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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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of the best years of his life, laboring incessantly from the incorporation of the com-
pany in 1826 until he resigned on account of his election to Congress. "For the
accomplishment of this undertaking," remarks a local writer, "and the develop-
ment of the coal lands at Blossburg, he obtained the services of Eichard C. Taylor,
an eminent English engineer and geologist, who not only made a survey of the
river for the navigation company and afterward for the railroad company, but also
made a geological survey and examination of the minerals of the Blossburg coal
region. Taylor's geological report was published chiefly at the expense of Judge
Morris. It was a work much sought after, but has long since been out of print and
hard to obtain." There was no local enterprise which had for its object the advance-
ment of the public welfare that did not have the earnest and substantial support
of Judge Morris. He was one of the founders of the Wellsboro Academy, the first
president of the board of trustees, to which he was elected again and again, serving
as president, treasurer, etc., and remaining a firm friend of that institution up to
the time of his death. He died at his home in Wellsboro, May 25, 1847, in the sixty-
first year of his age. His wife, bom near Muncy, Lycoming county. May 7, 1791,
died at Germantown, January 26, 1858. Both are buried in the Wellsboro Cemetery,
adjoining the graves of his parents.

John Noekis, whose name occurs frequently in the early records of Tioga
cou;nty, was bom in England in 1768, and was educated at Oxford University.
He came to this country towards the close of the Eighteenth centxuy, and early in
1799 removed from Philadelphia, as the agent of Benjamin Wistar Morris, to the



BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCHES. 657



headwaters of the first fork of Pine creek, near the site of the present village of
Texas, Lycoming county. Here he soon afterwards biult a rude grist and saw-mill,
which became known as "Morris' Mills." A year or two later Norris leased a build-
ing which had been erected by Philip Moore, and opened a school, which was taught
by himself and wife, and pupils were received from as far away as Jersey Shore
and the settlements along the river. As an educational enterprise it was considered
wonderful for the time and attracted wide attention. When Benjamin Wistar
Morris became interested in founding Wellsboro, he seems to have secured the as-
sistance of Norris in the furtherance of his scheme, and the latter soon afterwards
abandoned his school and settled at the Big Marsh, from which he subsequently
moved to the vicinity of the village, where he remained the balance of his days.

According to a deed on record at Williamsport (Deed Book P, p. 97) an insight
is had of the causes which led to Norris' removal, and the part he afterwards bore
in promoting the interests of Morris and the Pine Creek Land Company. This
deed which bears date of April 33, 1804, conveys a tract of 300 acres of land from
Benjamin Wistar Morris to John Norris, and recites that:

In consideration of the services to be done and performed by the said John Norris in
promoting and advancing the settlement and improvement of the lands held by the said
Morris and others on and adjacent to Pine Creek, he, the said B. W. Morris, conveyed in
fee simple to the said John Norris, clear of all incumbrance, all that tract of land, &c.
And the said Norris having fully complied with his part of the said agreement to this
time and given satisfactory assurance to the said B. W. Morris, expedient and conducive
to the interest and advancement of the settlement aforesaid, to convey at this time to the
said John Norris the premises aforesaid, and in consideration of one dollar doth convey all
that tract situated in Lycoming county, beginning at corner of General Brodhead's, at a
sugar maple, containing about 200 acres, adjoined on south by lands reserved for Morris'
Mills."

In the same Deed Book F, page 100, is another deed by Morris conveying a
tract of 100 acres, in consideration of $400, to John Norris, called the "Marsh
Tract." Prom the foregoing we see why Norris became interested with the founder
of Wellsboro. And as a land agent he proved himself active, vigilant and trust-
worthy, and became one of the leading men of his time in the settlement.

When Tioga county was organized for judicial purposes, he was appointed the
first prothonotary and register and recorder, and served until 1818. He also ap-
pears to have had some knowledge of surveying — probably acquired in connection
with his land agency — ^for he served as county surveyor from 1814 to 1837, a period
of thirteen years. And when Wellsboro was made a borough, in 1830, he was
honored by being elected the first burgess. It should also be mentioned that he
was a charter member when the act incorporating the Academy was passed, and
was elected a trustee several times afterwards. By virtue of his position and social
relations, John Norris was recognized as one of the leading citizens of Wellsboro,
and was greatly esteemed and respected by the people.

