parties
to this indenture of the first part shall refuse or neglect to pay any sum of money agreed
to be raised by a majority of votes, allowing 500 acres to a vote, then a proportion of the
land of such defaulter may lie taken by any other of the parties at $1.00 per acre, provided
they think proper to malie the advauees due from such defaulter, allowing such defaulter
twelve months' notice previous to any of their lands being alienated as aforesaid; and
in case any advanees made by the said Benjamin \V. Morris shall be refunded after notice
as aforesaid, and within twelve months, interest shall be allowed and paid upon the same.

And the said Benjamin \V. Morris for himself and his heirs doth hereby covenant,
promise and agree to and with the said Moore Wharton. Thomas Gree\es, Gideon Hill
'Wells, Richard Hill Morris, and William Parker, their heirs, etc., that the said Benjamin
W. Morris shall and will in all things relating to the trust in him confided, abide the
written directions of a majority of the parties to this indenture, their votes to lie a.scer-
tained as aforesaid, and shall and will in all things well and truly cNecute and perform.


fulfill and abide by all and singular the trusts and confidences aforesaid according to the
true intent and meaning thereof, and that he shall not wilfully or knowingly do or sufEer
to be done any act whereby the premises or any part thereof may or can be evicted, in-
cumbered or charged on the title thereof, impeached, or the true intent and meaning of
these presents be defeated.

This instrument was duly acknowledged, July 26, 1799, before John D. Cox,
president of the court of common pleas of the First district of Philadelphia, and
was duly recorded at Williamsport. This great business transaction, or trust, con-
stituted what is vaguely known in history as "The Pine Creek Land Company," and
out of its operations were developed many important land transactions and im-
provements, which finally culminated in the organization of Tioga county and
the founding of 'WeUsboro. This immense body of land laid in what is now the
northwestern part of Lycoming, and the southwestern part of Tioga county. It
covered what are now Morris and Delmar townships, and the name of the man in
whom the great trust was confided, nearly 100 years ago, is perpetuated by a town-
ship and a village.


It appears that some twelve or fourteen years before the death of Benjamin
Wistar Morris, trouble arose among the members of the land company and several
failures occurred. By referring to Deed Book F, p. 343, Lycoming county, an
article of agreement will be found, which was made April 11, 1811, between Samuel
"Wells Morris, "William Wain, Alexander Henry, Robert Frazier, and Samuel Pan-
coast, assignees of Thomas Greeves, and John Dorsey and Archibald McCall, as-
signees of Gideon Hill "Wells, of Trenton, which sets forth "that whereas Samuel
"Wells Morris is lawfully seized and entitled to 36,784 acres of land, "William "Wain
13,284, and Alexander Henry, Eobert Frazier, and Samuel Pancoast, assignees
of Thomas Greeves, of 15,000 acres, and John Dorsey and Archibald McCall, as-
signees of Gideon Hill Wells, of 2,500 acres;" the assignees "appoint John P.
DeGruchy and William Cox Ellis, to view, examine and survey 66,568 acres and
divide the same in proportion" among the parties; and to "lay o£E 36,784 acres tO'
the use of Samuel Wells Morris." ^

The viewers made the division as per request of the assignees, and their work
appears in the form of an elaborate table, which is recorded in connection with the
"article of agreement" spoken of. As a tabular statement, it is interesting
in that it gives a clear insight into the relative ownership of this great body of
land eighty-six years ago. It is as follows:





John Dorsey
Alex. Henry, Robt. ; | and Archi-

Frazier and Sam-

bald Mc-

Samuel W. Morris.

William Wain.

uel Pancoast, as-.

Call, as-

signees of Thos.

signees of

Greeves. 1! Gideon H.









Acres. \\ No. Acres.

i of 1684




Part 1646
























Part 1587








990 2,270

Part 1689




Part 1627








i 1620


Part 1626








Part 1642







990 Part 1645





:i!.o 1611

990 ll 1644 IMIO






;i;*o 1666 906 ;i

Part 1595





990 \\ 1669

990 i






900 i; 1664

990 :





Part 1639

400 Part 1627






! 1621

990 ' i





12,076 i 1620




Part 1628

8: 10



Part 1689


': i3,rto'.»

Part 1627








Clamiinl 'W Mnri-U . 83,588

William Wain 12,075

Alexander Henry eJ oi.,

John Dorsej' f< at ,



61. .-j^

Quantity laid off to the respective piuiiriotors:

No. 1590, mill tract, reserved by order of William Wain, the division of which is to

be determined by the respective proprietors, 990

Grants by the company as follows to B. W. Morris 990

Ciiiiiits by tlio company as follows:

Tfi II \V Mnrris 990

Grants by B. \V. Morris as agent of the company allowed:

To ditto, which he purchased at $t per ;uro; but is not yet paid: when it is, it is

to be divided among the proprietors in proportion to the respective interests, 130

To James Ynrnall, Moniocai .M. Jackson, Christian Zimmerman, Samuel W. Mor-

ris, and James Diggins, each fiftj

' acres,


Total acr<




Quantity claimed by the respective proprietors:

S. W. Morris 36,784

William Wain 13,384

Alexander Henry and others, 15,000

John Dorsey and others 2,500

Total quantity by patents, 67,568

In 661/2 tracts 65,343

Deficiency, 3,335

Following the above tabular statement is a long report from the referees
(Deed Book M, p. 256, Williamsport), in which they minutely describe the work of
division of the land among the respective claimants, and then conclude as follows:

We hereby further declare, that after mature consideration, we have not thought it
for the general interest of the concerned to allot the tract commonly called the "mill
tract, No. 1596," as on this tract — containing 990 acres — a grist and saw mill, a dwelling
house and other buildings, were erected by the company [Pine Creek Land Company] at
a considerable expense, and which, had the settlement progressed, would no doubt have
been of great utility to the use of the settlement; those advantages and the value of the
buildings are much depreciated. Now, therefore, agreeably to instructions given to us
to afBx a value on the said buildings and tract, after taking into consideration the present
unfavorable situation of the settlement, and the consequent depreciation of property,
such as this — which became perishable — when there is no longer any person residing on
it ; and as we are informed that the premises are likely to be soon deserted, we cannot,
under all these considerations, place a value on them of more than $2,500, which we are
well aware is not half the sum they would have sold for had the affairs of the company
been as successful as was expected when the buildings were undertaken.