Mr. Norris and his wife, Beulah (J'ackson) Norris, had no issue. He left a
will in which he made ample provision for his wife, giving her all his household
furniture, books, maps and papers — also the rents and proceeds of his real estate,
together with certain mortgages. To Lucy Kelsey, whose maiden name was Moore,
he gave $500, to be paid after the death of his wife; to Elizabeth Niles, then under
the charge of Mrs. John Dickinson, $500; to Mary P. Dickinson, who lived in his
42



658 HISTOKT OF TIOGA COUNTY,

family when she was single and served as his secretary, $400; to Deborah Ann
Archer, $400; to his brother-in-law, Mordecai M. Jackson and wife, $450. The
remainder of his estate he divided among the sons and daughters of William Bache.
John Norris Bache was constituted his sole executor and trustee; and it was pro-
vided that in the event of his death before the business was settled up, his brother,
William Bache, was to succeed him. The latter lived for years in the N'orris family,
but was never legally adopted. The will was dated at "Dickinson's Mill," September
16, 1848. And here Mr. ISTorris died, February 10, 1849, aged eighty yeajs, ten
months and eleven days. Mrs. Norris also died here, April 13, 1853, aged seventy-
five years.

William Bache, Se., was one of the prominent early settlers of Wellsboro,
Pennsylvania. He was bom in Bromsgrove, England, December 23, 1771, and
immigrated to America in 1793. For a short time after his arrival he resided in
Philadelphia, where he engaged in the business of cutting profiles. He then made
a tour of the United States and the West Indies, following the same art. Eeturning
to Philadelphia, he was married there November 28, 1811, to Miss Anna Page, and
soon after they made a journey to Wellsboro to visit John JSTorris, who was an old
acquaintance of Mr. Bache. ISTorris at that time was deeply interested with Benja-
min Wistar Morris in founding the town, and as they were ofiEering strong induce-
ments to settlers, Mr. Bache, in 1812, decided to take up his residence there. He
immediately purchased town lots, and lands in Delmar, under the easy terms which
were offered, and prepared to engage in business. There being no store in the vil-
lage, he put up a building and became one of the first merchants in Wellsboro.
His store and dwelling stood on the southwest side of the present public square.
Dealing in mercantile goods was attended with many difficulties at that time. Mr.
Bache purchased his goods in Philadelphia, and they were hauled to Wellsboro in
wagons overland. Uncle Eben Murry, one of the slaves of William Hill Wells,
whom he had manumitted when he (Wells) left the county, was one of the teamsters.

Shrewd, sagacious, industrious and energetic, Mr. Bache prospered as a business
man and steadily accumulated property. While doing a kind act in assisting a
neighbor to cut a supply of fuel, a tree fell on him, whereby he lost his right arm.
Through care he recovered from the accident, learned to write with his left hand,
and successfully continued his business. April 10, 1822, he was appointed post-
master of Wellsboro, and held the office for over twenty-three years. He was one of
the original trustees mentioned in the act incorporating the Wellsboro Academy,
and was a member of the committee selected to prepare a plan for the building,
and for many years was identified with, and took an active interest in, the success
and prosperity of the institution.

Mr. Bache and wife had six children, three sons and three daughters, viz:
William, Laugher, Sarah, who married Judge Eobert G. White; John N., Haxriet,
who married Charles Minor, of Honesdale, and Anna, who became the wife of A. P.
Cone. They gave their children the advantages of education, which were liberal for
the times, and they became men and women of character and position in life. Mr.
Bache died July 9, 1845, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. His wife, who was born
at Burlington, ISTew Jersey, l^ovember 6, 1783, died December 1, 1856.

William Bache, Jh., was born in Wellsboro, October 26, 1812. He received
his education in the schools of his native town and learned the profession of land



BI06EAPHICAL SKETCHES. 659



surveying, in whicli he became quite proficient. When about the age of twenty-six
years he became the agent of several large landed estates, which enabled him to
acquire a vast fund of information relating to land surveys. For many years he
was engaged as an active surveyor in the field, and as a dealer in farming and
timbered lands.

Mr. Bache was first married December 25, 1839, to Mary Elizabeth Nichols,
daughter of Archibald Mchols, and sister of the late Judge Nichols. By her he had
one daughter, Sarah, who became the wife of Alfred Nichols. His wife, Mary Eliza-
beth, died January 38, 1845, and in 1849 he married Adeline Eobinson, sister of
the late Chester and John L. Robinson. Of his two children by the second marriage
but one is living, Mary Adeline, widow of "William C. Kress. Mr. Bache's second
wife died October 11, 1852, and he was subsequently married the third time, to
Mrs. Lydia Maria Davison, daughter of Palmer Nichols. She died July 2, 1885.
There was no issue by this marriage.

In looking back over his long and busy life, Mr. Bache has the proud satis-
faction of realizing that he has ever been an energetic, progressive business man.
From the beginning of his career of activity he has filled many minor of&ces of trust,
and has always manifested the most genei'ous liberality in whatever was calculated
to develop the resources of his native town and county, and therefore promote their
success and prosperity. He was treasurer of the Wellsboro Academy for mauj
years; was borough treasurer; manager of the Lawrenceville and Wellsboro Plank
Eoad Company, and the first president of the First National Bank of Wellsboro. For
fully fifty years he has been a vestryman in St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church,
and one of its most liberal supporters. He also took an active part in securing the
building of the Lawrenceville and Wellsboro railroad, and all other public enter-
prises calculated to build up the social and material interests of Wellsboro ajid the
surrounding country. The project to supply the town with the best water that could
be secured was originated by him and received his strong financial support. The
Willow Hall School project also found in him its most liberal friend; while the
substantial Bache Auditorium, erected in 1894, at a cost of $16,000, is a grand monu-
ment to his enterprise and public spirit.

It is also a noteworthy fact that Mr. Bache has continuously resided in Wells-
boro since his birth, a period of over eighty-four years, and is the oldest living
citizen of the town who was born within its limits. When he first saw the light of
day Wellsboro was a mere hamlet composed of rude log dwellings, while Tioga county
was a comparative wilderness. His boyhood and early manhood were spent among
the stirring scenes of pioneer life, and in his profession he has traversed the hills
and valleys of Tioga county many times. Fortune has smiled upon him and re-
warded him for his toil and industry, and he is now in the e;vening of his well spent
life enjoying all the comforts which an abimdance of this world's goods can procure.
He is still quite active for one who has passed the four score milestone, and save
some imperfection in his hearing, is in possession of his mental faculties, and
enjoys the relation of reminiscences of bygone days. He is a thorough type of the
honest, hardy, industrious and intelligent pioneers of Tioga county, and he views
with delight the progress that has been made in every department of individual
effort since he was a boy.

IsEAEL Mbeeick, Je., was one of the prosperous and progressive pioneers of



660 HISTOBY OF TIOGA COUNTY.

Tioga couiity. Of New England ancestry, he was bom in the state of Delaware in
1790, whither his parents, Israel Merrick, Sr., and wife, had removed in search of a
home. Not Hking the place, and having their attention called to the inducements
Morris was holding out for settlers in VVellsboro, they came here about 1805. Israel
Merrick, St., was a tall, venerable looking man. He was married twice, and died
April 30, 1844, aged seventy-eight years. He was buried in Ansonia cemetery. His
second wife was a sister-in-law of Justus Dartt, of Charleston township. Israel
Merrick, Jr., had three full sisters — ^Margaret, who married Mordeeai Moore; Mary,
who married Elmer Bacon, Sr., and Eebecca, who married Daniel Kelsey. Merrick
and Charles Moore took their parents to Arkansas over forty years ago, where they
died. Charles Moore at one time represented a district of Arkansas in Congress.
He died of cholera many years ago. His brother, Merrick Moore, was a quarter-
master general in the Confederate service.

I^ael Merrick, Jr., was about fifteen years of age when the family came to this
county. At that time Wellsboro was mostly dense woods and a part of it a swamp.
There was, however, a small clearing of about an acre in the region where John L.
Eobinson's house was afterwards built. An incident in the life of Mr. Merrick at
that early day is worth relating. At one time he was going from the mill at the
Marsh to his home in Delmar, where they first settled, driving a yoke of oxen. Get-
ting belated he took refuge in an abandoned corn-crib which stood near where Mr.
Eobinson afterwards built his house. The only habitation near this was a rude log
cabin on the side of the hill where Judge Morris afterwards bxdlt a large farm house.
Before going into the crib for the night he chained his oxen outside and built a fire.
During the night he, as well as the cattle, were very much frightened by the screams
of a panther on what is now known as Bache's hill. The fierce animal scented
game in the log hut, but the presence of the fire, which was kept brightly burning by
the young man, probably deterred it from making the attack. The night thus passed
by our young pioneer was a long and dreary one and the "brealc "o day" was gladly
welcomed. This incident will serve to show the primitive conditions which ex-
isted at that time, as well as to illustrate the progress that has been made in less than
ninety years.