May 16, 1812.

J. P. De Geucht,
William Cox Ellis.

The mills referred to in the foregoing were those erected by John Norris as
early as 1799, on the head waters of Little Pine creek, near the present
village of Texas, in Lycoming county. ISTorris came from Philadelphia as the
representative of Benjamin Wistar Morris, and the mills were known as "Morris'
Mills," and are so referred to in the law authorizing the opening of the State
road in 1799. In addition to the mills, store buildings were erected, the object
being to found a town on the site. The settlement did not prosper, and the value
of the mills and other property greatly depreciated, resulting in the failure of
several members of the company, and a re-allotment of the land among those re-


One of the first settlers in the vicinity of what is now known as Texas, just
over the line in Lycoming county, was John Norris. He came from Philadelphia
in 1799, as the representative of Benjamin Wistar Morris, and located on lands
covered by warrant No. 1596, and surveyed to Hewes & Fisher, members of the Pine
Creek Land Company. It laid about nineteen miles above the mouth of Little
Pine creek. Here a saw-mill and a grist-mill, known as "Morris' Mills," were built
with the evident purpose of founding a town. Here, also, Norris opened a school,


in which himself and his wife taught, until about 1805, when he removed to the
"Big Marsh" near Wellsboro, and became interested with Benjamin Wistar ilorris
in promoting the settlement and upbuilding of the latter place. It was near
"Morris' Mills" that the famous "English Colony" made a settlement in ISO.j.
This latter place is now known as Oregon Hill, and lies in Pine township, Lycoming
county, near the Tioga county line.

Samson Babb settled in Morris township on the stream which bears his name,
in 1800. He purchased 450 acres from the Pine Creek Land Company, and built
a saw-mill and became a pioneer lumberman. Babb was a native of Wilmington,
Delaware. As his will bears date May 13, 1814, and as a bond in $4,000 was given
by his executors, December 14, 1814, he must have died between those dates. He
accumulated considerable property and made ample provision for his widow and
children. He also possessed some peculiar notions, for in his will he said that he
wished "to be buried in the northeast corner of my garden and walled in!" The
wall never was built, and his grave has been obliterated by a public road passing
over it. He left several sons and daughters, and their descendants still livo in
the county.

Babb's creek, which takes its name from Samson Babb, was an important
stream among tho Indians. Alonj; its hanks ran ime of tlieir great trails, which
ascended Stony Fork and passed through Wellsboro. When white men first
asceiHk'd iiiibb's creek by the trail, they found it well beaten into tlie f,Tound,
showing that it had been traveled for a long time — perhaps for hundreds of years.

The region through which it passed was wild and uninviting. Thick briars
and matted vines lined (he l)iiiil<s of the stream, and tall pines and hemlocks almost
shut out the rays of the sun with their thick foliage. The stream was filled with
trout. So abundant were they that with an ordinary hook and bait enough could
be caught in one hour to fill a larj^e basket. Wild animals, too, abounded in this
mountain fastness, and the rattle of the serpent made music for the ear.


Some idea of the horrors of this wilderness region, when Morris and his family
settled on the site of Wellsboro, can be learned from the experiences of Gen. John
Burrows, of Montoursville, who made a journey here in the winter of 1802. In
his little pamphlet giving some account of his life, which he prepared for his
descendants, he tells this thrilling story:

In 1802 I wns elected a [Lycominir] county commissioner. • • • About this time
I received a letter from Dr. Tate introducing Willinm Hill Wells to me, who had settled in
the woods [iu:ir] where Wellsboro now stands, the county seat of Tiopa.

Mr. Wells npplie<l to nic to furnish him with provisions in his new settlement. He
hnd broupht a number of negroes with him from the State of Delaware, where he moved
from. 1 put eighty-eipht hundred weight of pork on two sleds and started to (jo to him
with it. It was fine sleilding, but dreadful cold weather. In crossing the .\IIegheny
mountain the nuin I had driving one of the teams froze his feet up to his ankles. I was
obliged to leave hiin, and the next morning put the four horses to one sled, and the pork
on it, and Ktarted for Wells". I hnd Bi\ times to eross Pine creek. .V man coming into
the si-ttlement from that pnrt nf the county had frozen to death the day before. I passed
him lying in the road!


The second crossing of the creek was about fifty yards wide; when the foremost
Jaorses g-ot to the middle of the creek the ice broke with them; the ice was about mid-
side deep; and in their attempting to get on the ice again, drew the other horses and
sled into the creek and pulled the roller out of the sled. I got the horses ashore and tied
them and then went back to the sled and found the water running over the pork. I had
to go partly under water to get an axe that was tied on the sled, to cut a road through
the ice to get the sled ashore. Sometimes I was in the water up to my middle, and
sometimes I was standing on the ice, the water following the stroke of the axe would
fly up, and as soon as it touched me was ice.

When I got the road cut to the shore I went to the sled, and getting a log chain,
reached under water and hooked it first to one runner and then to the other; then backed
-the horses in through the road, hitched to the sled and pulled it out.

It was now dark; I had six miles to go and four times to cross the creek, without a
ToUer in my sled to guide it. On descending ground it would run out of the road, when

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 7 of 163)