There were no schools in the county when Israel Merrick, Jr., came here. He
had, however, attained the first rudiments of an education before he left his native
State; but not content with that, he used to spend long hours after the family had
retired for the night in reading and studying, by the light of pine knots, such books
as he could obtain. He must have been a very industrious student, for he became
a man of much general information, such as is derived from books; was an excel-
lent penman, a keen observer of human action, and was naturally a man of good,
sound common sense. He never failed in meeting public expectations in whatever
station he was placed. As commissioners' clerk for over nineteen years, he became
widely known, and he commanded the respect of all with whom he came in con-
tact. His clerical career commenced in 18.38, and extended to 1847, when he was
elected a county commissioner, which office he held three years. Mr. Merrick mar-
ried Julia A. Erway, who was born December 10, 1808. Their children were:
Charles, George W., and Ellis; Maria, wife of Deroy Herrington; Mary, wife of
William Mathers; Anna, who married Washington Larrison; Sarah, wife of Hon.
Mortimer E. Elliott, and Ellen. George W. is a prominent lawyer of Wellsboro, and



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 661

a sketch of his life will be found in the chapter devoted to the "Bench and Bar."
Mr. Merrick died March 7j 1855, aged sixty-five years, one month and ten days; his
wife survived him about thirty-one years, dying March 35, 1886.

MoEDECAi M. Jackson was born at Montgomery Square, near Philadelphia,
July 15, 1784. He came with his brother-in-law, John Norris, to the settlement
established near the site of Texas, Lycoming county, ia 1799, and known as "Morris'
Mills," and in 1804 removed with his parents to Wellsboro. They became discour-
aged and soon returned to the vicinity of Philadelphia. Young Jackson, how-
ever, remained here with friends, grew to manhood, and became a prominent
citizen of Wellsboro, where he died September 29, 1861. He married Hannah
Iddings, and they had issue: Eichard, who was among the first male children bom
in the settlement; James, Mary P., bom June 35, 1814. She lived for several years
ia the family of John Norris and served as his amanuensis. She married John
Dickinson, who was for many years one of the early merchants. He died August
35, 1873, aged fifty-eight, but his venerable widow, who has passed her four score
years, still survives and is a charming and instructive conversationalist. She can
relate many reminiscences of early days and distinctly remembers hearing the
wolves howl at night on the hills surrounding Wellsboro. The other daughter,
Deborah Ann, bom in 1816, married Dr. Archer, of Maryland.

Daniel Kelset was one of the early representative men of Delmar township.
He was a native of Kew Hampshire, bom September 7, 1777, came to Tioga county
in 1807 and settled on the old Kelsey homestead, now in the southern part of Wells-
boro. He was four times married. His first wife was a daughter of John Mathers,
a pioneer of Delmar. She bore him one son, John, who learned the printer's trade
in early life, and then went to Wilkes-Barre and studied law. He next removed to
'New Orleans, whence he wrote a few letters to friends in Wellsboro, but soon after-
wards made a voyage up the Mississippi river and never vsTote home again. It was
learned, however, that between 1840 and 1850 there was a lawyer named John
Kelsey in Moniteau county, Missouri, who then occupied a seat on the bench, and
the belief gained ground that he was the lost John Kelsey of Wellsboro. This
belief was further strengthened by the fact that he left home under the deep dis-
pleasure of his father, intending never to have any further communication with him
or the family. In this declaration he exhibited the same unbending spirit that
characterized his father. Daniel Kelse^s second wife was Miss Kilbum, a sister of
Judge Ira Kilbum, of Lawrenceville. His third wife was Eebecea Merrick, a
daughter of Israel Merrick, Sr., whom he married January 3, 1835. She became the
mother of six children, as follows: Letetia, wife of John English, of Delmar; Daniel,
Benjamin P. and Israel M., all deceased; Eobert, a resident of Wellsboro, and Anna
B., teacher in a government school at Fort Wrangle, Alaska. Mrs. Kelsey died
January 16, 1846, and he married for his fourth wife Dinah Ogden. Mr. Kelsey
died April 17, 1863. He was a man of marked individuality and had his own way of
doing things. On January 25, 1813, he was appointed a justice of the peace for
Delmar township, and held the office nearly thirty years. Many interesting reminis-
cences of him have been preserved which show the character of the man. He
lived on a farm not included within the original borough limits. In course of time
he came to be familiarly known as "Squire Kelsey," a title he bore until the close
of his life. As early as 1817 he was elected one of the trustees of Wellsboro Academy,



662 HISTOET OF TIOGA COUNTY..

and was re-elected in 1819 and 1830. In 1821, when the number of trustees was re-
duced one-half, he was dropped from the list, and he was not again elected until
1826. He was twice re-elected, in 1827 and 1828. It is said that he was liberal in
his religious views, leaning towards a generous toleration and opposed to bigotry.
He was an industrious, thrifty fanner, close and calculating, but just in his dealings.
No man ever accused him of dishonesty or of attempting to wrong his fellow-man.
He was very decided in his opinions, stem and unbending with his children, and
believed that the true way to prepare them for the realities of life was to teach
them morality, industry and economy. Another of his peculiarities was that he
was a man of one price always. If wheat, corn, oats and potatoes were scarce and
the price high, the poor man could buy of him at his own price, a happy medium
between high and low. If it was a year of plenty, still he had his own price, and
would not reduce it if he had to keep his hay and grain over and feed his potatoes
to his stock. In times of high prices it was only the poor and needy who could buy
of him. No one could buy for speculation. The home farm is now occupied by the
widow of his son, Benjamin F.

EoBEET Kelset, SOU of Daniel and Eebecca (Merrick) Kelsey, was born in
Wellsboro, June 30, 1834, and was reared to manhood on the old homestead. In
June, 1861, he enlisted in Company E, of the "Bucktail" regiment, served twenty
months, and was then discharged on account of disability. He participated in the
battles of Mechanicsville and Drainsville. In September, 1864, he re-enlisted in the
Two Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, in which he served until the
close of the war. Upon his return to "Wellsboro he engaged in the hardware busi-
ness with D. P. and William Eoberts, for about a year and a half. He then settled
upon a part of the homestead which he owned until 1892, when he sold it and has
since been living retired. Mr. Kelsey was married November 13, 1866, to Mary E.
Trull, a daughter of Eobert and Sarah W. Trull. His wife died March 23, 1879, and
on January 6, 1883, he married Mary Nancy Wilcox, a daughter of John H. and
Sarah Wilcox. In politics, Mr. Kelsey is a Eepublican, and served as supervisor
of Delmar in 1869. In religion, he inclines to the Adventist belief.

Alpheus Cheney, one of the pioneers of Wellsboro, and the first sheriff of
Tioga county, was born at Sturbridge, Massachusetts, April 27, 1769, a son of Joseph
and Mercilva Cheney. He graduated at Dartmouth College in 1795, and served for
a short time in the United States army. In 1803 we find him employed as a book-
keeper at Painted Post, New York, but in March, 1804, he removed to what is now
Addison, where he was town clerk in 1805. He married Ann Eliza Bartill, and in
1808 sold his interests at Addison and removed to Wellsboro, where he purchased
lots, 10, 13 and 18 on the original plot of that town. He was the first hotel-keeper
within the village Umits, the third county treasurer, and the first sheriff of the
county. About 1835 he removed to Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Uncle Eben and Aunt Hetty Mueey.— In the sketch of William Bache, Sr.,
reference is made to Eben Murrj', as one of the early teamsters who hauled goods
from Philadelphia for him. Eben and his wife Hetty were slaves, brought here by
William Hill Wells about the beginning of the century. When Mr. Wells and his
family gave up the struggle to found a home in the wild region of Delmar, they
manumitted their slaves and gave them their cleared land and log cabins as a re-



BIOGEAPHIOAL SKETCHES. gQ3

ward for their faithfulness. Eegarding the story of the gift of a home to these
faithful colored people, one authority says:

He not only gave them the farm, with suitable farming- implements and teams, but
also the household furniture, which was very valuable for those times. Tradition says
that their white neighbors never rested till the freedmen were dispossessed of every-
thing and they were finally indebted to the kindness of John Norris for the little homes
where they ended their days. They were a very superior class of colored people. Aunt
Hetty, it was said, was a daughter of an African princess, and Uncle Eben was a born



Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 87 of 163)